To my future daughter…

To my future daughter,

I want you to know that the world is beautiful.

It is here and nowhere else that butterflies are free to fly and elephants roam about.

The world is beautiful all around because it is here where you may always live in curiosity,

Because here you shall never be disappointed when you are striving to learn.

Little girl, the world is so beautiful,

Because it is here that flowers bloom every year and colorful leaves fall above you.

Baby girl, I hope you always see this beauty,

Because only here can you dance in the piazzas of Venice and stand in awe at the beauty of Paris.

My pretty girl, I will not lie, this world is not only filled with beauty.

It will hurt you, push you, kick you.

But this world is forgiving and this world is kind.

It will pick you up and encourage you to fly.

So, my beautiful girl, please listen to me now,

This world is yours to live in and yours to share.

Your beauty exists to mix with the butterflies and elephants and piazzas and create this amazing place.

To my future daughter, take what I have learned,

Dance in the rain and sing with the birds,

Because you are so beautiful and your world is too.

To the boy that sexually assaulted me…

To the boy who sexually assaulted me,

I don’t know if you remember me, since you were very drunk when we met. It was my first time ever meeting you; I still don’t know your name. You were waiting for me at the door of the party, as if you were an animal stalking its prey. As I stepped in the room, you pounced.

I don’t know if you remember pulling me away from my friends, but you isolated me. It was a very crowded room, I couldn’t see them anymore. You were a lot bigger than me, it was almost impossible to get away. I screamed for you to let me go.

I don’t know if you remember putting your hand up my shirt, but you brought tears to my eyes. You had your lips by my ear, drunkenly whispering sexual comments to me. You said you wanted to take me away, you said that I was perfect, you said that you needed my clothes to be off. I was so scared, but I don’t think you cared.

I don’t know if you remember me hitting you, but I was desperately trying to get away. The room we were in was filled with people, but no one seemed to notice what was happening to me. As you forced your mouth to mine, I wanted to kill you.

I don’t know if you remember my rage, but you laughed at it and pushed me away. You said that I’d be back, you said that I can’t resist you. You watched me search for my friends and enjoyed my fear-stricken struggle. You made me terrified of every boy around me.

I don’t know who you are, but if you read this I want you to know that I think you are pathetic. I want you to know that I am stronger than you. I want you to know that if I ever see you again, I will make sure you remember what you did to me.

Sexual assault is too common, and more people need to learn to stand up to it. If someone was to step in, I wouldn’t have had to go through that alone. So if anyone does relate to my story, know that I am here for you and willing to give you support. Survivors need to band together to show the world that we are here to fight.

I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either

As I sit here in this coffee shop, drinking chai tea and looking at the people sitting around me, I quickly notice the diversity that surrounds me. There is an older woman next to me who looks to be in her late 40’s doing school work. A little bit farther, there is a black girl scrolling through Twitter. To the right of her, an Indian boy listening to music, mouthing out the words while looking through a textbook. Next to the door, a white girl who biked here, drinking a frozen mocha and looking out the window. We are all different, and we may have nothing in common except the fact that we all happen to be at Biggby Coffee on this day. With that said, I cannot find anything negative to say about these people, and that is exactly how it should be.

Confidence is a hard thing to have. Nowadays, it takes real courage to stand up for yourself. Why is that? Why should it take everything you have to look in the mirror and say, “I am an incredible human being”? There should be nothing that stops you from believing that. Other people should not affect how you feel about yourself; their opinions should not dismantle your own. However, that is much easier said than done.

For a long time, I believed that there was some magical recipe for being beautiful. I thought that if I straightened my hair every day and made any cellulite I had invisible and wore really expensive makeup, people would look at me and think, “wow, I want to look like her.” As I grew up though, I realized that there is no magic potion that would make me beautiful. In fact, I began to understand that the only way other people will perceive me as a beautiful person is if I believe that I am. I’m not only talking about physical beauty either – I would have to believe that my mind exhibits something amazing too, which was very difficult.

That is exactly the problem. Convincing myself that I am worth everything and anything should not be difficult. I found a quote on Tumblr the other day that actually presented this in a very deep way:

“At seventeen,
the hardest choice you should have
to make is what clothes you want
to wear,
or what food you want
to eat;
not sitting at the edge of your bed
at four in the morning
considering whether or not
your existence matters in this world.”

This is an issue so many people face, and it is one that often goes unnoticed. We are a generation of “I’m fine”, and “Don’t worry about it”, rather than “I need to vent, can you listen for a bit?” We are a generation that questions ourselves and whether or not we are good enough for the people around us even though we know that we will constantly disappoint ourselves by thinking this way. We are a generation that doubts our own beauty and worth simply because we aren’t up to date on the latest trends. We are a generation that blames society and by doing so, blames ourselves.

I dare you to look into a mirror today and tell yourself that you are amazing. Compliment yourself. Walk outside, think to yourself that you are beautiful, and do whatever you need to do. Smile at everyone you walk past and tell a stranger they look good. If you present an aurora of confidence, it will pass on to those around you. In order to breed confidence, you must start with yourself. Let me get you started: I am not embarrassed to love myself, and you shouldn’t be either.

Wait, should I be scared of frat boys?

I am a young girl moving to a big city. This poses a lot of concern, most (but not all) of which lies with my parents. To comfort themselves and give me advice, these are the comments I usually hear about my future move:

“Don’t walk alone at night – ever.”

“Find a guy to take you to and from any night classes.”

“Don’t let a random guy pour you a drink.”

“Always be on the lookout, you never know what is going to happen.”

Comments like these have instilled a fear in me; a fear of what, I do not exactly know. The only thing that is for sure is that I am terrified to walk down an alleyway or past a man when I am alone.

I have heard so many stories about the “rape culture” at universities. The frat boy that uses and abuses the naive freshman, or the older guy at the bar that slips a little something into your drink as he brings it over to you. If you choose to report it, no consequences are put in place, and if you don’t, the abuse continues. That is absolutely terrifying to me. In fact, if I hadn’t had prior experience with tailgates and parties, I don’t know if I would even take the risk.

So why are girls my age so scared of boys? Is it because they are all out to hurt us at some time or another? Or is it possible that the fear comes from years of being told that we are going to be hurt by them? For example, when I was little, my mom never wanted me to go to the deep end of the pool. It was her biggest fear that I was going to drown. So as I got older, I began to associate the deep end of the pool with negative consequences – and then I started associating water in general with those same consequences. Now, I am terrified to be in lakes or oceans where my feet cannot touch the ground and I will cry out with fear if you dunk me in the pool. I think that this is sort of the same concept. We are told at a young age that specific, bad men are going to look to hurt us, but as we get older, we begin to believe that all men are like that, which of course is completely false.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are boys at universities and in the workplace who truly believe sexual harassment and rape is okay. I know that they are sick people that do not deserve to see the light of day. I pray that as I continue my journey into college, I do not have to meet any of those kind of people. However I also believe that we should be careful how we word things to young girls. I do not believe it is fair to tell them that men are looking to hurt them. I do not believe it is fair for me to have to be fearful walking back from class. I do not believe that it is fair to categorize males as those who create terror and females as victims. It could easily be the other way around.

You see, this is what feminism is all about. Just as I should not be scared to run an errand alone, a boy should not have to be a victim of skepticism. There should be no questions like, “Do you think he drugged her? I don’t know, he doesn’t seem like that kind of guy…” Men and women both deserve equal respect. No gender should be scared of what the other thinks of them, because that is exactly what keeps the gender lines so strong.

Rape-culture-pic

Someone explain to me the obsession with prom?

As my readers know, I’m at the end of my senior year of high school. I still have plenty of memories to be made within the last few months of my senior year, including graduation, graduation parties, the senior party and… prom. Ugh.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love getting dressed up and looking pretty as much as the next girl, but prom seems to be held up on a pedestal for high school girls and I just don’t get it. I see girls obsessing over how they are going to get asked and plotting how to get the perfect boy to go with them; “proposals” are all over my twitter feed showing over the top, ridiculous ways to get asked. For example, there are girls getting asked with new Nike shoes, Michael Kors watches, and puppies or kittens. Why is that necessary?

You are spending one night with this person. Why would you spend that much money for them to go to a school function with you? I obviously missed the memo that told girls to expect ridiculous things from boys. I honestly don’t know how I would react if a boy showed up on my front porch with a puppy, just to ask me to prom. I would most likely question what was going through his head when he thought that was a good idea.

What is even worse than the “promposals” is the dress shopping. Here’s why it’s insane:

“OMG her dress is the same color as mine! I can’t go looking like we almost match!”
“Wow her dress is so ugly… why did she leave her house looking like that?”
“You only spent $200 on your dress? Well I spent $860 so obviously mine is better.”
“She looks so gross, haha thank god I look better than her.”

I can’t even put into words how frustrating this is. Prom shouldn’t be about who looks the best or who spent the most, it should be a stress free event to celebrate the fact that you are done with high school. No one should care about how much other girls dresses cost or how they got asked or who they went with. Yet unfortunately, that is exactly how prom is now.

I hear these comments again and again and it’s truly depressing. Girls and guys alike are so rude to each other, and for what? What satisfaction does that bring to you? Please share with me how putting someone down makes your prom night better.

Girls – please focus on yourself when this night rolls around, and guys – please refrain from blowing your parents money on something that is better when it is sweet and simple. Let yourself enjoy prom, don’t ruin it by stressing yourself out over nothing.

Why you should love yourself … “#LikeAGirl”

I will be the first to admit that I have no idea how football works. I don’t understand it whatsoever, and no matter how many times my family and friends have tried to explain it, I simply just don’t get it. So when super bowl Sunday rolls around, I usually find myself a seat next to the chips and salsa and wait around for the commercials to start. Yesterday, I believe most people were quite disappointed with the lack of comedic commercials; it seemed as though almost all of them were either extremely dark (Nationwide) or very emotional (moms, dads, self-esteem…). One, however controversial, stuck out to me.

The feminine product brand Always had a commercial showing what doing something “like a girl” means to people; specifically the difference between prepubescent girls and teenagers. I found it absolutely empowering for young girls. I think most people forget how horrible it is to grow up. As a young girl, you’re not worried about makeup, clothes, boys, acne, money, popularity… all you care about is getting chores done so you can play outside. I was thrilled that they created this social experiment to show why we have feminism, because so many girls are put down simply for being a girl, and that needs to change.

I can definitely say that I’ve had more than my fair share of experiences with low self-esteem. It’s a phase that almost every girl goes through. Girls are taught from the start to look a certain way and talk a certain way, and what happens if they don’t? Well, society just pushes those girls down to the bottom rung of the ladder. Every girl is supposed to be skinny, they should have long hair that shines, pretty blue eyes, a perfect complexion, and the most important: curves. It’s easy to get down on yourself if you don’t have these features.

What makes it even worse is that girls aren’t even allowed to love themselves. If a girl posts a picture of herself that is captioned “I just felt beautiful today,” her peers either don’t like it or attack her for being conceded. Since when did self-love become conceded? PLEASE explain that to me. If I want to say I’m beautiful, who are you to tell me I’m not?

So this is what we need to do – we need to teach young girls that freckles are cute, that scars can be pretty, that hair of all types is gorgeous, that every shade of skin color is absolutely stunning, that each and every girl can feel like a queen without having someone tell them they are. We need to preach self-love and confidence so it doesn’t die as they grow older. Girls need to believe in themselves, they shouldn’t have to rely on others to figure out if they are beautiful or not.

As for myself, I can tell you that I’ve grown to hate the little lisp that slips out when I get nervous and the freckles that magically appear when I go outside. I have never liked the way my hair curled in some places and not in others and I hate the fact that my skin is basically at war with me. I’ve always wished my feet were smaller than a size 10 and that I was shorter than 5’7″ and my waist was smaller than a size 8.

However, with confidence I have come to learn that the lisp that slips out is part of me, that my freckles come out when I’m enjoying the sun – they arise from happiness. My hair looks natural and that in itself is beautiful, my skin will change in time just as everyones does. My feet and my height and my waist all perfectly coincide with each other and that is how it was meant to be. I was not put on this earth to spend the years hating myself, I was put here to love myself and spread that love to those around me. So why don’t we start teaching every girl that this is how it should be?

#AlexFromTarget

So recently on social media, there has been a trending picture of teenage boy working at target. The picture was taken because the girl he was ringing up thought he was very attractive. Apparently, millions of other people did too.

Here’s what I don’t understand. If the roles were switched, and a guy took a picture of a girl he found extremely attractive, without informing her he was taking the picture, and posted it on social media, World War III would break out. People would scream out comments such as “that’s objectifying her” “boys can’t focus on anything but looks” “this is disgusting” “how do you think she feels about the fact that her face is all over guys phones” and so on.

Ellen would be interviewing the guy who took the picture, asking how he thought it would be okay to post something like that on social media. The feminist movement would add that as another one of their examples for unwanted catcalling. The situation in general would just be a mess.

Currently however, there are thousands of girls begging this boy to have sex with them, his face is all over the internet, he has been stalked by multiple girls, and no one has stopped to think, “hey, I’m pretty sure this is sexual harassment.” It seems that only girls can be harassed in society right now. Only girls can be objectified. When a girl posts a picture of a guy purely because of his physical appearance, it’s just something girls do. Girls will be girls I suppose, but we will forever fight for boys not to be boys.