Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is one enough for you?

Adorable, yea?

Today in my World Regional Geography class, we watched three videos about China's One Child Policy. Then we answered questions and discussed the videos. Normally this class is pretty mild and lacking in discussion, but one girl spoke up today. She spoke up and made me angry. Almost as angry as Sarah Palin makes me. A bit of background information for you:
A brief overview of China's One Child Policy:
1. Urban dwellers may have only one child.
2. Rural dwellers may have two children if the first is a girl.
3. Ethnic minorities may have as many children as they like.
4. The Chinese government takes back the money they provided for the first child if you have an additional child.

Why was the One Child Policy enacted?
China is the world's most populous country with approximately 1.3 billion people. They were growing so rapidly the government would not be able to accommodate the entire population, so Deng Xiaoping put the policy into place in 1979. The policy worked, reducing China's population growth by 300 million in the first twenty years.

Negative effects of the One Child Policy:
Uneven ratio of males to females: For every 100 female births, there are 120 male births. Normally, there are 105 males for every 100 females. Gender selective abortion: Many parents will abort their pregnancies when they discover the sex of the child is female because so much prestige is associate with producing a male heir in China.
Abandonment and Neglect: Many newborns, often girls, are abandoned shortly after birth, and some are simply neglected. Infanticide: Some babies, again often girls, are killed at birth.

Now this girl asked, "Why do they do it? Why do they have more than one child when they know they aren't supposed to?" I thought the answer was obvious: Because they want more children. Why does anyone have more than one child? There's a void that needs to be filled. The family is not complete. The professor gave a neutral answer about having a boy and prestige, and she responded, "No, that's stupid. You had your chance. You screwed it up." At this point, I wondered how someone could be so close-minded and cold. She continued to try to prove her point, and I quit listening.

People break this law and pay the consequences because the want a family. One woman interviewed in a video had a son as her first born. She said she wanted a girl very badly, so they had another child, a girl. She then got pregnant by mistake. She tried to abort, but they wouldn't allow it. She planned to give the baby up for adoption, but she said "he was too cute." (I shuddered a bit at how easily she was willing to kill and/or abandon her child.) The point is she felt it was necessary to have those children.

I wanted to shout at this girl. I wanted to ask her if she had siblings and if she felt her life and family would've been the same without them. I wanted to ask her how she would feel if her parents had abandoned her because of her gender. I wanted to ask if she was the first born, and tell her if she wasn't she probably wouldn't have existed in China.

I could not imagine life without my siblings. I am the third child, an accident. My sister came first followed by my brother. In China, I probably would not have been born or kept.

My sister has three sons she loves very much, but she longs for a little girl so her family can feel complete. She is in the process of adopting from China.

I can understand why China needs this policy, and that doesn't bother me much. What I hate are all the negative effects, which in my opinion, almost outweigh the benefits of the policy.

What do you think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weighted Material

I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. I'm not obese by any means, but I am overweight. I try to be healthier and work toward a less overweight body, but it's easy to get bogged down in your flaws. Don't get me wrong, I love my body. It's always been there for me, (har har) but I have a hard time accepting it and all its features.

I remember being in the third grade, and my mother found the cutest little sleeveless, collared shirt for me to wear on the first day of school. In true 90s fashion, it tied in the front below the buttons. It showed the tiniest sliver of midriff, but in third grade, I was still 'skinny.' I was cute.

The next year, I seemed to gain some weight. That year marked the start of my 'not skinny' life. It seemed the older I got, the more I seemed to notice my belly. I quit growing taller in the sixth grade, but my weight continued to climb.

In junior high, the boys began to notice the girls. The 'skinny' girls were described as "hot" while us 'not skinny' girls weren't noticed at all. It was at this point I began to associate skinny with pretty.

My mother, though I love her to death, contributed to my negative image. When I posed for a picture, she'd always say, "Suck your stomach in!" When I got older and wanted to wear more tightly fitted clothing, she'd either veto it, or if I got the tighter shirt, she'd insist I "ruche" it to help hide my stomach. Her body image was negative, too. She was always buying exercise tapes and machines and diet books. She had one diet she'd turn to if she was desperate to lose weight: The Grapefruit Diet. It consisted of grapefruit, eggs, tuna patties, and very little else. I always hated that diet because the tuna patties smelled horrible, and the grapefruits would squirt me across the table at breakfast.

My dad and brother could be particularly mean about my weight, though both of them were (and still are) much more overweight than I was. I used to eat Swiss Cake Rolls at lunch, and one day, my brother took the box, marked out "Swiss" and "Cake," and edited it so it read "Katie's Fat Rolls." I quit eating them, and I eat them today very rarely and with great trepidation. If I ever complained about my weight in front of my dad, he'd just tell me to 'back away from the table.'

It seemed all I could do in high school was gain weight. Once I quit dancing in 10th grade, I put on weight pretty quickly. I also gave up softball. I stayed in band, but let's face it: Playing the saxophone just doesn't melt away your thunder thighs. I had no regular physical activity, and it showed. Each year's first day of school picture features a chunkier Katie.

There were times during my junior and senior years of high school that I very seriously considered trying bulemia. In the end, I decided 1) I hated throwing up, 2) I liked my teeth and esophagus in tact, and 3) an eating disorder was not the way to solve my body image issues. (I did try exercise multiple times, but I would get bored with it and quit. I even joined a gym and went regularly for a while.)

Last year, my senior year, I put on A LOT of weight between October and January. I was so incredibly stressed about college, school, band, and work that it piled up on me and I ended up close to 160 pounds (which is a pretty heavy for a five foot tall 17 year old). That weight didn't come off when I released the stress unfortunately. Over the summer, I learned to accept my body and even wore a two-piece swimsuit in public, a first for me.

Then I went to college. I suppose it was a combination of less food (because I hate the Caf) and a ton of walking, especially up stairs, but I've lost a fair amount of weight since August 16th. I can now dry my jeans in the dryer without fear of them being too tight. I can fit into pants I never thought I'd get into. I even tried on my prom dress the other day to find it zipped with ease and was even a bit baggy in parts. I'm glad I'm avoiding the "Freshman Fifteen."

Along with being a bit slimmer, my stamina is improving. I can climb two flights of stairs without getting winded. My goal for the semester is to make it up those three flights of library stairs (which are much more numerous than other flights of stairs because of the library's uber tall ceilings) without wheezing afterward.

I find that while I am excited and giddy about losing weight/inches, I seem to notice my flaws more. My large thighs that I've long since accepted grabbed my attention in the shower today, and I was disgusted by the way they shook a bit when I moved my leg. I change clothes several times in the morning trying to find something that doesn't make me look "fat." I put on last year's Halloween costume in hopes of wearing it again, and I couldn't stand it. I know I had to look worse in it last year, and that bothers me.

When I left for college, I had a great body image. I had no qualms about my weight until it started decreasing. Suddenly I'm aware of everything that is wrong with it. I need to get things right with my body again. I need to learn to accept my changing body, both the parts I like and dislike.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Win a Free Handbag!

Want to win a free handbag? FREE, no shipping and handling, and no credit card. Click this link for a chance to win: They have 24 to choose from! I picked a lovely black one. :)