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Julia McGarry

An Ode to Body Positivity

Personally, I never really hit puberty. No, puberty tackled me as I had my back turned and left me facedown in the dirt. It took years to dust myself off. I felt fat, my curves were embarrassing, and I did my best throughout high school to conceal the awkward lump that was my body: sweatpants and oversized tee shirts were the staple of my style. Body shame was once a debilitating problem for me, so it is with extreme caution and sincerity that I am writing this article. As graduation approached and the reality of moving away to college became tangible, I realized that something had to change. My self-consciousness affected more than my wardrobe. I was noticeably uncomfortable with myself, and my self-critical nature began to affect my personal relationships. I decided to take a stand against the self-sabotage. I spent the summer before my first year of college forcing myself to wear outfits and make-up that made me feel beautiful, every single day. As difficult and frustrating as it sometimes was, it ultimately did wonders for my self-esteem. While I have learned to pride myself on traits unrelated to my appearance, that summer was an important step in the direction of self-love. However, embracing this feminine ideal had some nasty backlash. Vulgar catcalls bred a new kind of anxiety. At parties and clubs, or even just walking along the sidewalk, men would indiscreetly leer at, comment on, or even grab parts of my body. Even some of my closest male friends would accidentally make me uncomfortable with their comments. I almost never took the perceptions of men into account while choosing my clothing before, but it became apparent that if I wanted to feel safe, I would have to. Even when I did try to cover up more,… Read More

The Bad Bitch Dilemma

Recently after rapper A$AP Rocky released his single “Fuckin’ Problem,” I would notice myself whimsically singing the song’s hook. Sometimes washing the dishes alone in the kitchen, I’d zone out and find myself mindlessly whispering, “I love bad bitches. That’s my fucking problem. And yeah, I like to fuck. I got a fucking problem.” Admittedly, there’s something about bad bitch that makes the phrase undeniably entertaining, analogous to the “certain rhythmic seduction” Dr. Cornel West used to describe the word nigger. Bad bitch inherently feels like the quintessence of a sexist insult… but it is also very fun to sing. Controversial language has repeatedly been utilized by the music industry to grab audience attention and foster interest in an artist. Certain language can be vital to a song’s popularity. Consider Cee Lo Green’s instant hit and its comparatively lackluster radio-edit, “Forget You." Recently, the phrase bad bitch has become a common characterization of women in popular culture. In order to understand the potential in reclaiming the phrase, it’s useful to examine similar phenomena. Nigger, for example, is one of the most controversial and offensive words in the English language, yet its use in popular media has become iconic. Over time, this trend has removed some of the word’s oppressive power. While stigma surrounding the word has not been completely eradicated through stand-up routines and hip-hop music, nigger no longer invokes the visceral reaction it once did. Within the black community, the slur can be casual and has even been described as “a sign of highest affection” by African-American writer J. Douglas Allen-Taylor. Queer has also lost its derogatory sting. In the 1990s, the gay community actively changed the word’s meaning. It became an umbrella term to describe anyone who did not identify as 100% heterosexual and cis-gendered. The initialism of… Read More