self-love

I don’t want children. But my stretch marks are still beautiful.

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Image via Instagram, @LoveYourLines.

Stretch marks. Those tiny and sometimes not so tiny pink lightning bolts that adorn most of our bodies. They signify life. They signify change. And often, they signify you’ve created. We have all seen those posts praising women for their post-baby bodies, proudly showcasing their stretch marks and soft bellies—and that’s absolutely fantastic. I am utterly ecstatic for them—they’ve done something absolutely phenomenal, and have the courage to tell society to eff its standards of womanhood: that idea of a skinny, yet big-breasted, yet curvy woman with perfect skin, long hair and a sweet, meek smile. We see posts about women openly declaring love for their bodies, stretch marks and all, saying phrases like “my body created life” and loving it more because of that.

While this is so fantastic and awesome, I can’t help but think it creates a dichotomy between two kinds of women—a divide—between those who have and want children, and those who don’t or can’t.

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Image via Facebook.

Is this just another way we women have been conditioned to pit ourselves against each other?

I haven’t given birth—nor do I want to. And like most women, I have stretch marks too—around my thighs, around my hips, and around my breasts. It’s inevitable. It’s a part of life, growing and changing. And as I age, I come to love my body more and more—even if it isn’t supermodel skinny, even if my belly is soft, even if my thighs touch, and a whole lot of other things that happen. But why can’t my stretch marks and soft belly be celebrated as “beautiful”, even if I haven’t given birth to achieve them? They’re a fact of life. And I think emphasis needs to be taken off celebrating bodies based on what they have or haven’t done.

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There’s already a significant stigma against women who don’t want children. That oh, you’ll change your mind or your life isn’t complete until you’ve had kids or you don’t know happiness until you’ve heard your child’s laugh or worse: you’re still young. You’ll realise how great having kids is.

Thanks. I didn’t realise my life, my worth and my value revolved around popping out miniature versions of me and my partner (gosh, that would be trouble). I’m perfectly happy not going through that experience, thank you very much.

As a social community, we adore and stand behind women who’ve had children and choose to wear bikinis in public. We stand behind these mothers, and we call them brave (which they are). But should we really be teaching and continuing this idea that we can only love ourselves entirely if we’ve borne children? Is this really the message we want to send to young girls? “Your life isn’t complete until you’ve had a baby”.

We should all be proud of our bodies, and proud of our tiger stripes. And if we continue to praise women for their soft bellies, stretch marks and so on, only if they’ve had children, we continue to perpetuate this way we differentiate and place value upon different choices. We continue to perpetuate the idea that children complete your life—which is obviously a terrible notion for women who don’t want children, and women (including trans women) who can’t. Just because my body hasn’t been through a miraculous experience like giving birth does not mean I am any less deserving of celebration. I shouldn’t have to go through that to be comfortable with my lack of a thigh gap, with my stretch marks, with my comfy belly. I am a happy, healthy human being: isn’t that enough?

We need to celebrate our bodies, not for what they have or haven’t done, but for the simple fact that we are human—and all humans deserve to be able to celebrate their bodies: and be supported and cheered for doing so. There’s so much negativity in the media about women: please, ladies: can we just love our bodies for how they are?

Zoe is a journalist with a passion for all things wacky and strange. You check out more of her work on Facebook and Twitter.

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Ladies and gentlemen: we are worth more.

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Self love via tiny buddha
Love yourself

Hey you—yes you. You, with the sad eyes. You, who constantly checks their phone in hopes of seeing a certain someone reply. You, who is waiting for the person you love to treat you how you deserve. You, who have been stood up, cheated on, lied to, and played. You, who justifies why they do certain things—and that it’s “not really that bad”. I want you to listen very carefully to me: you deserve more.

It’s taken me nearly 21 years, but I’ve finally had a life-changing realisation: I am worth so much more than I’ve received. And I bet most of you are in the same boat. I have been in a number of relationships where honestly, I’ve settled. Maybe they are great people—but if they don’t treat you great, why are you with them? Why do we put up with such bullshit? We know we’re worth more—so why do we do it?

I was dating a guy a few years ago who was probably my first real adult love—and boy, did I love him. I was crazy for him—even though he did not so nice things. Don’t get me wrong; he did some very great things, too—and I know he loved me. But that doesn’t mean I, or you dearest reader, have to settle. He would often stand me up to hang out with his mates instead. He would lie to me about whose bag of pot that was I found under the coffee table. He’d lie, and tell me: No baby, I’m not on drugs, I promise. That was someone else’s; they just left it there. Trust me. He’d ignore me for days on end when I did something he didn’t like. He’d try to control who I could and couldn’t talk to—and get mad when I disobeyed (and consequently ignore me again). But worst of all, he told me he loved me—and then he cheated on me.

Repeat after me: "I AM WORTH MORE!" Image via Flickr.
Repeat after me: “I AM WORTH MORE!” Image via Flickr.

In another relationship, my partner wouldn’t make the physical effort to come see me. He wouldn’t make plans with me. Hell, he actually organised to go on a camping adventure on my birthday—and this was after not seeing me for a month. He thought that was perfectly was okay. Again, he was a lovely guy; and he absolutely adored me. But once again, I settled for treatment I didn’t deserve.

I’d been single for quite some time when I met my last partner. I thought he was perfect—but it was only after the relationship ended that I realised how terribly sad I was, and how much I wanted so much more. He is a great guy. He cooked me awesome food, and would even find recipes without things I’m sensitive too (despite the fact that he loved those ingredients). He’d give me back massages, and make me coffee. He would listen to my rants. He would calm me down. At the time, I thought all of this could make up for the bad things, but this is the truth: that kind of thinking does NOT work.  It could have been so much more. It could have been beautiful. But it wasn’t. There wasn’t any spark—there wasn’t any romance. I was giving so much more into the relationship, desperately hoping to bring it to life again. We would only talk or hang out if I instigated it—and being a long-distance relationship, talking was pretty important. I felt isolated, ignored and unwanted. I gained weight, too. And then he cheated on me—with none other than his ex-girlfriend.  I convinced myself that this was okay—that I should take the good with the bad, and that it would all work out. But it didn’t.

Why do we put up with these things?

Why do we settle for less than we’re worth?

Why do we convince ourselves that things are okay, when they’re clearly not?

Ladies and gentlemen, I make this pact with you: I am never going to do that again. Is it so much to ask for someone who treats you well, and who won’t ignore you or cheat on you?

No. It’s not. And no, that’s not some bullshit and ridiculous notion of “having too high standards”. Fuck that. Love yourself, guys—there’s too much hate and too much self-questioning in this world.

YOU, dear reader, are worth so much more. And I think the moment we start to realise and incorporate that into our lives is the moment our pain and suffering sets us free.

9 things Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck taught me

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Trainwreck is a hilarious analysis of modern relationships, and breaks down barriers of what it is to be a woman. Also, it’ll tell you how to get a condom unstuck—and other vital tips below.

  • Your sexuality doesn’t define you!

I cannot stress this enough. Ladies, say it with me: your sexuality doesn’t define you! You want to sleep with multiple partners in one night—or no one at all? Awesome! Because honestly? We’re grown-ass women. Do more—and who—of what makes you happy.

  • Know when to say “no”

Whether it be to a super bitchy boss, or a hook up with a strange 16-year-old whose safe word is pineapple: know when to say no. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

  • Beware of sexy talk

Especially if your partner really isn’t into it. Otherwise, you may get some golden responses like “I’m going to put my pecker in you” and “fill you with my protein”.

  • It’s never too late to say sorry

You really do only live once; why hold onto petty arguments? If you love someone, tell them. Bonus points if you say sorry by choreographing a cheerleader dance routine where you’re the star—extra bonus points if you can’t dance.

  • Watch your come backs

No, really. Think before you speak—if you don’t, you might reply to an insult: “you know what I do to assholes? I lick them.” Errr, okay.

  • There is a wrong time for alcohol

I’ll admit: I’m a fan of wine (and vodka). Okay, maybe too much of a fan. Amy Schumer must be my spirit animal.  But there is a point where you have to take a good look at yourself and ask: “Am I really okay?”

  • Receiving head without giving

Well, if you follow in Amy Schumer’s footsteps, close your eyes and pretend you’re asleep.

  • Full-proof writing tips

Like, say . . . don’t show up to work drunk. Also, don’t sleep with your interviewees.

  • And finally . . . how to get a condom unstuck from your cervix

Behind me, I heard: “I’ve had that happen”. Is this seriously a problem? Well, if it happens to you, simply make a hook with your finger—happy hunting.

Love all of who you are—even the sloppy parts. At the time, you were doing exactly what you needed. Bless you, Amy Schumer!

Small Acts of Bravery, Small Acts of Kindness

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I still believe there is kindness in this world. Even though we are engulfed with war, disease, suffering, death, hate and torture, I still believe there is hope.

A few days ago, I somehow popped my tyre while driving. Don’t ask me how. I just heard a massive BANG and there it was. A flat tyre. Now, normally I would have called family friends to come and help me. The only problem was: I now lived three hours away from them.

Oh, dear! I thought. How is it possible that I can write thousands upon thousands of words and analyse philosophical ideas, but I can’t change a damn tyre?

I was freaking out—and kicking myself for not learning to change a tyre sooner. That was when a random guy asked me if I was okay—and he helped me, with no thought of himself, not even accepting my offers of money as thanks. I was bewildered—and grateful.

Similarly, a few years ago I was at a petrol station, and my cards declined—one of which was supposed to contain child support payments from my father. I tried $20 on each. Declined. $15. Declined. $10. Declined. Even $5—once again, declined. I was humiliated to the point of trying even $2, while counting up ten cent pieces from my wallet. And that was when a man stepped out from behind me and paid the rest of what I owed.

“Don’t worry about it, mate,” he said. “We’ve all been there.”

And then he left without another word.

A tyre and some money; for them, it may not have meant much. But for me, it meant the world. Could it be that there are genuinely good people out there? People who are willing to help others with no thought of themselves?

My mum once told me a story about how she saved a woman from a rather dire car crash accident. She crawled into the overturned car to pull the woman out of the wreckage. At any moment, the car could have burst into flames: but she did it anyway.

I can’t say if I’ve saved a life—I’d like to hope someone else would have intervened if I hadn’t. Two years ago I was holidaying in Vanuatu at a place known as the Blue Lagoon—essentially, a very deep, very blue swimming hole. A mother was there, waiting to catch her two girls who were jumping off the wharf into the lagoon—only, it was much deeper than she anticipated. She began to struggle. She began to call for help—scream for help. I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew I had to do something. Grabbing the girl—who couldn’t have been older than five—I slowly made my way to where I could touch the ground, banking on the idea that I could hold my breath for longer than she could. The mother cried, thanking me. Did I save her? I don’t know. But I did something, and that’s my point.

Something is all it takes, no matter how small, to change someone’s world. Small acts of kindness, small acts of bravery—that’s all it takes to change the world. So, what will you do? All it takes is one tiny step. Will you take it?