instagram hearts

I was talking a friend down from worrying about whether or not a guy was going to “like” her photo on Instagram when it hit me. This is where we are now? We’re posting photos for the sole purpose of getting that one special person to notice it and hit a little heart with his thumb. It’s a motion that takes half a second, but we’re putting the weight of entire potential relationships on it.

Forgive my french, but shit. Technology has screwed us up, y’all. We need a break.

Consider this: Instagram is a FREE app. You probably downloaded it to your phone last year (or if you’re a real tech genius – in 2011). You’ve posted, what, between 400 and 500 photos by now? You’re documenting everything from your cute brunch drink to your day on the beach. You’re spending 3 to 5 minutes taking a photo, choosing a filter, and posting it into the abyss of the handheld internet. Do you realize how many thumbs will scroll right past it? How often do you swipe through your feed because you’re bored? Do you “like” everything you see? (God, I hope not — That would make you incredibly annoying).

So then, are you honestly thinking that he is making a conscious decision to like or not like the incredible piece of art you posted (Read: Selfie on the beach)? You think he’s scrolling through Instagram during his lunch break thinking “If I like this, she may think we’re moving too fast”.  Or maybe he’s playing hard to get “I better not like this, lest she think I’m going to propose”.

I’m so sorry for laughing at your genuine concern. Really, I mean it. I know I’m your sarcastic friend… but please hear the seriousness in my voice when I ask this — is this really what we’re worrying about now? I don’t get to just freak out over how long it takes a guy to answer a text or call me back, like the women of olde? Now I have to wonder if, in a quick moment of boredom, he thought my meaningless photo (with the absolutely gorgeous filter action) was worthy of a tap of the thumb?

women’s equality day

In 1996 when I ran the second fastest mile in the whole third grade no one told me I was the fastest girl. They told me I was the second fastest kid in the third grade. Only now do I see the significance of that.

The internet tells me today is Women’s Equality Day. I did a little research to make sure this wasn’t some facebook rumor like National Eat A Hotdog Wrapped In A Pretzel And High Five Your Neighbor Day or something. Turns out, it’s a real holiday designated by congress in 1971 (Equality day, not the pretzel thing). I’m a woman so naturally I care about this. The push for Women’s Equality is still very relevant 42 years later, but in a totally different way.

For what it’s worth I don’t think the issue now is about rights, it’s safety. Women still need a way to go through life without being on the defensive at all times.

Hear me out. Ask a woman who runs if she’s ever been out on a trail by herself and not thought of what she would do if someone were to attack her. Ask her if she knows what it’s like to piece together an escape plan to the beat of her own steps. Ask a grown woman how often she walks to her car alone after a night out. Better yet, ask her what she does when she has to walk alone. 9 times out of 10 I bet she’ll say she calls her husband/parents/friends/siblings on the phone so someone will know if something happens or where she was when it did. Ask her how she carries her keys when she walks through a parking garage – sticking out in case she has to use them, right? Ask her if she owns pepper spray. Ask any woman you know if she’s ever been approached by a stranger, with an entirely too aggressive come on, while she was alone. I could go on for days, but you’re smart. You get the point.

Women my age were born well after the push to get women in the workplace. We weren’t around when girls couldn’t wear pants. We’ve mostly never been told we can’t do things because of our gender. I grew up with older brothers who never even considered letting “I’m a girl” be an excuse in any sport. My oldest brother taught me how to throw a spiral before I could even ride a bike. No one ever said I needed to choose a career that would let me take time off to care for a family.  I suppose that’s the case for a lot of women my age. What’s mind-blowing is that we’re just a generation behind the women who were told that they didn’t need to go to college. They should work at home for the good of the kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with staying home, but it’s a choice now. That is significant. Our mothers remember when it became okay to wear pants to school.

It’s been less than a hundred years since women were first allowed to vote. Let that sink in. It’s been less than a hundred years since women started voting.

So it’s hard for me to think of Women’s Equality day as a continued fight for more rights for women. We’ve come so far. We’re far enough that the we recognize misogyny as a character flaw not a legitimate way of thinking.

Women now have dozens, hundreds, thousands more opportunities than our mothers. But we’re still not free from the fear that one day somebody is going to come along and recognize the “weaker sex” in us and take advantage of it. So we keep pushing. We keep telling our daughters that it’s good to be strong and brave. We keep teaching our sons to respect and empower women. We’ve come this far in less than a hundred years, there’s no way to know how much better things can get.

On this 43rd annual Women’s Equality Day It doesn’t matter that I was the fastest girl to run the mile in third grade. It does matter that no one made the distinction.

i was 17

We weren’t at war when he enlisted. My brother was 19 and we were in the few years of peace we’ve had in my lifetime. It was March 2001 and nobody wanted him to do it, but a kid gets in his mind he wants to serve and good luck stopping him. Basic training, jump school and the 9-11 attacks later we were at war and the risk of putting his name on that paper had reached an entirely new level.

I was 13 then. As far as I understood my brother was a hero who’d left me at home with the other brother who certainly wasn’t going to help me with my jump shot.

I was 16 when he left for Iraq. Three years and a couple of history and geography classes down, I knew the risk. I knew if my brother was lucky enough to come back in one piece, he’d come back changed. I knew the lanky boy who taught me where to place my fingers on a football to get the perfect spiral would see things none of us should ever see.

He’d call when he could from a satellite phone. The conversations were always broken, but never without the reminder he’d be home in time to intimidate whatever poor soul asked me to junior prom. He always talked about coming home as though it was fact. This was a 23 year old man whose every step was a gamble. A special forces marine with his fragile life at the mercy of the placement of IEDs. He knew, on a primal level, the reality of death but his only job when he heard my voice on the other end of the line was to find a way to distract me from the horror of it all.

I was 17 when he sent his girlfriend 6 hours up a Carolina highway to take me shopping for my birthday. He’d missed my birthday before for other deployments, but this time he’d gone all in on making sure I knew he wished he could be — not just on American soil — but by my side to celebrate. The note he sent along with her was short and ended with “tell your prom date I’ll see him in April”.

I was still 17 when he returned in one piece, at least physically. I was 17 and running for student council. He was 23 and marred by destruction, death and the loss of friends who’d served by his side. He came home harder than he’d left, with a darkness that I couldn’t understand and was afraid to ask about.

I was 18 when he cut his hand during a night of drinking at a family party. I was sober, a DD, the only person willing and able to take him to a hospital. We argued for what seemed like an hour. I was angrier than I’d ever been. It was the type of fight I’d sworn to God I would never have with him again as long as he’d bring him home from Iraq alive. His hand was sliced from thumb to wrist and it needed a doctor’s attention. Somewhere between me yelling at him and trying to enlist my other brother’s help, we lost him. He disappeared only to return 20 minutes later with his hand crudely sewn up with fishing line. I was 18 when my drunk, marine corps bear-of-a-man brother sewed up his own hand “because that’s what we would’ve done over there.”

I was 24 when I finally had the courage to ask him what it was really like. Until then every story had been about children he’d met while they were restocking schools, or wild animals he’d seen during patrols. He’d told me the stories you tell kids so they don’t have to know the reality of war. I was 24 when he finally told me some, certainly not all, of what he saw and I don’t know how old I’ll be when I’m finally able to forget it.

me vs. huffington post

 Huffington Post asked for reader input on things you should never say to a tall woman. This is just the latest in a series they appear to be doing called “Things You Should Never Say To A (__insert adjective__) Woman”. I find these posts a bit lazy and very annoying. I’m 6’1” so I’m going to snarkily respond to this one. The list is below. My  comments are italicized:

 “It must be hard to find a man who’s comfortable with your height.” Oh, come on. It’s not hard to find a MAN who is comfortable with something. BOYS are uncomfortable with crazy things like that, men have real world problems to handle.

“You have long feet.” Uhhh duh. That’s so I can stand upright. 

“I wish I was as tall as you.” But you’re not and that’s cool because it’d be weird if we were all the same height.

“You must have played basketball in high school!” I get this one all the time. It never makes me mad. It’s just weird that everyone thinks he or she is the first person to say it. 

“Good luck finding a husband!” What? Nobody says that. This is insane. Who made this list?

How TALL are you?!?!” Okay, i joke a lot about this one on twitter because I often have people stop me on the street to tell me how tall I am or try to guess. It’s uncomfortable when they’re way off, but asking how tall I am is far from rude. That’s just people being curious little people. Whatever, get over it. 

“Have you always been this tallYes. I was born this way…??? Is this a real list?

“You shouldn’t wear heels.” Two things: 1) I don’t need someone to convince me I don’t have to wear heels. They’re hella uncomfortable. 2) I don’t take fashion advice from anyone… anytime. This is why sometimes I end up wearing Air Force Ones to a bachelorette weekend or Jorts out on the town, but I’m me and I’m stubborn… so save your breath.

Being petite is so much harder than being tall.” Because you can’t see over my head at concerts? I truly am sorry about that.

“Do you play volleyball?” like, ever? sure! Sometimes I even play with short people because have you seen ‘Top Gun’? Tom Cruise was pretty good at volleyball. But I never play in jeans on a beach like Tom because that is unacceptable no matter your height. 

‘You’re an Amazon.” Alright. You have me on this one. This is incredibly rude. Maybe don’t say this… ever.

“Could you grab that for me?” Sure! No problem!

You could be a model… you know, height-wise…” Only half of this is ever actually said to anyone because you’d have to be a real A-hole to add the clarification, but if someone says the whole phrase maybe just pretend you only heard the first half. Glass half-full – keep on the sunny side – etc. etc.

“You must have trouble finding nice clothes.” Everybody has trouble finding nice clothes. Have you ever been shopping with a woman? It’s an ordeal. 

“When are you going to stop growing?” About 5 years ago

“I’d date you if you were shorter.” HaHaHa this is just a negative spin on the classics “If I were taller would you date me?” and a rather inappropriate and unoriginal line involving the word “horizontal”  

 

In short (no pun intended), Huffington Post Women, these articles are weak. Please stop. These are wasting space you could devote to some piece about the latest research in gender equality or whatever other great things you do. I’m not interested in long lists of things people should not be allowed to say to me. I’d rather just laugh about the things that make me different. It’s a lot more fun.

i know other numbers

(October 2012)

I don’t own a scale. I’m not being self-righteous… truthfully It started because I realized I would rather spend $30 on more clothes than on some appliance in my bathroom. A couple of years ago I considered buying one because it seems like something adults just have, but I stopped myself because I realized how freeing it was to not constantly know exactly how much I weigh. Today I realized the true value of not owning a bathroom scale. A 13 year old I know asked me how much I weigh. She didn’t ask in a harsh way, but with a genuine curiosity only a young girl could have. She’s launched the discussion on weight and body image issues before. She’s told me she’s fatter than her friends (she’s not. She is very athletic). Today when she asked me for my number I was able to honestly say “I don’t know”. She seemed confused so I explained to her that I try not to worry about weight.

—I admit it’s easier for me than most women. I’m 6’1” and have never struggled with weighing too much — I battled the sudden growth spurt and had to make changes like switching to whole milk and eating 4,000 calories per day so I wouldn’t look like a PSA for anorexia, but that’s another issue altogether—

The power of being able to tell a 13 year old that I don’t pay attention to a number like that was awesome. I talked with her about the fact that her friends are growing at different paces. I told her about when I was 15 and I got really tall and suddenly had what I thought were womanly hips. I remember being devastated because my tiny best friend still wore size 00 and I was all the way up to 2… yes, all the way up to 2. I remember thinking it had nothing to do with my bone structure, but that I was getting fat. I was not. I was still, in fact, grossly underweight for a 6ft teenage girl. I talked with her about how girls change at different times but eventually it balances out and women realize that the size and shapes of bodies are a deeply personal thing. Not worth comparing. The number on that scale will drive you crazy. You’ll see it bounce up and down from day to day and think you need to change what you’re eating. Maybe you do need to make adjustments, but what you really need to do is what works for you.

I don’t bother knowing that number. I know other numbers. I know my cholesterol is healthy. I know what size pants and dresses I buy. I know the phone numbers of my family and closest friends. I know the number I put on my check for rent each month. I know the number of games UNC won and lost last year in basketball. I know the number that indicates my personal record in the high jump… and I’m reasonable enough to know that -one- is probably not the number of times I’ll have this conversation with this particular 13 year old. I’m sure it will come up again and for that exact reason I won’t be buying a scale anytime soon.

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