Friday, November 14, 2014

Let's Talk About Body Image

     I wouldn't normally write something this delicate, being on a public blog, but seeing as I currently have zero views I don't think it's much to worry about. But that being said, if this helps even two people out there (one being my professor hehe) in any way, then, well, that's great.

     It goes without saying that we all experience issues with our body image at some points in our lives. It might be worrying about our weight, or our shape, or the size of our nose. We're constantly bombarded with false images from the media, of men and women looking so-called "perfect". We've gotten to a day and age where we know that many of these images are photoshopped, and even have campaigns promoting a positive body image. Yet, so many of us still struggle every day, feeling ugly, worthless, unlovable. All because of the way we look. It sounds ridiculous, but unfortunately it's the truth. On the contrary, many of us are still able to function, we manage to put those thoughts to the back of our mind and get on with our days. Many of us are lucky enough to not have those negative thoughts creep up on us all the time; to affect friendships, relationships, school. But there are a small amount of people who are not.

     I'm sure that a lot of people have heard of eating disorders. A person might starve themselves, or purge to try and lose weight, in order to achieve a desired body. A person wants to fit in to this image in which they believe is "perfect", but no matter how much they exercise, no matter how thin they become, their self-image is constantly distorted, so they will never  be perfect, in their eyes. What many people haven't heard of, however, is Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD. Similarly to anorexia, the person's self-image is distorted. What makes this condition different, however is that the person's anxieties aren't specifically surrounding their weight. But the evil, negative thoughts are there, just the same.

     It helps to think of BDD as a type of OCD condition. The thoughts of one's entire self-image are obsessive. To the point where their daily life is disrupted. Someone with BDD might worry about anything ranging from acne, to the sound of their own voice, or the shape of their nose. But instead of being able to merely think "I don't like this about me, but it's not the end of the world", these thoughts become an obsession. These thoughts can make one feel trapped. Who would want to have to deal with such negative, petty thoughts on a daily basis, and be unable to control them? But the brain is such a complex, powerful thing. Our brain is a sort of machine, that recycles thoughts. It sorts through every thought, and every memory, in order to navigate which ones are the most important, and which ones are not. Thus, we forget the ones it deems to be not important, naturally. But the ones that it deems important, are the thoughts that become recycled. So with BDD, it's these negative thoughts, that are constantly being recycled, forever needing to be reminded.

     Though a brief explanation about this condition, I think that we all, as a society, have to stop. We have to stop forcing ideals on to one another, we have to make more of an effort to make everyone feel worthy. We need to stop preoccupation with ones appearance at a young age, before it develops in to an obsession. It is incredibly alarming to see young children bullied for their looks, toddlers being placed in beauty pageants, and ten-year-olds wearing makeup. I believe that this is the root of what is causing such dissatisfaction with oneself, such anxiety over minimal flaws. Feeling inadequate is something I wouldn't wish upon anyone in the world.



English Identity

     In class last week, we had an interesting discussion all around different cultures, and experiencing racism. One part of the discussion in particular, though, was about people who have immigrated to Canada, and whether or not it felt like home to them. When the professor asked if the towns or cities in which expats now lived in felt like home to them, I was somewhat surprised to find that just about all of them did. With the exception of me.

     I was born and bred in the United Kingdom and moved with my family to Canada at age ten. Although so young when the transition was made, I have somehow never identified with Canada, or the city surrounding me as "home". This doesn't mean to say that I haven't settled in, and adapted to the country. Alarmingly still, I find myself experiencing culture shock on a surprisingly regular basis. This may have something to do with me spending so much time with a British family at home. Though, what about those who moved from other countries to Canada? From China? From Afghanistan? From Bulgaria? The majority of these immigrants to Canada identify here as their home. From my own perspective, I find it difficult to understand how they became so well adapted to a new country, especially those who moved at a much later age than I did. On the contrary, those who left a country which did not harbour the same freedoms and rights as Canada may have instantly felt relief in living here. Of course, England is not much different from Canada, in that regard.

     Interestingly, all of my British friends and family who have come to visit Canada have all said more or less the following:  It's lovely but I could never live there. This leads me to wonder if there is something about being British, specifically, that holds this special identity. Perhaps it's the way in which the culture is preserved; the fact that you don't have to look in a textbook to see its history. There are castle ruins in the middle of old towns, centuries old iron gates still standing, cobblestoned streets, "haunted" cottages, and pubs that were built in the 18th century. Maybe it's the fact that the accent differs from region to region. England is known for being an island surrounded by the ocean, yet the climate is rarely appropriate for the sort of time you'd spend on a beach in America. Being British, I can confidently say that there is certainly a feeling I get when I'm there. The moment you step outside you can smell the dampness in the air. The roads are small and winding, and the hills of the countryside are like nothing you'd see anywhere else.

     Although sometimes I feel isolated, being the only one who doesn't call Canada my "home", I find comfort in the fact that I still hold on to this special identity, and I will always continue to do so.


Unhealthy Relationships - "Why I Stayed"

     A common theme in the articles we have been reading is class, is about equality. Specifically, with regards to gender and race. Another article we studied, titled "Why I Stayed", was another of interest to me, with regards to its nod towards feminism, and gender equality. Although on the outside it can be blatant to some that a relationship is toxic or abusive, it can be tricky to be able to leave that person, for a number of reasons. I think that oftentimes, people are quick to scold someone who stays in a bad relationship, particularly women. One reason for this could be the fact that women may be more likely to speak up about any issues they are having in a relationship, whereas men might be worried of appearing "weak" or "whipped". With this in mind, I think it's important to acknowledge that abuse can happen in any relationship, to both men and women. It is certainly a lot more common to be aware of domestic abuse in which the female is the victim. It is a common reaction to imagine a woman being treated poorly by a man, when someone thinks of abuse in relationships. While it is still very important to know that this does happen to women, and it is of extreme concern, society should be more informed about domestic abuse on both sides. Just because the issue of men being the victims, does not dismiss it as non-existent.

     I encourage absolutely everyone, both men and women, to speak up if they are in any way uncomfortable in a relationship. Whether it be feeling belittled, invalidated, of physically abused, telling somebody does not make the subject weak. Nobody deserves to feel trapped and scared in a relationship. It can be these very emotions that cause someone to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Being scared of their partner getting angry, or the fear of being alone. Some people even admit that they can not leave a relationship, simply due to the fact that they love for their partner. On the surface, these reasons may seem petty or unreasonable, however when one is actually in this situation, it isn't as simple as black and white. It takes a lot of strength and willpower first of all, to not only admit to yourself that you are not in a healthy relationship, but to confide in someone who is trusted.

     Overall, I believe that we should be sensitive to the reasons in which someone might choose to stay in a relationship, both women and men. In addition to this, never assume that men do not face any sort of abuse, merely because we don't hear about it as frequently as their female counterparts. This is a part of gender equality, and something that anyone who considers themselves a feminist should take in to account.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Is this what we want?

    I remember when I turned seventeen. I suppose you could say I started to grow up. Or more accurately, felt myself growing more detached from my environment. My friends. My family. Everything. They say that there comes an age where you start to "discover yourself". A time where you are "figuring out" who you are. I'm sure that many people would say that they have spent their whole lives trying to do so. I dare say it will be the same for me.

     To be perfectly honest, I don't necessarily think this was my "age of self discovery", but rather the age of discovering the world that we live in. It is a wonderful gift, to be human. But why is it that hardly anybody wants that gift any more? Why is it that all I see are people dedicating their entire lives to one career, having to get that university scholarship,  needing to graduate with honours? Feeling as though they must the best, better than anyone else. But then, tell me, what is the best? Why does it matter if he has a university degree, and she has a college diploma? Who is to say that your grades dictate the person that you are? Everyone is in constant competition with one another, desperate to squeeze their way up to the top of the hierarchy. Instead of wandering, there is only getting. Instead of process, there is only product. Creativity has faded and in it's place comes drugs and alcohol. That void that was once filled with imagination and madness won't come out on it's own any more. Nobody wants to dream. They want to have. The only things that are there are the things that are in front of them, and the only dreams they have happen in their sleep. Why does it feel like humanity has been replaced with robots? What sort of human can feel fulfilled by going to the same job, day after day until they begin to deteriorate? Perhaps those lines on the calendar start to show up on to the face after so many years.

     It makes me sad. It makes me sad to watch this world go by me every day. It is as if I am witnessing it, but I'm not really there. Like watching a movie, or reading a book.

     Perhaps I did begin to find myself at seventeen. I found that what everyone else was doing, that, I didn't want at all.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Argumentative Writing Assignment

Social Media to Raise Awareness About Issues

     Due to the extreme rise in the use of technology, society relies on social media such as twitter and facebook to receive updates about news, events and world issues. Whenever someone logs on to one of these social media websites, they are bombarded with messages passed on via hastags, retweets, and statues posted throughout. As long as you are a member of one of these sites, you essentially can't avoid seeing these messages. Someone might "share" an article, or use a hashtag, which sparks curiosity and in turn, will likely cause people to find out more with just a click of a mouse, or tap on a touch screen phone. In a way, social media appears to be the main source of information, as the newspaper and even the television become less popular in today's society. Millions of people are connected through social media websites, and even more are joining these sites every day. The basic purpose of social media is for the convenience of contacting family and friends,  however it has become a realm of games, "likes", and even discussions with complete strangers. The media knows that people are on these websites frequently, and use that to their advantage to advertise, educate and use propaganda. I believe that it is important for people to stay aware, and social media is an excellent tool for people to be able to keep up to date. If people aren't watching the news on tv and in the newspaper, how else are they going to keep educated? With that being said, I still feel some resent towards the fact that the internet and social media are taking over the traditional newspaper article, and even simply talking to someone face to face. Unfortunately, it appears that the world is on the internet today, so social media is smart to bring awareness about issues to their websites.