Personal: Should I Start Online Dating?

Hi readers!

In lieu of my 2-years single anniversary (yes, I did take myself out on a date), I have decided to take matters into my own hands.

I had always considered online dating to be for people too socially awkward to meet people in real life.

However, at the age of 23, I have finally come to terms with the fact that  am too socially awkward to meet people in real life.

But online dating (or apps? Are those considered the same thing?) is not something I know too much about. Halp!

Please feel free to leave online dating advice, stories, and recommendations in the comments section.

Lord knows, I need all the help I can get.

 

online-dating_o_533911

Dress Coded: An Education on (unnecessary) Sexualization

dress-coded-1

When one Illinois middle school cluelessly decided to ban leggings & yoga pants because they were “distracting to the boys”, they probably didn’t have any idea it would be the catalyst to a national conversation about dress codes in school.

I mean, dress codes are like, so un-controversial. Until now.

Now, all sorts of interesting stories are surfacing. Girls wearing the same regulation gym outfits, but the curvier ones are getting dress-coded. Tall girls getting dress-coded for short garments, even though they’re finger-tip length, while short girls seem to not draw the same leg-bearing ire. One girl getting sent home from prom for wearing pants. Another girl was sent home from her homeschool prom because male chaperons said her dress was “causing impure thoughts”…for the teenage boys, of course.

So… Many interesting stories indeed.

The leggings ban irked me immediately for two reasons. The first being that these girls are in middle school, which means they are 11-14. Stop making them out to be devilish little nymphets, you creepy Humbert Humberts. These girls are not wearing yoga pants/leggings to show off the prepubescent shapeliness (ha!) of their backsides. The main reason girls (and adult women!) wear yoga pants is because they are heaven compared to the alternative:

Traditionally “cute”clothing for young women are notoriously restrictive and often painful.

The following images are from IMPRESSION, a photo series that shows what women wear, by the imprints left on their skin .  Here’s what form-fitting jeans look like:

jeans 2 impression jeans impressionjeans 3 impression

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does that look comfortable to you?  Because it looks pretty damn painful to me.

Keep in mind that loose or baggy clothing for girls is neither “popular” nor “attractive” and even borderline socially unacceptable. Professional women: would you show up to the office in a baggy pantsuit? No? Then why would these girls show up to school in baggy jeans?

(This is a bit off topic but…) I really bothers me how schools insist that girls wear bras (this starts at, like, age 8-14 when girls start budding. Many girls and/or their moms have embarrassing stories of female teachers quietly pulling them aside, and delicately suggesting that she get a training bra), but then simultaneously decree that bra straps are inappropriate. This is like insisting all boys must wear socks, but the tops of socks sticking out of the shoes are inappropriate.  It’s just… so arbitrary.

bra 1 impression bra 2 impression

Anyway, back to my point: the (un)comfort of women’s clothing. Obviously girls are going to pick yoga pants/leggings over form-fitting jeans that cut off the blood flow in the hips. It’s not about looking “sexy”. It’s about comfort. To twist this innocent reason around and treat these girls as if they are temptresses is incredibly disrespectful.

The second reason the leggings ban irked me was the “reasoning” behind it.

It’s “distracting to the boys”

Ugh. Every sane person on the internet immediately called bullshit on this incredibly sexist statement. The basic and very valid counterargument:  Girls clothing is not and should not be responsible for boys’ behavior.  I’m actually not going to go too deep into this. I know if you’re reading my blog then you probably understand & agree with the counterargument. I wanted to take this conversation in a bit of a different direction;

One. 

It’s yet another reminder, and reinforcement, that a girl’s appearance is more important, and demands more attention, than her other, non-visible qualities. You know, qualities like intelligence, perseverance, athletic ability, tenacity, creativity, a hard work ethic… attention to those attributes seem fade away rather quickly once an inch of skin is exposed.

Instead, it teaches her to view herself in a sexualized gaze, from an outsider’s point of view. At an increasingly young age, getting dressed in the morning turns from “does teal clash with yellow?” to “is this too much shoulder? Can someone see down this shirt? Would someone be able to look up this skirt on the stairs? What happens when I sit or bend over? I should test that.”

It’s not necessary a bad way of thinking when getting dressed. But it’s a pretty damn insidious sign of something ugly in our society, when middle-school girls are worrying about people looking down their shirts, and adjusting what they wear because of it.

And schools, the institutions that are supposed to be teaching our kids the importance of education, teach the opposite when they pull a girl out of class because her tank top straps are only two inches wide, not the three inches regulation. It doesn’t matter if she’s the valedictorian working towards the Ivy Leagues. If one day her shirt rides up a bit too much (maybe it shrunk unexpectedly in the wash?), she could get sent home to change (perfect attendance award? who cares!).

Two.

Female bodies are not public art.

They are not for your viewing pleasure.

Or viewing displeasure.

Schools are teaching girls, at a very, very young age, that they are on-display, and that is not ok. They’re normalizing some pretty scary behaviors that women must put up with almost every day:

  • receiving unsolicited comments from complete strangers on clothes and/or appearance
  • fielding “suggestions” from others on how dress, apply makeup, or even style hair
  • being forced to change clothes because someone in an authority position demands it
  • experiencing the unwanted & unnecessary sexualization of her body by older persons
  • responding to all of the above with compliance and politeness

Not only that, but for women, the feeling of being watched is unsettling but very common. I feel on-display when I’m waiting for the crosswalk sign to change. I feel on-display when I’m at the gym. I feel on-display at the grocery store… the list could go on. Usually it’s because I see the leers, the quick up-down flick of the eyes, the possible mental-undressing (many guys have told me apparently this is a common, almost knee-jerk mental reaction, to imagine a woman’s clothes off? Idk, let me know in the comment box). Its pretty jarring to hear that some schools have become one of those places that treat girls like they are objects on display.

I think what we’re hearing online is girls expressing that the strange, inconsistent enforcement of the dress codes is sexualizing them against their will. I’m pretty sure every single private schoolgirl has been subjected to some crass “naughty schoolgirl” joke, or unwanted attention, due to their uniforms.

It’s not the girls.

It’s not their uniforms.

It’s the outsider’s gaze sexualizing  them.

Right now schools seem to be doing a really good job of teaching girls being female in public means their bodies are on display for scrutiny. And schools are doing a really bad job of teaching boys that staring is rude (to put it lightly).

Until this changes in schools, I highly doubt the more mature, serious variations of unwanted sexualization - street harassment, sexual assault, and victim-blaming - will ever fully disappear.

All I have to say for now is:

If you’re a teenage girl in high school, it will all be over soon. You will graduate (or exit with grace), and enter the real world where nobody cares if leggings show the shape of your butt, because everybody wears leggings and everybody has butts. And there is nothing inherently sexual with either of those things.

These Female “Privileges” Suck (but also prove my point)

Dear Mark Saunders,

I see that you are a writer of men’s issues, and have taken it upon yourself to expose some of the insidiously institutionalized sexism that American men suffer from on a daily basis. Your article was titled “18 things females seem to not understand (because female privilege)” and I clicked on it, bracing for the usual dribble such as “we don’t like your pixie cuts”.

I was instead blown away by the incredible amount of  ignorance & misogyny I had unwittingly stumbled upon. Yes! A veritable goldmine of men’s issues & female privileges!

MRA

Although I’m not sure you are quite clear on the definition of a privilege.

Privilege: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. 

When I saw your post was a list of privileges I thought to myself, “oh good, something to remind me of how great it is to be a woman.” Too bad it was a list of literally the most pathetic, least useful privileges (& some non-privileges) ever. How ironic!

The vast majority of the list is unsupported by sound reasoning, logic, or statistics. So here I am fuming & taking 4 hours to refute an 18-point list that probably took you 30 seconds to write, when I could be watching Fringe on Netflix.

And, uh, Mark? You forgot the most important female privilege of all:

Yoga. Pants.

Continue reading

Becoming a Lady-Beast

Hello! So with the flurry of media attention my blog has been getting out of late, I’m also getting a ton of questions from fellow ladies about what my exercise & diet plan looks like. I’m a huge advocate for lifting heavy, but it’s true I’ve also never gotten very specific about which lifts you should be doing. Hence…

Sophie’s Guide to Becoming a Lady-Beast

bear deadlift

The first step to becoming a lady-beast is to roar.

Continue reading

Why You Should Care About Eating Disorder Awareness Week

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Hi all! Today I’m going to talk about something that strikes very close to home for an unfortunately large number of people: Eating Disorders.
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Workout Music!

Hi all! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about anything substantial, but I feel like I need to post something new, so here’s a whole bunch of my workout music. I make these playlists for work, and the Cody audience seems to really like them, so I thought I’d share here too.
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New Years Post!

Hi all,  I  realized I haven’t blogged (or written any words at all) for a long time, so I thought I’d get back in the groove with a new years post. Now, I’m not very good at commitment, and new years resolutions usually tend to be a massive fail on my part. My goals tend to be like rollover minutes… except in years. Oh well, here it goes then:

1) Get that goddamn pull up.

WOW. It’s been over a year since I’ve started strength training, and I still haven’t got that pull up. Yes, it is kind of my fault. I’ve gotten close on occasion, with really consistent training, but then something would happen (l moved, I got a second job, I went on vacation, I moved again) and I’d stop training for a few weeks & BAM! No more pull up progress. Right back to the beginning.

2) Get a booty.

Ok, yes, another fitness goal. A lot of you know I’m kind of obsessed with nice booties and getting one for meself. So, this year if I haven’t done anything else in a day, I will do at least 50 squats.

3) Finish a story & publish it. 

I currently have one story written down and two more in my head. By 2015, I need to have completed & sent out at least one. 

4) Plant an herb & vegetable garden.

Many of you know I’m not generally a fan of small animals (or children), but this year I got a basil plant and it really made me like growing plants! Ok… most of the basil is dead… but that was like a practice round. This year I’m going to plant & grow some edible stuff.

I had all these other little things in my head like, “wear a little black dress once a week” or “wake up by 9am on weekends” and of course, the vague but relevant “be more awesome”, but I think I should just be realistic and keep the resolution count at 4.

Now that they’re public I have to do it! Or, at least I hope that’s how it works.

Ornamental Women

I begin this post with an anecdote:

For the past few months I’ve been running a group Pinterest Board, Strength is Beautiful, for my company as part of our social media marketing efforts for Cody.

Here is my description of the board on Pinterest:

This is a group board for all things fitness! Strength is beautiful, ladies. Overly sexual images will be taken down. Email me if you would like to be invited to pin to this board: sophia@codyapp.com

At first the board was going well. There is always some degree  of uncertainty with group boards, because someone could come in and fill it with spam (or porn), but I was hopeful that the board would remain PG and body-positive. For the first few weeks, it was going well. The board was full of stuff like this:

All good stuff. Yay strength is beautiful. Continue reading

Government of the people, for the people, by the people… no more

Today was the anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

I was listening to NPR, stuck in traffic on the way home, and they said something I found rather funny. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was along the lines of “approval ratings across all areas of the government have never been so low.”

I kind of laughed to myself. Captain Obvious, to rescue! 

No but really, I got this beautiful moment of clarity where all of these snippets of information, facts, anecdotes, and ideas that have been swirling around my head for the past few months/years (my brain is kind of like a snowglobe) all came together.
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“Inner Beauty Doesn’t Exist”

Oh lawdy lawd. Ok, many of my blog posts are often prompted by people being assholes, and me explaining exactly what about their behavior makes them crappy human beings. Osmel Sousa, the president of the popular Miss Venezuela beauty pageant, pretty much takes the trophy for crappy human being of the day (because there’s always a new one tomorrow).

The following video, produced by the NY Times, is only about 5 minutes long, but if you don’t feel like watching it, Sousa’s opening statement pretty much sums it up:

“Inner beauty doesn’t exist,” he claims, “it is something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.” (He says this with a really creepy smile on his face, then laughs.)

The first issue with this statement was summed up really well by Erika Nicole Kendall, another blogger whom I admire very much:

“I think it’s pretty f—ing jarring to hear someone say “I say that inner beauty does not exist; it’s something that unpretty women invented to justify themselves.“ They need to justify themselves? As in, their raison d’etre? Their existence? Women who are not “beautiful” are subject to justifying their existence, lest there be no reason for them to exist?”
-Excerpted from “I Say That Inner Beauty Does Not Exist” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss 

Props to Kendall for calling this guy out on what he’s really trying to say: If a woman is not physically beautiful, then she doesn’t have any value.

What is especially concerning (to me at least) is that this dude is gay, and he does not talk about women this way because he wants to bone them. This is not a sexual power play. No, as a gay man, he thinks “ugly” women have “made up” the concept of inner beauty because to him, women are objects for looking at, period.

To Sousa (and many other people), women serve no other purpose than being ornamental, like a painting, or a vase. And what is the point of an ugly vase? None. An ornament must be beautiful to serve it’s purpose, otherwise it is no longer an ornament – it is an eyesore & will be taken out with the trash.

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The rest of the video explores the new trend of Venezuelan mannequins being modified to be super busty, reflecting the increasingly extreme beauty ideals of the country. This trend of mannequins with impossible body proportions is nothing new. But mannequins are also particularly interesting because they literally are woman-ornaments. A mannequin with a less-than perfect body shape is worthless and will be modified and/or thrown out.

And herein lies the scary connection to be made: To Sousa (and people who agree with him) If “inner beauty does not exist”, if traits such as intelligence, compassion, and strength do not matter, and women are merely ornaments to please the eye, there is no difference between a woman and a mannequin. If this does not outrage you right now, leave my blog.

Why do mannequins even matter that much? Much like photoshopped women in magazines, they contribute to social norms of what women should & shouldn’t look like.

Venezuelan mannequins:

American Mannequins:

(by the way, if you walk around to the back of mannequins in America, you can see the clothes are often clamped or pinned to be form-fitting, because the mannequins are thinner than size 0/XS).

Swedish mannequins:

(because Sweden does everything right)

Ok, obviously the notion that “inner beauty doesn’t exist” is complete and utter bullsh*t. This brings me to the second part of this blog post:

Yarrrg Musclezzzz (& Booty)

Our standards of female beauty are changing from heroin-chic to Wonder Woman. Don’t believe me? Google Trends knows – thin is on it’s way out, fit is just getting started.

fitspo-thinspo-trends

Part of this trend is due to a strong resurgence in the feminist movement worldwide, ever since several notable gang rape incidents (selfcontrolselfcontrol don’t fly off the handle about rape right now). Check out any “fitblr’s” Tumblr account, and chances are you’ll see some feminist stuff on it. That’s because fitness & feminism actually go together like salt & pepper. Fit gals and fit dudes understand the mental, physical, and social empowerment that comes with control over one’s body.

Because I have a sociological background, when I started writing for Cody I realized I was in a position of influence, and I could use this influence for the better. That’s why you will never see sexualized fitness content on the Cody blog. I’ve made a point to only use body-positive language on Cody’s social media accounts. Our graphic designer Tasheon also does a really great job of  only using non-sexual, body-positive images & illustrations:

awesomebychoice everyseason girlonfire iplie lifeisasport sissyarealwoman dontbeirondeficient rockoutchalkout truestrength progres_hurts_so_good weightoffshoulders

Another reason this trend is catching on so quick is CrossFit! This is because as CrossFit spreads, more people are exposed to images of strong women, and the more you are exposed to these images, the more you grow to accept it, like it, even want to look like it.

Here’s a short CrossFit video called “Letting Beauty Speak”:


Unlike Sousa & his beauty pageants, CrossFitters understand that beauty is not skin-deep. That being said, imagine what would happen if our mannequins looked like CrossFitters!

I’ve been waiting for the ever-vapid Seventeen or Cosmo magazines to start featuring some of the more conventionally “hot” CrossFit women, like Andrea Ager

or Christmas Abbot

or Camille Leblanc-Bazinet

But then I realized, if Seventeen & Cosmo won’t put athletes like Mckayla Maroney or Venus Williams on their covers, they’re probably not going to put a CrossFitter on their cover. Which is a damn shame. But that’s ok, because Seventeen & Cosmo are insulting pieces of shit that portray women as idiots who are only interested in makeup, clothes, and men, and they can go suck a fat one.

I’ve received some criticisms in the past – “this blog reads like a CrossFit advertisement” or “you’re still focusing on physical standards of beauty” or “stop hating on skinny bodies“… blah blah blah.

These are all people that don’t understand the deep connection between physical fitness & female empowerment. When  I started working out, yes, I was doing it to “look better naked”.  I had no idea that the following would happen:

1) I’ve stopped wearing makeup on a regular basis. Makeup is now reserved for big nights out, or job interviews.

2) I’ve stopped wearing form-fitting clothes, and pretty much my wardrobe consists of baggy jeans & a sweatshirt. Even though my body is now the most smokin’ I’ve ever achieved, I have no desire to show it off.

3) I’ve stopped weighing myself.

4) In short, I’ve stopped seeking outside approval for how I look, because to be honest how I look doesn’t really matter to me anymore.

Y’know what matters? Inner beauty. Intelligence, resilience, strength, creativity, compassion, resourcefulness, spunk, attitude, confidence, dedication… this is what inner beauty is. This is what matters. Not what you look like, but what you can do.

So for every single person out there, man or woman, don’t let any jerk try to tell you that inner beauty doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist. Even if your face got shot off like Chuck Palahniuck’s Invisible Monsters.

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