How an Italian Shoe Shop Changed My Life

“It’s called VIAJIYU,” my professor told us as he led us down the cobblestone streets of Florence.

“Is that Italian for something or what?” I whispered to one of my friends. She shrugged.

My professor liked taking us on little field trips now and then. He wanted us to appreciate everything Italian culture had to offer, so he’d show us cool leather shops and interesting bars and some of the historic sites we’d learn about in class. But this time, as we walked, he turned to me specifically and said, “You’ll like this a lot, Callie. It’s about shoes and women.”

I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but I nodded anyway. Soon enough we were filing into a little boutique on the twisting street of Borgo Santi Apostoli. My first impression was that the place was truly beautiful — I loved the clean, simple décor, not to mention the colorful array of ballet flats and wedges. Like many women my age, I was a sucker for shoes.

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Finding Pride in the Color Pink

Published by Her Campus KU

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the color pink. When I was younger, I was obsessed it. I wanted everything I owned to be some shade of it, and for a while, everything basically was. And then, at a certain age, I detested it. It felt too girly, or at least too stereotypically girly. Even at the ripe age of nine, I was way too pretentious for that. But once I reached sixth grade, I became very uncertain of how I felt about pink. By then, what was once a simple color became the symbol of something so much more.

I was 12 years old when I found out my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had gotten out of bed to get a glass of water, but I stopped outside the kitchen when I heard my parents talking in hushed tones.

“They think it’s cancer?” my dad asked my mother.

I don’t remember the reply. Maybe she didn’t say anything at all. I couldn’t really focus because my head was spinning and I just kept thinking of that one word, again and again and again: cancer. I went back to bed, trying to swallow back the panic as I told myself I must’ve heard them wrong. I forgot about the water. I wasn’t thirsty anymore, anyway.

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College: A Collage

1.

I still remember a passing thought I had when I was five years old and sitting on the small classroom floor: “I can’t imagine not being in Kindergarten.” Even when I turned 12 and was shipped off to middle school, I couldn’t believe it. Even when I graduated high school, I couldn’t believe it. Even now, after 20 years of schooling, I can’t believe it. Sometimes I swear I’m still that five-year-old sitting criss-cross on the cold linoleum floor, surrounded by toys I no longer remember the names of.

2.

I was 18 years old when I moved to Lawrence — an adult, technically, but still somehow a child as I sat in the passenger seat of my father’s Ford Explorer. We didn’t speak. Instead, I stared straight ahead, memorizing every curve of the road that took me farther and farther from the place I called home.

“You can relax, you know,” my father had said eventually. “I know you’re nervous, but you’re going to love it.”

My chest ached as we grew closer and closer to the city skyline. Its silhouette was an overbearing shadow resting just beneath the dawn.

I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that he was right — that there was no reason to worry, no reason for my quick heartbeat and tense shoulders. College would prove to be a turning point in my life, and in a good way. But I didn’t know that back then. I was just 18 years old.

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I Heart New York

The nighttime view of New York from above is one of the most bittersweet sights I’ve ever witnessed. I’m absolutely in love with it — I ignored my heavy eyelids and the pull of sleep and forced myself to stay awake on the plane so that when we took off, I could see the city below me, the pinpoints of light undulating like something out of a storybook. I swear there’s something magic about that city, and seeing it from above makes the whole place look alive, like it is one living organism and everything within it is just atoms and cells, blood and bones. It’s breathtaking, beautiful, but so, so sad, because watching the lights from the plane window meant I had to say goodbye.

To say this trip has been perfect so far would be an overstatement. I had to duct tape my luggage together when it ripped right before my flight, only to have the bag completely break a few hours later. Then again, I’m lucky I even made the flight — security was so backed up that I made it on the plane mere minutes before takeoff. I spent the first day awake for 40 hours and hardly found the time to catch up on sleep after. It was an overwhelming beginning, but I realized very quickly how little those things mattered. Because, before I knew it, I was sucked into the swell of the city.

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Let’s Talk About Body Image

Published by Her Campus KU

Body image. I see those words and I think back to high school health class, sitting in a crammed classroom as a PE teacher clicked through slides on the overhead about eating disorders. We got the same spiel every year: this is what a person with an unhealthy body image does, and this is why it is bad. It was like reading a health pamphlet in the nurse’s office, but the pamphlet didn’t actually tell you anything about the disease; it just told you about the side effects. We were told that 20 million women and 10 million men will experience eating disorders in their lifetimes, but we were never told why this might be the case.

Don’t get me wrong—I think it’s important to know the statistics. It’s important that we know the warning signs and the dangers, and it’s important that classrooms across the country are given advice on what to do when someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder. But despite the large number of young people who struggle with eating disorders, students aren’t often encouraged to talk about body image, positive or negative. It’s considered non-academic and doesn’t quite fit in the lesson plan, even though it’s often the root cause of eating disorders and self-esteem issues.

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A City Girl’s Ode to a Small Town

I’ve never been a small town girl. I’m attracted to city lights and colorful buildings and streets bustling with people. The countryside is peaceful, but it makes me restless—within a few days of visiting, my fingers start itching. But there’s one little town I may have to make an exception for: Fort Scott, Kansas.

Have you ever been somewhere that feels less like a place and more like a living being? It hasn’t happened to me often, but I felt it in Fort Scott, at my grandparents’ big red house. It was always so full of people, so full of chatter and laughter. Even when everyone filtered out, they seemed to leave behind an echo of noises, ringing softly in silent rooms. I swear that house knew every secret I’d ever whispered in darkened bedrooms when my cousins and I were supposed to be asleep. Maybe that’s why I always felt so strange when I was left alone there—the house had a presence bigger than any person I’d ever known.

I think everyone in my family has felt this way about it at some point. ­My family is so big, and we have all traveled in different directions—we have different aspirations and different religions; we live different lifestyles in different cities, different states, different countries. And yet the house was a common ground where we could all gather and just be together. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to say goodbye.

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Why does everyone feel entitled to my body? (And other frequently asked questions)

Published by Her Campus KU

There’s a question that’s been haunting me lately. It’s a question I’ve heard many times and one that every woman should be asking herself. Why does everyone feel entitled to my body?

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, police arrested an Idaho teen for threatening to bring a gun to his high school and attack the cheerleaders. His reason? The girls wouldn’t send him nudes.

This is not a completely isolated instance. Actually, a surprising amount of people who instigate mass shootings often left behind notes or messages revealing that they felt rejected by women and were angry that they wouldn’t date them or do sexual favors for them. Such was the case during the notorious Isla Vista shootings and the recent shooting in Oregon at Umpqua Community College. Men did not get what they wanted (i.e. access to a woman’s body), so they lashed out.

So please, tell me: Why in the world does everyone feel entitled to my body?

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