Not The Girl Next Door
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Not The Girl Next Door

How a haircut reminded me what feminism is really about.

Salma Hayek once said: "People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder."

Her words were most prevalent to me specifically one day last April, when I walked into a hair salon with ten inches of hair and came out with two.

I listened as my haircutter's scissors snipped through my outer shell: a messy blend of blonde strands, tangled in one another, spilling over my shoulders and down my back. Even as I watched pieces of me fall below my feet, I felt whole inside.

When I returned to my university later that day, it was a different story. At Saint Joseph's, with its lush greenery and old tower centripetal to the rest of campus, almost every girl within a three-mile radius has sweeping locks. Many students from surrounding traditional Catholic upbringings come to study, and as a result, the look of our student body can be described as homogeneously preppy.

One snap decision made me look like I didn't belong anymore.

A few people mentioned how a pixie put the emphasis on my face, which was scary for me. I had always put most of my self-confidence in my hair as a teenager, and was a novice at doing my own makeup.

Every day waking up was like being naked, and everyone else was clothed. Other people eventually became acclimated with my new look, but a part of me never did. They may have stopped staring, but I began to stare at myself.

In a way, I became my own critic and the reviews were harsh.

To compound these insecurities, I became nervous about posting on apps like Instagram and even Snapchat. If so many people would see, was it worth posting? Did I look like a middle school boy? Did I look worse than before? What did people really think?

My feed became a way for me to see how my peers measured up. Social media had once been my weapon against fear. But now it had turned against me.

Blending in was safe. This felt dangerous.

What I didn't realize then was just how much more insight I gained that April afternoon. I started to empathize more with women who didn't necessarily fit the narrow definition of a classic feminine "beauty." Daring to challenge feminine stereotypes of what a woman "should" look like was a way I could gain perspective with women who couldn't be the wallflower I had been before.

As a sex, women are no longer confined to fitting a mold with the right sexual orientation, or race, or nose, or breast size or even, as silly as it may sound, hair length.

Maybe the seven inches between my old haircut and my new one had not changed how other women perceived me; but for many women, uncontrollable variables about their look affect how "beautiful" the world deems them to be. Even if you feel accepted, there's a difference between feeling good about yourself and being able to project it to the world.

Female writers and actresses like Mindy Kaling, show runner of Hulu's The Mindy Project, have spoken out about what being a woman in this day and age really means.

Kaling, who has given a voice to non-traditional beauty for women, once said: "I find it very sad that so many girls who look up to me... are young women of color who have been told that they are ugly and who feel that they are not normal. I think it's so important for women who look like me to find that they can be beautiful or objects of love, attention and affection."

They're not the only words that Kaling, and others, have said in support of confidence and success for marginalized women.

Kaling and Hayek's words bear weight in an ever-changing present that hails traditionally-beautiful women as perfect. Social media can be used for good, as long as it brings us together rather than apart.

We are moving towards equality, but it's easy for us to fall back on what we know when it's most convenient for us. If we let social media pressures define us as women, we're reverting back to a time that propagates outdated sexist ideologies.

Feminism today needs more strength, not less.

Young women are here to stay. So is social media. Let's use it to empower ourselves and our choices; let it unite us as women and let us accept one another for who we are.

In Kaling's words: "If you got it, flaunt it. And if you don't got it? Flaunt it. 'Cause what are we doing here if we're not flaunting it?"

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The Handmaid's Tale: Feminism On Screen

An unassuming recipe for feminism.

"Now I'm awake to the world. I was asleep before. That's how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn't wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn't wake up then, either. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you'd be boiled to death before you knew it."

- Offred, The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale, a Hulu series released in late April that's taken the popular streaming service by storm, is based originally off of a dystopian novel written in 1985 by Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, The Penelopiad), an author known for her feminist viewpoint. Hulu brings it to us now, a bit different than the original novel, but as fearful, controversial, and enlightening as ever.

It chronicles the life of Offred, a woman who's scaled a mountain of hardship without completely cracking underneath the pressure of the dystopian society that she's been forced to live within.

She exists as a handmaid, a walking reproductive system meant only to assist in the plight to repopulate, and must completely adapt to survive. One may not think that this is a budding recipe for feminism, but indeed, it is.

Throughout the series, the oppressive demeanor of their new society renders women unable to voice their dissent out loud. The only way that they can possibly hope to rebel is from within. Slight smiles and stolen glances serve as a substitute for words, and moments not held under supervision are cautiously cherished.

Even though their new society strives for these women to remain suspicious of one another, there are those among them who realize that forming a connection is the only way to avoid drowning completely in hopelessness. They remain defiant in secret, reveling in the belief that their feminist mindset and true identity are the only things that cannot be taken from them.

Now that you've been given your synopsis, let a college feminist tell you why The Handmaid's Tale is so important, and why it should be on your watchlist.

For me, it's painfully relevant. Of course, there have been rough patches throughout the course of history, but recent (*cough, cough* political) events have put those of us who are passionate about women's rights on the alert.

Offred is someone that I came to root for -- someone to sympathize with. She is an example of the defiance felt among those who are stripped of their rights. Offred isn't just a fictitious character, she and the other unfortunate handmaids, in my opinion, could almost be representatives of real women who once lived lives exactly like ours.

If that doesn't have any of you fellow feminists raising a suspicious eyebrow, then take another look at the quote above.

Obviously, The Handmaid's Tale shouldn't be perceived as a stark prediction of a coming doomsday that we all should watch out for, but it is a strong reminder of what may come to pass if those of us who have a voice decide not to use it early on.

Offred's story isn't meant to shock us, or to scare us into doing something different, it's meant to give us hope. In other news, 'The Handmaid's Tale' has received raving reviews (myself included), becoming one of the most viewed series on Hulu to the delight of those who worked to make the series possible, and is said to be set for a much anticipated new season after the first comes to a close.

I'll be watching, will you?

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3 Myths About Feminists, Dismantled

Yes, I'm a feminist. No, I don't hate men.

Can you recall the first time you were exposed to the term "feminism"?

In seventh grade, when a guest speaker defined feminism to our class as the belief that women and men should have equal rights, I was confused. Why do we need a word for this? Isn't everyone a feminist? Despite the seemingly obvious answer, many people in today's society still refuse to accept this label.

Before we criticize people who don't identify as feminists, let's try to understand what leads them to avoid this label. Here are three common misconceptions about feminism in today's culture:

Myth #1: Feminists hate men
Correction: Feminists hate the patriarchy.
This claim seems absurd, but I know a number of people claiming to be feminists who bash on men. Let me be clear: there is a difference between criticizing a man for objectifying a woman, and criticizing all men for objectifying all women.

Calling an individual out for their actions, by my standards, is fair. Where the problem lies, is in those who get so swept up in hating the patriarchy, that they mistake the patriarchy for all men.

While plenty of men certainly fall under the category of "misogynistic", it's important to also note that many men don't. The patriarchy is a problematic system that has been in place for centuries. Men of our time, on the other hand, are a group of individuals, and should be treated as such. True feminism embraces this fact.

*Note that this stereotype is particularly harmful to the movement of feminism because it leads people to falsely believe that only women can be feminists.

Myth #2: Feminists hate families
Correction: Feminists want having a family to be a choice, not an expectation, and they respect that choice.
The misunderstanding that has evolved into this stereotype begins with the idea of women wanting a choice. What I want as a feminist is the right to choose whether or not to get married, have kids, and be a stay-at-home mom.

I have great respect for those who choose this lifestyle, and great respect for those who find themselves living under different circumstances. What I don't want, is people telling me I should live a certain lifestyle simply because I'm a woman. Get it?

Myth #3: Feminists are always angry
Correction: Feminists get frustrated when they are put in a box.
Wouldn't you be, if people were constantly misjudging you? What some people may perceive as perpetual anger, is realistically a surge of frustration manifesting itself whenever someone uses one of these stereotypes, and many more, to reject the label of "feminist".

I believe that the feeling of frustration is not only entirely valid, but it can also prove itself useful in changing how feminists are perceived. Next time you hear someone make an inaccurate claim about feminism, feel that frustration and use it to inform those around you.

Being a feminist has nothing to do with hate, and everything to do with respect, freedom of choice, and equality.

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The Best Feminist Websites

You don't have to be a feminist to enjoy these websites.

Living under a Trump presidency, being a feminist is more important than ever. With all Trump has done against women and his policies so far concerning women, feminists need to stand strong together. So if you're a feminist, here are the best websites to read to stay updated and informed.

Bustle is an all-around great feminist website. It reports on news, lifestyle, books... pretty much everything. Bustle is also really great about writing about feminism and mental health as well.

Venus is a great website. They have feminist articles but they also share artwork and photography on their website. They also have a "Dear Venus" where you can ask for advice or just vent if you need to.

The best part about this site, though, has to be two things: they have a "Venus of the Week" where they highlight a great woman and they accept pitches, so if you want to write an article for them, you can.

Broadly is an offshoot of Vice that focuses just on women. It's a great website with really great writing about all things women. They are also really great in writing and reporting about marginalized women.

The best part about this website is the excellent stories and writing. Since it's an offshoot of Vice, the reporting is great and the fact that it just focus on women is even better. Plus, if you're looking for intersectional feminism, this is a great place for that.

The Establishment
The Establishment is such a great feminist website. This website is all about intersectional feminism in all of its forms. And if you want to join their membership program, you get access to all kinds of stuff like life advice and a sex column to name a few.

Other cool features of this website include the fact that you can sponsor a story on the website and you can pitch them stories that, if accepted, pay $125 per article.

This is another really great intersectional feminist website covering all kinds of feminist topics. Their website isn't the best in terms of design and ease of use, but their content more than makes up for that.

The best part of this feminist website is that they have a community section that anyone can write for so there is never a lack of feminist voices.

Everyday Feminism
Last but certainly not least, here's another really great feminist website. This website, which also covers intersectional feminism, covers all kinds of topics relating to feminism.

The best part of this website is the fact that it offers online courses. These courses, while they aren't free, cover great topics such as self love, relationships, and their latest one is about healing from toxic whiteness.

You can never follow enough feminist websites so if you aren't follow these, do it. These websites are worth it.

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Is Activated Charcoal Really Worth Your Time and Money?

Simply put, yes.

If you've been to the store lately, you've definitely seen at least an entire shelf filled with products screaming about charcoal and its supposed benefits. There's charcoal everything now: soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face masks, face wash, the list goes on longer than the file of Hillary's deleted emails.

Seriously, take a trip to the Target beauty section and you'll know what I mean. But do they work? Are they worth spending what little money you have on?

The answer is hell yes. We all know that activated charcoal is used for overdoses and medical emergencies to absorb toxins in the stomach, and the beauty products work the same way. Whatever product you choose to try out, whether it be the shampoos and conditioners or the face washes, they absorb any excess dirt, oils, and toxins.

I cannot rave about these products enough. And this isn't just some new trend; it's actually backed up by some scientists. Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist, broke it down for us: "When dirt and oil in your pores come in contact with the carbon, they stick to it and then get washed away when you rinse."

So there you have it ladies and gents, activated charcoal is your skin's new BFF. (It works great for men, too. No shame in a man actually caring about his skin and hair, we ladies actually very much appreciate that).

But where do you begin? Well, I have a few suggestions to get your charcoal obsession started, so grab a pen and paper and make a charcoal grocery list.

1. Freeman Facial Polishing Mask with Charcoal & Black Sugar
This mask is my favorite. You can feel it working as you scrub it onto your face. Plus, even if you get it in your mouth, it just tastes like sugar (talk about a bonus you never knew you wanted). And after you rinse it off your skin is left feeling baby soft and clean as ever. Seriously worth the few dollars you'll spend on it at Walmart.

2. Hask Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner
These are some of the cheapest and best charcoal shampoos and conditioners I've found. They deep clean your hair, smell wonderful, and leave your locks feeling lovely. Plus, they're only $5.99 each at Ulta. Like, c'mon, you can't beat those prices.

3. Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser
This cleanser will be your holy grail product. Trust me. Once you use this, your skin is cleansed, clear, soft, and supple. This contains salicylic acid to kill and keep away zits, natural ingredients to soothe and exfoliate your skin, and, of course, charcoal to work its magic.

Those are all the products I have for now, but trust me when I say there will be more and you will be #obsessed.

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Emilyness: Talking Body

Emily Ratajkowski. A powerful voice for our generation.

Sophia Bush was interviewed on the topic of Feminism. She discussed that she doesn't think it's as complicated as we're making it out to be.

She backed up her belief in feminism by saying she was a woman, she wanted to live as well and be as well protected as any man, and more or less just be treated as an equal. Sophia states, "It doesn't mean I hate men, or want to burn my bras and throw away my high heels. I don't want to be judged for wearing them, just as I wouldn't want to be judged for wearing motorcycle boots."

Now, we're talking body.

Our generation has started to take a stand not only for females everywhere, but for our bodies and sexuality. We will just call this "Emily-ness". Emily Ratajkowski is one of my favorite supermodels, but more importantly, she has become one of my favorite voices of our generation.

She's open and honest about her political views and stands strong in her beliefs. She recently posed nude for Harpar Bazaar and discussed these naked ambition beliefs in detail.

"Desire is normal. Attention is normal, and that's OK."

Of course, we're not all going to start running around naked and adopting a pornographic lifestyle, but desire, attention, and sexuality in all of us is completely normal.

Even back in high school, girls weren't allowed to show shoulders and knees, because it would be a distraction to the boys. Shoulders? Knees? Distraction?

Being 5'10", I was sent home several times for showing my knees, even though a shorter girl would wear the same thing and not get into trouble. It destroyed my confidence and made me believe I looked "sluttier" due to my height.


"The world should not be exclusive of the ideal body. It has to include all ideals, all bodies."

We all come from varying backgrounds and varying body types. Short, tall, big butt, large breasts, long legs, wide hips, big lips, slim waist... Owning your sexuality isn't exclusive to Victoria's Secret models. It's not exclusive to men, either. "Emily-ness" is all about assertion and self-acceptance.

"A woman can be seeking attention and also make a statement. They don't need to be mutually exclusive."

Mocking a woman for seeking attention is not only out-dated, it's ridiculous. If you're receiving attention, or a man enjoys the way you look, there's a myth that you're having something taken away from you.

Seeking recognition and making statements don't take anything away from you. You own who you are and the body you have, and neither of those things should be used as weapons to undermine you.

"Social media is something women didn't have 10 years ago, and that's a big aspect in feminism today. I don't have to be filtered by anyone. I choose." Well put, Emily. That's the point... I choose.