Column: more than a word and more than a number

By Christy Avery

A couple of years ago, yours truly sat on the crinkly paper atop her ex-doctor’s table, going through what she thought was a routine checkup until he took a detour… to my weight.

Ever been told to “lay off the Twinkies” by your doctor and went home crying? I did. But I shouldn’t have.

Almost every moment of that appointment from a year or so ago is ingrained in my mind. Stepping on the scale and feeling the sting of the self-imposed and societal shame I had grown up with led to developing a complicated and often unhealthy relationship with my body that is still a part of me today.
These struggles I and so many others share do not come from within— they are branded upon us over time. The stigma and stereotypes surrounding health, weight, and body image is one of the most harmful matters that society increasingly gives a voice to.

Two particularly threatening demons right now: concern trolling and unconscious bias.
Concern trolling is the circuitous judging of one’s life, choices, or body. This most often manifests as rude, unnecessary comments or “tips,” sugarcoated with a smile and an “I’m just worried.” It is like a family member asking if you really need that second plate at Thanksgiving with that unsettling glint in the eye. Unconscious bias is essentially the same thing, only without the realization or intent of judging.
Growing up, I experienced both so many times without realizing it. That is one of the worst parts— body-shaming is such a common part of our culture that it is almost abnormal to not be affected by it. These issues may seem prevalent right now in today’s social climate, but the damage begins and spreads with people of all ages and genders.

We were born in a body that was ours, a body that should not be scrutinized or discussed as we grow, but so often are until we feel as if our body isn’t ours anymore. We spend most of our lives desperate to reclaim ourselves, but why do we have to?
That is a question I have been asking myself for nearly ten years and have just recently come to terms with. Elementary school was the first time I experienced body-shaming, when the kid ahead of me in line turned around and asked, “are you pregnant?” Although probably a case of unconscious bias, that was when the seeds of self-hatred were planted, and it still pops into my mind every time I hear unfiltered comments about looks, said just because they can be.

People are led to this point of insecurity because of what others want. Shame is not intrinsic; no one feels they are wrong until others tell them they are. Concern trolling and other biased behaviors, needless to say, fix nothing. If you are so concerned about someone’s body that you shame them in order to “help,” you are doing the exact opposite. No one needs to be fixed, and weight discrimination is an attempt that only makes eating disorders and mental health problems worse.

Unfortunately, many people do not seek help because they are afraid or have had past unpleasant experiences with doctors. Although the typical suggestions by doctors such as healthy eating, exercise, and sleep may help, the way these are delivered by healthcare professionals is a problem. Trying to get help with a serious disorder is hard enough— no one needs to hear that every problem in the world can be magically fixed by losing weight. That is utterly false; anyone can have problems at any size. Dismissing one problem with another is detrimental to the bigger patients that doctors claim to care so much about. A mental health problem cannot be fixed by weight loss if the problem goes beyond skin-deep— as it usually does. Our brain spends enough time criticizing ourselves; do not tell those of us who struggle with mental illness and body issues that we are less worthy of treatment or that it is our fault. Respect should be given to everyone, regardless of size.

Within weight discrimination, the underlying issue is usually something called thin privilege. This is exactly what it sounds like: having the ability to be seen as typically “thin” and/or not fat, and receiving less hate and discrimination because of it. Besides the obvious larger chance of social acceptance, are things in life that people with thin privilege get to have or have easier than those without, such as being able to try on anything in most stores, or even having lower health insurance rates. Marilyn Wann, author and activist in the “fat acceptance” movement, was once denied insurance due to her size. She also made a point that should be, but unfortunately is not, axiomatic: “The only thing anyone can accurately diagnose when looking at a fat person is their own level of weight prejudice.”

In today’s world, people have a tendency to surmise other’s level of health without stopping to think about the fact that, newsflash, no one is perfect, and thin people can be just as unhealthy as bigger people. I’m not here to shame anyone for what they do because we’re all human, but those bags of chips and candy sitting in the cabinet? Bad for everyone. Having a smaller frame does not make one immune to consequences or health concerns. That’s one privilege no one has. So before opening your mouth to judge, think about the fact that you can’t tell what other people put into theirs based off their appearance. I eat pretty healthy most of the time. I exercise a few days a week. I make a conscious effort to take care of myself, yet I’m still not tiny (which is fine.) And I’m not the only one. Weight and size are complex, and there are factors that play into it other than diet and exercise, such as genetics and body composition.

The math is simple, guys: Physical appearance does not equal health, health does not equal superiority, and neither correlate with the worth someone holds.

Looking back, there was a lot more wrong with what that doctor and boy said than my younger mind was educated on or could process. Although a doctor being concerned about a patient’s health is perfectly normal, what is not normal is stating it in an scathing, unprofessional way. Not to mention the scare he gave me about diseases I probably had that later looked to be false– when we called back, there were no signs of any complications. Uncalled-for “warnings” and comments are extremely effective, right?

So if physical appearance must be talked about… I am fat. I know. Whatever way you want to twist it, I get that my body in not the conventionally attractive one. I’m not a size 0 and I don’t have Victoria’s-Secret-Model legs. But you know what? The very fact that there are standards for what a conventionally attractive body looks like is dehumanizing and ridiculous.

And I know, you might be objecting: “No one is fat, everyone is beautiful.”

But why can’t we be both? Humans are multidimensional; we are a kaleidoscope of things, most of which we should not deny. So I feel like I’m doing myself and all the other fat people out there a disservice by following the myth that there is only one type of beautiful body. To me, the word “fat” is just a word, one I want to reclaim. It is not a synonym with “ugly,” “worthless,” or “wrong.” It is an adjective that holds no meaning about who I really am, which spans far beyond what I look like.

Although I wrestle with my demons every day and they sometimes get the best of me, it is incredibly freeing to take a shot at self-love. Because struggle doesn’t mean failure, and we should shut down the doctors, kids, or voices inside us that say anything different. No one should apologize for simply taking up space in the world.


FC win against New Albany captured old Indiana Basketball emotions

By J.D. McKay

Friday night’s game against New Albany was what Indiana high school basketball is supposed to be. A gym that holds 2,500 fans had about 2,600 fans from rival schools, with an atmosphere that reminded long time Highlander fans, including my mom, of past games between Pat Graham and Damon Bailey. Bobby Knight attended the Graham vs Bailey games. Last Friday, it was current Indiana head coach Archie Miller watching New Albany senior Romeo Langford. The Highlanders came out on top by two back then, just as they did Friday, mainly because of an average performance from Langford and an above average performance from senior Luke Gohmann.

Last Wednesday I predicted that to win, we would need to shut Langford down, rebound, and hit three pointers. Langford was stopped. Holding the fifth best player in his class to 15 points is basically shutting him down, and he travel on two of those. Rebounds weren’t much of a problem, and while we hit five threes, the lack of points didn’t seem to matter.

The Bulldogs main threat was senior Sean East. East was hitting shots from all over the court, including hitting a buzzer beater from the volleyball line to end the first half. East had 19 points.

Defense was really the key to success Friday. Only scoring 12 points in the second half obviously makes that important. With junior Cobie Barnes being out in the second half, that task came down to senior Matt Weimer, Gohmann, and senior Evan Nichols. Barnes missing most of the second half probably wasn’t in Coach Todd Sturgeon’s game plan, so those three stepped up well.

Final, in overtime, two guys that hadn’t scored yet, senior Gabe Shireman, and Weimer, stepped up. Shireman went straight to the hole twice to take a 43-47 lead. Then, after four New Albany points, Weimer made a backdoor cut and hit a layup to go up 49-47. After Langford missed a three and the officials called a questionable travel, New Albany had one last chance. Sophomore big man Trey Hourigan missed a three, and time expired.

After a quick handshake line that seemed to take two hours, we stormed the court. After 21 tries, the Highlanders finally beat the Bulldogs. So, I guess you could call that game an Indiana high school basketball classic.  

FC beats New Albany 49-47 in overtime last night












Column: Rivalry week separates contenders from pretenders

By JD McKay

This weekend we saw one and two lose for the first time since 2012. Alabama lost at Auburn in the Iron Bowl, and Miami lost to Pitt, who was a 12-point underdog. Clemson and Oklahoma proved why they are ranked in the top four with big wins over rivals.

We learned that Auburn is legit. Two weeks ago Auburn took on Georgia, who was ranked first at the time, at home and won by 23 points. Then on Saturday, Auburn played Alabama at home and won by 12 points. I expect Auburn to be ranked third Tuesday, and if they beat Georgia again in the SEC Championship they should head into the playoff ranked and be number one.

The ACC championship game will determine another playoff team. While Miami’s loss to Pitt looked bad, they thumped Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. Plus, beating Clemson adds one more solid win to an already good schedule. Clemson is already in the top four, so a win for Clemson guarantees a spot in the playoff.

Oklahoma has dominated every team except Iowa State, and this week’s game against TCU will be no exception. Oklahoma will be the two seed if Auburn loses or the three seed if Auburn wins.

The real drama comes up for the fourth seed. I believe the deciding factor will be a combination of the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, and Big 12 Conference championships. If Wisconsin wins the Big Ten they will be in as the fourth seed.

The image looks murkier if Wisconsin loses, though. Wisconsin already had a weak schedule, so losing to Ohio State makes them look like an average team that got through the regular season because of a weak schedule. That puts Wisconsin out. Wisconsin out makes room for Georgia, Alabama, Miami, or Ohio State. That spot probably would go to Alabama. However, if Georgia plays Auburn close or wins, they would be in. Miami could get in with a close game against Clemson, and Ohio State would be Big Ten champions. The Playoff Committee likes confrence champions. However, losing to Iowa by 31 points probably won’t be overlooked by the selectors. If Oklahoma somehow loses, then the Big 12’s spot will be open for another of those four teams.

Top 8 and how to get in:

  1. Clemson: Beat Miami in the ACC Championship
  2. Auburn: Beat Georgia in the SEC Championship
  3. Oklahoma: Beat TCU in the Big 12 Championship
  4. Wisconsin: Beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship
  5. Alabama: Wisconsin loses to Ohio State, and/or Oklahoma losses to TCU, and/or Auburn loses to Georgia
  6. Georgia: Beat Auburn in the SEC Championship and hope the Committee likes their resume over Alabama’s
  7. Miami: Beat Clemson in the ACC Championship and Oklahoma loses, Wisconsin loses, and Auburn beats Georgia
  8. Ohio State: Beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and hope the Committee overlooks their loss to Iowa

Column: Throwing airplanes and frisbees: — how Patrick Jump taught me to be a better person

By Hannah Tarr

Photo by Shelby Pennington

On the first day of school last year, Patrick Jump taught my class how to make paper airplanes.

Now, as he nears his last day of teaching, I realize that he has taught me so much more.

That hot July day, he gave the 25 of us two sheets of printer paper. “We’re going to make paper airplanes today!” he said. We all laughed at this silly distraction until he shouted, “YOU HAVE 10 SECONDS!” We screamed in panic.

Our tossed together planes were disasters, fluttering to the ground upon takeoff. Jump asked us to reflect upon our process.

“I don’t know how to make a paper airplane,” I muttered.

“Yeah, and there wasn’t enough time to make one!” someone else pointed out.

“Those are both the points exactly,” said Jump. He opened on the projector a simple diagram of instructions for making a paper airplane. “This time, you’ll have a minute,” he said, and we calmly began. These aircraft glided with grace, slicing through the air for yards before making a soft landing. We were all proud of our accomplishments.

Next came the teachable moment, in typical Jump fashion. He held up a mangled mess in one hand, and aerodynamic art in the other.

“Which is better?” he asked, and the class agreed upon the latter.

“But which is easier to make? Which would you make if you were under pressure?” Shamefully, we pointed at the first airplane. “Right, but this one is useless. You have to go back and make this one again. If you build a number two airplane in the first place, you’ll save time, effort, resources….”

He threw the airplane, and we watched as it soared. “Build number two airplanes. Problem solve number two airplanes. Try your best to do everything you do right the first time.”

I took that to heart. To this day, when I encounter any task or challenge, I ask myself, “What is the number two airplane approach to this?” This quick check has made my life easier, just as Jump said it would.

I am a totally different person than I was when I first joined tech, or even than who I was last year, and I have no doubt that that is in part due to the efforts of Jump. At the beginning of freshman year, I was shy and reserved. I never thought I would be able to be a leader, or even want to. I silently made it through the first nine weeks.

Until fall break, when I brought my friend to a work session for 42nd Street. She had never built anything before. Jump challenged me to teach her how to keep pace with me. He set us to building 20-foot-long flats.

I taught her as best as I could by showing her each step in the process of building a flat as we approached it. Through hard work, we completed all of our flats that day. More importantly, we had a great time. My friend found she loved building, and I found I loved being a leader. Without the gentle nudge from Jump that day to independently be a leader, I might never have found the confidence I needed to gradually become a leader in the program.

As I worked towards becoming a leader, Jump patiently challenged and assisted me to become the best that I could be. When I make a mistake, there is rarely punishment. Instead, Jump guides me to find ways to fix it, or teaches me how to do better in the future. He understands that the work that FC Theatre does is all educational, so the focus needs to be on education, not the final product. Finally, after messing up and learning from my mistakes and then messing up again, I finally understand this, too. I have learned from Jump to let mistakes go. I have learned to aim for betterment everyday rather than immediate perfection.

On the Thespian Leadership Retreat every year, Jump leads the lecture and discussion on leading by example, which is appropriate because he greatly embodies one of the lessons he teaches: “What we do is more important than what we say.” No matter how much Jump preaches any of his many morals, it is how he acts that sticks with me. I am slowly catching onto lessons that he could never teach in a classroom, and becoming a better technician by mirroring how he acts when faced with challenges. I have also learned from Jump lessons applicable to everyday life. When I see him react to a situation new to me, I unconsciously internalize it, and it’s there to call up next time I panic and ask myself, “What would Jump do?” To call him a role model feels cheesy, but that is what it is called when you think acting more like another person will bring you success in life. I honestly believe I am a better person because of what I have been able to learn from him.

I have learned about myself, too. He has opened my eyes to my many skills and weaknesses. He’s helped me realize my worth.

And Jump has been a great guy to know. He is a friend as much as a teacher.  

In the spring of my freshman year, my mom was late picking me up from a matinee of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Everyone else had gone home, so I was sitting outside of the theatre hall when Jump locked the door and headed to his car. I thought he was going to leave. I checked my phone, sadly. Suddenly, a frisbee hit me in the face.

I looked up in shock. Jump was doubled over in laughter. I scrambled to my feet and chucked the disc back in his direction, but missed entirely.

“Do you know how to throw a frisbee?!” he teased.

I shook my head in shame.

So he taught me. He showed me how to put my index finger on the rim of the disc, how all of the motion was in the flick of the wrist, and all of the aim was in the follow through of your hand. To throw a frisbee was a methodical process, just like building a flat.

I found I was terrible at frisbee. I apologized, but Jump was sympathetic.

“You’ll get better. You have three more years to go!” he promised.

As it turns out, I did not have three more years to learn frisbee from Jump. He announced over fall break this year that he will not be teaching here anymore. Starting in January, the theatre will have a new technical director. There is change coming. But I am confident that because of what Jump has taught me, and the person I have become because of him, I will be able to make it in this new world.

And in the future, as I grow up and leave for college and ultimately a career, the lessons I have learned from my time working with Jump will undoubtedly assist me in the lifelong journey to become a better person.

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