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Take a nap, we’ll deal with this tomorrow

As a collective society, we are not used to moving slowly. Productivity is often linked to our self worth, and why wouldn’t it be? After all, economic gain and capitalist success relies on constant production and consumption.

This being said, it should be no surprise that when an obnoxiously large stop sign has halted the world, it causes stress and panic. Many think, I can’t go to work? My dentist appointment is cancelled? Well, I better start training for a marathon. I won’t let this quarantine be the thing to slow me down.

Between workout videos, working from home and non-essentials being closed, lies a lot of uneasiness. The solution to this feeling is not necessarily to start a new project, publish that research paper you never had time to finish, or get to your push-up max.

Let me assure you that taking time to feel your angst is not wasted time. We are so scared to sit with our feelings, because we have never taken the time to do it before.

That’s why tools like meditation and mindfulness have found themselves to be so useful in the westernized world in 2020. They bring about clarity if we let them, which is not easy. In the podcast Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris, Meditation teacher, Dt. Jay Michaelson says that medication, “can help you be free-er from panic, more able to protect yourself, and more in touch with your own inner wisdom and resilience.”

Now, I can sit here in front of my laptop, and tell you that I haven’t felt guilty skipping my run today, shortening an online yoga class and eating a chocolate bar. I can tell you that I am fully embracing my own stresses and have learned to feel my feelings in my body, but I’d be lying.

We are all operating at least a ten percent higher stress level than normal. There is a constant strain on our energy that wasn’t there before. We have to understand that this makes our bodies tired, and we can’t expect to be 100 per cent ourselves.

Psychologist Dr. Luana Marques also adds on the podcast, “Anxiety has an inverse relationship with performance. Up to a point, the more anxious you get, the more performance you have. There is a point, a tilting point, though, that too much anxiety affects anything that we’re doing. So we can’t think critically. We get stuck. We start to get more anxious.”

We need to work together and find a balance between distracting ourselves from the upsetting world events, and feeling the stress. The space between panic and numbness might be a big part of the solution.

This is a process. We have to rewire our capitalistic brains to understand that it’s okay to be still and it’s also okay to not be productive.

Now excuse me while I finish my art project, wash my dishes, over-water my plants and lay on the floor, I’m very busy. 

 

Graphic by Sasha Axenova

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Another article about COVID-19

Over the years as a journalism student, I have struggled with the balance between staying informed and staying sane.

Living through Trump’s presidency, dire times for climate change and now COVID-19, it’s hard to find ways to turn my brain off and take care of myself.

Even though this is something that I have been trying to balance for over five years, I can’t say I have come close to mastering it, even prior to this pandemic.

As we unpack some strategies on how to stay calm during these wild times, remember that I am right there with you—an unnerved and anxious girl doing her best.

For some, the news is simply too much. This being said, it’s quite difficult to stay informed without listening to at least some type of news, as you don’t want to depend on second-hand information. Although, in a situation like COVID-19, where it feels like you must stay informed at all times, I would suggest designating a specific time of your day to check in on what’s happening.

Things are moving quickly, but they are also moving very, very slowly. We are likely to be in this mess for quite some time, so together let’s learn how to share our brainpower with the outside world and within our apartments (or wherever it might be that you’re self-isolating.)

I’ll be honest, yesterday I spent a lot of the day on the couch. I began to ruminate about how long I’m going to be in this situation, how bored I am and when I’ll get my life back. This type of thinking is normal during a crisis, but one thing that brought me back to a more realistic mindset was to remember how lucky I am.

The other day, one of my friends said, “I can’t think of another person that is less affected by this than me.”

For me, this is absolutely true. My challenge is finding a balance between making space for myself to feel anxious and uncomfortable during this time while keeping perspective. I have so much privilege in this situation and it’s harmful to disregard that.

I’m in a family of health-care workers. They are lovely stress balls of worry, as they see what’s happening on the front lines. Yes, somedays I am twiddling my thumbs, but that in itself is a privilege.

Despite the privilege, let yourself feel whatever you are feeling, even if it’s self-pity and despair. Then, get up and move. We can do this.

One thing you can do during these times is reach out on social media and see if anyone needs help. If you are able to, see if you can pick up groceries for someone, walk their dog, donate to the food bank or help promote small businesses. Even just reaching out to your circle to see who needs to chat could be beneficial.

Social media has been a positive force through some of these crazy times. My echo-chamber is filled with activity suggestions, poignant comics and uplifting posts—yours can be too! Unfollow anyone that is making you anxious, and let it be a sanctuary of helpful tips and tricks. It’s helped me feel less alone—maybe it will help you too!

Although it’s a time where people need to come together, also keep in mind that you need to take care of yourself. Keep your house clean, create a space that makes you feel calm and perhaps make a solid schedule of tasks you’d like to complete each day.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that COVID-19 is taking over every single conversation I’ve had in the past little while. Heck, it even took over this whole article. Try, if you can, to distract yourself throughout the day as well. Even if you can only do it for 10 minutes, we can start there. Learn a silly dance, go for a run or play a new videogame.

As cliche as it sounds, it looks like we are really just going to have to take one day at a time. Oh! And call your mom, that always helps. 

 

Graphic by Sasha Axenova

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What a face mask can’t fix

After I’ve washed my face with a bar of nice smelling soap and applied basically half a bottle of rosehip oil on my nose, I dive out of my ugly green swivel chair and plunge into bed. 

As my greasy face rubs against my pillows and my eyes begin to close, I think for a moment that everything is going to be okay. Just for a moment, I forget about climate change, coronavirus, global politics or the nine assignments on my to do list. As J.K. Rowling writes, all is well.

I know that I’m not the only person who has a bedtime routine that makes them feel a touch more like a human.

Whether yours is washing your face, or spinning around clicking your heels and sprinkling essential oil in your eyeballs, it doesn’t matter. We often use these routines to find some sort of control while living in a capitalist society that alienates us from one another, driving us to consumption as a cure for all. This is evident with the boom of the skincare industry.

According to CNN, “The global skincare market was valued at nearly $135 billion in 2018, increasing nearly 60 per cent in the past 10 years.”

In Canada, according to Statista  the market amounts to $1,762.60 million in 2020, expecting to grow annually by three per cent.

Like any large, growing industry, there are many reasons to be sucked into the skincare world. For some, their reasons align with mine, feeling like for a moment in the day I can control my life and how I feel. For others, it’s about hormones and acne. Many can relate to the fact that you simply don’t feel good when your skin doesn’t look good.

Summarizing the impacts that skin care issues have on one’s mental health will always be an oversimplification. There will be people that don’t care about their skin, no matter what it looks like, where others won’t leave their house with even a few blemishes.

As online platforms continue to grow, we see more filters and photoshopped images of perfect skin than ever before. Common sense would tell us that this would distort our perceptions of perfect skin. As cliche as it sounds, perfect skin does not exist.

The lack of representation of real skin with pores, pimples and wrinkles, paired with the mass amount of consumptions of images and videos of “flawless” skin is a recipe for skewed expectations regarding skin care.

Some social media platforms have started raising awareness of “Acne Positivity,” by sharing stories and showing images of people with acne. Movements like these shine light on the reality of living with acne in our society, while also demonstrating to people that they are not alone.

So all this to say, skin care can be a big part of our routine, while also telling us that we are not good enough. Often, companies try to market a magic recipe that will fix us— and although that would be great, it is just simply not the case.

What may help is changing our perceptions of what beauty is, so that those with acne, scars, red splotches and other “imperfections” can fit under that umbrella.

Can that happen when large industries rely on us hating the skin we are in to make profits? Probably not. Is it safe to say that capitalism is the root of all of our problems and my rosehip oil won’t fix it? Probably. 

Photo by Laurence B.D

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Link in bio

When I was 17, I hosted an ugly sweater party/gingerbread-making contest at my parents’ house. Yes, I was very hip.

I invited many classmates, dressed up in my cutest ugly sweater (excuse the oxymoron) and patiently awaited my guests.

The entire time I was waiting for my friends, I was thinking about the photos we were going to take. Would the lighting be good enough? Did I get the right colours of icing? What about the gumdrops? Will my Facebook friends think I am interesting and fun?

Although it was a nice evening and the company was great, I totally missed the point of having a gingerbread-making contest. I didn’t enjoy the community feeling of being together because I was stressed about what it would have looked like on the outside. My guard never came down.

Looking back at that situation, it’s easy to write off my naivety, cringing at insecure Callie and thinking about how lame I was but before we start bullying me, let’s take a second to analyze what was going on.

Trying to impress the imaginary audience, made up of my social media followers, makes me a product of the world we are living in.

As a society, we spend so much time making fun of social media influencers. I am right there with you, rolling my eyes at models and women promoting god knows what on social media. This being said—maybe it’s time to check ourselves.

No, I am not and never was a social media influencer. One time I did get 76 likes on a picture of a mango, but that’s beside the point. As we continue to develop in the online world, influencer culture rises, and as this culture rises, so does hatred and criticism.

Don’t get me wrong. Selling “skinny tea” and other harmful products that help enforce unhealthy beauty norms should always be criticized. We need to hold the Kylie Jenners and Cardi Bs of the world accountable for this damaging messaging. That being said—is that really what the majority of us are fighting when we criticize Instagram influencers?

Or are we just straight up making fun of (mostly female) influencers for making money from social media?

MEL Magazine writes, “Mocking women who earn a living from social media is easy, because ‘comics’ can rely on two useful audience pre-conceptions: First, that feminized labour isn’t ‘real work,’ and second, that women who leverage their sex appeal for social or economic gain are contemptuous.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is where I have been wrong in the past. In this rare and weird world of social media influencing, women are earning more than men. No, it’s not perfect. There are huge issues with portraying life as flawless, using photoshop and other filters to distort reality because young 16-year-olds think you’re their hero. Let’s stay focused on the harmful aspects of this job, and merely use it as another tool to oppress women.

We like to oversimplify things, but the reality is that a lot of good can come from influencer culture. Not everyone is 17-year-old me, losing track of what’s important.

Some people are out there making money off this platform, so maybe they aren’t the chumps we think they are. Among the toxicity of men and women, lie intelligent, nuanced personalities sharing real stories.

Psychology professor Danielle Wagstaff told BBC, “When we see that other people, just regular people, not necessarily celebrities or traditionally famous people, are living relatable lives – posting about their own body image and mental health struggles – it can help to create a sense of camaraderie, a feeling that ‘I’m not alone, other people understand what I’m going through’.”

So before we criticize the business as a whole, let’s lean in— #notallinfluencers

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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A trashy student reviewing a trashy show

Reality television is trash

That being said, there is a huge market for it, and it usually reflects what the people want.

The beloved “Bachelor’s” market profits off viewers watching attractive people “fall in love.” Although this show has remained popular, it’s clearly not checking all the boxes.

Netflix has jumped on the idea that unlike what we see on “The Bachelor,” people want authentic, less superficial love. That’s tricky for reality television, but alas they have tried to take it on, in the new reality T.V. show “Love is Blind.”

“Love is Blind” is a show where contestants talk to eligible bachelors and bachelorettes through opaque pods, in hopes to find their true love without actually seeing them. For the sake of this article, we are going to skip over the fact that every contestant is extremely attractive, every woman is wearing a full face of makeup despite not being seen and we are mostly only exposed to heterosexual desires because if we unpack that, I will get a migraine. A grain of salt … we are taking this with a grain of salt.

Before I continue, I would just like to admit that I am not a huge fan of reality television. I never understood the point of “Jersey Shore” or “Keeping Up with The Kardashians” (and, I feel like I may have just lost some readers). So, that being said, I am definitely not here to review the show. There are many more qualified pop culture experts who would do a better job than me. I do, however, want to look at why a show like this exists, and why dating in 2020 is always framed as a nightmare.

Is it really necessary for us to delete our Tinder apps and head to Atlanta, Georgia to find true love through an opaque wall? Is this really where we’re at, team?

The other day I asked my grandfather why he married my grandmother. He told me that she was smart, pretty and nice. They dated, and he thought, wow—smart, pretty and nice, let’s get married. My grandmother, of course, can tell you the exact shoes my grandfather was wearing on their first date, and how the hand-me-down button-up white shirt he had on was just a smidge too small. She just knew he was the right guy. A simpler time, right?

When I think about dating in the past, I always feel like it was easier. Wasn’t it just flowers, phone calls and drive-in movies? No texting, getting ghosted, emojis and definitely no swiping. What a dream.

Except that’s not necessarily fair. As society evolves and changes, so do relationships.

Dating apps get a bad rep, and I can tell you from experience they can be quite draining and discouraging. This being said, the world of online dating is complex. I mean listen, guys, some of my best friends are on the apps. Do you know how damn lucky you would be to swipe on them?

I think to completely write off online dating as a concept is quite difficult. Instead of hating on the apps completely, like the hosts on “Love is Blind” (even though it’s good marketing), we might benefit from a more productive conversation surrounding this dating strategy.

There’s something that smells pretentious to me when people say they would rather meet organically and not on the apps.

I mean, of course, it would be nice to have a smart guy come up to you on the metro, ask you about the feminist literature you were reading, take you out for coffee and spend it talking about how he has 2 sisters and loves his mom. But, as we ask our Google Homes to tell us the weather, and we shove two white plastic headphones that don’t even have a string in our ears, isn’t this just, like, the future? Isn’t finding someone on an app not that crazy, considering everything else we do using technology?

I know I’m oversimplifying the dark world of online dating, but I really just want to talk about the stigma. It’s okay to be vulnerable and try the apps, delete them 16 times and then redownload them—I think it is just part of our 2020 story.

There’s also space for you to disagree with me. I’m not even sure if I agree with me, it really depends on the week. Love isn’t one thing. It’s wonderful, devastating, exhausting and may very well include a little swiping.

Dating is hard at the end of the day, and “love being blind” is just a cheesy song lyric. 

 

Graphic by Sasha Axenova

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Portman gets called out for flashy cape

You may have heard Rose McGowan’s name concerning Natalie Portman’s dress choice at the Oscars this year.

McGowan, an American actress and activist, spoke out on Facebook about how she thought Portman’s cape, with the names of female directors who weren’t nominated in gold writing framing the dress, was “lip service.”

In this post, McGowan touched on many interesting points about Portman’s statement piece, alluding to the fact that Portman, being the A-lister that she is, needs to do more than just wear an expensive cape. McGowan explained that she’s not brave, and there are warriors that are taking on gender inequality everyday, and Portman shouldn’t profit off the work of these other women. Other criticism of Portman’s action are related to her directing and acting experience, implying that she has not made an impact on helping women directors grow.

According to CNN, Portman responded by saying “I agree with Ms. McGowan that it is inaccurate to call me ‘brave’ for wearing a garment with women’s names on it. Brave is a term I more strongly associate with actions like those of the women who have been testifying against Harvey Weinstein the last few weeks, under incredible pressure.”

Then, later that week, according to The Guardian, McGowan responded with a Tweet saying “My critique should’ve been about Hollywood’s ongoing culture of silence. I realise that by critiquing someone personally, I lost sight of the bigger picture.”

So there’s a few things happening here—McGowan was mad, Portman was naive, and I’m tired.

All in all, the situation deflated quickly and anticlimactically. Yet here you are, and I’m going to talk about it anyway.

At first, reading McGowan’s post made me frustrated. Why was she so mad? Portman did a thing. It maybe wasn’t changing the world, but it was a thing. Can she calm down?

Then after thinking about it a little longer, I realized that I wasn’t being fair. McGowan’s anger is valid and important. It’s easy to dismiss angry women, and I think I do it more than I realize. There’s space for this anger in the fight for gender equality. This kind of anger moves the conversation forward. McGowan is on to something, true activism isn’t shiny and gold. It’s messy, hard and unpopular. It takes sacrifice.

It’s important for us to continue critiquing celebrities and their media coverage, because these actions affect our culture. We are in a new era of people sharing their opinions online and we are still figuring it out. It’s unprecedented.

We are expecting our celebrities to be political and wise, when many of them are just doing a job. Is it lip service? Or is it better than nothing? Who knows, but this open dialogue, although uncomfortable, is the catalyst for change. We need to move away from cancel-culture and toward conversations like these two women have shown.

Natalie Portman is allowed to wear a fancy cape and Rose McGowan is allowed to be angry about it. That’s feminism.

As for my personal opinion, I defer to Edna Mode: no capes!

Graphic by Sasha Axenova

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Netflix’s Sex Education: a real Sex Education

Sweet applesauce, high school was a messed-up time. We were anxious, we were tired (why exactly, unsure) and most of all we were horny. Well actually, I probably didn’t even know what that word meant in my early high school years, but other, less naive kids definitely did.

Last year, when I opened Netflix in an attempt to turn off my brain, quite the opposite happened. I clicked on a show called Sex Education and was forced to reflect on a time in my life that I did not want to revisit—the dreaded adolescent years.

With witty writing and impeccably awkward characters, I found myself transported to Moordale Secondary School. With its modern Mean Girls vibe set in a gorgeous rural area in the UK, I was sucked in.

Naturally, I finished the first season by the end of the week. Season 2 just came out, and that took me even less time.

This British comedy follows main character Otis Milburn, played by Asa Butterfield, an incredibly emotionally-intelligent adolescent, navigating his horrific pubescent years. With issues like not being able to successfully masturbate and lack of experience with women, his struggles are a healthy mix of charming and awkward.

With a sex therapist as a mother who has clear boundary issues, sexual education has seeped into Otis’ brain through osmosis. With his uncanny ability to understand the complexity of sexual experiences, he found himself helping the school bully overcome issues in his sex life. When Maeve Wiley, played by Emma Mackey, witnesses Otis’ gifted advice, the two set up a sex therapy business within the school.

The show’s 40 million viewers now have the opportunity to learn about sex—beyond unrealistic romantic comedies and porn sites. It’s not pretty. It’s not sexy. It’s awkward, weird, beautiful, disastrous and most of all, relatable.

We follow different characters, with all sorts of different sexual realities, expressing a nuanced and representative version of sex—as opposed to what we usually see in the media.

It would be nice if we could all lose our virginity to Ryan Gosling after he sweeps us off our feet in a mysteriously sexy abandoned house, but unfortunately we can’t all be Rachel McAdams…not even Rachel McAdams.

Alright, enough shade on The Notebook, I love that movie. That being said, the importance of showing the uncomfortable nature of sex is crucial for the development of healthy and safe relationships. As we push forward in the #metoo era and continue to learn about sexuality as a diverse spectrum, shows like Sex Education help viewers dip their toes into many different kinds of relationships. This results in creating more realistic, accessible and healthier expectations and concepts of sex.

Whether its sexually-confused Otis, closeted Adam Groff, lonely Maeve Wily, eccentric Lily Iglehart or insecure Ruby Mathews, there are elements of these characters that are within us all.

The show has managed to demonstrate that women can be intelligent and sexual, while also alluding to the realistic competition that hyper-femininity can promote in our culture. In season 2, they show how women are stronger together, even if they don’t think they have anything in common. “Popular girls” are united with “nerds” and “weirdos” by expressing their shared experience of navigating the world as a woman. Just watch season 2 episode 7, you’ll end up in tears—trust me.

Okay enough out of me. Go! Watch it!

I promise you, you’ll learn so much more about sex than you did in high school and you might even want to move to the UK. 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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Gwyneth Paltrow has fooled us all

There I was. Dragging my feet, barely stomaching a coffee, trailing through a crowded Indigo, desperately trying to distract myself from a brutal hangover. My boots were leaving muddy wet puddles with every step, my stained sweatpants clashing with my coat—I truly was a mess.

I looked up and in the middle of one of the displays, I saw a book. This was not your average book. It might have been my delusion but as I pushed past the crowd and found myself standing in front of said book, it floated into my hand. Sparkles were springing off it—the smell of lavender hitting my dry nose.

It’s All Easy, was the title.

I stared into Gwyneth Paltrow’s perfectly-shaped eyes. Did she just wink at me?

Her crinkly smile stretched across the cover. I opened the book—save me G.P! Clean my pores, strengthen my hair and make me look like Jennifer Aniston. Quick! I’m desperate and extremely dehydrated.

That day I wanted Gwyneth to change my life with a green juice or a quick and easy broccoli pie, but some days I roll my eyes at her as I see photos of her prancing around the beach in her white flowy pants. She’s ridiculously good looking, ridiculously rich and ridiculously unattainable. This isn’t new for Hollywood stars, but let’s examine what makes Paltrow specifically so frustrating.

It starts with a $250 million, four-letter-word—Goop.

According to their perfectly designed website, Goop started from Paltrow’s kitchen in 2008 as a weekly newsletter. Now, it has a beauty, fashion and famous “wellness” section.

Wellness. Alas—a word that I have been trying to figure out how to write about all week.

Defining wellness is no easy task. It’s a bit of a fluffy word, but it can be defined as, “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.”

Goop’s wellness section sells things like $50 eye masks, $48 altitude oils and a $75 travel diffuser kit. I don’t know what they mean, but I want them all.

The trouble with a wellness brand is the same with many brands these days. Wellness is a right—it should not be commodified. As soon as you start putting a price on wellness, you are saying that one person deserves it more than another. Even though Paltrow promotes inexpensive things like eating an apple, drinking water and going for a walk, it’s impossible not to want to be a part of the expensive version of wellness as well. That right there is a flawed system.

Is she evil? I don’t know. I do, however, think she has huge blindspots. She has created an inaccessible brand that only assists women (or mostly women) of privilege. And yet—through the mass amount of deflected criticism, she still ends up on top.

Paltrow lacks self-awareness. She told the New York Times in 2019, “The true tenets of wellness are all free. Being in nature, meditating, eating whole foods. If you told our grandparents that eating whole and natural foods was elitist, they would have thought you were crazy.”

Gwyneth… c’mon.

You’re better than telling us that eating whole foods is free. Have you ever been to Whole Foods? That place ain’t free. Nine dollars for five organic rice cakes ain’t free. Let’s not get it twisted here, living this “wellness” life that we are all apparently destined to live is elitist, and it would be nice if she could admit that.

That, however, would not be good branding.

There are some good things that have come out of her business. Something that stuck out to me in her Netflix Special was the episode on female bodies and pleasure. The Goop team spoke about empowering and promoting healthy and approachable tips for women’s sexual experiences. Frankly, it was quite badass. I’m sure that Paltrow will continue to evolve, but it’s essential that we also continue to call her out. At the end of the day, she’s a great businesswoman that knows what she’s doing. I just wish she would do it with a little more integrity.

Who knows, maybe I’m just jealous that I’ll never be able to afford a $68 vital skin foundation stick. 

Graphic by @justineprovost.design

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Changing the way we talk about women in business

The business world can be a scary place. I wouldn’t know much about it, because I have rarely stepped foot into JMSB (unless I really had to pee).

The shiny interior and clean glass windows intimidate me. How can you keep the windows so clean, like dude, it’s downtown Montreal.

I have always been an “Arts kid.” Math, finance and economics are intimidating words that I don’t really understand. Although my dad has explained the stock market about 600 times to me, I still don’t get it. Anyways, what I lack in knowledge of numbers, I hope I have gained in communication and critical thinking. These tools have helped me understand the social world and contextualize my experiences.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend in JMSB. She expressed her concerns about how the school approaches gender differences in business. Quite like myself, she has a background in psychology, meaning gender differences and bias were no foreign concept. In psychology, we learn about the social construction of gender as well as biological differences. She explained that in business, her teachers often address gender differences with slides that proclaim “women are less direct and men dominate the conversation” without further explanation. This lack of context, explanation and acknowledgement of the trend as a stereotype is not only dangerous, it is enabling the behaviour. With my friend’s arts background, she can contextualize these factors and understands not to take them at face value. As she sits in the class, she wonders how many people around her understand not only that the gender differences exist, but why.

I have spent a lot of my degree attempting to understand the “why.” This is something that I often take for granted; I didn’t know any of this stuff before. For a lot of these business students, they won’t understand the “why” until they are taught. I have learned about toxic masculinity, social constructions of gender and what these concepts do to our behaviour. We cannot keep blaming the business world for not understanding why these gender discrepancies exist if the curriculum consistently lacks the tools to help.

No one is saying that men and women are not different. The gender differences that show up in the business world are real—but they are real because they are perpetuated by society, and not because they are inherently real. That is the issue with how these topics are being presented.

Let’s go over the stereotypes that usually follow women in business. According to The Harvard Business Review, “One set of assumed differences is marshalled to explain women’s failure to achieve parity with men: women negotiate poorly, lack confidence, are too risk-averse, or don’t put in the requisite hours at work because they value family more than their careers.” With these stereotypes usually follows, “women are more caring, cooperative, or mission-driven—are used as a rationale for companies to invest in women’s success.”

All this to say, these characteristics, when presented as rigid facts, help solidify the gender discrepancies in business. As a woman in business, learning about how you differ from men, without breaking down exactly why this happens, can be quite damaging. This is not something to be taken at face value. There is a social responsibility for unpacking gender differences.

I am in no way saying that it is more beneficial to get an arts degree. Heck—I probably won’t find a job once I graduate (let’s not go there), but what I am saying is that there are aspects of an arts degree that should be universally taught. Kind of like how I should know more about finance—and learn how to do my taxes. 

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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Dolly, they will always love you

I feel like the world has never been more divided. You’ve got “Red” on one side, “Blue” on the other and no one in the middle.

We are no longer listening to each other. We aren’t engaging with the opposition and everyone seems like, well, a politician. When was the last time you saw two people with completely opposing political views standing next to each other peacefully?

Oh, that’s right—at a Dolly Parton concert. 

A country music icon, Parton has managed to navigate through the celebrity world as an A-list singer/songwriter, without having a political opinion. This is truly unheard of.

This isn’t to say that Parton doesn’t have opinions. She has helped lead a working class women’s movement, with her acting, singing and songwriting of the hit 1980’s movie 9 To 5. This movie, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin as well as Parton herself, focused on hardworking women wanting to be treated better in the workplace. This came at a time when women were extremely frustrated with their lack of rights. The theme song became an anthem for gender equality.

When this movie was readapted to Broadway, she told the red carpet in London, “It’s as relevant now as it was before, and with the #metoo movement this is a good time for it.”

She stands up for women, but never really calls herself a feminist. She is constantly crediting the men in her life, and has the motto that everyone should be treated equally.

Parton’s lack of political position comes at a very interesting time for the world. We are constantly trying to find public figures to lead us. We must like musicians that stand for a good cause, support comedians that are breaking barriers and make sure that like-minded people are the only ones allowed in our echochamber. Parton takes this concept and destroys it. Her diverse fans love her work, her brand and most of all, her. Most are not worried about what she stands for.

She explained to Jad Abumrad in his Podcast Dolly Parton’s America that it’s too much pressure to have a political opinion.

I hope I don’t let people down,” Parton told Abumrad. “They’ve put me up on this pedestal, I hope they don’t knock me off of it.”

Parton has been frustrated in the past with interviewers and the media constantly asking her about her political opinions. In 2017, when Trump had been in office for just under a year, Parton, Fonda and Tomlin all presented an award at the Emmys. The other women, being the powerful activists they are, made a pointed statement directed at the President. Dolly was expected to follow suit, but instead, she decided to make a boob joke.

“I didn’t like it,” Parton told Abumrad. “I had already told Jane and Lili that I wasn’t going to get into the politics of anything. I don’t do politics. I have too many fans on both sides of the fence.”

Whether or not you agree with Parton’s apolitical nature, it works for her. She is an incredible business woman and knows how to work the system. We cannot deny that her neutrality has helped her make a buck. By staying out of political discussions and navigating show business, she has unified two worlds in a way that we haven’t seen before.

There truly is no one like her. 

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost

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Let’s kill the cool girl trope

She’s pretty! She’s fun! She likes sports and hot dogs but still looks great in a little black dress! You know her well! She is the cool girl

A trope we see everywhere, whether she’s in the latest action movie, romcom, drama or even manifesting herself in a Jennifer Lawrence’s celebrity persona, trust me when I say —  everywhere. But, here’s a little secret — she doesn’t actually exist.

That’s right. The cool girl is not real, sorry boys! This is not to say that women are not cool, because trust me, they are. This is to comment on the fact that the cool girl we see in the media is made up and simply a manifestation of male desires.

To clarify, I am not saying that women are not naturally drawn to stereotypically male interests; that’s ridiculous. Women are complex, making their desires diverse and vast. I am simply referring to a systemic trope; one born from male writers, directors and producers who create a female character solely to fit the male gaze. It’s not just about her liking sports or fixing cars, it’s that above all these characters must be insanely hot. It’s a crucial prerequisite, characters have to look like Megan Fox or Sandra Bullock before they are even considered on the cool girl radar. People will say, “she’s not like other girls,” but ha! You’re wrong. Friends, she is like other girls, she just might be better at hiding it.

According to a video by The Take, many women go through a phase where they want to be seen as the cool girl and honestly, I can relate. After fiddling with my sweaty ponytail in an attempt to look effortlessly windswept when I was playing soccer with my guy friends, or trying time and time again to look cool in a baseball cap, I have given up. Cool girls might seem effortless, but I can assure you — they’re not.

The Take explains that the cool girl is often juxtaposed with a very uptight and traditionally “girlier” version. This girl is shown to like more stereotypical girly things such as shopping, painting their nails, and does her makeup, a girl who is seen as annoying, superficial or less-than by the male characters and audience. The cool girl and the girly girl are both very demeaning to women and are both portrayed for the sole purpose of living and dying for male attention. These tropes plant deep roots of internalized sexism between women, often turning them against each other.

To be the cool girl you must renounce your gender, separating yourself from stereotypically feminine characteristics, while also being flawless. How exhausting!

Once we identify these patterns, they are very difficult to miss. When was the last time that you consumed a movie, television show or book where there was only one redeeming female character? I have a feeling you won’t have to look very far.

All this being said, things are getting better. Jennifer Lawrence has calmed down, and at the same time, we are starting to see representation of many interesting and emotionally intelligent women on screen.

Can you imagine? Female characters that reflect the multidimensional interests, motivations, hobbies, hopes and dreams of real people! Female characters showing each other love and support and not putting each other down to gain credibility. Movies like Bridesmaids and Gone Girl address this stereotype head on, using humor and even fear to explain the ridiculousness and the damage of continuing to write women this way.

So let’s move away from “being one of the guys,” and let her just be. Who knows, maybe you’ll find that real women are pretty cool after all.

 

 

Collage by Brittany Clarke

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The toxic world of body shaming

When I was in highschool, I decided to go on Weight Watchers. 

For those of you who don’t know about it, Weight Watchers is a program that helps people regulate their food intake by creating a point system for daily food consumption. Let’s see if I can remember: I think a piece of toast was two points, a handful of popcorn was three and a cup of pasta was four. I was “allowed” about 30 points a day. Essentially, it was a very problematic program for a growing, young and active girl.

As a six foot tall 15-year-old, I took up a lot more space than my dainty little friends. I wanted to be smaller because well, smaller is better. Smaller means you’ll get a boyfriend. Smaller means you’ll get a job. Smaller means you’ll look like people on television. Smaller means no one can ever make fun of you and all your problems will evaporate. Right?

A tale of an insecure teenager is nothing to write home about. If you were confident at 15, then I’m truly happy for you, but you’re also probably lying. There are a million reasons why you would feel insecure at that age, so my body issues felt temporary. In 30 years, I wouldn’t have to deal with this. I’d picture myself as a business woman with bigger things on my plate, strutting around in fancy blazers and a mature, but very hip short haircut. I thought my body was undesirable, but who didn’t at that age? I’d grow out of it.

One day I was at my friend’s house eating dinner and her mother (a blazer-wearing, short-haired queen) came down the stairs. She asked us what we thought of her new shirt. We smiled and told her she looked beautiful, and what happened next really stuck with me. She spent the next five minutes telling us how insecure she felt, saying the shirt made her look fat and ugly. I couldn’t believe it. There was no age limit to this bullshit? I was going to have to deal with this my whole life?

These questions of physical insecurity and self-esteem seem impossible to answer, but I think it all comes down to one thing: our society perpetuates the narrative that small is good and big is bad.

Lindy West, a writer and comedian, has been writing about fatness for almost 10 years. With charisma and wit, she has navigated the world as a fat activist, answering ignorant, damaging and repetitive questions about living in a larger body. According to an article she wrote in The Guardian, a recurring question she receives is, “By promoting fat acceptance, is there a risk that you are also promoting obesity and all its risks?”

West explains,

The question itself is an assault: it validates the idea that fat people’s humanity is one side of the debate, that our bodies are public property.”

Research shows that weight, contrary to popular belief, is not a health indicator. It is unacceptable and hypocritical to deny the rights of fat people by saying that this is encouraging their health problems. West writes, “If you claim to care about fat people’s health but do nothing to fight fat stigma, you are a liar.”

When my friend was in Grade 6, she had the flu and didn’t eat for 10 days. When she came to school the next week having lost weight, she received countless compliments about her body. How do you think that made her feel about how she looked before?

You might not see a link between my body insecurities and the dehumanization of fat people, but they are completely intertwined. What I need to understand is that even though my thoughts about my body are valid, the moment I voice them in hope for validation that I’m skinny or small enough, I am part of the problem. The moment I complain about my weight, I am insulting anyone around me that might be bigger than me. This is not because I’m calling them fat, but because I am alluding to the fact that, in order to be worthy and to be seen, we must be smaller.

Every time we compliment someone on losing weight, or we comment that someone looks “great” because they are smaller, we are demeaning the person they were before and anybody that’s bigger than them. It’s an implication that has demonstrated time and time again that we do not understand.

We are so invested in the idea that if we lose weight, things will get better. You might even notice that you are having an aversion to these statements right now. This is easier said than done. The notion is pervasive. The sooner we understand and attempt to push back, the better things will get because we simply cannot fight something we cannot see.

There are just so many more things to worry about. After all, we are all very busy, very important and Australia’s on fire. 

Graphic @sundaeghost

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