Why it’s okay to be a woman who belongs in the kitchen

  A Hardee’s ad printed in the 1960’s opens with, “We all know a woman’s place is in the home, cooking a man a delicious meal”. Can you even imagine this being printed today? Thankfully, feminist movements have spread so much that ignorance like this is less tolerated in 2015. However, although the “women belong in the kitchen” line isn’t printed in restaurant ads, it does still exist in the world today.
Women belonging in the kitchen, working in the home, or raising the children are always popular topics for offensive jokes. Today, 74% of women are active in the workforce in the United States. I LOVE that those 74% that choose to work are able to. I am so excited that every day, more and more women are getting the chance to do things we used to think women would never be able to do.
As a woman, I don’t appreciate those “women belong in the kitchen” jokes. But not because of the thought of a woman being in the kitchen is offensive. Not because the thought of a woman staying at home to raise her kids is wrong. But because those jokes come with a negative connotation and create the idea that these things are wrong.
As a strong advocate for women’s rights, a college educated woman, and a human being I am faced with many decisions. Growing up, I had dreams of holding an important career in the workforce. After entering college I bounced around between wanting to become a police officer, a sex crimes detective or a lawyer. I wanted an important job. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. I wanted to get up each morning and feel needed, to have a purpose. I had plans to double major, study abroad, go to graduate school, and enroll in the police academy.
When I was younger, I felt no desire to get married. I was abused by a man for many years and could never understand why someone would want to be legally tied with someone who was just going to beat you every day. After watching Jersey Girl, I decided giving birth to a child was not something I ever wanted to do. I wanted it to be me, myself and I. Maybe a couple of dogs at the most. Traveling, studying, working for a large company. Getting up and going to work every day. But things change.
After meeting a man who would never cause harm to me, I decided that I would be lucky to spend my life with someone like him. And when he proposed, I was overjoyed to say yes.
And once I became pregnant and realized that man and I had created a beautiful new life, I fell in love with the idea of pregnancy. I was still in college when this baby started growing inside of me so the plan was to finish as much as possible before I gave birth. At first I was worried at the thought of not being able to finish school like I had planned. But I adjusted to the situation. I began looking at online schools and finding options to get a degree while also raising a child.
Meanwhile, as that life grew inside of me, I became more and more excited to be a mommy. I ate carefully, took my prenatals daily, and downloaded more pregnancy apps than I even knew existed. I was ready.
And then suddenly, my baby died. And I felt like I died too.
Without a child in the picture, my options reopen. I can once again go to graduate school, study abroad, or do anything else I ever thought of. I should be excited right? So many choices!
But I am not.
Once you become a mom, that feeling never goes away. That longing and desire to raise and care for a child and the love you feel for them does not die once the child does. I find myself trying to figure out what the minimum amount of school I need is in order to get a stable career. I am calculating how long it will be until we are financially ready for a child. I want to get married and have a baby. Maybe even multiple babies. But, these are feelings I feel must be locked away to myself.
Because how can I admit that my heart aches to get married and have children when the expectation for women now is to go to school, get a degree, get a career, become financially stable, travel, do whatever else for a few more years and then find a man, marry him, and have a baby? That life I just listed is a great one. I’m sure the women who choose that path will really enjoy it. But it is not the path I want.
When I first became pregnant and told my fellow classmates and friends, some of them worriedly asked “But what about school? How will you finish?” and some asked with horror “Will you drop out?” When I became engaged to a man who treats my like a queen and makes me happy, instead of reacting with joy, some family members instead lectured me about earning a degree before settling down. It’s funny though because I don’t actually remember taping a sign to my forehead which reads, “My ultimate life goal is to earn a college degree”.
The whole purpose of women being able to work in America is the fact that they have a choice to IF DESIRED. But what if it is not desired? Why is a woman praised if she wants to work at a desk all day long but is shamed is she wants to spend her day raising a human being? And since we’re on the subject, why is it that when people hear that a MAN has chosen to become a stay at home dad people aww and think it is noble and sweet. Yet if a woman is asked what she does and replies “I’m a stay at home mom” people pity her, look down upon her, or respect her less.
I know many stay at home moms who are knowledgeable enough to hold a position in any career they please. Just because they choose to spend their days raising a family doesn’t mean they chose it because it was their only option.
I’m not saying I want to be a stay at home mom. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up choosing that demanding job where I report to an office with a window view each day. Maybe I will become a detective and positively impact someone’s life. Or maybe I will create a life and positively impact that one. Or maybe I’ll do both. I’m not really sure. The point is, that I want to have the ability to choose. I don’t want to raise a family because “women belong in the kitchen” is the current trend and I don’t want to pursue a career because “women belong in the workforce” is either. I want to belong wherever I choose to belong. And I don’t want to be shamed or looked down on if the choice I make isn’t the same on society is pushing upon me.

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Why it’s okay to be a woman who belongs in the kitchen

What it feels like to go shopping for clothes while suffering from (or recovering from) an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders suck. They suck so much that sometimes it’s difficult to explain just how much they suck. Especially to someone who has never experienced it.

It’s been a little over a year since I “recovered” from my eating disorder. For 7 years I felt guilty every time I ate, broke my food into pieces to try to hide how little I was eating, and shoved my fingers down my throat, and puked into the toilet every time I felt upset. I put the word “recovered” in quotes because I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to ever really fully RECOVER from an eating disorder.

I think one of the hardest parts about being post eating disorder is the constant paranoia of relapsing. When I feel fat or think I look fat, I can never tell if I really am fat or if it’s all in my mind. Then I worry that if I do convince myself that I am overreacting and my weight is fine, that I actually am overweight and just in denial.

About four months after I finally received help and started healthy eating habits, I was on a positive body image high. I am a naturally curvy person. I envied my friends through high school who could eat and eat without ever gaining a pound. Since I was 13, I’ve had D cup breasts and a butt that my mom refers to as “bootylicious” (creepy, I know). Anyway, these are assets some women would kill for. The body type “thick” has become glamorous and used as a compliment.

So for a while, I learned to embrace it. I took pride in being the “thick” one in my friend group. I danced at college parties, shaking my bootylicious booty. I followed women like Jennifer Lawrence, Demi Lovato and even Kim K, who are not super skinny and also embrace their curves. But the best part was I ATE whatever I wanted. For the first time in many years, I let myself eat without feeling guilty. And most importantly, I left that food in my body without forcing it up 10 minutes after swallowing it.

But like all highs; it eventually came to an end. I blame social media largely for this. It can be so hard to stay positive about my big thighs & bouncing breasts when every time I get on Instagram there are photos of girls with stomachs so tiny you can see their ribs. Or when every time I open a fashion magazine, the women pictured have tall, skinny legs. While mine are short & chunky. I became obsessed. Every time I saw a photo of a friend in a bikini or crop top, I stared at her stomach, her thighs, and her arms. Comparing them to my own and never feeling satisfied in the end.

The icing on top of the cake was when I went to the doctor a few weeks ago. My fiancé was with me. Being my first time at this particular office, I had to fill out lots of forms. I listed my height, 5 feet 2 inches, and my weight, 122 pounds. We went into the back and I stepped on the scale. “138” the doctor read out loud, casually. I weighed 138 pounds. More than I ever have in my entire life. I was filled with shock and embarrassment. After I left, I googled to find out just how much a female at 5’2 should weigh. The average was 122. The maximum 136. Making me officially overweight.

Slowly but surely, the urge to shove my fingers down my throat came back. Every time someone asked me to go out to eat or if I was hungry, I would feel the need to say no. It became so bad that I would feel like crying when I did allow myself to eat.

The worst part though, has become looking in the mirror. It has become so hard to get dressed that I try on about 6 or 8 outfits before becoming so frustrated my eyes are filled with tears and I feel sick to my stomach. So today, when I went shopping for new clothes, it was practically a nightmare.

I had done research prior to the shopping trip. I googled and read articles titled things like, “clothes to wear to make you look thinner”. I made sure to have a little breakfast before so that I wouldn’t become hungry and irritable. And I went in with a positive attitude, ready to find some form flattering clothes.

For many years during the worst times of my disorder I wore either sizes 1 or 2 in pants. Sometimes even 0’s or 00’s. It is hard to admit that you need a larger size than what you used to wear, so I begrudgingly grabbed jeans and shorts off of the size 3 rack. I took them into the dressing room and stepped into them. Most of them I couldn’t pull past my thighs. Some not even past my calves. There were few that I managed to wiggle past that bootylicious butt. However, I had to suck in to zip them and couldn’t even sit down in them. The tight pants made my stomach bulge over them. I struggled to strip them off of me.

If you’ve ever had to pull tight clothing off of you in a small dressing room, you know the struggle I’m explaining. It takes quite an effort to pull those skinny jeans off and by the end, you’re most likely out of breath and even sweating a little.

So I stood there and stared at myself in the mirror. My breasts so big my nipples fell out of my d-cup bra. My stomach looking flabby over my purple thong. And my bootylicious butt looking more saggy than anything else.

My eyes stung from tears. I became irritable and eager to just quit the shopping completely. I wanted to go home, throw on some sweats and hide from the world.

But I didn’t, because I needed some new clothes. So instead, I hung up those teeny shorts and headed back to the rack. This time choosing from the sixes and sevens. I was embarrassed at first. Irrational fears racing through my mind. What if someone saw me pulling from here? I even worried that the store employees would have noticed that first I selected size threes and then had to exchange for three sizes larger. Finally, I suck it up and headed back into the dressing room with my stack of larger pants.

I pulled them on with ease. Regardless of the size, it felt good to wear something my skin wasn’t pouring out of. I eventually found a few pairs that fit and left the store with my new, size six pants.

Although the “ideal weight calculator” online tells me I am “overweight”, I know that to the average stranger, they would most likely not label me with that word. My health is not at risk because of my weight. I don’t get winded when walking up stairs. Though I may be “thick”, I am still complimented on my body.

So why do I feel the need to starve myself? Why do I cry when I look in the mirror? Maybe it’s because 97% of women in America admitted to hating their bodies. A study done at University of Central Florida interviewed girls aged 3-6 years old. Half of them reported to being afraid of becoming fat or wishing they could change their bodies. As this is a surprise and sad to hear, it should almost be expected as well. These girls most likely hear they moms, their sisters, their friends, the television and many more sources talking negatively about body image. As they get older, they will compare themselves to airbrushed bodies in magazines and Victoria Secret models.

When this woman is what the media identifies as a “plus sized model” how could they not feel inferior about their bodies?

plus-size-models-29

For now, I will continue to embrace my size as it is. I wouldn’t ever want others to judge my value, worth or beauty based on the tag on my jeans. So why should I continue to judge myself that way?

Ps. For any of you relating to this, here is a quote I reminded myself of frequently while going through recovery;

“How many friends would you have if you treated them the way you treat yourself?”

Be kind to yourself. Love your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. Xo

What it feels like to go shopping for clothes while suffering from (or recovering from) an Eating Disorder

My Abuser Lives a Normal, Undercover Life

I’ve had my fair share of unhealthy relationships. It has been years since I have become free. I have recovered. I am stronger. I am in a healthy relationship. I am okay. 

But after escaping an abusive relationship, the victim is not the only one that continues to live. The abuser goes on with their life as well. And sometimes, that can be very weird.

I try to avoid my abusers on social media. I don’t need any constant reminders of my traumatic past popping up on my Twitter feed. But when I still am connected to friends who graduated from the same schools as us, or even hang out with them, social media unfortunately sometimes still lets them pop up onto my phone screen and into my mind. 

I try to be positive and forgiving and to not let bitterness and anger consume me when I see them happily living their lives, but it is hard. 

Ex number two is the one who actually shows some remorse for his actions. He calls from time to time to ask for another chance, swearing that he has changed and is different now (as if I haven’t fallen for that one enough times). It’s been almost three years since our relationship ended but the wounds from his abuse still hurt (and some are even still visible). I give him the “I wish you the best. I’m glad to hear you’ve grown so much”. But I’m not sure how much I really mean it. How could I wish him “the best”? This is a man who held me down while he screamed in my face and threatened to kill me. Usually I don’t let it get to me very much, his calls and texts. But last week, a photo he posted popped up on my feed. It was of him and a pretty girl with long brown hair. The comments from his friends were things like “this is your girl?” and “ohh so here’s the one you’ve been bragging about”. It struck me that I didn’t feel a bit jealous but instead I was scared for that girl. For once I hoped that he had really changed, that he was a different man from the one I knew. I stared at the pretty brunette with big white teeth in the photo and wondered if she knew who he used to be, if he truly is no longer that person. I sincerely hoped that she didn’t know and never would. 

Ex number one is different. He has been on and off with a girl for a while now. I know that he treats her almost, if not as bad as he did me. But still, he calls me often and says he loves me, misses me, etc, etc. Anyways, a few months ago she announced through social media that the two were announcing a child. That hurt. And I’m not totally sure why. Was my baby fever kicking in and making me jealous? Was I feeling sad for her that she would now be linked to ex#1 for the rest of her life? I’m still not completely sure. Ex number one and I go way way back. Too much has happened for me to possibly summarize in this blog post. It’s not that I wish it were me who was carrying his child or wished I was still with him. But every time I see that my abusers are living a normal life, it disturbs me. I guess they have to, it’s not like their world just stops spinning after I finally escape. But I think what bothers me most is how loved they are by their peers. Adored, looked up to even. People they have fooled so well, they do not even know who they really are. It makes me wonder how many people I know who secretly go home and scream death threats in the face of their significant other. Every nine seconds a woman somewhere in the United States is being beaten by their partner. So these undercover abusers must be somewhere, right? Maybe we work with them, sit next to them in class, stand behind them in line at the grocery store. 

These feelings largely relate to Kevin Kantor’s poem “People You May Know” (google it & watch the video). It’s about his experience when his rapist showed up under the “people you may know” tab on Facebook. He scrolls through his rapist’s photos and see all his shirtless selfies with compliments of all over the comments. These people had no idea that he was a rapist. 

I’m not saying you need to be paranoid or accuse everyone you run into at the store of being an abuser. But it is interesting to think about how different people can really be from how the rest of the world sees them. 

For now, I will keep hoping that the mask my abuser’s hide behind become their true identities, for the sake of their new significant others. But I will always remember the person they used to be. After all, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

My Abuser Lives a Normal, Undercover Life

Monica Lewinsky. And why America is full of bullies.

Monica Lewinsky. What comes to your mind when you hear this name? For most, the Lewinsky name is recognizable. Most will instantly connect the name to the “Lewinsky Scandal” fifteen years ago. Probably even do their best Clinton impression and recite that famous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” line. But let’s take a deeper look into the past of Ms. Monica Lewinsky.

Twenty-two year old Lewinsky became an intern at the White House in the summer of 1995. In November, her secret relationship with Bill Clinton began. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t one of those things that everyone just kind of forgot about with time. Today, Lewinsky’s name is used in songs, as a punch line for jokes and as a euphemism for oral sex.

After the relationship was exposed, Lewinsky testified to having ten sexual encounters with Clinton. However, the relationship wasn’t all sexual. The couple had around fifty late night phone calls. Some lasted for hours, just talking about any and everything. Lewinsky gave Clinton around thirty gifts such as paperweights, mugs, ties, etc. While he in return gave her about eighteen gifts such as hats, brooches and many other things. Friends of Lewinsky who knew of the relationship reported that Clinton would say things about no longer begin married after his presidency was over. Lewinsky began thinking about becoming his wife.

This wasn’t a scam Lewinsky was pulling to make Clinton look bad. She wasn’t doing this for money or for publicity. She had feelings for him, she was in love with President Clinton, she wanted to be his wife. And he took full advantage of that. Fast-forward to January of 1998 and Clinton is publicly denying having sex with “that woman”.

Picture your daughter, sister, best female friend, even yourself. Picture that person falling in love with a man and allowing yourself to have an affair with them. Now imagine that same person being known with the same reputation Monica Lewinsky has. Lewinsky is a perfect example of slut shaming.

For those of you unfamiliar with this buzzword, slut shaming, also known as slut bashing, is the act of attacking a woman for being sexual. The word “slut” itself is a weapon used to make women feel ashamed or inferior. Slut shaming is present among all ages. From high schoolers being bullied for losing their virginity, to a thirty year old woman who has multiple partners, to Monica Lewinsky who fell in love with a man and began a relationship with him.

I googled “Bill Clinton” and the screen was filled with videos of different speeches, news reports about the Clinton Foundation and updates on his wife’s presidential campaign. Then I google “Monica Lewinsky”. The first thing that pops up is a link to the “Lewinsky Scandal”, followed by a list of “Top 10 Mistresses” in which she is featured. The top right corner is Lewinsky’s biography which includes her full name followed by the fact that she had an “inappropriate relationship” with Clinton. It would be difficult to find anything in this search that wasn’t related to the affair.

Go back to that person you were imagining, what if this was their life now. When dating, or trying to get a job or going to the doctors, she will be known for having sex with one man, even fifteen years later. While that man continues his life and his marriage and slowly becomes less and less associated with the relationship.

Monica has recently spoken out about the shame and humiliation that she has been living with. She now speaks out as an anti-cyberbully advocate. She has taken responsibility for her actions and is trying to make the best out of her situation. She is using her story to educate young people of the effects of cyber shaming and bullying. I can’t think of a better way for her to handle this situation. Yet, many fail to see it this way.

After Lewinsky’s Ted Talk “The Price of Shame” went online, the comments were flooded with disgusting negativity. Commenter’s called her a slut and a whore. They made fun of her, criticized her weight, her dress, and her overall physical appearance. They blamed her for 9/11 attacks and for Al Gore losing the 2000 presidency. Fifteen years later, Lewinsky is still being bullied for the same thing she was in 1995.

According to meganmeierfoundation.org, 71.9% of students reported to being cyberbullied one or two times each year. 19.6% reported experiencing it once or twice a month. 5.3% reported once or twice a week. And 3.1% reported almost every single day.

56% of students who are bullied admit to turning to self-harm as a coping mechanism. Suicide is the second highest cause of death for individual’s ages 15-24 years old. Approximately 3,994 people of this age group commit suicide each year.

I think anyone who devotes their time trying to change these statistics should be applauded. I also think America owes Monica Lewinsky a huge apology for bullying her, shaming her and attacking her. And then after apologizing, go ahead and pat her on the back and thank her for trying to positively influence youth and prevent anyone else from suffering the way she did.

So next time the name Monica Lewinsky comes up in conversation, instead of making a sex joke, try saying something like “Wasn’t her Ted Talk great?” or “Aren’t her efforts to end bullying wonderful?”. Or just don’t say anything at all. But try to come up with something, anything better than a pathetic joke about a woman’s sex life fifteen year ago. It’s time to move on.

“We talk a lot about our right to freedom of speech, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of speech.” –Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky. And why America is full of bullies.

“The One with the Domestic Violence”. Why is abuse not taken seriously when the victim is a MAN?

I have to admit that I am a HUGE fan of the television show Friends. For those of you living under a rock who are unfamiliar with Friends, it’s a sitcom about six young adults living in New York. (Of course it’s SO much more than that but for now, we’ll leave it at that.) The circle of friends consists of three women and three men. One of the men, Joey, is the flirtatious, handsome, “ladies-men” character. The episode I want to focus on is one where Joey is dating a new girl, Katie. She comes by the coffee shop (where the group of friends hang out) & says hi to the gang. Her & Joey discuss their plans for later and she playfully punches him. After she leaves, Joey’s friends all comment on how cute and tiny she is and how much they like her. Joey responds with a hesitant “Yeah I guess so…”. When they ask what is wrong he tells them that he likes her but when she hits him, it really hurts. The group bursts out laughing and begin making jokes about him needing a bodyguard to protect himself from this tiny little lady. 
As the show progresses, Joey finally confronts Katie and tells her how much her punches hurt. She takes it as a joke and punches him more. Saying “Don’t make fun of my size!” in a playful way. Joey finally resorts to wearing six coats all at once to protect himself. The problem resolved when Katie playfully punches Rachel (one of the three women) and Rachel realizes the punches do in fact hurt and kicks her. Long story short, the relationship ends.

However, the point is that poor Joey was being abused and nobody cared because he is a man and she was a woman. Let’s imagine that instead it was a woman who was being hit by her male partner. It’s possible, I suppose, but I highly doubt it that her friends would react the same way as Joey’s did. Yes, men are biologically different from women. But we cannot conclude that every single man is stronger than every single woman. And regardless of who is stronger, the point is that abuse is abuse. Maybe Katie’s punches weren’t doing any real damage, not even leaving a bruise, and definitely not life-threatening like some cases of abuse. That doesn’t make it any less abusive. 

As I watch my younger brother grow into a handsome teenager, I am often nosy, trying to find out if he has a girlfriend or a crush on anyone. If my brother was dating a girl, I don’t care what her size or strength is, she will not be punching my brother. Just as I would expect him to respect her and treat her with kindness, she needs to be doing the same in return. As women fighting against violence, and for our freedom and rights, we cannot allow ourselves to have double standards. If it is abuse when a man does something, it is also abuse when a woman does it.

Men are often known as the bad guy, the abuser, in a domestic abusive relationship. I know very well that some men are abusive. But that doesn’t give women the right to be. About two in five victims of domestic violence are in fact men. According to BatteredMen.com, in 40% of severe cases of abuse, men are the victims. 

We’ve been focusing on physical abuse here but I think that more often, women are mental and emotional abusers. And most of the time, we get away with it because of our gender. I watched many of my girl friends abuse their boyfriends in high school. (Of course, back then I didn’t recognize it as abuse.) Controlling your boyfriend, deciding where he is allowed to go, who he is allowed to be with, who he can and can’t text or talk to or hug in the hallways. Ladies, we don’t get to make those decisions!! Girlfriend, fiancé, partner, wife, whatever you call yourself; these words are not, and should not be synonymous with controller, tyrant, master, commander or anything along those lines. Cussing your boyfriend out, calling him names, screaming at him, etc, etc. Ladies, this isn’t healthy. It’s not normal. If you relate to these things or are doing any of these, you are NOT in a healthy relationship. 

Now I know every couple fights. It’s only human to get a little jealous, a little annoyed from time to time. Having a bit of a temper doesn’t necessarily mean you are an abuser. But if these things are happening on a regular basis, get out. Now. Whether it is you doing these things or you are having these done to you. This isn’t love and it isn’t healthy. I know, because I have been there. 

*If you feel unsafe or think your relationship may be abusive, please contact your local domestic violence shelter or The National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.thehotline.org or 1-800-799-7233. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 now.*

“The One with the Domestic Violence”. Why is abuse not taken seriously when the victim is a MAN?