Hey There, Beautiful: Thoughts On My Morning Catcallers

Yesterday morning I started off my day in the most perfect way imaginable. I woke up early before my class and got breakfast at Wayside coffee shop across the street from my dorm. Here I read my book, sipped my coffee, and inhaled a piece of overpriced avocado toast. When I finished I felt refreshed, and as I stepped outside onto the pavement I knew I was ready to take on my busy day.

While I was walking down the street to class, mentally noting everything I had to accomplish that day, a random man sitting on a stoop looked up at me and said, Hey there, beautiful. Typically when I hear such comments I muster up an angry reply. But, given the peaceful start to my morning I was trying to maintain my emotional stability. Giving any further thought to his unsolicited feedback on my appearance would have only brought me unneeded irritation. 

So I took another sip of my iced coffee and walked silently past him. Not three minutes later, I crossed paths with two different men who suspiciously parted ways so that I was walking in between them. I passed through and heard one of their voices call to me, Have a good morning, beautiful.

I wish I could tell you that getting spoken to like this is not normal for a young women living in the city. And I wish I could tell you that I have not been the recipient of words far worse than beautiful. There have been moments where I’ve feared my own safety and this fear is heightened when the sun is down. I do the best I can to defend myself, but usually when I ask men not to comment on my appearance, they proceed to tell me how I am actually ugly and a bitch.

Ultimately, what I’d like for these men to know is pretty simple: If a woman doesn’t ask you for feedback on her looks, don’t give her any. To me, it’s not a compliment, it’s an imposition and an insult. You are not my friend and you are not my family, and thus you have no right to tell me what you think of my appearance. On top of this, you’re not telling me I’m beautiful because you’re a gentleman, you’re doing it to assert your dominance over me, and to make me feel inferior. Unfortunately sir, I would never let myself believe that what you’ve said about my face has any worth in comparison to my actual accomplishments. So please, spare us all the commentary. This way when I am walking down the street on my way to class, I have the chance to tell myself how great I look. Maybe I’ll even throw in a beautiful.

If I Am Only For Myself, What Am I? On Saturday We Marched.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story needs to be told, especially if that person is a woman.”

– Lena Dunham

The election of our newest president brought me utter devastation. I stayed up all night during the evening of the final race and cried my eyes out on the streets of Manhattan as the reality of the results hit me. I was #withher, but even more importantly I was irrevocably against the rhetoric of hatred and ignorance which were deeply ingrained in his political platform. Partisanship aside, my strongest conviction is that we all have a responsibility to uphold human decency.

Among other things, this election was an insult to women across the world. Our president engaged in blatantly misogynistic dialogue both privately and publicly. The American people voted for him in spite of this, claiming that in lieu of his other positions they could forget about his disrespect for womankind. I understand this notion, and I understand that regardless of what’s said on the debate stage, people are typically going to vote for their party’s elected candidate. However, by giving him votes we validated every malicious action he ever committed, and in doing so we have taken an incredible step back in the advancement towards complete gender equality.

On Saturday, my friends and I marched. We took to the New York City streets with the belief that we deserved better. Ultimately, we weren’t marching against our president. We no longer want to give him that validation. We marched for ourselves and we marched for our futures, may they shine brighter than we could ever imagine. We refused to simply accept that this was the way things were and we decided that every single day we will dedicate ourselves to supporting female progress.

I saw men, women, and children from an array of backgrounds standing together. We all had our reasons for marching, but the common mantra was clear: Women Are Strong. I have always had a sense of being independent and driven, and I know in my heart that I am strong. Yet, being with these massive crowds, I was gifted with a vitality that I have never truly known. Togetherness. With this network of unwavering support in my corner, I have no doubt that I am and always will be unstoppable.

After marching I no longer felt the cloud of disappointment that was this election hovering over me. I felt the opposite. I felt sunshine and warm rays that signified the coming of a new day. Thousands surrounded me and I no longer felt alone. The people there lifted me up and the experience is one I will carry with me for the rest of my existence. Similar to the night of the election, I later shed some tears. However, this time they were tears of happiness, gratitude, and most importantly, love. Human decency is alive and well. #WhyIMarch

Eating Donuts With My Friends: A Deep Reflection

Once upon a rainy day in Manhattan, three of us college women sat in my dorm room. We read books and we laughed. We talked about the future and how much it scared us. We discussed relationships and all of their impossible complications. And ultimately, we decided to get donuts.

Thus we took to the wet streets or rather, an Uber, and traveled to our newly discovered New York City treasure, The Donut Pub. There we sat at the diner-style restaurant and gazed at the mass of perfect looking desserts sprawled behind the counter. Of course, in an unbearable millennial fashion, we asked the kind waitress to take an artistic photo of us at our seats. Do you love me yet? From that point we urgently stuffed our faces and slurped our coffees like it may have been our last meal on this planet.

After our gluttonous feast we determined that we could probably put even more food into our systems, so we made our way to the Latin restaurant next door. Upon sitting down the waiter told me that no, I could not drink my coffee from a different vendor in there. I played his comments off like I wasn’t slightly enraged and walked outside to sip the rest of my beverage on the street. Wow, I am such a kind and understanding soul.

We finished our second meal and made our way back to our respective rooms, this time walking in the rain. We were trying to avoid paying another Uber fare. As the drizzling came down on us I contemplated the simple concerns that inhabited my mind like, what should I eat when I get home? Will this rain damage my leather jacket? What is the true purpose of human existence and will we probably just rot in the earth after we die? As you can see I get by on my unyielding optimism.

I got home and I fell onto my bed, sliding off my shoes and promising myself that I would not go out tonight and spend more money, knowing I would anyway. I thought about my life and how grateful I am to have found friends who will sit in my room and read with me and who will go on random trips to eat food that we don’t need. I thought about how despite everything going on in the world, I love my life right now and the people that are in it. I thought about how tired I was, so I fell asleep.