Monday, December 14, 2015

Let's Talk Body About Image

It seems to me that possibly one of the most insulting questions that a women can be asked is, "How much do you way?" But why is this? Today, our society, especially when it comes to women, are so focused on what their body's look like. It seems to be that today, everyone is suppose to be skinny to fit in. And if your not, you are criticized about how much you weigh. The media has rooted this ideal into our systems. Stick-thin models are everywhere- on our T.V. screens, in magazines, on billboards, their is no escaping them. Skinny, beautiful women are used to sell everything, they are the ideal. But what does this do to members of our society that don't perpendicularity fit this uniform standard of beauty?

Let's face it, almost no one is completely confident in every aspect of their appearance. However, women are told that they have to conform to what society expects their bodies to look like. These ideals, and this stress on one, specific, image of beauty is quite frankly, dangerous. Not only have there been multiple occasions of models starving themselves, some have even died from not eating enough. Serious medical conditions, such as the eating disorder anorexia, have resulted from women trying to slim themselves down and even leading to death.This problem, however, is not limited to women. Adolescent girls (and boys) feel the need to conform to these standards of physical perfection. Children as of 10 years of age and younger have had to be hospitalized for starving themselves. Theses children grow up hating the way they look, even if they are a perfectly healthy weight, their views of themselves are clouded by what society says they have to look like.

My question to you is this- how can we change this? I've heard of so many "you are beautiful!" campaigns in which people go around informing strangers if their "beauty", but does this really make a difference? Being told of your beauty isn't going to change the fact that you don't see yourself as beautiful. The change has to come within society. Seventeen Magazine announced that all of the models in their magazines will "real" people, not airbrushed, starving models. This, a step in the right direction to show girls that beauty isn't found if Photoshop, but rather in everyday life.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I'm Boycotting Adele and Here's Why

Adele's New Album 25
I'll admit that I've always been a huge fan Adele, her song Love Song is one of my all time favorites. However, I am completely refusing to buy Adele's new album, 25. Why you may ask (a question my brother asks every day)? Because she pulled a Taylor Swift and refused to release her album on Spotify. Spotify is a popular streaming site where premium users pay a monthly subscription of ten dollars to listen to unlimited music. However, now stars like Taylor Swift and Adele,(and soon Coldplay) are refusing to release their music on such streaming sites.

Taylor Swift claimed, “In my opinion, the value of an album is, and will continue to be, based on the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work, and the financial value that artists (and their labels) place on their music when it goes out into the marketplace." But this argument doesn't make any sense. If the value of an album is based on the work but into it, as Taylor claims, why does it have to have to be priced at all? I get that income is important and that an album has to make as much money as it took to make, this is common knowledge, but Taylor Swift and Adele are two of the highest paid artists of the all time. Taylor Swift has an estimated net worth  of $80 million dollars, Adele's estimated net worth is over $54 million dollars. I don't see how Taylor and Adele can site not making enough money justify not putting their songs on Spotify. Isn't $54 plus million dollars suitable? 

Taylor also claimed, "File sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently.” It is however true that artists make less money with streaming sites like Spotify, making around 9 cents for ever 60 times one song is played whereas the artist makes 20 cents for every $1.29 song sold on iTunes. However, artists are also paid 9 cents for every 60 times their song is played on the radio. Did Adele and Taylor ban their songs from radio stations? Of course not. Practically every time I turn on the radio, I hear one of their songs. So why just Spotify? Adele's most played song on Spotify has 221,434,620 plays (aka $3,690,577 dollars in Adele's pocket for just one song). Again, I ask, isn't that amount suitable? 

As my brother says, I am missing one of the "greatest albums of the century" but I'm staying strong on this one. It might because I'm stubborn, but I think what Taylor Swift and Adele are doing is pure capitalistic crap. Is making more money a justifiable reason to exclude a large amount of your fans from hearing your work? Life isn't all about money, and if Adele and Taylor saw it this way, their music would be available to anyone who wants to hear it, even religious Spotify users like myself. What do you think? 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nous Sommes Paris

In Paris on Friday, November 13th, one of the worst terror attacks, and most violent attack in France since WWII was executed. With 132 people dead and nearly 300 more hospitalized, people all around the world are in mourning. The attacks consisted of three teams of terrorists and six separate incidents including suicide bombers at the Stade de France, shootings at popular restaurants and bars, and the deadliest attack, at Bataclan, a concert hall, in which around 80 people were killed and at least 180 injured.

These horrific acts have left the entire world shocked. President Obama saying, "We're going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people."With Isis claiming responsibility for these actions, many are worried about what is coming next. President Francois Hollande of France claiming, "We will lead the fight, and we will be ruthless."Does this mean yet another war?

No one can really know what will happen next, but what is for sure is that France is receiving overwhelming support. All over the world, messages of peace and support for France have flooded social media outlets. Monuments from New York to London, Brazil to Australia, and many other places are lit up in blue, white, and red to show there support and prayers for Paris. When Paris tuned there lights off, the rest of the world turned them on.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tarantino Unchained?

While marching in New York City last month for a rally against police brutality, Academy Award winning director, screenwriter, and producer Quentin Tarantino called police "murderers." Tarantino, famous for his affiliation with particularly violent films, such as Django Unchained and Kill Bill, criticized the use of excessive force by police saying, "I am a human being and I have conscience, and when I see murder I cannot stand by. And I have to call the murdered the murdered and the murderers the murderers." Tarantino, a man who is the opposite of subtle, has created a mass amount of controversy with this statement.

Tarantino protesting police brutality 
This bold statement comes in the wake of an increased amount of innocent deaths resulting from police brutality, reaching nearly 400 deaths in 2015 so far. His statement, seemingly valid, has angered the police force across the nation. In reaction to Tarantino's statements, police in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia have called for a boycott of Tarantino's new film The Hateful Eight. The president of the Los Angeles Police Protective Unit said in a statement, "We fully support this boycott of Quentin Tarantino films. Hateful rhetoric dehumanizes and encourages attacks on us."  

Police fear that statements like Tarantino's will hurt their reputations when in actuality, there own actions hurt their reputations. It is not that all police use excessive force, and it is not that all police are bad people, the real issue here is the reason why rallies and protests against police are necessary. The fact of the matter is that police brutality is serious problem and many feel as though nothing is being done to end it. Perhaps the answer is more restrictions on guns. Perhaps the answer is a change in society. Whatever the reason, it is people like Quentin Tarantino, people willing to stand up for what they believe in, that help aide our society in addressing such societal flaws. Do you have an answer to end police brutality?

For more information, check out these shocking examples of police brutality

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Best Halloween Treat

- from Sophia's Mom-

All around the country on Saturday night, there were kids sprawled out on their bedroom floors doing the big candy sort- the old lady candy (Baby Ruth's and Health Bars) in one pile to give to your parents, the keeper pile (Skittles, 3-Musketeers) to be eaten immediately, and the trade pile (Twizzlers, Snickers) used for bargaining with your siblings or friends. This is the currency of Halloween- how you know if you had a good Halloween or not.

My love for Halloween is not so easily sorted out- I am not really sure why I enjoy it so much- but I always really love Halloween regardless of my candy haul.

I think my great love for Season Decor has a lot to do with loving Halloween. Like most things, I blame my mother for this. She is the queen of all Seasonal Decor, as evidenced by her full basement affectionately called "the prop room". Chock- full of the oddities of decor for all holidays, it was a wonderland of Halloween decoration happiness that now resides at my house- when Halloween time arrives no corner is safe from pumpkin adornment.

I think the permission to wear all black and sparkly make-up is another key selling point for me on Halloween. I pretend that I have a costume party to go to later, so that it's not too weird that I am in costume answering the door. I'm always a witch, but a different one each year- I'm sure that has some deep, psychological significance that I will never know about.

I also really like getting to know the neighbor kids, and the sense of community that Halloween facilitates. How often do all your neighbors ring your bell and not have anything else but Trick or Treat to say?

I think in the end it's really not that complicated. Halloween is fun. It's that simple. One night a year, I allow myself to do something just for the fun of it, and that really is a treat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ode to Bacon

In a recent study put out by the American Cancer Society, it has been discovered that red meat is a carcinogen. What does that mean? Red meats such as bacon, hot dogs, sausages, deli meats etc. cause cancer. An incredibly shocking discovery, the ACS claims that such red meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer, the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Colorectal cancer is a type of colon cancer having to do the development of cancerous polyps, or a cell that releases mucus and other vital fluids in the colon. However, colorectal cancer can be cured by removing cancerous polyps. But how does this all effect you?

There is no need to go vegetarian yet! According to the study, processed meats are carcinogenic and are ranked in the same category of cancer risks with smoking tobacco. However, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cancer risk increases with the amount of meat that is consumed. This is more a matter of moderation than elimination of consumption. Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society recommends, "consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat."It is also recommended by the ACS that meat should be prepared by broiling or baking rather than frying to avoid the development of more carcinogens.  

There is no need to panic, processed meats are fine in moderation. As long as one maintains a healthy and balanced diet, the occasional strip of bacon will not cause cancer. It is however important to keep in mind that eating meat has little to no health benefits. For more information on healthy alternatives for processed meats, check out this CNN article

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Gun Culture

This morning while watching the news, I was taken aback by the news of yet another school shooting at Northern Arizona University. One person was killed and many others injured with the shooter in custody. The news comes only a week after the tragic shooting at a college campus in Oregon killed ten people. Tragedies such as these have become so common that news have them have become is broadcasted nonchalantly. The event was summed up in the same amount of time it took to announce that Chicago is starting an annual Halloween Parade this year. How has gun violence become so common on our society? Chicago is perhaps one if the most violent cities in the United States when it comes to gun violence. This year alone (as of October 9th) 2,360 people have been victims of shootings in Chicago. Gun violence is reaching outrageous numbers, and it is time to change this. Since 2001, there have been 406,496 deaths by firearms on United States soil. Is it really justifiable to have minimal restrictions on gun laws if so many are killed every year?  No matter how extreme you see the issue of gun control, it is barbaric to believe that nothing should be changed. It is unconstitutional to ban guns all together, a right guaranteed to Americans in the 2nd amendment. However, the second amendment was made so that militia men could fight governmental suppression in Colonial America. Is this policy outdated? Is it fair to permit the right to bare arms if thousands of innocent people are being shot every year?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's October 3rd

It's that time of year again, October 3rd. In perhaps one our generation's most referenced movies Mean Girls, October 3rd is the day Aaron Samuels, the stereotypical jock/ heartthrob, asks down-to-earth new girl, Caty Heron, what the date is. She responds, October 3rd. A simple and seeming meaningless quote, but every year to pretty much any teenager, October 3rd is exciting. However, the movie Mean Girls, based on The North Shore of Chicago's high schools, is a comedy but many of the topics, such as bulling, that are evident in the movie are very important to talk about. On average, 3.2 billion students are bullied every year. With new social media outlets seemly to pop up every day, students are given more and more opportunities to bully their peers. There are countless amounts of anti-bullying campaigns that try to stop bullying by spreading statistics and information. But just how affective are they? There is a reason that 64 percent of students who are bullied don't report it. It is perfectly justifiable, bullying is hurtful and embarrassing. The key to ending bullying is not to lecture children and teenagers about the statistics and effects of bullying, but rather to create tangible methods and actions students can take when they see or experience bullying. Programs such as New Trier High School's Names Can Really Hurt Us program try to make students understand that bullying happens to everyone by having students shares their stories. As I experienced the program, I felt like I understood bullying more than I ever had before when statistics were spat at me. What do you think the best method is to stop bullying?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Viola Davis Makes History

Viola Davis has always been someone that I have idolized; from her amazing performance in The Help, to her powerful, yet elegant performance as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder. Today, she has proven herself to be more than just an extremely talented women, she has made history by becoming the first black actress to ever win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in A Drama Series.

Viola graced the Emmy stage and began her acceptance speech by quoting Harriet Tubman, "In my dreams, I see a line. Over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can't seem to get there no how, I can seem to get over that line."This quote, drawing tears from adoring audience members such as Taraji P. Henson and Kerry Washington, was a powerful and beautiful statement. She continued,"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity."

In Hollywood, the issue of lack of opportunity for minorities has recently caused much controversy. For example, the 87th annual Academy Awards that happened earlier this year were, quite frankly, extremely white. Not a single actor or actress of color was nominated. With so many lead roles being written for white men and women, where does that leave people of color? Even roles that are written for people of color tend to be whitewashed. What can be done to change this? Perhaps racial discrimination is a aspect of society that is so fundamental that it cannot be changed. However, society is making progress one step at a time. The nominations for the 2015 Emmy awards were one of the most diverse group of people yet. Still, the question remains, what can you do to help dissolve 'the line'?

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Consequences of Categorical Moral Reasoning

In the coming of age story of thirteen-year old Joe, in Louise Erdrich's novel The Round House, justice and how one perceives justice are some of the main themes. Joe lives on an Indian reservation in the late 1980s. After his mother is violently raped by a white man, Linden Lark, on this reservation, Joe struggles to define the line between legal and personal justice. Joe decides that in order to seek justice for his mother's rape, he must make sure Linden is no longer a problem. Joe concludes the only way this is possible is to kill him. The moment before Joe shots Linden Lark however, he hesitates,"Murder. For justice maybe. Murder just the same. I had to say this a thousand times in my head before I said it out loud. But there it is. And I can take him," (280). Joe acknowledges in this moment of hesitation that the act of killing is wrong, but disregards all consequences to do what he believes is just. Therefore, Joe uses categorical moral reasoning because he creates a solution not based on the backlash and act will cause, like a consequentialist would, but rather he decides what actions to take based on his morality and his beliefs.

I, on the other hand, am a consequentialist. Therefore, I believe that Joe was wrong to take drastic actions to kill Linden because consequences are inevitable. Even though Linden Lark was never persecuted for the crimes he committed against Joe's mother and another women, Mayla Wolfskin, previous to his death, the author alludes to inevitable justice as Joe discovers, "If I hadn't killed Lark, he'd have gone to jail for life anyway...I'd never tell anyone"(310). The author plays with Joe's discovery that the death of Linden Lark wasn't necessary, which in turn creates a regret and guilt in Joe. This is evident in the fact that he would not tell his family, or his best friend Cappy, or the police this discovery. He was too scared to admit the fact that he committed unnecessary manslaughter, according to the author, which was a direct consequence of his categorical moral reasoning. If Joe had considered the consequences of killing Linden, rather than acting on revenge-driven morality, a life would've been spared with the exact same outcome; Linden would've been out of the picture and Joe's mother would be safe to once again pick her beloved bush beans (294). 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Let's Talk About Feminism

Princess Diana
Today, September 6th, 2015 marks eighteen years since 2.5 million viewers from all around the globe tuned into watch Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, (an event my mother claims to be one of the saddest days of her life). Princess Diana was more than just a member of Britain’s royal family, she was an icon. She was a real life Disney Princess. Little Girls all around the globe grew up idealizing Diana and even now, they grow up idolizing princesses such as Arial from The Little Mermaid, Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, Cinderella, and Queen Elsa from Frozen. However, Disney princesses are often unable to help themselves, needing a man to save them from their own lives. Little girls are growing up aiming to one day be courted by Prince Charming, rather than growing up believing that they get to decide who Mr. Right is. What does that teach them? That’s were Princess Diana was different. She was a Princess with independent thoughts and beliefs. She took her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry to Disney World because she wanted them to grow up like normal kids. She opposed sending her sons off to boarding school, which was a long reigning royal tradition. She spent years campaigning to spread awareness for the AIDs epidemic. Princess Diana embodied compassion, ambition, and positivity that made her such a fantastic, female role model.

Princess Diana with her sons at Disney World
Dare I say Princess Diana was a feminist? Feminism, a word today I can’t hear without seeing an eye roll. The word 'feminist' has developed an inherently negative connotation, and it is time to address this. We can ask ourselves why this has happened, but the fact of the matter is that 'feminism' is associated a certain group of individuals who are outspoken, and can be mistaken to be supremacists. As it is part of human nature to support or refute those who choose not to conform to societal normalities and stand up for radical change, the reaction to feminism tends to be on both ends of the spectrum. Feminism is not women arguing that they are better than men, or that they deserve preferential treatment because of their gender. It is rather women standing up for their own rights to be equal to men. The 19th amendment guaranteed women's equality before the law. However, on average women are still paid significantly lower than men in the workplace. It is an important issue that effects every generation, race, and gender.
Flowers left in tribute to Diana
September 6th, 1997

As the world remembers and cherishes Princess Diana, we continue to debate the role women have in society and the media. After all, paparazzi chasing Diana's car played a significant role in the cause of her fatal car crash. Was it because she was a women in the spotlight? Would it have been different if she was a man? The world may never know. Rest in peace Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997). 

For more information, check out Princess Diana's Royal Biography