Allison Coyle

The well established conformists path is the easy one, it has been traveled many times and its rewards are mediocre at best.

Tag: confidence

Pageantry of Vanity

If you haven’t yet seen this video, I implore you to do so before you read any further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

Most, if not all, of us go through phases in which we rid ourselves of social media. For some, it’s not simply a phase but a conscious, permanent decision to change the way we interact with others.

I deleted my Facebook account last June after my heart was broken by a guy I was convinced I was destined to marry. I have over 500 “friends” on Facebook, yet I felt completely alone. In my sorry state, I wrote several notes about my situation, hoping to receive feedback from others who could relate. Yet I received none. Thankfully, I was interning with a great group of people at the time who pulled me out of my funk and brought color back to my life. This incident caused me to reevaluate the true purpose and necessity of social media in my own life. I was no longer “networking” or “keeping up” with old friends and acquaintances. I was airing my dirty laundry for virtual strangers to read. And I wasn’t alone in doing so.

Have you ever stopped and really taken note of how people utilize their social media pages? Some people genuinely do keep up with friends and share interesting articles and videos with said friends. My grandma is a great example of that, as is my friend Tiffany, who uses Facebook to create event invites and share info with her friends studying midwifery. I am not a great example of this, unfortunately. While I love discussing politics, music, and movies, I realized not too long after I created a Facebook page that social media is not the best medium for doing so. It’s much easier to debate and argue with others when you’re not forced to speak with them face to face. This has created unnecessary rifts in a few friendships, none of which, thankfully, have been permanent. So while I think discussing politics is a good and healthy practice, I now recognize that Facebook is a terrible venue for doing so.

I’m sure most people have examples of discussions gone awry due to miscommunication over social media. I can’t count the number of couples I’ve seen fight over one of them clicking “like” on someone else’s selfie or getting caught posting pictures of themselves with someone other than their significant other. It’s ridiculously juvenile, and this kind of behavior has permeated our culture just within the last decade. When was the last time you hung out with a friend without them taking a picture of their food or updating their status in the midst of a discussion? I got into an argument a few years ago with a friend who refused to put his phone away during dinner because he wanted to be in constant contact with his boyfriend.

Aside from the bad manners technology has wrought, there is a greater underlying problem in our culture. How often do you compare yourself to your friends on Facebook or Twitter? Their lives seem more exciting, right? They’re at a bonfire or at a party with loads of people on a Friday night, and you’re sitting at home, Netflix binging with pizza. They post pictures of their escapades with their new friends, and you feel guilty for only having three close friends. So, the next time you go out, you make sure to post a status or maybe even a picture of how much “fun” you’re having, because that’s what you do, right? You’re supposed to document everything you do on social media, right? I mean, doesn’t everybody? This creates a toxic cycle in which everyone feels the need to outdo one another in a false reality. We live our lives incorrectly assuming that those around us are happier, prettier, and more successful than us, based on pictures and statuses that they put up. Of course, we don’t know what their lives are really like outside of this social media bubble. We don’t know what they look like when they wake up, whether or not they feel self-conscious when they look in the mirror, how many close, reliable friends they have, or even how happy they are. The same people you envy may very well envy you.

I ended up reactivating my Facebook page last September, 3 ½ months after I had deleted it, for what reason, I can’t remember. I do remember reactivating it with the intent of doing so temporarily. I will be deleting my Facebook page at midnight tonight, with the intent of doing so permanently. I feel like a hypocrite for engaging in behavior that I condemn, and now feels like the right time to bow out.

I hope that you will weigh the pros and cons of social media in your own life and decide whether or not you’re using it as a means of communication or as a tool for narcissism.

The Overkill of Modesty

Sad

As a former Christian school kid, I’d like to discuss modesty (or the overkill of modesty) from the vantage point of someone with a large chest.

From the ages of 3-13, I attended a small Christian school where I was instructed on the many do’s and don’ts of Christianity. Though I thought I disliked my school at the time, I had no idea what was in store for me when I transferred to another school in ninth grade.

I developed quite early on in life, much earlier than my peers, much to my confusion and embarrassment. My first bra was a 36B in 5th grade. By the time I entered ninth grade, I was a size 12, 36DD (which was thankfully where my body decided to stop, haha). Though we wore uniforms in our high school, there was a noticeable difference in how the girls’ blouses fit, dependent on how endowed any given girl was. In this case, the girls with smaller chests were much more fortunate, as their slim frames fit nicely and “appropriately” into the button-down shirts and plaid skirts. Perhaps I wouldn’t have felt like such a pariah had there been more girls dealing with the same “struggle.” Before I continue, let me say that as a 21 year-old, I do not wish to complain about my body, as I love my shape and how my body was designed. However, as a developing, awkward teenager, it was a nightmare. You see, it’s not “appropriate” to have boobs larger than a B or maybe a C cup in Christian school. It doesn’t matter if your body is working its own magic…you’re somehow expected to be in control of what your body is doing, because big boobs are a distraction and may tempt men. And therein lies the crux of the “modesty” movement. Women are inexplicably held responsible for the thoughts men have. According to my teachers, it was MY fault when boys tried to peer down my shirt. They wouldn’t be tempted if I would just cover up more.

On dress down days, which was when my struggle was at an all-time high, I would typically wear Spanx (to hold my boobs in even more), jeans, a white tank top, a black tank top over that, a pretty “outer layer” tank top with a slightly loose fit, so as not to draw attention to my figure, and a zipped down hoodie to finish the look. And, like clockwork, I was told every dress down day that I was dressed inappropriately and that I needed to change back to my uniform, which I always refused to do before threatening to call my parents and tell them how I was being unfairly targeted. They generally backed off once they realized parental involvement would likely not bode well for them. While I did tell my mom all of what was going on, she brushed it off as a general nuisance that goes along with attending an overreaching private school, but she did nothing to address the issue, much to my frustration. On one occasion, my female principal pulled me aside and accused me of sleeping with my best friend (who happened to be gay). Guess what? I was a virgin throughout high school and still am, happily, at the age of 21. Meanwhile, girls who were presumed to be the sweet and innocent ones were sleeping around, not that it was any business of the administrators.

It was a witch hunt, and they were out for blood. It wasn’t enough that they were monitoring our facebook, twitter, and myspace accounts. No, they had to infiltrate every part of our lives. And monitoring our wardrobe was just another form of control.

As I said before, at the age of 21, I’m now happy with my figure, and it deeply saddens me that I (along with many other girls) was ever made to feel guilty about having a voluptuous, feminine body. God has a specific purpose in mind for each one of us, and our bodies are specifically designed to fulfill that purpose. I’m personally over the moon just thinking about one day becoming a mother, and I know that my large hips will greatly aid in the delivery. Haha. We all have unique jobs and specific reasons for being alive, and, frankly, it’s shameful that elderly (supposed) followers of Christ would ever look down upon the very children and teens they’re claiming to “guide.” Not once during my four years at that hell hole was I ever given guidance or understanding. I was shamed and treated like a common prostitute, simply because I had a different body than many of the other girls.

I hope that I have daughters one day so I can encourage them to feel proud of their bodies. Christina Hendricks, Kat Dennings, and Nigella Lawson have helped me immensely in my journey of body-acceptance.

Sadly, there will always be that one voice in the back of my mind that questions whether or not what I’m wearing is “decent” or “acceptable.” While you eventually leave school and become an autonomous member of society, some part of you will always be governed, whether you realize it or not, by your past.

“The Christian rhetoric of modesty, rather than offering believers an alternative to the sexual objectification of women, often continues the objectification, just in a different form. It treats women’s bodies not as glorious reflections of the image of God, but as sources of temptation that must be hidden.” – Sharon Hodde Miller