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If The Truth Could Talk

If the truth could talk

It would be mortifying.

 

It would say

Why doesn’t he validate you

The way you want him to?

Why can’t you find this validation from within?

 

It would say things like

How are you a feminist

when you fuck up so spectacularly?

Aren’t you supposed to be better?

 

It would say

Does an opportunity

At the visceral expense of another

Make it worth it?

 

It would say things like

Who are you?

Are you sure you are who you think you are?

Is this all a façade?

Is this a game you play?

 

It would say

Are you merely trying to make yourself feel better

about who truly you are?

Are you genuinely genuine?

Or do you merely preach

what you cannot accomplish

in and of yourself?

 

It would say things like

Do you feel good about yourself?

Do you actually value who you are?

Are you tricking yourself into thinking you do?

Does faking it ‘til you make it work?

 

It would say things like

You feel devoid of true human companionship

In the face of so much of it.

 

It would say things like

Are you the means or the end?

 

It would say things like

You are lonely.

 

It would say things like

You feel like a failure for your loneliness.

 

It would say things like

Do you feel that loneliness too?

 

It would say things like

If you do, why don’t you tell me?

 

It would say things like

Why can’t we just all be honest with one another?

 

It would say things like

Why is that so scary?

 

It would say

You are a constant contradiction.

A façade.

A sham.

A fraud.

 

It would say

Make me feel valid.

Make me feel worthy.

Make me feel loved.

 

It would say

But you are brilliant.

But you take initiative.

But you are beautiful.

But you are worthy.

 

It would say

Who are you anyway?

 

I would say

The truth.

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Life Lessons From A Recently 22 Ingénue

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I’m officially at that age where I have literally no fucking clue what I am doing with my life. So much so that I still use the word “literally” with complete disregard to the way it’s meant to be used. So much so that I put off doing laundry until I completely run out of underwear, and then I buy some more just so I can continue to put off doing laundry. I’m to the point where I know I should be thinking more concretely about my future: my student loans, my post-grad plans, etc. But instead I end up at the bar on a Monday night, alone, playing Stevie Nicks on the jukebox, surrounded by equally as lost souls just 10 years my senior.

I’m so lost that I chase after people who don’t treat me with the respect I deserve. Because sometimes I don’t treat myself with the respect I deserve. Because sometimes I don’t believe I deserve that respect. I still start sentences with because.

I smoke cigarettes. I drink socially, and not. I deprive myself sleep and sustenance all in the name of the “fear of missing out” because this is college and it’s the time of my life, yeah? Well the “time of my life” is quickly coming to a close and I feel the imminent collapse of my life and my decisions upon my entire being.

I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. I have a vague idea of who I am, what my purpose is, and who I want to be. But I literally have no fucking clue. And yet I am still going to condescend to you my musings on life thus far. Because what kind of 22 year old would I be if I didn’t think I already had some shit figured out? So here it is. Life lessons from a recently 22 ingénue. Read it and weep.

 

1) Tell people how you really feel.

Fuck playing the game. Fuck being coy. Fuck the rules of the hookup culture. Fuck protecting yourself. Like someone? Tell them. Did someone make your day 1/100th better today? Tell them. Do you admire someone for their strength/style/ingenuity/brilliance/heart? Tell them. I think we as people keep way too many secrets from each other. As if that is something to aspire to. As if there is power in it. Sure, you may feel some power in keeping these thoughts close to your heart. But I feel that kind of power is a delusion. Real power and strength comes from telling people exactly how you feel, from being vulnerable and honest and shameless in your conviction. Especially when those things are positive. Who are you to keep someone in the dark about their extraordinary qualities? What are you gaining from keeping this to yourself? Answer: nothing. At best it means you’re too self-absorbed to consider the impact your kind words could have on those around you. At worst it means you’re a fucking coward. So, what exactly do you have to lose by telling those around you how you really feel? I am a firm believer in giving those who deserve it praise abundantly and shamelessly. Does that make you uncomfortable? Good. That probably means you need to do it more.

 

2) Confront those who treat you poorly.

I have had my fair share of toxic friendships, relationships, and lovers. Sometimes people treat you poorly to exert their power over you. Sometimes people are so insecure that the only way they can validate their existence is by putting you down. Sometimes people are so self-involved and oblivious to the affects of their actions that they don’t understand they are hurting you. People will treat you poorly intentionally, or as some byproduct of their own insecurity, or completely unintentionally. None of these things are ok, and if someone is treating you poorly, you need to call them on their shit.

I understand that this can be incredibly difficult and nerve-wracking. Personally, I am so terrified of jeopardizing whatever relationship I have with someone that I let them get away with so much bullshit until I finally can’t handle it anymore and it manifests itself into physical representations of stress. Don’t let it get to that point. If this person is treating you poorly unintentionally, they will be receptive to your thoughts and feelings, and they will respect the bravery it takes for you to assert yourself. If this person is treating you poorly intentionally then do you really want them in your life anyway? It may sound crass or too simplistic, but cut that shit out of your life. You don’t need it and I guarantee you deserve better. Without mutual respect in your relationships, you have nothing. Sometimes people need a fucking wake up call about their bullshit. Sometimes they wake up and other times they just continue to suck. Regardless, in the end you will know where you stand, and who enjoys limbo in a shitty feeling situation? I hope your answer is no one. Because I know you don’t deserve that merely because [almost] no one deserves that. In short, respect yourself too much to let others continue to disrespect you.

 

3) Do stuff alone.

I can say absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, that if you do not feel comfortable with your own company, you have no fucking clue who you are as a person. When I was younger I thought alone time was some sort of failure. Like, “well no one is hanging out with me, but I know such and such people are together right now, and holy fuck no one probably likes me, and I will be alone forever and my life is the complete embodiment of failure.” Sounds melodramatic, yes? It is. And it’s completely untrue. But I was also terrified at the thought of my own company.

What would I find out about myself if I was not constantly putting on a show for others? Would I like what I see? Do I even like myself enough to spend time by myself?

Eventually you come to learn that you’re not that bad. You take some baby steps in asserting your alone time. And you learn so much about yourself. There was a reason why people exhausted me so frequently, and it’s because I felt like I was constantly putting on a show, because I had absolutely no fucking clue who I was. But the moment I started taking the time to enjoy my own company and do some self-care, I started figuring out who I was, and I gradually became a more authentic version of myself. Being around people stopped being so mentally and emotionally exhausting. Most of the time anyway.

When you enjoy your own company you rarely have those moments of floundering in your own loneliness. It’s a really great form of self-care because not only do you get to take time for yourself, but you simultaneously learn about yourself. Whether its binge-watching House of Cards while knitting a scarf, taking yourself out for dinner and seeing the weird indie flick at the local theater that no one else wants to see, or walking around downtown at 4:30 in the morning listening to Courtney Barnett, you learn about yourself. Sometimes it’s good things. Sometimes it’s bad things. But it’s authentic and it’s real and it’s you and that’s fucking powerful. So do stuff alone, it’ll do you better than you might think.

 

4) When apologizing don’t bother trying to explain yourself.

This is probably one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned because it takes lots and lots of practice. Whatever it was you did, you fucked up. You hurt someone’s feelings and you need to apologize. Maybe it’s my undeniable desire to constantly be right, but every time I apologize my first instinct is to explain away my intentions: “well what I really meant was…”, “I wasn’t trying to make you feel that way…”, blah blah blah, no one gives a shit. Intentions are just that, they are left up to the perception of others.

So, regardless of what you meant, it is what you did that hurt someone’s feelings/pissed them off/whatever it may be, and you trying to explain yourself is not an apology, it is an attempt at getting validation for whatever it is you did wrong because you don’t actually want to apologize. My advice is this: bite your tongue, swallow your pride, listen to what the other person has to say, and sincerely apologize.

There are also a few key ingredients to a good apology, in my opinion. The first is naming the bad deed. No “if I hurt your feelings” or “I’m sorry you feel that way” bullshit. Take full ownership for whatever it is you did, even if you don’t necessarily think you did anything wrong, the fact that whatever you did is affecting this person negatively is enough reason to sincerely apologize, especially if you have respect for this person. The second is a sincere apology. Look the person in the eyes and apologize from the bottom of your heart. Your apology should radiate from your heart to your fingertips to your toes. I should feel your apology vibrating off of you. There is no need to wax poetic about it, but it should be sincere, and if you feel it the other person will too. And finally, the last ingredient is time. Depending on the severity of whatever it is you did it can take a long time for someone to forgive you. Sometimes the person will forgive you immediately and you can both move on. But definitely give them the time to reflect on whatever it is you did, their feelings, and your apology. Demanding immediate forgiveness really negates the authenticity of your apology; because it reads as insincere, and it gives the impression that the apology is for your own benefit and not for the benefit of the other person. These subtle changes may not seem like a big deal, but I have noticed a huge change in the dynamic of my relationships with people post-fuck up after adopting them.

 

5) Become a feminist.

This will probably be my most controversial piece of advice, which I find interesting because I find adopting a feminist identity to be a no-brainer for any mildly decent human being. There are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding what it means to be a feminist. A lot of people think we are non-shaving, bra-burning, male tear collecting, misandrists, who spend all our time bitching about the state of the world while not actually doing anything about it. There are probably some feminists out there who are like that, and you know what, you do you. But at its core the feminist movement is so much more than that. In its most basic dictionary definition, feminism is a movement for the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. That sure sounds like a no-brainer, yeah?

However, it’s also a form of fundamental respect for people, their identities, their feelings, their opinions, etc. Sometimes people get pissed off because they feel like feminism is a movement grounded in being the most politically correct person all the time and that that infringes on their right to free speech (also known as someone’s undeniable right to be a fucking asshole), and to a certain extent that is true. But this form of political correctness stems from respect. We need to respect people and the unique hardships they face based on their sex, gender expression, sexuality, race, class, ability, religion, education, etc. We need to work together to level the playing field. To understand that a poor, queer woman of color definitely has a fundamentally different experience than I do as a middle-class white woman and because of that we experience different barriers and oppressions. I find it hard to believe that people feel so inconvenienced by feminism, because it really just means being a good human being and doing whatever you can to promote equity for everyone. If you don’t see the merit in that than you are probably an asshole and that’s really too bad.

Oh, and if you are one of those people who say that you believe in the goal of feminism but “it really should be called humanism” or “equalism” or whatever bullshit word you deem to be more relevant, you can literally fuck off, because that is 100% not the fucking point. I won’t apologize for the snark because it has to be said. So, just saying.

 

I realize that a lot of this advice comes from a place of privilege. I suffer from a very tolerable level of anxiety and depression, so that doesn’t color my world in the same way it does for a lot of others. Most of you probably already do a lot of these things. Maybe I sound like an idiot. Maybe you think I’m the asshole. Maybe you think my message would be clearer if I didn’t use the word fuck all the time, to which I say you can literally fuck off (lol just kidding, kinda). But regardless, these little tidbits are things that I have either discovered about myself or learned throughout my 22 years of existence, and I hope they are relevant in any way at all.

The majority of what I believe really boils down to two things, authenticity and vulnerability. I feel like people spend a lot of time not being an authentic version of themselves, either because it’s scary and they fear rejection, or because they don’t really know what being authentic looks like. But there is so much power, beauty and strength in authenticity. Being authentic does come from a deep place of vulnerability, but trust yourself and trust others enough to embrace that vulnerability. I’m sure a lot of us have been hurt before, and that prevents us from being vulnerable. And although that is a completely understandable defense mechanism, it also means that you are letting these incidents control who you are, and who wants to be defined by the things that have happened to them instead of embracing the vulnerable and the authentic and living your true life? Maybe that’s just my Piscean naiveté shining through, but so far, authenticity and vulnerability are my guiding principles, and maybe you would benefit from trying it out too. In any event, these are the life lessons of a recently 22 ingénue, feel free to take it or leave it.

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The Mirror

Author, Chandler Esslinger

Author, Chandler Esslinger

When is the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror? I mean really looked at yourself in the mirror? Stood butt ass naked in front of the mirror and were completely honest with your reflection? Stared at yourself for so long you didn’t even recognize your body anymore? You stare. And you stare. And you stare. Are you uncomfortable? Do you not like what you see staring back at you? Are you staring at your flaws? Or are you basking in the glory of your own perfectly imperfect perfection?

It is in these moments that I choose to love myself. I stand butt ass naked in front of my mirror every day and stare. This is a ritual I started a little over a year ago, shortly after I penned my blog post about my own struggle with body image. I realized that I needed to embody the words I wrote. I challenged myself to love myself more and more everyday. So, each morning I stand in front of the mirror and I let my emotions cascade over me. I want to understand myself, completely. I want to know every part of my body. I no longer wish to hide it, to cover it, to run from it. I choose to look at myself head on, unflinching, relentless. And I choose to love myself.

I still don’t have a perfect relationship with my body. Sometimes I feel bloated and disgusting and would rather not think about the 8 beers I had yesterday and the subsequent pepperoni, black olive, and jalapeño pizza I ordered. Sometimes nothing in my closet looks right, even though I have worn this exact same outfit half a dozen times. Today it is not right. Sometimes I feel guilty because I haven’t seen the inside of a gym for, well, a long time. And maybe if I started working out again my thighs wouldn’t jiggle, my arms would be more toned, and my stomach would lay a little flatter. Sometimes I wonder if I would look more proportionate if I got a boob job.

But most days, I look at myself in the mirror, and I am damn proud to have the body I have. I force myself to acknowledge the spots I would rather not think about, and I actively choose to love them. Even when I don’t want to. Even when I don’t think I can. I decided that people who say nasty things to me about my body can literally go fuck themselves because, how dare you? I eliminate toxic friends, lovers, and peers who do not make me feel like the best version of myself, because I respect myself too much to not be respected by others. Whenever I receive compliments about my appearance, I always say “thank you” even when that little voice in the back of my head wants to say “lol I haven’t showered in three days,” or “yeah but my eyebrows really need to be waxed,” or “nah, the shading on these jeans is just hella good.” And I consider all of these things to be little personal victories. Because I am choosing to empower myself. To love. To appreciate. To value.

In so many ways, self-love is the most radical act of all. We are all constantly bombarded by messages that reinforce our inferiority complexes. We beat ourselves up about the tiniest imperfections. But what are imperfections anyway? Would you consider those “imperfections” to be such if no one had ever told you they were “imperfections”? Who first told you that you weren’t beautiful? That your middle was a “muffin top” and not just your stomach? Who told you that your breasts/butt/penis/etc. was too big/small? Who the fuck told you that? Because, fuck that nonsense. And fuck anyone or anything that tries to convince you that bullshit is true.

I am not here to tell you that you are perfect the way you are, that is for you to figure out on your own terms. I am here to convince you that you deserve to love yourself. I am here to tell you that you can love yourself and still acknowledge things you don’t like sometimes. I am here to tell you that it is a constant struggle to love yourself, but it’s worth it. So I ask you again, what is more radical than self-love?

I’ve noticed a lot of positive changes in myself since I decided I deserved to love myself. Probably the most notable difference is the fact that I feel like an active participant in my own life, instead of the not-as-pretty quirky best friend to the main character. I feel like I can go after whatever I want, because dammit, I deserve it. I deserve to chase my goals. I owe it to myself to do so. And when I choose to love myself that is just one less battle I have to fight every second of every day. I don’t have to be my own worst enemy. Plus, it frees up a lot of brainpower that I can channel into reaching those goals of mine. And that’s pretty damn powerful if you ask me.

So, dear reader, I challenge you and your body to make up, once and for all. I know you’ve had a complex history, and maybe you don’t trust yourself just yet. But I challenge you to stand in front of your own mirror, butt ass naked in the morning, and stare. Don’t look down. Meet yourself in your own eyes and mentally trace your reflection. Head on. Unflinching. Relentless. Let your emotions cascade over you. Understand your entire canvas. And just when you think you can’t stare at yourself for a second longer, remember to love yourself unapologetically, unconditionally, and unabashedly. Because, trust me, you deserve it.

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Are you there MSUM? It’s me, Chandler.

 

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Change is brewing on Minnesota State University Moorhead’s campus. The imminent renovation of the Comstock Memorial Union is a great chance to give MSUM a much-needed update, and will also attempt to provide the student body with increased support, space, and opportunity on campus. Proposed concurrently with the CMU renovations is the creation of a “mosaic center”, a center that would serve as a combined community space for all safe spaces on campus. This center for the diverse student population would consolidate the Women’s Center and Rainbow Dragon Center (our LGBTQIA+ space) on campus as well as integrate the international student population. The center would also house director’s offices for such entities like the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Women’s Center, the Rainbow Dragon Center and other diversity offices on campus. On paper, providing a community space for the diverse student population sounds like a great idea, and in many ways, it is. It appears that the goal of the “mosaic center” is to champion diversity on our campus, while also fostering community, understanding, and collaboration amongst diverse students, campus organizations, faculty, and staff. However, the caveat to the creation of this “mosaic center” is that it would eliminate the few purposefully autonomous safe spaces available on our campus, notably the Women’s Center and the Rainbow Dragon Center. Let me be clear in saying that I am NOT anti-mosaic center. I believe this space is necessary to support diverse students on campus and promote inclusivity, understanding, and fellowship amongst the entire campus. However, my contention is that this space would not provide diverse students with the safe, autonomous spaces they need in order to feel secure and supported at a university that can be hostile towards diversity. The administration argues that the Women’s Center and Rainbow Dragon Center would endure because of the existence of their director’s offices within the mosaic center, however the safe autonomous spaces in and of themselves would not be present within the center. This, in effect, abolishes any kind of safe space available to students, faculty, and staff at MSUM. To quote my favorite professor, when a single, autonomous drop of water falls from the sky and lands in the ocean, it is no longer an autonomous drop of water, it has become consumed by the ocean. It can no longer be identified or separated from the ocean since it has lost all autonomy. This is evocative of the way safe spaces will be integrated into our campus; the intentional autonomy and safety of these spaces will be taken away and consumed by the ocean. I cannot and will not agree with the elimination of these spaces.

I have had patience. I have had faith. I have had dialogues, discussions, and “casual collisions”. I have spoken. I have listened. I have tried to understand every point of view. But I can no longer in good conscience idly wait for the university to recognize the deleterious effects the consequences of their actions will have on students at MSUM’s campus. But before I get to that, lets discuss what I mean when I refer to the Women’s Center and the Rainbow Dragon Center as safe spaces on campus.

“Safe space” refers to the centers available to students with marginalized identities, be it race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, religion, etc. Each space has an intentional purpose. For example, the Women’s Center provides support, resources, and community to women specifically, but also to those of all genders, sexual orientations, etc. who wish to be free from the oppression of the patriarchy, if only for a moment throughout their day. The Women’s Center is a purposefully feminist space that works to dismantle everyday sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, fat-shaming, ableism, ageism, victim-blaming, and general hatefulness that exists (yes, it exists) on our campus. It provides diverse students the opportunity to be unapologetically themselves without the fear of derision, prejudice, judgment, microaggressions, or violence. The Women’s Center provides resources, community, and support to those affected by sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other forms of violence against women, which occurs every single day in our community (yes it does). This kind of identity security can only be fostered in a safe, autonomous space like the Women’s Center or the Rainbow Dragon Center. These necessities cannot be recreated in a collaborative student space such as the mosaic center, and the rest of campus cannot possibly provide these same resources due to its lack of intentional focus on these issues. Trying to do so would fail our student’s needs. This denial of our specific needs in favor of a larger community space does not reaffirm our identities. It relegates us the same, it silences our voices, and it renders us invisible. It would allow individuals to slip through the cracks. To drop out of school. To tumble into depression. To sacrifice their lives.

If these claims sound melodramatic to you, then you do not understand the lived realities of the students on our campus. The strength it takes for them to get out of bed everyday and face a world hostile towards their identity. To navigate a society that may never truly appreciate them the way they are. To live to fight another day when it would be much easier not to. I hear it, I see it, I feel it every day at MSUM.

I hear it from the students who have such horrific interactions with other students and faculty who do not respect their identity that they descend into pits of anguish, despair, and self-hate.

I see it in the side-glances, the double takes, the smirks, the laughs, the crude gestures, the casual objectification, and the outright harassment of men, women, and non-binary individuals in the hallways.

I feel it in the constant reminders from administration that I don’t know what is best for my peers and myself, even though we embody their theories, their rhetoric, and their diversity goals every single day of our lives.

We are not your numbers, we are not your graduation rates, we are not your tuition fees, we are not your diversity checkboxes. We are human beings with lives that intersect with each other, that intertwine with our experiences on and off campus, and that inform our self-worth. Instead of merely acknowledging the differences that inform our identity and “celebrating” those differences in the name of championing diversity, we need support for those differences, and for the specific needs that come along with those differences. We need our autonomous spaces, our chosen families, and our safe communities.

With all of this in mind, I ask for your support. You can be our biggest ally, our fiercest support system, and we desperately crave that relationship with you. We know you want what is best for us, to support our differences, and to provide us “the opportunity to discover [our] passions, the rigor to develop intellectually and the versatility to shape a changing world.” We have the motivation, the ambition, and the fearless desire to give every student at MSUM the tools to thrive. In order to do that we need you to acknowledge our need for autonomous safe spaces and for relentless support and pride. So please, reflect and decide what is more important to you. Is it to listen to, support, and care for the lived realities of the diverse students on our campus? Or is it to relegate us as the same under the banner of diversity, to silence our voices, and to render us invisible? Until then, I will continue to have patience and faith. I will continue to relentlessly fight. And I will not be silent.

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How I Realized I Wasn’t Pretty – A Video Tribute To My Mother

Last week I posted an article called “The Day I Realized I Wasn’t Pretty” about my struggle with body image and how my mother’s struggle with her own self-worth forced me to face my own issues. I used that article as inspiration for a Final Project for my class, Media and Diverse Identities, at MSUM taught by the amazing Kandace Creel Falcon. This video is a digital story of photos, narrated by me, about those same issues brought up in my article. Adding images and my own voice allows this message to hit a little harder in my opinion. Below, I have to link to my video so please check it out and leave feedback! Under the video I have also posted my Final Paper reflection so all of you can see how this relates to my feminist views on the media as well. Enjoy!

When I first began creating my digital story I had no idea on the huge impact it would have not only on myself, but also on my mother, and for my friends that my story would reach. Since I chose the very personal topic of body image, this project became very cathartic and healing for me. Behind the scenes, this project not only took sweat and determination, but also quite a few tears because of its sensitive nature. I love the idea of a digital story as a means of combining pictures, voice, and personal narratives to create a multidimensional representation of a theme or topic. Since I focused on both my mother’s and my own struggle with body image a few of the themes that I focused on were the media’s effects and impact on one’s body image, the central ideas surrounding what it means to be feminine, and how misogyny is perpetrated through the media by contributing to women’s self-loathing around their bodies.

Telling this story was very important to me because body image issues have been something I have struggled with my whole life. I remember the day I realized I wasn’t pretty, the day it was confirmed I wasn’t pretty, and just about every day after that when I reminded myself how unattractive I was. I remember the intense depression, self-loathing, and general malaise that went hand in hand with these thoughts.  It was also important to tell this story for my mother. I don’t know anyone as amazing as my mother, and it hurts me so much to see that she often wraps her self worth up in how she feels about her appearance, when she is so much more than that (not to mention beautiful). However, probably the most important part about this project for me was catharsis.  As someone who has just recently come to terms with my body and being confident in not only how I look, but my entire being, it was important to reflect on some of the very hurtful memories and animosity I felt towards myself. This project not only allowed for so much self-reflection and healing, but it also opened up a dialogue between my mother and I about body image issues. She feels a lot of guilt over “showing me” how to hate my body, but this project is not to point blame at where I learned my self-loathing, it is to foster an environment of healing for myself and for her. My digital story is an ode to my mother’s beauty, and how my reflection on her struggle has allowed me to dismiss my own flaws and love myself for the beauty I hold both inside and out. And that has been truly powerful.

As far as addressing themes we talked about in WS 415, there are a lot of connections we can make between body image issues and topics like media’s impact on society and individuals, patriarchy, and what it means to be feminine. According to the media’s definition of “femininity,” I might as well not be a woman. I do not fit the traditional mold of femininity constructed by the media: I am tall, have broad shoulders, I take up space, I am considered “plus-size”, and the list goes on and on. All of these factors that permeate my self-perception are inherently based on medias influences of what we are told is beautiful, which is one of the many ways the media impacts women in a negative way. It constantly tells us we are not good enough as we are, and we never will be. All of these ideas are also intertwined with the agenda of the patriarchy. With male run corporations controlling media for the masses, it is not too hard to see that in one way or another, men are creating and perpetuating body shame and self loathing. The patriarchy is a multifaceted creature with roots that reach almost every realm of the media, and we are poisoned by its messages. For all of these reasons I felt the need to share my story of overcoming my body issues, and asserting myself as a confident, beautiful, feminist. I hope that my story will be able to reach an audience that has ever felt that way I do about my body, who will then use my struggle as a means of overcoming their own feelings of inadequacy in order to subvert the patriarchy in arguably its most dangerous game: instilling feelings of worthlessness in an entire sex based on their appearance. If we can all overcome these feelings, and work together to overthrow this system of oppression, we will be a forced to be reckoned with, and we will take no patriarchal prisoners.

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