Stop Sugar-Coating Obesity

Yes Megan Trainer, it’s perfectly normal to not be a “size two” in clothing. It’s okay to have a booty and sure, some boys prefer curvy women.

I’d love to talk about why “All About That Bass” is skinny-shaming women (“Go ahead and tell those skinny bitches that” being from the song) I think I should talk about a, well, bigger issue here.

Over the past year, I’ve been seeing a lot of positive body campaigns, which I absolutely love. But I’ve also been seeing something that’s becoming a bit of a problem.

It’s wonderful if you love yourself and your body, it really is. But I’ve been seeing obesity become, well, sugar coated. Society, or at least some parts of it, has begun to downplay this serious issue (and yes, obesity IS a serious issue). Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause for death in Canada. So why are we acting like it’s no big deal anymore?

It’s okay to be a size twelve and no one’s going to tell you otherwise (and if they do, they suck). But when your diet consists of fast food and Nutella and when you can’t see your feet and when you’re out of breath from just walking, we have an issue.

I recently saw a photo online of a morbidly obese woman posing nude with the words” I’m beautiful, and so are you” written on her body. She’s not beautiful; she’s sick, and so are you if you look like that.

I understand that sometimes medicines or mental disorders cause weight gain, which is why I think it’s important that we stop paying attention to our weight in general and start focussing on having a positive BMI (Body Mass Index). Even then, our main goal when it comes to our bodies is to be HEALTHY, not skinny.

So no, I’m not going to lie and say everyone is beautiful. I’m going to look at you and immediately know that you hate yourself by mistreating your body if you’re 500 lbs and cannot walk. It’s never too late for you to become healthy, but some people have given up on account of these seemingly helpful posters glorifying obesity.

That being said, curves are beautiful. Being thin is beautiful. Being a skeleton is not beautiful, and this is why body image radicalization goes both ways. Thigh gaps are NOT a necessity, they are a thing some people are born with and others are not. If you have a high metabolism, beautiful. If you skip meals and shove your finger down your throat after you eat because you want to be society’s definition of pretty, that’s NOT beautiful.

Moral of this rant: be healthy. I don’t care how you do it, just be healthy.

EDIT: I would just like to clarify that OVERWEIGHT and OBESE are NO WHERE NEAR THE SAME THING. People who are overweight, especially those who cannot help it, are just regular people. Also, regardless of how you look or what you weight, so long as you are trying your HARDEST TO BE HEALTHY, then I think you’re beautiful. i’m only trying to call out people who are actively hurting themselves through obesity. Furthermore, I’m NOT condoning the calling out or mocking of obese people.

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Collection of My Favourite Poems (By Me)

Because I just had a super long day at work, I am unable to think of anything new to write or rant about tonight. Please enjoy a collection of some of the best poems I’ve written over the past year.

Empty Person

And I
don’t want to be
that person
whose nights
are filled with
empty bottles
for I long to be
that person
whose days
are filled with
empty thoughts.

Free Falling

I’m afraid of heights,
I said as I began to climb
I forgot about the rules of space
ignored the limits of time.

I’m afraid of heights,
I said louder, and with care
but my feet kept climbing higher
and disappeared into thin air.

I’m afraid of heights,
I yelled just right before I jumped
free falling into infinity,
heart neglecting to pump.

I’m afraid of heights,
I whispered to no one really at all
you’re afraid of heights, you said
yet you weren’t afraid to fall.

new beginnings:

If I still had the words
I would have said them long ago
and if I still had the heart
It would have been yours from the beginning
and if I still had the strength
I wouldn’t have had to lean on you
this whole time.

The Gain

It amazes me how humans have become so accustomed to loss.

We lose our car keys.
We lose laundry change.
We lose the matching sock that we are sure went into the dryer yet never seemed to come out.

People lose their appetites
and lose their minds.
We lose our hearts almost on a daily basis.

We lose the ones we love,
We lose games of Monopoly played around a fire on a winter’s evening
and we lose our train of thought.

But what amazes me most I think is how we can go our whole lives
and never realize the amount of loss we’ve felt
beginning with a loss of words
when you see the person
who makes this loss
worth while.

Shelf of Supplements

There is a shelf of supplements in my heart
where I store the little things
that keep me going without you:
the song you sung to me
as we drove to the beach that one time,
the rock you gave me
because you said
the colour matched my hair,
the lucky penny we found
while tripping over our own feet,
the tears I cried when you told me
we couldn’t go back in time,
the words I wrote in pen
that you probably threw away,
that time you said you loved me
subtly, like a whisper,
the promises you gave away like spare change
only to blink and forget them,
and the moments when I’d look at you and think
“I love him more than I love myself”.

I keep these safe in the confines of my heart
until I’m finally able to let you go
and live my life drug-free.

The Paradox of Loss

I’m scared to step on a scale these days
because I know the number will be double what it once was.
My lungs are full with sobs
and my eyes are full of tears
and my heart is full of memories.
Surely I must weigh more?

I haven’t eaten in three days
because there is a rock dragging the pit of my stomach
towards the tiled floor
and my heart sits near my kidney,
too heavy to lift.
How many pounds does a heavy heart weigh?

I read somewhere that when you undergo huge trauma
your heart strings can snap
which apparently is quite serious;
you can die of a broken heart.
I think I already knew that though.
Will your scale break under my weight one day?

And even though you’re gone,
you’re still standing right beside me on the scale.
Even though you’re gone,
you’re still weighing me down.
and I guess that’s the paradox
of loss.

The Seamstress

They said she was amazing
with a needle and thread
she could mend any sweater
darn any sock
and the stitches would fit
seamlessly.
She could undo any brokenness
and fix any ties,
with the flick of her milky wrists
she was able to fix
what seemed to be
the whole world.
He was a boy
with a habit of carelessness
and came to her often,
asking her if please
could she repair this?
She would sew his clothing
and each day, long for his touch.
She would wish she could sew
two people together.
But he was a boy
with a habit of carelessness
and when she unravelled
no one could sew her together again.

Let’s Talk

“Oh my God, you’re such a schizo!” the girl next to me in the mall food court told her friend.

While I wasn’t paying attention to the conversation, this made my head jerk up and my hand froze halfway to delivering a french fry to my mouth. Did she really just say that?

If you haven’t caught on, she was referring to Schizophrenia, a mental disorder where the person unfortunately cannot differentiate between what is real and was is a figment of their minds. From what I had heard, her friend had said something or other along the lines of, “Ha ha ha, this is why you have no friends!” or some other playful banter. And then that girl’s friend tossed around the word “Schizo” like it was the same thing.

Perhaps you’ve heard similar taboo phrases being misused lately; “I totally raped that test” or “That’s so gay”.

How refreshing to hear that society has now begun doing this with mental disorders (NOT).

Some examples so you see what I mean:

“I’ve just been so depressed lately.”

“I sleep worse than an insomniac.”

“I swear I just had like, a panic attack.”

“I’m so socially awkward I basically have anxiety.”

Or the one that pisses me off the most: “Fairly certain that lecture I just came from gave me PTSD.”

…Why the hell do people think these are okay? Depressed is not an emotion, it is a state of mind. Insomnia is a condition, not a feeling. Panic attacks are serious, not funny. Anxiousness may be an emotion, but anxiety is not. And PTSD is not something you should ever, EVER joke about having becuase it’s pretty much the worst thing in the world.

Do you know what it’s like to have depression? I do not have this disorder, but I can vaguely imagine that it’s probably one of the hardest psychological and physical obstacles people can overcome. And can you just picture what it must be like to lie in bed at night, completely unable to sleep and hating yourself for it?

I have actually been diagnosed to social anxiety and while i rarely (maybe three times in a year) experience panic attacks, let me tell you what they’re like: You can’t breathe. The world feels like it’s unravelling beneath your feet and you can’t move. Your mind won’t stop screaming at you that this is your fault, that you brought this attack upon yourself. Why did you go to this party/ meeting/ to work that day? Why couldn’t you have just stayed away; you KNOW how much you hate these things…

And these attacks are usually triggered by my PTSD.

I’m in no way prepared to talk about how I became a victim of the hell that is this disorder. My close friends even only know pieces of what happened. But I will say this: to this day, if something touches my neck – a scarf, a necklace, a hand, whatever – I will freak out and most likely fall to the ground crying.

So why is it okay to use mental disorders in playful banter?

Okay there Bell, I get that we need to talk about these things and that Bell Let’s Talk is great, but it is my honest opinion that if all people are going to do is belittle these disorders and/ or the people who have them, they need to shut their ignorant mouths.

So what did I do about this “Schizo” word dropping girl?

I finished my fries and wrote this blog in my head while wishing I didn’t have social anxiety so i could go up to her and tell her these things face to face.

Dear Alex

Dear “Alex from Target”,

I apologize on behalf of my sex for being so incredibly self-righteous that they can’t see the error of their ways in posting that photo of you that went viral in just a few hours. I wish I could tell you that the girl who took that photo had more respect for men than to do this.

Where do I even begin… It’s bad enough for you to take a photo of someone without their knowledge or permission, but to then post it on the internet and make it VIRAL? That’s disgusting. That poor, misguided female completely disregarded all respect she should have given you, and I feel sorry for that.

Alex, let’s talk about why I’m so mad at this girl and at all the girls (and boys) who have been commenting profanity on your photo (and I say “girls and boys” because of the clear lack of maturity here): These people disgust me. They are treating you as a piece of meat, telling the world publicly that they would “do things to you” that I am not comfortable discussing in my blog. I’m sorry if you have felt violated in any way, Alex. You didn’t deserve this. You didn’t ask for this.

Now Alex, you might feel flattered at the seemingly positive reaction to your photo. So many girls globally think you’re attractive, and that can’t be all bad, right?

Wrong. So wrong.

People may idolize you as a sex symbol but make no mistake; there are no true feelings here. Even that one girl who had the pleasure of meeting you purposely decided to disrespect your right to privacy by taking a photo of you without your knowledge and posting it online. These people do not love you any more than they love a pretty picture. Their feelings are hollow, and I’m so sorry you are the butt of their completely un-funny joke.

Alex, how about we talk about some double standards, hmm?

If your name had been Alexandria and some boy customer had taken that photo of you and posted it online and a group of boys commented about the “nasty things they would do to you”, I’m pretty sure a bunch of angry feminists would rip their heads off. So why isn’t this happening when the sexes are reversed?!

Feminism means gender equality. GENDER EQUALITY. I think it shouldn’t matter whether or not you’re a boy or girl, being used unwillingly as a sex symbol is a violation of your privacy, and can be considered sexual harassment.

Let me tell you a brief story Alex: when I was seventeen, some of my photos were stolen off my private Instagram page and put on a porn site in a folder labelled “Teen Hotties”. The photos were of me on a beach (in a bikini) that was taken when I was in Sarnia visiting my Gramma. I posted those photos online for my friends to see and I had a stranger steal them for sexual gratification. The best part is that I was underage. The police told me that because I had posted the photo online (even though it was on a private site) there was nothing to be done.

Alex, I had never felt more violated in my entire life.

The worst part was that I knew that there were men looking at a photo of me as they pleasured themselves. I felt disgusting and dirty and to be honest I hated myself for ever posting that picture for a long time.

I don’t know how you feel, but I can imagine you feel probably at least a little bit creeped out by all this unwanted attention.

So I’m sorry Alex. I’m sorry for everyone who commented on your photo because they believed that they could. I’m sorry for the girl who posted it who believed her actions were justified. I’m sorry you live in a society where if a girl sees a good looking guy, she can’t simply ask for his number but instead has to sneakily take photos of him to post online.

I’m just sorry, Alex.

Sincerely,
Tara

10 Reasons Why Growing Up is the Worst Thing in the World

I normally don’t make lists because hey, I’m not Buzzfeed, but in this case I will make the exception…

1. Holidays lose their importance.
You stop trick or treating, you realize there’s no Santa Clause or Easter Bunny (actually, I’m still on the fence about those) and you realize that Valentines Day is just a ploy from chocolate stores. You may even stop spending quality time with your family, and that really sucks. You become drawn in by Black Friday sales while you forget to celebrate Thanksgiving like you used to, and we’re so busy watching Christmas specials at my house that we don’t even decorate our tree as a family anymore. When did holidays start losing their magic?

2. Life gets harder and harder until you die.
According to my grade nine English teacher that is. It’s true if you think about it; we’re born, we have a few years of freedom until “the system” forces us into kindergarden and grade school and high school and in most cases post-secondary school and sometimes even grad school and then we spend the rest of our lives miserably slaving away until we drop dead one day. Or we retire, whichever comes first.

3. You can’t act like a little kid anymore.
I was in No Frills yesterday after working a ten hour shift so I decided, “Hey, my feet hurt so I’m just going to sit down in my shopping cart for a minute”. After about ten awkward stares from people and one disgruntled employee telling me I was too big for the cart, I hopped out. I also get weird looks when I go to parks or watch an old Disney film – I even feel embarassed admitting that I still do those things when I honestly see nothing wrong with bringing up some nostalgia every once in a while.

4. You get to a point when you start to think you’re actually (gasp) an adult.
Sometimes I feel like I’m seven years old. And then I hang out with a couple of fifteen-year olds and suddenly I think I’m a complete grown up. (You know that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel screams, “I’m sixteen years old! I’m not a child”? Yeah, Ariel needs to shut her mouth, she’s practically an infant.)

5. Growing up means you need your own money, and lots of it.
Wow. My parents paid for my food, internet, clothes, hydro, water and activities for almost twenty years, and not that I’m starting to pay for it myself (which is why I have two jobs… more on that later) I’m starting to REALLY appreciate all of their generosity.

6. Getting jobs.
So I have two jobs, like I said before, so that I can save up to get a car that I will then use to take me to these two jobs. Eventually, I will spend money on a house that I will never be in because I will be busy at work all day trying to pay off the bills from my house… Do you see anything wrong with this? I do.

7. Time goes by faster.
It’s a scientific fact that time goes by faster the longer you’ve been alive. I used to wait what feels like 10 years for the weekend to come around, and now I often forget what day it is. That reminds me, is today Sunday already? I honestly thought it was Wednesday for like half the day for some reason… Oops.

8. Friends start to vanish.
I have no time to paint my nails, let alone visit my pals at other universities. Me and my roommate have been planning on having breakfast together for well over a month now. The odds of this happening anytime soon are slim to none. Also relatable: you start to realize who your true friends are because the fake friends are the first to leave you.

9. Relationships and dating absolutely sucks.
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost a year (thank God) but I’ve been lucky. All my friends who are new to the dating game absolutely hate it; when do you call? how often do you text? is it okay to see other people? etc. etc. etc. Meeting new people is also an issue because people these days happen to be anti-social freaks who prefer to post about their feelings anonymously online rather than confront the object of their affection (*HINT HINT* SPOTTED AT TRENT *HINT HINT*).

10. It’s scary as hell.
The sheer realization that your friends have started getting engaged or married or having kids or getting jobs or finding apartments or buying their first pet by themselves… This is going to be YOU pretty soon. It’s terrifying not knowing what the future will bring you, yet knowing you have certain expectations to live up to that are defined by your family, friends and society as a whole.

To conclude, yes growing up sucks. It’s hard and messy and it’s a complete whirlwind that will knock you on your back over and over again. But your future will also help to pick you up, and since I don’t want this to be completely depressing, here is a short list of ten reasons why growing up is actually kind of cool:

1. It’s actually nice being able to pay for your own things; it makes you value everything more.
2. Planning your future wedding/ graduation/ kid’s names/ pets etc. is amusing.
3. Hello alcohol.
4. (In relation to number three) hello clubs.
5. Your body has finally matured enough to look good in adult clothing, which is a million times nicer than children’s clothing.
6. Driving is faster than walking.
7. You can finally see rated R movies in theatres (without sneaking in).
8. Things like buying lottery tickets, voting, getting piercings/ tattoos and riding a bike without a helmet (which I wouldn’t recommend… Yeah, I kinda went over my handlebars yesterday morning).
9. You can memorize song lyrics better.
10. (My favourite) you hate to admit it, but you feel slightly more superior to everyone younger than you.

So I guess growing up isn’t so bad… It just takes getting used to. That’s okay though, you literally have your whole life to get used to it.

The Art of Hating Yourself

Contrary to popular belief, I think that people go to extra, unnecessary lengths to “hate” themselves, or at least pieces of themselves.

Look in the mirror. Now look a little closer. Look at your face until the fault lines and mistakes blur together to see what the rest of the world sees: another human being who’s trying their best in a shitty world.

Everyone suffers with low self-esteem every once in a while, especially in regards to body image. It can be anything from the size of your thighs to the thinness of your beard that will set it off and suddenly, before you know it, you’ve embarked on a full-blown, self-hating tangent.

But let’s stop to think about this for a second. When you start feeling bad about yourself, it’s only natural that suddenly all of your insecurities multiply. You take one look at yourself and say, “Wow, I got no sleep last night and I look really haggard. It wouldn’t be so bad if my zits weren’t raging. And if my face was skinnier. Or if I was skinnier in general…” and so on and so on. Before you know it, you’re SEARCHING for things to nitpick over without even stopping to realize that everyone else does this exact same thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Big deal, so you have a few wrinkles and some cellulite and maybe some dark spots under your eyes. It’s nothing the world hasn’t seen before, trust me. And if anyone ever judges you based on your appearance as much as you already do, they aren’t worth hanging around because of their superficiality.

I’m not going to do what everyone else on the internet seems to do these days and say “Everyone’s beautiful!” … Not everyone is physically attractive as seen through the eyes of society (projected by the mass media and culture industry). But I AM going to say that outer beauty doesn’t matter at all. Inner beauty does, and if you try to be the best person you can be day after day, then that’s all I could ever ask from you. And I think that’s truly beautiful.

In regards to hating yourself, stop it right now! You don’t need to pick apart your appearance – or anyone else’s for that matter. If you stop putting effort into finding “flaws”, these flaws will become unnoticeable to you, and you will feel a million times better with yourself.

I’ll admit, there were (and still are) many days when I tore myself apart trying to imagine myself as someone different, someone better. It didn’t make me happy, and it won’t make you happy either. The first kind of love anyone should experience is self-love, the most fulfilling type of love.

Love yourself first and watch as those around you start to love the beautiful, confident you.

PS (even though this isn’t a letter) – even if you still can’t see yourself as beautiful, there are many, many people who do.

I Am Canadian

I remember my grade five teacher telling us it was Multiculturalism Day in my elementary school as she handed out sheets of paper to my class. “Now on this piece of paper,” she addressed us. “I want you to write down your nationality. Where are you and your family from?”

Now side from my dad’s mother, who was born and raised in England, my family has lived in Canada for over a hundred years, possibly over two. So I thought about it briefly before writing, “I am Canadian” on the sheet of paper.

My teacher then asked us to read aloud the notes we had written. Sri Lanka, India, Scotland, Egypt, Bosnia, Norway and Venezuela were some of the countries people said they were from. Not a single person in my class had said they were from Canada when it was my turn to read what I had written. I stood up.

“I am Canadian,” I informed the class.

A few kids snickered and my teacher looked uncomfortable. “Tara,” she told me. “Canada doesn’t have it’s own cultural identity. You are Canadian but your family didn’t originate from here unless you’re Aboriginal.”

Bless my ten year-old soul for not having a single clue what she meant. I was Canadian, wasn’t I? Why couldn’t I just say I was?

Fast forward to university, when the idea of cultural identity arose a second time in my life. Again, my profs and TA’s tried to tell me that Canada was too young a country to have it’s own identity. Again, I was told that Canada was a mosaic of cultures and that I had to pick one.

So I asked my parents for their birth information and decided to trace back my family tree to see just exactly how “Canadian” I was. Guess what I found.

Not only has my family been here for hundreds of years, but I am equal parts Indonesian and British if you go back far enough (i.e. right before my ancestors moved to Canada). SIDE NOTE: if you don’t know what I look like, I’m naturally blonde and green-eyed and very pale.

So considering that I am neither Indonesian or English (aside from the fact I call my mother “Mum”) I just have one question: CAN I PLEASE BE CONSIDERED CANADIAN NOW?

No, I don’t like hockey. No, I don’t pour maple syrup on everything. No, I don’t have a pet moose. No, I do not make my own moccasins. No, I’ve never seen a wild polar bear. No, I’ve NEVER pronounced it “a-boot”.

Yes, I drink Tim Hortons daily. Yes, I’ve seen the northern lights. Yes, I’ve built an inuksuk with my Inuit cousin. Yes, I treat people very politely. Yes, I’ve seen wild wolves and moose and foxes and beaver and muskrats and boy this list can get long.

Yes, I support multiculturalism.

And to me, multiculturalism is what makes Canada so Canadian. So how come all us “foreigners” aren’t Canadian enough for our own country?

Next time someone asks me where my family’s from, I think I’ll just reply with, “The greatest country on earth” and I’ll let them guess.

A practical blog for impractical people