Tag Archives: parenting

There’s no right way to have a body

I’ve written extensively about body shaming. However, it seems the world is still lagging behind in understanding just what body shaming is.

Lane Bryant, a plus-size lingerie retailer, recently launched the “I’m No Angel” campaign. The campaign includes pictures of gorgeous plus-sized models. Even though the campaign aimed to celebrate realistic body types, it also shames Victoria’s Secret models.

The women in the campaign are all plus-sized, which doesn’t represent all women. Not all women are plus-sized, just as not all women look like Victoria’s Secret Angels. Even though Victoria’s Secret doesn’t represent the average woman well either, it’s not fair to shame the models who work hard to maintain their healthy lifestyles and famous bodies. Although Victoria’s Secrets ads aren’t representative of their customers, if you’ve ever had your bust measured at Victoria’s Secret, you’d know their bras and products are friendly to many shapes and sizes. Ironically, Lane Bryant’s products are more geared towards plus-sized women, yet they have the nerve to shame Victoria’s Secret.

I follow several of the Angels on Instagram because, quite frankly, I’m obsessed. Many of them post photos of their healthy meals they’ve put together or photos from their exercise routine. Some even post goofy pictures of them and their BFFs, such as Karlie Kloss and her bestie Taylor Swift. They’re real people, and even though their body types may be hard to obtain, their bodies are real, too.measuring

There have been many campaigns, such as Dove’s Real Beauty, which still seem to leave out several body types. The women in their campaign are mostly average to plus-sized. Being a girl with a fast metabolism, I was often teased for how skinny I was. Even now that I’m older and have gained some curves, I still don’t feel that my body type is represented in any of these campaigns.

Many times, women feel the need to tear other women down so that they can feel better about their own appearances. I reject this idea . I believe the best way to feel confident is not to compare yourself to others, but to love your own body and appreciate what it does for you. Blogger Maria Kang has started a website which supports fit moms. She shared a photo of herself in workout gear, her fabulous abs showing, with her three kids and the title, “what’s your excuse?” One mother posted a picture similar to Kang’s photo with her three kids, in a sports bra with the title, “My ‘excuse’ is that I’m okay with this.”

It seems to be the trend that women shame each other. Although Kang’s photo could be misinterpreted as body-shaming, taking a look at her website, you can tell she promotes a healthy lifestyle for mothers who may not typically have time to hit the gym regularly. Kang’s nonprofit, Fitness Without Borders, promotes healthy lifestyles in underprivileged neighborhoods. She not only encourages mothers to be healthy, but she also fights against childhood obesity. Fitness Without Borders has several “no excuse” support groups throughout the country which consist of several different categories including “No Excuse Mom,” “No Excuse Dad,” and “No Excuse Kid.” The overall mission of Fitness Without borders is to promote healthy eating and a love of real, healthy food in American families.

Overall, Kang’s mission isn’t to shame anyone. She supports mothers and families in their journey to live a healthier lifestyle. On her website, there’s also a clear presence of diverse body types.

Whether you have ripped abs, a flat tummy or a little more junk in the trunk, there’s no reason not to love yourself. I consider myself very fortunate to have female role models of many different body types who are the epitome of confidence and grace.

Ideally, I’d like for women of all skin colors and body types to be represented in advertisements. I want to see women with badass scars,tattoos, and piercings. Many of these campaigns fail to address the truly unique body types that women have, but those women are still very real. You simply can’t put bodies into a black-and-white format, as if there’s a right and wrong way to have a body. So long as you are healthy and care for yourself, there’s no reason you should have to feel ashamed of your body.

It’s perfectly okay to be selfish

We’re told from the time we’re in preschool that caring for other people should be a top priority. Girls especially feel the pressure to be nurturing, because of the expectation that we will someday be mothers.  However, I reject this premise.

I have the motherly instincts of a female great white shark. I’ve never been very motherly. The idea of squeezing a human out of my body creeps me out, and the idea of raising that human seems like a huge inconvenience. Many older women tell me that someday the instincts will settle in and my ovaries will send me on a mission to get pregnant. However, I don’t sense that side of me ever coming out.

As a newly single person, I’ve realized how important it is to take care of my own needs before anyone else’s. Taking care of yourself is so important in order to be happy in any relationship. As young, unmarried adults, we’re afforded a privilege that we must give up once we become parents: the right to be selfish.

Once you have a child, it can be much more difficult to go on trips or buy nice things for yourself. Raising a child is a huge expense. I know from experience that there have been times that my parents have made huge sacrifices just so I can have something nicer than what they have.

Our society is obsessed with procreation. Many couples feel the pressure to pop out babies the moment they exchange vows. I hope that when I’m married, we don’t feel that pressure and can enjoy each other while also doing the things we want to do.

Being selfish while you’re in college is also very important. You have to realize that your needs and future are the most important thing to focus on while you’re young. You can’t risk that in order to care for a significant other or a friend. It’s extremely important that we make our priorities our top priority.

Many people argue that caring for others is noble — something we need to practice daily. I believe that putting your needs before anyone else’s is vital to surviving college and life as a young adult. It’s okay to care for others, but we can’t neglect our own needs to serve someone else.

Our own selves are the only thing we’re born with and take to the grave. Our own accomplishments, passions, and desires need to always be at the forefront of our daily activities. It’s easy to get lost in a relationship as a young adult and feel the need to care for someone else. However, we should all take a step back and look at ourselves, make a decision to be selfish and go after the things we want most — without letting others convince us that their needs and problems have become ours.

Should non-vaccinated children be barred from pediatricians?

The anti-vaxxer movement has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Many parents think that vaccines are related to autism. This idea may’ve taken root when Jenny McCarthy came forward and announced that she believed her child developed autism because they were vaccinated.

This fear inspired many medical studies. Although no studies show a link, there isn’t absolute proof that autism can’t be caused by vaccinations. However, with the many studies that show no link to vaccines and autism, I think it’s safe to assume that link doesn’t exist.

An infant with measles. Graphic from Janie Maitland
An infant with measles. Graphic from Janie Maitland

Many parents cry that it’s their choice to vaccinate their child or not. Just as many parents don’t like others interfering with the way they raise their child, many parents also aren’t comfortable with someone telling them how to care for their child. Although I’d be annoyed if someone told me how to raise my child, I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a medical degree, but I do look at the latest research–which tells me that there are more benefits to vaccines than there are dangers.

Recently, a measles outbreak occurred at DisneyLand in California. The source was a child who hadn’t received the measles vaccine, due to a parent’s concerns that the vaccine would have adverse effects. Because of this outbreak, many parents who had once fought against the standard vaccination schedule changed their mind and rushed to have their children caught up on vaccines.

A recent segment by NPR addressed an idea brought about by concerned, vaccinating parents: pediatricians should bar parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. Many may argue that this would keep children from receiving other medical care. However, Dr. Bob Sears’ office had a great idea: give parents who choose not to vaccinate a date to start having their child caught up on vaccines. This would pressure parents to vaccinate their child immediately, or risk losing treatment for other illnesses.

Some argue that this is infringing on parents’ right to choose care for their child. I believe that parents who believe that measles, meningitis or chicken pox are lesser threats than autism, shouldn’t be parents at all. I’m not a parent, but if I ever became a parent, I would be furious if my baby were infected with a deadly disease by a child who could’ve been vaccinated. Just as some parents are charged with child abuse for faith healing,parents who choose not to vaccinate against deadly diseases should be charged with murder if their child happens to die of a disease that could’ve been prevented by vaccination.

Even if there was a link between vaccination and autism, I would much rather care for a child with autism than have to bury my child. I simply can’t imagine being a parent and not doing everything possible to protect my child.

Overall, I think barring parents who choose not to vaccinate is a very smart idea. I think there has to be an extreme level of inanity to choose otherwise. Science has brought us so far and given us the wonderful gift of health against preventable diseases. Who wouldn’t take the risk, especially when the risk is virtually non-existent?

Young moms are human too

Teen pregnancy statistics have been all around us for about the last decade. Shows such as Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom show the hardships these women endure. Many times these girls are taunted and called various names. In high schools, especially, girls are teased and bullied for getting pregnant at a young age. It’s got to be humiliating to want to hide that secret so much, but for it to be literally physically impossible.

Young moms are people too. Graphic from MTV
Young moms are people too. Graphic from MTV

The gut-wrenching part of this is that there’s no “right” way for these girls. If they choose abortion, they’re called murderers and judged for that. If they have the baby, they’re called stupid. The bullying doesn’t stop after these girls have had their baby, either. They’re often criticized by every action they take after they have their baby. My sisters got pregnant with her first child when she was 19-years-old, granted she had him after she turned 20. I watched my sister endure harsh criticisms from our family and friends alike.

After she had my nephew, almost every move she made was a bad one in the eyes of everyone who knew her. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen young moms face is when they try dating. Many times women are considered “bad moms” when they start dating. I think this is absolutely egregious. Women are constantly expected to put their entire lives on hold when they have a child. If for whatever reason things don’t work out with the father of the child, there’s no reason she shouldn’t move on.

Of course, the safety and well-being of the child should always be put first, but the mother should never have to stop her entire life. Oftentimes, when a woman has a baby she has to leave her job for an extended period of time. It’s ironic that we live in a society where women are expected to stay at home with their newborn for at least 6 weeks after they’re born, yet there are very few companies that offer paid maternal leave. This makes it absolutely impossible for single moms to support their child. If mothers are expected to put their professional lives on hold for their child, I’m sure the last thing they want to do is put their personal life on hold too.

It seems like young or single moms can’t catch a break. Every move they make, someone is watching. Whether it’s their family, friends or coworkers, there’s always going to be someone who has some kind of judgment to make. I think as long as the child has everything they need and are in a safe environment, there’s no need to pass judgment on any mother of any age.

Is raising overly-religious children dangerous?

This summer, a Texas court ruled against a couple who took their kids out of school in 2004 to be home-schooled. A family member had started to notice that the children weren’t being educated, even at home. Instead of teaching them, the parents, Michael and Laura McIntyre, told the nine children that they didn’t need to go to school because they were going to be raptured. Further investigation revealed that the children weren’t being educated properly, according to the states standards. In 2006, one daughter  even took it upon herself to run away so she could go to a real high school.

In 2007, an attendance officer filed complaints against the McIntyre’s, who responded by claiming that their rights to religious freedom were being violated. But alas, they failed. The court found that no religious rights were being violated. It’s simply impossible to home school kids without some regulation.

Personally, I agree with this ruling. I understand that many parents fear that their children will stray from their god and start believing in the blasphemy that is science. (Insert extreme sarcasm here.) But let’s be honest, the reason it’s required for children to go to school is so we don’t have a nation of warped idiots. I’ve met a few perfectly normal home-schooled kids. But I’ve also met a few people who were home-schooled and seemed to be totally brain-washed. I’d say in most cases, the reason parents want their kids to be home-schooled is either for religious purposes or because parents don’t trust the school system.

“I’d say in most cases, the reason parents want their kids to be home-schooled is either for religious purposes or because parents don’t trust the school system.”

Public school systems can be very iffy. Many worry that public school kids aren’t experiencing a wide enough array of subjects, and aren’t being able to explore their interests. I will agree with that reasoning for home-schooling kids, but I don’t agree with home-schooling for the purpose of forcing your kids to be religious. In the documentary “Bible Camp,” (available on Netflix) there’s a scene with a mother home-schooling her child. She explained that she pulled him out of public school because he was being taught evolution and the Big Bang theory. She couldn’t understand why creationism wasn’t taught as a theory and even told her son “science is wrong.” Creationism is such an old idea that has so much evidence stacked up against it, which the reasoning behind it. But to only want your child to believe in one theory, and not allowing them the option to explore others is simply cruel.

Children are naturally curious. In watching my nephew learn about dinosaurs, I’ve always thought it was great to see children being so curious and wanting to learn more. I know that when I have children, I’ll expose them to all sorts of sciences and theories so that they can make their own decisions. I can’t imagine being a parent and not wanting that for your child.

In the last few years, there’ve also been cases where parents have neglected to take their children to the hospital when care is needed because they believe that “God will provide” and somehow their child will be magically cured if they pray hard enough. For example, a couple watched as their daughter died of diabetes. She was in pain because of this chronic condition, yet her parents just watched her deteriorate. It’s so hard for me to imagine being a parent and watching your child die when prayer is obviously not working. I feel like any reasonable parent would go to the ends of the earth to heal their child, even if it could screw them financially. There are so many parents who have put their entire life savings and put themselves in crippling debt to save their children. I don’t understand how anyone could accept their child dying as “God’s will” and just let them go when there are doctors who’ve gone to school for years in order to save people’s lives. I suppose if someone is crazy enough to believe that God will magically intervene and save their child, they probably also believe that doctors are of the devil because they’re trying to “play god.”

Some try to argue that parents should be allowed to make decisions based on their child’s health care, and that calling this “child abuse” is infringing on religious freedoms, but any case where a parent knowingly endangers their child’s life because they’re too proud to admit they’ve been wrong, they should never be allowed to have children again. Keeping your child from basic health care is essentially the same as starving or neglecting them. Prayer may work coincidentally, but if it doesn’t seem to be working, how can anyone just let their child die?

Seeing parents who are so set in their ways that they kill their children’s curiosity, endanger their lives and tell them “science is wrong” makes me worry for the future. The reason our country and states have specific laws and regulations on what kids are taught is so that we won’t have a generation of idiots. Science has provided us with the amazing technologies, medicine and many other amazing applications. Why anyone would deny that, and force their beliefs on their children is beyond me. Why anyone would allow their child to die and accept it as “God’s will” is amazing to me. One can tell that the McIntyre children knew what their parents were doing was wrong, considering one daughter ran away to receive an education. The girl who died of diabetes as her parents prayed over her also begged her parents to take her to a doctor. We need to take it upon ourselves as human beings to make sure every child has the opportunity to receive a real, practical education, and real, practical medical care. Parents are supposed to protect their children, not endanger them with stupidity.

Jimmy Kimmel vs. YouTube

For the third year in a row, Jimmy Kimmel came back into the spotlight with his annual Halloween candy prank. In the prank, parents are asked to film their kids’ reactions when they tell them they ate all of their candy the day after Halloween. Hundreds of parents submitted videos of their heartbroken kids in tears for the chance to make it big on this viral YouTube video with over 21 million views.

While a good majority of people take the joke at face value, there seems to be an overwhelming number of people who can’t understand for the life of them why someone would pull a prank on their child.

My favorite YouTube comment read something like this, “This is NOT funny. I don’t know why anyone would laugh at this. I don’t know what kind of parent would ever dream of causing a moment of distress for their sweet, innocent children!”

Boy, would I have loved to be your child.

Have none of these people ever had siblings? Have these people really never been pranked before? Have we forgotten what a joke is? More importantly, did they miss the part where all of the kids in the video were able to laugh it off as soon as they were told it wasn’t real? Congratulations, angry parents of America — the kids in the videos have thicker skin than you do. In fact, I’m pretty sure even RU res-hall toilet paper is tougher than you, and that’s really saying something.

Another common argument is that these people are bad parents and that their children will be emotionally scarred and have trust issues for the rest of their lives. While I believe every child has a different level of emotional stability, I’d be the first to argue that the only bit of bad parenting in these clips is the fact that these parents raised their children to get violently upset over something like candy. If anything, it speaks well of the kids who were told their candy was all gone and shook it off like champions.

When did it become socially acceptable for a parent to tell another parent that their method is wrong? As long as none of the kids looked like they had been beaten or otherwise mistreated, there should be no reason for a parent to say something like that based on 30 seconds of footage.

In the real world, you’re going to get pranked. You’ll meet mean people and you’re going to have hurt feelings. The only tragedy is that the children of these overprotective parents are going to have little to no experience with dealing with stressful situations or heartbreak. Playing jokes on your kids doesn’t give them lifelong trust issues. It gives them a spine, a sense of humor and it also tells them that you’re not a stick-in-the-mud parent.

We need to bid farewell to the days when people get offended on someone else’s behalf for a pointless cause. We need to stop looking for the damsel in distress in every situation and stop pretending that we can white knight our way through life and come out looking like anything but an arrogant jerk. At the end of the day, a joke will still be a joke, and the only way to truly combat hurt feelings is to make your feelings harder to hurt.

Kill your kids or die trying

Smoking tobacco has always been something I’ve felt very strongly about. It’s one of those topics that gets me really fired up and makes me want to have a debate. Why tobacco is even legal in the first place is beyond me, so when I heard that Virginia was trying to pass a law that would make it illegal for anyone to smoke in the car when someone under the age of 15 is with them I was ecstatic. “About damn time” was the first thing I thought, followed quickly by, “Why the hell didn’t they think of that sooner?” Continue reading Kill your kids or die trying

Yes, Virginia? A question of belief

I’ve been babysitting for almost a decade, and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work with exceptionally bright and fascinating children. I was only 11 when I started working — in retrospect, just a kid myself — and have never really gotten past a distinct  feeling of camaraderie with all of my young charges. I don’t pretend to understand every four-year-old’s whims (or the average preteen’s preoccupations), but I do have a certain sympathy with my kids’ complaints and struggles.

Considering, then, that this is the most wonderful time of the year, it only seems fair to address one of the weightiest and most consuming questions facing modern American childhood — one on which I happen to hold a very particular view. I speak, of course, about the belief in Santa Claus. Continue reading Yes, Virginia? A question of belief

Weekly Time Wasters: Tesla fights and parenting

While most sane people are perfectly content to look at a Tesla Coil, smile in awe and move on, these two brave souls had been watching too much “Star Wars” the night before and said to themselves, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to wrap ourselves in pure electricity and shoot it at each other?” Continue reading Weekly Time Wasters: Tesla fights and parenting