“Yo bro”, girls poop too

Growing up, I’d always thought of pooping – yes, we’re going there today – as something shameful. Something that I had to do in secret, with no one knowing about it. For instance, I would be too embarrassed to leave the bathroom stall at school for fear that someone else who was in the facilities would judge me upon hearing the deafening “plop” sound. And yes, at the time (and sometimes even now), the “plop” certainly felt deafening to me.

I’m warning you now, turn away if the topic of poop grosses you out. And by the way, if this topic does gross you out, then we can never be friends.

Anyway, I digress. Going back to the original discussion, what made pooping especially shameful for me was the fact that I was pooping as a girl. Girls don’t poop; they shouldn’t anyway, if the portrayal of girls and women in the media and society in general is any indication. Girls are supposed to be clean, pristine, angel-like, delicate. I will take a step back here and say that this perception is also a creation put upon ourselves, by ourselves. We lead boys to believe that we don’t poop (or fart) because generally, we wanted to seem pretty, innocent, untainted. This was my experience anyway. I know it’s not the same for everyone and of course, I don’t mean to speak for the entire female population, but purely based on my anecdotal observations when thinking back to my school days, I can definitely say that this mindset existed beyond just myself.

An article from the Huffington Post starts off with the author admitting that in high school, she and her friends convinced a group of guys that girls don’t poop! I’m not making this stuff up. Ladies, we must also take responsibility! That being said, we were all young and naive; we were growing up in an environment that told us how to behave, and somehow pooping just didn’t align with the sort of behaviour that was gently but surely drilled into our young minds over many years.

I’d like to think that things have changed for the better; and to be sure, they definitely have. I’ve seen and read about vast amounts of improvement in women’s lives and I constantly remind myself to not just think about the disadvantages and obstacles that we still face, but instead to take a step back and look at the progress that has been made.

Nevertheless, I’ve come across my fair share of men (yes, men, adults!) whom apparently refuse to believe that girls poop. Let’s be real, deep down, they know that it’s a biological phenomenon that happens to everybody. But when the topic somehow arose, I was presented with squirming, discomfort, disgust, and a general sense that I was transported back to my elementary school playground where “girls had cooties”. One guy even justified his conviction by providing me with “evidence”! Because a girl he dated for two years never pooped at his house, it simply just never happened, period. Again, I’m not making this stuff up.

Guys, I know you mean well. But these beliefs have got to go. The disgust when the topic of pooping is related to the female sex has got to go. If you’re repulsed by pooping in general, then maybe we can have a separate conversation. But I’ve spoken with guys who say that with their “buddies”, pooping is a hilarious topic of discussion; however, when it came to females…well, you know how it goes.

There are even products targeted towards women to mask the odour of ~*~the droppings~*~. The hilarity of this commercial aside, I’m rather offended that this product is seemingly being advertised towards women only. The ad not-so-subtly implies that pooping, or the smell of it, can be a dire consequence, especially if you’re at work (emphasis read in a British accent, as per the commercial), or at a party, or God forbid, at your lover’s. The ad jokingly goes on to say that this product might very well save your relationship. It’s one of those things where I want to laugh, where I want to find it funny, where I don’t want to be that one person with a stick up my ass, but I can’t. This ad is regressive and it’s forsaking the respect of women for humour and profits. I absolutely believe that this ad could have been created with equal humour but none of the casual sexism. But alas, this ad was unfortunately created because its messaging actually works. It speaks to women.

According to this article in the National Post, a whopping 71% of women “go to great lengths to avoid defecating – especially in a public washroom”. Do you know how few things 71% of any population agree on? In a similar vein, 64% of readers of “Is It Normal?” voted that they don’t want their boyfriend to know that they’re pooping. I think you get the gist by now. The unrealistic expectations imposed upon young girls absolutely permeates into our behaviour in adulthood, and pooping (of all things, I know) is a classic example. Women are pure, women do not do and excrete foul things. Simple as that.

This post starts off addressing the “bro”, but I want folks who identify as female and who want to change social perceptions in general to also take responsibility into their own hands for changing the societal perception of women. This change needs to start early. It needs to begin by educating our children that girls and boys are equal in every way, and neither gender needs to act in any specific manner. Girls don’t need to be delicate and can play rough if they want to, and boys can unreservedly show emotion and cry if they so wish. While I’m very happy that I discovered feminism, which has opened my eyes to a variety of issues beyond gender alone, my hope is that the children of the future won’t have to. Rather than blindly following certain societal norms or feeling their way in the dark alleys of discovering who they are, I would want the future generation to be unconstrained by gender norms and free to act in a way that doesn’t harm others and is true to themselves.

So that’s it folks, the poop post concludes. Now excuse me as I go have a green smoothie with flax (you know what’s good).

Attempting the vegan diet

I am going to try being vegan. There, I’ve said it public; it can’t be retracted when it’s said in public!

If you know me like my parents know me (in which case, you probably don’t know me), you’ll know that I’ve been trying to cut out meat from my diet for a very long time. It started when I was in my early teens, when I knew nothing about anything and the only wish I had was to be skinny – as in, the unhealthy kind. I thought vegetarianism would be the solution for losing the extra weight that just wouldn’t leave my body no matter how much I exercised. Suffice it to say, that didn’t last. As a matter of fact, it lasted for a total of three hours; I was doing it for the wrong reasons and had very little determination for keeping it up.

Fast forward almost a decade, I’ve overcome my body image issues (mostly, anyway and am now a young adult with my own thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and convictions. It’s a fairly good time to start making some life choices and trying new things, regardless of whether those choices relate to diet, fitness, career, what have you.

I’ve also become someone who wants to be more educated and absorb as much as knowledge as possible, no matter where I am or what I am doing. As I became more selective about my media consumption to more thought-provoking pieces, I stumbled across the Leonard DiCaprio-backed COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret. Now this…this is when it started to dawn on me that my seemingly harmless dietary choices may not be so harmless after all. The environmental consequences of consuming meat, dairy, and fish were never even an afterthought for me; I simply never, ever thought about them. That is why this documentary was such an eye-opener for me; it introduced some well-hidden secrets of the animal farming industry that made me dizzy.

I won’t go into a review or synopsis of the film as that is not the purpose for this post, but as an aside, this is definitely a documentary that I would highly recommend. Not for the sake of turning people into vegans, but for the aim of simply getting the word out and providing education and insight on a very muddied territory.

Since I watched COWSPIRACY, I’ve been on and off with my meat consumption like a terribly dysfunctional relationship. While I reduced my intake, I was unable to completely cut it out given how delicious it is. Self-control is certainly something I could work on. Then, a couple of days ago, I watched the newly-released Netflix movie called Okja. While it is a fictional tale, it was very revealing in its own subtle way about the cruel treatment of animals in a majority of the meat industry. Many people have claimed to gone vegan since viewing it! Of course, I believe that most of them are unlikely to last, but it is certainly telling in how effective the movie was at conveying an important message. Again, a highly recommended movie.

Finally, I just finished watching another documentary by the same filmmakers of COWSPIRACY called What the Health. Cue the hollering from meat eaters, doctors, and probably even regular folk who couldn’t care less either way – “it’s a vegan propaganda!!!!”.

Anyhow, joking aside, I found the film’s primary purpose to be education. Educating people on the potential negative effects of meat consumption and to enlighten the public about the hidden consequences that often are not talked about. While the end of the film discussed a plant-based diet, I did not find the overall documentary to be an anti-meat propaganda campaign, as many critics have claimed. Always remember, it should be up to you to make your own choices in life; but if those choices are well-informed, well, isn’t that all the better?

To wrap up, I’m feeling quite the conviction to try a full vegan diet for at least one month and seeing how it goes. While I do not have health issues (that I know of), there is absolutely an area of improvement that I would like to see, and many people who turned vegan have indeed seen, and that is my skin. While there is no concrete proof that a vegan diet can help clear acne, this would be a greatly appreciated result. Nonetheless, the animal cruelty, environmental degradation, and potential health detriments of meat consumption is enough for me to want to maintain this habit for the long term. So, let’s see how this goes!

From the archives: a random Canadian’s random ramblings on November 9th, 2016

Where do I even begin? How do I begin? As I’m staring at the screen, I’m at a loss for words and my eyes are tearing up for the 20th time today. A part of me feels like an impostor, a poser of sorts, for feeling devastated because I’m Canadian. Why should the outcome of the US election affect me? But it does affect me, and many others around the world. We feel affected, and we feel devastated.

This isn’t just about politics, and it’s not simply isolated to the United States of America. For me at least, this is about human rights and last night, it was demonstrated loud and clear that misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and sexism are alive and well. And my fellow Canadians, don’t think for a second that our country is completely beyond this kind of rhetoric; we must stay vigilant, and we must stay strong.

I must say, I haven’t felt this devastated in a very long time, but I also haven’t felt this fired up in a very long time. I was passionate about equal rights and opportunities during university, I would argue with those who spoke about women as second-class beings and call out racism whenever I can, sometimes with those whom I call loved ones. I can’t say that I did it every time, sometimes I felt nervous and scared because the individual(s) at hand were in a more “authoritative” position or simply because I didn’t want to insult them for the sake of being polite. I apologize for this, but I tried where I could.

However, since graduating and becoming a member of the working society, I’ve become passive and distant to these issues, thinking of myself as just another cog in the corporate wheel without a voice to be heard. When I heard bigoted comments, I tuned them out. I stayed silent. I walked away because it was easier to be passive, to not try, and to not be angry. But I should’ve said something. I should’ve tried to understand where they were coming from and to also provide them with my own views and opinions, because that’s how progress is made. Progress can’t be made when there are divided views and the different parties (no pun attended) don’t even attempt to communicate and understand each other. Let’s not live in a bubble anymore, let’s acknowledge that each and every one of us have very legitimate concerns and at least try to be empathetic. And no, I don’t mean let’s yell and talk over each other while plugging our ears, let’s really reach out and try to bridge that gap; it’s a big one, but I have faith that we can do it.

As for me, I won’t be passive anymore. I feel a fire reigniting itself within me; of course, it’s unfortunate that this “restoring” of the spirit, if you will, is triggered by such a tragic event. Since it happened anyway, I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best to be more informed, to read more, to educate myself, and most importantly, to reach out and understand instead of being angry and striking against those with differing opinions.

I’ll admit, it’s really hard. Like, really hard. Even now, I find myself seething against the voters who supported a candidate that ran such a nauseating campaign, and also those who supported a third-party candidate. I find myself searching the #Florida hashtag on Twitter to find solace in others who feel they’ve been wronged and say things like “don’t ask us for help during your next hurricane”.

There are undoubtedly aspects of the campaign I will never agree with, such as the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists’ endorsements, amongst other things here, here, here, you get the point. And I’m sorry, truly sorry that there will be individuals who have to live in fear. I wish I could understand even half of what you’re feeling right now, because we could all use a little empathy in this world. But hatred is not the answer. It’s been said multiple times leading up to the election as well as today: love trumps hate. These resentful sentiments, my resentful sentiments, are not okay. I know full well that they’re not okay and I catch myself every time I feel the anger rise within me. It’ll be a process, but I’m working on it; working on being someone who’s compassionate, who fights for what she believes in instead of cowering behind a veil of anger, hatred, and disgust. History has only told us over and over again what calamitous events those three things can bring.

On November 8th, 2016, I turned 23 years old and was ready to celebrate the first female president being elected in the US. I went to bed at 1AM on November 9th with tears in my eyes, suddenly woke up at 4AM from a dream that my wishes came true, and saw that the opposite had occurred. I couldn’t breathe. I then lied back down at 6AM with tears falling down the sides of my face. The majority of November 9th was spent feeling helpless and in shock, much like many in the US and around the world. However, I’m feeling reinvigorated to do good, and I hope everyone will too. We’re stronger together.

Why on earth do people hate Sheryl Sandberg?

I read Lean In for the first time two months ago. I know, I’m late in the game; really late in the game. But hey, at least now I’m in the game, right? Now that that’s out of the way, on to more important things. Oh, and by the way, I freaking loved Lean In. I appreciated and resonated with Sheryl Sandberg’s message after watching her TED talks, and now that I’ve (finally) read the book itself, I feel a strong admiration for Sheryl Sandberg herself as well.

This leads me to the unfortunate topic that I wanted to discuss today…why the hell do so many people hate Sheryl Sandberg? Since finishing Lean In and picking up Option B, I’ve come across so many tasteless articles, discourteous posts, and straight-up rude comments when I try to look up more about each book to the point where I was fuming. Seriously, if I were a cartoon character, one would have seen steam coming out of my head; yes, I was feeling that indignant.

Then I told myself to take a deep breath and calm down. And calmed down I did. Because you know what? Those comments weren’t even directed at me! Instead, they were directed at someone else, and that someone else continues to smile, fight for what she believes in, and stay hella bomb regardless of the vicious insults thrown her way. I wanted to write this post to organize my feelings and thoughts and provide some rebuttals to a few of the “arguments” for why “Sheryl sucks”; my goodness, it pained me to write that. Be warned though, this may very well just turn into a rant. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The first point that I wanted to address is the “argument” that someone who comes from a background of privilege should not be giving advice because what she says doesn’t apply to most people. Have you even read the book? No, really, have you? Because she starts off the Introduction by prefacing that she is “acutely aware that the vast majority of women are struggling to make ends meet and take care of their families”. Followed by “parts of this book will be most relevant to women fortunate enough to have choices about how much and when and where to work”. So on and so forth. What I’m trying to say, and what I believe Sandberg is trying to say, is that Lean In does not apply to everyone. It’s not meant to apply to everyone, and it will never apply to everyone. People come from different backgrounds; just like how certain folks are born into an underprivileged situation, Sandberg was born to a privileged one. No one has a say in that; there is no submission form that we complete in our pre-life that asks us, “do you want to struggle, ball out of control, or somewhere in between? Please rank your choices from one to three!”

However, a choice that some (unfortunately, still not “all”) can make is how they want to approach their circumstances. Sure, Sandberg may have been born fairly privileged, but she took all that she was presented with and made something even better. She may be where she is today partially because of her background, but she is definitely where she is today because of her hard work. Therefore, don’t complain; there is absolutely no use in whining, complaining, or trying to knock someone else down, especially when that person is speaking to you with the best of intentions. Take what you’re given and make the best of it.

I’ve also come across individuals saying that they loved the book and had actually applied the teachings in it to their personal lives to the best of their abilities. Through this, they realized that they despised their newfound lifestyle and in turn, began to turn that resentment towards Sandberg as well. A major reason for this seems to stem from the fact that people, women mostly, became burned out by trying to “have it all”. Speaking up during meetings, earning that promotion, taking on more responsibility at work, crushing the housework, making time for kids, and the list goes on. Well, of course you’re going to be burned out! This is exactly the kind of behaviour that Lean In advised against, or at least that’s how I interpreted it. Sandberg no doubt advocated for having a good work-life balance; and I know, that phrase is so gimmicky, but it’s true. She was a supporter of leaving the office at a reasonable hour in order to spend quality time with family, and she also dedicated a whole chapter to finding a partner that will share the household responsibilities.

I understand why people may have gone in the direction of trying to up their game in every respect; after all, Lean In is a very motivating and inspirational book. When I finished reading it, I wanted to take on the world and just do more. I still do. But I’m not going to misconstrue Sandberg’s message as telling women to follow in her footsteps or to strive for growth in every single aspect of one’s life. I’m viewing Lean In as a medium of inspiration to do the things that I feel are valuable and most important to me. While work is important, learning and growing are even more significant to me than getting that next promotion. When I’m doing things that will further my knowledge and mature me as a person is when I’m most content. While networking can be pivotal, I believe that building real relationships is even more essential. When I’m spending time with my family, friends, and mentors is when I’m most happy.

In conclusion, I love Sandberg and I love her message. I especially love the fact that she’s speaking out about a very contentious yet important issue. Even more so, I love the fact that she is continuing to speak out despite the backlash she has received. Finally, I love her strength and courage, and I think she is an incredibly admirable woman. If you can’t see that, well then, that’s too bad.