By now, y’all have heard about Beyonce’s new album that was released without a warning, packed with 14 new songs and 17 full-length music videos. Radio stations and MTV are playing Drunk In Love, the baby-making track that makes love analogous to drinking too much. However, I have my personal favorite tracks from the album; one of which is Pretty Hurts.
The song’s video documents a beauty pageant through the eyes of female contestants, all of whom are under pressure to meet the beauty ideal. Beyonce is deemed the winning contestant, yet we see behind the scenes how much time, discipline, and energy is put into meeting the pageant standard. This standard is not limited to pageants, though. It may be controversial to say that nobody is immune to the Western standard of beauty, yet I truly believe that is the case. Hopefully, our generation can change that.
As an empowerment blogger, I resonated with the song’s chorus and more specifically, the lyrics, “perfection is the disease of a nation.” Perfection is not just a woman’s issue, though, contrary to what the video implies. Perfection affects people of all genders, directly and indirectly. In my opinion, Americans are constantly hearing advertisers screaming, GET RID OF THAT BELLY FAT or GET FLAWLESS SKIN or GET THE PERFECT BODY THAT’LL MAKE ALL YOUR FRIENDS JEALOUS. These destructive phrases are so powerful that it leads to self-objectification.
To combat these marketing schemes that just end up hurting our bodies, our self-esteems, our families, and even our wallets, I found some self-love tools. Check them out below:
Meet Lennie Naughton, a sophomore in the College of Fine Arts studying Theater Arts. I have the honor of living with Lennie in Danielsen this year (a picture of us is below). Everyday I learn something new from them, including the fact that they knew all the words to Rocky Horror Picture Show when they were eleven. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are confused as to why I use plural pronouns to refer to a singular person. I use gender-neutral pronouns to refer to Lennie because they identify as genderqueer.
To clarify, Lennie does not identify as a woman nor a man. They explain, “As far as my larger beliefs, I don’t believe in the gender binary because it’s a harmful social construct that eliminates the possibility and experience of gender non-conforming and trans* individuals.” The gender binary is what our society conceptualizes as the two-and-only-two system of men and women. This system is harmful in that gender-conforming individuals reap the benefits because people can tell that they: fit the criteria of man/woman, use the “right” bathroom, and his/her sex on their ID matches his/her gender. Gender non-conforming folk are thus left with little privilege and, sometimes, understanding.
The Greater Chicagoland area native adds that their gender identity is “just who I am.” Other things that are part of Lennie’s identity include on-campus involvement, such as: serving on the board for Gender Neutral BU, volunteering in the Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, and dedicating hours to CFA School of Theater productions. In their free time (when there is any), Lennie makes DIY pins out of bottle caps, serenades me with a killer mouth trumpet and they can juggle devil sticks. Bottom line: Lennie has many talents.
However, if you ever run into Lennie, don’t ask for an autograph. Just strike up a conversation about their theatrical endeavors, the next punk show they want to see, or ask them how they make bottle cap pins look so awesome. You won’t be disappointed!
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed at TD Garden in Boston on Friday, November 8, 2013. I was a witness. It was incredible. Here are pictures I took during the epic event:
This is how close my friend and I were to the stage!
My friend, Lee and I cuddling before the concert began.
I apologize for the terrible photo quality, but that is MACKLEMORE. He opened with 10,000 Hours
Oh, look! It’s him again!!
At this point, Macklemore was most likely letting the stadium know that the show sold out with 12,000 people!
I love this one!
Mack repped the Boston Celtics for the first few songs.
Can’t forget about Ryan Lewis! He was going so hard on the drums!
Here’s a shot of most of the band members that accompanied Mack’s MCing.
Of course, Mary Lambert blew the crowd away when she sang the chorus to Same Love.
Macklemore performing White Walls in style.
Macklemore gettin’ silly with And We Danced!
This past Saturday, I attended an empowering, inspirational, and remarkable multi-college summit called Speak UP to Take Rape Culture DOWN. The event’s organizers (Harvard Law School and Futures Without Violence) partnered with local and international organizations that work to end dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault on and off college campuses. These organizations included: Avon Foundation for Women, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Cambridge Youth Dance Program, Circle of 6, Hollaback!, Know Your IX, National Organization for Women, Students Active For Ending Rape, and VDAY.
This summit brought people from 38 colleges and universities to Harvard University for a day of panels, workshops, and intermingling activities that were catalysts for ongoing change in our respective communities. To assist in networking, the organizers provided attendees with the CUTEST business card, pictured below:
Isn’t that brilliant? Below are some take-away quotes and facts from the summit’s panels as well as the workshops that I attended:
- "We go to college to learn, not to fear" - Futures Without Violence President, Esta Soler
- "Education can’t happen unless we are in a safe environment" - Commissioner of Higher Education for Massachusetts, Richard Freeland
- "Consent is not a light switch" - Writer, performer and activist, Jaclyn Friedman
- Making change is most effective when it occurs inside (via meetings with administration, attending summits, networking, etc.) as well as outside (petitions, protesting, action projects, etc.)
- Title IX gives students the right to feel safe on campus. It also entails a school’s obligation to: prevent and educate in regards to gender-based violence, equalize social spaces, believe survivors, inform students of their rights and support them, accommodate students, and not cause students further harm
- Activists should remember to exercise self-care
- Too often, perpetrators are let off the hook (go on to graduate and head into the employment sphere, work on Wall Street, etc), while survivors are left with no support from their higher education institution, emotional distress, etc. — how is that fair?
- Street harassment is a getaway crime that impacts people psychologically, academically, and even geographically (feel unsafe in community—> move to a different community)
- Positive Bystander intervention can be as easy as snacking on some chips (Trigger Warning: violence)
If you are passionate for campus and community safety, definitely check out all the links above. Or, even better, get started by organizing a VDAY event, order free “Who’s Got Your Back?” safety cards from Futures Without Violence, read SAFER’s guide to sexual assault policy reform, share your stories with Hollaback!, or take action through NOMORE.org. There are endless possibilities to speak UP and take rape culture DOWN.