Reflecting on my privilege and questions

Yesterday I came across a piece about Thin Privilege on Everyday Feminism. It was perspective I have not considered in the mass social movement of “everybody is beautiful”. First and foremost, I don’t agree with the idea of telling people “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, because that does not fix the problem that currently exists in the society. Self-acceptance should not have its roots in other people’s opinions, period. However, until we rid patriarchy, someone out there will always hate their bodies because they do not conform with society’s (by that I mean men) ideals. So I suppose the next best thing would be to rid body-shaming.

I do not consider myself thin, although many have called me “tiny”, because of my upbringing in a Chinese family. I consider myself to be big-boned and without grace, but those are only my feelings. The article I read yesterday pointed out to me that my own grievances and hatred for my body does not mean I am oppressed in the same way that fat people are. My biggest problem when I walk around the world is that I feel like people are judging me even though they probably aren’t. My second problem is probably not being able to find my size ever during a sale, because everybody wears my size. That is privilege. While people above a US size 14 are unable to find their size in a non-plus size clothing store, I’m only unable to find my size because I’m considered “normal” and it will always run out during a sale.

Nowadays a new term has surfaced, called “skinny-shaming”. Where people who preach “real women have curves” are bad people because they’re putting down skinny people for not being “real women”. As somebody who doesn’t have curves in the right places, I hate that statement too. But what I read yesterday made me reconsider. The statement upsets me not because I feel they are shaming my body, but because they are purposely shifting the center of the universe away from me. That is where my thin privilege lies. It’s no different from men who cry “not all men”.

But knowing all of that, I am now at a loss. I complain about my body to everyone except for friends who are bigger than me. I used to think that was me being considerate, but now I see that as being mean-spirited because inherently I feel it’s still better to be me even though I don’t love my body. Another conflict arises when I think about health issues. Obviously it is not easy for everyone to lose weight, and not all thin people are healthy. Some heavier people living healthy lifestyles are probably less at risk that I am for things like collapsing under stress, high cholesterol problems, etc. However, if someone who is overweight is living an unhealthy lifestyle, would it be wrong for me to suggest changing their diets and including exercise into their lives?

We see a trend nowadays that we encourage overweight people to love their bodies, which is a positive thing. On the other hand though, having extra weight does increase certain health risks if the weight is gained from an unhealthy lifestyle. Shouldn’t we encourage healthy-living regardless of a person’s body size? Or is it wrong to do so regardless of the circumstance? How do we go about promoting health, physical and mental, without it having ties to body-shaming? We should all exercise not because we hate our bodies, but because we love them. But how do we promote that? How do we get people to love their bodies but still make necessary lifestyle changes because no amount of self-acceptance can save you when you get fatty liver?

Marks of a university student

1. Four out of my five cups/mugs have tea stains in them. And yes, I need to have all five cups.

2. The things I use frequently, if not on my desk, are on the floor. The shelf is for things I never touch.

3. The floor is divided into zones. The zone to the left of my chair is for school-related things, such as notes I should be making right now. The zone to my right happened when I was cleaning out my room at the beginning of the school year, originally being my “recycling pile”.

4. Socks and underwear are some of my favorite presents to receive. It means I get to delay the next time I have to do laundry.

5. The note-taking software I use has my own custom auto-correct. I realized I could no longer be bothered to write words such as polymerize, phosphorylate, and amino acids.

6. I have post-its with to-do lists stuck on my laptop. Because that puts them in my face and I have no choice but to face my responsibilities.

7. The privilege to buy lunch on campus needs to be earned. If it isn’t, I will think about it five times before I purchase a single cup of coffee.

8. My phone has not been fully functional since the end of August. It is now almost November. I’ve gone a month having my phone constantly shut down if I sent more than two text messages, two weeks leaving the house without a phone, and a week trying to hold it together desperately. I don’t know how I’m living like this but I am.

9. The money in my bank account is not actually mine. This wonderful thing called student loans has allowed me to feel rich for the short while before I have to pay it all back. Plus interest.

10. While I want all this to be over soon so I can relax at home, be fed properly, and eat a heap of chocolate during Christmas time, I feel ripped off because the actual time I spend being taught is so short.

A difference in dreams

I think if you want to get to know somebody’s journey in the shortest amount of time possible, the best way is to ask “What was your dream at 13 years old, and what is your dream now?” The changes in our mindsets best reflect the things we have experienced, our dreams direct projections of those changes.

When I was 13, I dreamed of stability. I spent my childhood in a country with conservative values and parents who raised me with hopes that I will have a smooth ride in life. So naturally I dreamed of having a a job where people respect me, with a stable income and is constantly in demand. I hoped to marry someone I love who will be financially capable and our child will grow up without a single worry. We will have the daily 9-5 grind but we won’t complain because that’s life, and take family vacations twice a year to generic places like a cruise to the Caribbean.

I’m now 20. While I would still love to have all the things I dreamed of having when I was 13, what makes my heart flutter is now completely different. Being able to make my own hours, take days off work to go travelling to out-of-reach places, going on road trips with some friends and maybe never having children. I’ll marry someone I love and we can live with two cats in a studio loft. Some weekends we’ll fly to Las Vegas and some we’ll explore corners of the city. Move to a place far away from family for a few years before they start getting old and go snorkelling in Australia.

The hardest part about this change is that I’m not done with the process. On one hand I know it would be a blessing to even get to do the daily 9-5 grind, to be able to marry a person I love, and raise children without trying to make ends meet. On the other hand, that path robs me of things I could have if I can just forget about stability for a second. To be honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever be over that conflict. But more importantly, will I even get a choice?

The day I deserved the cookie that I ate

This post is going to be a little bit weird. I’m going to talk about how I had fun studying today. Are you alarmed yet? I have yet to recall a time I did not feel like jumping off a bridge when it came time for studying. I’m not sure if it was because my methods were wrong, or the subject, or just me. The subject didn’t seem to be the reason seeing how basic ecology is hardly fascinating. But with my colored pens laid out and a lot of neon sticky notes, I went to town. And I felt so weirdly fulfilled because the cookie I consumed was a reward instead of a treat.

I would love to give myself all the credit for finally making some tangible changes in my lifestyle, but the evidence supporting that hypothesis is severely lacking. I just hope at this point that the change will persist for the rough months ahead, and let me finally have a legitimate reason for my sleep deprivation. I have yet to make some positive changes in some other aspects of my life, namely fitness and dietary habits (I either cannot stop eating or I forget to eat), but I’ll take what I can get right now.

On another note though I am extremely pressed for time. There are a lot of evaluations coming up and I really cannot say I am ready for any of them. You have no idea how glad I am to be feeling an actual sense of panic rather than the attitude I held last year where I ran away from my responsibilities with the help of YouTube and Korean dramas. I am so happy about every little change in my ways because I know exactly how different, and awful, I was mere months ago.

Choosing happiness

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Day after day I realize just how simple happiness can be. Happiness is laughing at the same stories we’ve laughed at for ten years with my family, my boyfriend squeezing my hand reassuringly, and being able to laugh after a sombre day. It’s the smallest of things that make my day. But I suppose if they have the ability to make my day, I can’t really call them “small” now can I?

The photo above is one I took on my way home yesterday. After deliberating for a block’s length, I decided to pull into a street and stop for a picture. I have done that before, probably near the same area, but for a different time in the day. There’s something beautiful about the stretch of road I frequently take on the way home. There are fields upon fields that go for kilometers on one side and carbon-copy houses on the other. Driving back from having dinner with my boyfriend and his family tonight, I saw the big dipper hanging right above the fields and it brought a great sense of calmness. My day was anything but expected and it put a toll on my spirit, but I suppose the stars were aligned for me tonight.

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. For the roof over my head and dinner on the table, I thank my hard working father who has never muttered a single complaint. For the clean room I return to every time and a suitcase packed with food to bring back with me, I thank my loving mother who makes sure I am eating before she worries about my grades. For my parents who are not lonely even though I’m not an affectionate daughter, I thank my cute sister who is both mommy’s and daddy’s girl. For my endless gifts and New-Years money, I thank my aunts and grandparents for spoiling me since the day I was born. For spazzing with me and listening to me go on and on about my feelings, I thank my dear friends who not only accept, but also tolerate me. For treating me like a princess and helping me rid the chains I put on myself, I thank my wonderful boyfriend who continues to love me after seeing my flaws.

To repay for the gift of life I have received, I will try my best to choose happiness in the life ahead of me. I will choose to become stronger, kinder, and happier.

Five happy things

I woke up early today thinking I was going to do some work. Nope. But I’ve been in relatively good spirits lately and I think this blog needs some happy spirits.

1. I am obsessed with this beautiful cover of this beautiful song.

My boyfriend is probably tired of me screaming about this song but he can’t stop me. It’s a simple song, but all the captivating songs are made with simple melodies. The lyrics are the force behind this wonderful song and it’ll take a while before I stop listening to this on repeat. If acapella is not your thing, feel free to check out the original (which I also love). Side note: I linked the original to a live performance because there is something about a crowd singing together that will always move me to tears. I hope to be a part of a crowd like that one day.

2. I got a midterm mark I’m satisfied with.

This time when I say “satisfied”, I don’t actually mean barely scraping by. It’s a good reminder that I’ve kind of got myself back together again and that I am capable. Now if I can just catch up on all the other courses that I’m behind on…

3. I went to a hip hop workshop!!!

It sounds crazy and it was embarrassing but I had too much fun to care. I’m even thinking of joining their regular rec team for beginners. It would be great to see how much progress I can make in terms of getting my body to coordinate even just a little bit. I’m the kind of person who is never aware of where her limbs are…which is a bit of a problem.

4. I’m going home for Thanksgiving tomorrow

This is my first time going home since I moved in this school year and I’m beyond excited!!!!! I’m supposed to study a lot but that probably isn’t happening. I cannot wait to be fed properly, see my boyfriend, and catch up on my shows :)

5. Life is good

I have yet to feel miserable this year and I’m so happy about that. I do think I’ve made the right decision to change programs (not that big of a change, but it made a difference). I feel lighter and more at peace with myself. Or maybe it’s not my program but just me, but either way I’m happy.

The Sunday where I cried because of Jenna Marbles

On a quiet Sunday morning afternoon while procrastinating, I find myself crying over Jenna Marbles’ 200th video. Her videos are never inspirational and she frequently gets called out for swearing too much, but this video is the one you need to watch if you are feeling lost.

My relationship with Jenna Marbles’ videos are inconsistent. I loved many of her old ones but her new content no longer captivates me. I found myself on her channel again solely because I didn’t want to write the lab report that is due on Tuesday. While her “Draw My Life” video opened viewers’ eyes to the very human side of this internet sensation, her 200th video comforts those who feel like they don’t have it quite figured out.

In the years from being a rebellious teenager who fights with her parents to realizing the responsibilities that come with becoming an adult, I drafted plans upon plans about my future. Plan A, Plan B, Plan If-I-never-find-a-job-I-love, Plan Leave-everything-behind-and-travel-with-a-backpack, etc., I’ve thought of them all. But the older I get, the more plans I throw in the trash. I can no longer do Plan A because that’s not the person I thought I was. I can no longer do Plan B because I can do better than that. The more I get to know myself, the more lost I feel. If the future me is nothing like who I think I will be, no plan is useful.

Jenna said in the video that her goals are vague, which means there’s really no concrete way to accomplish them in an organized manner. I’m very much the same way. I would love to have lots of money and the power and freedom to do whatever I want, but more than that I wish to be happy and grateful even if I can’t. It would be great to have a job I love, but I don’t have to if I can laugh with people I love everyday. My life stopped being a straight line a few years ago. And while I still wish for a smooth ride, I’m learning to accept the detours and the parts where my GPS stops functioning.