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