Body Positivity: A Big Fat Rant

There’s this preconceived notion that women should feel bad about their bodies. It’s almost as if, no matter what you look like, you’re programmed and conditioned to hate yourself. In a room full of women, if you were to pick one who had your ideal body type, chances are she has at least three different things that she dislikes about herself, and you didn’t even notice them.system.gif

Body trends change, all the time. Remember when thin was in, and there was this huge obsession over being a size zero? Now everyone wants a tiny top half, teamed with a massive arse and toned, thick, cellulite-free legs. Then there was the big boob trend of the noughties. I remember this vividly because it was shortly after that I became a teenager and all of my friends were blessed with giant tits while I remained a solid A cup until I turned 18.

Anyways, the point is that body trends change and so do our bodies. When I moved away to college I gained two and a half stone in three months, and suddenly I had these huge boobs that I’d wished so much for. But, was I happy with my body? No I was not. Now that I was blessed in the boob department, I had other things to worry about. Is that back fat? Jesus my calves are gone awful chunky. Why are my arms so flabby? No matter what weight you are, you’re going to find problem areas.

You can’t and you won’t stay the same weight forever, it’s pretty much impossible not to fluctuate throughout different stages of your life. Comparing yourself to the way you looked when you were 17 is not realistic for anyone. Almost a year and a half ago, I lost a good chunk of weight when I started on antidepressants. When this stopped, I went through a rough patch while studying abroad so my eating got worse, and I lost more weight. At this stage, I was a teeny tiny size 8. But while I was fairly confident with my figure, I was just thin and miserable. More often than not we equate thinness to happiness, but I definitely was not happy.

And now? I have no idea what I weigh. I know that if I stepped on a weighing scale, I’d probably get really upset. I have this bracket of what an “acceptable weight” is for myself, and I just know I’m way over it at the moment. But the difference is that I’m the happiest I ever have been with my body at the moment, mainly because I’ve worked hard to change my thought process and the way I look at, talk about, and think about myself. Because I’ve spent so many years trying to change my body, and I’m tired of it.

It started with changing the way I looked at myself in the mirror. More often than not, when we look at our bodies we focus on the perceived “bad stuff” for so long that we forget there are parts that we like as well. What do you like about yourself? I like my lips, my eyes, and my tattooed legs. I like my boobs and my bum and my jawline. It’s weird to see somebody saying positive things about their body, isn’t it? We have it instilled in us from such a young age that we should hate our bodies, that listening to somebody talk about liking parts of themselves almost feels foreign to us.

 

 

 

You are not defined by your body parts. When I looked in the mirror, for a long time all I could see was my hips that were “too wide”, my stomach that was “too big” and my boobs that were “too small”. I would obsess over these things and completely overlook the fact that, hips and stomach and boobs aside, I was an actual human being and not just a body. That there was more to me than my flaws; I realised then that people see you as a whole. They’re too caught up their own insecurities to notice yours.

Other people do not notice the things you think are wrong with your body, I can guarantee you that. That girl who’s slim, toned legs you admire and compare to your own? She probably doesn’t even pay attention to her legs because she’s so fixated on the size of her nose. People are too busy obsessing over their own problem areas that they rarely notice anyone else’s. When I take a full-length photo, I often find myself staring at it for a couple of minutes. As time goes by, I notice more and more things that are wrong with myself and by the end of it I think, “Jesus, I can’t show anybody this”. But nobody else looks at you like that. Nobody scrutinises you the way that you scrutinise yourself. They don’t stare at you intently, on the lookout for your flaws and things that are wrong with you. They’re looking for the best parts of you, and more often than not it expands to more than just your body parts. Start looking for the best parts of you too.

On to clothes, sizing and the fashion industry in general. I used to get so upset if I had to go up a dress size. To the point where if I needed a new pair of jeans and the size 8 didn’t fit me, I’d leave the shop empty handed and spend my day anxiety ridden and feeling bad about myself. That or I’d buy the jeans anyways, squeeze myself into them and feel bad about myself every time I put them on. They were a reminder that I was uncomfortable with my body (mentally and physically) and that my body was not “good enough”. Even after I’d stopped torturing myself by wearing them, I’d leave them in my wardrobe in the hope that one day I’d be good enough to wear them. Every so often I’d take them out and try them on, and continue the cycle of feeling bad about my body.

I realise how fucking problematic that was now. I realised that, who the fuck cares about the size of your clothes as long as you feel comfortable in them? Now when I shop in places that are notorious for bad sizing (Penneys and H&M, I’m talking about you) I bring a range of sizes in with me when possible. In I go to the changing rooms with a size 8, 10 and 12 in hand and I buy the one that I feel the most comfortable in. Fuck squeezing myself into clothes that are too small for me.

I was making myself physically uncomfortable with my clothing choice. But why are you uncomfortable? Is it because you’re physically uncomfortable wearing something, or because society says that you can’t wear it because of your body shape? We have it instilled in us that if your problem area is your belly, you shouldn’t wear tight skirts or crop tops. But who ACTUALLY says that? Who makes these stupid rules? Are people with this body type supposed to go around in loose bin bag type attire, slim arms and legs hanging out at each side? Fuck that. Challenge these views. Know that you look great, and feel great in your crop top whether you’re a size 10 or a size 18.

If you really don’t feel comfortable wearing clothes that are “not suited to” your body shape, that’s cool too. It’s only recently that I’ve started to feel okay wearing certain styles of clothes. I used to have a wardrobe full of clothes that made me feel bad about myself, not just the jeans I was squeezing myself into. Then one day I decided I was sick of it.

I took everything I owned out of my wardrobe and made a decision. I was getting rid of EVERYTHING that made me feel bad about myself when I put it on. Didn’t matter how nice it was, how expensive it was, or the potential I had to look good in it someday. If I didn’t feel confident wearing it now, it was gone. I also got rid of anything that was too small for me, or that I hadn’t worn in the past two months. No excuses, if I wasn’t wearing it now I was never going to wear it. I got rid of well over half my wardrobe that day, it was scary.

But with all this extra wardrobe space, I was forced to rethink the type of clothes that I actually wanted to wear. My fashion sense and style changed completely after that, because I stopped dressing the way that I felt society expected me to dress and started to wear whatever the fuck I wanted to. Getting changed out of my pyjamas used to feel like such a task for me; I hated my body and on top of that I just didn’t feel confident in my clothes. Once I’d bought a couple of new things that felt more like “me”, that task started getting a lot easier. And updating your wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive either, I did it gradually and found bits and pieces in charity shops. That said, it’s also nice to save a bit of your wages every week and treat yourself.

If your attitude to clothing is, “I can’t pull this off” I can tell you now that you’re wrong. Realistically, you can pull anything off; you just have to have the confidence to do it. Next time you see a girl and compare your problem areas to hers, i.e. “she has such clear skin and my acne is awful”, compliment her instead of making a comparison and feeling bad about yourself. I can guarantee you that she has insecurities too, and you might just make her day.

And by the way, everyone looks weird naked so stop stressing over that.

 

*Disclaimer: I know that, at a size 10, it’s very easy for me to preach about body positivity. But we all have things we dislike about our bodies, and that’s what I’m trying to highlight. I’m a firm believer that you deserve to be happy with your body no matter what size you are. If you’re sick of hating your body, I’d recommend following @bodyposipanda on Instagram. Her posts completely changed the way I viewed myself, and I’m in the process of reading her book “Body Positive Power” which can be bought here.

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Staying Healthy and Losing Weight in College

The thought of going back to college this year filled me with anxiety. Why? The fear of gaining weight. I was afraid that all my hard work over the summer would be undone, and I’d go back to being miserable about my body. College this time last year consisted of endless takeaways, drinking the cheapest and most fattening form of alcohol out there (€4 Aldi wine, would not recommend) and general laziness. But this year I was determined not to fall back into old habits, and I didn’t. I’ve even managed to lose 4lbs this year, bringing my total weight loss to 2 stone. You can see my before and after pictures below, if you dare, you’ve been warned.

One of the main things that’s helped keep my weight down since getting back to college is exercising. Gym membership is the best thing I could have spent my money on, and I actually go this year. I aim to go to the gym three times a week, but sometimes I could go twice and other times I could go four times – depending on my enthusiasm and workload. Treadmill, rowing machine, leg press and ab workouts are all things I try to incorporate into my hour in the gym. My excuse last year was that I never had time for the gym, but you can always find some if you look hard enough.

The amount of takeaways I eat has decreased a huge amount this year, and the “group meal” scheme in our house has contributed to that. Me and my housemates take it on turns to make each other dinner, which is usually something healthy. It works out a lot cheaper and means you only end up cooking once a week, so if you and your housemates eat similar types of food I’d definitely recommend it.

I stopped drinking/going out last semester, and it’s something I really regret. It made me a bit of a recluse if I’m honest and it only meant that I had more money to spend on takeaways. I thought it was improving my mental health, but it probably made it worse. Anyways, I don’t do that anymore. I go out twice a week, which is fairly standard for a lot of students in Limerick. Now when I go out, I stick to vodka and a diet mixer. It’s all about being smart about what you drink. I won’t lie, after a few too many I’ll end up buying garlic chips after the nightclub, but sure what harm when you’re up at 9am the next day for the gym?

There are also little changes I’ve made that have improved my diet slightly more. If my housemates are getting pasta carbonara or pizza from the heavenly Italian place beside our house, I’ll buy a panini instead. I eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I drink unsweetened almond milk or soya milk instead of cow’s milk. I use cinnamon on my porridge instead of sugar. It’s all about making little changes that will lead to a big change in your weight and how you see yourself.

So as you can see, I haven’t made any drastic or horrible changes in my life. I still go out and drink, but I balance it with going to the gym. I still get takeaways, just not as often and I go for a healthier option. You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from the norms of college life, you just have to learn to find a balance.

January 2015                                                                                                     twostoneOctober 2015

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“Plus-sized” or Normal Sized?

A couple of days ago, I was scrolling through the sales section of Boohoo when a dress caught my eye. Not particularly standing out from the rest, I clicked into it, and then realised it was plus sized. With raised eyebrows I inspected the model, who was no more than a size 12, while whispering “what the fuck?” to myself multiple times. When I clicked into the “Details and Care” section, it said “Model Wears UK 16” and the cursing started again. You could see this girls collarbones and her arms were about half the size of mine, there wasn’t a hope in hell that she was a size 16.

Seeing that made me think okay, Boohoo clearly use models in a smaller size to what they’re claiming, and last week I got some confirmation of that. I ordered a denim dungaree dress from my Festival Fashion Wishlist post, and becadungareesmodeluse I’m a size 10, that’s what I ordered. Out of curiosity, I decided to check what size they were claiming the model was. When I saw “UK 10”, I was annoyed. Not even because she was definitely smaller than that, but because I knew I’d have to return the dress, reorder it, and it wouldn’t be here in time for Knockanstockan. Cue my disbelief when it arrived and fit me perfectly. For a moment I was flattered, and then I realised there was no way I was as skinny as the model.

After looking around on Boohoo’s website, I found some more pictures of the model (right). As you can see, she has washboard abs and her hips are teeny tiny. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have the hips of a woman who’s just given birth to triplets. Big hips aren’t a bad thing by any means, but they make it a pain in the ass when it comes to buying dresses. Not to mention the fact that I probably have about five more inches of fat on my belly than she does too (sorry to be gross, but it’s the truth). There isn’t a hope in hell that this model is wearing a size 10 in this picture, or in the picture of the dungarees, because I’m at least one size bigger than her, if not two. I wouldn’t have been able to squeeze my birthing hips into the dungarees otherwise.

Getting back to the plus-sized models argument, let’s look at two different girls. First up, we have “Model A”, who is wearing a size 16 according to Boohoo. (Sorry that the pictures are blurry!)

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Okay for one, you can see this girl’s abs in one of these pictures. As I said before, I’m a size 10 and her belly is much, much flatter than mine. To me, this looks like a sporty girl. You know the type, girls who play football and have really toned, strong bodies. Also known as, normal sized girls. People might disagree, but her collarbones are jutting out and I really can’t see how she’s more than a size 12.

Next up, we have “Model B” who Boohoo also claim to be a size 16. This one really, really irritated me because this girl is skinnier than me, and there’s no way that I’m a size 16 or (if I’m bigger than her) a size 18.

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Her arms are like twigs, she has a flat belly, her legs are pretty slim and her collarbones are jutting out. Size 16? I don’t think so. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a size 16; if you’re happy with your body then that’s perfect. But to say that this girl is a size 16 when she’s clearly not is sending out the wrong message to young girls, who are probably the same size as her and wearing a size 10. They’re going to notice that they’re the same size as her, and convince themselves that they’re plus-sized. The average size for a woman in Ireland is a size 14, so in reality, they’re far from plus-sized.

“Plus-sized” tends to be for bigger, curvier ladies. So the message Boohoo are sending out is, “If I look like this, I’m big” when in reality, a lot of these girls are normal sized, and some are quite thin. There are fifteen year old girls who use this site, and it makes me think back to what my mind frame was like when I was that age.

When I was fifteen, I was convinced that I was fat. Huge, morbidly obese, enormous. I was 5ft 2ins and I weighed 7 stone and 2lbs. I was absolutely tiny, but my view was so distorted because of images of models and celebrities that I was looking at, and I thought I was fat. I’m two stone heavier than this now, and I wouldn’t consider myself as fat, so I don’t know where I was going at all when I was fifteen. Looking back at pictures, I looked like I was about to snap in half at any given moment. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being this weight if you’re happy and healthy, but I don’t think it was a healthy weight for me.

My point is that young girls are easily led, and their opinion of what’s “fat” and what’s “skinny” can be easily distorted. Although I’m eighteen now and I can rationalise that Boohoo are wrong, I wouldn’t have seen it that way when I was younger. The only way that this can change is if we make complaints to Boohoo, which I have done already, because frankly it’s making girls everywhere feel like shit.

How I Lost 21lbs – My Weight Loss Tips

Before I left for college, I’d always been skinny. Size 8 was sometimes a little bit loose, and I had arms and legs like matchsticks. I didn’t realise it then, but I was extremely thin, probably too thin at times. When college rolled around, so did excessive amounts of alcohol and noodles. I’m pretty sure my metabolism did a U-turn, because in just four months I’d managed to gain two and a half stone. I was only coming home every three weeks, and every time I’d step on the weighing scale I’d gained another half a stone. It only hit me that I needed to make a change when I realised that I was scarily close to becoming an unhealthy weight for my height, not to mention being seriously unhappy with my body.

I started changing the way that I was eating when I came home for Christmas, and I lost over a stone almost instantly. I think my body went into shock over lack of pizza if I’m honest. When I got back to college, my eating habits went back to being rubbish, but I managed to stay at the weight that I was. Since I started to eat healthier, I’ve lost 21lbs (a stone and a half) and I’m now only 6lbs off my goal weight (which is just a little over what I weighed to start with – I don’t want to go back to being that thin). Anyways, here’s how I slowly but surely lost a stone and a half through healthy eating.

What’s helped me the most is learning how weight loss works. To keep weight off, you need to do it gradually, and my weight loss worked out at losing around 1lb per week. 1lb is equal to 3,500 kilocalories, which may seem like a lot but when you break it down it’s not that much. 3,500 divided by 7 days a week is 500 calories. You need to cut your calorie intake by 500 calories per day to lose 1lb a week. This can easily be done by changes as simple as cutting out fizzy drinks, replacing sugary cereal with porridge and asking for a side of salad instead of chips.

Another thing that you need is patience. You need to realise that this won’t happen overnight, and be prepared for a long journey if you need to lose as much weight as I did. If you fall off the wagon, just get back up again. It happens to the best of us but what’s important is to never give up.

This may seem obvious, but cutting out takeaways made weight literally fall off me. Even if my family buy one, I never eat them at home as opposed to having maybe two a week while in college. A Chinese meal can have over 1,500 calories in it, which is even more than what I aim to eat in the whole day. Not to mention the fact that they’re pretty damn addictive, it’s easier to just avoid them altogether.

I’m a big snacker, and tend to eat when I’m bored which is an awful habit. However I’ve turned this into something beneficial by replacing crisps, cereal bars and peanuts with fruit. Raspberries, blueberries and oranges are all full of antioxidants and contain properties that will help you lose weight. This is also a great way of getting your five a day in.

Balance is key when trying to lose weight, but I do try to limit the amount of carbs that I eat. I don’t let myself have more than two slices of bread per day, and if I’m making a pasta dish for dinner I bulk it up with vegetables so that I feel full without overindulging in carbs. As well as this, I make sure that any carbs I do eat are wholegrain. Brown pasta, brown rice, brown bread – it’s all a little better for you than the over-processed white stuff.

013I drink a crazy amount of tea, but not the kind that you’re thinking of. I’m a big fan of Bootea, I lost 5lbs doing their 14 day detox with it over Christmas. But at €32 for a two weeks supply, it’s pretty hefty for any broke student but there are alternatives out there. Dr Stuart does a great range of teas to aid weight loss, and my favourites are 014Detox, Slim Plus and Lax Plus. They all contain herbs that help clear out your system, and at only €3 for a box of 15 it’s a lot cheaper than Bootea. I’m also a green tea drinker, but it took me a long time to find one that was drinkable. I’d recommend Tulsi Green Tea for people who aren’t keen on the taste, it’s a lot more bearable than other brands. I try to drink three or four cups of “weird tea” as my Mum calls it, every day.

One of the main culprits for my weight gain was alcohol, so now I drink on very rare occasions. I didn’t drink at all last semester until the week we were leaving college, and since coming home I’ve only drank on one occasion, when I went to Life festival. Alcohol is crazily high in calories, and although for any teenager it can be hard to cut it out, it’s necessary if you want to lose weight. Don’t be fooled by people who tell you that there’s no calories in vodka either, there’s over 400 in a naggin. That’s without a sugary mixer, and a lot of people require more than 200ml of the stuff to get into a happy state.

Something that’s essential in any weight loss journey is drinking more water. Not only does it help you to flush all the bad stuff out of your system, it also keeps you full. The next time you’re hungry, drink a glass of water – hunger is often just dehydration in disguise. I drink about 12 glasses of water a day, and it’s easy to add to your diet once you know the tricks. I gulp down a glass before my meal, have one during my meal, and another afterwards. When I do this with all three of my meals, that’s nine glasses already down and I just need to fit another three into my day.

Another thing that’s really important is eating three meals per day. Making sure these are filled with fruit, vegetables, protein and some healthy carbs will keep you full, therefore reducing snacking. If I don’t eat a proper meal I find016 myself snacking on something that has around the same number of calories, like a 400 calorie bag of popcorn. But this is unhealthy and full of fat, and won’t do anything to help me lose weight.

My last tip is for self-confessed chocoholics like myself. It might sound disgusting, but switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate. And before you make the same mistake that I did, Cadbury’s dark chocolate (Bourneville for example) doesn’t count – it’s got almost as much sugar as the good stuff. If you’re getting proper dark chocolate, it should have a percentage on it. The higher the percentage, the less sugar in it, and believe me you can taste the difference. Start from 60% and work your way up, I’m on the bitter 90% stuff now. Dark chocolate not only contains some antioxidants, but it gets rid of your chocolate cravings and doesn’t leave you wanting more because it’s so sickening and bitter. I thought it would put me off chocolate altogether, but it just made me appreciate milk chocolate even more!

Let me know if these tips work for you guys and good luck on your weight loss journey, you’ll eventually reach your goal if you work hard enough. If you’re not a lazy lump like me, try to include some exercise into your daily routine and you’ll probably lose weight twice as quick.

Here’s a before and after picture, the one on the left is from the beginning of January and the one on the right was taken today. I still feel horrible even looking at the first picture and was very reluctant to post it, but it’s made me realise that there’ actually quite a big difference between then and now.008

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Síochfreadh Ní Lachnáin: The 2015 Mayo Rose

Síochfreadh Ní Lachnáin has been crowned the 2015 Mayo Rose after the selection took place in the Castlecourt Hotel, Westport on Saturday the 11th of April 2015.

13 girls took part in the competition this year, including Shauna Mulhall (Westport), Aoife Forde (Ballycastle), Aine McManamon (Newport), Rebecca Moran (Kilkelly), Clare Cullen (Killala), Grace Lynch (Ballyvary), Emma McNamara (Westport), Dawn Hughes (Bofeenaun), Natasha Neville (Bonniconlon), Avril Foy (Wesport), Donna McCafferty (Ballina), Shonagh Rowley (Meelick) and of course the winner Síochfreadh Ní Lachnáin from Newport who was sponsored by The Greenway Hostel.

Síochfreadh, who is 24-years-old and comes from a family of eight, was the ninth Rose to take the stage on Saturday night, where she was interviewed by Michael D. McAndrew about her life and aspirations.

She spoke a lot about her family life, and told the audience that her siblings and father all speak Irish to each other while their mother doesn’t have a word of the language, “We gang up on her a bit!” she joked. She spent many years of her childhood horseback riding with her sisters and has a very close bond with her family, who she said all have names as exotic and Irish as “Síochfreadh”.

Síochfreadh said she misses Newport when she’s away at work and sells the small town very well to her colleagues, telling them all about the horseback riding and surfing that can be done along the coast. She speaks so highly of it that she said her friends have even asked her, “Do you live in Summer Bay or something?”

After studying Equine Science in college, Síochfreadh now works as a research scientist in Limerick for a company that sell medical devices, but would love to take some time out to travel. Her aim is to visit every continent before the age of 25, and she said she would love to go to Africa.

The competition was full of talent this year, with Roses from all different backrounds, and International Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh commented that, “We’ve heard from mothers, students, people with work experience and that’s what it’s all about. I’m excited to see, at this point I don’t know who the Judges are going to select to represent the Mayo Rose for 2015. It’s going to be a tough call.”

CEO of the Rose of Tralee Ger Dillane also commented on the remarkably high standard in the competition, “This is my tenth year judging, and I find that the standard is getting higher and higher. What people have done with their lives in such a short time is a lot more, as well as people having gone to college they’re getting involved in a lot of charity work, getting involved in helping families and people who are down and out, there just seems to be a lot more goodness in them.”

While judges Ciara Keogh, Oonagh Sé Roiste and Ger Dillane retired to make their decision, impressionist Shane Cunningham took the stage. A speech was also read out from the 2014 Mayo Rose Hannah Ferguson, who couldn’t be there as she was sitting an exam in McMaster University, Canada.

At 11:30pm Michael D. McAndrew announced that Síochfreadh was to be crowned the Mayo Rose 2015, and she was then presented with her tiara and sash by Maria Walsh.

Síochfreadh who earlier told the audience that her Mother once said, “I didn’t have five daughters for none of you to become a rose!” said that she was in complete shock that she’d won the title, “Oh I’m delighted, I’m in shock to be honest I’m going to have to let this settle in because I really wasn’t expecting it. There was so many great girls up there and honestly I was down at my table and my sister was like ‘Yeah you’re not going to win this!’ so I’m shocked.” Delighted also though, it’s surreal.”

What Guys REALLY Look For In a Girl

I bet a lot of you read that and the first thing that entered your mind was “Girls shouldn’t care about what a guy is looking for in them! Girls should just be happy in themselves!” and this is true. But the reason that many girls say this is because we’re preoccupied with the idea of “the perfect body”, so we think that boys are thinking the same thing. Many of us are self-conscious, and whether we like it or not we do worry about what the boys think of us. A lot of the time, girls get caught up in an obsession with being skinny, having big boobs and of course a massive bum. Because that’s what’s desirable, right? Apparently, not always. I did a little experiment on Tinder and found the results shocking, but in a really good way.

I feel like a lot of the time, guys are put down for no good reason. After a break-up, us girls can be heard sobbing “They’re all the same!” from the nightclub cubicle for a good twenty yards. For some reason, we have it in our heads that what a boy wants is somebody who’s unrealistically beautiful, and many of us feel like we can never live up to this expectation. It can put a downer on us, and make us feel like we’re not good enough. So that’s why I decided to do this little experiment, to see if we’re right and whether or not guys are really so obsessed with perfect physical features.

I asked all of my Tinder matches “What’s the quality that you look for most in a girl?” and drumroll please…054

053Not ONE of them mentioned a stereotypical physical feature. Out of everyone I asked, 36% of the lads said that what they liked the most is somebody that’s funny, and 18% said that the most important thing was being able to maintain a strong conversation. Other qualities that they said they looked for was a girl who was loyal, a girl who has a great smile or just somebody with confidence055

So see girls, they’re not all that bad. By the looks of things, it’s time to sto052p spending so much time in the gym and maybe invest in a joke book instead. I hope this little post helps you fabulous girls realise that (1) Guys don’t just want you for your body and (2) Not all guys are assholes.

And with that I leave you with this video about the cute things us girls do, and also with the message that left me a little eh, lost for words. But then I remembered it was Tinder that I was conducting this experiment on. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out the word that I blanked.

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“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but nobody thinks of changing himself.”

Change – there’s been a lot of it going on in my life these past few months. Some positive, some negative, yet change all the same. A lot of this has been uncontrollable, so I decided to make a drastic change to something that I could control. I switched up my hair colour, going from bright, bouncy blonde to deep, dark brown. Now this might not seem like a massive thing to you guys, but something as simple as this motivated me to change some more things in my life, and believe me they badly needed changing.

In my first semester of college I went up two dress sizes, and although I once owned a pair of size 6 jeans I’m now pretty sure that I couldn’t even squeeze them up my arm. This is something that I struggled to deal with, I was used to being all scrawny and fragile looking and wasn’t used to all these “curves” and what not. But making a change to my hair gave me a little bit of my confidence back, and I stopped thinking so negatively of my new figure.

So what if my ankles don’t look like they’re about to snap anymore? So what if my belly isn’t as flat as an ironing board? I spent so long focusing on the parts of my body that I hated, and forgot about the parts that I liked. But why focus on the one or two things you dislike? It’s not like somebody is going to look at you and think “Ah, her legs are quite big… I think I’ll stay away from her.” No, people look at the fuller picture. They look at your face, get to know your personality, and notice all the great things that make you, you.

I was so pre-occupied with looking like everyone else and being as skinny as possible, that it took me a long time to realise that I wasn’t being true to myself anymore. What happened to that girl that was obsessed with piercings and purple lipstick? She seemed to be lost and what was left was her shell. But not anymore. One day I said screw it, I got out of my pyjamas for once and threw on a flowery dress and my doc martens. I put on my makeup, purple lipstick included of course, and I looked at myself in the mirror. I realised that this was the first time in about five months that I actually felt pretty, that I felt like me.

Something as simple as changing the colour of my hair encouraged me to stop focusing on losing weight, and on being society’s idea of beautiful. It encouraged me to love myself the way I am and stop being so negative and punishing myself for not being “perfect”. Finally, I feel like myself again, and although I’ve changed quite a bit physically since the last time I felt like this, I’m back to being true to myself on the inside.

So here’s my lesson for today kids, don’t be afraid to make a small change. It might just pave the way for some bigger and better ones. I stopped trying to change the world, and instead I decided to change myself.

“Life is a journey and it’s about growing and changing and coming to terms with who and what you are, and loving who and what you are.” – Kelly McGillis