A Letter to Past Generations

Dear people of the past,

I am one person out of millions. I may be small, but my voice will not be silenced. We will no longer be silenced by beliefs made centuries ago.

We will not be silenced by beliefs that are killing innocent lives, or by the beliefs that are discriminating against the people who are finally becoming proud of who they are.

We are the new generation. We are the millennials, the Gen. Z kids, and the generations to come, and we are proud of ourselves for the world we’re determined to create.

We may be young, and we may not know everything about the world, but we are still learning, still improving, and we are definitely still fighting.

We are strong

We are resilient.

And we are powerful.

But we aren’t defined by adjectives; we are the future. In just a few years, most of us will be given the power to vote, and we will remember when you ignored our pleas.

Photo Credit: ABC News.

You ignored our pleas for equal rights, our pleas to not feel afraid to walk into our schools, our pleas for an equal opportunity you pride your country over yet fail to fulfill.

We will remember what you refused to give us, and we will take it ourselves.

The years will come, and the world will become ours. Not just for one percent of us, but for everyone.

A world where students can walk into their schools without the fear that they’d never walk out.

A world where people are free to love who they wish to.

A world where people are judged by their personality or by what they bring to the world. Not by the color of their skin, or their preference of who they love.

So remember this

We may be young,

But we are angry.

And you can try silence us, but we will rise, and we will scream louder than ever.

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Monthly Madness

Periods. Otherwise known as menstruation. Otherwise known as the precursor to pregnancy, that time of the month, the curse, the monthlies, shark week, and the list goes on. Yet, with its many names, society seems to forget about this natural way of life. The fact that 49.6% of the world experiences this process at one time or another would make it seem that the conversation surrounding it would be frequent and healthy, but no.

Anyone born with a uterus has heard the first period stories. I remember before I got mine, I heard about my mother’s. She hid her underwear and would sit crying in her room because she didn’t want to tell her parents that she was dying. Think about that for a moment. Albeit, sexual education has progressed since my mother was a teenager, but the lack of information about periods is still very much an issue. I don’t remember any information about periods except a movie in fifth grade titled Just Around the Corner and a brief lesson about it in freshman year. I don’t remember learning what pads to get, if tampons are right for me, how to handle cramps, how to predict/learn about my cycle, and many other questions that I still have today.

Photo Credit: huffingtonpost.com

“Most girls learn about their periods the day their periods start,” says Chandra-Mouli, a member of the World Health Orginization. He describes the all too popular story that usually goes like: “I started having periods at school. Spotting on my clothes. Giggling in class. I didn’t know what was happening. My panties felt wet. My teacher made me wait in the staff room. I thought my insides were rotting. My mother came and wrapped me in a towel, took me home, put me in a bath and said, ‘You’re a woman now. Don’t go out and play with the boys.’”

That lack of education is even worse in many other countries. Periods are seen as a curse; women are shunned from public life and aren’t allowed to cook, clean, or learn. It’s also immensely harder to get proper sanitary items and unhealthy options are almost always used. Did you know that 10% of girls in Africa miss out on school because of their period each month or that 4/5 girls in East Africa lack the access to basic sanitary supplies? Why are we letting these young, impressionable girls internalize these gross views of their bodies? In order to help the ever-growing future, we need to help young women all over the world to feel no shame about their bodies.

I think that the first step to getting rid of social stigma is education. Teach boys how to pick out period products for their sisters/mothers/ girlfriends and how to be supportive to these women in their lives. Teach kids that there are transgender kids who either do or don’t have periods and it kills them on the inside. Show us pad ads where the coverage simulation uses red ink instead of blue. Teach girls how to feel confident on their period and how to handle this intense shift in hormones. Open up this conversation in class or at meals. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, but if it could help one more person not stain their clothes or miss another class, then, in my opinion, it’s worth it.

Tale as New as Time

On Friday, audiences will once again revisit the “tale as old as time” when the Beauty and the Beast makes its live action debut. The movie, featuring the amazing acting abilities of Emma Watson and other Hollywood veterans, has already been featured in many famous news platforms. Why? In an interview done by Attitude, a British magazine, the director, Bill Condon, revealed that LeFou, Gaston’s trusty sidekick, will be gay.

While he didn’t specifically say what will happen, this statement was met with many different reactions. To some members of the gay community, this was a breath of fresh air. Finally, Disney, a huge media influencer, has validated the gay community with its first “exclusively gay” moment. The fact that a character in such a beloved classic is out, or at least exploring his sexuality, is the representation that many wished they had when they were younger.

However, some members of the gay community were upset by this update. Ryan Houlihan, a Teen Vogue writer, states his ailments in the following, “They made the gay character a villain, relegated him to being a sidekick, gave this explicitly queer role to a straight actor, and then muddled the issue by making him sexually ‘confused’ – just to hedge their bets.” It’s also terrible that Lefou’s entire “gayness” is him pining over his unattainable straight friend. What the LGBT+ community needs is a gay character who gets his feelings reciprocated and a meaningful plot progression.

No matter the opinions, the media has gone into a frenzy about this new additive to the plot, making it a hot topic for new interviews of the stars. Emma Watson, the actress of the remade feminist Belle, made it quite clear that LeFou’s gay moment isn’t extremely pronounced, on the other hand, she called it “subtle.” Apparently, it’s a mystery whether he is in love with Gaston, as it isn’t written in the script.

Bill Condon thinks the attention is “overblown,” as Josh Gad’s character is featured in a background dance scene with another man. Condon’s response to this attitude surprises me. Saying that this movie will feature the first “exclusively gay moment” in Disney’s history is a pretty big deal, so being shocked by the media outburst seems a little odd.

Nevertheless, I’m excited to see this moment for myself, as I want to experience this revolutionary moment on the big screen this Friday. Watch a preview of LeFou’s famous “Gaston” here:

 

New Year, New Teen Vogue

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Photo Credit: thefashionspot.com

In an interview done by Fox News, Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca’s authorial legitimacy was questioned. She was asked to be interviewed after writing a piece on Donald Trump back in December 2016. So, as one would assume, she thought they would ask her about the article. Instead, they went on for ten minutes about how, as a fashion writer, she was unable to accurately write about politics.

This kind of blatant sexism is found in many places in journalism and is becoming commonplace with female journalists. The fact that a respected news organization like Fox News could let an interview like that air is beyond me. This incident didn’t just spark unrest for Miss Duca, but for journalists like her. Why is it that because a woman writes about fashion, makeup, or hair, she is incapable of writing about more serious things like politics or other current events?

This false predisposition is just what Teen Vogue sought to disprove in the newest edition of their magazine. Wrapped in a tall collectible format, hundreds of ideas were displayed to their many, avid readers. From the profound significance of the Academy-Award winning movie, Moonlight, to one man’s relationship with makeup, this magazine tackles a wide variety of ideas.

After reading this volume on my flight back to Los Angeles, I was blown away by the passion some of these authors wrote with in their articles and the stereotypes of a “teen magazine” that were totally disregarded. I read interviews of celebrities, such as Troye Sivan and Lena Dunham, done by people close to them. They were laced with a feeling of comfort, something you couldn’t find with a typical interview. I learned of the uplifting story of a Syrian girl finding a new life and love after fleeing her war-stricken country. I read stories of all different kinds of love: sisterly love, pet-owner love, love of fashion, and self-love. This volume talked about consent, masturbation, sexuality, and other essential lessons not always found in the sex-ed taught in high schools. The photoshoots showed candid smiles, unique fashion, and people of all races and sexualities.

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Photo Credit: thefashionspot.com

In the future, it is my hope that more magazines will follow suit. Continuing to write about fashion and makeup, but also about things that matter outside of that realm, will further enrich the knowledge of many. It is important to hear voices from many walks of life, as representation is the first step to feeling empowered.

An Open Thank You to the President

Thank you for the past eight years.

Although I’ve only seen two presidents in my life, thank you for all that you’ve done.

Thank you for allowing people to criticize you before and after winning the election.

Thank you for being a benevolent spokesperson of the United States, and for meeting other leaders with dignity and class.

Thank you for letting me decide what I can do with my body. Thank you for opening some up to the idea that women deserve free rein of their bodies just as much as men do.

Thank you for creating an affordable healthcare option, so that we can have a healthier country. Thank you for disregarding the talk about money and future, and for providing safety for those who didn’t think they’d have it.

Thank you for your comedy, from talk shows to the White House Correspondents’ Dinners.

Thank you for your light-heartedness around children. It’s not every day that the president opens the White House for a Halloween party.

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Photo Credit: twistedsifter.com

Thank you for talking about tough issues with an open outlook. Thank you for disregarding taboo and speaking about what truly needs to be heard.

Thank you for sharing the love story between you and your wife for all the world to see. Thank you for sharing your elegant family with the public.

Thank you for being historical and inspiring people of color to pursue their dreams.

Thank you for showing me the good in the United States, and for accepting the bad.

Thank you for running down the halls of the White House with your dog, Bo.

Thank you for appreciating and lifting the spirits of people of color, LGBTQIA people, disabled people, and every other kind of person.

Thank you, Barack Obama, for being this country’s humble, kind, and amazing 43rd president.

Women of Our Future

Following Trump’s win in last night’s presidential election, about half of the country is in complete distress. Now, most women, people of color, LGBTQIA, people with disabilities, and other oppressed people are starting to fear for themselves and their futures with the reality of a completely Republican-controlled government. But, those minorities didn’t take a complete step back. Five strong, capable women were voted into various positions, all of whom are hopefully the first of many.

California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Photo Credit:  www.latimes.com

Kamala Harris was elected as California’s Senate representative. Along with that, she has been Attorney General of her state since 2011. She is the second black woman to ever be in the US Senate and the first ever woman to be California’s Attorney General. This comes as a huge accomplishment, especially because both her parents were immigrants – originally from Jamaica and India.

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Photo Credit: latino.foxnews.com

Former Attorney General of Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto became the United States’ first ever Latina Senator. She is representing Nevada in the Senate. This wasn’t a small feat: as the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, she had a tough battle defeating her opponent, Republican Joe Heck.

"Because I’m a mom, that makes me concerned for the future," Omar said. Photo by Conrad Zbikowski.
Photo Credit: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net

Ilhan Omar became the nation’s first Somali-American lawmaker, when she was elected as a State Representative for Minnesota. She is a fantastic role model for young East African girls, who she actively empowers, working as the director of Women Organizing Women Network. Her win is a bright sign for all her fellow refugees as she symbolizes hope for women who want to be in politics.

Photo Credit: http://www.glaad.org

Kate Brown made a wave of change as the United States’ first openly LGBT governor, when she became Oregon’s 38th Governor. She is an activist not only for LGBT rights, but she also wants to see reform in gun control, women’s rights, and clean energy. In a speech she made about a month ago, she opened up about why she was running. “If I can be a role model for one young person that decides that their life is worth living because there’s someone like them in the world, it’s worth it,” she said.

Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, at the World War II Memorial in Washington in 2010. Duckworth, now an Illinois congressional candidate, became a double amputee when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004.
Photo Credit: http://www.military.com

Last, but certainly not least, Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq war, became Illinois’s new Senator. Born in Bangkok, this former Hawaiian resident defeated Republican Mark Kirk. Her choice to join the army was probably influenced by her former marine father, Frank Duckworth. Her win marks almost the 12th year since she lost both her legs in a plane crash when fighting in the Iraq war.

So, no matter how you feel about the outcome of this election, I think these women deserve some recognition. Their successes show that even when women are put down, ridiculed, or deemed weak and undeserving, we still prevail. I’m glad that these women (and other women) will be representing who I could be, if I work hard and believe in my capabilities. These women are the future of our nation.

Inspiration from: https://www.good.is/articles/women-elected-across-america

I thought the insult ‘Queer’ was dead already

I was shocked to hear it. I really thought it had stopped being ‘cool’ a long time ago.

“That’s so queer.” He said, the first time, referring to someones Instagram account. I looked him dead in the eye. “Stop. You have no right.” But he didn’t. The words ‘Fagg*t,’ ‘Queer’, and ‘Gay’ were used several more times as an insult throughout the conversation. Eventually I left, utterly disgusted.

So why is it so important to stop using these terms like this?

Well first of all you may think it’s cool, but I don’t care how many bro-points you gain, insulting someone via their sexuality. But really, that’s only the surface of this issue. Yeah, it’s mean, but it’s so much more too.

Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? So essentially, everything you do makes ripples. It goes a lot further than you thought it would, in a lot of ways.

  1. You make gay synonymous with bad. You make kids feel lesser for their feelings.
  2. You are furthering this insult, keeping the cycle going. Just stop.
  3. YOU ARE HURTING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY
  4. You are bullying. I do not care if you said it to a gay person or not. You are being a bully. End of story.
  5. 23% of gay or bisexual teens have tried to take their own lives and 56% have self harmed. You are an accomplice to these murders of young children who did nothing wrong.
  6. You are saying that it’s ok for millions upon millions of people to be degraded world-wide so you can… be cool? Grow up.
  7. You are creating a community that is unsafe
  8. Back to the statistics – More than 85% of LGBTQ+ youth have been harassed at school in the past year. You are making your school a place where kids may be afraid to attend.
  9. So, so much more.

So why would you use these descriptive terms as insults? Can you honestly not grasp the idea that there are other words out there? You want to be ‘cool?’

Buy a dictionary.

Photo Credit to: http://www.goabroad.com