Blast from the Past!

When I was eighteen, I wrote for Seventeen Magazine as a part of their “Freshman 15” program–a program where the magazine chooses fifteen college freshmen to post a blog every other week to their website about their freshman year of college (“…detail the drama”). Due to my lack of desire for the limelight and slight embarrassment for writing for a magazine that opposed my feminism in many ways, I had all but pushed the experience–and the blog posts–out of my head. Until last week.

308163_2550431397201_1605517910_nPerusing the internet, I stumbled upon one of my old posts which led me to click, read, and kill an hour and a half of my day. Some posts described issues of extreme banality (I categorize here posts about my relationships, “finding yourself,” working out, etc.), others about general, boring college topics (what clothes should you bring to college?! College is harder than I thought it would be, etc.), and (hidden among the insipid), a couple about feminism.

I wish I could spend my entire blog post expressing my desire to take back some of my words on a medley of those topics. I felt pressured to talk about relationships and body image because that, to me, screamed, “Seventeen Magazine!” I expressed many difficulties with breaking up with my partner at the time, but always with a positive twist! I talked about exercising and losing weight. Some of my comments were vain, vapid, and contributed to an effortlessly perfect image and culture I despise. I hated that the Seventeen editors titled my videos with taglines that read, “Maya and her friends found a sneaky way to avoid dining room crowding — and check out some hot guys!” and spelled women’s rights “woman’s rights.”  Reading over them, I wanted to bury my head in my hands and scream.

But my posts on feminism made me happy. Not because they were very intelligent (No, on the other hand, they really show a disconnect in my understanding of what feminism is), but because they really showed growth. I am certainly still learning and growing, but it was exciting to see what has become a huge marker of my identity–my feminism–in its youth.

I could have talked about a number of things of importance. I wasted my platform to speak directly to young girls about what is really important in life, and in my life. I wish I wouldn’t have talked about my relationships or my body in such vanity because there are very real things about those topics and a million others that need to be said. It was exciting to see my youthful feminism, but I do wish I would have played my cards differently.

As I leaned into the camera with my “stylish” bright red lipstick, I say, “Feminism is all about just being who you are and expecting the best for yourself.”

Knowing eighteen year old me, I suppose it could’ve been worse.

Let me know what you think and Hollaback! at yo’ girl!

3 thoughts on “Blast from the Past!

  1. Maya, I had to laugh because I can recall moments of “what WAS I thinking” from the past. And some of them not so far as to be back in my teens. I’m just glad I’ve been able to unstick and keep moving (forward… well, sometimes it might be laterally!)

    Two other thoughts came to me. One related to an earlier conversation on digital identity (https://sites.duke.edu/moxie/2013/07/08/with-cyberspace-nothing-is-safe/#comment-262) , and it is interesting to see that the print mag also continued into a more long-term-accessible virtual artifact so you could read it again. This no longer requires trolling boxes in the basement or attic at our parents’ houses. Does that make our learning more accessible to us?

    The other thought is what it takes to be and stay courageous in that learning path. To me, the kind of blog posts y’all have been writing, here, publicly, is a form of courage.

  2. I really liked this one – partly because I was an avid Seventeen reader back in the day (and had piles of them in my mom’s garage for many years) and partly because you got such a vivid reminder of your “former,” less well-developed self. I think it’s cool to see where you’ve come from and how your thinking has changed even if you don’t always like what you see. Imagine how it would be if you looked back and agreed with everything you’d written and your focus and opinions. To me, that would be more scary than seeing too many posts about clothing and break ups. And, I like that there was an inking of your growing feminism – it definitely had to be nice to see how far that had come but to also be proud to note it was there even then.

  3. Maya

    I really liked how you reflected on your past writings. It’s so wonderful to have a record of yourself that you can use to measure your development. And, even more inspiring that you actually looked back on your earlier writings and think about how you’ve changed.

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