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

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dorothy Cotton

By Caitlin Easter

“I’m tired of people saying, “And now we present her, who marched with Martin Luther King.”
Well, a lot of folk flew down there one weekend and marched, but I worked.”- Dorothy Cotton

Dorothy Cotton was very similar to other women in the fact that she never got the recognition
she deserved. Even today, the name Dorothy Cotton doesn’t ring a bell in the average American’s
imagination, because beyond the fact that she was black, she was also a women. Despite this, she was a
major champion of the civil rights movement and never allowed her gender to stop her from doing what
she wanted to do. She believed in the power of speech, and encouraged others to speak the truth with
her organizations. She was a major advocate for human rights education and leadership. She spoke at
workshops and with her Institute helped people to understand and shape themselves as leaders to
advance human rights. The Dorothy Cotton Institute was founded in 2007, and works to secure human
rights for everybody through education, interactive exhibits, and movements and campaigns. The
Institute works to develop Human Rights leaders, build a community for these leaders, and promote
practices that lead to justice and healing.

According to The Dorothy Cotton Institute, Ms. Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director at
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the director of The Citizenship Education Program, the
Vice President for Field Operations for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolence Social Change,
the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION under the Carter Administration, the director of Student
Activities at Cornell University, a 2010 National Freedom Award Recipient, and the founder and
namesake of the Dorothy Cotton Institute. Ms. Cotton is now being recognized as a 2019 Honoree in the
National Women’s History Alliance following the theme of: “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace &
Nonviolence.”

Before her death on June 10, 2018, she was a strong and influential advocate for violence
reduction and humanitarian issues. She was a speaker, a teacher, a facilitator, a peaceful resister, and a
woman. Her name will always be tied to Dr. Martin Luther’s because of their strong bond and joint work,
but her impact will forever be so much more than that.

More information about Ms. Cotton and her institute can be found at:

https://www.dorothycottoninstitute.org/

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Medea Benjamin

By: Christina Terrell

Medea Benjamin is an American activist who has advocated for human rights for over twenty
years. Benjamin has traveled to many different countries learning and advocating, writing eight books that are about her experiences abroad along the way. In 2002 Benjamin’s activism took a change of color and tone when she became the co-founder of the women’s organization CODEPINK. A woman led organization that is “working to end
U.S. wars and militarism, but supports human rights and initiatives, so that we can redirect our
tax dollars into healthcare, education, green-jobs and other life affirming programs.” Benjamin
and other prominent CODEPINK founder’s make it their duty to partner with lots of local
organizations who are sure of imposing joy and humor with tactics such as street theatre, creative
visuals, civil resistance and always challenging powerful decision makers in the government and
major corporations. While doing all this, Medea and her Code Pink crew never forget to support
their cause by wearing the lovely color pink!

In the years that Medea Benjamin has been active as an American activist she has had many successes. For example, in 2006, Code Pink put out their first book as an organization that was titled “Stop the next war Now; Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism”, which was a book that contained a collection essays contributed from very prominent woman involved with activism. Benjamin was then nominated alongside other influential women for the “1000 Women for The Nobel Peace Prize”, which was a collective nomination for women representing women who work for peace and human rights everywhere. Then again, in 2012, Medea Benjamin was awarded the US Peace Memorial Foundation’s Peace Prize to recognize her creative leadership on the front lines of the anti-war movement. Medea Benjamin has been advocating for twenty plus years and she does not seem to be slowing
down anytime soon!

Becoming Barbie

By: Caitlin Easter

From a very young age we are exposed to Barbie. From this early age we learn—and in turn internalize— the values and lessons of “health” as displayed by what we are exposed to. Barbie is the epitome of what children, especially little girls, are taught to want to be—thin yet disproportionately curvy, with blonde hair and a consistently perfect life. And even once we are grown, the ideologies instilled in us via Barbie never quite fade.  The society we live in is heavily influenced by consumer culture, and we are taught that we can also achieve what Barbie has if we are willing to spend the money to get there. If we don’t like our face shape we can invest in plastic surgery or even contouring products in order to change our face shape, if we have a problem with our bodies, we have millions of options of plans and regimes we can buy into in order to achieve the ideal Barbie physique.

However, Barbie’s shape has its own issues.. The South Shore Eating Disorders Collaborative affirms the unrealistic body expectations put forth by Barbie, stating that “if Barbie was an actual woman, she would be 5’9” tall and would weigh “110 lbs.” Due to this, “Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the criteria for anorexia.” They also assert that due to her extremely unhealthy figure, she would “likely not menstruate” and that “she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.” We are, however, never told that Barbie’s shape is unrealistic and unachievable, we just go our whole lives wondering why we can’t reach this idealized standard.

Past the inherently subliminal messages that were passed on through Barbie, in 1963 a group of Barbie dolls—including most famously, Slumber Party Barbie—came with a scale permanently set to 110 pounds along with a book named How To Lose Weight that included a single page with the words “DON’T EAT!” displayed in capital letters. How did Mattel, the toy company that manufactures Barbie, think that this was a good message to feed to their young audience? With such a platform comes a social obligation to do good, or more simply, to not destroy the body image of young children all across the world. Barbie was literally teaching little girls that starving themselves was the proper way to reach their goal weight, and we wonder why most members of society have such deeply-rooted issues with their body’s appearance.

As long as we live in a culture where it is okay not to address these issues, they will never be fixed.  As of late we have seen the appearance of bigger Barbies, but the fact that they need to be advertised as being “bigger Barbies” instead of just “Barbies” highlights the fact that there is something inherently better about being unachievably skinny. There is nothing inherently healthy about Barbie and her lifestyle, and if we let our children continue to play with these toys without at least teaching them positive body image first, we will never see an end to these issues.

Yes, Barbie has a reputable image, but when Barbie is teaching children not to eat in order to maintain her “ideal” figure, is she really the role model we want to give our extremely malleable children?

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.

Emmy Rossum Had No Shame Asking for Equal Pay

By Ann Varner

Emmy Rossum is the unsung hero in Hollywood right now after she demanded, fought for, and receive equal pay of her co-star, William H. Macy. One of my favorite shows is Shameless. The show is set in south side Chicago with Macy playing a dead beat dad with six children. The oldest of the children is Fiona (played by Rossum) who is truly the center of the show.

When Rossum began the show 9 years ago she didn’t have the equivalent experience as Macy, so the unequal pay wasn’t an issue to her. However, 7 seasons later and after directing many of the shows herself, she decided it was time to ask for equal pay.  Due to the extensive negotiations about her pay, production for the 8th season was put to a halt. Fortunately, Rossum got what she wanted and deserved and is now beginning filming for the 9th season.

While finding articles about her equal pay fight, I was pleased to find that Rossum had major support behind her fight for equal pay, including support from Macy: “It’s show biz’s job to get us for as cheaply as they can – and our job to say no…It’s unconscionable they would pay a woman less for the same job.”

Regarding becoming a champion for equal pay, Rossum stated: “This is across the board in every industry, how women are paid versus how men are paid. And then you take it further, that kind of bias extends not just to gender but to race, ethnicity, religion.”

Emmy Rossum is a role model and exactly who we need to inspire more women in Hollywood and the real world to demand their equal pay.

Good Wife, Good Fight: Good Feminist TV

By Ann Varner

The Good Fight is a spin-off of the show The Good Wife. The Good Wife was a wonderfully surprising feminist show. I didn’t expect The Good Wife to be feminist based off of its name, however, it features a strong female lead who goes back to working as a lawyer after 13 years of being a housewife. The Good Wife follows Alicia Florrick as she navigates the male-dominated profession as a first-year associate alongside younger, newly-minted colleagues. She climbs to the top and also finds herself along the way.

The Good Fight premiered two years ago, shortly after The Good Wife ended. The Good Fight does not have Alicia Florrick in it, instead my favorite character is another strong female lead character from The Good Wife series, Diane Lockhart. Diane is a well-seasoned attorney who built a firm but was ultimately pushed out following a scandal. She cannot retire because her money was stolen and needs a new job. Struggling to find a job, she only receives one job offer from an African-American-run firm. She joins the firm and as a partner, the firm becomes predominately women.

A show featuring African Americans and women as leads in professional fields is rare and a breath of fresh air. The show covers many hard topics such as police brutality, the #metoo movement, hate crimes, and rape. The show also shows women and people of color that they are not forgotten and can rise to the top. It is currently my favorite show and I look forward every week to it airing. The catch is that it is a CBS original, so you have to pay $5.99 a month to watch it (it includes all the other CBS shows as well). Because it is an original the show allows swearing and is not as censored, which is great for covering topics that are controversial. I highly recommend this show if you have an extra $6 a month.

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: