Press Media Watch Europe Gender The World Inequality

British tabloids’ objectification of women is a step back from gender equality in the UK

In 2019, the UK’s upskirting law made it a criminal offense to take an image or video under someone’s clothing. In the same year, Wales made menstrual products available for free in hospitals and schools, and Northern Ireland finally legalized abortion. Over the last few years, there have been countless wins for gender equality in the UK and Ireland. However, women are far from being equal yet – especially if British tabloids continue to objectify women’s bodies in their newspapers.  

Unlike broadsheet newspapers that provide reliable news stories, tabloids run on celebrity gossip, sex scandals, and conspiracy theories. Yet despite being known for reporting stories that are factually inaccurate, The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Mirror – all tabloid newspapers – were the most read newspapers in the UK last year.

I’ve spent the pandemic working in my local supermarket, a job which on the morning shift, requires me to put the day’s newspapers out onto the shelves. I try my best not to look at the front page of the tabloids – a 6 a.m. start is hard enough without seeing them hurl abuse at Meghan Markle, and use Brexit propaganda as a way to pedal the UK’s vaccine roll-out – but the other day, my curiosity got the better of me. I took a copy of The Sun, one of the country’s most popular tabloid newspapers, and opened it behind the till. I knew what I would find inside, but I was still shocked when I found it.

Three pages in and there was already a bikini shot of Walking Dead star, Lauren Cohan, blown up in HD, as she ‘spoils readers rotten in her latest photoshoot’; the fact that Cohan was returning to the show’s 11th and final series was buried among the detailed description of her ‘toned torso’ and mention of ‘those fans who think she’s drop-dead gorgeous.’

The Sun page 3 feature with Lauren Cohan
[Image description: The Sun page 3 feature with Lauren Cohan.] The Sun

The fight against Page 3 girls – the tabloid tradition of publishing an image of a topless woman on their third page – has been going on for over four decades. For a 23-year-old like me, this regular soft-core porn feature has been around for as long as I can remember. It took countless campaigns for this feature to finally be stopped in 2015 after 45 years of printing new explicit photos of women’s bodies every single day. 

However, as I saw in the copy of the newspaper I was reading, this ban has a loophole: women in bikinis. As long as their breasts are covered, tabloids can continue to objectify the female body and sell copies of the newspaper by printing suggestive photos. The “women in bikinis loophole” lets tabloids continue to treat women as commodities, and sell their bodies as a form of entertainment.

The “women in bikinis loophole” lets tabloids continue to treat women as commodities, and sell their bodies as a form of entertainment. 

Another way that tabloids are getting around this ban, is by having women write the articles that include these photos. On page twelve of the same newspaper I had picked up that morning, there was a double-page spread of nine female celebrities in bikinis – including a nude photo of the woman who wrote the article herself.

The angle of the piece was celebrating the bodies of the over 50’s, while also attempting to take down the ‘polyfilla-ed twenty-something wannabes’ at the same time.

A double-page spread written by female writer in The Sun that pits women against each other.
[Image description: A double-page spread written by a female writer in The Sun that pits women against each other.] The Sun

At first glance, a piece like this written by a woman to celebrate women’s bodies might seem like a form of female empowerment – a clever way for women to turn this degrading tradition on its head in the fight for gender equality, and release suggestive photos on their own terms as an attempt to control their own narrative. But by posting these photos in a tabloid that for over four decades has used female bodies to sell stories, a spread like this is just another way for men to continue to sensationalize and objectify the female form, marketing it instead as a new form of feminism.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that the piece was celebrating the bodies of women over 50 – something that should be done – by tearing down the younger generation of women below them – something that definitely shouldn’t. If your brand of feminism focuses on bringing other women down, then I’m sorry, but it isn’t really feminism at all.

On a similar note, in all nine photos on this page, the women pictured had what many would consider an ideal body type; likewise, there were only two women of color on the whole double-page spread. Again, if your view of feminism doesn’t include women of all ethnicities, women of all shapes and sizes, and trans women, then you can never truly say that you’re fighting for the rights of all women.  

I am of course not saying that women who share suggestive photos of themselves aren’t real feminists – I understand how empowering this way of creating your own narrative is, and its a great way to encourage female body positivity – but I’ve seen first hand the people who buy these papers, and I’m certain that the first thing they think of when they see these photos isn’t female empowerment or the country’s fight for gender equality.

In a post Me Too era, British tabloids cultivate a misogynistic culture, letting it grow and fester while the rest of the country works hard to scrub it clean; these newspapers provide some of the last remaining drabs of blatant female objectification in print. It doesn’t come as a surprise then, that in a 2012 YouGov survey about the attitudes toward Page 3 girls, 48% of men overall were in favor of keeping the sexist feature – in comparison to just 17% of women.

By British tabloids continuing to print suggestive photos like these, the female body will never be seen as anything but a commodity used to sell stories. It doesn’t matter how hard we fight for gender equality in the UK, if the tradition of page three girls continues to exist in some way, shape, or form, this goal will forever remain out of reach. 


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Celebrities Movies Pop Culture

Here’s everything you missed from the Oscars 2021 gala

Did you miss this year’s Oscars? Nothing to fear! We have summed up all the best moments.

 The Academy Awards are usually held in the Dolby Theatre and seat almost 3400 attendees. The event is filled with a jam-packed program that includes star-studded skits and sketches, epic montages, and elaborate in-person musical performances – all with a comedian serving as host. This year’s affair, held on Sunday 25 April 2021 was noticeably more intimate.

For the 2021 gala, all of the theatrics were swapped out for a more subdued evening. Held at the Union Station, the 170 attendees were seated around tables, in the vein of the first few Oscar ceremonies. Musical performances were recorded and aired before the telecast. Skits were paired down to Lil Rel Howery quizzing Andra Day, Daniel Kaluuya, and Glenn Close, who showed off her music knowledge and dance skills. There was no host for the third time in a row, but celebrity presenters galore with Oscar-winning actress and director Regina King kicking off the evening that proved just as historic as the times it was held in.

Here is a list of our breakthroughs and firsts of the night:

1. Daniel Kaluuya makes Britain and Uganda Proud

Oscar winner, Daniel Kaluuya
[Image Description: Daniel Kaluuya poses backstage after his historic Oscar win.] Via The Academy.
As an awards season favorite winning Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards, it was no surprise when Daniel Kaluuya took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. His performance as Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party was a standout and his acceptance speech proved to be just as memorable.

In an embarrassing yet hilarious moment, he excitedly expressed his appreciation for life and commented, “My mum and my dad… they had sex and now I’m here!” Before that, he made sure to thank “family, friends and everyone I love from Londontown to Kampala” as he became the first Black British actor and the first actor of Ugandan descent to win an Oscar.

2. Best Actor category was the last award presented

This year's Best Actor nominees
[Image Description: The nominees in the Best Actor category at this year’s Academy Awards. From left to right: Riz Ahmed, Steven Yeun, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Chadwick Boseman.] Via Variety.
The Best Picture category is often the pièce de résistance of the night and the last award presented. In a rare turn of events and for the first time, the Best Actor category was the last award presented of the evening.

This definitely fueled rumors that the Academy was going to posthumously honor Chadwick Boseman for his final performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for the actor, with the honor of going to Sir Anthony Hopkins for his role in The Father.

3. Honoring the elders

Oscar-winning costume designer, Ann Roth, at work on the set of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
[Image Description: Oscar-winning costume designer Ann Roth, adjusting actress Taylour Paige on the set of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom] Via IMDB.
As previously mentioned Sir Anthon Hopkins won the Best Actor statue and became the oldest person to win in the Best Actor category at 83 years old. Proving age is just a number, Ann Roth tied in becoming the oldest woman to win an Oscar at the age of 89 for her costume design work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

4. South Africa’s first documentary win

The poster to My Octopus Teacher available on Netflix
[Image Description: Poster of My Octopus Teacher.] Via Netflix.
After winning a slew of awards during award season, My Octopus Teacher was able to wrap its tentacles around the Best Documentary Feature Oscar at the 93rd Academy Awards. In doing so, My Octopus Teacher became the first South African nature documentary to become a Netflix Original and to win an Oscar.

5. South Korea makes history again

Best Supporting Actress winner Yuh-Jung Youn
[Image Description: Yuh-Jung Youn speaking as she accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress..] Via E!
Continuing South Korea’s winning streak after Parasite, Youn Yuh-Jung became the first Korean actor to win an Oscar for her portrayal as the matriarch in one of the 2020s most talked about films, Minari. Youn Yuh-Jung won in the Best Supporting Actress category.

6. First woman of color to win Best Director

Chloe Zhao is the first woman of color to win for Best Director
[Image Description: Director Chloe Zhao accepting the Best Director Oscar for her work on Nomadland.] Via the Academy.
Chloe Zhao graciously accepted the award for Best Director for Nomadland and became the second woman to win the award after Katheryn Bigelow in 2009. She also became the first woman of color and the first Asian, specifically, Chinese woman to win in that category.

7. First time is H.E.R. lucky charm

Best Original Song winner H.E.R.
[Image Description: H.E.R.’s holding her Oscar.] Via Variety.
R&B singer H.E.R. is used to receiving music awards and parlayed that into film when she was not only nominated but won for Best Original Song on the first try. She won for the anthem, Fight for You, featured in the film, Judas and The Black Messiah. This victory also made her first black woman win in this category since Irene Cara in 1983.

8. Black women finally honored in makeup and hair

The first black women to win an Oscar for Best Hair and Makeup
[Image Description: Mia Neal (left), Jamika Wilson (center), and Sergio Lopez-Riviera (right) celebrating their historic win.] Via Variety.
Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson made history on Sunday night after becoming the first black women to receive a nomination and subsequent win in the Best Hair and Makeup category. Their amazing work alongside Sergio Lopez Riviera can be seen in Viola Davis’ transformation in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

9. First animated film to feature a Black character in the lead.

The offical poster for Pixar's laestest animated film, Soul
[Image Description: Poster for Pixar’s ‘Soul’.] Via IMDB.
“It’s been way too long, and I don’t know that we really have a good answer. We’re always looking to reflect as much of the world out there as we can, and we’re happy that it’s finally happened — that we are representing a part of the population that just hasn’t had as much voice in our films up to now.” director Pete Docter said of the why it took so long for Pixar to have a film with a black lead character.

The film is Soul and it follows the journey of Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a music teacher who after an accident reverts back to his soul state. Proving that representation is necessary, the film went on to win Best Animated Feature.

10. All that glitters is not gold but Emerald

Director, writer, actress and producer Emerald Fennell wins at the Oscars
[Image Description: Triple Oscar nominee, Emerald Fennell celebrating her first Oscar win for Best Orignal Screenplay.] Via The Academy.

Having appeared on Call The Midwife and the latest season of The Crown, it is Emerald Fennell’s behind-the-scenes work that has garnered all the Academy’s attention.

Fennell’s feature film debut, Promising Young Woman, showcased Fennell’s talent as she wrote, produced, directed, and even made a cameo in the film. She was nominated in three categories, Best Picture (as a producer), Best Director (becoming the first British woman to receive the recognition), and Best Original Screenplay, which she won. She became the first woman to win in that category since 2008.

While a lot of firsts occurred at the 93rd Academy Awards, these firsts will continue to be seen as groundbreaking until the under-represented are provided equity, in front of and behind the cameras. There is still more ground to be broken in terms of diversity and inclusivity, not only in film but within the academy. Let’s hope that the Academy can continue this upward trajectory in years to come!

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Health News Coronavirus Europe The World

Clapping has become the UK government’s new and absurd way to deal with national crisises

It’s no secret that the pandemic has been unprecedented. It has had an impact on every aspect of our lives and in some ways, completely changed the way we behave. Across the globe, governments have responded in extremely different ways. Islands like New Zealand and Australia immediately closed their borders. Countries in mainland Europe followed suit, however the long-term upkeep has been difficult.

As an island, I expected the UK to follow suit and close its borders. You cannot access the UK unless you sail or fly so it didn’t seem like an unreasonable response, however, the government is incompetent. And so, here we are one year on from the first cases detected in the UK and our NHS (National Health Service) is struggling, infection rates are rising, and we are in and out of lockdowns more than high schoolers in relationships.

The NHS was implemented after the Second World War to provide free healthcare to British and later EU citizens. To say it has been a lifesaver would not be giving it enough credit. So many of us in the UK would not be here without the NHS – and a future without it seems unimaginable.

So, how does the government deal with such a crucial institution during the time of a pandemic? Increase its funds? No. By clapping.

During the years before the pandemic, the Conservative government systematically cut funding to both the NHS and its workers. By the time the pandemic hit, the system was not in a place where it was able to cope with the increasing demand.

Junior doctors had been striking against increased hours without higher pay and the government refused to grant them better working conditions. Last March, both the NHS and the government put out the call asking for retired staff to come back to help- and they did en masse.

In appreciation, the government raised the salary of career politicians and began clapping weekly to show some gratitude to medical practitioners. The Covid cases, especially in the North of England, were rising steadily with well over 2,000,000 cases. The reproductive rate in the North of England had reached 1.5 – yet the government did not act.

It reached such a low point that a 100-year-old man, Sir Captain Tom Moore, an otherwise ordinary citizen who had fought in the Second World War, walked around his garden over the Summer as a means to raise money for the NHS. His goal was to raise £1000 by his 100th birthday, yet on the morning of his birthday, it was reported that he had raised well over £30 million. The NHS is not a charity, it does not depend on the donations of the public to keep going. The fact that a regular citizen felt compelled to raise money in this manner is awful. The work done by Sir Captain Tom Moore was amazing and he should be commended for it but it should not have been needed.

A few days ago, Sir Captain Tom Moore died from Covid-19; and in true British fashion, the government organized a national clap for him. Sir Tom was born prior to the creation of the NHS and had seen the suffering of a country without a national healthcare system firsthand. It is disrespectful to his memory that the UK government chose performative appreciation over actually helping the NHS in his memory.

The NHS is probably one of the only things Britain has to be proud of. The lack of care by the Government for the people who are the most vulnerable is pathetic. To suggest that the way to show appreciation is through clapping is insulting. So many frontline workers have put their lives on the line and haven’t received anything from the Government. The pandemic has near enough crippled the UK, at the time of writing, there were over 3,911,573 cases of COVID-19. With the 3rd lockdown in force, many self-employed and small business owners are struggling to provide for their families yet the Government are more interested in clapping than bringing an end to the pandemic.

The clapping needs to stop, and the Government needs to act.


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History Race

What would South Africa be like if apartheid never happened?

South Africa is a captivating country, rich in culture and natural beauty. The people are lovely; the weather is near perfect. But when people hear I’m from South Africa, they usually bring up one thing — Apartheid. It’s true; it is the biggest factor still defining us, both historically and politically.

Naturally, I find myself wondering what our country would be like if it weren’t for said heinous laws that served to divide us. What would people associate with us instead? How would we serve as global players today if Apartheid hadn’t happened? Would South Africa be devoid of racial tension & crime? Of the intense white privilege it still circulates? Let’s take a look.

A brief history of Apartheid (1960-1994)

For those who don’t know, Apartheid literally means Apartness in Afrikaans. The Apartheid system robbed basic human rights from Black, Colored and Indian peoples, including their rights to vote, and gave them only small, impoverished areas in which to live and work. POC didn’t have access to proper education, and had to carry around passes at all times. They were not allowed at white-only beaches, or to sit on white-only benches. This went on for 44 years but was the culmination of religious colonial agenda for 50 years prior.

How South Africa dismantled apartheid | Africa | DW | 18.06.2015
[A sign to designate a white-only beach in Apartheid-South Africa] Via Getty Images
This year marks 26 years of the new South Africa, and while things have improved, there are still exorbitant levels of social inequality, violent crime, racial tension, racially assigned menial labor, miseducation and mistreatment. Some argue that Apartheid is still on-going, in fact. Of course, a century of generational poverty and miseducation will spill out for years to come, showing just how perpetual the stunting of a people can be. 

How would South Africa had developed without Colonization?

It’s difficult to say how Southern Africa would have fared if it had been left fully alone and uncolonized. But there is much proof that South Africa wouldn’t have needed any help from Europeans. The medieval ruins of Zimbabwe, for example, mirror those of the Fertile Crescent in the middle east, known as the birthplace of a number of inventions like the wheel, writing, and agriculture. The Swahili Coast Traders which traded with Persia, India and Arabia would have also allowed many ideas to cross borders without having to squander and convert a native people. But because the Scramble for Africa was so aggressive, I’ll shy away from the possibility that colonization might not have happened. Because Europeans were always going to want to claim the goldmine that South Africa quite literally is. There was almost no stopping them. 

But what if Apartheid laws never got passed? What if South Africa had instead been on the forefront of civil rights from the very beginning?

Post-colonial South Africa actually began as a democracy

This may come as surprising, but one of the earliest constitutions of what would later become South Africa, practiced an inclusive system of democracy. The Cape Qualified Franchise (1853~) allowed all men to vote and own land, regardless of race. So it’s very possible that post-colonial South Africa could have continued in this trajectory. 

However, British Colonel Cecil John Rhodes had a different agenda. As prime minister of the Cape Colony in the late 1800s, he was responsible for igniting the stripping of rights from POC. It was he who passed The Glen Grey Act (1894) that forced Natives off tribal lands and later the General Pass Regulations Bill (1905) that denied black people the right to vote. These propelled the Native Land Act (1917) which began residential segregation, and later the destructible Apartheid system (1960s). 

[A sign in Apartheid South Africa that reads “Caution Beware of Natives”] via Getty Images
We can’t blame Rhodes for everything, though. Whilst slavery had technically ended, there were still many racist and religious beliefs that the British and Dutch colonizers were the chosen people, destined to convert “native heathens” to Christianity. But if their collective consciousness was somehow not sparked into perilous politics, where would South Africa stand today?

A frank hypothesis:

Without Apartheid, South Africa wouldn’t be fully devoid of racism; just like how America, Australia and England still aren’t. But it would be rid of racially entrenched systems that maliciously claw at every fabric of our life. There would be no such thing as a ‘township’. Equally such, there would be no such thing as an Estate; a gated community for privileged folk to keep burglars out. Crime rates wouldn’t be one of the worst in the world, at least. 

Without Apartheid, South Africa could quite literally have been a global superpower. We had the natural resources for it for starters. But also, the sanctions wouldn’t have happened, so trade wouldn’t have been stunted. We would’ve got hold of technologies way earlier than we did, meaning we could’ve utilized and developed them further ourselves. Schools would’ve been much more diverse and POC would’ve gained access to proper education and opportunities. BEE would not have to be implemented since there would be more an equally as skilled workforce. As such, systems would work better. People would work better together. Our economy would run smoother and overseas investors would be holidaying on our pristine coasts and sending money our way.

Without Apartheid, Native cultures and languages would be more cherished and respected. Menial labor wouldn’t be racially assigned and exploited. Domestic workers wouldn’t be forced to become “part of the family” as they’d earn enough to not have to work every day, and able to go home to their own families. Without Apartheid, we could’ve stood united, and soared.

Again, a lot of this is hypothetical and not 100% economically accurate, but it is nice — and I think itchingly important — to think about what could’ve been. Because, well, is this not motivation enough to aspire for it?

We can’t afford to be complacent

While many privileged people like myself often bemoan Apartheid, we do still ride comfortably on its aftermath. “Oh, this restaurant is so cheap!” we say, not realizing it’s a marginalized, exploited demographic in the kitchen preparing the food. “Oh, there’s hardly any traffic in this area!”, we exclaim, while our domestic workers sit jam-packed in a taxi back to the township. 

We can sit here and wish all we want that Apartheid hadn’t have happened, but if we don’t work to dismantle it properly, we will continue to live in it.

We will continue to only imagine the possibilities, instead of ever getting to see them be made.

Culture Life Stories Life

Don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t drink, I don’t need your sympathy

As a British Muslim woman that doesn’t drink, growing up in a country that has a dominant drinking culture has made me feel uncomfortable and unwelcome around work and friendship circles. From university through to my career, I’ve had to navigate comments that have made me feel belittled about my choices and values.

“Why not?” – Is that any of your business?

“You haven’t lived until you’ve had a drink!” – I’m living just fine thank you.

“I wish I could do that, I’ve got a lot of respect for you.’”- A comment that sounds like they’re admiring my choice, but is actually patronizing and insincere.

And I’ve saved the best one till last…

“Go on, just try one!” – Yes, there are still people that think forcing someone to drink is like committing a good deed. They expect I’ll magically become a “fun” person to hang out with once I become tipsy or drunk.

To stop people from expecting me to explain myself, feeling ‘sorry’ for me or forcing me to drink, I would come up with different ways to evade any awkward interactions. I’d avoid going to socials where I knew it would involve going to a pub or bar (or leave early if I’m ‘encouraged’ to go), I’d only spend time with people that I trust won’t ask these irritating questions or I’d suggest other places to go to.

I started to feel drinking peer pressure when I attended university. During first-year whilst living in university halls, my flatmates would regularly arrange pre-drinks at our flat before going out partying and drinking even more. I had no issue with my flatmates drinking – it’s their life and it’s each to their own – but I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the drinking culture I wasn’t partaking in. The majority of people entering university were able to build close friendships with others based on their shared enjoyment of alcohol. I felt judged by my peers and definitely had FOMO, but I wasn’t going to succumb to peer pressure.

I quickly came to realize who my real friends were at university – they respected and didn’t want to change me. They like me for who I am and they didn’t make a big deal about me not drinking.

Though I felt the peer pressure dissipate at university, it reappeared when I entered the working world. It was only when I started my career that I realized how intrinsic the drinking culture is in the UK. There are after-work drinks, socials that involve drinking, birthday drinks, successful project drinks, leaving drinks. There always seems to be an excuse to drink.

I had one manager that felt it was perfectly fine to say multiple comments to me about my choices. “Aww, I feel so sorry for you!” was one condescending remark she felt was acceptable to say every so often to me. Am I living life the wrong way? Am I dull, boring, not worth other people’s time when it comes to socializing? Well according to my then-manager, I am.

I would fume. I could feel my heart rate racing when she made those comments. All I could do was take a deep breath and smile through gritted teeth. How could I stand up against my manager if she could make work more difficult for me? I learned not to respond and let her continue talking about her drunken antics instead. It felt more manageable than snapping back.

As I’m older and (I’d like to think) wiser, I’ve come to realize that the people making these comments are likely to feel judged and uncomfortable around me because of their personal drinking choices. For some people, they may have given in to peer pressure so they don’t feel left out of friendship circles. For others, they know drinking is bad for their health and it’s costly, but having a drink helps them to wind down, relax and socialize with ease. I am not the kind of person to judge. I’m not against drinking culture, I will happily go to a pub or bar with a group of friends whilst they drink alcohol and I have a fancy mocktail.

When people ask non-drinkers to explain themselves instead of respecting their choices, that’s when it gets infuriating. When I do get asked these questions now, I’ll tell them it’s my choice, just like it’s their choice to drink. I don’t judge you, so you shouldn’t judge me either.

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Standoms Music Pop Culture

It’s been a full decade and One Direction still gives me butterflies in my stomach

Somehow, someway, One Direction turned ten this week.

Yes, ten. And, at 21 years old myself, I’m not quite sure when time managed to escape mebecause in my head I am still 13 writing fanfiction in my room, hanging up posters from Rolling Stone of the band on a beach, and having my heart literally melt because of the way that Harry Styles shakes his hair out of his eyesbut it is right now, in this moment, that I feel as if I’ve crashed headfirst into unwarranted adulthood. As if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. Damn.

Ten years is a very, very long time. A lot can happen within a single decadein fact, a lot did happen. We’ll get to more on that later, but it is important to say first that I am starkly nostalgic of those times, which now seem to be reminiscent of the most incredible joy and comfort. It seemed as if the mind, body, and spirit of every single Directioner somehow operated on the same wavelength—and heartbeat. I always loved the idea that we all, as a collective, validated one another’s thoughts or commentary and found community in adoration. Looking back, being part of a fandom like this one was surely a bit of necessary respite in a time of awkwardness, petty teenage relationships, and deceit. 

Of course, there are other things too. For starters, it is common practice to associate things like personal style, music, cinema, and clothing to be both obvious and meaningful stakeholders of culture—which certainly helps in the case of any band or musician. Think of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Elton John’s sunglasses. Those are things you will never forget, or that you will even cherish. The kind of things that you can point out from a mile away. The kind of things that seem to transcend time and place—that sort through all of the randomness and bring you back to that one perfect moment or feeling. For One Direction, at least to me, it’s their silhouettes and boyish laughs. But also, it’s their evolution from shaggy hair, varsity jackets, khaki pants, suspenders, and striped T-shirts to slick black suits, skinny jeans, assortments of tattoos, and wide brim fedoras all the while maintaining a charming sense of self. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking—she’s obsessed! And, while that is a true statement, I am not just saying these things as a fangirl. Trust me, I’ve fallen in ‘love’ with my fair share of boy bands (insert the Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Big Time Rush here) but nobody, and I mean nobody, compares to One Direction. So, although this might seem like a stretch for most people, One Direction defined a generation. And, they defined it in a way that moved way beyond the capabilities and limitations of music.

There is no denying the enormity of the impact and that One Direction had, whether you are a fan or not. It is clear as day. 

However, it is quite important to note that their career as a band was not always a linear feat. As most people know, they weren’t always a band. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson each started off as solo artists, all under 25 years old, on the X-Factor UK. On July 23, 2010 Simon Cowell, the notorious judge of the talent competition, pulled the 5 boys together and gave them the chance of a lifetime. By the time they rounded out the competition, One Direction wound up in third place and backed by Cowell’s record label, Syco. Right off the bat their first singles as a band toppled charts across every single continent. Quite literally, their Na na na‘s could be heard world-wide, which is nothing short of a testament to the stardom that they soon would face. Not to mention the frenzy of fans, media, and paparazzi that quickly surrounded the boys which in hindsight seems like an all-encompassing storm. It was a non-stop cycle of album making, global touring, countless 24-hour long live-streams and video diaries commemorating their relationship with fans, along with goofy realness that made them immensely crush-worthy. 

Fast-forwarding a bit, One Direction managed to accomplish a ton while in the limelight. In 2011, the band’s debut album Up All Night shot to #1 overnight and stayed there, making them the first UK group to peak at #1 in the US with a debut album. In addition, they were the first group to debut at #1 with their first four albums in the US: Up all Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four. In 2012, the band performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London. By 2013, the group produced and released two concert documentaries titled One Direction: This Is Us and One Direction: Where We Are. In 2014, Billboard announced One Direction Artist of the Year. Altogether, the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In addition, they’ve taken home 16 MTV awards, 154 awards in other isolated categories, and have been nominated for 317 awards in total. Plus, they have sold over 8,287,195 tickets on their tours.

On March 25, 2015 Zayn Malik, 22 years old at the time, left the band during the One The Road Again tour citing a need for normalcy and some time out of the spotlight. Speculations have risen since then about the real reason behind his leaving the band, including episodes of discrimination based on his religion and music style. The other boys continued on and produced the Made in the A.M. album that same year. The band never toured with this album and announced that they too would be going on a hiatus in January of 2016. All 5 members have gone on to maintain remarkable solo careers while holding on tight to their roots in One Direction. The most successful being Harry Styles, an undeniable international heartthrob and sensation.

So far, there has been no serious mention of a reunion in the near future, but hey, miracles do happen! Based on their social media presence on the day of their 10 year anniversary, the boys seem as amicable, genuine, and grateful as they were a decade ago.

Within their record-breaking career before entering a hiatus, the quintet managed to reaffirm what a boy band means all the while establishing their unique and notable brand. These are heavy, even monumental, footsteps to fill.

So, no, One Direction is not just a measly boy band. At incredibly young ages, they were thrust into a world of not so subtle adoration and managed to produce worthwhile music for a loyal, dedicated, fanbase. They changed my life in the best way. Let’s give credit where credit is due and grant them the celebration that they so desperately deserve.

Happy 10 Years of One Direction! 


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Music Pop Culture

Charli XCX is redefining pop one quarantine album at a time

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past decade, you’ve probably heard of Charli XCX. The music provocateur broke out in the early 2010s by featuring in Iggy Azalea’s iconic smash-hit Fancy, and then made her own mark in the music industry with her song Boom Clap

Truth to be said, none of these songs appealed to me. Their brashness, and lack of lyrical creativity was something I disliked (along with how overplayed they were). But over the years, Charli XCX has managed to completely flip her sound, from a traditional raucous pop formula to a futuristic, unique techno-rave one that’s ahead of its time. Simply put, Charli has become a niche, unstoppable force in her field – a kind of evolution that’s nothing short of admirable. 

And that’s why, it’s no surprise to her fans that in the past 6 weeks, she’s made an entire album from scratch. Dubbed as ‘the first album of the quarantine’, How I’m Feeling Now features experimental club tracks, edgy ballads and anthemic production. In true millennial fashion, Charli documented the whole album-making process – collaborating with fans for song lyrics, sharing melodies on Instagram Live and vlogging her all-nighters while editing its tracks – a kind of transparency in creative process that is almost unheard of.

The album heavily centers around the rollercoaster of emotions she’s felt during this uncertain time, isolation, nostalgia and the highs and lows of her relationship. The album kicks off with “pink diamond”, a bombastic, electronic expression of missed adrenaline rushes, with a Grimes-esque influence. It’s glossy and laser-sharp- setting a good precedent for the rest of the album. 

It’s similar to “anthems“, a club banger designed specifically for a party for one. The track is studded with synths, cut-up and layered in just the right places – making it feel refreshing yet familiar at the same time. It’s a Charli classic – the noisy, glamorous aesthetic that she’s mastered in previous mixtapes, like Vroom Vroom.

However, it’s at her most vulnerable that Charli XCX truly shines on the record. On “claws”, which is a neon-pink, mutant pop confession of being helplessly in love, she puts forth one of her catchiest melodies. It’s an upbeat song with an incredible beat – one that’s definitely a hidden gem in the singer’s discography. “forever”, the album’s second single, is possibly quarantine in a song. Charli XCX wistfully reminisces on the lifestyle we all took for granted before the pandemic. The production is invasive and harsh at first – but is somehow complemented by the gentle, fairy-like vocals Charli provides.

Charli manages to lend her signature, electro-pop touch to the albums ballads as well, a prime example of this being the emotional 7 years” – a tribute to the beauty of long-term love. It’s endearing and complemented by its low-key, subtle instrumental. 

While How I’m Feeling Now does have its weak, almost excessive moments – such as “c2.0” whose artistic aim is ruined by splintered, static production – it’s a cohesive, varied body of work. Charli encapsulates the anxious, yet hopeful emotion that we’re all feeling right now. With no collaborators (unlike her previous work, the self-titled Charli), it puts the singer at the forefront of music, proving how much of an innovator she is in her arena.

If there’s anyone who knows how to do internet-pop, it’s Charli XCX, and How I’m Feeling Now is a testament to that. 

Tech Now + Beyond

13 episodes that prove “Black Mirror” has predicted our future

Unless you’ve been living off the grid, there is no way you have not heard of Black Mirror, the popular British television series, that’s taken Netflix (and show binge-watchers) to a freaky-binge session. The show revolves around the advancements in technology in the near future or an alternate present while portraying the overpowering nature of everything digital in our lives.

No two episodes are the same in terms of cast, plot or even timelines, which means you can start watching the show by picking up any episode mid-season, without feeling lost.

1. “Nosedive”

(Image Description: A gif of Bryce Dallas Howard holding a phone and swiping up on it, indicating that she’s rating someone.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 1

Why: “Nosedive” lures you into a pastel-colored world where the value of everyone’s lives in society is determined by a five-point rating scale. A scale that governs everything.

A ridicule of our social media-driven world, which will make you wonder what’d it be like if you couldn’t grab a cup of your favorite personalized coffee from Starbucks, just because you lost a couple of Instagram followers over the weekend.

2. “San Junipero”

(Image Description: A gif of two girls in a moving car. One of them is driving and kissing the other girl next to her.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 4

Why: Arguably the most optimistic episode, “San Junipero” is about a strong bond between two women which transcends time and space.

The romantic storyline set in the ’80s will warm your heart while giving a whole new meaning toforeverin a true Black Mirror sense of style.

3. “Hang the DJ”

(Image Description: A gif of a man and a woman who are sat facing each other. The man is telling the woman “I don’t want whoever the system reckons the one is, okay?) Via Tumblr

Episode Details: Season 4, Episode 4

Why: “Hang the DJ” is one of the lighter themed episodes and takes a satirical take on online dating. Imagine an authoritarian system that sets you up for a date, orders the food for the said date and even locks down an expiratory date for the relationship. Yikes, talk about robots taking over the world.

4. “White Christmas”

(Image Description: A gif of Jon Hamm looking exasperated as he gets ‘blocked’ by the person standing in front of him, which turns him into a silhouette.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Christmas Special

Why: The Christmas special starring Jon Hamm is a bundle of 3 individual stories that are somehow linked to each other. As each story is laid out, the episode is full of suspense and gradually brings about an unsettling feeling which will keep you on the edge of your seats until the very end. Probably the only ‘Christmas special’ out there that could break you.

5. “Arkangel”

(Image Description: A gif of a little girl being injected with a type of technology through the side of her head.) Via Google
Episode Details: Season 4, Episode 2

Why: “Arkangel” is the story of an overprotective mother, who signs her daughter up for a program that will help her monitor all her daughter’s activities. An act of care which if not kept in check, can turn into an invasion of privacy. We talk a lot of talk about the government using technology to spy on us, but what if it were your own parent? 

6. “Be Right Back”

(Image Description: A gif of an emotional Hayley Atwell who is stood facing a man. The two of them are making their hands meet.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 2, Episode 1

Why: If you’re a Haley Atwell fan, you don’t want to miss this one. “Be Right Back” shows us how we use the internet and social media as a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of a loved one, and then intensifies that x100. This emotionally heavy and bittersweet episode will get you thinking and make you appreciate those around you even more so.

7. “Hated in the Nation”

(Image Description: A gif of two women who are stood in front of a structure made up of robotic bees. One of them moves her hand through the structure and the bees disperse.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 6

Why: With a run time of 89 minutes, “Hated in the Nation” is the longest episode of Black Mirror. The episode is yet another satire on the darker side of technology and how careless we can be when it comes to passing comments from behind a screen. Even though the plot may seem a little predictable and not as out of the box as Black Mirror episodes go, the robotic bees are that what makes it intriguing to watch.

8. “The Entire History of You”

(Image Description: A gif of a man using his tech-filled eyes to zoom in on a man and woman having a conversation.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 1, Episode 3

Why: What if you could record everything you see? “The Entire History Of You” answers that question by portraying a reality where a ‘grain’ embedded in a person’s head records everything. It also allows them to replay, zoom, and share these memories.  It is like taking screenshots and using them as proof to back up an argument, only way more extreme and almost inhuman.

9. “Shut Up and Dance”

(Image Description: A gif of a boy who is closing a laptop quickly with a scared expression on his face.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 3

Why: This episode might make you want to cover the cameras on all your electronic devices and install some hardcore anti-virus if you haven’t already. “Shut Up and Dance” follows the innocent and average life of a teenage boy that turns upside down when he gets recorded in a compromising situation.

One of the more disturbing episodes of Black Mirror, but a must-watch.

10. “The Waldo Moment”

(Image Description: A gif of a man throwing a glass bottle at a digital screen showing a cartoon character and the words ‘BELIEVE’ written on it.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 2, Episode 3

Why: “The Waldo Moment,” a satire on popular politics was much disliked due to its absurdity when it first came out in 2013. It is now an episode that comes closest to our reality, all thanks to Donald Trump being elected as the U.S. President.

11. “Playtest”

(Image Description: A gif of an uncomfortable looking man who is sat in a chair that has a piece of tech around his head like a headband.) Via Giphy

Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 2

Why: This one is for the horror movie fans out there. “Playtest” is a story of a man hoping to find himself, who in doing so, travels the world and ends up volunteering to test a game for some extra funds. A game that is a bit too real, even for a world where VR (virtual reality) exists.

12. “White Bear”

(Image Description: A gif of a menacing woman wearing an animal mask. She is holding a power tool.) Via Giphy

Episode Details:  Season 2, Episode 2

Why: (TW: Self-harm)

“White Bear” is one of those episodes where you start off as confused and end up as disturbed. But aren’t those the best kind? When you begin to think you have the plot figured out, you will find out that you were not even close.

13. “National Anthem”

(Image Description: A gif of a worried man sat next to a toilet seat holding his head with drool dripping down his chin.) Via Google

Episode Details: Season 1, Episode 1.

Why: The first Black Mirror episode and also a controversial favorite of many.  A kidnapped princess, a blackmailing terrorist, and global media agitation put the U.K. Prime Minister between a rock and a hard place. If at all you are familiar with David Cameron’s ‘Piggate‘ scandal, you’ll know where this episode heads.

Love Life Stories

I might look like I come from one country, but I don’t really belong anywhere

I have spent a long time confused about my identity, confused about where I belonged.

My parents grew up in India, then moved to Brazil after they got married. Brazil is where my sister and I were born and I lived there for 5 years before we moved to the UK. I have lived in the UK for 20 years now.

When people ask me about my background, I never really know how to answer.

Ethnically I’m Indian, right? You look at me and see a brown woman. But I have never felt like I could relate to a country that I had only visited as a baby. I spent the first few years of my life without any Indian influence. It was only when we moved to the UK, that we were introduced to the culture.

We eat Indian food at home, occasionally watch Indian movies, and I absolutely adore dressing up in a saree, but I’ve never really felt Indian. I wasn’t brought up with certain mentalities that I see in the Indian community. Other than stories and pictures, I am as clueless as to what India really is like.

If you ask my parents, I’m sure that being Indian makes up much of their identity. Yet I always feel like a fake Indian. My friends call me a coconut – brown on the outside, white on the inside.

There is no denying that it is a part of me,  but I feel no connection to it.

I spent the first 5 years of my life in Brazil. I have faint memories of the scorching heat and a laid-back atmosphere. A few years ago I returned to visit and I honestly felt like I belonged there. The people, the culture, and the sunshine: it was like something I had been missing had been returned to me.

I adore a lot of the Brazilian delicacies, if you’ve not tried a Pau de Quejo or a beautifully chocolate Brigadero dessert then you are missing out. The Brazilian telenovelas are a secret addiction of mine. The football world cup is basically treated as a religious gathering in my house – we just won’t talk about the last one. I love so much about Brazil, but what really resonated with me is the lifestyle I encountered when I last visited. When I went there, things just felt lighter.

But can really I be Brazilian? I left the country at such a young age. Do a birth certificate and passport entitle me to a land where I had no previous connections? Where I have had no connections since? There is no Brazilian blood running through me. I sometimes feel as though I am trying to claim something that is not mine.

Then there is the UK, my home for the last 20 years. I love the UK, sometimes grudgingly. I grew up here and went to school and college here. I don’t really know anything else other than life in the UK. I love the people, the unreliable weather and the never-ending cups of tea.

But even after 20 years I still feel like an impostor. I don’t have a British passport, so I’m not technically British. I’m an immigrant in the UK. Something which is becoming more and more a controversial thing to be with all that is going on in politics.

Three countries make up my identity, three entirely different cultures, three unique customs.

Sometimes I relate to them all, sometimes I relate to none of them. There are days where I ache to just go back to Brazil and live my days out by the sea. Other days I sit and listen to my parents tell me stories from their childhood and yearn to go and explore my motherland.

Where you are from makes up a lot of your identity but I’m still trying to figure out where I am from and where I belong. But I am learning to appreciate the beautiful fusion of countries that make me who I am. I’m lucky that I have gotten to know various traditions, eat different delicious foods and that I can just about communicate in three languages.

So maybe I don’t need to belong to one place.

Music Pop Culture

Where in the world are One Direction?

There have been many bands which have survived a break. To name a few, Fall Out Boy, Backstreet Boys, Foo Fighters have all gotten back together even after fans had all but given up hope!

When One Direction announced their decision to take a hiatus in November 2015, their fans understandably had a lot of questions about what this meant for the band. The news brought frenzied Directioners to social media contemplating how long the break would last or if maybe, this was it?

However, the band remained adamant that they will indeed get back together after pursuing their interests as solo artists.

1. Harry Styles

Apart from a few paparazzi shots, he made no updates on social media or gave interviews anywhere.

However, since then, Harry Styles is set to appear in Christopher Nolan’s big budget World War 2 epic titled “Dunkirk“. He will be starring alongside Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and more. The movie premieres world wide on July, 21st 2017.

And if you thought that was all Harry did since the hiatus, you were very wrong. Harry recorded and released an entire self titled album on May 12 this year. The album has been massively successful and is very different from the music Harry made as part of One Direction.

His first single from the album was “Sign of the Times”, which was a massive hit. Harry subsequently released a music video for the song which was incredibly aesthetically pleasing. But then again, we would expect nothing less from Harry!

Apart from that Harry has kept very busy promoting his album. The best of it was his week long stint at the “Late Late Show with James Corden” where he was part of many skits as well as participating in a glorious edition of Carpool Karaoke.

Oh and just as a side note, Harry is going to be doing a world tour of the album come 2018! You can find out where he is performing here.

2. Niall Horan

And we must protect him at all costs. There is a running gag within the fandom that only Niall is loyal to One Direction and truly dedicated to getting the band back together. That being said, Niall has kept busy with his career.

Niall has so far released two singles, “This Town” and “Slow Hands”. He was the first one from the boys to release music after the hiatus began as he released “This Town” on September, 29th 2016. Followed with a release of “Slow Hands” on May, 4th 2017. If you are a One Direction fan and knew Niall even a little bit, you will agree that his music sounds exactly how you would expect it to sound.

He has been promoting his two singles non-stop with appearances on talk shows and live performances. Most recently appearing on the “Tonight Night Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” doing an Instant Song Challenge and just projecting his all round cinnamon roll goodness for all of us to enjoy.

3. Louis Tomlinson

When One Direction announced their hiatus and discussed their individual plans for their time off, Louis said his top priority would be to spend time with his son Freddie Tomlinson. However, that is not the only thing Louis has been up to.

He released a song titled “Just Hold On” with international DJ Steve Aoki on 10th December 2016 just 3 days after his mother Johannah Deakin lost her battle to cancer. The song was dedicated to her by Louis and he gave an emotional performance of the song on X-Factor UK’s finale on the same day the song debuted.

There was not a dry eye in the venue.

Louis also released an official music video for the song which is has a lot of symbolism.

Louis also guest judged on a few episodes X-Factor UK as well as America’s Got Talent with his good friend Simon Cowell.

4. Liam Payne

Unless you were living under a rock, you probably know that Liam has been in a relationship with Cheryl Cole for a little over a year and already has a son with his lady-love who they named Bear Payne.

He just recently released his first single with Quavo titled “Strip That Down” after months of teasing fans with snippets of the songs and snapshots of himself in the studio. And earlier this month Liam also released the music video for the song which was a little more risque than the usual fare from One Direction.

Oh and spolier: Liam danced in the music video and it was as glorious as you would imagine it to be!

If you listen closely Liam sings in the song’s chorus

“You know I used to be in 1D (now i’m out free)”

You might find solace in the fact that whenever the boys are asked about the One Direction reunion, they promise that it will take place; the date may be undecided but it will happen. Till then, we can only support the boys and enjoy their individual pursuits.

USA World News The World

Syrian Cease-Fire, Hillary Clinton, and the iPhone 7: The Week in Review

We get it, Wednesdays can be tough to get through. In an effort to keep up with the world’s ever-changing news landscape, we’ve put together the top 10 headlines from the week so you can stay on top of things.

1. David Cameron resigns

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron stepped down from his position as a Member of Parliament. Cameron’s announcement came after numerous arguments with current Prime Minister Theresa May over grammar school policies.

Cameron stated that he did not wish to become a “distraction” in parliament and explained, “In my view, the circumstances of my resignation as Prime Minister and the realities of modern politics make it very difficult to continue on the back benches without the risk of becoming a diversion to the important decisions that lie ahead for my successor in Downing Street and the Government.”

Cameron resigned as Prime Minister this past June during the Brexit decision where UK voters decided to leave the European Union.

2. Temporary cease-fire brokered for Syria

After some of the worst bombings of the Syrian war ravaged Aleppo this week, the Syrian army has implemented a temporary ceasefire. Beginning, fortunately, with the start of Eid al-Adha, the ceasefire will be reevaluated every 48 hours. In the meantime, humanitarian groups plan to deliver resources to Aleppo and other effected areas. So far, human rights organizations report that both the Syrian army and rebel groups are following the terms of the ceasefire.

US and Russian politicians negotiated the truce on Friday in Geneva after months of debate. The terms of the ceasefire require that all attacks stop except those against the Islamic State, and that both sides allow humanitarians to aid civilian populations. If the ceasefire lasts seven days the US and Russia will move to target ISIS together.

3. Hillary Clinton shows signs of faltering health

Hillary Clinton’s health made headlines when the presidential candidate was spotted appearing to stumble as she left a 9/11 memorial service. Her campaign released statements saying that she had felt “overheated” and left to cool off at her daughter’s New York apartment.

Hours later, Clinton’s campaign revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia. In press statements, Clinton has reiterated that she is in good health and recovering quickly. However, conservative media and politicians have raised questions about Clinton’s transparency and overall health, as she could tie with Ronald Reagan for eldest President should she be elected in November.

Clinton continues to rest at home and plans to attend her scheduled campaign events through video-conference over the next few days.

4. North Korea conducts its 5th successful nuclear test

South Korea noticed abnormal seismic activity this past Friday hours before its northern neighbor announced that it had conducted its fifth nuclear test. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the seismic activity as an “explosion” about 12 miles outside of Sungijabaegam, North Korea.

North Korea has been conducting nuclear weapons tests throughout Kim Jong Un’s regime and Friday’s test marks the second in the last eight months. The test raises concerns that the isolated and extremist state may be approaching the ability to launch nuclear attacks.

5. Apple introduces the iPhone 7








Apple stores across the nation have been packed full of customers this week since the company released the iPhone 7 last Wednesday, September 7. The new iPhone model features a dual-camera system, a thinner and sleeker body, water- and dust-resistant design, and no headphone jack. The new, water-resistant phone can be submerged up to one meter for half-an-hour before experiencing any problems. Yet, iPhone buyers have reacted most to the wireless headphones system: asking questions about dongles, the irrelevance of old earbuds, and the ever-advancing pace of technology.

6. 15 years later, people remember the September 11, 2001 attacks

Damon Winter for NYT

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was remembered at large ceremonies at two of the attack sites. In New York City, the National September 11 Memorial Plaza (built in the spot where the Twin Towers once stood) was filled with 8,000 people, including presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. At the Pentagon, President Obama gave his last address to remember the 184 people who died there in another hijacking.

In connection with Islamophobic rhetoric, the anniversary this year set off an increased number of Anti-Muslim hate crimes. Although the day of remembrance became politicized in more ways than one, millions spent the day grieving those killed.

7.  North Dakota pipeline construction has been put on hold


After months of peaceful protest, protesters were given a temporary relief when the federal government stepped in to prevent continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Sept. 9 injunction will prevent further construction until a “serious discussion” can take place.

The DAPL’s mass criticism comes on the grounds that the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline would create danger for the Standing Rock Sioux people. Construction risks contaminating the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply and destroying the land that is culturally and rightfully theirs. The pipeline is also a huge obstacle on the road to climate safety. This has been the biggest protest against a fossil fuel structure.

8. New York Fashion Week has arrived


Kicking it off with Kanye and the Yeezy Season 4 line, New York Fashion Week showcased a wide variety of designers. From folks who just entered the fashion industry to people who’ve designed for Beyoncé, the designs took on an equally wide variety of themes. Making headlines were the returns of old styles of Chinese slippers.

What grabbed the most eyes was the diversity among models – to name a few, Indian designer Archana Kochhar hired Reshma Qureshi as a model. Qureshi survived an acid attack in 2014, after which she had permanent scarring to her face. Additionally, designed Anniesa Hasibuan‘s models were all decked in modest gear – a new milestone for hijabi fashion.

9. Taking a knee: Colin Kaepernick sets an example across NFL teams

Thearon W. Henderson for Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson for Getty Images

After a series of preseason games where Colin Kaepernick was criticized by media and his teammates alike for not standing for the national anthem, he continues to do so unapologetically as an act of protest. Despite the negativity that has pervaded the reception of Kaepernick’s decision, some players have joined him and been penalized, and others have joined him and been supported by higher-ups.

Of the Miami Dolphins, 4 players knelt for the anthem instead of standing at the first season game on Sunday. The team’s owner, Steve Ross, stated publicly after their game, “These guys are making a conversation about something that’s a very important topic in this country. I’m 100 percent in support of them.”

10. The world lost trans activist Alexis Arquette


Alexis Arquette, one of the four acting Arquette siblings, passed away on September 11, reportedly from AIDS-related complications. Surrounded by their family, Alexis spent their final moments listening to David Bowie and telling their family about the next dimension, where there was only one gender.

Alexis was a transgender activist for most of their life, having announced their intention to transition in the mid-’90s. They refused to play roles that were written to be degrading or stereotypical of people who identify as LGBTQ. Alexis’ greatest legacy is the visibility that they brought to the trans community in the US through media & entertainment.

Until next week:

Race The World Inequality

Why does everyone question the validity of my ethnicity?

When I was eight, I told my third grade class that my mom was from England. They asked me why I didn’t have an accent, I explained, and that was the end of that. Fast forward five years, I’m thirteen. I tell my new, pre-pubescent middle school math classmates that my mom is British. This time, though, I sit through fifteen minutes of questioning of whether I’m “half-white” or “even a real Indian.” 

My peers are often under the impression that my mother’s British nationality makes my racial identity as an Indian woman less valid. Not that this makes sense at all; my mother’s British nationality has no influence over my Indian ethnicity (or hers, for that matter). The differentiation between nationality and ethnicity is a conversation that needs to be brought up in order to elucidate the idea that a specific race is not assigned to a particular geographic location. Girls who don’t fit into these predetermined correlations exist. And – hi, we matter.

There are just over 2 million Indian immigrants residing in the United States and 1.4 million in the United Kingdom. It’s detrimental for them and their posterity to grow up with the idea that their place of residence determines their ethnic validity. If any of these 3.4 million people chose to have children, would their children be viewed as “less Indian” than their peers whose parents were born and raised in India? With the influx of immigrants entering countries like the United States in recent years, it’s a question that needs to be addressed immediately. Immigrants, no matter where they hail from, represent an era of change, of growth, of progress. To invalidate the generations after them and use their nationalities against them contradicts everything that we supposedly stand for.

Growing up as an Indian-American girl in a predominantly Asian and South Asian community, I had always been very in touch with my roots. I knew where I was from, how hard my parents worked to get here, and the words to more Bollywood songs than almost anyone I knew. I never questioned the validity of my heritage, so why did everyone else? My mother is British, born and raised in Southeast London, and somehow that makes me less Indian in the eyes of my peers. In a sea of “You’re not even a real Indian” and other equally ignorant remarks, I started to believe them. At thirteen years old, I didn’t know enough to realize that there was no substance behind their argument. Maybe I was less Indian than they were.

In retrospect, I’m angry. I wish I would have stood up for myself, dropped some knowledge about nationality and ethnicity on their adolescent selves. But, as it turns out, that isn’t what I did. I took my mother’s British upbringing to mean that I wasn’t really allowed to identify with the narrative of an Indian woman. I clearly wasn’t white, though, so I spent most of my middle school years in a very awkward, confusing middle ground. Indian, but not quite enough to be a real one. People around me seemed to think that my mother’s nationality had diluted and invalidated my own ethnicity.

What I’m trying to say is that the two don’t need to match. One can exist independently of the other. If race and ethnicity influence almost all aspects of the American way of life, it’s important to distinguish between the two. Nationality refers to the state, province, or country that one resides in. It has to do with physical location rather than with history. Ethnicity, however, involves a particular racial or cultural group that one identifies with. This refers to ancestry and the original socially and linguistically distinct group of people that one is a part of. My ethnicity is Indian and my nationality is American. My mother’s British nationality is not something genetic that can be passed down to me; I am as American as she is British. Race, identity, religion, and nationality are all different things and do not need to match in order to be legitimate. In our increasingly multicultural world, it’s easy to get these muddled, but for the sake of respect and accuracy, let’s do our best to refrain from confusing them.

So no, my British mother did not play a part in my ethnicity. But it did, however, give me my appreciation for Earl Grey.