Posted in Letters to..., Thoughts and Opinions

Curvy Girl’s Guide to being Happy

Yep, you read that title right. It’s crazy to think that the composition of one’s body and one’s happiness would go hand in hand, but in our society, that is exactly what we are conditioned to believe. Was the title click bait? I guess you’ll have to read to find out.

I am a curvy woman. There is no arguing that. I always have been, even when I was a size 6. Wide hips, big bum, big breasts, small waist – I was blessed (my words) with it all. And for a the better share of my teenage and young adult years, I was depressed (diagnosed). Do I believe there is a connection between these two variables? Heck no. Does society push it down our throats that there must be? Of course they do.

Unless you are rich and famous like a couple well known celebs, you are not supposed to have an ounce of fat on your body. They don’t come right out and say it, but the message is everywhere. Magazine covers. Movies. Television shows. Instagram. The list goes on but I don’t have all day and I’m sure neither do you. Now, don’t get me wrong. Progress is being made. Several influencers have made platforms addressing these very issues, with beautiful bodies and the souls to match. Yet still, young girls are led to believe that if you have a certain body type (flat stomach, big boobs, long legs all preferred) then you will be happy.

This is the biggest loud of BS you will probably ever be spoon fed in your life.

Let me tell you a story. Buckle in and hold on because we’re going to dive here.

As I said, I’ve always been a bigger girl. When I was younger, this wasn’t really a good thing. They weren’t yet curves, just little girl chub, so I was made fun of. I was told to eat less and exercise more. Yes, as a ten year old. As I began to grow into my body, fat began to go to places that society is okay with. That I was praised for. Until there was too much of it. Until it came around to my stomach. Suddenly, there was something wrong with me. Yet, I was still happy.

I was still happy until right after High School graduation. I hit a real low, and while there were many factors in my life contributing to this which now I find obvious, my mind then jumped right to my body. Why? Because I had been conditioned to believe there was something wrong with it. Because the girls in my graduating class didn’t look like me. Because the girls on Instagram didn’t look like me. The conclusion to me was obvious. I was unhappy because I was fat.

In six months I lost thirty pounds and five pants sizes. My stomach was flat for the first time ever. I had also hit the lowest depression I have ever been in. So, my body must still not be right. I began going to the gym more and more. I was building muscle where I wanted it. Finally, I was looking like those girls I followed on Instagram. I was also suicidal.

After digging myself out of this dark place with a lot of therapy and even more love and support from family, I began to put the weight back on. I was still going to the gym. I was still eating healthy. But I wasn’t being as restrictive or strict, because I was no longer eating and exercising to get a certain body type. And then I stopped going to the gym for a few months. I started drinking soda again and eating chips. And I gained all of the weight back I had worked so hard to get off.

At the heaviest I have ever been, 170 pounds (THE FEMALE AVERAGE) I am proud to say I am also the happiest I have ever been.

And so, I learned the hard way. Happiness has absolutely nothing to do with the size or shape of your body. You will not be any happier when you are ten pounds lighter unless you also change your heart.

It is completely possible to be as happy as you wish to be in this very moment. A hundred pounds overweight or twenty pounds under.

So here is my curvy girl’s guide to being happy. Step one. Stop placing so much value on the figure you see in the mirror. Step two. Realize you are made up of so much more than just the way your skin and fat have chosen to lay on your body. Step three. Make sure you are okay with the person you are when you’re body isn’t at place. Step three. Make sure your environment is a good breeding ground for happiness.

“Curvy” girls deserve to be happy. “Skinny” girls deserve to be happy. “Fat” girls deserve to be happy. And every single girl in between.

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Posted in Letters to..., Poetry, Thoughts and Opinions

Dear World – Love, Unapologetic Me

Sixth grade English class, first day of school. I wore a purple t-shirt with two penguins printed on the chest I had so enthusiastically asked my mom for whilst school shopping. I liked penguins. The teacher told me to cover up because I was attracting too much attention. Later in private elaborating that too many of my male classmates were looking at the black and white birds displayed on my top.

This is the first time I was treated like an object to be molded rather than a human being.

My dear mother taught my sisters and I that fitting into a box was for woman too shy to be themselves. She taught us to wear the bright colors, to choose the mix matched socks, to buy daisy duke shorts and crop tops and strut them like we were made to be worshiped. My mother taught me to own my body.

Sophomore year of High School, last day of school. I was dressed in all black, walking to my waitressing job fifteen minutes from school when a middle aged man across the street whistled at me and called me sexy. When I angrily told my coworker, he told me I was asking for it. My barely developed teen body shivered as my cloths were suddenly too tight, wishing I had a blanket to wrap myself in to protect me from his stare.

We live in a world where short skirts and tight tops are seen as provocative while cat calls and labels are portrayed as normal.

Senior year, another day at work. A costumer walks in. I will never forget the red of her lips, the way her hair curled back from her face, the form of her body hugged in a black dress. The click of her heels as she approached the counter as if she was made to be there. She spoke the English language in a way that suggested it had been written all for her. When she left, the air was stale.

I promised myself that one day, I would own the room exactly the way that woman did.

Since the moment we learn to talk we woman are surrounded by voices telling us that we are not good enough. Our bodies are not thin enough. Our hair is not straight enough. Our clothes do not cover enough. Or our clothes cover too much. From the second we learn to walk we are groomed into perfect little misses, ushered into cages, taught that if we do not fit into a certain box we will not fit in anywhere.

My sixth grade teacher was a lady. Unknowingly, with only a quick instruction, she set a wheel in motion I was afraid would never stop rolling.

2019, 22 years old. I am still trying to unlearn what the world has forced down my throat since childhood by spoon feeding myself the teachings of a very wise woman. My mother. Her silent example the reason for my loud mouth and overflowing opinions.

Not every woman is lucky enough to have a mother as loud and colorful as mine. So many women are ushered into the darkness, into baggy clothes and fake smiles, believing this is the world they were meant to live in. These women sadly never get to learn what it means to exist freely in their bodies. So many women convinced there is nothing more to this life than the mold they were forced into.

I am here to help you become the woman you might have never known you even had the power to be. Wear the clothes you want. Weather those be the tight jeans and crop tops or the baggy dresses and sweaters. Cut your hair the way you want. Tell everyone exactly what you think. Open your mouth when people tell you to stay quiet.

Own every room you walk into, because this world is yours for the taking.

Posted in Letters to..., Thoughts and Opinions

Stop Comparing Yourself: Feeling Confident At Any Size

I remember going to Plato’s Closet with my sister, four years younger than me, after I’d put on about twenty pounds, and feeling so discouraged because I felt my body no longer looked good in the styles I used to love. I picked through the racks and grabbed off items I would have worn a year ago and handed them to my sister, telling her how beautiful she looked in them as she tried them on and questioned whether her hips looked too big or if this bunch of fat peaked out too much. I remember wishing I had the body back that I had so desperately tried to change.

A week later I was standing in front of a full length mirror at work in a baggy t-shirt and leggings, picking at my stomach and I said to my co-worker, “I have gotten so fat.” She looked at me with a look of complete surprise on her face and said “Where?” Like she couldn’t believe I think that of myself. Like those weren’t thoughts that cycled through my brain about every five minutes.

When I got home that night I took a long look in the mirror at my body and I wondered where I had gone wrong. I didn’t hate the way my body looked. Sure, there was a bit more to my stomach and my thighs pressed together a bit tighter, but I still thought I was beautiful. So why was I feeling so down about my own body?

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Comparison is the thief of Joy,” and while I doubt he was talking about our bodies, the same principal applies. Comparing your body to another body – whether that be a friends, an Instagram Models, a Celebrities, or even your own a year ago – will do nothing but make you feel bad about yourself.

I am the biggest now that I have ever been. I work out and I eat healthy. I am healthy. Yet, I am still the biggest I have ever been and that is okay. Could I be doing more to make my body smaller? Sure. But would that make me happier? Probably not.

According to a quick Google search, the average weight of a woman over 20 is 170 pounds. My heaviest weight puts me slightly above the average, yet woman who look just like me call themselves fat and ugly every single day.

Stop comparing yourself to anybody. Look in your mirror and love your body at whatever size and shape it is right now. If you know you are healthy, you know you are doing the best that you can in this body right now, than that is enough. You can still want smaller arms. You can still want to see a smaller number on the scale. You are still allowed to think the girl five sizes smaller or bigger than you is beautiful. But also know you are beautiful. Know your arms at this size are beautiful. Know your body at this weight is beautiful.

I’ll leave you with a selfie taken this morning at my heaviest weight. I am posing to make myself feel good. I am posing to extenuate the body parts I feel most confident in. I promise my stomach jiggles when I walk and my thighs rub together with each step. Notice that face? She’s happy in this body right now. Join her.

me

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts and Opinions

I Dropped Out of College: Why it is the best decision I ever made

This past weekend marked what should have been my college graduation. Class of 2019. I still get the Facebook group notifications even though I dropped out of college two years ago. My feed has been flooded the past few days with pictures of my friends in cap and gowns, and I can’t help but feel if just for a second, that I should be in those pictures with them. When I first felt that throb in my chest, that guilt and jealousy, I found myself quickly rewinding and checking myself because the simple truth is, dropping out of college when I did was the best thing for me.

Not for one second do I regret my decision to leave school. I was at the top of my classes, I was getting straight A’s on every project, on every assignment, I was the person to beat. But I was miserable. I was working a full time job, juggling a long distance relationship, trying to convince myself that I was happy studying a major I had no interest in. I was appeasing the system that had placed me in higher education, and I was miserable.

Do not get me wrong here. I think College is very important. I think any person who has dedicated their time and energy to getting a higher education is strong and beautiful and wonderful, and should be very proud of themselves. I am not here to bash anyone who has made that choice; they are very admirable and extremely necessary in society.

All of that though does not change that college was simply not for me. I am a happier, stronger, and still very well educated person today because I dropped out of college.

Let me explain.

I did not go to college because I had a passion for something. I went to college because that is what everyone was telling me to do. Teachers, advisers, family members, friends – almost every person in my life convinced me college was the best option. At times it seemed college was the only option. Coming from a small town, to some people, not going to college is much like a death sentence.

Still, college was not for me.

There are people who when I tell them my story, tell me I picked the wrong major. It would have been better for me if I’d picked a different major. I picked the wrong college. It would have been different for me had I picked a different college. I disagree with all of these statements. It wasn’t the majors fault. It wasn’t the college’s fault. It was all on me.

I studied hard. I got good grades. I had amazing professors. I learned plenty. I didn’t fail at college by any means. But I was a terrible human being during those two years. I was miserable. I got up every morning dreading life no matter what I had planned for the day. I knew I was going to have to sit in class and pretend to enjoy the lectures I was sitting through. I sat next to people with fire in their bellies, people so passionate about the subject that they would stand to answer questions and I remember thinking – “give me some of that fire”. I remember just wanting to feel something, but that’s not how it works.

The day I dropped out of college, the only thing I remember feeling was relief. I expected to feel anger at myself for quitting. I expected to feel ashamed of myself. I expected to feel regret or fear looking at the loans I was still going to have to pay off. But no. All I felt was relief. And to this day, all I have ever truly felt about my decision to drop out of college is relief.

I have no idea where I am going to end up. I may go back to college one day. I may decide never to go back. But at this point in my life, I have a job. I pay my own bills. I am doing something I love to do. I have plans for the next couple of years. I am happy. And above all, I am not ashamed of the choices I made to get here.

Going to college is a choice so many people make, and for so many people, it is absolutely the right decision. Also though, there are plenty of people who choose not to and still live abundant lives and are no less a member of society than those that have a degree.

I will end this post by saying simply this: be you. Choose what makes you happy. Do what makes you happy. As long as your bills are getting paid, you aren’t breaking any laws, you aren’t hurting anyone else, and you are happy, then who should be a judge of what is right in your life but yourself?

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Remembering Yourself: A Guide

Opening up Facebook this morning – this generations version of the morning paper – the first post I scrawled across: How To Be A Good Woman. Curious as to what tips this random stranger might have for me and what ‘being a good woman’ actually looks like, I opened the article and felt my jaw drop more and more the farther down I scrolled. Tip One was basically a lesson plan on how to impress the man in your life. Tip Two was all about putting your children first. And the article continued, painting a picture of what society evidently views as a good woman: Beautiful, intelligent, put together, focused, putting others first, ect.

I felt like I was watching one of those movies where the popular girls transform the class nerd into a beautiful princess by taking off her glasses and letting down her hair. As I always wondered when watching these movies, I began to wonder now: What was wrong with her before? Society has us convinced that to be a good woman we have to look and act the right way. We have to say the right things and wear the right clothes. Our hair has to be perfectly styled. We have to be amazing mom’s every second and great friends at every chance we get. We have to be perfect. Every minute of every day.

I say to hell with that theory.

Being a good woman starts with remembering yourself. It starts with wearing the clothes that make you comfortable and doing the things that make you happy. Being a good woman has nothing to do with how you treat others, and everything to do with how you treat yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying to treat everyone around you like scum and think you can get away with it. I’m saying that the one person we all spend the most time with is ourselves; shouldn’t we be our biggest priority?

Remember yourself when you go the grocery store. Buy the box of donuts you’ve been eyeing for days. Remember yourself at night after you’ve tucked the kids in. Take a hot bath or read a good book or do both. Remember yourself when that guy asks you to come over. Think about if you really want to or if you’re just trying to impress him. Remember yourself when your best friend asks you out for coffee before you say yes. Do you really want to meet her, or would you rather take the few spare minutes you have in your day for a little me time?

A good woman isn’t perfect. She is flawed. She is struggling. But she is trying. A good woman makes steps every day to be the best version of herself. And some days she takes two steps backwards instead of one step forward. But that’s okay. A good woman gets up and tries again tomorrow anyway.

Here’s to all the great woman out there – forget society and remember yourself. You are perfect just the way you are (cliche for a reason).

 

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Be That Girl

Image may contain: Chantelle Mathewson, eyeglasses and closeup

Be that girl. You know the one I’m talking about. The girl you always stare a little longer at. The one you always listen to a little harder, because every word sounds like poetry. The girl who walks with a confidence so loud, the rest of the world goes quiet to breath her in. You know her – we all do. The girl who holds her head high and smiles at strangers. The one who stops to ask you what’s wrong when she sees you crying on the park bench and everyone else just passed by.

Be her. Be the girl who stops for squirrels crossing the road and swerves slightly when her head lights catch a toad in their gleam. Be the girl who stands up when she sees injustice and sits down when someone already has it handled. The girl who walks into the room and wonders not who noticed her, but who she can make feel noticed.

You think it’s hard, I know. You see her walk in and you ask yourself ‘how does one person manage to be so put together all of the time?’ And your answer is, she isn’t. She’s broken a little on the inside too, I promise. We all are. The best of us have cracks and dents we aren’t sure how to fix. The girl you so desperately want to be still sits behind closed doors and sometimes even open ones, and wonders why she isn’t enough. She still has days on which nothing seems to be going right, but she still gets up. She still smiles and walks out the door with her best foot forward, and when she sees you on that park bench, she still asks you if you’re okay.

Be that girl. The world needs more of that girl. The world needs more kindness, more compassion, more desire to lend a helping hand. So be her. Set aside your doubts and your questions and just be her.

So often we spend so much of our lives watching other people and wondering how they managed to be so amazing, but we do nothing to achieve the same level of ‘amazingness’ – I know I am guilty of doing just that. And the beauty is that we often fail to realize – we don’t have to change ourselves completely to be that girl. If you want to, by all means, reinvent yourself every day until the girl you see in the mirror is the girl you love, and then change her again just because this is your life and you can. But if you’re not feeling quite that ambitious today, start by smiling at the first stranger you meet. I promise you’ll see that girl smiling back at you.

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

I Am Both – Embracing My Unique

Me 2018
Embracing My Unique

I have been both the quiet girl with too much to say and no voice to say it and the girl too loud, who every person stares at even though she is only speaking her mind. I have been the girl smiling shyly and also the girl jumping for joy around the room because her happiness can’t be held in any longer. I just want you to know that I see you. Whichever girl who are, I see you. And I still struggle with deciding which I want to be; because society likes to put us in boxes. You’re either shy or outgoing. You can’t be both. You’re either sad or happy. You can’t be both.

So let me tell you this. Both girl’s are perfect the way they are. And on my best days, I AM BOTH. And while society judges that as wrong, labels it as abnormal and tucks it away out of sight, I say we should wear it proud. Because I am the quiet girl who chooses to hold back, and the next second or minute or day or year, maybe I will be the girl who you can’t get to shut up even if you wanted to. And that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It merely means I can’t choose between the two. And I wouldn’t want to.

I am both. And they both have their perks. For the first fifteen years of my life, I was under the impression that I had to choose. So, I chose to be quiet all of the time. I sat in the background and I listened. And I learned a lot. I learned about people and situations, I learned how to empathize on such a deep level, I learned how to feel everything because I was doing it every second of every day. When you aren’t speaking, you aren’t exhaling your emotions, you feel every single one of them individually. This has been something I’ve kept with me, and I love it about myself. Being quiet and withdrawn, I also learned how to make real friends. People came to me who needed me, who wanted to be heard and knew I would listen – this is a complete feeling of wholeness you can’t understand until you’ve felt it. I loved being the quiet girl. But society didn’t. People would always ask me “why are you so quiet”? They would turn to the people I was with, as if I was incapable of talking at all and ask “Does she ever say anything?” – And then I found my people. I found the people who accepted my quiet, who loved sitting with me and talking about life and love and being – that or not talking at all.

I also love being the loud girl. After graduating from High School and moving away from my hometown, I have had to find a different voice within myself. This one is louder, but she’s thoughtful and still speaks with intent most of the time. But sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes things come out of my mouth that I don’t mean to say, and I love that about me now. I love that I can say anything without fear of looking stupid because I no longer care. I love that I can laugh as loudly as I want now and know that most of the time, people are going to be laughing with me, not at me. It feels amazing to be outwardly happy, loudly happy, and watch what that does to the people in the room. Spreading the emotions I have kept inward for so long is lovely, and seeing people feel them with me is even better. Being able to express to anyone when I am mad or sad or happy, telling people what I want when I want it has opened so many doors for me, and is something the quiet girl in me would have taken much longer to do.

I am both. I invite you to be both. Boxing yourself into one way of living, one way of being, closes so many doors that could be open for you if you just allow them to be. Invite them in. Open your arms. You might find that you love the side of yourself you’ve been shutting out just as much as you love the one you’ve been.

Posted in Poetry

Love Yourself

It’s easy to love yourself on your good days.

When your hair is falling just right, your bones are strong –

you feel on top of the world, these days are easy.

It’s easy to love yourself when others love you, when you are doing everything right,

when your heart is full and every word you speak rolls of your tongue with ease.

You have to love yourself on the bad days.

You have to love yourself on the days when you feel like a fuck up.

On the days your soul aches and every choice you make is the wrong one,

you must still look in the mirror and say – I love you –

you must hold your limbs and promise them safety. You must tell your aching bones you are sorry. Tell your mind it can rest.

Love yourself when you don’t feel like it.

Love yourself when no on else does.

Love yourself when loving yourself is the very last thing you want to do.

Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself.

 

-CM

Posted in Thoughts and Opinions

Ready, Set, Run!

Sports can either be the best outlet for struggling teens, or a life sentence seemingly designed specifically to torture already struggling pre-teens. For me, it was always the latter. In middle school, I was the girl who huddled in the back during dodge ball games, and wore skirts to school on the days we had gym class in hopes that meant I might be asked to sit out instead of running the dreaded four laps before whatever game the gym teacher chose to subject us to that day.

However, once I made the transition from eighth grader to Freshman, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to be able to get through High School without gym credits. So, in true middle child fashion (a story for another time), I decided that following in my big sisters footsteps was the best option. For me, this meant joining the Cross Country running team. While physical activity still wasn’t on the top of my love to do list, this seemed like the perfect option. At least there would be no complicated rules to follow or expensive equipment to purchase.

At the start of the fall sports season, I showed up to the track with my newly purchased running sneakers, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, ready for anything. What I didn’t expect however, was to quickly fall in love with something that a few weeks earlier, looked like a death sentence. The moment my feet started pounding the earth, I knew I was in trouble. Running had been living in my veins, only to be awoken by what I thought was some stupid school rule meant to waste my time.

I was no where near the fastest runner on the team, and there were races I didn’t even want to start. There were practices I dreaded and days when Cross Country running was the last thing on my mind. There were also days that running saved me. It served as an escape, a shelter from the outside world that seemed determined to break me down. My team quickly became a family, the burning in my limbs and chest a welcomed pain that I even anticipated.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The one thing I hid from and actively avoided for years soon became one of the only things I looked forward to during my High School life. And unexpectedly, it also opened my eyes to a long road of learning to try new things, to step out of my comfort zone and stop being so closed minded.

Who would have known that a single High School sport could do all of that? Perhaps dozens of teachers and other various adults, but no one that I would have actually listened to as a sixteen year old girl.

Now, three years post High School, those running sneakers long ago discarded, Cross Country running is something I will never regret. Even the races after which I threw up and passed out, will always be moments of my High School career that I will hold dear.

So on that note I encourage you to take risks, to leap into the dark and do the one thing that scares you the most. Since High School, joining the Cross Country team has went into the books as one of the smallest risks I have now taken, but will always be the most important. It was the risk that started them all.