The Straightedge Stigma

Straightedge: (especially among fans of hardcore punk music) having an ascetic or abstinent lifestyle.

This is the actual definition that Google gave me.
Right behind “a bar with one accurately straight edge, used for testing whether something else is straight,” of course.straightedge 2

Admittedly, I had to look up what the word “ascetic” meant as well because I don’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know the definition. It’s described as the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, usually for religious reasons.

So by definition and technical terms, someone who is straightedge is an uptight (“severe”) bible thumper who doesn’t smoke, do drugs, drink alcohol, have premarital sex, or masturbate (“all forms of indulgence”–I’m probably missing some, let’s be honest) and just so happens to like hardcore punk music.

Fair enough. Except not at all.

I can’t speak directly about being straightedge because I’ve never given myself that label and have definitely indulged in my fair share of gluttony. But what I can speak about is the fact that I’ve become some sort of a “straightedge magnet,” if you will.

Let’s start with some background stories: I was 16 when I got my first boyfriend. He was a year older (17, in case you’re bad at math) and partook in smoking, drinking, partying, all of that. I was never into it.

I was 17-20 when I was dating my second boyfriend. He happened to be straightedge. I really had no idea what this was as a 17 year old but he basically just explained it as “I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t party.” I thought it was the coolest thing ever because like I said, I just wasn’t into that whole scene in high school. I knew I could’ve been a lot cooler and probably would’ve had a lot more friends had I decided to drink at that age but I just didn’t care. And the fact that he was intentionally not doing it made it easier for me to refrain from participating in that lifestyle. But I still never considered myself straightedge because I always straightedgehad the thought in the back of my mind like, “Well, what if I want to drink at dinner with my friends when I get older?”

When we broke up I took the opportunity to “experiment” with things I felt like I should have tried as a teenager. I drank twice and also may have smoked weed a couple times before I turned 21. After I turned 21 was a whole different story and I went a little crazy because I actually found drinking and partying fun. I enjoyed myself. At this point in my life, a mere 9 months later, my perspective on all of that has completely changed. But we’ll talk about that in more detail another time.

The “straightedge stigma” I speak of is the association between straightedge people and judgment and negativity. People who label themselves as straightedge generally get put into a box with these negative mentalities. The idea is that all straightedge people think they’re better than those who drink, party, and engage in lifestyle choices they don’t necessarily agree with for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think those people are out there and that sucks but the majority of straightedge people (at least the ones I’ve met) honestly aren’t concerned with and don’t really care about what other people are doing. And that’s the way it should be for every kind of lifestyle choice. Here’s some friendly cliché advice: Don’t judge people. Worry about yourself. Other people’s choices do not affect you.

I feel like straightedge people are few and far between. In all of my online dating experience (see Tinder and Lightning) I’d say that 9/10 guys suggest meeting at a bar for the first date (so maybe I’m exaggerating a LITTLE BIT, but seriously, it’s a large percentage.) Yet, since my last real relationship, I’ve come across two more straightedge guys and they’ve ended up being some of my favorite pestraightedge 3ople.

I try not to be the kind of person who says “OMG it must be a sign!” but I truly feel as though these people have come into my life as inspiration. One recent morning I woke up and was kind of just like “I don’t feel like drinking anymore.” Maybe these inspirations had something to do with it and maybe they didn’t but either way I received a sign that made me aware of the fact that maybe the drinking/partying/doing drugs lifestyle just isn’t for me.

Next time you’re thinking about judging someone based on whether they’ve chosen to drink alcohol or not, think about all the more important things you could be focusing your attention on. People who drink are not bad people and people who don’t aren’t losers. At the end of the day, we’re all just humans.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to: www.pinterest.com.**

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“You look great!”

My interest in this topic was sparked a while ago when a family member posted a weight loss progress photo on Facebook. The comments of this post were filled with words of encouragement and motivation but mostly: “Wow! You look great!” This actually happened again the other day with another one of my Facebook friends who posted about his weight loss accomplishments.

Immediately it got me thinking about the phrase, “You look great.” I personally can’t remember a time where I’ve ever used this compliment but I notice that it’s primarily used in regards to weight loss. Seriously, if you can think of an example where you’d say “You look great” to someone who hasn’t just lost a ton of weight or didn’t just have a baby, let me know. But why do we do this?

Someone who hasn’t just lost a ton of weight can still look great and someone who didn’t just have a baby can look great too. It’s almost like we’re saying you can’t look “great” if you’re still fat.

I don’t think peoyou look greatple do this on purpose. It’s not like we sit behind our computers carefully thinking about the comments we post.

Hmmm, I’m gonna tell Debra that she looks great because she’s celebrating her 50 pound weight loss but I’m gonna tell Ashley that she looks SO cute because I love her outfit… but she’s still fat so I can’t say “great.”

I highly doubt that this is the case with most people. Certain words are just so ingrained in our society to mean something specific and be used only under certain circumstances. To get my point across, I found some comments from posts that were celebrating some sort of weight loss, as well as some comments from random profile pictures.

These were some of the random profile picture comments:
Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.30.16 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.35.36 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.35.45 AM copy

And these were some of the comments posted on the weight loss progress photo:
Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.33.25 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.32.35 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.32.10 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-22 at 10.31.38 AM

As you can see, there’s a pretty obvious difference in word choice depending on the situation.

Maybe I’m overthinking all of this. They say that 2016 is the year to be offended by everything, (actually I don’t know who ‘they’ is or if anyone really says that, but ya know) so maybe I’m just overreacting and blowing this out of proportion. I’m not “offended” by it but I have noticed it on more than one occasion and I’m just curious to see what everyone else thinks.

**Photo is not mine. Credit goes to www.locomoco.com.**

Music Discovery: Hotel Books

**Bear with me while I write my first music review… As I was writing I realized it’s a lot harder than it seems.

I take a lot of music recommhotel booksendations. I love all kinds of music and all suggestions are welcome because there isn’t much I won’t listen to. Recently my friend introduced me to the “band” Hotel Books. I put band in quotes because Wikipedia refers to it as a “spoken-word project” instead of band. (Yes, I’m way too trusting of Wikipedia but it should be alright in this case.) Immediately I saved their entire Spotify discography (which in this case is every album, thanks Spotify) and listened to each album all the way through. Since my first impression, I’ve listened to every album at least one more time.

Now, usually, I like music that I can sing or at least bob my head to. But when the lyrics are spoken word as they are in every Hotel Books song, that’s kind of hard to do. Wikipedia also classifies the genres for this music as: spoken word, emo, post-hardcore, indie rock, and ambient. So it’s not like there’s no music in the background. The background music is actually very good and something I’d listen to regardless. But with Hotel Books’ songs, the focus is primarily on the “lyrics” or poetry that vocalist Cam Smith is reciting.

Cam Smith, a 23 year old guy from Porterville, CA is the genius behind all of this. Apparently the lyrics are actual poetry that he’s written. And let me just tell you, this is deep stuff.

And I was afraid to change
but I was afraid of not changing

And I remember the moment I destroyed everything I loved
just to find out that I had no idea what love was

While we spend our time alone
On our cellular phones
Not connecting with each other’s minds
And definitely not connection with each other’s souls

As I was listening to the album “Everything We Could Have Done Differently” at work yesterday, I noticed a religious theme I hadn’t before. Which is weird, because looking through the lyrics I see so many references to God, sinning, spirituality, etc. I’m not a religious person in the least but this didn’t really turn me off. To make sure, I looked up an interview with Cam Smith where he confirmed that his band is indeed a “Christian band,” but went on to explain that he “believes in love and believes in God but also believes that people who don’t believe in God deserve love.” He talked about the fact that some people are turned off by Christian bands because they don’t want to be converted, but the goal of Hotel Books is to spread love, not religion.

Watching this interview made me like the project even more. I already knew this guy was something else and I’d already experienced goosebumps from his music but hearing him talk in a non-performance kind of way proved just how well-spoken and genuine he is.

This music isn’t going to be for everyone. The style is much different from anything any other band is doing and if you’re not one to broaden your musical horizons, that’s totally understandable. However I highly recommend checking Hotel Books out. Maybe you’ll get a new favorite band out of it. Maybe you’ll absolutely hate the music and never want to listen to it again. No worries either way, but don’t knock it till you try it.

**Photo is not mine. Credit goes to: www.genius.com.**

Tinder and Lightning

It’s no secret that I’ve experienced my fair share of online dating. I’ve been divulging about my experiences with Tinder on social media and to my friends and family since the day I started using it. In today’s technology-driven society I feel like it would be weirder to find someone who’s never dabbled in the online dating world. For a while I even had an entire folder on my phone dedicated to online dating apps. Tinder, POF, Bumble, The Grade, the list goes on.

Last week I deleted the entire folder.w2ZlpSd6
Groundbreaking, right?

Up until last week, it’d been over a year since I started my online dating journey. I realized I was completely dependent on these apps for entertainment, social interaction, and positive reinforcement. When I was bored, lonely, or feeling bad about myself I’d start swiping and eventually I’d get the satisfaction I wanted. It wasn’t until recently that I realized depending on complete strangers for happiness is extremely unhealthy.

Not only that, but online dating is kind of unrealistic. It’s not in my nature to go up to a guy I find attractive in person. It’s just not something I’ve ever been comfortable doing. But for some reason I’m a lot more confident when all I have to do is type out a message and send it. There’s been so many times when I’ve made the first move on an online dating app and haven’t thought twice about it.

When you’re walking around in a wgtrpublic place, your main goal isn’t necessarily to “mate.” When you’re online dating, that’s exactly the intention. You find and talk to people you would’ve never crossed paths with otherwise and specifically meet up with them to see whether you’re a good match or not. With online dating we have more options than we know what to do with. Being able to sift through people like you choose produce at the grocery store is not realistic. I noticed that being able to talk to any guy I wanted and have hundreds of matches on Tinder gave me an ego and a false sense of security. Some guys I’ve talked to on Tinder would never give me the time of day if their first impression of me was in person rather than online.

With all of that said, I have met some awesome people using these dating apps that I still talk to. The outcomes of my online dating experiences have not all been negative and I actually walked away with some benefits.

But for now, I think I’m done with the online dating world.

**Photos are not mine. Credit goes to www.twitter.com/tinder and www.tombola.co.uk.**

S, M, L

Three letters. That’s all they are. But somehow when we arrange them in this order, there’s a universal understanding of what they mean.

Small, Medium, Large.

The most basic adjectives one can use to describe the size of literally anything. Small dog, medium rock, large banana. But for me personally, “S, M, L” refers to clothing size. You know, the only three sizes Forever21 carried before the090831-SmallMediumLarge-4651y added plus sizes?

I was sitting in class the other day when I had a realization, sparked by being able to see the girl in front of me’s tag sticking out of her shirt. (One of my biggest fears by the way, but we’ll talk about that another time.)

I realized that for so long, we lived in a society where the only three sizes for clothing were small, medium, and large. And even now that the majority of clothing retailers have added sizes XXS, XS, XL, XXL and so on, there are still some companies (typically women’s clothing brands) who have stuck to the “three-size rule.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy that I, as a plus size woman, have the luxury to shop at so many more stores than I did even five years ago. The progress that women’s clothing companies have made in recent years is incredible and I’m glad to have been able to see it transform. But in my opinion, this should have never been an issue in the first place. In what world are there only three different sizes of people?

Yes, there are several peopldogze who can “fit” into a small, who can “fit” into a medium, and who can “fit” into a large. I put “fit” in quotes because a size small will not fit every small person, a size medium will not fit every “medium-sized” person and a size large will not fit every “large” person.

One of the greatest things about being people is that we’re all different. Different shapes, sizes, colors, and so on. You could be the same height and weight as your friend Barbara and still not wear the same sizes. We have different body shapes, carry our weight differently, and not to mention our preferences in the way our clothes fit us. My body could fit perfectly in one size and I could still prefer to wear something bigger or smaller. When there are only three sizes to choose from, that’s a little harder to do.

I guess my point here is more of a challenge to clothing companies who have refused to add sizes beyond the standard “S, M, L” because unless you’re part of a nudist colony, (no judgment here) clothes are something we all need. Open your minds and forget about the money for a second. It’s simple: we all just want clothes that fit us.

Small, medium, and large? More like “three sizes fit all.”

**Photos and graphics are not mine. Credit goes to: www.mickstevens.com and www.shakesville.com.**