My Weight and I

I have struggled with my weight my whole life. Literally, since junior infants I was chubby. I used to get bullied about it back then. As I got older, the bullying changed. It wasn’t direct insults, but it was shown in social exclusion and laughing/talking behind my back.
Santa

See that boy to the right wearing a tye dye tshirt and hideous… whatever those jackets are called?! That’s me, aged eight, perhaps.

A lot of my former friends poked fun at my weight, as I did too; a coping mechanism. Transitioning into teenage-hood I realised that teenage boys in particular liked to tease girls about their weight, especially quiet fat girls; and as I was one, this taunting from young men would continue into my young adulthood (17)…
Sometimes the “hoodies” would shout at me in the streets or call me names based on my weight. I never really got insults from women. I think a lot of young men see bigger women as a threat because they don’t initially feel power over them so they have to prove their superiority by being cruel (I am sure there’s better psychology behind it than that – but a psychologist I am not…)
I’m sure the fact that I am quiet in nature with strangers doesn’t help. I have never once stood up for myself against someone making fun of my weight.
I have online; but that’s different. You can hide behind a picture and feel safe defending yourself.
fat kid.jpg

Here I am trying to squash my small brother into nothingness it would seem. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get dresses in child sizes…

When I escaped the hell hole that was secondary school and teenage-hood, I thought the bullying would stop. But it didn’t. Even when I went to college other boys my age still poked fun at my weight. It even happens now, although less frequently.
As someone who suffers from depressive episodes, extreme stress and anxiety… I see bullying about my weight as essentially vocalizing my number one insecurity that I have always and will always have (even when I do succeed in losing weight)
my childhood

That’s me on the far left. Note to current day children: don’t tie your cardigan around your waist. It screams clueless pensioner. As does my ill looking face. How could a child who looks like that be anything other than miserable?! (It’s what’s on the inside that counts?!)

My fat child is a part of me and she would be even if I were now skinny. I indirectly learned at a young age that people didn’t like me because I was fat and weird. And so, my size, appearance and social awkwardness manifested into my worst enemies. Which translated into, of course, my worst enemy being myself.
I am not writing this post for sympathy. I am writing it to spread a message. And that is… people are normally fat for a reason.
In fact, of (almost) all of the overweight people I know, all have suffered with low self esteem, have been the victims of bullies, relationship abuse, manipulation, self harm, depression, anxiety…
Many (including myself at times) get extreme anxiety about eating in public (especially junk food) as it feels like everyone’s judging you. Look at their glare and you know what they’re thinking… “Fat bitch”. Then, if you’re on a diet and you’re eating healthy food, they’re thinking… “Who are you trying to kid, love?”
Thankfully, many strangers won’t vocalize their impression of you. But I guarantee you, they will think it. And they may let it known through a glance. How do I know they think it? Because I think it, too. I think it when I see another fat person. I judge them in one swift glance. Even though I am fat, too. We’re programmed to do this.
Fattie.jpg
We’re programmed to see fatties as lesser than skinnies. We’re programmed to see them as hopeless, lacking ambition, lacking any motivation or self control. We see them as ugly, unattractive, possibly even a danger. We judge them based on what they’re wearing. “She’s too big to be wearing that”…
If you’ve never been fat, it really is hard to understand. But I am writing this post to tell you that being fat isn’t necessarily down to being lazy and stupid. It can often be triggered by anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
A self harmer might binge eat instead of cut themselves. Does that make them “lazy” and “stupid”?
So I urge you… see fatties as human, not disgusting. I can guarantee you every fatty has a story behind why they got that way.
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Finding Myself

I don’t know about you, but I have found it very difficult finding myself in this world. I’ve always wanted to share my opinions, but I feel that obstacles have always presented themselves…

I was born to very liberal, modern parents. They always encouraged me as a child, saying I could do anything I wanted to do. Early on in my childhood, I really believed it too. I had such confidence in myself. I was loud, boisterous and outspoken. My parents never hushed me, but other grownups found me irritating and poorly behaved. This instantly led me to believe that children should be seen and not heard. And slowly, as I grew older, I began silencing and shrinking myself more and more.

My childhood friends knew me as being crazy. I naturally have a pretty excitable personality and it was more intense during my childhood. I am not in contact with my childhood friends to this day, but I can only assume they would recall me as being crazy or eccentric and most definitely not opinionated or passionate.

That’s not to say I wasn’t. Even as a child, I was passionate and opinionated… in my mind. I became so extremely closeted in own beliefs that I felt embarrassed even trying to debate with someone or even go against a popular opinion.

I began to shrink more and more throughout my primary education. My perception throughout primary school was that being opinionated was a very negative trait to possess. My teachers rewarded classroom obedience, not talkativeness.

At 12, the free spirit I once was had more or less vanished into thin air. I remained quiet, cripplingly under-confident and entirely obedient to social and gender norms throughout secondary school.

But inside, I wanted to scream. I experienced examples of daily prejudice and regular instances of discrimination throughout secondary school, both by fellow students and occasionally, from teachers.

I will always remember the anger I felt towards teenage boys who would use gay as a way to insult their friends. I will always remember the pretentious, macho exterior presented by teenage boys, the pompous and sexist attitudes expressed by them. I will always remember how atheism was forbidden and even punishable in secondary school; how Catholicism was integrated into all aspects of our school activities and subjects.

Ultimately, and here’s the part that broke my teenage heart, I will always remember how each and every one of us in secondary school were assigned the same narrow box to live in, and the same narrow rules to live by.

At 17, I thankfully graduated secondary school and respectfully kissed goodbye to a damaging, restrictive and confidence-crippling institution.

I soon began to learn that who I had been taught to be in secondary school would get me virtually nowhere in the real world. A path of self discovery lay before me. I would have to learn eventually how to be a civilized, respectable member of society. But how could I do this? What was my life purpose? At 17, I was filled with so many questions but I had yet to find any answers.

I first began to gradually reject social and gender norms. I didn’t want to be seen as weak because I was a girl. So I tried to be seen as strong. I began helping more people and showing compassion. I also finally learned how to stand up for myself, approaching 18 years old. I didn’t want to be seen as stupid, so I decided to go to college but this time study something I wanted to study. My secondary school academic performance was, overall, rather bleak.

I felt like there was something wrong with my brain in secondary school. A lack of interest combined with sheer boredom resulted in quite poor performance; particularly in my junior cycle. I was treated like there was something wrong with my brain, too. School encourages a system of putting people into boxes. I was horrendous at Maths, so I was deemed to have a learning difficulty. I was then treated differently by teachers and members of staff as a consequence.

I’ve come to realize that the term “learning difficulty” can cause irreversible harm to a young person. When a student struggles, they are examined and labeled a word and thus identified by that word. How can we expect the youths of Ireland to become confident, well-spoken, functioning members of society if we segregate them as being smart or stupid in school?

I had to unlearn the labels assigned to me after I graduated. Nearly five years later, I have completed my self healing process. I now reject the term “learning difficulty”. Instead, I choose to openly tell others (if brought up in conversation) that I struggle with the concept of numbers and spacial awareness. Additionally, I have extreme issues with organization and am prone to anxiety as a result to stress brought on by poor organization.

This is me. These are my shortcomings, but they do not make me “unable”. They do not cause me to suffer from a “learning difficulty”. They do not cause me unmanageable difficulty in day-to-day tasks. At 21, I can say that I am an active, functioning member of society. I will not be a label. I will not fit into a box of gender or social expectation. I will not be defined by what people call me, or what people see when they look at me. I will not be defined by the way I laugh. I will not be determined by who I used to be in the past, I will be determined by how I show myself in the present.

At 21, I am also aware that I still have a lot to learn. And I openly embrace my future experiences and lifelong lessons.

I have only begun to truly regain confidence in my opinions in recent months. In school, I was always shut down. But now, I can express myself freely without being segregated or labeled as a result.

I’m still finding myself, more and more every single day. But every day I notice something new. I notice a different form of inequality. I become aware of our failed education system, when I witness the intolerance and ignorance of young people regarding social issues. Homophobia, trans-phobia, racism, racist stereotypes, casual sexism, rape, victim blaming, etc.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the point in sending our children to public school at all from age 5-17 or 18; if we release them into the world as ignorant, intolerant or simply dismissive. What’s the point? I’d rather my child understands and rejects inequality and oppression instead of know how to do Algebra or cite a Yeats poem.

But maybe that’s just me. And who knows? Maybe that opinion will change. Because I am always progressing, changing and developing my mind. I’ve come a long way, but I’m still finding myself after all… I think we all are, ’till the day we die…

Aisling Kelleher

Sex, Virginity & Gender Norms

I think we have many issues in the nature of sex and virginity in our current society.  As with any “feminist issue”, we are programmed to accept inequality and double standards as a natural part of life.  But, what if more of us spoke out?  Furthermore, what if more of us spoke out without the fear of being ridiculed or verbally attacked as a consequence?

Men and women are different.  We have different hormones, genitalia and in general, different ways of thinking.  Of course, there are many exceptions to this “rule of thumb”.  But what if we considered, for a moment, that men and women aren’t as different as we are programmed to believe they are?

man and woman

We live in a world that is constantly moving forward.  Once upon a time, women had virtually no rights.  They were in this world solely to service men through sexual satisfaction, to service the human race through reproduction and to service men through care and hospitality.  Women did not have the opportunities available to progress in terms of education, employment and leadership roles.  In short, women were in this world to be submissive to men.

We have come a long way throughout the years.  In the first world, women are now able to access education and advanced employment opportunities.  Women are now legally able to vote, drive cars and even wear trousers!  I would never for one second deny that women’s rights have progressed enormously.  And I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I now have as a consequence to the feminist protesting of the past.

protest feminism

But, with any movement, there is always room for improvement and progression.  Women are, in many ways, equal to men in our current, first world society.  But, there are still blatantly clear issues among us.  I have found however from my experience that even the most “blatantly clear issues” can become dangerously normalized and simply accepted as a natural part of life.

I don’t think that our future generations can remain in a world where men and women are still socially segregated to the extent that they are.  That is why I would like to speak out.  I know that in my lifetime, things mightn’t change as I would like to see them change.  And my voice alone may be small, but several voices are heard whereas one is not necessarily.  I think it’s time we all took more of an interest in our surroundings.  Without voice, without progression, humankind would not be able to lead the world effectively.

I would like to address the double standards that exist between men and women.  There are indeed numerous double standards, but today I would like to specify towards the double standards and social inequality that exists in terms of sex, virginity and sexuality in general.

gif sluts and whores

As children, we are defined by our genders on an unconscious level.  We are literally defined to such an extent that many of us are programmed to believe men and women are far more different to each other than they are in actuality.

A female child is encouraged to be pretty, well presented and reserved.  If a female child expresses seemingly “masculine traits”, she is referred to as a “tomboy”.  If a female child aspires to be a leader, she is deemed “bossy”.  If a female child chooses to reject feminine toys, and instead relates more with masculine toys, she is discouraged from doing so.  Once the gender of a female child is confirmed in pregnancy, many parents automatically assume that their daughter will be someone that she may not necessarily become.  It is assumed she will be caring.  It is assumed she will be fragile.  It is assumed she will be passive.  It is assumed that she will be a mother one day.  The list goes on.

toys

A male child is encouraged to have a strong presence.  We do this as a society by creating male-geared toys such as guns, building blocks, science sets.  We encourage our male children to take on leadership roles.  We encourage our male children to build things, to use logic and reason, to perform well scientifically and mathematically.  We encourage our male children to be physically strong.  We encourage our male children to take on the role of “protector” towards female children.  We encourage our male children to cover up emotion.  We both indirectly and very directly teach our male children that portraying emotion is negative and thus “weak”.

boy toys

The female child and the male child grow up believing that they are their gender.  But what if we lived in a world where strength vs weakness, emotional vs non-emotional, leader vs follower, and protector vs nurturer were, in fact, not defined by gender?

What if we lived in a world where boys became confident, emotionally expressive, caring, paternal young men, without the fear of being ridiculed or socially excluded as a consequence?

What if we lived in a world where girls became confident, expressive, opinionated, scientifically-minded, successful leaders without being referred to as a “bossy bitch” or “manly” for doing so?

You might be wondering at this point what all of this has got to do with sexuality and social double standards.  The answer is everything.

The female child grows up into the female teenager.  The female teenager is constantly aware of her body.  The female teenager feels inadequate and cripplingly under-confident socially, in expression, politically, in the workforce and in education.  The female teenager is taught that her personality will always come second to her physical attractiveness.  The female teenager feels that her voice is relevant to an extent; but becomes irrelevant when faced with the voice of a man.  The female teenager learns to value her personality, intelligence, capabilities, personal stamina, logical reasoning and lifetime achievements always second to her physical form.

We do this to our female teenagers by exposing them to various forms of media which were, and are, in fact created by powerful, heterosexual men.  This includes television programs, films, magazines, theater, and of course, advertisements.  We do this to such an extent, in fact, that female teenagers begin to associate the words “female” and “woman” with beauty secrets, losing weight, breast size, physical shape, makeup, hair, the colour pink, high heels, dresses and skirts.  We portray women as weak, indecisive, superficial, dependent and purely one-dimensional in many popular, mainstream films and television programs.  We then indirectly teach our female daughters that their looks and sexual appeal is in fact what they owe to society.  Not just to men, but to society in general.

body image

The male child grows up into the male teenager.  The male teenager is encouraged through the media to identify with his penis more than he identifies with his own brain.  We do this by portraying women as seductive, irresistible, physically appealing pieces of meat which are simply present to service and fulfill the sexual desires of a man.  We teach our teenage boys that it is healthy to masturbate, that it is normal.  But, in contrast, female masturbation is to this day a taboo and unspoken topic.  We teach teenage boys the value of earning money, more-so than we teach teenage girls the value of earning money.  We teach teenage boys that money/wealth equates to worth/entitlement.  Whereas, in contrast, we teach teenage girls that a sexually appealing exterior equates to worth/entitlement.

As much as we would all like to believe otherwise, all of this has to do with teenage and young adult sexuality.  The teenage girl is left expecting to be pursued by the teenage boy.  The teenage boy is left feeling it is his responsibility to claim a teenage girl/teenage girls as his own.  The teenage girl is left associating her own sexuality solely with the sexual gratification of teenage boys.  The teenage boy is left associating the girl’s sexuality as solely being present to service his own sexuality.

As our sons and daughters grow, so does their sexuality.  It is common in our current day for teenagers to have underage sex.  Teenage boys are programmed to believe that “losing their virginity” is possibly the most important part of growing up and “becoming a man”.  Teenage girls are taught to deny their own sexuality.  They are taught that they should only have sex when they are “in love” with the teenage boy.  They are taught that they “owe” their teenage boyfriends sexual activity in order to “keep” the teenage boyfriend.

What we are left with as a consequence to this is harmful underage sex.  Our sons and daughters are irresponsibly having sex, and dealing with social, physical and emotional consequences, potentially harming their development, and furthermore, harming their transition into adulthood.

Our teenage boy loses his virginity and he feels “like a man”.  How did it make him feel?  Amazing.  How long did he last?  Hours.  He’s a hero.  Other teenage boys see him as an idol, something to aspire to.  From the get-go, our teenage son’s first time receives such a social applause that he believes, as a consequence, that the more sexual encounters he partakes in, the more worth and popularity he is therefore entitled to.

jacket

Our teenage girl loses her virginity and she is socially criticized.  She is plagued with guilt from herself and her social group.  Did she “give it up too quick”?  Did she “truly love him?”  Was she, in fact, “too young”?  Was she dating him for an acceptable period of time?  Did he appreciate the “gift” she “gave him”?  Did she bleed?  Was it sore?  Socially, she is left answering these questions, both outright and indirectly.  She is certainly not celebrated for losing her virginity.  Other teenage boys may begin to lose interest in pursuing her because she’s “damaged goods”, a “slut” or “easy”.

I don’t think any good can come from teenagers having multiple sexual partners.  Therefore, I would be less inclined to say “men and women should have the freedom to have as many sexual partners as they choose!”  Of course they should.  But I would not recommend it for teenagers.

The problem is this: we praise our teenage daughters for virginity, but we do not praise our teenage sons for virginity.  But what if we praised both genders for virginity?  What if, instead of applying the motto that “boys will be boys”, we advise our boys to wait until they are 17-18 or older to engage in sexual activity?  What if we also teach our teenage boys to “respect their bodies”?  I have rarely if ever heard the term “respect your body” applied to a teenage boy.

Our teenage boys should not be taught to think with their penises.  They should be taught to think with their brains and with their emotions.  Our teenage girls should not be taught to go through their lives with sexual guilt.  I don’t recommend either gender think primarily with their genitals.  I recommend that all teenagers go into sex with caution.

There is a tremendous level of potential damage caused by labeling a teenage girl a “slut”.  As discussed, she is already taught that her sexual attractiveness equates to her level of worth.  But, if labeled a “slut”, her previous unconscious feelings on this are essentially confirmed.

I would love to see a world where both boys and girls are responsible and open-minded.  I do not feel that “losing your virginity” should ever be something that has social consequences at all.  In fact, “losing your virginity” is, in my opinion, not something to be “lost” at all, but something to be embraced, but with caution, preparation and emotional readiness.

teenagers

Men and women are different.  But, they’re not as different as we are lead to believe they are.  Both genders are capable of variable forms of intelligence, ambition, passion and emotion.  Both genders are capable of becoming leaders and protesters.  Both genders should have the opportunity to be functioning, intelligent human beings before they are ever functioning, intelligent men and women.

Men and women’s brains are not as different as we are lead to believe they are.  In fact, for instance, studies show that men succeed more than women in areas of science and maths.  But, have we ever considered that women simply do not attempt to succeed in these areas because they are programmed to believe that men are simply “better at it”?

male vs female brain

I would like to see a world that is not defined by gender, but instead defined by human ability.  Would you?

Girls Don’t Understand Girls: Part 2. Who Are You Getting Ready For?

PART 2. Who are you getting ready for?

Have you ever wondered why many girls are inclined to spend ages getting ready? Why would they go to all that effort? Why do they have to put on makeup? Why did they have to spend so much money on an outfit? Why did they have to put fake tan on? Why did they have to pile on jewelry? The list goes on and on.

makeup 1

It’s to impress men, right? It must be, surely? Why else would they go to all that bother? Surely if they weren’t trying to get attention from men they would have arrived at said social gathering wearing jeans with their hair in a ponytail. Right?

wolf whistle

Wrong! The theory that women “doll themselves up” to get attention from men is, in my view, completely ludicrous. I am not the kind of woman who would normally spend a long time getting ready, in fact when I go to a pub for instance, I don’t really “dress up”, not to the same extent that some women do anyway, and I would normally be ready in 10 minutes. However, when attending certain events, like for instance job interviews, meetings, etc, I make an effort to present myself better than I normally would.

Why do I do this? So I can feel confident in myself. I am not a superficial person by any means, I do not believe that the inner core of confidence comes from someone’s external appearance. However, a certain level of one’s confidence does come from how one presents him/herself. This cannot be denied. I am not referring to someone’s looks, I am referring to how they present themselves.

I feel the least confident for the day to come if I am very poorly presented, if I am not as hygienic as I should be, if my appearance is somewhat sloppy, etc.

I do not need to dress up to feel confident but it helps my existing confidence.

If you are in any ways observant, you probably will have picked up by now that I am very “ME” focused throughout this entire explanation. Did I once mention the fact that I try to present myself well to impress men?!

it's all about me

It baffles me the amount of times I have heard women claim that other women dress up/present themselves well to impress men OR to impress other women.

We are all selfish. Anyone who tries to deny the fact they are selfish are lying to themselves. There is a difference between being “selfish” and being “self obsessed”, “narcissistic”, etc.

However, we are all selfish to an extent. A certain degree of selfishness exists in us all because it would be impossible to focus on the needs and wants of other people during every second, every minute, every hour, every day of our lives.

It is perfectly normal to focus on ourselves, just as we would focus on others. If we do not focus on ourselves to a certain extent, then we wouldn’t be able to help others! It’s the circle of social-psychology-life…

tutoring

It is not only women who claim that other women dress up to impress men. I have heard many men make the same or similar remarks.

Any time you dress up, you do so to feel more confident in yourself, to be well presented &, in some circumstances, perform better as a result. Perhaps, in turn, when you do dress up to feel more confident, you find that you are more confident when interacting with the opposite sex, BUT this is merely a result of the underlying reason you’re dressing up, which is for confidence.

what should i wear

Bare in mind that I am not a psychologist by any means, this is all just my opinion & my observation, but I believe overall that women dress for themselves. Nobody else!

Girls Don’t Understand Girls: Part 1. Why Are You Laughing At Her?

PART 1. Why are you laughing at her?

 

I’m nearly 21 years of age & I still will never get my head around grown women who laugh at others…out of a meaningless superiority complex. Some people try to justify these women’s actions by saying they are “insecure” or “jealous” but in my view that’s really just an excuse for an unanswerable question. These women are how they are because they’re unkind, sharp & ignorant. It’s as simple as.

gossip
I am a grown woman & I would never disrespect someone enough to laugh at them. Everyone deserves respect & common courtesy & this is something I was raised to truly believe in, & I have & hope to always have that motto through life, because at the end of the day I have felt that sting, that knife going through my heart from being mistreated by others, & I would hope to never intentionally cause that pain to another undeserving person in my existence. I am sure most of us have experienced the sting I am speaking about. Why would you want to cause that hurt to another person? I am sure some women simply do not realise the pain they are causing, but I encourage you all to take a step back from the situation the next time, & really consider it.

gossip 2

Would you like to be laughed at my someone? No, of course you wouldn’t. Because you don’t like feeling low, unimportant, irrelevant & completely ridiculed. I’m not in this life to be made a fool of. I am here for the same kind of reasons as most of us are – to live, to learn, to offer my soul to the world in whatever way(s) possible. I am not here to be made feel stupid or pathetic by others.

Listen girls…you are all wonderful, unique & entirely you, & I am sure whatever lives you have are entirely different to one another, & equally I am sure that you have your own story. But whether you are good or evil, quick or slow, lazy or active, I can almost guarantee you right now that you DON’T like being ridiculed or intentionally embarrassed. No one does. Even serial killers!
Think before you speak, what seems like a joke to you could be detrimental to others.