I’m Cath, a new blogger to Paradigm Shift and a feminist about to graduate her hipster college! My main interests that I will write about include theater, pop culture, beauty standards/ being body positive as well as personal essays.
I notice that a lot of the other cool bloggers have talked about their feminist “click” moments, so I would like to dive into that as well.
I had many “fake out” clique moments like when I got confused why all of my high school literature essays where about the female perspective or when I went through a phase where I only wanted to read plays by women. But those were only little bumps long the feminist road, I had yet to encounter the humongo life altering road bump that would change my perspective utterly.
At my college we have something called a “Field Work Term.” It is an annual event when we get 7 weeks to explore the world and do things that are supposed to complement our studies. Most Bennington students do odd hipster things like working at an Asian circus, woofing(living on someone’s farm in exchange for work) or being a manager for a local cult(you can’t make this stuff up!). My usual FWT’s have included typical cliché theater student things like working at a theater, stage managing at a theater, looking at a theater etc. But for some reason, my junior year, I ended up going on a different path.
I found “The National Eating Disorder Association” through some feminist browsing. I did not really know what an eating disorder was, unless you count sketchy inaccurate gossip from high school about why some girl looked so skinny. So I was sort of confused what I was applying for and therefore NEDA was not even on the top of my list for that FWT, but they seemed so nice and emailed me back super fast! I like when people do that!
So for 7 weeks I worked at NEDA and got my mind blown slowly. I remember when I first started training and overheard someone on the phone saying, “There’s more to life than your looks, you can free yourself from that harmful thinking.” I was like, “What!?!?!” I had never heard anyone talk about physical appearance in that way. I grew up knowing I was chubby and up to that point one of my major life goals was to not be that. I had played with numerous sketchy diets and “Lifestyle” eating plans but most of them got me back where I started. I had never heard anyone give permission for someone to not focus on their looks and to accept them self as they are now.
As I learned more and more about eating disorders and beauty standards, I felt more and more empowered. I could hope for more things in my life than just being thinner! Now I know that could sound shallow, but lot of people, especially girls, are raised to focus on enhancing their body through dieting etc. That was all I knew and I didn’t think there was a way out.
For the first time I learned that I could love my body as it was! I could love that I had curves and I wasn’t flat chested and that I didn’t look like anyone else! For the first time I stopped noticing other people’s bodies and whether they were socially acceptable. I sifted through NEDA’s amazing library of books and read tons of feminist theory, books about eating disorder prevention and being body positive. I was so excited I literally wanted to eat all of these books with glee!
For the first time in my life I was free. And when I talked to other people on the phone, I was helping to free them. I helped people to see there was another perspective. I helped people to learn that they are beautiful, no matter what their friend or boyfriend says. I would talk to people as young as 12, who had been dieting all day and wanted to call to see what an eating disorder was. I felt so good knowing that I could empower others to be themselves.
For me being a feminist means confidence no matter what social rules tell you to believe or think about yourself. Feminism for me felt like this super hero cape that I didn’t know I had. I am so excited to write for Paradigm Shift!! Woot!