Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

Body positivity: the power of ‘sizing up’

Mall culture jakarta70.jpg
Mall culture jakarta70“. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

You know that feeling you get when you pull on a pair of pants and you not only look good, but you feel good? Sometimes a nicely-fitting pair of jeans is all you need to feel like the next Tyra Banks. Unfortunately, we don’t all find our jean-soul mates on the first try at the department store, and poor luck can certainly crush our shopping spirits. To amend the situation, I am here to explain the power of sizing up – my trick for feeling fabulous every time I shop.

When I find a new pair of jeans I like, I immediately grab one size higher than my actual size to try on. If you are unsure of your size, eyeball the pants, then grab one size larger.

Usually the outcome of this odd shopping habit goes one of two ways: the pants fit great on the first try, or they are a bit loose. If the first is true, my shopping is over and I am satisfied. If the second is true, I feel great about my body, even a bit empowered, and I try on a size lower.

Now let me make something clear: your mood certainly should not dependent on your size or your ability to go back down to your usual pant size. However, I do believe that how we dress can make us more confident, and I am guilty of throwing on heels just to make myself feel powerful. But remember that this power and strength comes from the inside, your clothes just help bring it out of you.

When I went to Kohl’s one day searching for pants, I grabbed a size 9 instead of my usual 7. The pants, to this day, are one of my favorite pairs; this is because I felt great in them, not because they are my lowest size. Ladies, we need to approach shopping as an opportunity to be confident, expressive, and flaunt what we have. I believe the best way to do this is to size up when necessary, smile, and then be blind about the numbers.

Focus on how you feel in clothes, not on the little number on the tag. No number can do your body justice or measure your worth.

Are you body positive when you go shopping? Tweet Miss Musings or leave a comment below!

3 slam poetry performances that I can’t stop thinking about

Some slam poems have made me feel so deeply that I could not ponder on anything other than their meanings, and how certain phrases convey these meanings so acutely.

Here is a selection of a few slam poems that made me think, as well as some commentary and specific parts to look out for. However, these lines and meanings should stand out by themselves.

 

1. “Nearest Exit” by Alex Dang, Brenna Twohy, and Eirean Bradley

 

“You can only tread water for so long… when the plane starts going down you will not want to keep breathing… you were just fooling yourself into thinking you were above gravity.”

I do not dare to state what this poem is about – or any of these poems really – but “Nearest Exit” appears to deal with misconceptions regarding coping with grief. The vocal dynamic created by the trio of speakers, similar to a group reading from Greek and Roman times, brings the morbid nuances and helpless calls for realization of this poem to life.

 

2. “Shrinking Women” by Lily Myers

 

“[She was] deciding how much space she deserves to occupy… I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry”… a circular obsession I never wanted, but inheritance is accidental.”

This poem is one of Button Poetry’s most viral videos, at approximately 4 million views. Myers employs the metaphor of food and size to represent the role of women in, what she has experienced, a man’s world, and expresses her anger through helpless observances, whether through apologizing for no reason or observing the oppressive scenario she never asked for. A brilliant social commentary, “Shrinking Women” is bound to be known as a 4th wave feminism literature trademark, albeit digital. Let the number of views speak for itself in this regard.

 

3. “21” by Patrick Roche

 “6 – I wanna be… Spiderman. Or my dad, they’re kind of the same…” 

Since this poem has been featured on Upworthy its views have skyrocketed to over 2 million views in one week. Roche is one of my favorite spoken word poets because he writes such unorthodox poems. The poem has been met with some confused comments due to its complexity, but it brilliantly details the life a boy with an alcoholic father (and presumably mother) by recalling memories from years 21 to 0. Ironically, 21 is the legal drinking age in America, and this age and his father’s death start off the poem.

Other recommendations include OCD, Audio Book, Pine City, and Siri: A Coping Mechanism. These poems contain colorful language, so please view with discretion.

Learning to love being ‘quirk-tastic’

If you commented on my thick eyebrows a few years ago, I would probably have clammed up right in front of you. I would react the same way if you mentioned my size 10 feet, my super-pale-vampire skin, and that one zit on my nose that won’t go away. Truthfully, the list of “flaws” goes on a lot longer… but I only remember this list because I absolutely love most of these qualities now.

 

Just do it - you're going to have to eventually!

Just do it – you’re going to have to eventually! Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwwchorboogiecom/13973577183/

 

Accepting quirks I once had problems with did not happen overnight. I plucked my eyebrows, stared at the omnipresent zit, and even bought self-tanner (which only made me look like my mom’s carrot juice bottle). In fact, I did not really have any breakthroughs until my mom put a quilt over my mirror, banning me from looking at it except to make sure my hair was brushed in the morning. I was thirteen at the time.

Surprisingly, this act was all my transformation needed to get rolling. I didn’t have to belt out one more lyric of “Let It Go” or “Skyscraper,” nor did I have to read a self-help book for teenagers. Instead, I started seeing myself through my own eyes, not through a mirror.

Later I learned that my feet resembled not only my father’s, but my grandfather’s, a WWII veteran. Now I take a lot of pride in their shape, and yes, even their size. My pale skin is near iridescent at the beach, but after I heard about the skin cancer outbreaks among my family and teachers, I felt great about using sunscreen obsessively. And my eyebrows? I don’t even notice their bushiness anymore. Frankly, I don’t even care.

The most notable landmark on my journey to self acceptance is realizing how many people have issues with themselves. The very people I might have envied a few years ago for their slim figures or non-frizzy hair are the ones who wish they were curvier or had curly hair. We all want what we can’t have, which is why desiring a quality that makes someone else who they are is pretty illogical.

My advice would be to hold onto your flaws. Cherish them. Love them up. Don’t even call them flaws – call them differentiation devices or special quirks. You can even cover up your mirror and start seeing yourself for who you are, not what you look like. Finally, if you do change yourself by plucking your eyebrows or trying to tan, realize that you are not at your final destination on the road to loving yourself. Eventually you will return to your roots, just as I did, and you might even grow fond of the traits you currently detest.

Don’t be a victim of indirect body shaming

Body shaming can be direct and indirect.

Body shaming can be direct and indirect. Source: http://chaoticsoulzzz.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/thin-n-fat.jpg?w=705

 

“Ugh, I feel soooo fat today.”

I have heard this line uttered on several occasions by slim young women, all rubbing their stomachs, scrunching their eyebrows and staring into judgmental mirrors.

This phrase is toxic. When a girl much slimmer than me says it with complete disregard for who is around her, I assume that since she is “fat” I am “obese” and must be defined by body shame that I did not ask for.

I have coined this effect “indirect body shaming;” it is when some type of mutual body negativity sparked from either ignorance or inner self-hatred occurs. When a bystander hears this type of comment, he or she internalizes it and begins to judge him or herself.

Is it too much to ask to stop the madness? Although I have heard this comment, and variations of it, countless times, I have never confronted the body-shamers. Perhaps I felt powerless, as I was indirectly attacked for nothing more than being my natural size. Perhaps I wanted to comfort the people in question, but realized it may all just be a ploy to get a few people to compliment them, saying “oh no, you’re beautiful! Stay strong.”

 

Demi Lovato popularized the phrase "stay strong." Now many teenage women say it to each other in times of crisis. Is this phrase overused?

Demi Lovato popularized the phrase “stay strong.” Now many teenage women say it to each other in times of crisis. Is this phrase overused? Source: http://cdn2.thegloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/demi-lovato1.jpg

 

While I completely encourage young women to support each other through times of difficulty, stress, or poor self-image, women should not feel the need to slam their shapes just to receive positive remarks. Frankly, it only hurts people – including ourselves.

I often attempt to help people accept their body insecurities by complimenting others whenever possible. I also try to be as confident in my looks as I can be in order to avoid the damage indirect body shaming causes. I figure that if I can spread body positivity, and encourage others to do the same, this type of accidental blindside attack will eventually be eradicated.

Instead of worrying about that slice of cheesecake you ate today at The Cheesecake Factory, smile at the fact that it tasted really, really good, and then tell someone how much you like her shoes or new hairstyle. Body-shaming is viral; compliments are infectious. Let’s work together to indirectly help people feel admired, not ashamed.

Muse on This: Body Positivity

“Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet; and brother arm wrapping shoulders, and remember this is important.” – Mary Lambert, Body Love (I Know Girls)

I mentally chant this line of poetry rather frequently, as something about it rings true on two planes of personal levels. One: baby feet are adorable. I know this firsthand. Supposedly, baby feet are ugly by standard aesthetic conventions, but the idea that so much mobility can exist in such a tiny form still makes us all coo an embarrassing amount. Two: body positivity is something that everyone struggles with (note that ‘everyone’ is a singular word, and so is the word ‘I’). It’s hard to love your body when there are so many other bodies seemingly built to be admired, and when you never feel athletic enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, or strong enough.

It is time we say “enough” to the very word “enough” and realize that we all have something in common. Regardless of their shapes, we all have bodies. Our common feature as a race is our physical form, and though we can all identify each other as humans by our shape, all bodies have subtle variations. How wonderful is that? It is as if we are all flowers – a breed of beauty. Some are pink, others blue, others purple, and all are lovely to the eyes of observers, yet all are the same to those jogging through a garden on a Sunday morning. To the haphazard observer, we are all just lovely petals, slightly varied, all identified as one thing: beautiful.

Chunky arms and the unattainable, taunting “thigh gaps” are not vices. They are thicker stems on trees and under watered flowers parched for nourishment. When we stop seeing ourselves as unworthy for not looking like supermodels, we will begin to accept that there is more to what shapes us than our DNA. Worry about how much you weigh on the scale of kindness. Fret over cheating on your stress diet by taking on more assignments. Measure your weight on your personal worth, not your lack of restraint at the pizza parlor.

But most importantly, love your body. The human body is the most powerful machine ever created, and you have your own customized version to take care of. No one can control it but you, no one can force a watering can upon your petals, and the only person who can help you love your body is the friend you greet every morning in the mirror.

Tell yourself you are who you need to be and look how you need to look.

“Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet; and brother arm wrapping shoulders, and remember this is important.”

How do you stay body positive? Tweet to Miss Musings at @sammimorri or leave a comment below!