The Vanity Myth of Makeup

By Christina Terrell

There should be no shame in doing something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. One of the latest trends that has taken the beauty community by storm has been the development of all the possibilities that makeup offers. The only issues are women have started to get backlash for exploring all these makeup possibilities, for instance women are being told that since they wear makeup, that they are trying to wear a mask that hides their true self from the world, rather than this is something women do to empower themselves. Sha’Condria, also known as “i’Con” is a female poetry empowerment speaker and at the 2015 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, Condria presented a poetry piece titled “In My Skin”. In this poetry piece Condria speaks about her personal experience with being shamed for wearing makeup and how it is almost as if people treat the word makeup as if it were a curse word.

From my personal stand point I feel as though a woman should not be told what defines her as beautiful, because beauty should not be what anyone else’s definition of it is but should be whatever your own personal definition is. Self-love is a concept that is already hard to acquire and find in one’s self and when you add the negative opinions of others it can make things much harder on a woman who may deal with insecurities.

There is an issue that stands in the way of women who choose to wear makeup and then the people who disagree with wearing makeup. That issue being that typically someone who says you shouldn’t paint your face to be pretty or that natural beauty is the best beauty. Would be that those individuals do not understand, is that in a harsh world when women find peace and something that aids their happiness then they must do all they can to continue to empower and up lift themselves.

To watch Sha’Condria’s powerful piece, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_kkbKs9pY4

 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

By Caitlin Easter

“People want this to be an anomaly…. we can handle monsters, we can’t handle our neighbors doing these things. We can’t believe these are the same people we see at Christmas parties, and basketball games.” ― T. E. Carter

Did you know that 1 in every 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime? Did you know that in 8 out of every 10 rapes, the victim knew the perpetrator? April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so let’s talk about it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center defines Sexual Assault Awareness Month as “a campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it.” This year’s theme is “I Am,” and serves to “champion the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.”

In its officially documented capacity, this year is the 18th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM); if you’re wondering why this month should be important to you, I’ll tell you why—sadly, almost everyone knows a victim or a perpetrator, and sexual assault doesn’t seem to be a thing that is getting better. This campaign aims to bring awareness and spark a conversation about sexual assault and its long lasting effects. As we talk about it more, we create a safer and less stigmatized space to come forward and say #MeToo.

This month the Women’s Center, in partnership with campus sororities, will be hosting a Denim Drive from April 8 – April 19 and a Reclaiming Denim art event on April 19 where we will decorate the denim to prepare for Denim Day on April 24 where all of the denim artwork will be displayed on the quad as part of a sexual assault awareness campaign. We would love for you to join us!

The NSVRC has some amazing resources for understanding and teaching consent for Sexual Assault Awareness month. If you would like to view these resources, you can find them at https://www.nsvrc.org/saam

You can read more about the history of SAAM at: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/history

Concluding Everybody is Beautiful Week

By: Christina Terrell

Everybody is Beautiful Week is a movement that the UMKC Women Center puts on to celebrate body positivity and combat eating disorders. The idea comes from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). This nonprofit organization, based out of New York City, has been around since 2001 with a mission of supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders while serving as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Although this is the main mission of the NEDA they also participate and advocate for many other things that go hand and hand with spreading body positivity and uplifting others and accepting themselves physically, mentally and emotionally.

There are many great ways that the NEDA tries to get involved and supply support to the world and one is through some of the events that they put on. For starters, they host an annual walk called the NEDA Walk, for families and friends to join their loved ones to walk in their own communities to silence eating disorders. Along with the NEDA walk, there are many other events that are put on in order to fulfill their mission.

In honor of Body Positive Week, UMKC Women’s Center decided to put on a project called Operation Beautiful. During this week we hosted several events that supported NEDA’s mission. To Jump start the week we began with doing a movement around the UMKC campus, which included students on campus making colorful sticky notes that had body positive phrases on them, stating things such as “RIOTS BEFORE DIETS” and “I AM STRONG, I AM ENOUGH, I AM BEAUTIFUL”. Throughout the week we, along with other students, posted theses sticky notes on campus to spread the word.

Some other great events that we put on during Operation Beautiful included a Crafty Feminist Session where students could come make shrink art or a body positive sticky note to spread around campus. To close out Operation Beautiful we hosted a tabling event here on campus, which displayed lots of information about the NEDA and other body positive information, the table also included activities that the students could partake in to get their own message about Body Positive Week out on UMKC’s campus!

Mass Media and Body Image

By: Brittany Soto

In a world that is heavy on technology and social media usage, it makes it easier to communicate and connect with others, but the question is, is the media always trying to spread a positive message to people out there in the world? This is especially true when it comes to body image. Advertisements such as TV commercials, for example, tend to emphasize that a person’s body should have a slim appearance to them and that they are less-than if they look any other way. This is far from the truth because, in reality, everyone has a unique body shape and structure and just because someone is thin, doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy. These kinds of expectations that the media portrays can have a serious effect on an individual’s mental and physical well-being leading to low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction issues leading to even more serious conditions such as eating disorders.

Generally, women are thought to be the only ones who suffer from body image issues and eating disorders as a result of what the media portrays, but this can also have an effect on men as well. “Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than among women, but it is still significant.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2018). This is a growing problem since, nowadays, people spend the majority of their time on the media. I think it’s important for people to understand that what is portrayed on the media isn’t always the truth. I think it’s also important for people to practice self-love and self-acceptance, so they aren’t constantly measuring their self-worth based on the media. As human beings, especially as women, I think it’s important to emphasize these things when the media tries to tell us that we aren’t enough.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Blog Posts …

By Chris Howard-Williams

So, I’m going to ask you to indulge me a bit this week.  Normally, I write blog posts that deal with being a male feminist and what I can do as an ally to best support the cause of feminism.  I’m going to take a break from that this week to talk about cartoons.  Well, I want to talk about one cartoon in particular, a small offering from the Cartoon Network called Steven Universe.

During the July 4th week, Steven Universe became the first children’s animated series to showcase both a same-sex proposal and marriage. Responding to questions about this decision, Rebecca Sugar, the show’s creator, said that we must absolutely tell LGBTQ+ children that they belong in this world and deserve to be loved.  “We cannot wait until a child grows up to tell them they deserve to exist and that their story matters,” she went on to say.  “I am overwhelmed with emotion thinking of the years of tireless work from all of us on the crew leading up to this moment.”

While this alone is pretty phenomenal, it’s just one more thing on the checklist of amazing firsts and highlights that Rebecca Sugar has woven into the show.  Here are some other groundbreaking facts about Steven Universe:

  • It’s the first animated show on Cartoon Network to be fully created by a woman.
  • It has a diverse voice cast featuring many women of color. Deedee Magno, Michaela Dietz, and Estelle voice the three main female protagonists (Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet, respectively).
  • It seeks to fight against gender norms, offering us a male main character who is empathetic and regularly shows his emotions, many strong female characters, and even an androgynous character who is openly admired by both male and female characters in the show.
  • It has characters who represent many different kinds of sexuality, including straight, gay, and bisexual characters. There is even a character that Rebecca Sugar has confirmed represents a polyamorous relationship.
  • Finally, it presents all of this as normal within the contexts of the world it has built, allowing us to see a world that could exist if we keep fighting for gender and sexuality rights and equality.

So, why does it matter?  Quite simply, representation matters!  As one article put it, when underrepresented populations don’t see people like themselves in media, they get the message that they are invisible, that they don’t count.  In short, they start to feel that there’s something wrong with them.  Even more important is a genuine representation of themselves in media and not a “one-dimensional” characterization of themselves.  And this is exactly the kind of portrayal that Rebecca Sugar is striving for with Steven Universe.

And she has achieved it.  How do I know?  Because the representation has mattered to me personally.  As a gay man watching with my partner as the first ever children’s show featured a same-sex marriage, I cannot express how validated we felt as the union was treated with respect, with dignity, and with love.  I will admit a few tears were shed as we grabbed each other and commented about how beautiful it was to see our personal lives represented in some form on the small screen.  I can only imagine how others have felt watching the show over the years … the girls being shown that they can be strong warriors, the boys being shown that they can be empathetic and find peaceful solutions to conflict, and the many LGBTQIA+ people being shown that our love is just as valid, just as worthy of respect. We can all be Crystal Gems, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about there, I have a show that you need to watch!

Friends and Feminism

By Maleigha Michael

*spoilers ahead*

Friends was one of the many trendy sitcoms that came from the ’90s that is seen as a classic by many. And even though its last episode aired in 2004, it still seems to grow in popularity. Because of its familiar presence in the TV world today, its values and themes are important to pay attention to since they have such a strong impact on their audience. The main point I want to get across is that while Friends integrated some feminist perspectives, they were often countered to promote patriarchal ideals. And just because the sitcom had a few progressive tones, that doesn’t make it a feminist show; moreover, it definitely doesn’t mean we should accept them today, or should’ve accepted them back then. There are examples in every episode that I could discuss and pick apart, but since I don’t have 18 pages (front and back) I’ll only be addressing a few.

For those that say Friends is a feminist show, I want to point out that sure, it could be seen that way. But only if you’re idea of feminism is very outdated. The show introduced characters from the LGBTQIA community (or just LGBT, as it was recognized at the time), which should always be applauded, but the way those characters were received by the other characters is why the show is seen by others as outdated. For example, Chandler’s transgender father was constantly made fun of and Ross’s lesbian ex-wife was far too often oversexualized.

And of course I have to talk about the finale. In the beginning, Rachel started off as this idol for independent women: leaving a man at the altar, breaking away from her father’s money, and pursuing her dream career in fashion (and yes, I realize how unrealistic this part was since she had no prior experience in the industry, or proper schooling). One of the main plot lines to the show was the whole will-they-won’t-they back and forth love affair between Rachel and Ross, so it only makes sense that that’s how the franchise ended.  But when the opportunity arises for Rachel to work for Louis Vuitton in Paris, episode after episode is focused on Ross trying to stop Rachel from leaving just so he could be with her. This all leads up to the end scenes of Ross convincing Rachel to stay. Ross wasn’t alone in this either. Phoebe and Joey actually encouraged him to go after Rachel, instead of encouraging him to support the woman he loves when she’s offered the chance of a lifetime. This ending was extremely disappointing for feminists for obvious reasons, but also because of the lasting impact it has on its viewers. After all of Rachel’s hard work and progress she’s made to get where she is, she turns down a major job opportunity to be with a man who wasn’t very supportive of her career choices in the first place.

For a character that had such a strong story line, the salute off the show that she was given is one of the many examples of how any feminist themes in Friends are overshadowed by regressive concepts that left a bitter taste in the mouths of feminists back then and especially today. The series may be one of the most popular sitcoms ever, but we shouldn’t accept any oppression of female dominance and simply pass it off as “that’s just how it was back then!” Finding feminism in any show is great, but Friends should NOT pass as a feminist show.

Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane

PYNK

Make Me Feel

 

Oprah Winfrey Shares a Message of Hope and Unity in Her Inspiring and Historical 2018 Golden Globes Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

By Korrien Hopkins

This past Golden Globes weekend, Oprah Winfrey received a lifetime achievement award and gave a very moving speech. The actress, producer, and philanthropist presented a message of hope, unity, and optimism in her speech.

She opened with a story reflecting on her childhood when she was a little girl in 1964, watching the Oscars from the linoleum floor of her mother’s house in Milwaukee. She explained how hearing five words that changed history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier,” inspired her to be the person she is today.

“I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said. “I’ve tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door, bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses,” she said.

In addition to being the first black man to win Best Actor at the Oscars, he also was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1982. The same award that Oprah was receiving. She also spoke of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who in 1944 had the courage to speak out against her white male rapists. Taylor was of great inspiration to Rosa Parks and many others.

After hearing Oprah Winfrey’s speech, I realized how important it is that we live in our truth as she said. When we follow our heart, despite opposition and fear, we are in turn paving a way for others and inspiring others. We are shaping the future for us all because, when it comes down to it, we are one.  Winfrey’s inclusiveness of men and women in the fight against sexual harassment on all levels was strong and very inspiring. Her speech proclaimed the strength and sisterhood of the women in Hollywood who suffered and spoke out against harassment along with women all around the nation.

“But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue… Recy’s truth is here with every woman who chooses to say, ‘Me too,’ and every man who chooses to listen,” she said including male allies.

Perhaps her speech was never meant to be anything more than that, but it became a moment where many like myself, saw her presidential potential. People took to social media to express their #Oprah2020 dreams. I’m definitely not opposed to this at all. I think it takes someone who understands life and human connection in a special way to be President. This is what Oprah has shown us throughout her career. She is authentic and relatable, despite her lack of political experience which clearly is needed in today’s world. I think her life experience and amazing wisdom outshines many by far. This is what I believe could evoke a positive change and unity for all of humanity. I think that’s why her Globes speech transcended to the American people far beyond the fancy occasion. She met people in their living room sharing her truth to encourage us to share ours. We also can’t forget her extremely generous nature. Could you imagine her giving out free college tuition and student loan forgiveness in the same way she once gave free things to her audiences on the Oprah Winfrey Show?

 

“You get free college…. and You get free college….”

“You get loan forgiveness…. and You get loan forgiveness.”

I mean, a girl can only hope and dream. Right?

Oprah’s speech opened my eyes to a brighter future. Whether she runs for president, or just continues to contribute her thoughts of inclusion or shares her story, I’m happy. She continues to inspire me to overcome the many obstacles I face because of my gender and the color of my skin. She shows me that although it’s not easy, it’s possible. And the more we create change for ourselves, we are creating change for others because we are one. So that one day, hopefully sooner than later, young women like myself won’t have these same problems.

“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men — but their time is up. Their time is up!” –Oprah Winfrey

Missed the speech? Watch it here:

Malala Yousafzai: Let this queen wear jeans

By Zaquoya Rogers

Malala Yousafzai has begun her first semester at Oxford University studying for a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. I am extremely excited for her and what this means for countries that do not allow women access to education.

However, over the past week, an alleged picture has been released of Malala wearing her normal dupatta sported with a pair of jeans. Apparently, it elicited quite the buzz, but not in a positive way.

Instead, people have been trolling Malala, stating that her style has taken on a “Western” influence. There are many negative and distasteful tweets about something as simple as a heroine, who was shot for advocating for education for women, wearing jeans.

This goes to show how women are constantly policed, especially for what they wear. I believe part of the reason why is society constantly tries to find a way to make women look and act within our definition of how women should.

An example that any girl going to high school in the US can attest to is the ridiculous school dress code. Many high schools do not allow girl to wear tank tops or spaghetti strap shirts, because female shoulders are too much of a distraction. So again, girls have to sacrifice their comfort for everyone else’s.

Similarly, during prom time, packets of what students can and cannot wear are handed out each year, most of these regulations apply to what women can’t wear.

But it doesn’t end there. Even if women want to cover up, they are discouraged. A friend of mine told me a story of how she was headed to an interview, and a person told her to show a little cleavage. They said, “It’ll help with your chances at the interview.”

So what is it that people want from women? Here’s a theory that I personally created for those who are having a hard time figuring it out: If you’re not the one wearing it, mind your own business.

Taylor Swift’s new single and women’s reclamation of stereotypes in media

By Kara Lewis

After a week of cryptic hints on social media, Taylor Swift dropped a new single last week. The song, titled “Look What You Made Me Do,” inspired a debate on Twitter just minutes after its release.

Though it’s fueled by a dance-y, techno beat, Swift’s newest hit has a dark message. She strikes back at the media and at Kanye West, vowing to get revenge.  It also seems to be a response to those who call Swift a “snake”: her video teasers for the song featured an angry, slithering serpent.

Some labelled the song “victim-playing,” while others applauded Swift for owning her infamous reputation. Either way, with lyrics that mention back-stabbing, karma and even Swift’s own death, one theme of the song is clear: the singer isn’t afraid to call herself crazy, or play along with the stereotype. In fact, the role of the villain helps revamp her career. She used the same tactic three years ago to write her single “Blank Space” from the perspective of a heartless, serial dater.

In fact, many famous women have recently used this career move. In her 2016 stand-up special Baby Cobra, comic Ali Wong jokes about trapping men into relationships and marriage, specifically wealthy men. She plays the crazy, gold-digger stereotype, while also ridiculing it. Ironically, the financial success of Baby Cobra and Wong’s show Fresh off the Boat means that she’s far from a gold-digger.

Writer and actress Rachel Bloom also embraces the stereotype of a crazy ex-girlfriend on her show, aptly called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She plays high-powered New York City lawyer Rebecca Bunch, who spontaneously follows an ex-boyfriend to a small town in California. With over-the-top musical numbers and relatable jokes about social media creeping, Bloom makes us laugh at the crazy ex stereotype, but also approaches it with complexity. She even remarks in the show’s theme song that “crazy ex-girlfriend” is a sexist term.

The recent success of thriller novels like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl shows that people love it when women play the villain. Swift, Wong, Bloom and others are more than happy to oblige, and educate along the way.