The Forgotten- The Human Tendency to Obliterate by Ericka Barroso

Haiti after the earthquake, the UNICEF Tap project, Free Rice, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Any of these sound familiar to you? One day, not very long ago, you turned on your television, only to hear about how desperately in need others were. You, altruistically, left your phone unused to recollect clean water for those who lacked it or practiced math, even though you hate it, to collect rice bowls for others. Maybe you even camped with your friends to help raise awareness for child soldiers however, you have since forgotten. One day you were proudly wearing your Invisible Children shirt or sharing stories on Facebook about those brave Boston Marathon survivors yet, just a few days, or years in some cases, afterwards, you are even surprised to hear these movements are still going on.

It is natural for us to forget. The media pulls us in with its graphic videos and pictures and moves us to act. It strives and succeeds to create awareness in any way it can, not understanding that sometimes the approach can be very harmful to the cause. By talking about world events like they do, those unhappy occurrences turn into trends. Sadder still is the fact that, just like many of you left that Jonas Brothers shirt at the back of your closet once the euphoria passed, you also erased that cause you once felt so strongly about as soon as a new one came along. Now, I am in no way saying you should not do your best to help any and every way you can. The world needs help from those lucky enough in a position to give it but, if you truly feel so strongly towards something, why give up?

Did you know there is even a report out there to keep track of how many disasters are forgotten per decade? Even then, only a lucky few are chosen from that long list to receive enough sponsorship to even try and become known. I dare you to Google “forgotten crisis” and see what you find. Invisible Children has gone from being a once famous organization that probably even visited your school one day if you were lucky to having to completely eliminate the media part of their business from fund shortage, check their webpage if you are skeptical. Over 150,000 people in Haiti are still living in the shelters created after the earthquake stroke. How long has it been since you thought of them?

Right now, its Je suis Charlie. Tomorrow, who knows? The point is not to follow the newest tragedy as though it were Billboard´s hottest list. If you were once pulled towards a cause, this was because you felt connected. Open your phone again and help donate more water. Give away more food to those in need and keep track of that you feel strongly for. Collecting funds for organizations should not resemble a scholarship competition and anyone can be the person that changes it all because they still need you, even more than they did back then when you took that leftover canned food to the donation corner at your school. Research smaller causes that do not get as much attention and remember, it is not about being a trend follower, it is about helping those in need.


The Beauty Community’s Most Exploited Video Trends in 2014 by Sara Mermelstein

Though I’m a bit late, I’ll admit, on jumping on the Trend Train for 2015, we can always reminisce on trends that the beauty community grabbed ahold of in 2014 and wouldn’t let go of. Seriously. I’m an avid YouTube watcher, and I couldn’t escape my subscription box without seeing the same video topics over and over again. There’s always the staple looks that happen every year, like 4th of July-inspired makeup (which goes 1 of two ways: red lips, blue eyeliner, or stuffing red, white, and blue somehow on your lids), Halloween makeup, Christmas makeup, and any other seasonal-type videos. But in 2014, makeup had a big year, and it wasn’t easy to avoid these fads since everyone capitalized on them. Hopefully, in 2015, we’ll be able to expand upon our repertoire a bit more. Without further ado, here are (in my opinion) some of the most exploited beauty video trends of 2014.


Kylie Jenner Inspired Makeup

Which celebrity would be the least likely to create millions of videos based on her makeup? I’m sure no one would have guessed Kylie Jenner, but, all those videos later, here we are. Kylie’s statement overdrawn lips and grunge-inspired eyes that were most often seen in her selfies were probably the most recreated look since … well, her older step sister Kim. There was a period from 2012-2013 where all you’d be able to find were Kim Kardashian smokey eyes. Now, it’s all Kylie Jenner. And that’s not bad, per se… but anything in excess can get to be too much. We get it, she overdraws her lips, and it’s the quick fix instead of wanting to plump them up. And the spider lashes. Regardless, we’ve seen it before – lest we forget, she did not invent big lips – and we probably don’t need to see it again.


Elsa Inspired Makeup

If there was any other makeup that was recreated more times than Kylie Jenner, or at least, on the same, it’s definitely Elsa inspired makeup from the extremely popular Disney film Frozen. So popular that it was difficult to escape her makeup, or a version of her makeup (which is relatively simple in itself) for any occasion. Any. Halloween was the biggest offender, since, ironically, Frozen was still popular even a year later, and it was the biggest way to rack up views along with a Kylie video. But come on – once we’ve seen one way to put some purple shadow and lipstick on our faces, we don’t need to see it 3000 more times.


Eyebrow Overload

Once Cara Delevingne stepped onto the model scene with her full brows, they suddenly became all the rage for 2014 – and she only got more and more popular, along with the full brow trend. Now, I am someone who has naturally thicker brows, so it was nice to see that these full brows were “in style,” but… how many ways can someone do a brow before it becomes too excessive? From blocky to faded, to highlighted and arched, the possibilities are endless. It’s always great to experiment and change your look, and brows are something that are often neglected when doing so. But really, anything involving brows, like the highlighting and everything in between, is just… way too much.


Highlight and Contouring… To the Max

This was in reserve since probably 2011, when the secret to Kim K’s sculpted face was also exploited to such a degree you could barely click a video without getting 400 others just the same. And it was back and better than ever in 2014. Excessive wasn’t in anyone’s vocabulary when this surfaced! Plus, many of these were either too extreme or not enough where it didn’t make a difference – it was rare to find something in between as opposed to the continuum. We didn’t call it Kim K’s contouring, but we all knew it was basically the same. Just like the other tutorials… you see it once, you really don’t have to see it again.

4 Reasons Why Chasing Life Is Winter 2015’s Hit Show By Julia Schemmer

ABC Family’s Chasing Life returns for its second season on Monday, January 19th, 2015. We couldn’t be more excited to see the drama, vulnerability, and excitement for what this season brings, but the true allure of the show goes much deeper than entertainment appeal. Check out our top four reasons why Chasing Life is rocking our worlds!

Chasing Life takes a difficult topic, and approaches it with confidence.

The show revolves around ambitious journalist April Carver (portrayed by Italia Ricci) and her transformative journey that she endures after her recent leukemia diagnosis. Through the sensitivity of the show, ABC Family is able to overcome the stereotype that A) all cancer patients are fighters all the time and that B) patients are the only ones involved in the fight. Italia Ricci constantly shows the fear and uneasiness that most cancer patients have, exposing the fact that it’s okay to be not okay. In addition, Chasing Life brings awareness to the various people involved in the fight against cancer – caregivers, oncologists, and friends.

Chasing Life cast members do more than portray cancer patients, they individually are involved in organizations that fight cancer.

Italia Ricci is involved with organizations such as Stand Up to Cancer and Stupid Cancer, two influential movements to help people affected by cancer.

“It’s been amazing and so rewarding. I’ve always wanted to be involved, and I can’t stress how easy it is. Every little bit helps, and what you do is contagious. Whether it’s spreading the word on social media or participating in a triathlon, everything counts” says Italia.

Chasing Life validates the unconventional family.

Most shows consist of a traditional family – two parents, an older sister, a younger brother, and a loveable puppy living comfortably in a middle-class society. Yet, this show brings enormous complexities to each family member. Along with having a cancer patient in the family, the little sister just came out with the fact that she’s bisexual. The father passed away, yet had an illegitimate secret daughter. The uncle is shunned by the family, yet loved by the mom. And the Granny? She’s just plain adorable.

Chasing Life is an ongoing, interesting story.

Ever watch a show and be hopelessly bored with where the storyline is going? You won’t feel this way after you finish watching an episode of Chasing Life. Each episode leaves its watchers hanging on their seats, eager for the week to speedily arrive so they can know what will happen next. From a love triangle to a secret daughter to April’s chemotherapy, we’re hooked!

Don’t take our word for it – check out Chasing Life every Monday on ABC Family!

Is A Queer School a Good Idea?

We’ve heard about all-girls schools and all-boys schools while hardly blinking an eye, but what about all-queer schools? In 1985, Harvey Milk High School, a small East Village New York public school, first took root as a safe haven for youth struggling in traditional high schools, predominantly those belonging to the LGBTQ* community. The school has been a fully accredited New York public school since 2002.

Harvey Milk High School is a transfer high school admitting students who wish to leave their school due to bullying. It provides to its students refuge from these attacks as well as a safe learning environment. While the school does not outright deny applications from straight, cis teens, it almost exclusively admits queer students.

The high school, named for the first openly gay elected official in California, sets a unique precedent for public school systems. Harvey Milk High School has a wonderful mission and has likely been a blessing to its students. Though it’s easy to say that there should be more schools like it, we are best served by making an exhaustive consideration as to whether the Harvey Milk High School model is one for future schools to follow.

The benefits of the availability of exclusively queer high schools are immediately apparent: a queer student body provides for LGBTQ* students an understanding and accepting atmosphere that they may not find elsewhere. Such an environment is important not only for a teen’s health and well-being, but for their personal growth.

Despite its appeal, the Harvey Milk High School model poses numerous potential problems, especially should it be adopted by other cities.

By isolating many queer teenagers from straight peers, an exclusively queer high school would lower the exposure of straight teenagers to the LGBTQ* community. Because xenophobia fuels homophobia, removing gay and lesbian teenagers from once-integrated environments at worst contributes to homophobia in those environments and at best removes the potential for progressive change in those environments.

Additionally, the establishment of gay and lesbian high schools is regressive in that it promotes segregation. Segregation has been an agent of marginalization throughout United States history, and was officially deemed incongruous with equality in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. For this reason, schools like the Harvey Milk High School therefore promote inequality as well as the antiquated and regressive principle of segregation in education.

A final flaw is that a solely gay and lesbian high school can harm LGBTQ* teenagers who attend integrated schools in the same city. When a school system addresses homophobia by removing queer kids from homophobic environments, they impede the development of resources for queer students in those environments. This flaw not only directly hurts queer teens who face bullying and discrimination, but contributes to a more generally regressive culture by failing to educate the young generations that will ultimately run our society.

The mission of Harvey Milk High School is an admirable one, and the establishment of the school has surely been a boon for the small body of teens it serves. However, the problems the school’s model may pose should it be adapted in other cities outweigh its potential advantages. Instead of considering the establishment of a queer school, it is wisest for cities looking to address homophobia in schools to allocate funds to education, faculty training, and LGBTQ* resources in order to create a safe space.

Image by Charlie Nguyen Photography, courtesy of Getty Images.

The United States of Political Dynasties by Kyle Stewart

Political junkies, rejoice! With just under twenty-two months until the 2016 presidential election, potential candidates have finally given us something substantial to talk about. In the month of January following a midterm election, presidential announcements are more frequent than Obama’s trips to the golf course or a Biden gaffe. And while most announcements are either declines or to say that the eventual candidate is “actively exploring”, political writers and media personalities finally have a little more clarity on what the matchups will look like.

So without further ado, lets run through the list. Jeb Bush is actively exploring, meaning he is buying time while he attracts donors. Paul Ryan is out, Scott Walker is assembling a team, Elizabeth Warren is out, Marco Rubio is releasing a book so he is probably in, Rand Paul is trying to rebrand the Republican party, and Chris Christie is too busy jumping up and down at Dallas Cowboys games to focus on his state or a presidential run.

Hillary Clinton has been running since 2008, Mitt Romney thinks that the third time is the charm when it comes to his presidential aspirations, Joe Biden has had his eyes set on the presidency since 1988, and Ted Cruz is gearing up for a campaign by reading his favorite book, Green Eggs and Ham.

Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb is the only Democrat to have formed an exploratory committee so far and former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee has ended his talk show in the hopes of another run. While the list could go on of potential candidates, we will focus on just two of the many names listed above: Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

“If we cant’ find more than two or three families to run for office, that’s silly.” Barbara Bush said this last year when asked about her son’s potential run for president. She is absolutely right.

In a country that was founded on rejecting royalty, Americans seem to have an unwavering fascination with political dynasties. The Kennedys, Clintons and Bushes have dominated American politics not because members of these families are expert lawmakers and executives, but because Americans love celebrities and that’s what political families are above all else.

Supporters of a 2016 Bush vs. Clinton presidential election claim that because the two are moderates of their parties, they would give Americans a substantial debate on the major issues. That may be so, though I would argue that a Bush or Clinton presidency just maintains the political status quo. Neither candidate offers a distinctively new vision to the American people.

While Jeb was the Bush child that was destined to be president before his brother George ran and Hillary Clinton may have had presidential aspirations before Bill’s presidency, America deserves some variation when it comes to the families that occupy the White House. As I write this, though, Clinton continues to dominate theoretical polls and Bush leads among potential Republicans (Or at least he had been leading before Romney threw his name into the ring).

his ostensible popularity, however, is not due to a majority of Americans wanting these two in office but to the fact that a majority of Americans recognize the names Clinton and Bush. When so much of the electorate is uniformed, having name recognition is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it is relatively easy to lead in the early polls and a curse because you automatically become associated with any negative events from your family’s time in office.

So what is the take away here? If Bush and Clinton are the two best candidates, then by all means they should run. However, before voters say they are “Ready for Hillary” or jump on the Bush bandwagon, it is important to think critically about any political election. Examine the candidates, read about the issues and form your own opinions. Sometimes the right candidate isn’t the one that is popular because someone else in their family already held the job that they want.

Charlie, Islam, Moderation, by Iman Messado

If you haven’t heard of Charlie Hebdo and the terrorist attack that they’ve recently suffered, get out from under that rock and turn on a TV. Or just keep reading. On the 7th of January, French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo was under open fire from French Muslim brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi who have been identified as jihadists. This is a difficult term because ‘jihad’ is a legitimate term in the Qu’ran but many Muslims and scholars disagree on its meaning. From my understanding, it means ‘to strive to work in the way of Allah’. (Please note that despite my name, I am not Muslim.) Charlie Hebdo is known to frequently publish ribald content, the latest being not much different than previous content.

Then what was the problem? The point of satire is to use comedy to point out and mock society’s vices and faults. It’s supposed to invoke ‘thoughtful laughter’ (this was from a 1993 AP Lit question, lol) – meaning that it simultaneously amuses you and provokes thought/reflection. People generally make satire because they want to stimulate change, right? Where can we draw the line between offensive comedy and satire? Is there a line at all? Popular satire is The Onion, South Park and the Colbert Report. While these outlets have also posted offensive content (remember the whole calling Quvenzhane Wallis a c**t thing?), none of them have ever been attacked by terrorists. This raises the question, why Charlie Hebdo?

Have you ever wondered why you haven’t actually seen the comic that played a part in provoking the attack? It featured a caricature of a naked Prophet Muhammad. News outlets across the nation, including NPR and the NY Times, have opted not to post the comic strips on their websites. It’s understandable why – they’re incredibly offensive. Charlie Hebdo has a reputation of releasing particularly risky content, but this is definitely going too far. Islam is a religion of modesty and that comic was inexcusably irreverent.

Whatever Charlie Hebdo was intending to criticize isn’t easily seen by the common eye. I am a member of the common eye. How is a caricature of a naked Muhammad going to stir the hearts of the masses and instigate change in society? If anything, it’s just going to offend a whole lot of people (Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world). Charlie was probably intending to do that. Does that make terrorism okay? Not at all. Then, does that mean that Charlie was in fact, in the right? Of course not

This doesn’t mean that you should be rethinking whether or not you should be posting “Je suis Charlie” all over social media. Keep the retweets and instagram posts supporting free speech. Because that is what all the commotion is about (or should be about) – the protection of the human right to free speech. Nobody should fear being subjected to open fire by religious extremists just because they want to proclaim their thoughts and opinions. At the same time, you shouldn’t release content without expecting some harsh feedback. Although I bet Charlie Hebdo was aware of what they were publishing and weren’t particularly concerned of another terrorist attack (there was an incident in 2011), they still didn’t deserve death.

All things in moderation. It is not wrong for Charlie Hebdo to be a notably biting satirical magazine. It is okay for them to publish offensive material, so long as it serves a purpose. That is what satire is. Unfortunately, they have a habit of crossing the line. Comparably, it is not wrong for Muslims to be offended by the offensive material published by Charlie Hebdo. It is okay for them to take public action against it – such as peaceful protests and formal complaints.

Unfortunately, there are some members of the religion that tend to be extremists. Balance is the key, friends.

Je ne suis pas Charlie. Je suis in favor of free speech, free religious expression and moderation.