the bitch diaries: to my teenage self 

You were born whole and beautiful. 
As you grow, the people around you have told you to shave off pieces of who you are to make yourself easier to handle. Stray body hairs, weight they deemed extra, opinions that were too vocal, all the things they said made you unlovable were suddenly the enemy in a war you never enlisted in. 
At first you will not believe them. You will stay loud. You will continue to take up space. You will find comfort in all the things they do not want you to be. You will thrive. 
But as the voices that doubt you multiply, you will feel your fire slowly die. You will thread your eyebrows and cross your legs. You will stop nourishing the body that works so hard to keep you alive to look emaciated for other people’s consumption. You will smile when you do not want to. When a man rams his shoulder into you as you walk, you will whisper “I’m sorry” as if they are the only words you know how to speak. 
You will no longer love yourself, but begin to base your worth on how many others claim to love you. 
If I could tell you one thing, it would be to fan that fire as soon as you feel it start to die. Let yourself have bags under your eyes while you’re wearing last night’s makeup. Sit comfortably when you’re on the metro and take up two seats when there’s room. Stop saying “I’m sorry,” especially before you ask a question in class. Especially when what you feel is too strong for the people around you. Especially when you are angry. 
Learn to say “no” without further explanation and “I was in the middle of my sentence.” Learn to say “you hurt me and that is your fault, not mine.” Learn to stop apologizing when someone else has taken advantage of you. Learn to take pride in who you are and what you have achieved. Learn that you are entitled to space in this world. You do not have to make yourself small. You do not have to be quiet. You do not have to cut off pieces of yourself to fit the image of what someone else wants you to be. 
You do not need to be loved. 
Most of all, learn that you can choose yourself, and that you should. You’re all you’ve got, kid. Make sure to treat yourself better. 


the bitch diaries: “but liberals are mean too!” and the false equivalence of reverse discrimination

Yesterday morning I woke up, 5:45 AM, groggy and almost instantly hopeless, to news that would horrify any queer, Moroccan Jewish girl: Donald Trump, a man whose running mate believes that homosexuality can be electrocuted out of youth, who hints at antisemitic conspiracy theories to pander to neo-nazi supporters, who hates immigrants despite being married to one, had won the American presidency. In the eyes of my American peers I can, as a Canadian, sleep tight tonight knowing that few Trump policies will affect me directly. It has, however, opened up a whole new internet for people who hate me and mine, and every thing that makes up my identity.

In this age of social media, I of course woke to a Facebook newsfeed full of fear; people sharing LGBT and suicide hotline phone numbers, tweets from hijabi Muslim girls and women who were terrified of leaving their houses, black women told to sit at the back of the bus while having slurs thrown at them, swastikas plastered on buildings with the words “Seig Heil Trump!” next to them. I can say in complete confidence that I had never felt more scared for the safety of people near and dear to me on this side of the world.

I also woke up to a new attitude from the political right, conservatives known for throwing terms like “triggered” and “libtard” at people who speak out against the injustice they’ve experienced. In reaction to little girls waking up afraid of being visibly muslim, one woman commented “What was it like to wake up as a baker, a photographer or anyone else who was forced to create something she didn’t want to under Obama?,” as if hate crimes against a visible minority are comparable to an inability to discriminate based on one’s sexuality. In reaction to a child of immigrants calling Trump’s immigration policies racist, I found a sea of “But liberals have been mean too! They called me racist/sexist/a bigot!”

Let me be very clear: calling someone a racist isn’t “mean.” There is no “mean” intent behind a scared member of a minority fighting for their basic human rights. There is no “nice” way to fight 50% of the voting population of the country in which you live who do not believe that you and your community deserve to live in safety. Being “mean” to white conservatives when they call Muslims terrorists, or Latino people illegal may sting them, but it is nothing in comparison to being threatened with deportation and murder, which is the reality these minorities live with every day. What is especially ironic is that the same people who claim that liberals are being “mean” to those who wrong them are entirely fine with the racism, misogyny and general bigotry that spawned criticism in the first place. This sends a very clear message: I don’t care about your safety. I don’t care about your pain. I do not care about you. I care about the status quo.

In this time of divisiveness and fear, listen to the voices of the communities who awoke yesterday in fear. Put away your hurt feelings, and prioritize their fight for basic human rights. Fight along with these people, and uplift them. The future of their communities very well may depend on it.

the bitch diaries: on mental health and progress

I used to believe that progress was a destination. Take this medication, and you won’t be depressed anymore. Prepare your meals in advance, and you won’t be tempted to skip them. If you’re really dedicated (which you have to be if you really do want to get better. That’s what you want, isn’t it?), you could even plan your meals weeks in advance. The narrative we’re fed, as the recovering mentally ill, is that if you really want to get better, there’s a list of steps you must follow exactly, and if you don’t seem to get better, it has got to be your fault. You, as a person with a mental illness, must not act like you have a mental illness, so as to not alarm those around you. The perceived end goal is not, in the treatment of mental illness, to find comfort and love for yourself while coping with the ups and downs of an augmented emotional state, but to appease those around you who’ve been left feeling wary around you and your acceptance of your reality.

At the age of 18, when I reached my peak of instability, I placed my trust in those around me who assured me they knew what was best for me, and followed their advice, with the only end goal to be “normal,” both psychologically and physically following my 25-pound weight gain. I payed close attention to their reactions to my actions and rewarded and/or punished myself based on what I observed. When I dropped 30 pounds in four months, I saw the family I trusted and the friends I loved congratulate me on what they thought was new-found health, and rewarded myself with another skipped meal and a thinner pair of jeans. When those around me remarked that I hadn’t seemed sad in a long time and that it made me so much easier to be around, I learned to hold my tongue when I did feel sad or scared, because I couldn’t bear the thought of being the disappointment and drag I thought I used to be. I learned to shave away my physical presence in the space I once occupied, and also that my vocal presence was unnecessary, too. I thought that I was helping myself by making myself easier to swallow, smaller and dumber and nice. I thought that my place in the world was that of a barbie doll who speaks only when her string is pulled. These are the lessons I learned while trying to seem neurotypical for the comfort of those around me.

This fall will mark three years of struggle with my weight and my brain. I’ve planned the meals and I’ve taken the pills. I’ve learned to cope with who I am, and maybe even love myself for it and see silver linings in my heightened ability to empathize with others and connect to the raw emotions of children. Despite all of this, I’m still just as mentally ill. Some days I don’t allow myself to eat, and some days I’m too sad to even get out of bed. Some days I feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m still the same girl, I just love myself infinitely more, and that didn’t come from a doctor or a gym. Progress has not meant being a perfect young adult, but being flawed as I am while trying my hardest.

Mental illness is not comfortable; it isn’t a paper cut that heals, or a curling iron burn that leaves a barely-there scar. Mental illness isn’t a virus cured in a twelve-day process with little white pills. I am not ashamed of who I am and what I go through every day, and “normal” isn’t something I feel pressured into wanting anymore. I have fought to be here today, and I won’t shut my mouth to appease you.

the bitch diaries: i don’t like what feminism has become, you know?

“I love feminists…not.”

She tips her head back as she runs her perfectly manicured fingers through her shoulder-length blonde hair, laughing as if her boyfriend’s words were novel and hilarious instead of status quo.

“I don’t hate feminists,” she adds, eyes sparkling in the Cuban moonlight. “I hate what feminism has become, you know?”

“Yes!” I want to scream. I want to know her least favorite part of the movement and how we can get better. Is it how we tend to ignore issues that don’t matter to upper-class white women? Is it how we don’t believe male victims of rape? Is it how we infantilize sex workers? Is it the “womyn-born-womyn” position of radical feminism that is so dangerous to our trans sisters, especially black trans women?

“It’s just like, not equality anymore. Like why should you get payed more than a man?”

I sigh. Why do I ever open my mouth?

Feminism framed as men’s oppression isn’t the newest, or most efficient, silencing tactic I’ve faced, but it’s definitely my least favorite. Maybe it’s the holier-than-thou assurance that other people understand a movement I’ve passionately thrown myself into since, well, the day I was born better than I do. Maybe it’s the “well that’s my opinion!” accusation of censorship I get when I attempt to explain that they, in fact, have no idea what they’re talking about. After all, freedom of speech protects us from getting thrown into jail for our opinions, not from being told that what we think is absurd.

Mostly, I think, I’m sick of how the excuse to be unsupportive of marginalized people around the world and a movement that has historically fought for their rights keeps mutating instead of dying out. In the age of the Internet, accusations of bra-burning (a historically inaccurate phenomenon) and emasculation of men into submissive and inferior roles are, to be perfectly honest, absolute bullshit.

Average days in this girl's house, obviously.

Average days in this girl’s house, obviously.

numba 2

My favorite activity.

From political cartoons depicting suffragettes as evil overlords who force their husbands into servility by asking to be part of the democratic process to the modern-day “but aren’t you going too far?,” this favorite tired excuse does literally nothing to further any cause except for shutting women up. It doesn’t help men escape harmful gender roles, make the streets safer for women at night, and it sure as hell doesn’t work for creating an environment in which actual criticisms of the feminist movement can be improved on. It has one real meaning: shut up. We don’t want to hear what you have to say.

I’m ashamed to say in this situation, and in many others, I did give in and I did shut up. I don’t know if there will ever be a day where I’ll be comfortable enough with myself and my opinions to look someone trying to silence me straight in the face and tell them to shut up themselves, but I do know this: I will never stop fighting for the women who fought for me. I will never stop fighting for a better tomorrow. Most importantly, I’ll never stop fighting for a better feminism.

dear meghan trainor, let’s talk about unfair ideals of masculinity and relationships

Okay, I’ll admit that I didn’t start watching Meghan Trainor’s new music video with much optimism. I have never, even for a minute, called myself a Meghan Trainor fan. Ever since All About That Bass started making a splash, I’ve been pretty vocal about my disgust for her double standards and fake feminism, but her newest video and single, “Dear Future Husband,” has got to take the cake.

The song is catchy enough, hiding behind a wonderful beat and perfect pop vocals, but the lyrics automatically set me off.

Beyond “if you’ll treat me right/I’ll be the perfect wife/Buying groceries,” a set of lyrics gross enough in itself, I found the song framed men as inherently hypersexual, incompetent partners, who owe their women shiny things in exchange for sexual favors.

Uhm, excuse me?

First off, the song completely frames human sexuality in a male context, as if women should never (gasp!) be sexual beings. “Dear future husband,” she sings, “If you wanna get that special loving/Tell me I’m beautiful each and every night.” “After every fight/Just apologize/And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right.” Oh, don’t listen to what I have to say, future husband! Don’t even listen to yourself if you think I’m wrong and you’re hurt. All you care about is sex, right? Men don’t have feelings!

The song also tips into borderline-abusive relationship zone, as Trainor insists that he should “know we’ll never see your family more than mine.” After all, “why disagree” when she’s clearly right in every fight? If she knows better, he should just let her do what she wants, because that’s how you treat your wife right.

Ideals of manhood, masculinity and chivalry, and how they affect men and relationships is really rarely discussed. Hypersexualization hurts all men, but especially asexual men and men who have been victims of child abuse and rape. It hurts teenage boys who think they have to have wildly high sex drives, and learn that sex is some sort of heteronormative currency that you win by giving a woman what she wants. It teaches men that sex is a necessity, and a prize to be won and showed off. That, in itself, is dangerous.

The relationship that Trainor discusses in this song does not value openness or healthy sexuality. It is a system of bartering to get what one is supposed to want. This isn’t the type of relationship I could ever survive.

Dear future husband, can’t we just treat each other like real people?

If you’d like to watch the music video yourself, you can find it at

the bitch diaries: nobody will ever love you

I’ve always been terribly outspoken. When you’re a smaller-than-average child with the voice of a cartoon character, people tend to applaud your opinions just to hear you speak more, as if they’ve watching a cute little circus act. Growing up, out of my voice and into a body that fit the anger I found leaking from my every pore, I found that people became less accepting of my ideas, expecting me to talk less than I had before, accepting me only in a smiling, vapid state.

I became terribly obsessed with changing myself into a version that everyone not only could love, but would be absolutely enamored with. As my friends often reminded me, nobody could ever love me as I was. I felt helpless, trying to be smart as my family expected, as cute as I had been in the past, and as cool as I craved all at the same time. I struggled with finding an identity that honored who I was, what I believed in, and still let me fit in.

I felt myself start to drown in self-criticism, convincing myself every day that what they told me was true; if I could not love myself how could anyone else? If everyone hates me how could I ever be good enough to love?

I found myself in a cycle of self-hate and self-pity, crying myself to sleep over people whose importance was completely made up in my mind. I would still fake confidence in my walk and the way that I’d speak in class and to my peers, but I found my belief in myself and my values dwindling, questioning every word I said and every move I made. Life became a struggle to just survive.

The past two and a half years since I’ve graduated high school, what I then considered my own personal hell, have been years of self-discovery, pain, and recovery. They have been hard, but eye-opening. Maybe it’s true that no one else could ever truly love me, but I’ve discovered that no matter what I’ve been told, in the end I love myself. I think there are tons of reasons why I deserve to love myself. In the end, nobody else but me matters.

the bitch diaries: what about age differences?

I try my best to stay away from celebrity culture. It’s often vapid, fabricated, and, to be perfectly honest, bad for my brain cell count. Despite my best efforts, I stumbled upon the recent feud between Amber Rose, and what seems to be the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan, including of course Rose’s ex, the always classy Kanye West, over the youngest Jenner, 17-year-old Kylie, and her relationship with Tyga, a man who is seven years older than her at the age of 25.

I try to stay away from celebrity culture, but this isn’t a celebrity issue for me. Age differences are a feminist issue- one especially personal to me.

I am nineteen years old, only two years older than Kylie. I’ve had my fair share of older guys pop into my life, men who had much more life experience than me, and the sentence “You’re 18, right?” (as if the only thing in the way of them and a minor was a pesky law, not being in totally different developmental stages) is so familiar, it makes me want to hurl.

See, at 17, I didn’t know how to say no to a man 6 years my senior asking me when I was going to be legal, so I kissed my friend to make him leave me alone.

At 18, I didn’t know how to tell a man 9 years my senior that his sexual messages and attention made me uncomfortable. I didn’t know why him telling me how young and foolish I was made me feel like I owed him something. I was legal, right?

Laws aside, girls don’t stop being teenage girls by reaching a milestone in the number of years they’ve been alive. Minors and barely-legal girls are often hypersexualized and viewed as fresh meat- even Kanye, who should be protecting his sister-in-law, applauded Tyga for being smart, and “going in early,” as if Kylie would be useless once another man has been done with her.

Rose, commenting that Tyga should be “ashamed of himself” for dating a 17-year-old, has been attacked the past few days for noting what is right: no 25-year-old man should be dating a high schooler. Her past, from working at a strip club at the age of 15 to feed her family, to West feeling as though he had to take “30 showers” to cleanse himself from Rose to be clean enough for Kim, has been brought up as ways to humiliate her. The entire clan and its fans have turned to criticize Rose and her reaction to the alleged relationship, while praising the relationship as the perfect example of a love story. Rose not once blamed Jenner for her participation in the clearly unhealthy relationship, placing the blame completely on Tyga for going after a child, and on Jenner’s family for not protecting her.

Fuck anything that has to do with the law. Jenner is a child, and a relationship with a child has more than just legal repercussions. It is a relationship with an innate power imbalance, in which any sexual act isn’t just questionable, but is immoral. How much control over her body does she really have with someone who is seven years older than her? How little pressure do we expect to be placed on a child in the public eye? How can we allow the teenage girls who are viewing this conflict learn to think of themselves as fresh meat for men’s consumption?

Age differences aren’t innocent. Can two people with a large age difference fall in love? I’m sure it’s possible, but it is irresponsible to refuse to acknowledge that relationships in which there are big age differences have a higher chance of power imbalances, abuse, and psychological damage, beyond the objectification and hypersexualization of teenage girls as fresh meat for men to use.