media

Channels

There are over four hundred channels,
More channels than there are
Ice cream flavours
At the grocery store,
But they all say the same thing—
Not good enough, strong enough,
change enough,
Because the world is broken,
And so are its people.

That’s the diagnosis, the officials don’t say—
The world is broken,
And that’s scary
Because you broke your wrist as a child
And you remember that the doctors
Had to reset the bone,
Like what Daddy does
When Mommy
freezes the computer,
But it sounds different now,
Like wiped clean,
Like everything goes,
Even the people.
Like two by two,
And skies that don’t dry,
And tears that finally match
The ones of the children on TV,
And it scares you,
Because everything scares you,
Even the people.

There is a bubble,
And you can live inside it,
Exist inside it,
Subsist inside it,
But you remember
Being four and
Making messes in the bath
And seven and
Chasing the reflective light
down sidewalks
And nine and
Pouring more soap in the sink,
Barely washing the dishes,
And you remember
Bubbles
P o p.

Always,
They pop.

You can change the channel,
Care for a minute about
Custody battles and divorces
Of people you’ve never
Met,
Laughing at the stories,
Of fictional people
You will never
Meet.
Or,
You can turn it off.

You can turn it off,
And pretend it’s okay,
That your small world
Will never be like
The big, bad world.
That you will be safe.
Because you remember
Being ten and
Running your way
Home,
And the way you were
Safe.
It sounds different now,
Means different now,
Less about points
More about always
Evening the score.

But when you turn it on,
You have to be reminded
That while you were eating
Dill pickle chips from the bag
And watching—on repeat—
The smiling dog flying
Into the pool,
People, human, children
Were dying.
Are dying.

People, human, children
Are dying.

And we can watch,
Keep the channel on,
Cry into our pillows,
Wonder if we are
The type of broken
That needs to be
Reset,

Or if we are just sprained,
Fractured,
Ready for repair.

There’s a little girl on TV,
Just in the background,
Because reporters and
Adults are shouting and it
Drowns her out.
But she is there,
Teary faced and there,
And there is a little girl
Beside me,
Smiley faced and here,
Asking where her movie went,
Why I changed the channel,
And I don’t know the answer,
Just that she is not yet broken,
Not even close,
And I wonder if she—
And the crying child on TV—
If they are the reset button,
The clean slate for us all,
Smiling, crying, human.
Good enough, strong enough,
Change enough.

I don’t turn the TV off,
Because bubbles pop
And bones break
And safety, sometimes,
You have to create.
The world rages on, and
Everything breaks—
Even the people—
But somehow,
We’re still holding on.

Because there’s a little girl
On TV
Who shows a smile now
Behind her tears,
And it’s possible,
We think, with a
Mouthful of chips,
That she’s not broken yet.
And so,
We hold on.

 

 

…And, just in case you need it today:

donuts & daydreams

“perfection is the disease of a nation” –Beyoncé

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.37.42 AM

I used to exist on a diet of donuts and daydreams,
because I was too tired to eat
and too short on time to sleep,
so instead I shortchanged myself,
and as the warm water of a safe shower
fell down upon me,
I let my tears blend in,
because I was taught to say yes to opportunities,
to take advantage of opportunities
resume-boosting opportunities,
no-one-will-ever-give-a-fuck opportunities.
I was taught to say yes to an iCalendar that
was probably ready to say no for me,
because somewhere along the way,
I learned that it was better to subsist on donuts and daydreams,
than to have what-could’ve-beens haunt you in your sleep.

I’m quite certain, the only thing I ever learned
to say no to
is high caloric desserts,
and I’m quite certain that I’d love ice cream even more
if there was no nutrition label on the side,
and I’m quite certain that maybe clothes fit looser
when calories were counted,
but I’m also certain that cashews weren’t meant to be
measured on a scale,
because I’m sick of weighing me,
and I’m sick of weighing cheese,
and I’m sick of missing crackers and carbs.

I feel a subconscious sense of pride
whenever I actually think That girl’s too skinny,
because I have a friend who’s starved herself of life
(and food)
and I can see that her legs are. too. small.
which means that I am still on the right side of the
BODY IMAGE DEBATE.
Maybe I’ve sat on the border,
patrolled by Cosmo and the gents at GQ,
but no one will ever look at me and think her legs are. too. small.
and as I wish that maybe my legs could be
Just a little bit smaller,
I am grateful for this problem.
Grateful that I don’t have this leg-too-small problem.
Grateful like I’m grateful for self-serve
frozen yogurt
and queso fresco,
and the Wendy’s drive-thru at 1 am.
And I’m grateful for the way my roommates and I pretend
our “skinny” mirror is actually reality,
and it’s the rest of the world that’s skewed.
But I’m not grateful for the way I used to let donuts
fill me up,
because hydrogenated oils have never done a good job
at filling my soul.
And I’m not grateful for the line on Life To Do List,
that tells me to get a 4.0
and I’m not grateful for the validation that comes only
from another’s words,
and I’m not grateful for the way I once said
college was a waste of time,
if I’m not employed afterwards.
I’m not grateful for that.

I long ago learned how to love the world—
that I should love the world,
that the world is worthy of my love—
but I think maybe I never learned how to properly love me.
Because the Internet, and parents, and health class videos have said
Love Yourself. You are so worth loving. You are perfect.
But I’m not perfect.
And I’m wondering if maybe someone would like to add an asterisk
to the bold directives we’re given as preteens,
so maybe we could be certain that we are worth loving
* even when our jeans fit too tight,
and our mascara is smudged from the snow,
and our skirt is flying with the wind,
and we begin crying in the middle of a biology test,
and when our heart is too broken
for us to even realize it’s broken,
to even realize that there are people—professionals (or at the very least,
professional glue)—who master in putting us back together.
And we’re lovable even when there’s a minus
beside the B,
lovable even when we’re not grateful for the burden of perfection we’ve been bearing.

Because I’m sick of the amendments that don’t outright say,
but have always implied
that I’m lovable if and only if
I can proudly print my transcript
and if I fit into my skinniest of jeans.
I’m tired of treating mascara like it’s my best friend,
because I think a best friend will love me
pale eyes and all,
because I’m sick of amendments that make me late to class
as I straighten the crinkles out of my hair
and I’m sick of the war I’m always waging
against myself
as I sit through my day, drowning out talks of
history and ethics and grammar rules,
and instead think about whether or not I should
begin another juice cleanse.

Because no one has ever loved me less
for gaining a pound
and no one has ever loved me less
for failing an exam
and no one has ever loved me less
for raccooned eyes and vulnerability
and contagious smiles and snorting laughter.
No one has ever loved me less for my tears,
but I’m tired of crying anyway.

Because it’s easy to love donuts,
and though I do love me,
it’s not always easy to remember why
I love me
because I subsisted on daydreams of a world where
no one will care if there is visible skin
above the waistline of my jeans,
but I awoke to reality where I was taught that the
world is worthy of my love,
but I am not worthy of the world’s love for me.

Confessions of a Canadian: 11.06.13

I have a casual addiction to Buzzfeed. Or maybe my addiction is to procrastinating. Either way, I spend a sufficient amount of time on Buzzfeed. Usually I’m attracted to their lists. The “35 Things You Never Knew about Your Great Aunt’s Cousin’s Favorite Movie”—esque thing. Last Thursday, however, I found a headline of a different, and more disturbing, sort. 

“This Is The Most Distasteful Halloween Costume You’ll See This Year.”

Naturally, my ‘never use generalizations in journalism’ defensive instinct clicked the link.

And I discovered this generalization was correct. Because “Anna Rexia” is the most distasteful Halloween costume I’ll see this year, and maybe also ever.

A mini black dress featuring the skeletal system in white, with a tape measure tied around the waist. There’s a nametag, featuring the costume’s “clever” (gag me) title, “Anna Rexia.” To top it all off, there’s even a bone to be worn in the hair. Charming, right?

I may not be the Costume Police, but I am a 21-year-old girl, which means I know a thing or two about why Anna Rexia is “the most distasteful Halloween costume I’ll see this year.”

As women, we are taught that it’s embarrassing to ask the weight of another woman. As women, we are taught that if someone is to ask us such a shameful question, we are to dodge the answer; feign embarrassment; look. the. other. way.

I am taught that I should be embarrassed to say I weigh 141 pounds. 

I am not taught, however, that I should be embarrassed to wear a costume that blatantly makes a joke out of a serious mental illness. The mental illness with the highest rate of fatality. I am taught that it’s okay to joke about that. Okay enough that I can be it for Halloween, like anorexia is some character I idolize on TV. 

I am a girl who weighs 141ish pounds, a normal weight for my height, who has never suffered from an eating disorder; I have, however, suffered from society’s view of the “perfect woman.”

I once heard a guy say that women aren’t pressured by the media to look skinnier. And if they think they are, they should “just stop looking.” 

Stop looking at the thousands of advertisements I’m exposed to daily? Do you propose I just shut my eyes and lie in bed all day? Shall I wish for blindness and deafness? How exactly do you propose I “look away” from life?

And then there will be people who argue, “anorexics choose not to eat.” This is 100% false. I, a girl who loves carbohydrates more than Netflix, am certain no one “chooses” to have an eating disorder. But for argument’s sake, let’s say it is a choice; shall we then start dressing up as blackened lungs being attacked by cancer because someone chooses to smoke? 

I don’t have an eating disorder.

I don’t know anyone with an eating disorder.

Here’s what I do know: I can count on one hand the number of girls I know who haven’t once made an unhealthy comment about their body, their weight or their relationship with food. 

This isn’t a generalization or a dramatization; this is what I know. 

I am taught to be less, but to do more.

I am taught that it’d be best if I could take up as little space as Katy Perry’s Photoshopped body on a magazine cover. 

I am told that certain stores (I’m looking at you, Abercrombie) will not make clothes in plus size because that is not “cool.”

I am taught that smaller is better. Less is more. Except for when it comes to Kim Kardashian’s bust and butt. 

I am not taught what calories are, but I am told I should count them.

I am sold diet pills, size 00 jeans and 100 calorie packs of hummus—because I should even be rationing the chick peas I consume. And now I am being sold anorexia in costume form, too.

I know a doctor has never said I am overweight. I know my BMI does not tell me I am overweight. But I also know I own a scale in my college apartment. And I know these thoughts run through my head daily:

I shouldn’t eat that cookie. Or that cookie. I should lose five pounds. I should go to the gym more.  Every time I want to eat frozen yogurt, I should just go to the gym.

This is what I know. And the only difference between me and someone with an eating disorder is that I don’t listen to what I am told, whether it be by the media, society or myself. 

That’s it.

That’s the difference.

I have not succumbed to these negative thoughts and words, and in my case, the cookie always wins. I have granted myself immunity from these vicious attacks. 

That is the difference I know of.

So please, do not tell me we can choose what messages we absorb. Do not tell me an eating disorder is a choice, because who would choose it? Do not tell me the number one leading cause of death in mental illnesses is something we should dress up as

Tell me it is something we should fight against.

One day a year we get to be someone/something we are not. We get to be anyone! Is that not our upmost wish in life? So tell me, why would anyone choose to be “Anna Rexia” when millions suffering from this disease are not granted such a choice?

Victims of these disorders lay crying on their bedroom floors; they lay unfed in a hospital bed; they lay broken in a casket, where they are finally able to close their eyes from the media from the influences. But tell me now, is “Look Away” really the solution we think best to suggest?