just some thoughts

Why has the Supreme Court been in the news so much?

Anyone who frequently reads the news knows that our nine Supreme Court justices have been busy lately. It seems like important Supreme Court decisions have become a daily occurrence.. Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer revealed she ups the intensity of her workouts when she is pressed for time, alluding to the busy schedule the justices are tasked with. First, mega props to Ginsburg for being 87 years old and still being more active than most unemployed Americans. Second, I think I, like many others, are wondering why the Supreme Court seems to be making more decisions, or at least making more headlines, these past few weeks.

While the average person can comprehend a sentence summary of a Supreme Court decision, I can admit that before researching this article, I knew little about the process involved in scheduling, picking, and deciding Supreme Court cases. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court consists of nine justices. Each justice is appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Supreme Court has the ability to be the only court to hear and decide on a case but more frequently questions decisions that have been made in lower courts that feel worthy of national attention or relate to the president. Lower courts petition to have their cases brought to the Supreme Court, requiring 4/9 of the justices to approve before beginning the trial. From among 9,000 cases that are petitioned, only about 80 are actually accepted by the justices.

Once a case is accepted, the petitioners compose oral and written briefings describing their side of the case. After these are presented, the justices reconvene and debate amongst themselves. The justices’ hear, decide, and debrief on these cases from October to around late June or early July, before they begin their summer recess. They hold public hearings, but the conferences used to settle the decisions remain private. Although these hearings maintain a schedule, the actual decisions themselves can be announced anytime throughout the term before summer recess. Majority is required to formalize a decision, with the senior justice legally transcribing their final opinion. 

Don’t worry, we can take a break from the hard facts and propose some simple reasoning as to why the Court has been up and at’em lately. Typically, if a case receives a unanimous vote from the justices, its opinion will be released earlier in the term. And vice versa. Surprisingly, a majority of the Supreme Court’s decisions are unanimous despite 5 Republican to 4 Democrat justices. These tend to be bipartisan issues. Bipartisan meaning both Republicans and Democrats alike would agree. Partisan meaning the one political party is heavily in favor/against the issue at hand.

As you can imagine, the justices take longer to decide on partisan issues, especially when the government or president is one of the groups at stake. Two of the decided cases within the past week have concerned President Trump. Considering the serious and impactful nature of these cases, the decisions haven’t endured as simple a thought process as some others. Judges are allowed to revise their opinions throughout their conferences and discussions, leading to the scales swaying in different directions frequently before opinions are released. Presumably, Trump-related cases involved intricate debate and discussion as biases, party lines, and endorsements are at stake, not just the issue at hand. Since recess may begin any day now, these lengthy debates must be finalized. The Supreme Court is acting a little bit like a high school student who has procrastinated writing their tough and complicated essay until the night before. To ensure they receive a well-deserved summer recess, the judges have begun releasing the opinions concerning the most debated cases of the term.

Considering the upcoming election, many of the decisions will impact the nominees’ promises and voters’ perspectives. While the justices get to relax this summer, both Trump and Biden, and maybe Kanye, will be critically thinking about the court’s decisions this year. Trump’s involvement in these cases adds an extra layer of substance to these opinions and will definitely be brought up in future debates, tweets, and speeches. The Supreme Court’s complex process is created to protect the rights of the people, even at the stake of our POTUS’s reputation.

just some thoughts

Men aren’t the only ones being sexist on Tik Tok

Tik Tok. We all have it. And we all spend hours daily aimlessly scrolling through the For You page. As an avid user myself, I can attest that Tik Toks can be hilarious and relatable. Embarrassing to admit, but I often quote popular Tik Tok sounds when I speak. When something happens in my life, I can quickly relate it to a sound I heard on the For You page earlier that day. This platform’s power was evident when thousands of users successfully sabotaged Trump’s Tulsa rally by registering for seats and not showing up. Clearly, Tik Tok’s users and community are highly impressionable and the content we view is registered subconsciously. 

About 90% of the videos of my For You page are weirdly tailored to my interests. Whether it’s about oatmeal, the breakfast food I eat daily, or about everyone’s Hamilton obsession in middle school, it’s almost scary how accurate some of the videos are. Nonetheless, I find it super amusing and enjoyable. These videos are created out of good fun and are harmless. Now, the other 10% of my For You page pisses my feminist self off. There are two trends in particular I find problematic: the number and letter rating system and the “ick” concept. 

The rating system is relatively new and typically involves guys commenting on or duetting girls’ videos with a numerical/alphabetical rating. This rating is based on three different criteria: a 1-10 of a girl’s top half and bottom half and a letter grade for her face. The highest rating is a 1010A+, yet I have rarely seen that genuinely commented on a girl’s post. Every Tik Tok on the For You page is public, so random users have been rating girls they don’t even know. From the perspective of a girl receiving a negative rating, or positive one for that matter, laughing it off is easier said than done. Ignoring stranger’s opinions, especially regarding superficial aspects is difficult. Objectifying women and relaying that appearance determines their worth is an ongoing societal issue. It’s impossible to encourage self-love and confidence with trends like this thriving on Tik Tok with no interference or regulation. Women who have and have not been rated have urged for the trend to stop. And rightfully so. Unsolicited hate has no place on Tik Tok. However, some of the girls complaining about being rated are the same girls participating in trends that stoop to this same ignorance and target guys. 

This brings me to the “ick” trend. The “ick” is a feeling of repulsion one experiences regarding someone they were previously infatuated with. Short definition: a turnoff or something you find really unappealing about a crush or romantic interest. Girls across the platform are sharing examples of things guys do that “give them the ick.” Examples include every day instances like a guy simply ordering at a restaurant, raising his hand in class, or trying on clothes at a store. All completely normal human activities. All things the girls creating these videos have done as well. Whether their masculine facades admit it or not, this trend can result in guys feeling insecure and self-conscious about doing natural, every day things and sets women on a pedestal. Pretty much every scenario has been categorized as an “ick”, which holds guys to unrealistic expectations and normalizes girls scrutinizing male behavior. 

Ladies, we can’t expect the rating system to vanish and demand respect from our male counterparts when the “ick” trend continues to produce the same negative side effects. Playing the victim card in the rating system scenario is only validated if women treat men fairly, and vice versa. Yes, the rating system is terrible. But it’s hypocritical to criticize guys for trends like this when women do similar things without facing the level of public scrutiny men face. I can guarantee that if a man had popularized the “ick” notion, women would be just as enraged as they are about the rating system. Because women have historically been subject to gender discrimination, many believe it’s justifiable to fight fire with fire and impose the same damaging concepts on men. Retaliation has become a common tactic for setting sexist remarks. 

Regardless of who started this back-and-forth gender war on Tik Tok, women and men need to realize they are both at fault for hurtful gender-related trends. Comparing the level of harm the “ick” vs the rating system cause is like chasing one’s tail. At first glance, some may argue the rating system is more blatantly sexist. This ignores the fact that these trends, no matter how minor, both have an impact on an individual’s self-esteem behind the screen. If feminists are seeking equality, we still need to hold men accountable for their actions but should be seeking solutions rather than introducing new issues. The same applies for men. If men don’t want to be criticized for doing things like merely plugging in their phones at night, they have to stop judging girls solely based on their appearance. 

I’m also not denying that when incorporated tastefully, poking fun at gender stereotypes can’t be comical. Although I try to refrain from promoting or intertwining sexism and humor, gender norms are a highly relatable aspect of society and these types of jokes are popularized in the media However, I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d rather read a witty and comedic comment related to the video I’m watching than hear that Michael, a 21 year old guy from Kentucky thinks Courtney, a 14 year old girl, deserves a 43C rating. It’s just not as funny. But, I’m not the joke police. And point being, if you ultimately cannot resist making a joke that could be interpreted as sexist, make sure it is very obvious it is a joke and could not be construed as a hateful comment. Both the “ick” and the rating system cross the line in this sense: these trends can’t be considered humorous by the vast majority of viewers and could definitely result in damaging side effects. 

In conclusion, we all need to forgive one another and reach kumbaya on Tik Tok. No more rating systems, no more “ick”, no more victim cards, and no more objectification. Although Tik Tok is a platform for teenagers, we need to act like adults and only promote trends and content that’s humorous and harmless. I’m sure these trends are not created with malicious intentions to rip apart anyone’s self esteem necessarily, but they aren’t benefiting the commenter, the person who receives the comment, or any viewers. When it comes to sexism on Tik Tok, women and men are two sides of the same coin, and the only way to limit any further trends from erupting, is to educate rather than retaliate.


March Favorites

Surprise! This article is not about the CoronaVirus. You’re welcome? We could all use a little break from the hysteria. Although I lacked my usual inspiration to write, as I felt people were solely concerned with breaking news updates and my measly opinions would be irrelevant, I’ve caught a new wind in believing distraction could serve everyone well. Especially in the information we read. Therefore, I’ve deemed this article and blog a Corona-free zone. I’ve compiled a list of my March favorites, many of which I’ve become especially fond of from spending so much time inside. So, consider these March favorites/quarantine essentials, and a small description to follow. Enjoy this miscellaneous collection!

Favorite breakfast: A poached egg atop toast.

If you know me well, you’re aware I love a poached egg. Although oatmeal with berries used to be my go-to breakfast, I found myself starving an hour into the school day. Therefore, I’ve opted for the just-as healthy, yet more protein-packed poached egg on toast. I’m not sure how others like their eggs cooked- but I like the yolk super runny with the whites fluffy. My trick for an oozy, easy to break, poached egg is to immerse the egg into boiling water on medium high heat for two minutes, and gently splash some water on the yolk to give it a fragile, yet coated top. Depending on which pan I use, I usually leave the egg in another two minutes on medium heat- or until my toast is done. While the egg does seem like the showstopper here, the toast is equally as important. Since the yolk will saturate the toast, giving it more time in the toaster makes for the perfect texture. I prefer whole-wheat bread, as it convinces me I’m healthier than I really am. I’ve been using some random Trader Joe’s seed bread, which probably isn’t actually whole-wheat. Like I said, it’s all about convincing myself it’s healthy.

Favorite skincare product: I Dew Care Sugar Kitten face mask.

This may be the first time in a while you’ve read “Face mask” and had to refer to a skincare product rather than a measure to fight the CoronaVirus. As face mask selfies are equally as important as the mask’s actual health benefits, this holographic, sparkly mask fulfills both roles. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I initially bought this mask because it looked pretty and seemed like a cute photo-op, and paid zero attention to its promised benefits. And, it’s a peel off mask which I find super satisfying and more fun than spending hours in front of my sink scrubbing off a wash-off face mask. Despite having no intention of seeing any improvement in my skin, I was pleasantly surprised to find my skin looking amazing and glowy after removing the mask. Now, it may just be that I’m actually getting the recommended hours of sleep now that my schedule is more lenient, but my skin is absolutely thriving. And, for the sake of this article, I’ll credit my skin to this mask. It is a shame my skin looks great considering I am quarantined inside and nobody except my mom can see me. And she always tells me I look nice. So, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. I swear though, the day we are unquarantined I will just get a massive pimple and eat my words.

Favorite TV Show: The Great British Baking Show

I know I’m not alone when I say food has been on my mind more than usual this month. Now, 80% of my time is spent thinking about eating my next meal, or about food in general. As resources are scarce and using all the flour in my pantry to bake a new batch of cookies everyday is unfortunately necessary and very unhealthy, I’ve channeled this interest in food into watching other people bake. Considering Love Island is one of my favorite TV shows, I began watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Needless to say, watching the incredible desserts the chefs bake leaves me even hungrier than before, and equally as inspired. What I like about the show, besides their unique accents and obviously stunning creations, is that they are all home bakers. For each contestant, baking is a hobby they do outside their day-to-day jobs. It’s inspiring as I am a so-to-speak home baker, if my cookies can attest to that. Obviously, I am not making technical desserts like Genoise sponge cake, it’s good recipe inspiration and educational. I have learned that in England, biscuits are cookies, and not American biscuits. Not surprising, I have tried to replicate the contestant’s accents and don’t sound as bad as expected!

Favorite clothing item: Fluffy Ugg Slippers

Although I got these as a Christmas present, and have been in love ever since, I’ve gained

a new appreciation for them as I’m home more often. I’m not kidding when I say I wear these 24/7. I seriously fell asleep with them a few nights ago. They are that comfortable. While Uggs are notoriously known for their expensive price tags, they are worth every penny. I have yet to find a pair of shoes, or slippers, as comfortable, and in my opinion, cute. I have them in a charcoal, grey color which unintentionally coordinates with every outfit. Another bonus is that they are slip-on. I’m super lazy and being able to quickly kick these off before filming an elaborate Tik Tok dance is very convenient. Additionally, being a California native, and just weirdly cold at all times, any temperature under 60 degrees has me shivering. These slippers are the perfect remedy for keeping me cozy and warm. I truly wish you could feel the fur through the screen. So soft. They truly are the best. That’s all.

Favorite workout: Alexis Ren workout videos

More time is a wonderful opportunity to begin exercising more. As I’ve always been an advocate of frequent exercise, I’ve been enjoying having more time to dedicate to my health. However, I strive for consistency rather than longevity when it comes to working out. Rather than tiring myself out by taking an hour long run one day, I prefer to work out daily in smaller doses. I typically alternate between a 2 mile run around my neighborhood and following Alexis Ren’s exercise videos in my room. Her videos can be found on Youtube and are only ten minute each. They pack a lot of punch and if you’re doing the exercises properly you will definitely be sore the next day. I particularly like these videos because of their length and I’m able to notice myself improving the more and more I do them. Not to mention, Alexis Ren is a model and absolutely gorgeous, so I trust her workout advice. They don’t require any gym equipment and only take up a few feet of space, perfect for people like me without a home gym. And, if you need an extra challenge, using your textbooks as weights can work. One downside is the music on the original video is really depressing and listening to your own hype playlist is a must.

Favorite music: Circles by Mac Miller

Speaking of playlists, I’ve begun expanding my music taste this month. I’m proud to say that my March playlist on Spotify, which I highly recommend, consists of artists I just recently started listening to more. As I have tons of favorite songs from this month, I noticed 4 Mac Miller songs on my playlist of about 20 and knew he had to be highlighted in my article. Although he sadly passed away in September, Mac Miller’s album Circles released in mid-January. Not really sure why, but I just discovered the album in March and have loved it since the first listen. His music and voice is super calming to listen to while also incorporating a good beat. My top 5 from the album are Complicated, I Can See, Blue World, Good News, and Hands. I especially like Complicated because it’s my motto for the CoronaVirus: just taking things day by day with ease and not stressing about the future too much. I’m prone to listening to overly screamy music and being that way myself, so Circles is like taking a much-necessary deep breath. It makes for perfect studying music or right before bed. 

Favorite past time: Tik Tok

Are you surprised? I’m a 15-year-old girl, of course I am obsessed with Tik Tok. I can say without challenge, probably more than the average person. My infatuation particularly stems from the fact that a video of mine went viral in December, and has now surpassed over 800,000 views. I plug that every conservation I get the chance, so this article was no different. Despite having no luck since, my ego took a much too-sharp increase following my 15 seconds of Tik Tok fame and has probably yet to return to normal. I can’t lie, it felt great to have a viral video and I am back to craving that attention and stealing the hype from Charli D’Amelio. Unfortunately, my newest Tik Tok rabbit hole has been recreating Tik Tok dances. I can feel my future self, and most likely all of my friends, cringing so hard at the dance videos, but they are too fun and addicting to refrain from. Trust me, doing ‘the woah’ is not going to be my big break, but it’s amusing. 

There you have it- my March favorites! I hope you enjoyed my article and expect more content on here in the coming weeks. Stay safe and make sure you keep a positive mindset.



Love “Clue”? See Knives Out.

The movie “Knives Out” utilises the format of the childhood boardgame, Clue, and a “whodunnit” plotline to skillfully demonstrate that even in a smaller-scale murder, selfish ulterior motives are inevitable and drive conflict. (spoilers ahead)

The film, directed, written and produced by Rian Johnson (who you may recognize from directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi) was released November 27th and has already earned unanimous approval from audience members and movie critics alike. Its box office profits do not say otherwise, as the film had already acquired $44 million two days following its release. In the age of the Internet, Rotten Tomatoes has become an influential source on movie reviews and with “Knives Out” ranking at 96%, surely Johnson and the rest of his star-studded cast believe their hard work has paid off. A 96% is exceptional, especially for a movie of the Mystery genre, as Adventure films tend to rank the highest. No doubt, I believe the film is completely deserving of its praise and was captivated throughout its 130 minute runtime.

To give an appropriate background on the film, “Knives Out” bases around the death of mystery-novel writer, Harlan Thrombey, on his birthday and the questioning of his wealthy family and help, who are all suspects of his murder. The police force and celebrity detective, Benoit Blanc, seek out the details of Mr. Thrombey’s death in order to ascertain whether it was a murder or suicide, and if the latter then who had comitted the crime. While one obvious suspect is introduced early on to have accidentally poisoned Mr. Thrombey and executed an elaborate cover-up story it serves as a starting point for the movie and the case is still nowhere near closed. As each member of the Thrombey family is revealed to be deliberately seeking his fortune, they all become obvious suspects as their greedy ulterior motivates are continuously peeled off throughout the film. A separate plot surrounding his will evolves and ensures a more chaotic dynamic between the characters. This creates an accusation-filed and elaborate mystery for the detectives and other characters to unravel. The movie concludes with several plot twists surrounding who actually was responsible for Harlan’s death and final decisions regarding his estate.

The plot was incredibly well crafted and purposefully intricate. While certain details may not seem important at first introduction, everything eventually matters. This weaves an elaborate story filled with misconceptions and subplots galore. Although the audience is led to believe one character is the accidental killer early on, each of the family members is revealed to have a desire and want for Harlan’s estate and potential reason to have murdered him, making one second-guess the verity of the entire situation. The anticipation leading to the big “Aha!” moment that occurs when Detective Blanc retells the true story from start to finish is unreal. After finding out what actually occurred, the hundreds of small hints along the way become visible and Johnson’s skill is evident. For example, each detail in Mr. Thrombey’s cover up story perfectly aligns with the family’s individual alibis making the mystery incredibly satisfying and as if you are a detective yourself. The movie gave the perfect amount of information for the audience to have some basis for interpreting the situation while being able to form your own conspiracies as you watch. While I felt like a genius at some points, I felt incredibly oblivious at others, which I found enjoyable.

In perfect coherence with a well-thought out plot, the acting was impressive. As I was previously unfamiliar with Ana de Armas, who plays Marta, Harlan’s nurse and friend, and one of the film’s leads, I found that her emotion and facial expressions contribute to the complexity of her character and mystery of the film. As her character has to act oblivious in the interrogations, de Armas does a great job acting as someone who is hiding their thoughts. She remains a relatively calm demeanor and boosts the characters likeability, allowing the audience to feel sympathetic throughout her faults and uplifted with her successes. The dynamic between her and Christopher Plummer, who plays Mr. Thrombey, gives evidence as to why he cherishes Marta so much and makes some decisions later on. In addition, I found Chris Evans’s performance to be notable. As Evans is typically seen wearing a Captain America suit, seeing him play a more villain-like and rebellious character (Harlan’s radical grandson) was definitely out of the ordinary but very impressive. Evans did an excellent job masking many of his character’s emotions and also acting falsely at times, which twisted the story even further, and is a difficult task for an actor. Daniel Craig, who plays the lead detective Benoit Blanc, transformed into the stereotypical, and much-needed, cryptic narrator of the investigation which gave the film a familiar feel. The rest of the cast was particularly strong in diversifying each of their characters, which can be tough in a film with such a large cast. 

Lastly, Johnson’s visuals and sound improved an already interesting plot line and set of talented actors. The opening and closing of the movie show eerie shots of odd memorabilia in Harlan’s mansion setting an unsettling and unfinished tone to the story which becomes supported by the odd death and the events that follow. Johnson’s use of flashbacks proved to be especially effective in retelling events that occured and emphasizing new information. The characters were frequently shown close up which allowed for the audience to read their expressions and start forming their own judgements and guesses regarding the Harlan’s death. The dark colors shown on the screen give a thriller edge to the movie and increase the tension in many of the scenes. The set, which mainly takes place in Harlan’s mansion, is an almost identical replica to the house in the boardgame “Clue,” alluding that it is the perfect place for murder. This dark undertone is complete with the music that builds up at certain moments of clarity or provides a creepy tune during many of the shots of the house.

Overall, “Knives Out” is one of my favorite movies I have seen this year and all around an excellent film. Theme of greed is especially resonant when the characters interactions and motives for staying close to Harlan are revealed and during the discussion of his estate. The family members all ruthlessly throw each other under the bus in order to attain good status and potentially Harlan’s will. As today’s political climate is often critiqued to have similar motivations, the movie’s take on the subject provided a small-scale example that reflected what occurs in today’s world. Without providing too much of a spoiler, the theme of pro-immigration becomes especially resonant at the end of the movie. Hand in hand with that, the message that being a kind person with innocent intentions will be rewarded is visible throughout the movie.


One Size Clothing Isn’t Brandy Melville’s Only Issue

Tik Toks depicting negative Brandy Melville experiences have flooded the video sharing platform’s home page, calling out the brand’s one-size policy on most items and non-diverse image. As someone whose closet is 80% Brandy Melville and is wearing an item of theirs while typing this, it seemed like a relevant topic to write about. 

Let’s start with some background. Brandy Melville is an Italian clothing brand for teen girls founded in 2009. It boasts locations across America and many other Europeans countries, but is most popular in California and New York. The store is incredibly popular among my age group for having relatively inexpensive yet trendy clothes with vintage and thrifted feel, which has made a comeback in the past years. What sets it apart from its competition, is its unique and limited sizing. In addition, its unconventional way of hiring employees and harmful social media presence have been called to attention.

 While browsing through a Brandy Melville store you will primarily find items marked “one- size” or, in some rare circumstances, a pair of mom jeans with “small” written on the tag. At least in the stores I’ve been to, I have never seen an item deliberately tagged as a medium or above. Their oversized pieces could unintentionally fit these sizes. The main backlash the company faces is that their “one size” is really an extra small or small, and isn’t available to anyone who doesn’t fit this “ideal.” Created to make shopping easier and free of complicated sizing, this feature excludes a large portion of women since the American average for a woman’s size is a 16 while Brandy Melville caters for a 4 at most. In today’s standards of celebrating those who are skinny, the company aids this incorrect view. Many women have reported feeling upset after Brandy Melville clothes didn’t fit them, lowering  one’s self-esteem.

Their social media promotes this image as well. Every model featured on their Instagram is skinny and tall, 9 times out of 10 they are white. The comments section of each post contains people asking for more diversity in its sizes and ethnicities featured on the website and social media. A person of color wearing their clothing hasn’t been posted in over a year. In this day and age, I would expect to see prejudice overcome and an even representation of ethnicities, and so do the company’s followers/ customers who beg on each post to feature someone who isn’t 5’11, tall white and skinny. Despite this, their account has close to 4 million followers, and it doesn’t look like this number will be dropping anytime soon.

An photo posted to their Instagram a few months ago.

Another problematic aspect of the brand is its hiring method. Employees are never asked to fill out an application and have a traditional interview. You can fill out their application but unless you have been scouted by a current employee, the chances of getting a job there are pretty slim. People who fit the brand’s “look” are asked for their Instagram username and to have a photo of their outfit taken from head down- which is a little strange. Based off the YouTube videos I’ve watched filmed by girls who were scouted to work there, they then DM you asking for a job if your Instagram matches their criteria (unclear what that is). Basically, it’s at the manager’s discretion and solely based on your style and looks whether you are hired, hence why many of the employees are often unhelpful, unfocused, and caught giving shoppers rude looks.

Now that I have torn Brandy Melville to shreds, I need to explain why I- yes- still shop at their store frequently. Although it makes me feel incredibly guilty shopping at a store with so many questionable characteristics, the items match my style, typically fit me, and is more affordable than  similar brands like Urban Outfitters and Aritzia. While I do not support any of their views, I continue to wear their clothing because boycotting the brand won’t change their one size business strategy, which is showing some improvement (pants in size 27 and 28s as opposed to 23). It’s fair to say Brandy Melville has a long way to come, and some unusual ideas, but remains a very popular brand.

Thanks for reading! Also, since the school year has started my posts may be on an irregular schedule, but keep an eye out for when I post.



Gender: The Role it Plays in Celeb Controversy

Taylor Swift and Cardi B at the 2018 American Music Awards

The entirety of the internet remembers the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty and Kimyé receipts and arguing that took place several years ago. This sparked the creation of her album Reputation and the loss of thousands of Kanye fans and her own. Separately, a video of Cardi B explaining how she used to drug and rob men during her stripper days resurfaced earlier this year. This resulted in another Twitter hashtag, #SurvivingCardiB, referencing the R. Kelly sexual assault scandal. Yet, in a recent Buzzfeed Youtube video, teens and young adults unanimously decided Cardi B was cool and Taylor Swift was not. Their reasoning for their decision about Swift- she’s too problematic. Cardi’s debacle deals with illegal and immoral matters whereas Taylor’s was recipes and phone excerpts being thrown around. This begs the question: Why do people choose to look past certain controversies over others? Gender dynamics could be playing an impactful role.

A Youtube video titled, Teen Vs. Adult: Who Is The Coolest Celebrity, was released July 9th by Buzzfeed owned channel, As/Is. Two teenagers and two adults decide whether they, or their generation, deems them cool or not. One of the adults commented on Swift by saying, “Her outside of her music? A little controversial,” provoking agreement amongst his teenager co-star. Okay, fair enough. She has had controversy aside from Kanye, which may be the justification there. The clip cuts to another teenager saying, “The last time I really heard about her is when Kanye took the mic.” He is referencing when Kanye West infamously stole the mic from Swift at the Grammy Awards in 2009 to say Beyonce’s album deserved to win instead. Simply put, he has only heard of Swift one, involved in controversy, and two, mentioned as a victim to Kanye West’s interruption. Completely disregarding her success, or recent music, the teen hearing about Swift is, simply put, “credited” to Kanye West. Which, is basically the premise to his misogynistic lyrics about her in the song, “Famous,” showing that she is subconsciously mentioned in association with West, rather than her incredibly successful pop star self. 

A screenshot taken from the As/Is video, which now has around 380,000 views.
One of many Twitter posts regarding the video filmed 3 years ago.

In the same video, Cardi B is referred to as, “a major voice right now,” and “always doing funny stuff.” Since when is drugging and robbing men funny, and not controversial? Cardi B was seriously let off the hook by these four for her vile past. However, Twitter used the Cardi B scandal to point out the double standards of men and women involved in topics like sexual assault. R.Kelly was rightfully incriminated for sexually abusing women and minors on multiple occasions. While you can’t directly compare R.Kelly and Cardi B’s assault history, it’s fair to assume she should be criminalized and charged as he has been. In addition, he was dropped by his record label and boycotted by thousands.

Apparently Cardi B saying “I did what I had to do to survive,” was deemed a reasonable excuse. And her countless ‘Okur!’s maintain her popularity among young adults and teens. Under #SurvivingCardiB lives angry Twitter users explaining that if a man had done the same actions, there would be media outrage and instant charges against the wrong-doer. Perhaps the existing stigma that only men assault women clouds her supporters from distinguishing forgivable and unforgivable actions. Whether that’s true or not, it’s safe to say gender plays a huge, but sometimes unnoticed, role in our society.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! I am trying to provide a little bit of variety between Op-ed pieces like this and also the usual light-hearted reviews. Thanks for reading!






My Strange(r Things) Addiction

Two weeks ago, we celebrated the holiday July 4th, and Stranger Things fanatics around the world celebrated something equally, if not more important to them: the release of Stranger Things season 3. According to Netflix’s Twitter account, around 18.2 million subscribers had finished the third season season four days following its release. Also, people hosted viewing parties at midnight and binged the eight episode long season until the morning. Needless to say, it has gained quite the following. Since this horror, sci-fi TV series’s debut in 2017, millions globally have become obsessed with all things Stranger Things. About five days ago I joined their already enormous fan base. The reason I hadn’t watched the show sooner despite tons of peer pressure and enthusiastic recommendations was out of genuine fear of the whole Upside Down, demogorgon chaos and denial that it was really worth the hype. However, with all the buzz surrounding Season 3 and endless Tik Toks regarding the subject, I was feeling serious FOMO. I decided to put my big girl pants on and watch the first episode of Season 1. To my surprise, the show was exactly what I had been told: amazing.

In five days, I finished the first season and started the first two episodes of the second season. You could blame this binge to my lack of activities this summer, but I’d rather credit the Russo Brothers, the producers of Stranger Things. Watching this show was the first time I’ve had vocal reactions to scenes occuring on my screen. Some of the plot twists caused me to say “Oh my god!” out loud to myself at 10:30 P.M., which is out of the norm for me at least. Every episode, the plot grows more and more interesting, and each character always has their own dilemma and situation that evolves. Also, each character and scene matters and is completely essential to the plot, which makes hour long episodes still captivating and enjoyable. And, the show is the perfect combination between scary and funny. I haven’t seen anything so far that’s jaw-droppingly creepy, so that’s a huge relief. And, the ongoing jokes and sarcasm really elevate the watching experience. 

Another aspect of the show I love is the setting. First of all, having this take place in the 80s brings back nostalgia I don’t have, but want to have. Considering I’m pretty cultured, I recognize almost every song played- Should I Stay or Should I Go? Being my favorite so far. Some of the technology is new to me though. Especially this morse code system used by Hopper in the second season. I still can’t decide if this system was a common thing back then or just used by Hopper since he is a cop. I will sound awfully childish typing that if it’s the latter. The show takes place in a small town in Indiana called Hawkins which adds to the weirdness of the show. Since all these futuristic and unbelievable events occur in the middle of nowhere, it’s extra interesting to see how the normal folk of Hawkins handle it. My favorite scene is when the character Max is introduced to the show by exiting her brother’s car which has a California license plate. She gets out and skateboards to class leaving the four main characters, all middle school boys, completely shocked and curious. I just find it funny how cool and unique they think she is considering she’s from California and skateboards, which is completely normal where I live.

Nothing says “80s” like Ghostbusters. Here are three characters dressed up as them for Halloween

What I find most incredible about the show is the acting. As an actress myself, seeing how the cast tackles difficult characters and turns what could be bland characters into interesting ones is super inspiring. During the first season, Winona Ryder, who plays Joyce Byers, a single mother who has gone crazy because of the absence of her son, has to basically act like she is on hard drugs, going insane, and communicating through christmas lights with her son. None of which is an easy task. Ryder absolutely mastered this role and gives a more than realistic screen presence. From her body language to delivery on her lines, everything Ryder does is amazing to me. Another actress I loved watching was Millie Bobby Brown in her role as Eleven. Playing Eleven challenges Millie to act through her body language as Eleven rarely says anything, and cry on cue constantly. Both of which are difficult. However, Millie Bobby Brown delivers an emotional and meaningful performance whenever Eleven appears on screen. This is something that I find even more impressive from an actress as young as Millie, and definitely view it as inspirational. Aside from these two complicated roles, the other cast members do a stellar job reacting and contributing to the chaos that occurs. The show feels so realistic at times and never do I question their acting choices or scripts, which happens a lot for me watching Riverdale.

Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers in Season 1

I can’t wait to finish seasons 2 and 3- probably within the next week and experience another rollercoaster of excitement that is Stranger Things. I’m hoping anyone reading this already watches the show already, or begins the series following this article. And, I forgot to mention this in my previous posts, but if you look at the bottom of my home page, you can enter your email to subscribe to Lifestyled by Lucy and receive an email when I post. Thanks for reading! 



Is Love Island a Televised Prison?

In a desperate attempt to find a topic for this week’s blog post, I scrolled through my New York Times app to generate some ideas. My eye quickly gravitated towards an article with the headline, “‘Love Island’ Is a Riveting Human Rights Violation.” I was stunned. Love Island, undoubtedly my favorite reality TV show for the past two summers, was mentioned negatively in my favorite newspaper. 

To truly understand my love for Love Island, I’ll tell you how I stumbled upon this tropical, British dating show. Leading up to November of 2018, I had been a die-hard fan of the Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor In Paradise, you name it. If Chris Harrison was the host, I was watching. This meant buying Hulu to watch the new season since I would be on vacation and needed my Bachelor fix. Suddenly, my recommendations on Hulu introduced me to Love Island. I watched the first episode, and I was hooked. Considering my attention span usually doesn’t last through an hour long TV show, between the contestants hilarious catchphrases, constant relationship drama, and exciting challenges, I would watch episode after episode. I spent so much of my Thanksgiving break watching Love Island that I started to speak with a slight British accent upon returning to school. I will say, my British accent has greatly improved and is now distinguishable as the Geordie accent, commonly heard in Newcastle, England. I finished all 50-ish episodes of the 4th season in a month. I even wrote a list ranking the contestants from best to worst. Which, by the way, if anyone reading this is interested, I would love to share the list with you and compare notes. 

Of course, when June 3rd rolled around, I watched the first episode of Season 5 live. Obviously, I loved the new contestants and was super excited to have my favorite show back on. Sarah Jeong, member of the NYT Editorial Board and author of the article I mentioned, had a different reaction. She argues that Love Island is like the Stanford Prison Experiment, and just a confined space where the contestants drive themselves insane and cause unnecessary drama due to lack of magazines and TV in the villa. Even as America’s biggest Love Island fan, I can’t say I completely disagree. Although the contestants are only shown when talking about relationships or each other, I can imagine lounging at the pool 24/7 can get kind of dull. Especially since they’re forbidden to read or watch anything. The lack of media available to the islanders is my main concern- one that I share with Ms. Jeong. I would practically go insane if I wasn’t allowed to watch Shawn Mendes compilations and scroll through Instagram for at least a small portion of a day, nevertheless a month. These poor contestants would have no idea what’s happening in the world or with their friends and family. There’s no harm in allowing them 20 minutes a day to catch up on the news or watch an episode of their favorite TV show. In that respect, I think the producers should consider allowing some downtime for the islanders. 

The villa is located in Mallorca, an island in Spain.

However, I don’t think lack of media availible is the reason why drama occurs. When you put 12 young, single adults together in a Spainish villa and tell them to couple up, there’s going to be conflict. It’s bound to happen. Access to the news could create even more drama when dealing with political issues. We wouldn’t want their entire Love Island experience to be like Thanksgiving dinner with your extremist relatives. The drama and arguments aren’t enjoyable for me to watch anyways. The producers highlight any disagreeance. Which, hearing a private conversation between two islanders blasted on my computer often feels like an invasion of their privacy. Although they all sign contracts allowing for cameras to be on them at all times, having your feelings on display for millions is an uncomfortable expeperience. I’m not sure if this is the case currently, but I think the islanders should be able to decide what and what doesn’t get aired. I admire the daily episodes and quick turnaround between shooting and airing, but I could live with a longer delay if it meant more careful editing to comply with what the islanders feel comfortable with.

Yes, there are some major issues with the show. The lack of privacy and media should definitely be reconsidered for next season. And, I’m sure the producers have already heard this same feedback from concerned fans and previous islanders. While I do agree with these two points made by Ms. Jeong, I think calling the show a “Human Rights Violation” might be overstated. If these singles were placed in the villa without any contract or consent on their part, this would definitely raise several flags. However, the islanders are aware of what the show entails and simply wouldn’t apply or agree to be on the show if they felt violated. I completely respect Ms. Jeong’s opinion and her definition of the show is undoubtedly true. If one of the islanders specifically mentions they believe it violated their rights, I would revise what I’ve previously said and consider to boycott the show. However, as an outsider who is unaware of the behind-the-scenes of Love Island, I can’t fully bash or support any activity that occurs. 

Two islanders having a chat.

Now, will this change my perspective of the show? For sure. Next time I watch, I’ll pay closer attention to any questionable scenes. Will I continue to watch the show? Absolutely. It’s pretty funny and the Twitter memes born each week are incredible. I believe ITV isn’t out to do serious harm. I think calling some issues to their attention is important, but overanalyzing a British dating show isn’t necessary. If we begin to question Love Island, it’s cousins Big Brother and the Bachelor Franchise need to be picked apart as well. Sadly, there’s no more room in the word count for that this week, but we can revisit those in the future. Thanks for reading!

Here’s a link to the NYT article I reference: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/opinion/love-island-usa.html



VSCO: More Than Shell Necklaces?

If you have been living under a rock for the past year or so- or aren’t a teenager- you are probably unfamiliar with the app VSCO. For the 1% of my audience who isn’t 15 years old, VSCO is a photo-editing app that provides presets and tools to enhance photos without having to use complicated or expensive programs like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. From the app’s 2011 release until a year-or-so ago, this mission was consistent throughout the app’s users. However, the VSCO my friends and I know and use is nothing like what I just described

In order to provide a clear contrast between VSCO’s actual purpose and what’s become of the app, I needed to find a good definition describing the shift the app’s made recently. Unfortunately, the only information I found was from Urban Dictionary, which is not the source I typically use. I can’t lie though, the most current Urban Dictionary definition of “VSCO” is pretty accurate: VSCO – where every girl gets in her feelings. realizes what a good relationship looks like. and finds the cutest things. makes you jealous of other people’s friendships.

Typical VSCO content. Call me the next time you see me and my friends doing this.

As cringey as it is, VSCO has turned into a social media platform where girls republish and favorite pictures of quotes relating to relationships and friends, relatable-ish memes, and lots of puppies, and guys holding the puppies. Taking a look at my feed right now, the first three posts are republishes of a mirror selfie of a blonde girl (who I don’t recognize but could be an influencer), a scene from the TV show Friends, and a picture saying, “Republish if you wish you were tan.”

Two girls who meet the VSCO definition in one way or another.

Yeah, definitely not the most profound content to say the least. However posts like these have flourished with this new wave of VSCO “culture.” This “culture” has been branded by teenage girls to relate amongst their issues (typically related to either boys, school, or their looks) and show that it’s okay not to be perfect. Or at least that’s what the super pretty girls on my feed wearing messy buns and oversized t-shirts are trying to tell me.

Girls are reposting memes to their feed as well as pictures of the new common, girl-next-door for my generation- the VSCO girl. My friends and I brainstormed some characteristics of a VSCO girl- she wears shell necklaces, tube tops from Brandy Melville, oversized t-shirts that cover her shorts, clumpy mascara, messy buns, and has blonde or brown hair, and is either tan, or wishing she was. What makes the VSCO girl so popular amongst my generation is supposedly how “average” she is. Forever, the ideal girl has been a model, which is completely unrealistic. While the qualities of a VSCO girl don’t apply to a majority of people, it still provides an achievable look for some (not all). 

Trust me, going this deep into the topic is definitely a stretch. I doubt any VSCO girls or users had this intent in mind. But I view it as a small step in the right direction. While trying to look like anyone you’re not can be a bad idea, VSCO girls are a slightly better alternative to the unhealthy habits and image associated with looking like today’s models. Also, these girls still face “everyday challenges” (nothing actually important, just boy problems) like some other teen girls, adding more relatability. Alright, let’s hop out of this over-analyzed rabbit hole for a second and focus on how and why this new wave of VSCO came to be. 

The reason more girls are on VSCO is directly related to Instagram. As of February 2019, 9% more females use Instagram than males. Instagram is obviously about posting photos, which most people edit nowadays. Therefore, female users are more likely to use VSCO. And, from my perspective, lots (not all) of the guys I know don’t care about filtering their photos anyways. With a female-dominated app like VSCO, the content is now 99% of the time relating to girls. With the republish feature on VSCO, any photo republished is shown to all of your followers making it accessible for any picture to be widely spread. This could be why VSCO girls spread so quickly. 

This is cute and gets my complete endorsement.

When asked, a friend of mine credited the rise of VSCO girls to Tik Tok, the video sharing app previously known as Musical.ly. Tons of funny videos about VSCO and VSCO girls have been posted exposing a separate audience to what the app entails. Similarly, anything on Tik Tok that appears on the For You page can get over hundreds of thousands of views, truly showing how social media can spread trends quicker than ever. 

That’s enough analysis for today. Enjoy reposting pictures of puppies and Tom Holland on VSCO and maybe begin to post things of more importance. Or, just use the app like a normal person and have fun. In the wise words of a VSCO post I came across recently, “Sorry I’m late I sat on my bed in a towel for 34 minutes staring at a wall.” That’s definitely better than anything I’ve written in this article. Thanks for reading!



My Time as a New Yorker

I’m sure a large majority of the people reading this post follow me on social media and have seen tons of pictures from my recent trip to New York City. Whether or not you follow me on Instagram, I’ve found a way to measle information my trip into any conversation possible, so it’s probably been mentioned more times than enough. Anyways, I’ll provide some quick context if you weren’t listening when I babbled on about New York- which, I don’t blame you, it was a lot. I recently attended a two week program with the School of the New York Times in Manhattan where I learned from incredible people about journalism and reporting and got to explore the city at the same time. This made for the most impactful, fun, and life-changing two weeks I’ve ever had.

The instructors and content of the course exceeded my already, super high expectations. Classes ran from 9 AM- 4 PM with a lunch break in between. Everyday was something different, and all equally as intriguing. Unlike a usual school day, I was never bored and I was sad when I didn’t have class on the weekends. Often, we would leave the classroom and visit different communities and places throughout New York and hear from guest speakers working in the industry. I loved taking a field trip to Jackson Heights, Queens for our final project, where a partner and I interviewed a new French bakery and their owner, who had won Iron Chef. Speaking with him was not only interesting- Ahem, he won Iron Chef- but super fun. And, agreeing to be interviewed by two random teenagers isn’t the best use of anyone’s time, so serious thanks to him. Here’s a link to the piece: https://medium.com/writing-the-big-city/a-taste-of-france-in-jackson-heights-da7909481569

The view near my dorm.

Let me talk about the *equally* important and exciting part of this trip: exploring the city and meeting new people!. We stayed at the Fordham University Lincoln Center campus dorms and had easy access to a dining hall, lounges on every floor, and a Starbucks and Duane Reade (New York CVS basically) only a few minutes away. Having Duane Reade nearby meant easy access to Reese’s snack mix. Looking back, not the best idea to purchase before bed. Surprisingly, I only went to Starbucks a few times, because free breakfast at the dining hall was, well free. My debit card thanked me for that later. Another bonus was having an empty dance studio on our floor: perfect for movie nights and just hanging out. My floor was the group I did all non-class activities with and we all became good friends instantly. 

Like any camp or program, you create a closer group of friends you spend most of your free time with. My friends made morning runs slightly more bearable and trips to the Met way more fun. They made running around looking for a Socrates painting (long story) some of the best few hours I had on the trip. You never got bored of each other since you had just met a week before and still had so many weird stories and things about our lives to share. In fact, after the first few days with your friends, you start spending every minute together. This meant lots of trips to Duane Reade for snacks right before bed check and early morning runs to compensate for what you ate the night before. I noticed my closest friends weren’t from California so I learned about East Coast and became a little less like a California girl, meaning less annoying. Also, I taught them some -apparently- unique, California things. I mean, none of them had been to Rubio’s or In N Out before- which was so saddening to hear. Leaving everyone had me at the point of tears, which I didn’t expect when I arrived. 

Here’s me, looking excited, and sweaty on the first day.

New York City was the perfect place for me and my friends to explore. You unknowingly learn a lot about the culture and habits of the city by just spending every day there. By the end of the trip, I was pushing and shoving through the subway as if I’d lived in Manhattan my entire life. I can admit to using these techniques in our dorm elevator too- you gotta do what you gotta do to get out at your floor. Luckily, the streets were not as busy as the elevators and roaming around was fairly simple despite my terrible directions and confusion between avenue and street. Main lessons learned were: do not go to Times Square. Just don’t. Also, bring rain gear and not one jacket. My poor University of Hawaii hoodie was worn everyday and had to be washed midway through. 

A huge perk of staying near the Upper West Side was Magnolia Bakery. The best desserts. Don’t @ me. Having the dining hall’s ice cream at lunch and cheesecake for dessert was a hellish combination for my lactose-intolerant self, but it was worth it. Oh, how could I forget Van Leeuwen’s. It was the best of both worlds for me: ice cream that’s tasty and dairy-free. I did have my fair share of healthy and over-priced, yet amazing salads. Sweetgreen will be missed. Please ask me for any suggestions on where to eat, I will go on for hours about certain restaurants.

One of the stops on the Instagram Dessert tour.

Aside from my planned shopping and food trips, the School of the New York Times organized many fun activities. My favorite was seeing the musical, Prom, on Broadway. Who am I kidding? Everything we did was my favorite. We had a cruise night with a chaotic, yet fun mosh pit, mini golf, and view of the Statue of Liberty. It gave me the party-like experience I’ll never be invited to again. Going to the Met museum was super interesting, especially the Camp fashion exhibit. I would include a picture, but that’s against their rules. Another activity I enjoyed was the rainy Instagram dessert tour we took around Greenwich village. I had lots of dessert, implied by the name, and a great time.An event I assumed everyone attending loved as much as I did was the New York Times building tour. Seeing my, hopefully, future workplace was just as cool as I imagined.

Overall, the School of the New York Times was amazing, and I’m experiencing severe withdrawals back home. I can’t walk anywhere nearby, I can’t be given journalism opportunities on the daily, and I can’t see my friends who all live across the country. Writing this made me nostalgic for a few days ago when I was in NYC, which is embarrassing to say. So, if I haven’t convinced you to apply next year, or at least take a trip to the city, I haven’t done a good job writing this post. Thanks for reading!