O.k I am going to talk about my LEAST favorite genre in the young adult books. This is also the one I am pretty concerned about because there are some themes that are being retreaded over and over and over.
When I was a kid, if you wanted to read YA romance novels you usually turned to sweet valley high. They weren’t perfect- they are pretty darn close to pretty little liars- but it seems Ya fiction has come a long way from that former assessment.
I guess romance novels have become a beast in of itself, and while I was sort of expecting chick lit- which I don’t seem to mind reading from time to time- this seemed a lot more like harlequin romances than anything.
They are also trending number one in teen novels…beside fantasy/ sci fi and dystopian novels.Which have the same similar themes. As I started to read them a lot of them became blurred into the same darn plot albeit some key changes here and there.

Lover Boy as the Bad Damaged Distant Guy

He has penetrating eyes, and strong biceps tends to be a ladies man but doesn’t seem to connect with anyone. He is damaged , in some way or another. He has a dark past which usually involves sexual, physical or some kind of abuse. He has horrible parents or absent ones. He has no direction in life until he meets….

Wimpy Damaged Heroine

Our damaged heroine is a victim. She has been a victim of horrible parents/death/rape/incest/domestic violence… but somehow is still pretty wimpy. She shivers a lot and is unaware of her captivating beauty. That all changes when she meets ( insert ridiculous name here ) who awakens her and frightens her at the same time. Even though he is dangerous, and can’t stand having anyone talk to her or any men around her she feels ALIVE. She has no real ambition of her own. We don’t know any of her talents, we don’t know how she thinks and quite frankly she is pretty annoying. Despite people saying how great she is, she is pretty one dimensional

I hated these two themes more than anything else because it promotes the idea that if you fall in love, your pain and scars will disappear… if anything without therapy a relationship with two very screwed up individuals can become even more conflicted , toxic and codependent. It is not a cure, and romanticizing codependency is an extremely irresponsible thing to do . They very rarely really deepen on how this pain affects the characters. If you really want to know the effect of physical or sexual abuse go read i know why the caged bird sings, among other books. It’s really very dark and you do not recover just by some manly man cradling your weakened body into your arms.

Unecessary Conflict
After a lot of misunderstanding they get close… like fall- in -love- after- three- days -close. And then like there is some random stupid barrier that doesn’t allow them to get closer …. some misunderstanding

At the last minute
They realize their love until

Another unecessary conflict
Usually someone is about to die, is going to die or will die. Only they don’t …they make some miraculous recovery.

The girl is always a virgin
There is a lot of very steamy love scenes in this which surprises me because it is catered to teens where the stupid inexperienced virgin ( that everyone is surprised she is a virgin at 17 ….) gets experienced finally by the bad boy.

All Characters are white and American…
These guys don’t get around much in terms of diversity.

The characters get married
They get married without finishing school, having any ambition or even a view of the future. Most of these characters get married within six months of knowing each other.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Bad romance novels bad. I am not a romance novel expert so please school me but surely we don’t have to retread the same plot over and over to appease teenagers.

A couple of years ago, in this very blog I wrote about being fat. At the time I hated the way I looked. I disappeared from photographs, I tried my best to  be inconspicous. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. But the thing is, I was the same way when I was thin.

I used being fat as a way to put off a lot of things. It was as if, by being fat I had an excuse to not live my life. This is hardly surprising because as a society we are taught that if you are overweight somehow you shouldn’t be treated with decent kindness and respect. You are taught that random people can come up to you and tell you that you are unhealthy . You are taught that somehow, you have to justify your life. You cannot be beautiful in your own skin, or somehow be proud of the things that make you you but you have to somehow build up on them.

When I was in my early twenties I lost all my college weight. I lost seventy five pounds. It was a lot of weight to lose in a small amount of time and I did it for the wrong reasons. I did it because I thought that if I did that maybe the boy I loved would love me back.  Guess what he didn’t.  I also got into a really bad relationship with someone that made me feel like less than a person.

in other words, losing weight is not the be all and end all for everything in my life. It didn’t cause me happiness, or sadness it is just a state of being. If someone decides to lose weight it should be for health reasons. When I was 18 and was skinny I was still asked to lose weight by my peers. Girls would always bring me down because of the fact that I had bigger boobs or a wider hips . I was never GOOD enough. And therein lies the problem, we externalize weight as a way of social acceptance.

Our sense of worth is tied up so much into what we eat, what we look like.   And we feel better about ourselves if we compare others . I grew up in Latin America where it was common place for girls to tear each other down because a girl looks ” fat’ in that dress , yet men walk around fat and no one blinks an eye.

I had bought into it so much that I never believed men when they told me they found me attractive.  I never had a lack of men trying to vy for my attention, and many of it is false flattery.  I always thought that there was an ulterior motive. ( There is also the part of me that hates that we buy into the beauty myth)

When my best friend told me that maybe I should get a gastric bypass so that ” a nice guy would notice me” it kind of hit me. A sort of epiphany. Why should you do anything for another person? The implication is also that in order for someone ” decent” to notice me, someone who treats me with respect I should be skinny. The notion is that as a fat person, I don’t deserve that kind of love or respect. It is kind of ironic because when that person go married, they weren’t skinny. Yet because as a male, that’s more accepted it was ok.

I am fully aware of the health risks of being overweight. I know what I look like. My grandfather tells me to lose weight, but in the same breath offers a bunch of cookies and desserts on the table.  It’s as if, people like to point out the flaws but want to enable for it to continue. IN society, someone who is fat has an obvious ” flaw” you can latch unto that , it ‘s something tangible that can be fixed. What if I don’t need fixing?

I found that as time went along, and I had the strength to look in the mirror I liked what I saw. I liked my flaws. I was comfortable in who I was, and that wouldn’t change whether or not I lost weight. There’s a famous case of a woman who was on Oprah who was overweight. Her father kept pressuring her to lose it so she had a gastric bypass. Supposedly, she was ” happier” and more ” fullfilled”  by losing weight but years later they found that she could not have children due to that same operation and she was not happier .

Fat is only a physical manifestation of your unhappiness. I know why I’m overweight, because of a thyroid issue and PCCOS and a ton of other reasons. But I shouldn’t have to give people a reason. I shouldn’t have to validate my life, and being fat has nothing to do with solving other problems in my life.  I find it more concerning to eat healthier and do exercise and be ok with how I look.   I’ll never be a size 2, but that’s ok.  Morever I am not going to let my weight stop me from ever doing things I want to do and taking risks. I am not going to stop living life just based on a size. It’s funny but the moment I started to think this way was the moment people reacted more positively towards me. When you feel confident that attracts good things.

10349002_10154629624255006_2499198675013439695_n

I used to have this fantasy that I would emerge skinny and somehow my life would solve itself. But that never happened, because all the times that I lost weight the problems were still there. Losing fat doesn’t mean you are going to be happy, it doesn’t even guarantee you will be healthy.  I like how I look, and whether or not I lose weight, that confidence is the best thing I ever gained.

1899941_10154771094915006_3782791840085683228_n-2

How can we truly achieve equality and get past gender to find humanity?  This is what has been going through my mind lately.   The discourse of feminism has been going on for well over two hundred years, yet the same things are being discussed over and over . The right to be an individual person away from being defined as a man, the right to not be objectified, the right to rise above circumstance and to get equal jobs and pay.

Yet the reason why the arguments become divisive and cyclical is that we cease to see that it goes beyond male and female and transcends it. The society as a whole are create false dichotomies and paradigms at a very young age. We are surrounded by media who are constantly barraging us with female objectification, of male stereotype of fragmented concepts of masculinity. We give value to men sexualizing women, and condemn girls who are sexualized. We create a whole society that is based purely on how we look and not what we are and our core values that intertwine this reality.

As a society entrenched in a depersonalized world where porn has created a desensitized concept of what women are like , where young children are exposed to an identity that is limited in it’s understanding of who they are based on what they are wearing and what they look like the outcome will continue to not go anywhere. In order for us to fully advance, we need to all be involved in create significant powerful change by acknowledging what unites us as human beings.

Yet… It’s hard not to generalize, to stereotype men especially when you go through things everyday that makes you feel demoralized and objectified.

It’s hard not to be angry. It’s hard to walk in the street and not feel exposed because some jerk decides to follow you or starts to message you online. It’s hard when someone says it’s your fault somehow because of what you wear instead of empathizing with other’s plight. Yet I want to understand these men’s behavior. What causes them to impose their own desires over girls? They know most likely it will not have a successful outcome so why do they do it? What happens to the young boys playing basketball in the park and what causes them to change to men who can treat other human beings in such a way?

Believe it or not, it makes me sad for them. I’m sad because they don’t take the time to see and meet people, awesome amazingly flawed people and all they see is a collection of body parts  and that’s sad because they are deprived of learning from those people , rising above those experiences. Because they are so caught up on what society or their friends will think of them, because they feel that to make themselves feel better they have to bring others down they are depriving themselves of really knowing the value of someone.

I have met people time and time again whom to other girls they catcall, size them up, number them and talk in lurid detail about the things they will do TO them because they feel that she’s just an object , she has no feelings. Yet with me because somehow I am their ” sister” they feel protective towards me, they see me as a human being. The thing is, these men who bother women in bars, who follow them in the street , who mistake a smile for an invitation… they don’t really want to get to know those girls. They rather they remain anonymous and in the shadows. Better they be a receptacle for their misplaced desires than really look deep down at the bereft parts of their own life.

I am also saddened by women who think their sole value is based on how they look or what society perceives them to be. Whom spend their whole time preening in the mirror and not enough time preening their souls. I can’t blame them, because i find that I too am victim of this from time to time.

It’s hard not to feel helpless when your sole value continues to be who you are with and not who you are. It’s hard not to feel saddened when women are still not taken seriously and are called ” Bitch” and ” Hysterical” … where the word ” female” is still a negative connotation.

So why haven’t we come closer to true equality? Why is the bird not flying? It comes down to the fact that we forget that the soul has no gender, and we also do not realize how much cultural relativism comes into play in terms of gender.  There are so many paradigms that we choose not to see in terms of men and women , instead we oversimplify the argument by saying that it is merely men assaulting women.

What we need to find is our common core , that humanity within us that doesn’t define gender . That we go outside our comfort zones and cease to define the world in us vs. them. That we want to change and try to lead a life where a person is a person no matter the setting. That women are not drowning in anger and find that there is goodness in everyone and try to overcome this anger and empowering the next generation to become better than the one we are in. To see a woman and not see what she looks like but the greatness of her heart. To see a man and not see who he is based on wealth, or height or career but the goodness of his heart. To see people, and not not gender.

The catterpillar's future