Painting ‘Slim’ as Unattractive

It was my first year of university during an English Language lecture that I witnessed one of the worst forms of discrimination against slimmer women. The male lecturer was talking about connotations of words, to which point he opened a slide on his PowerPoint presentation of tall runway models, and the word ‘skinny’ in large letters, he then asked us to feed back to him what kinds of connotations we associated with the word.

Many were negative, as expected, but a couple of students said a few positives. To my shock, the male lecturer immediately critically remarked these positive connotations stating that he personally associated the word with being unhealthy, and malnourished. Wow. How this was acceptable in front of an auditorium full of mainly young women I do not know. Such a sensitive subject that would have offended many in the room. It personally made me upset and angry; people described me as skinny and apparently according to my lecturer that meant I was unhealthy.

The past few years has seen the media celebrate womanly curves and the plus sizes. Personally I think this is fantastic, considering how the media usually relies on a vast amount of photo shopping, resulting in the creation of an unrealistic female. It is good that it has been recognised that a real woman is not necessarily what is seen in magazines or in music videos. All types of women with different body shapes should be appreciated and viewed as just as attractive as the next.

However, this celebration has also led (I personally feel) to putting down, the ‘skinny’ girls.  I think the media and popular culture have slowly connoted ‘skinny’ as unattractive. I hate the word skinny – something I have been described as all my life. From friends, strangers, anyone who has an opinion really, that word has always been thrown at me.

It is as simple as this – I DO eat, so please do not tell me to go eat a burger. Yes – I go to the gym, not to lose weight but to be physically fit. My bone structure is small, I am petite, it’s just the way I am & I DO put on weight if I don’t take care of what I eat or exercise. In fact in my final year of university I put on a lot of weight in a short space of time, yes I did not get noticeably fat BUT I got cellulite, I felt unfit and I no longer fit into my clothes. So I changed this and lost it all, for myself, nobody else, not because I wanted to be ‘skinny’ but because I felt unfit and unhappy with how I was.

People obsess over the fact I go to the gym, more than I do myself; for some reason it is assumed that I go to lose weight, no, couldn’t be further from the truth. Here is the answer; I enjoy it, I want to be physically fit and as healthy as I possibly can be, it makes you feel good, it reduces stress and lessens my anxiety, I think it’s great for your mind as well as your body; it is mentally and physically stimulating.

With that said though, the stigma around slimmer women has increased dramatically over the past few years, mainly down to the attention the media has given it. Alongside this is celebrity endorsement, for example Meghan Trainor’s recently released song ‘All About that Bass’ is a prime example of popular culture making a joke about slimmer women whilst taking pride in curves. The question is why this positive message cannot be magnified via music, magazines, and film whilst not putting down other women in the meantime. It goes both ways, it hurts. The message should be that we are all different shapes and sizes, and that everyone is beautiful.

The lyrics in Trainor’s song include ‘Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size, She says, “boys like a little more booty to hold at night” you know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll’. The media and culture today make it acceptable to ridicule smaller woman with words such as ‘stick figure silicone Barbie doll’ in songs, yet if someone was to call a woman fat it’s horrible (which it is, don’t get me wrong, as said previous it works both ways). This song could have successfully renowned curves and been just as catchy and made just as much money, without undermining smaller women and making them feel unattractive.

My final point is that everyone is different and beautiful in their own way; the obsession with size needs to stop. We are all unique, we all want different things in life, and it is not necessary to compare ourselves to other people’s appearances for self fulfilment and pride.

What’s the big deal, Tinder?

First of all, I am not against Tinder, in fact I have it. For my friends and I it started off as one of those funny apps  where you could all laugh at people that popped up whom we knew in real life. Take note of REAL LIFE; I will come back to this.

As my housemates and I were round the dining room table one evening we began discussing this app of which we’d heard resulted in interesting date stories for other friends. The conversation escalated and ended up with me being used as the Tinder guinea pig. We all gathered around my phone to swipe left and right at the many men in the surrounding area and gradually what started as ten minutes of swiping, turned into over an hour. Oh dear, this really was addictive, and entertaining, and exciting – all at the same time.

That is the thing with Tinder, it begins as a novelty, something you can use to find attractive men or women, and the excitement of whether the ‘really hot guy with amazing abs’ has liked you back also. Chances are though said guy will actually never speak to you, in fact he’s probably using the app for entertainment purposes also. This quite frankly is dissatisfying and gradually the novelty wears off. Are you actually using the app for a laugh or deep down are you hoping your perfect match may appear suddenly one day?

The people that do begin a conversation with you after the initial match are the ones that give you this hope. However a few messages into the conversation you probably realise that just because your shared interests involve liking bands, artists or even one of those pages on Facebook with names such as ‘If she doesn’t know who loves orange soda, she’s too young for you bro’ does not actually mean you are a match made in heaven.

As I said before I’m all up for using it for a bit of a laugh, and sometimes it does result in funny conversations. However I am yet to meet any one I have spoken to; my only offer for a date was to go to Spoons on a Friday night – hmm as lovely as that sounds, I think I’ll probably pass.

Looking at Tinder from a positive point of view, I do know people that are in relationships now who only met because of the app, which is great!

I’m entirely for the way in which social media is developing, I think sometimes we just need to put our phones down, and look at what is in front of us right now. I’m 23 next week, does it matter that I’m single? No, because I am completely happy. Instead of wondering if the next swipe is going to reveal a gorgeous person but also with an amazing personality, we should look around at what we already have in our own lives, in our REAL life. Value the friends and family you already have, and the faces you see on a daily basis.

Next time you’re in a bar talk to that girl or guy stood next to you, in a queue at a shop smile at those around you, be open and willing to meet new people. After all it is possible to meet new people in person, and not only through these apps. You could be ignoring something potentially amazing in front of your eyes whether it is a relationship or even just a fresh new friendship. It’s time to make more of an effort to communicate face to face, so we do not slip into a world where we hide behind our screens.

A thought to conclude on – a  friend and I were discussing how in 40 years time; an app like Tinder could potentially become the predominant way in which people actually meet each other when seeking relationships, could you imagine that?

Sad Endings, New Beginnings

Who knew the sudden wave of emotion that would come with packing up, moving out and leaving university, for good? I did not that’s for sure. I can’t put my finger on why I felt so sad, after all so much had happened in those three years of living away from home; leaving with hundreds of memories which will definitely create an overwhelming nostalgia of university for the rest of my life.

Now I am not exactly much of a crier these days; however the day I had to hand in my keys of my student house was the day I began a new start as a well-established ‘crier’. As I hugged my house mates goodbye a surge of emotion came over my body, oh no I thought here it comes; the aching inside was coming out in teary form and I just could not stop. I cried and cried and cried on the train home. Luckily nobody asked me what was wrong – managing to cover up the embarrassing situation with my mega big sunnies. Yet still, this was a new experience for someone quite guarded and inclined to keep their feelings to themselves and here I was unable to stop this surge of sadness.

Yes I felt over dramatic, however the sad thing is, in that moment I realised how much everyone/everything meant to me in that City and how it would never be the same again.  We would never all be in the same place at the same time; eating unhealthy food whilst watching Bake Off, or spontaneously going on a night out just because the contestants on The Chase had won (we had to celebrate for them, obviously). These are just the little examples of the humorous aspects of university life. Alongside this were also the milestones, passing year by year, and all the hard work along the way. After all we were all there to get ourselves a degree, and the cliché of becoming a much better and different person from the whole experience most definitely applied to myself.

On a positive note, I can confidently say I am proud, of what I have achieved and who I have become because of the life experiences and people I met along my journey of university life. The person I was when I first started university to the person I am today is so much different, happier, and content and I could not be more excited about the next stages of my life. Although this is a sad moment, where I’ve had to let go of essentially half of the lifestyle I’ve got comfortable living over the past three years, I understand that change in life is always good and causes individuals to push themselves further. I am going to fully embrace my graduate lifestyle; to all you recent graduates – massive congratulations and good luck, never forget to embrace all the little moments in life to the full.