TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: TATTOOS

Tattoos have become more widely accepted in the United States over the years, but they’ve been previously condemned. Despite their growing popularity, society still looks down upon those with tattoos, discriminating against those with visible ones for job interviews, etc. Why is that?

Tattooing is an art form. It’s another way to express yourself, just like wearing that perfect vintage skirt or your grandma’s old pearls. The only difference is that it’s permanent.

I suppose the reason why people look down upon tattoos is the fact that a poor decision on a design could affect someone for the rest of his/her life, but that’s why being smart about what you’re putting on your body is key!

If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo, I would recommend having a friend draw or stencil it on your body in the place you’d want it. You could walk around sporting your new design, and, if after a week you still love it, then it’s probably right for you! If you decide, though, that you hate it, then you dodged a bullet. Yay!

If this is your first tattoo, and you’re not sure about the placement of it, I would recommend getting one in a “hidden” area, i.e. your hip, your ribs, etc. Sure, it’ll be seen at the beach or by someone you’re intimate with, but for the most part I’d call these areas the more “conservative” places for tattoos. However, if you’re ready to show off your favorite song lyrics or a symbol that means the world to you, feel free to get it on your arms, legs, or other noticeable spots!

I think tattoos are beautiful. I think they are simply a way to express yourself — what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. Your body can be a journal for memories, if you’d like it to be.

Let’s slash the stigma of tattooing one stick ‘n’ poke at a time. One day, it’s going to be incredibly normal to have tattoos. But, for now, I kind of like the unconventionality of having one.

Have a tattoo idea? Need advice? Head on over to Hey! VINA to gauge some second opinions on a choice of a lifetime!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: DATING APPS

Here’s the thing: dating apps aren’t exactly uncommon. There are a lot of them because a lot of people use them. Everyone knows Tinder, but there are who knows how many lesser known apps there are swirling around the app store and Google Play store. And we’re not even getting into online dating outside of apps which have their own set of taboo associated with them. As of 2018, Tinder had 3.8 million users. Again, not exactly uncommon to come across a Tinder user.

There’s a mix of user expectations about what they want to get out of it. The proportions of kinds of users change depending on the app, but no matter what your intentions, your use of the app is probably not something you want to advertise to your parents. Even if you met someone great who you’re now seeing exclusively, you’re probably hesitant to mention the name of an app when people ask about your meet-cute story.

Woman logging into a dating app

So what’s the deal? Even assuming the safest of intentions and that a person is using the app to date rather than to hookup (which is still shockingly taboo in our progressive, attempting-to-be sex-positive society), there’s still a bubble of discomfort around the practice.

Plenty of my friends and family have met their significant others online. Some met through apps and others through paid dating services like Match. Either way, it’s something that my parents are uncomfortable talking about.

Somehow it seems meeting people to date is getting harder and harder. With advancing technology, we’ve turned our phones into tools for locating people who are looking for the same things as us (hopefully) in hopes of turning the tides in our favor. It seems like a natural progression in the age of social media.

Sure the odds may still be against us (how many of us have actually found a lasting and satisfying relationship from Tinder?), it’s hard to judge a person’s compatibility based on a handful of pictures and a 10-word bio (if that), but it’s gotta up our odds at least a little, right? At it’s core, dating apps are simply connecting people who are looking to meet people who they may have never run into organically. So what is it about them that has us nervously confessing that we have profiles?

woman texting

Our parents (and our parents’ parents) are the most sqeemish about them, but maybe dating apps are like rock and roll. Are they just a natural part of our society’s progression that older generations will always be uncomfortable accepting? Maybe they’ll be gone tomorrow and it’ll be a weird fad we’ll wonder at in 10 or 20 years. But it’s unlikely. Our lives are increasingly connected and “plugged-in,” and I don’t think future generations will have any slower-paced lives than us with ample time to go out and meet friends-of-friends. I think it’s time all of us start accepting the presence of technology in our dating lives, as we have in every other facet of our world.

So next time someone asks you how you met the person you swiped right on, I challenge you to say “online!” with all the confidence in the world. Let’s kick this taboo out of our culture and get on with meeting a few new cuties around town.

Dating apps are connecting potentially romantic partners, but if you’re looking to meet some new platonic friends, start swiping right on Hey!VINA today!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: THERAPY

Mental health is still a tricky subject, and there are many people who still think that going to therapy is somehow shameful or something to hide. No way! Therapy and counseling are amazing resources that can be used to your advantage.

Here are just a few things to know about therapy, if you’ve been on the fence about using its resources.

IT HELPS TO TALK IT OUT.

Talk therapy can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to discussing your mental health or anything that’s on your mind. Sometimes, we have clear ideas of how we’re feeling in our head, but when we articulate it into words, it turns out that there’s a completely different reason for why we’re in a funk.

YOUR THERAPIST PROVIDES AN OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE.

Sometimes you need someone completely removed from your life and from the subject that’s bothering you to give you some help. Outside perspectives allow you to see things in a way that maybe you wouldn’t have before, and it can be super helpful if you’re spending too much time in your head or you’re in a close relationship with someone that’s causing you problems.

THERAPISTS WILL GIVE YOU WAYS TO COPE.

One of the main things that therapists do is provide coping mechanisms so you can enact healthy ways of dealing with mental health hiccups (or even just a bad day) when you’re not in your therapist’s office. If you can use these coping mechanisms to your advantage, you’ll hopefully be able to learn more about yourself and what works for you.

IT HELPS TO KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

Just talking to someone and having them provide legitimacy for whatever is bothering you can be a huge weight off your chest. Therapists or counselors will validate the fact that, yes, you’re going through something…and they’ll help you think of ways to combat those feelings.

YOU’LL HAVE TO WORK AT IT, TOO.

Your therapist isn’t there to solve your problems; they are there to help you find ways to work through your problems so when they inevitably rear their head again, you’ll be prepared. It will take work on your part to enact healthy coping mechanisms and practice getting to know what works for you.

Here at Hey! VINA, we’re strong advocates of doing whatever you need to do to ensure that you are your best self.

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: GAP YEARS

It often feels like there’s a huge pressure for just-graduated high school seniors to rush right off to college to immediately continue the next phase of their educational life. However, after twelve years of education, the desire to drop tons of money just for four more years of school might sound truly dreadful.

However, more recently, gap years — a year off between high school and starting college — have become increasingly more prevalent and may even be healthier in the long run for students about to begin four years of higher education.

Here are a few reasons to consider taking a gap year.

IT CAN GIVE YOU A BREAK

Twelve years of school (in a row) is a lot! High school especially can be draining both physically and mentally, and there’s no shame in recognizing that maybe college isn’t the right place for you right now. A year off can give you time to rest, recuperate, and prepare for the next phase of your lfie.

IT CAN GIVE YOU A CHANCE TO EARN SOME MONEY

This might be a shocker, but college is expensive. Sometimes it just isn’t economically feasible to jump right into something that might cost you many thousands of dollars. Scholarships and financial aid are great, but if taking a year off to work and earn some money is the best way to ensure you’ll have a healthier and happier college environment, that might be the way to go.

IT CAN GIVE YOU OPPORTUNITIES TO TRAVEL

This, of course, depends on money and funds — you definitely shouldn’t take a gap year just to go into debt. However, some schools actually offer gap years where you get the opportunity to defer your acceptance and travel in the school’s name. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a prestigious Global Gap Year fellowship that allows the student to travel anywhere they want with a stipend given to them by the school.

IT CAN GIVE YOU SOME BREATHING ROOM

It can be tricky to learn who you are, what you love, and what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re surrounded by four walls and mandated rules by an education system. Taking a gap year means that, at least on some level, you have a chance to focus on you. Maybe you learn that college in general just isn’t for you. That’s okay. Maybe you learn that all that free time makes you antsy, and you can’t wait to get back into the classroom. That’s also fine! It might be beneficial to take a year and figure out what it is you want before you jump right back into a rigorous academic setting.

With Hey! VINA, you can find vinas all over the globe, traveling on a gap year or not!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: POLITICS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Most people have opinions on politics these days, and they’re usually strong ones. Social media has given us the opportunity to share the things that are important to us. But what should and shouldn’t make its way to our public and often permanent personal history on the world wide web?

COMMENTING

No matter how cautious you are about sharing your strong political opinions on your profile, everyone has those friends who aren’t. And sometimes those friends don’t have similar opinions… So, what do you do when you follow someone who is spouting off about things that, in your view, are just wrong? Do you leave a comment and hope they reconsider their baseless rant? Or, do you scroll on with an eye roll and decide not to take the bate that often leads to pointless and cruel internet fights?

It can be tempting to want to add a voice of reason to blatantly biased posts, but at some point, we have to consider that the people so confident and so committed to their cause that they post about it on social media might not be open to a new perspective. Although you may think they’re asking for it as they’ve chosen to post to a public forum and invited commenters to share, we all know what they’re really looking for is support from their similarly-minded friends. In general, it’s safer (and healthier) to avoid the kind of name-calling fight that gives people on either side of the aisle a bad rep.

THE ARGUMENT FOR AND AGAINST SOCIAL MEDIA POLITICS

On one side, social media gives us a platform to help inform our community about impactful events happening around us, and it lets us become activists for causes we care about. These are important things, and having informed and active citizens contributing to the public dialogue (a dialogue that helps shape public policy) is an important and even necessary component of a republic. Our societal structure doesn’t work without conversation. It’s so important that the freedom of speech, particularly political speech, is the first amendment made to the constitution in the Bill of Rights. Staying informed and informing others is no joke.

On the other hand, however, we all know what a catastrophe political rants on social media can end up being. There are two general scenarios that tend to happen. First, there’s your weird uncle who only reposts “news” articles about the crazies on the other side of the aisle. It’s embarrassing, but besides you and a few other obligatory family follows, he’s pretty much sounding off to an echo chamber of other old men who will never change their mind about the political views that make up their identity.

Second, there’s the political rant made by that girl you sort of knew in high school but didn’t really know. Like, you had a few classes together, had some common friends and saw each other at a few parties, but you didn’t know about her (strong) future stance on The Wall and abortion laws which now seem to be one of her favorite things to post about (outside pictures of her cat). Now you see her posts and cringe.

HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?

So where’s the line? We all want to be the girl that posts informed, insightful, and important awareness posts about what’s happening in the world. The one who reminds her friends and family to vote, that the rights of every person matter, and that there’s something not right with the system. But even that can be tricky. Because here’s the thing, posting anything about your political views on a semi-public forum like the internet could backfire bigtime, especially when you’re in the midst of a job hunt.

You may believe that no competent hiring manager or future boss could ever believe what you know is just and good and right is, in fact, wrong. You, like your crazy uncle, probably live in an echo chamber yourself. We all do. Most people tend to surround themselves with people whose values and opinions align, especially on the hot topics. Your potential future boss isn’t apart of that chamber. They’re in their own chambers, listening to the confirmation of their own opinions and “facts.” So when you’re desperately applying to jobs and the hiring manager who has a fifty-fifty shot of disagreeing with you sees your highly charged political posts, guess whose application just got tossed?

This is one of the first things your professors or mentors will tell you about career prep and managing your social media image: Just don’t do it. Don’t post it.

So it’s up to you, of course (the first amendment says so). You need to weigh your options. It’s important to be politically active and to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Social media gives you a nice and easy platform to do that. However, be wary of adding a voice to an echo chamber that isn’t really adding value to the conversation. Make sure you’re providing verified facts and well-rounded points of view. And be wary of your own personal biases so that you’re not painting yourself as a Millenial version of your crazy uncle: set in your ways, uninformed, and only listening to the messages that confirm your own views.

It’s also important to be professional and to be able to get a job. From a soon-to-be-college-grad perspective, every professional adult will tell you to just keep it off the internet. There are so many ways (oftentimes more impactful ways) to be an active citizen. Attend a march, vote, have meaningful and open-minded discussions with your friends and classmates, talk to people with different opinions from yours, start a movement if you want to.

A great way to practice open-mindedness and learn about the world outside your echo chamber is by have a conversation with someone new. Check out the Hey! VINA app to swipe right on a whole new world of ideas and fun.

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: WAIST TRAINERS

As I sit here typing this, I am strapped into my third waist trainer. For three years I have been wearing one of these puppies to work and the gym. You may be waist training yourself, or you’re thinking about it, or you think it’s hella weird and have some questions. Whatever your position is, there’s a lot of information out there on the subject. I have tried to condense some of the history of this craze, along with my own personal experience.

A few years ago this fad swept the nation. It was endorsed and made popular by fitness models and celebrities. So naturally, everyone else was soon talking about it, either saying they were way cool or way dangerous. Many people likened them to their predecessors; the corset. People thought waist trainers were too constricting and would harm internal organs, along with the bone structure that protects those organs.

While ancient corsets might have had negative long term effects on a person’s body, waist trainers have been re-designed to possibly circumvent those harmful affects.

The corsets most of us are familiar with are the ones we’ve seen in film. Who else remembers that iconic scene in the Titanic in which Rose’s mother keeps cinching the corset tighter and tighter until you fear for Rose’s breathing capabilities. It looked mad painful right?

Corsets have been around for centuries. Many cultures around the world utilized them as a beauty enhancer. With the ever-changing world of fashion and fad, corsets were not immune. Some focused on enhancing the fullness of the breasts, while others focused on accentuating the hips. Corsets of those days were obviously problematic. The materials used to create this cavelike structure ranged from wood and metal, to whalebone and ivory. Not exactly materials that are known for their flexibility. While the fabric was beautiful, it too was extremely tight. Corsets were made to give women a strict posture and a tiny waist. Beauty standards that we don’t have to subscribe to anymore. Even when they began marketing themselves as more flexible, for the modern woman (in the late 19th century) they were still pretty unforgiving.

So what makes a waist trainer different? Well I can promise you that none of today’s trainers are made with whalebone or wood. In fact the waist trainer’s purpose is altogether very different from corsets. Waist trainers are marketed and designed to improve posture and help enhance natural curves. Despite the hype, they aren’t actually meant to help you lose weight or change the natural shape of your body in any permanent way. They are now made from plastics and elastics. Materials that can be worn to the gym and are fine at work.

Since I began a few years ago, I have noticed how much better my posture has become and how much stronger and higher my core feels. I am happier now with the way my curves look both in and out of my trainer. I know other vinas who love it as much as I do; and I have friends who have zero interest in the product. It’s truly not everyones cup of tea. Plus, you have to use your waist trainer correctly in order to steer clear from any harmless side effects, so be careful!

Maybe your beauty standards are the polar opposite of mine, maybe you like your curves free and unrepressed. To each her own right? I don’t see myself tossing my waist trainer out anytime soon, but I totally get it isn’t for everyone. The real lesson is, don’t believe everything you read. Are waist trainers as bad as old-fashioned corsets? No. Should everyone use them? Of course not! Do your own research and find out what’s best for you.

Comment below if you have tried one or at least thought about it. Download the Hey! VINA app to meet other fitness oriented vinas in your area.

(Feature image via @kyliejenner)

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: BOTOX

When you think of Botox, you might think of the Real Housewives of… anywhere, or anyone else you know that has taken things A Bit Too Far. But did you know that Botox was originally called “sausage poison” and was first cultivated (and is still used for) a wide variety of legit, non-cosmetic medical purposes?

The name Botox is abbreviated from its clinical term “Botulinum Toxin”, and yes, it’s toxic! It was first discovered in Germany in the 1800s when people were falling ill after eating contaminated meat. Since then, scientists have found a way to harness the paralysing effect of the toxin, initially to treat eye spasms in the 70’s and subsequently a wide range of other medical conditions, including;

Basically, it’s used for lots of conditions where there are some hyperactive nerves or muscles interfering with someone’s life that need to just chill the eff outA botox injection treats these ailments by temporarily paralysing the nerve or muscle, so the effect isn’t permanent and usually only lasts 3-6 months.

Although it is a toxin, Botox is actually pretty safe when administered by a licensed professional, but standards vary between countries and states so it is essential to do your homework, as with any medical procedure. And of course, if you want to use it for cosmetic purposes, more power to ya.

Who would have thought that something touted primarily as a cosmetic procedure could have had a long history of so many other uses! What are your thoughts? Too taboo or worth a look?

(Feature image via The Art of Saving Life)

 

 

 

HOW TO REALIZE IF YOU’RE THE TOXIC FRIEND

Would you consider yourself a “toxic” friend?

Of course not, none of us would. But, it can be extremely difficult to evaluate ourselves anyway, so how would we even know if we were toxic?

Let’s try something. Read the questions below and give yourself some honest answers. It’s not a test and I certainly am not qualified to judge, but it could help to distinguish what a toxic friendship might look like.

  1. Your friend finds out they got accepted into college in another state while you didn’t because you sent in your applications too late. What will your response be? Are you excited for them? Or do you instead spend the entire time talking about how your life is going to suck because all your friends are going off to school and you aren’t?
  2. You invite your friends out to dinner to celebrate a job promotion. When a friend buys you a drink it makes you feel good. After that drink, do you spend the rest of the night buying your own drinks or do you insist that your friends continue to congratulate you with free alcohol?
  3.  A friend tells you something in confidence. It’s a secret that has been eating them alive for some time, but they didn’t know who to tell. They finally feel confident enough to let someone know and that someone is you. What do you do with that secret? Do you take it all in and never breathe a word of it? Or, unable to believe what you heard, do you run to someone else to give them the scoop?

I think you can figure out what a toxic friend would have done in these situations. The question is: what would you have done?

giphy.gif

via @giphy

Don’t use the questions above to condemn yourself. If you admit you have done something similar or you have your own personal story about something you aren’t proud of, it’s OK. The bottom line is that coming clean is good.

Every single one of us at some point is going to do something we aren’t proud of. Sometimes we royally screw up and continually end up making the same mistakes over and over again. There usually comes a time when we have to face the repercussions of our actions.

Part of growing is learning from our mistakes and making behavioral changes that would prevent similar mistakes. No one wants a friend who mooches off of them or is constantly being a drag. They don’t want someone who lies or can’t keep their secrets private. They wouldn’t want to be around someone who makes them feel inadequate when they share their accomplishments or hurts their feelings to make them feel better.

So it’s time to flush out all that toxicity. Just let it go, so you can become the best friend you can possibly be!

How have you dealt if you’ve been the toxic friend? Leave your tips below!

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: RELATIONSHIP ABUSE

There are plenty of reasons to dislike a vina’s S.O.—some more valid than others. Maybe they hate your favorite band or chew with their mouth open. But sometimes the disapproval is rooted in something much more serious than that like, say, the abusive nature of their relationship. Seeing a person we love in an abusive relationship is not only troubling but also downright scary, and confronting them about it is crucial for these very reasons.

Relationship abuse rears its ugly head in tons of different ways. Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse are fairly well publicized, but according to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, relationship abuse can also occur in the form of economic, psychological, and even academic abuse.

Signs of abuse include but are not limited to: isolating a vina from her loved ones, making threats, gaslighting, yelling at her, criticizing her, publicly degrading her, stalking her, physically hurting her, and more. A comprehensive list of different categories and examples of relationship abuse can be found here.

If you suspect a vina is suffering one or more of these abuses, here are some tips for how to most effectively navigate the convo:

BE FULLY PRESENT.

A topic as weighty as this requires your full attention. Leave your phone at home, head to a private spot and listen!

LET YOUR VINA KNOW HOW WORRIED YOU ARE ABOUT HER.

Come prepared with a list of specific instances when you feared for her wellbeing so your concerns become immediately clear to her. Your vina’s health and happiness are your main priorities—that’s why you’re there.

AVOID SHAMING AND BLAMING YOUR VINA.

Victim blaming, although most often discussed in the context of sexual abuse, can occur with all types of abuse. Steer clear of accusatory or easily misconstrued statements. Let her know you’re always there for her.

UNDERSTAND YOU’RE NOT A PROFESSIONAL.

Assist your vina in seeking out the help she needs, whether it be relocating to a shelter, going to the police or finding a counselor. Be a shoulder to cry on, but know your limits.

RESPECT HER DECISIONS.

Although you may disagree with how she chooses to handle things, remember you have not experienced what she is experiencing. Often times, victims of abuse remain with their abusers, which can be attributed to a whole variety of reasons. Being supportive is always the default.

 

(Feature image via Kelsey Austin Walsh)

TABOO TOPIC TUESDAY: TALKING SAFE SEX WITH YOUR FRIENDS

This is Taboo Topic Tuesday, a weekly series that tackles a “taboo” subject and gives tips on how to talk about it with your vinas (sans judgement). Have an idea for a topic? Tweet us @ilikevina using the hashtag #TalkingTaboos, and we’ll get talkin’!

Picture this: you and a few close vinas are on your couch, wine in hand, talking about nothing in particular and then the topic turns to sex. What happens next?

In my experience the chatter is pretty standard: people we’ve met, funny stories, our likes and dislikes, but not frequently enough do we broach the topic of safety. Too often, once we leave the hallowed halls of high school sex-ed class, we also leave behind talk of safe sex with our peers and vinas.

Why aren’t we talking more? Maybe we think safe-sex isn’t as glamorous a topic as last Friday night’s fling. Or maybe we’re not talking about sex at all, because it’s uncomfortable. Or maybe we feel overwhelmed by media coverage of sexual violence. Regardless, the hesitation is understandable. Unsurprisingly, the best way to bridge this gap is simply through open communication.

It’s a total cliché to say it, but just because some things are uncomfortable to talk about, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. In fact, I would be so bold to say that often times it means that we absolutely NEED to be talking about them.

Is one of your vinas going on a first date? Send her a quick text, a simple reminder to be safe.

Just got a new IUD/Implant/Pill? Tell your vinas. At the very lease they’ll applaud you for being such a champion, and at the most you might educate someone on why that choice was right for you.

Found a brand of condom (male or female!) that you really enjoy? TELL YOUR VINAS!

Silence is absolutely detrimental to women’s health. The less we talk about safe sex, the less attention it gets, and the less attention it gets, the lower importance level its given. I’m not necessarily advocating that you stand outside your apartment giving banana-condom demonstrations or handing out pamphlets on STIs to every passerby, but next time your group text gets intimate maybe push the conversation in a direction less traveled.

Do you talk about sexual safety with your vinas? Tweet @ilikevina and use the hashtag #TalkingTaboos to get talking with us!

(Feature image via @beOk)