On Body Image Issues

After comedian Bill Maher made a call to bring back “fat-shaming”, or humiliating someone judged for being fat, I wanted to re-publish this post.

Anyone who looks at me for the first time will notice that my stomach…well…sticks out. I am overweight, and there is no doubt about that fact.

I will even admit that I’ve had my insecurities, at times, about the fact that I am overweight. Part of it is because of how I look, because honestly I often haven’t liked the look of my stomach sticking out. Part of it is the very legitimate concern that, because I’m overweight, I am at an increased risk for just about every health problem ranging from heart attacks to arthritis at an earlier age. And then part of it is that I feel like I’d be perceived of poorly because I look a little fat.

I think that these insecurities—insecurities which seem to be shared by many other people who’ve struggled with body image issues—need to be broken down for everyone’s sake:

The Idea that a Stomach Sticking Out (or Jiggly Arms or a Fat Neck) Looks Ugly

I could be wrong, but I think this message has been sent because the idealized bodies in our society are viewed as athletic men with six-pack bodies and women in fashion who wear size 0 clothing.  As such, many of us strive for that size 0 or that six-pack body. And I can’t lie—at times before, I have been envious of guys with six-back bodies from a looks standpoint.

For people who feel this pressure, you ARE beautiful. And I mean that. Just by virtue of the ways you can help people by using the body you have, you are beautiful. Whether you are of a healthy weight, overweight, or underweight, you are beautiful because you have a body that you can use to give smiles, help others in various ways, and make the world a better place.

Concerns about Being Overweight and Having Health Problems

We hear all the time about how overweight people are at risk for everything from arthritis to heart disease.  People of a healthy weight don’t need to tell those of us who aren’t about all of the potential health problems as if we’re ignorant; I, and many other overweight people, know and are aware of these issues.

At the same time, it’s also not healthy to be underweight. Being too underweight comes with health problems as well. Furthermore, taking measures too drastic to lose weight could result in anything from eating disorders to exercise addictions, which also are not healthy.

The bottom line is that, while it’s ideal for people like me to lose some weight, none of us should go to the other extreme and try so hard to lose weight that we create a new set of health issues.

Worries about Being Perceived of Poorly Because of Looking Overweight

Many of us, myself included, worry that, because we’re viewed as fat, we’ll be viewed as: a) lazy, b) not conscious of our health, c) couch potatoes, d) sloppy, e) not having the “right” kind of body to attract a significant other, or f) some or all of the above.

I do not belittle any of these insecurities because, quite frankly, I’ve experienced all of them! People who have no idea how many miles I like to walk when I relax in my free time have told me to “go to the gym,” and people who don’t know how hard I’ve worked to tweak my diet have questioned whether I care about my health, for example. And, as silly as this sounds, parts of me wondered at times in the past if my not having a girlfriend had to do with my not having the right physique.

If you experience any or all of these insecurities, too, my big encouragement is that we should not let ourselves be defined by how others view us, or how we think others view us. We should define ourselves in other ways, and hopefully ways that give us more fulfillment and happiness than stress and dismay.


While the individual insecurities are different, there’s one central theme with each insecurity. Namely, they all revolve around concerns that our bodies are not sufficient, that they are not “enough.” And that is a lie. Our bodies are enough. Believing anything short of that would be unjust to ourselves.

Picture of me
This was me at the International Young Leaders Assembly at the United Nations in Summer 2016. The body in the picture is capable of doing great things, and so are others’ bodies.

Queer Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being queer. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be queer and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are queer.

Let me start by saying that the definition of “queer” is not one that everyone uses in the same way. The term queer has a history of being used in a derogatory way, and depending on the generation you come from, you may still view queer as a derogatory term.[1] However, more recently, queer has turned into a term that is often used to either: a) describe all people who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender[2] or b) describe non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender people who feel that other LGBTQ+ terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. don’t accurately describe who they are.

Given the multitude of definitions of what it means to be queer, there are many stereotypes associated with being queer. Here are a few such stereotypes:

  1. If you are queer, you must be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or some other identity. Not so. As I said in my previous paragraph, one major reason that some people describe themselves as queer is that terms such as lesbian or transgender may be too limiting to describe themselves and their experiences.
  2. All queer people face the same struggles. Once again, not so. It seems like the people who oftentimes battle the most for inclusion, even within the LGBTQ+ community, are queer people of color and queer people with disabilities. This is truly a case where it is important to understand the concept of intersectionality, where different forms of discrimination overlap, combine, and even intersect, with each other. In the case of queer people of color or queer people with disabilities, for example, it is important to understand how being queer and being disabled can overlap and intersect with each other to result in exclusion among other queer people (for being disabled) or other disabled people (for being queer).
  3. Queer people are confused about their identity. This stereotype comes from the fact that many queer people don’t view themselves as specifically any other identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc.). Queer does not equal confused. However, people who are uncertain about their gender or sexual identity fit under a different “q” term that is sometimes used in the LGBTQ acronym instead of “queer”: that term is “questioning.”
  4. “But you don’t look queer…” Even though certain “looks” are still associated with being queer, the reality is that there is no single way that someone could possibly “look” queer. Being queer has nothing to do with how one looks.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being queer. If there are other stereotypes about queer people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the queer stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] https://abcnews.go.com/Health/gay-man-millennial-term-queer-word/story?id=20855582

[2] Cisgender people are people whose gender corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.

The LGBTQ Pride Flag. Ludovic Bertron from New York City, Usa [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5DThe LGBTQ Pride Flag.

September 2019 Blog News

Before going into this “blog news” post, let me say that I am thankful for all of my readers, both new ones and ones who have been around awhile. It is truly amazing to see how much my readership has grown, as well as how much engagement on my posts among my readers has grown, so I thank all who visit my blog.

That being said, there are some things that I notice with my readership patterns, and those things I’ve noticed are the basis of my two pieces of blog news today.

One thing I’ve noticed is that an overwhelming majority of my readers are from the United States. Now, that’s not a surprise, as many of the issues I focus on are specific to the States. That being said, since most of my readers are in the United States, I’m thinking that noon on Tuesdays (for my regular content) and noon on Fridays (when I do things like blog news, re-publishing old blog posts, etc.) might not be the best time for readers. After all, 12 PM East Coast time is 10 AM in the Mountain States and 9 AM on the West Coast—hardly ideal times for people in that part of the country who have regular work schedules and want to read my blog. Additionally, 12 PM on Tuesdays and Fridays are in the middle of workdays for me—something that was not the case in the past because I was a part-time intern when I started my blog. Therefore, I will publish my new posts at 6 PM on Mondays (except holiday weeks) and save things like blog news and re-published old posts for 6 PM on Thursdays (but not every Thursday, just as I don’t publish those things every Friday at the moment). This way, my posts publish right after work for many in the Eastern and Central U.S., and publish near the end of the workday for everyone else in the Lower 48 States.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that my readers seem to prefer my original content over posts I share from other bloggers. My interim solution has therefore been to not share as much content from other bloggers as I have in the past, but that’s not a good long-term solution, as I would still like to share posts from other bloggers. Therefore, I will not publish shared posts on Monday/Tuesday as I have in the past (so that I can stick to original content in my Monday/Tuesday posts), but instead on Thursdays at 6 PM, when I feel there’s share-worthy content. Note that the content I’ll share will stick with the theme of my blog, which focuses on exposing injustices that we may be blind to and/or blindly commit.

In summary, this is my new blog post schedule:

  • On Mondays at 6 PM (except for holiday weeks), I will publish new blog posts.
  • On select Thursdays at 6 PM, I will publish blog news, re-publish old blog posts, and share interesting posts I’ve seen from other bloggers. Note that I will not publish every Thursday evening, because there are some Thursdays when I will not have blog news, old blog posts to re-publish, or posts to share.

Happy reading!

Indigenous Rights and the Amazon Rainforest Fire

A few weeks ago, the fires in the Amazon rainforest were getting international attention for the environmental damage caused. And honestly, it was important that these fires got the attention they did.

But a seldom-reported aspect of this crisis is the damage that it is doing to indigenous lands.

In terms of indigenous rights in Brazil, the situation is already bad enough under their president, Jair Bolsonaro. Here’s a sampling of what Bolsonaro and his allies have already done, in his short time (a few months) in office, even before the Amazon fires:

  • There used to be offices in the Brazilian government looking after the health and education of indigenous people. Those offices were removed under Bolsonaro.
  • Bolsonaro has defended mineral exploitation on indigenous lands.
  • An indigenous tribe has received seemingly no help after their water source was destroyed earlier this year by a dam burst.[1]

Based on all these actions, and more, from the Bolsonaro government, I can see why many indigenous in Brazil and elsewhere fear that there is a genocide of indigenous people happening there. But with the fires, the situation has gotten worse. These fires, which seem to exist for the very purpose of clearing more land for industrialism, is literally invading and destroying many indigenous lands. Given the multitude of indigenous groups in the rainforest, the destruction of forests there may very well end up being the destruction of many indigenous groups as well. This fact, combined with the fact that recently, “a Brazilian congressional committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow commercial agriculture on indigenous reserves,”[2] indigenous communities are literally being pillaged and will have no recourse for being pillaged.[3]

And this is not getting talked about enough. Goodness, I’m not sure if I have heard any American television media mention how the fires impact indigenous people in Brazil. That’s a real shame, because given all the parts of the world where indigenous lands are endangered in pursuit of monetary profit (think of the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States as an example), stories like this need to be covered. Stories like this need to be covered so that the world can come to a reckoning of what happens when short-term profit is prioritized at the expense of indigenous people.

So yes, there is an environmental crisis in Brazil as a result of these fires, but there is also a crisis for indigenous people in the Amazon as a result of the fires. Worse yet, unless we learn from what’s happening in the Amazon, similar things may continue to happen in other parts of the world.


[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/brazil-native-groups-protest-anti-indigenous-bolsonaro-190424182035658.html. I should note that Al Jazeera seems to be one of the few international outlets following the anti-indigenous policies of Bolsonaro.

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/afraid-indigenous-guardians-brazil-amazon-190827235511318.html

[3] I should note that the United States should not be “holier-than-thou” on indigenous rights, though.

An image of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Antonio Campoy [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5DAn image of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.

Transgender Stereotypes

As I said a few months ago, I will be doing a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. I look forward to continuing through this series.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being transgender. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be transgender and stereotypes associated with friends, fellow writers, celebrities and others who are transgender.

The consensus definition is that being transgender means that your gender identity differs from the sex that you were assigned at birth.[1] I should note, though, that not everyone has the exact same definition of the word transgender.

Now that we’ve defined what it means to be transgender, we can start to understand what sort of stereotypes are associated with being transgender. Here are a few such stereotypes:

  1. Transgender people are not “real” men or women. People who are transgender may not be “real men” or “real women” to certain individuals, but separating the real men and women from trans men and women is dehumanizing (as if trans men and trans women are somehow “fake”). Just please avoid categories of realness and fakeness.
  2. Trans women athletes have an unfair advantage. A journalist (I forget for which outlet), when covering the success of a transgender collegiate athlete, said that trans women are forgotten when they fail and delegitimized when they succeed. It is true, though, and I should add that not all trans athletes who transition from the male category to the female category (or vice-versa) succeed.
  3. Transgender people are still fundamentally the same people they were at birth. I can’t begin to emphasize how problematic this sort of attitude is. This is the sort of attitude that leads to deadnaming, which is calling someone by their birth name instead of their new chosen name. It’s also the sort of attitude that leads to deliberate misgendering of transgender people. Having an attitude that leads to deadnaming and misgendering is problematic, because for most transgender people I know, their birth name and previous pronouns are a reminder of a period of life when they tried to live as someone they were not—a great source of pain indeed.
  4. Transgender people are predators. For whatever reason, there is this stereotype among some that transgender people are predators. Because of that stereotype, some states look at, or even pass, laws that keep transgender people from using the bathroom that fits most closely with their own gender identity. In reality, however, the overwhelming majority of trans people just want to use a bathroom they feel comfortable using, without all the harassment and discrimination. Is that too much to ask?
  5. All transgender people have/had gender dysphoria. This was something I used to think and had to unteach myself, by the way. I had to unteach myself—by remembering that gender dysphoria is when someone experiences distress because their biological sex does not match their gender identity.[2] However, many transgender people do not experience discomfort from the fact that their gender doesn’t match with their biological sex, and therefore never had gender dysphoria in spite of being transgender. I would also note that by assuming that all transgender people have/had dysphoria, it promotes an attitude, whether intended or not, that being transgender is a disorder.[3]

This post hopefully covered some of the major stereotypes associated with being transgender. If anyone wants to add to any of my stereotypes, or has stereotypes of your own, feel free to comment below!

Previous posts in my series on LGBTQ+ stereotypes:


[1] This is pretty close to the definition that Merriam-Webster had for transgender: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transgender

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gender-dysphoria/#targetText=Gender%20dysphoria%20is%20a%20condition,the%20appearance%20of%20the%20genitals.

[3] While doing research for this piece, I found out that gender dysphoria used to be called gender identity disorder. When you connect the term “gender identity disorder” with being transgender, one can see how being transgender was considered a mental illness (not that I defend this, by any means, and in fact it was awful that being transgender was once considered a disorder).