STOP SHAMING.

I have been very bothered recently by a video that’s been going around of sorority women at a baseball game.

The women are not really paying attention to the game. They are looking at their phones, taking selfies, and posing for pictures with each other. And the announcers are making fun of them. “Oh, does this one look better than the other 300 that I’ve taken?” an announcer mocks. They also finish announcing a play, pan to the girls and say “And nobody noticed!” They also make comments about how they should take away their phones and not give them back until the end of the game.

The number of people that have shared this mocking the women makes me infuriated. And I’ll tell you why. I’m assuming that people think this video is a representation of a. That these girls don’t care about sports. b. They are selfish, too into themselves and their beauty and c. They should not be there if they are not paying attention to the game. and d. They are a billboard for “this generation” and it is “horrible.”

What I don’t understand is that obviously there was not much going on important in the game, otherwise THE CAMERA WOULD BE ON THE GAME AND NOT THE GIRLS. So why are people so angry? If there’s a lull in the action, why wouldn’t they check their phones?

And hey, have you ever gone to a concert and taken a selfie with your friends during the concert? Have you ever gone to an event and had a few adult beverages and now can’t remember exactly what happened? Have you ever answered your phone while you’ve been out with friends? Have you ever taken a picture of yourself IN GENERAL? Then technically you’re doing the same exact thing that the women were doing, and you should not be shaming them for that. And you know what? The women were paying customers. That means they get to do WHATEVER THEY WANT during the game. If they choose not to pay attention, so be it. Maybe they wanted to experience the atmosphere and not necessarily watch the game. But they should be able to do that. Because they PAID to.

I guess what bothers me most is this video and the comments that people are making perpetuates stereotypes. “Girls don’t understand sports. Girls love taking selfies. Girls shouldn’t be able to go to a game and not pay attention. Sorority girls are dumb. This generation cares about nothing other than themselves.”

The College Panhellenic Association at Arizona State University, where the womresponseen were from, had a beautiful response to the comments going around.

In case you can’t read the photo, it states, “…(We do) not condone the sexist and misogynistic comments made towards the women in the Panhellenic community…We support the women of Alpha Chi Omega who have been subjected to inappropriate an inexcusable media attention. We believe the comments are undermining women’s confidence, projecting negative stereotypes intended to demean and diminish the worth of our fellow sorority women and ASU students, and continue to promote a sexist environment within professional sports.” It then goes on to list the many accomplishments of the women in the sorority and the great things that they have done. The final paragraph states, “We cannot sit silent nor idle as our fellow women are treated in such a chauvinistic way. We want to take this opportunity to educate all those who have participated in these negative comments on the importance of respecting women and how their words have a greater impact on breaking the glass ceiling of women’s rights.”

I found this response on Facebook posted under the video of the women, and thought it was perfect. Apparently other people did not though, and went so far as to question why you “can’t call a girl a girl these days.”

FIRST of all, they are not “girls”, they are women. SECOND of all, things that perpetuate stereotypes like these or even jokes made about women that are “not harmful” are actually indeed harmful. These ideas contribute to an environment where people think it is okay to think these things about women and continue to escalate the cycle of privilege and oppression. So to some people, I’m sure I’m “overreacting.” But I’m tired of hearing that women are vain. I’m tired of hearing they can’t be into “manly things” such as sports. I am tired of hearing that this generation is doomed because we are glued to technology. Because you know what? It’s not just this generation that’s glued into technology; Everyone contributes to a society where technology is so valued as it is today.

I am grateful that I work with college students, because although I do have to deal with negative situations, I also deal with extremely positive ones. I have watched students help each other. I have watched students fight for their rights and the rights of others. I have watched a group of women in a sorority put on events that are philanthropic in nature and contribute positively to society. I have watched a group of young black men hold an event to talk about stereotypes and share their voice in order to break the cycle of oppression. I witness sisterhood. I witness brotherhood. I witness random acts of kindness. And I get to see these things every day. So I may be privileged in that regard, because I don’t think this generation is doomed. It may be, though, if people continue to spread things that demean others and continue to hold them back. But I won’t sit idly by and watch it happen, because I know we can do better.

Fat is not an insult-it’s who I am. And I am worthy.

Today I came across an article called My Boyfriend Loves Fat Women. It really struck a chord with me. I have felt so many of the feelings that the author has felt. One of the quotes really got to me:

 As a fat woman, I have been taught that there is an order of operations for love: First, you get thin; then, you can date who you want. Until you do the first thing, the second thing is impossible.

Until recently, as in, like, two years ago, I was truly unaware that people could be attracted to fat people. Really. I have heard for my entire life that fat people are not deserving of love, that I would never find love unless I became less fat, and that no one could ever be attracted to a fat person. Therefore, I have walked around for 23 years on this Earth thinking that I needed to be something different because no one would ever want me. Jeez. No wonder I’ve struggled with my self-confidence.

In this article, the author describes a similar situation. She thinks that by winning the affections of someone who is, shall we say, NOT fat, that she has beaten the system. She has overcome. She even states, “In my mind, I had done the impossible.” Suddenly I realized: it’s not just me. Other fat people have felt the exact same way that I have: that we are not capable of finding love because that is the message that we have always been told.

How TERRIBLE. Shame on us. And I say “us” because I do fall into that category myself. I have told myself that. I have had thoughts about fat people myself. I have judged before I have known what was going on. I am a contributor to this problem.

I have begun to surround myself with more body-positive and fat-positive images. I have recently begun following EffYourBeautyStandards on Instagram and have become an admirerer of Tess Munster. Tess runs the site, and, as you may have heard, has become the first plus-sized model to be signed to a major agency. One of the things that Tess has to clarify over and over again is that she is healthy. She works out with a trainer and eats healthily. She just so happens to be plus-sized. And she has SO much confidence. She’s gotten a lot of backlash because people believe that having plus-sized role models “glorify obesity.” Newsflash: FAT PEOPLE CAN BE HEALTHY. Shocking, I know. But one of the lies that society spreads is that fat people are always unhealthy and that it is not good to be fat. In fact, a lot of people believe it is the WORST thing to be fat. Everyone is always afraid of it. I can’t tell you how many times a day I hear “I ate this today. I am gonna be so fat.” or “Ew, gross. I feel so fat today.” or “I’m gonna be fat and eat all of this!”

I always struggle with what to say to these comments. First of all, many people who say this are not fat. Second of all, it’s like people are subtly saying “Fat is bad and I don’t want to be it, but I’ll continue to act this way because I know I’m not actually fat.” How insulting to people who actually are fat. Because let me tell you from experience: I can do all the right things, eat right and exercise and blah blah blah, and at the end of the day I will STILL be fat. It’s just me. Could I work to become more healthy in my daily habits? Absolutely. And I know I do need to work on it. But I know I won’t ever be a “skinny” person. And that doesn’t mean that I won’t be healthy. Nothing is guarunteed when it comes to health. Someone who could be considered healthy just by their appearance can suffer from heart attacks. Like so many other things, you cannot base how someone is just by how they look. And yet, we continue to do that with fat people AND tell them that they’re disgusting, lazy, and worthless. This is not okay.

It’s made me think a lot about my work in student affairs and how I’ve let this affect my life. I’ve spent far too many years thinking I’m not good enough. This has definitely translated into my work. I’m always afraid that people don’t like me, that my words and ideas don’t matter. On my worst days, I think I’m going to be fired over nothing. Part of that is because I really want to do my best, but part of that is also because I’ve always believed my best is not okay. Sometimes I think people don’t think I’m capable, that I can’t handle certain things. I fear that my colleagues think I’m not a good role model for students. I wonder if students whom I discipline or who don’t like me call me “fat” behind my back because to them, it’s an insult with a capital I. And I feel for the students who are overweight, and I wonder what they go through on a day-to-day basis and if it’s anything like what I’ve gone through.

So many of us in this field have made a commitment to being healthy. And that is wonderful. But with that, we also need to make a commitment to destroy the stigmas of health and fitness-one of them being that fat people absolutely cannot be healthy. If people want to lose weight, they should do it because they want to, not because they feel they have to in order to be able to fit in or be considered worth something. And we should also be open to considering the fact that fat people could potentially actually be healthy despite their size. We should make health more personal. It is a person’s own business of whether or not they are healthy-we shouldn’t be telling other people they need to do this or that in order to be healthier. You can say and share what you’re doing, sure. But no one should be shaming anyone into being what they consider to be healthy. And for the LOVE of ALL that is good-please stop using “fat” as an insult, even towards yourself. By doing this, you are telling people who are fat that they are themselves an insult. You therefore cannot fully help your students that are fat, because you believe that they have something wrong with them. They may have NOTHING wrong with them. It’s not for you to judge.

As for me, I will no longer continue to believe that I am not worthy of love, and that no one will ever be attracted to me. I know this is not true. I will continue to work on my confidence. I love my job, and I’m good at it. And I will work towards achieving justice and equality for my students of every shape, size, and color, because we all deserve to believe we have a place in this world.

 

One word: Confidence

I want to feel brave enough to do anything I put my mind to!

Recently I came upon the “One Word” Movement. I was reading through some old documents and saw that the building I’m currently running had decided to do this as a staff. Essentially people who choose to do this will pick one word that they want to live up to for the entire year…kind of like a New Year’s resolution, only more manageable. I found this a profound idea, and from the documents I was reading it seemed like the students and staff really took to it. Not only that, but they said it helped them set goals and they actually saw a real improvement in themselves.
Then, yesterday, I read this article that essentially stated the same thing, with a twist-a man decided to change his password to something he wanted to accomplish-forgiving his ex-wife. He found it very healing, very cathartic, and over time he began to set goals for himself by changing his password. It was a reminder every day to do the things he wanted to do-and he found these one word phrases to be very powerful in his life. To anyone who says words can’t hurt or do nothing, I beg to differ. But anywho…
I’ve decided to join the movement. What better time than my first professional job than to come up with a “New Year’s Resolution” of sorts? And so, for me, my word is going to be one of the things I find to be the hardest: confidence.
It’s hard to say when my struggle with self-acceptance began, but I think it started when I was young. I’d always been chubby, and my family has always been very body-conscious. I’ve struggled with that my whole life. Then to top that off, my brother and I are 14 months apart, with me being the elder. He did well in school while I struggled. He was athletic while I was more creative and musically inclined. Even though it was unintentional (or at least I hope it was), there was definitely some competition and rivalry between us. I think it’s these factors that made me self-conscious. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone…and I still do. It was a hard thing for me to realize that no matter how nice I am, no matter how well I sing, no matter how I look, no matter how much I try to make other people happy, not everyone is going to like me. However, that didn’t stop me from trying. It got to this really unhealthy point where I realized I was only doing things because other people told me to, not because I truly enjoyed them. That’s when I started doing things for me.
It has been a rocky road. I almost didn’t go to grad school. I had trouble finding an assistantship, and then when I did I was lonely. But I grew. I grew so much that I was honored as the Graduate Assistant of the Year. Then the job search struggles happened. I learned to just be myself and that it wasn’t always about me, it was about fit. That was hard, wondering if I fit somewhere that I really liked. But eventually I’ve found my new job, and like my last post mentioned, I’m unbelievably happy. But I still struggle with confidence, and wondering if other people like me.
The thing is, I know that they loved me here and that’s why they hired me. They believed I would fit in with the other people and that I would make a great addition to the team. I am going to try my best and my hardest to make sure that I am a great addition, but I also need to believe that I already am. I have what it takes. I’ve got skills. I’m competent. I can do this. As for other people liking me…well, if they don’t, at least they respect me. Again, not everyone is going to like you. People naturally bond with other people. But I’m here to do a job, and as long as I have my colleague’s trust and respect, that’s all I need.
So my word for this year is “confidence”. Every time I feel unworthy, I’m going to think this word. Every time I question a decision, I’ll remember to trust myself and my abilities. Every time I feel like I’m feeling vulnerable, I’m going to remember to be confident. And in the end, I hope I really will feel confidence in myself without having to try. I want it to come naturally. I believe in the power of one word, and I welcome the changes this word will bring.

Making Choices as a Female in Higher Education

Recently I’ve been recieved pressure from my father to get my PhD. And honestly, he started talking to me about it on my graduation weekend. I hadn’t even gone to the ceremony yet! It has just got me thinking about the difficulty of making choices for females in higher education. I’ve been reading a lot of great books over the past year that talk about the struggles that only females face, and about how we plan out our lives before they even happen. We want to get married and have kids, so we don’t necessarily take all the leaps and jumps that we could or should. I’m proud of myself that so far I haven’t limited myself to anything. I’ve done what I wanted when I wanted to. But will I do that in my future? Should I be considering my PhD?
In a way, I’m glad my dad is pushing me to go above and beyond. He has told me before that he didn’t think I’d do so well in school…which honestly is a little bit of an insult, but I guess it’s a product of the world he grew up in, and the fact that I was a little flighty and dreamy when I was younger. But I also think my father has realized that women are still treated differently, and in order for me to progress and excel in my field, he believes a doctorate is necessary. I don’t really agree with him, since it will depend on where I want to go in higher ed. Yet, I can see his point.
It should feel like a choice, not a sacrifice or that I’m being forced into it. Females shouldn’t feel like martyrs for the sake of our careers. I shouldn’t have to “wait” for a perfect time to do anything-if I want to do it I should be able to. These are things that I have to think about that my male counterparts may not.
I don’t know what my career is going to be like. All I know and all I can hope for is that when the time comes to make any decision, I will be supported and encouraged by everyone…including my father.