Words You Thought Were Bad
Words can say a lot, literally and figuratively. One word can carry with it a mountain of meaning. In our society, amongst our plethora of expectations and standards, words create a verbal definition of what you should and shouldn’t be. What is good and what isn’t good. What is acceptable and what isn’t. Our society has a skewed perception of what it is to be a happy, healthy human being and the way we use and perceive our words is a direct reflection of that. But why should one simple word have the power to connote so much negativity? Let’s tackle the degrading use of these words and empower a society of humans, who face struggles and pain under a difficult reality.
Here are 5 words that deserve more positive associations.
You failed your driver’s test. You failed at meeting that important deadline. You failed to keep your New Year’s resolution going. “Fail” is always used in a negative context. It means you have failed to succeed and succeeding is one of the ultimate goals of humans. But why should your ability to recognize and acknowledge your personal failures be a bad thing? The chances of meeting a goal spot-on are slim to none.
As humans, we’re all prone to mistakes, to failures. Instead of coping with the reality of a failure with a harsh attitude towards oneself, try to look back at what made you fail and learn from it. Failure isn’t bad. It’s a form of progress. Take your negative feelings from your progress and channel them into more progress. Ultimate success does not exist in a singular form of passing a test or meeting a deadline. It comes to live in your every action once you begin to cope with failure and learn from your mistakes. To “fail” is just to be human, and to be human is to learn.
If someone were to tell you right now that you’re fat, what are the chances that that statement would make you happy? Our use of the word fat is a direct relation to our societal standards of conventional beauty. There is very little leeway to how many imperfections you have before you are ridiculed under harsh expectations. Despite body positivity movements emerging as of late, being described as “fat” can still leave you with a little twinge of hurt. It’s important to start taking the word “fat” and remembering it is simply an adjective. Being called skinny should not make us happier than being called fat.
When fat is used as an insult, it is associating fatness with ugliness. But fat is not synonymous to unattractive. You don’t have to tell anyone that they’re “beautiful, not fat!” and further enforce the idea of fat being completely disassociated with beauty. You don’t have to do that to yourself, either. You don’t need to shed some extra pounds to feel good about yourself. Skinny is not the only path to beautiful. You can look in the mirror, see your rolls and stretchmarks and cellulite and still feel good. You deserve to feel ripples of love and content swim through your body when you look at yourself in any state. Everyone does. Being fat does not make you ugly. Fat is beautiful and human.
As important as it is to take as many chances and opportunities available to you, it’s still okay to say no. There can be pressure to go out with friends or join a club when you’re really not in the mood. The very thought of it makes your stomach tie into little knots. Say no. You’re not obligated to put yourself through anything you don’t want to. You own your body, and you have the right to make sure you are nurturing yourself in a way that is healthiest for you, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Although saying yes can seem like a power move- the more you say yes, the further away you’ll be from your comfort zone, and the closer to success you’ll be- “no” is always an option. In whatever way you can, say it. Say no. When the thought of doing something is too much for you, remember your well-being and practice self-care. “No” is not your enemy. You have the power to make decisions for yourself.
Picture this: A group of boys are playing baseball in the park. One of them seems significantly more nervous than the others. He is trembling, shaken with nerves. Sensing his discomfort, one of the other guys yells out to him, “Hey! Quit being such a pussy!” The boy pops his head up, his face red and contorted into a frustrated expression.
Though a seemingly simple interaction, it is loud in its blatant desire to detach strength, power, and triumph from any form of femininity. Rather, “pussy” is used to synonymize femininity with anything pertaining to weakness, and inferiority. What seems a trivial component of our daily conversations is a manifestation of our constant inclination towards attaching a sex to a caricatural attribute. It enforces gender roles and furthers harmful, unnecessary stereotypes into our societies.
Let us not forget: “pussy” can squeeze an entire infant out, “pussy” can handle buckets of blood every month, “pussy” is a human part and no human’s anatomy should be degraded to the point where their very definition is a thesaurus word for “less than.” Pussy is not inferiority. Pussy is power.
It’s very easy to sit back on a reclining chair and sip a fancy drink while saying with an air of arrogance, “Oh politics! It’s too much! Too messy!” What’s a big disastrous mess to you, is reality for many minorities.
Donald Trump’s presidency is only one example of the influence political power can have on those who do not have the privilege to be a part of the institution that makes all the rules. His inability to understand the struggles of Americans creates a dangerous environment for all residents. When a Muslim girl is scared to openly practice her faith the way her Christian friend can, when trans military members are not receiving funds for their services the way Viagara and other erectile dysfunction issues receive $84 million, when you only have to listen to a single story of an undocumented youth to see how the now repealing DACA has so generously helped pave their paths to citizenship, it is easy to understand the pain Trump has caused.
Politics cannot simply be dismissed. Not when it holds the power of livelihood. What looks like a big mess on the outside is also a mess on the inside. The mess, however, takes only a select group of people. The privileged and elite, sitting on the outside looking in, napping in sheets made by the same brown people they refuse to let into “their” country, can block out the noise. They can afford to make that disgusted face when a buddy brings up politics on a night out. The rest of us can’t. What sounds like a bad word to them, is our reality. It deserves light, it deserves attention. It deserves masses of people rallying for its destruction. It doesn’t deserve to be swept under your “Made in China” rugs, the way history has done time and time again.
Some words are bad. Some words are raised in environments of exclusivity, made to cater to the benefit of a select few. Our language has, in many ways, been turned against us through the negative connotations of these words. So let us take them back, and recreate the standards and exclusivity of our societies to be home to open mindedness and acceptance.