Tackling Gender Inequality: why should I put up with being called names? #OwnYourVoice

Right so, I just watched this:

…are you back? Did you watch it? If not, why not? I’m waiting… 
Okay, excellent, glad you have to back!  The video above that Louise has made is absolutely incredible and such a great start to a future that is free from injustice and inequality. In fact, I cried as at last influential people are speaking up on things that truly matter to me. But most importantly, the likes of Ingrid and Louise, are both inspirational and phenomenal role models in the world of social media. This means that they are able to help kick-start change, but not without the help of everyone, across the world, from all different backgrounds.

I thought that, now, on International Women’s Day, there is no better time than now to share my thoughts on female inequality. However, I find it troubling that the focus tends to be on women, and women alone because, inequality affects all of us: all genders, all races, all sexual orientations. Everyone.

I recently joined Slimming World, and why? Quite frankly, I am not overly sure why, perhaps it was to be healthier, to look nicer in clothes or be able to rock my ‘new and improved’ summer body. I mean, let’s face it, the student diet is something to be desired, from pizza to 99p cheeseburgers and ready meals are a life-saver. Aside from the health benefits, all the other reasons are centred around my fear of what other people might think of me. In fact, it was after an encounter that made me scared to leave my room after dark for weeks.

I went to see my family in Exeter a few weeks back. I had been up since 5am, I was tired, it was late and so I decided to get a GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen, for my fellow Cornish folk). I was walking back to my room, suitcase in one hand, food in the other and a heavy rucksack on my back. And honestly, what happened next absolutely terrified me… The (incredibly short) walk from GBK to my flat involves a dark, fairly long street which contains pubs on both sides and side-streets that lead here, there and everywhere. It was a Saturday, and late as I said. I decided to just keep my head down and walk as fast as possible, but around halfway down there was a fighting breakout outside of a pub. I ended up walking straight through the middle of it; I was so scared that I ended up running as the fight got bigger and bigger. Then, mid-asthma attack, which was understandable following what had happened a few seconds previously, there was a taxi pull up, two people with their hood over got out of the moving vehicle and ran, and ran, and ran. The taxi driver was shouting, as they hadn’t paid. My asthma attack went from bad to worse, and the panic-attack set in. I was so scared that even though I was walking faster than I ever would normally, I felt like I was frozen still and as if the road was never ending. Towards the end, where the street lights become brighter, a couple had caught up behind me, very close behind me, and as I was walking, still not able to breathe, the girl said to her boyfriend, “oh look, that girl in front, she is so unhealthy and fat she can’t even breathe, and ew look she definitely doesn’t need that extra burger”. Both of them burst out laughing and overtook me, I followed them back towards my accommodation only to find out that they actually live in the same building as me.

I got back into my room, let my food go cold and I just cried, and cried, underneath my duvet cover. I had gone from being scared to terrified and having an asthma attack, to then only be verbally abused in the middle of the street by people who are my own age. And this, is not okay. I am not “fat” because I eat cake and burgers all day, everyday, and even if I did, so what, that is MY choice! I am not asthmatic because I am unhealthy, I was born prematurely and it something that I have battled my entire life.

I don’t think that it is fair that we live in world where people are not allowed to just love themselves without pressure from others. I don’t think it is fair that I am made to feel guilty for enjoying chips every once in a while, nor is it acceptable to people to target people in the street and making nasty comments that only upset them. That couple had absolutely no idea what I’ve been through in the past four years, from hospital beds and operations to home-stuff that is beyond belief for most. But that is the point right? People judge without knowing and often without knowing the consequences.

It is this kind of discrimination, peer-pressure and abuse that many people face daily from in person to online. And in my mind, it just isn’t okay. There is no perfect human, meaning that there should be no perfect body shape, size, skin colour, gender, sexuality… We are all different and that is what makes us incredible individuals who together than unite and be equal.

I want to join Google’s #OwnYourVoice campaign and I want to help tackle global gender inequality. I don’t want to live the rest of life feeling guilty or upset about what I choose to eat, the clothes I like to wear and how my OWN body looks. How do you think we, here on heythereChannon, can make a change? Let me know here or in the comments below – I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts or ideas!

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