Not The Girl Next Door
Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

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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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Shuttertsock

The Newest Princess Movie Is Teaching People To Bodyshame

And people are not having it. Do better.

"Princess" movies, especially in recent years, have gotten a pretty bad rep. Some say that the main characters are oversexualized, some say that the plots are contrived, and some even say that movies involving princesses are downright bad for feminism.

So, whenever a new princess movie is set to be released, most consumers hold them under close scrutiny. South Korean director Sung Ho Hong is responsible for the newest announced princess feature, Red Shoes and the 7 Dwarfs, which is slated for a late-2017 release.

At the outset, this film seems to be a fairytale princess story that would fit into the modern era: instead of having the typical "damsel in distress," the eponymous seven dwarves are actually princes who have been punished with the curse of miniature stature. Only a kiss from the most beautiful girl in the world can break the spell, which leads the princes on numerous adventures, and ultimately, to the idea of finding "true beauty."

Is there a flick more aimed at the "inner beauty" millennial generation? I mean, Chloe Grace Moretz has even been tapped to play Snow White.

So why all of the fuss surrounding this film? Well, because the inner beauty message is completely lost and forgotten about after seeing the first minute of the pervy, fat-shaming trailer. The trailer begins with two of the dwarves stumbling into what's supposed to be Snow White's house.

The men are convinced that they have the wrong princess' abode--until they see her slim, dolled up portrait hanging on the wall. But, before the dwarves can investigate further, Snow White returns home, her slender legs accentuated by her prim, red heels.

To avoid detection, the dwarves hide under the princess' coffee table and, as if this wasn't bad enough, watch with glee as she takes off each layer of clothing, starting with her earrings, then her cloak, and eventually, her skintight bodycon dress. The longer this trailer continues, the less this movie seems like a family feature.

Within a minute's time, the trailer has effectively told children (especially young boys) that it's not only okay to 1) sneak into someone else's house, but 2) watch them get undressed without their permission. Snow White is beautiful, of course, but there's no need to sexualize her as much as this trailer already has.

What's worse is what happens once Snow White takes off those titular red shoes. The dwarves seem to reach the peak of their excitement once Snow White has undressed down to these pointy-toed pumps, but the shoes themselves hold their own secret. Once the shoes have been removed, Snow White turns into her "inner" self: an overweight, lazy princess. And the dwarves could not be more disgusted.

Aside from the overtly voyeuristic overtones, this trailer sends a message that "beautiful" and "fat" are mutually exclusive. If you ask me, Snow White is working it before and after she takes off her shoes, and clearly, I'm not the only one who thinks so. The movie's highest-billed star, Chloe Grace Moretz, is "appalled and angry" over the trailer and an additional promotional poster. B

oth the trailer and the poster are inherently teaching young kids that body positivity is all well and good--unless you're fat. Others not involved in the film have taken to social media to voice their discontent as well.

With tons of mainstream media still pushing "thin is in" mentalities, this marketing strategy is callous, and quite frankly, dangerous. In my opinion, it's time this body-shaming film took a bite of a poisoned apple.

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Real Talk |  Source: L. Smith, Slash Film

Netflix's New Show "GLOW" Isn't As Girl-Power As It Should Be

I'm uncomfortable.

With a premise that seems like it'd be feminist AF, Netflix's new comedy-drama series, GLOW, completely fails to achieve the level of girl-power I had expected.

The series is a retelling of true events: the creation of TV series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling back in 1986. The first of its kind, the original series introduced the world to female wresting -- an unpopular sport in the 80s. While initially filled with wrestling amateurs, the show eventually became a roaring success until its sudden cancellation in 1990.

In Netflix's show, the women spend most of their time bringing each other down and arguing, as opposed to working together to improve their skills and get their show organized.

For instance, two of the female leads (played by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin) go from being best friends to mortal enemies due to a case of infidelity -- the man receives little backlash for his part in the affair, of course -- and they spend the rest of the series constantly at odds with one another, even getting into several serious fights with one another.

In the rare moments the women are shown to be friendly to one another, it's usually to stab one another in the back only moments later. At one point, one girl overhears another talking about her miscarriage, leading to an incredibly uncomfortable scene involving a ketchup bottle and a fake "miscarriage" in the boxing ring.

Instead of talking about their feelings or sorting out this issue, the women just fight until one of them passes out. Sounds like more of a male response to conflict than a female one, in my opinion.

The series is also filmed in a slightly sexist manner. This could in part be because male directors tend to shoot in a sexual way, but also because the show's content itself can easily be sexualized (women in leotards and all that). There are numerous scenes that strongly focus on the actresses' breasts -- in locker rooms, showers, whilst breastfeeding -- and I couldn't help but think "Is this necessary?" as I watched it happen.

The male gaze, which is already so prevalent in the media, is very strong in this show that should be about female empowerment.

I first noticed the strange exploitative and sexual nature of the show when I wasn't fully paying attention to it. While the show played in the background I had to wonder, "Is a sex scene happening right now?". It wasn't. Many of the sounds the girls make during wrestling practice seem like something out of a porno, not like the sounds athletes usually make. Just listen to Serena Williams on the court, no erotically charged moans of ecstasy there.

A lot of the dialogue even has sexual undertones. At one point a male character even says, "I like the whole 'objectify me' vibe" to one of the female wrestlers. Come on.

Perhaps I'm the only person finding issues with GLOW. After all, countless publications have applauded the series and it currently holds a rating of 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. I just think it's odd that the original GLOW from the 80s seems more progressive than its modern-day retelling.

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Google Proposes New Professional Women Emojis

It's about time.

Google employees have designed new emojis to better represent women in the professional workplace. They proposed 13 new emojis, hoping to have them available to all smartphones by the end of this year.

Since the release of emojis in 2011, there has been criticism about the lack of diversity. Last year, the Unicode Consortium, the organization that creates these characters, introduced emojis in all different skin tones and added same sex couples and families to the collection.

Google's proposal suggests that the language of emojis should include all individuals, including those who don't identify with a specific gender.

They state, "Given the fact that women are the most frequent emoji users, and that they span a wide professional spectrum not yet reflected in current emoji, we want to help address this pressing matter of equality."

Women only make about 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, but the fight to close the gender gap in the workplace is strong.

The current emojis show men with jobs like police officers, and women doing things like cutting hair. The new proposal suggests emojis representing women doing jobs in the farming, healthcare, food service, education, music, science, and business industries.

The Proposal states: "To make our final selection, we looked at the primary, secondary, and tertiary categories that compose global GDP--Agriculture, Industry and Services--and further broke them down categorically based on global popularity, growth, and overall representation. We additionally added in concepts from popular media campaigns such as #likeagirl, global influencers, and the ongoing support to promote women in STEM."

The proposal also includes men representing these jobs, as well as gender-neutral individuals.

Google is in the early stages of getting these emojis implemented... they could be heavily altered or eliminated, but this proposal is backed by prestigious figures, so the argument is strong.

Click here to read the full proposal.

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Real Talk |  Source: FlockU

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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Real Talk |  Source: N. Leeper, Shutterstock

47 Thoughts Every Girl Has About Haircuts

"Should I get bangs though?"

There are few things that muster as much conflicting passion for a girl as a haircut. Maybe The Bachelor too. But a haircut... There's a point of interest where a girl has thought deeply, worried, looked forward, regretted, mourned, and celebrated it. I've often thought that maybe the reason girls typically aren't as into sports is because they have to keep the energy for that passion directed towards haircuts.

During the high and low process that is a haircut experience, there are thoughts that run through our girl heads. Some are good, some are bad, and most are ridiculous. These are the inner-head ramblings of a girl venturing into a haircutting pursuit.

  1. God, I really need a haircut.
  2. I can't stop playing with my split-ends. Is it bad to split them even further?
  3. Instead of write my essay, I'm going to take a scissor and cut out my split ends by hand.
  4. My hair is so annoying. I want to shave it off.
  5. That's it, I'm cutting it all off at my next appointment.
  6. So, I really just need a trim.
  7. I should just make an appointment...but I don't really feel like paying for it.
  8. OK, it's not that much and I need one...but I don't really feel like calling someone on the actual phone.
  9. Thanks for calling for me Mom.
  10. Should I get a bob though?
  11. Should I get bangs though?
  12. I feel like I could really rock bangs. Maybe I'm like a Zoey Deschanel and I don't even know it yet.
  13. Just saw a friend who has bangs now. I think I'm good.
  14. OK, so I'm thinking layers. I should find a picture to show the hairdresser in case she has no idea what I'm talking about.
  15. How did I ever get a haircut before without scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for two hours to get inspiration?
  16. I have my haircut in two days, so that means I don't have to wash my hair until then.
  17. I guess I should brush it before going in.
  18. I don't think I've ever arrived at a hair appointment and it was running on time.
  19. Yes, I get it, my split ends are bad.
  20. No, I don't use a product to protect my hair when I blow-dry, but I will lie and tell you yes. Partly so you won't judge me, and partly so you won't pitch me a product.
  21. I know I've told her four times exactly what I want in explicit detail and showed her 12 near identical pictures of the haircut I want, but I'm still not sure she gets it.
  22. This hair wash doe.
  23. Do I close my eyes while she does it? Or...?
  24. Am I supposed to wash my hair like this in my own shower? Have I been doing it wrong all along?
  25. I realize my hair is wrapped up and I'm in a black cape, but do I always look this ugly?
  26. How did she manage to get my hair this knotty? I can't make eye contact now that her comb is stuck in my tangles.
  27. Maybe I'll consider the detangler you just recommended that is available for purchase at the front desk...but probably not. Girl's on a budget.
  28. I never part my hair like that. What are you doing hairdresser lady?
  29. I said three inches! It doesn't look like she's even cutting anything off.
  30. Should I just spontaneously get the bangs?
  31. How come when I try to do that with the blowdryer all I do is get my hair burned off and/or sucked into the wrong end?
  32. OK, wow, it's drying, and wow, it's way shorter than I wanted.
  33. Omg, can she put my hairs back on.
  34. Should I tell her I'm unhappy? Because I am.
  35. Alright, so I told her I liked it. I couldn't look her in the eyes and do it.
  36. How much do I tip? Ugh I never know the right amount.
  37. Why won't my mom reply to my text so I know how much to tip.
  38. I'm throwing a Hail Mary and just giving her the money.
  39. She didn't look happy. Did I not tip her enough?
  40. OK, I'm looking at my hair in the mirror now, and it's not so bad. I prefer it before, but this isn't that bad.
  41. My hair feels so nice and healthy.
  42. Why hasn't anyone complimented me yet?
  43. I think I can get away without washing it for three days, right?
  44. Ah, I love how my hair feels now in the shower.
  45. Wait......why doesn't my hair look like it used to? I tried to blow dry it just like she did.
  46. Well, you know what...I guess this will do. I think I like it.
  47. Is that a split end? I just got it cut!