Self-Care Fashion Lookbook

Boobie Billie: the Instagram icon who knows how political fashion can be

Meet Boobie Billie: Instagram influencer dog whose stylish and quirky posts have expanded her platform to almost 200K followers. I had the chance to chat with Boobie about her philosophy on self-care, and talk about how she is using her platform to shed light on some very important issues regarding racial inequities.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, this Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua mix has taken over the internet with her unique style and handbag collection. She has been featured on platforms such as Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Insider, and has participated in various Instagram takeovers on these well-known accounts.

As a lover of dogs and all things fashion, I started following Boobie a few months ago. I loved to go on her page and see her cute outfits. But I also love her persona and how unapologetic she is in everything she does, including speaking out about the current political climate and making sure that she can use her platform to uplift the issues we are facing in these times.

She’s even been encouraging her followers to vote and take action against the injustices that have recently reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

A refreshing fashion icon of our time, Boobie brings light and positivity to her followers, not only by slaying in every outfit but also by encouraging them to practice self-care and self-love. 

Besides taking the internet by storm and uplifting her followers during the pandemic, she has been supportive of the recent Black Lives Matter movement. In the past few weeks, Boobie has used her platform to uplift Black voices and Black-owned businesses. She’s even been encouraging her followers to vote and take action against the injustices that have recently reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

Boobie Billie began sharing her outfit of the day posts in December of 2019, and from there, she has expanded her platform to also include storytelling and entertainment for her followers. She uses her Instagram stories and the highlight feature to showcase her uniquely bold, lively, and cheeky personality. 

Some of her most iconic outfits include accessories such as sunglasses, sneakers, and tiny designer handbags from brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Fendi. Even her sneaker collection is probably better than yours.

Even her sneaker collection is probably better than yours.

When she’s not rocking her iconic fashion looks, you can find her head wrapped in a towel, cozy as ever. Sometimes she will be using a jade roller for some TLC. Boobie swears by self-care, stating “Honestly bbs, it’s something you can do to ground yourself every day and I love that for you. She knows that with a global pandemic going on and with stay at home orders all over the world, self-care is essential.

In one instance, she even challenged her followers to send her pictures of them engaging in self-care and in exchange sent them a cute collage of herself for their Zoom backgrounds. When asked what self-care has looked like for her during quarantine, she said “It’s all about keeping up with the things that make me feel gorgina and reclaiming that time for myself. Because if you’re not there for you, you can’t be there for them bbs.” 

She is a self-care icon.  

Boobie Billie also recognizes that systemic racism affects literally everything, even fashion. Realizing this was crucial for Boobie, especially in knowing how important the anti-racist movement is – not only in this chaotic political climate but also for the long term. Her platform has made her realize that she needs to be more conscious of the brands that she supports and works with. Moving forward, she will continue to think about how fashion is political and how she can use her platform to amplify Black voices and brands. 

In a recent post, she wanted to bring Black-owned businesses to the forefront with her outfits.

Boobie Billie also recognizes that systemic racism affects literally everything, even fashion.

Her caption said, “There are literally SOOO many gorg black-owned clothing and accessory brands doing FABULOUS things. Starting today, I’m going to do a better job of bringing them into my looks, so that more bbs can discover them.” Boobie knows that she can continue to support the movement with her platform and through her fashion choices. 

 She states, “I wanted to be there for my bbs in every way I could and make sure I was using my reach to get resources out there …  But going forward, there are so many ways to help keep the movement going. To me, that means choosing different accessories or brands that are just as fabulous and amazing but don’t get as much support from the mainstream fashion world. If a little fashion Italian Greyhuahua like me can do it, we all can bbs.” 

Not only has she shared various resources for folks to take action in these times, but she has even encouraged her followers to vote in the upcoming elections. She is a civically engaged icon that many of us can learn from.

In a time where many celebrities and other leaders have been silent, it is refreshing to have her on our side, advocating for the cause and sharing resources on her platform. In one of her recent posts she captions, “And to all my bbs who are BIPOC, I love you so much and I’m behind you every minute of every day.”  

As a rising influencer, we are excited to see where Boobie Billie takes her platform in the future and all the marginalized voices that she will be able to uplift through fashion.

“And to all my bbs who are BIPOC, I love you so much and I’m behind you every minute of every day.”  

A fashion-icon, self-care star, and civically engaged queen, she is doing it all and using her platform to uplift her followers. So what’s next for Boobie? “All I ever want is to make everyone feel like the gorgina angel bb that they are, so I’m going to keep doing that!

Internet, can we please have more dog influencers?


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Editor's Picks Love Life Stories Advice Career Advice

Here’s the graduation advice nobody will ever tell you

I never thought I’d be writing a letter to college graduates, but considering the world that we live in today, and the many terrifying fears I remember going through in the day of and weeks/months/year after graduation, I think it’s definitely more than time for me to plunge into this.

I’ll lead with a disclaimer: take these nuggets of advice and see whether they apply to your life. Not everything will.

I’m not a fan of writing blanket statements, and hell, it’s okay if you’re not in the place many are today. If so, kudos!

1. I know everyone and their mother is already asking what your next steps are, and it’s probably reached a fever pitch, now that you’ve got your diploma in hand.

Here’s the truth: if you don’t know yet, that’s okay. One of life’s biggest secrets is that even the people asking you don’t know what their next steps are. Hell, sometimes they’re just asking in a desperate attempt to get some sort of advice or validation about their lives.

Another secret: once you graduate college, life is fluid. You don’t have to do what others are telling you. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Everyone has a plan for your life post-graduation – but the only one that has the real power is you.

I get it – I’m the oldest child of parents who have big, big dreams for my siblings and myself. I faced a lot of heated discussions the weeks leading up to and following graduation, all of which had the same tone: why aren’t you doing anything with your life?

 Know what that means? It means that your value is inherently determined only if you’re doing what your parents/relatives/friends/strangers deem to be appropriate. And that’s a load of crap.

Know that there will be a different future out there.

It’s a known fact that I worked at Princeton University for two years after graduation, but the thing I didn’t tell those who knew me was that I worked in Staples, struggling to apply to jobs and keep my head up, for the summer following graduation. I had even put in an application for a second job at Chipotle when I received the job offer from Princeton.

I do want to make this clear: in no way did my time at any of the three locations matter more or less than the other. Ultimately, it came down to keeping my head up, surviving incoming bills, and trying to still go after my dreams.

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I was okay with every moment, grateful for the opportunity – even if those who knew, weren’t – because I knew that there’d be a different future out there.

3. Your life in the year after graduation does not determine your worth or future or opportunities. 

Yeah, we all know about that wunderkind that’s got four incredible job offers, acceptance at five Ivy Leagues and a Truman Fellow. Want to know something? They’re just as unsure and insecure about what’s going to happen next, just as you are. And that’s okay. 

The reason “roadmaps” after college don’t really work is because – to be frank – you don’t know how your self and life will shift and morph and grow post-graduation.

You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

What intrigued you during college won’t make you blink in the year after, or five years after. I graduated with a minor in education studies.

Newsflash: I haven’t really used it since then, but that’s okay.

I take it for what it was.

4. It’s okay to be afraid of what happens next.

I’m going to repeat it, just in case you haven’t really understood it: it is more than alright to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

The biggest crime you could commit in this scenario is to let that fear hold you immobile, hold you back from trying. Don’t let that happen.

Throw yourself into things that just might pique your interest. Try out that internship, pick up a job, do what you can to remind yourself of your value – but don’t give up.

It is okay to be afraid of what life looks like ahead.

Don’t let the fear swallow you up – and if it does, confide in a friend you trust, a mentor – or a therapist.

5. The best part about being done with college is you now have the ability to make your life truly your own.

Regardless of whether you’re back living with your parents, crashing with friends, or living on your own, this is it.

This is life. You’re in full control.

No matter what people might tell you/advise you/berate you/try to drag you down – you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Never let someone strip you of that power. You are incredible, no matter how you might feel right now.

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You have your whole future ahead of you, to make of it what you will.

And that, that is truly empowering. I promise you.

But sometimes it’ll be lonely – which is okay. Hit me up on Instagram if you want to talk things through – even though I graduated years ago, I believe in helping those who need it.

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Standoms Books Pop Culture

Confession: I haven’t read books for fun since I was in 8th grade

One of my biggest obsessions used to be reading books. I was that typical fangirl “tween” who even wrote for a fandom magazine at one point. Hearing about all these different stories and worlds was exhilarating and I just got so involved with them. Picking up a good book, reading it all the way through in one sitting, and getting invested in the characters and plot was so easy for me. I would cry with the characters and throw my book across the floor when the author killed someone I liked.

Books were my thing.

From Harry Potter to Divergent, I was one of the most passionate readers you’d ever meet. I even used to write a bit of fanfiction, if I were to be completely transparent. In fact, I attribute my writing journey beginning to 8th grade journalism. However, it actually started before then in 6th grade when I started writing about my favorite books. And most of the kids at my school would make fun of me if I ever told them. Right off the bat, I think it would be kind of unfair to attribute all of why I stopped reading to just academics taking over. I will say this – judgemental teens suck. That didn’t stop me throughout middle school from reading the cheesiest, best Wattpad and YA stories ever. But, it did in high school.

In addition, once I started high school, academic reading became increasingly important, and reading quickly became more of a chore. At first, I still read novels to keep me sane in between all of it, because here’s the thing. Academic reading can be BORING. But as I progressed through high school, the readings became harder, the time became smaller, and the leisure reading became nonexistent. Going to the school library to check out a book is unheard of at my school, much less taking the time to go to a public one. I think this stigma around reading at my school actually stemmed from the fact that everyone cares so much about getting into college.

Reading a YA book can’t possibly get you into Harvard, right?

But, I think it totally can. Reading is an incredibly valuable experience. It can teach understanding, acceptance, and other values that you just can’t get from anywhere else. Books contain thousands of new words that you’ve never heard before. They have rhetorical strategies (that DO NOT need to be analyzed so in-depth in my opinion). In academic reading, we tend to read too much into the book, which makes it so unbelievably boring. But when you read simply because you want to read, there is so much more to gain, as your brain is also more invested.

I do miss reading a lot though. I want to go back to reading the best YA novels I’ve ever read and dressing up as Hermione from Harry Potter and simply enjoying living in a different world. Reading was kind of an escape for me, and I need that escape now more than ever. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get back to it while in quarantine.

For now, I’ve amounted to reading digital magazines, news publications, and, of course, the books that are assigned to us in school. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, and if it’s your style, you should definitely check out some great digital magazines. However, for me, reading was about romance, fantasy, and the stories that just won’t appear in a news publication or a magazine, or even an academic book. Reading was about the things I dreamed of and the things I desired. It wasn’t ever about why the author chose to write a capital ‘S’ rather than a lowercase ‘s’. Ultimately, reading still is and will always be one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world, but I just don’t do it anymore with a real, 500-page hardcover book. But you should.

Have YOU submitted your book nominations for our Reading Challenge yet? Hurry up, you only have until April 30!

Music Pop Culture

Dua Lipa’s new album “Future Nostalgia” is exactly what we needed in these hard times

I listened to Future Nostalgia the day my country went into complete lockdown. They say art is an escape from the most turbulent of times – which is why, it only felt right to be transported into Dua Lipa’s dazzling, 80s-inspired dance party while I was dreadfully quarantined at home.

The Grammy-winning artist’s sophomore album is smooth, impeccably produced pop studded with thick baselines and funky beats. It’s a distinctive dash of neon in the bland, trap-infused world of modern day music – and perhaps, her boldest statement yet.

If anything, it’s a testament to the fact that Lipa has finally owned her sound. Right from the album’s opener, Future Nostalgia, where she expresses her female-alpha nature over groovy, Prince-inspired guitars, to its final track, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, where she tackles sexism in the most badass way possible –  Dua Lipa exhibits a blasé confidence. It’s an unmistakable quality which gives us her strongest moments on the LP, of them being ‘Cool’ – a synth-heavy track showcasing Lipa’s gorgeous, raspy voice. Heavy bass is sprinkled across the song’s chorus, leaving you with no option but to dance along. It helps in setting the right tone for the rest of this musical journey through the decades.

But the party has just begun. As the album progresses, Lipa’s tracks burst with increasing energy and euphoria. ‘Don’t Start Now’ is a triumphant anthem about successfully moving on. ‘Physical’ (inspired by Olivia Newton John’s hit of the same name) is an absolute disco banger. ‘Break My Heart’ and ‘Love Again’ are her most vulnerable moments on the record. Both tracks feature incredible disco strings and hypnotic verses. They convey the common anxieties about falling in love and risking heartbreak.

However, the subtly-produced ‘Pretty Please’ is an unexpected highlight. Lipa’s voice is the undisputed star of the track. It shifts from fluttery falsettos to harmonies, giving it a charm that’s alluring and effortless at the same time.

There’s no doubt that in Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa has somehow crafted the perfect mix of contemporary pop and retro sounds. Although its upbeat nature juxtaposes the gloomy timing of its release, it is an album the world desperately needs right now.

Not only does it provide a surge of happiness that distracts us from our worries, but also makes us nostalgic about a time when our dance parties weren’t just for one. “I wanted to make music that takes your mind away from that,” Lipa told Vogue Australia recently. “I wanted to just make it a bit easier for me to get out of bed and not think about the negative things that are going on in the world all the time.”

While her previous effort Dua Lipa saw her trying to find her niche between generic tropical and dark indie sounds, this album marks the success of her experimentation. Her meteoric rise to fame may have been faster than the time taken to count her ‘New Rules’, but Future Nostalgia proves that she’s here for the long run. And although Lipa doesn’t deliver any heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics or stirring emotional moments on the LP, she still manages to create an impact in her sphere.

Through her brilliant, technicolor attempt to bring grooviness back into the world, Dua Lipa has provided a glittery dose of positivity to me, and millions of other people around the world. Future Nostalgia may be an album made for the clubs, but its euphoria can still be experienced within the limited territory of your four walls. It’s an absolute blast through and through and cements Lipa’s place as the disco queen of the new decade.

The Internet Pop Culture

Tik Tok is how I’m really staying sane during this quarantine

A clock isn’t the only thing that makes a Tik Tok when its bored; humans do too. And in this crisis time, people are making Tik Toks now more than ever.

Self-care is one of the most important things during a crisis time like this and with all of the entertainment options out there, it’s very easy to put on a film or some music and just relax. However, with the rise of Tik Tok, self-care has transformed into a more creative and active process. Laughing to the stupidest short clips on Tik Tok isn’t the only thing that the platform offers. The ability to create is becoming more vital during this time and it has allowed me personally to connect with others as well as cure my boredom during self-quarantine. Balancing work and finding time for myself has always been a problem for me in general with my busy schedule, and when I need to do something quick to help myself relax, I find myself pressing on the Tik Tok app on my phone almost immediately.

Entertainment doesn’t have to come from a four-minute long song, or a two-hour long movie; it can come from five second clips that some random girl halfway across the world made. 

Moreover, it’s not just that it’s funny. Tik Tok is relatable; it’s a community. Sharing Tik Toks with my friends and family has become an everyday activity for me now, and it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting time. Moreso, I’m taking time for myself to enjoy quality, unique entertainment (for the most part). With some balance, Tik Tok had carefully crafted a more creative lifestyle for me, where I didn’t have to constantly worry about deadlines or whether or not I would finish my Netflix show, which, yes, that’s extremely stressful for me. In the short period of time that I was on the app each day, I would stop thinking about everything else crappy going on in my life and just for a second forget about it and solely focus on the stupid jokes people were making.

The platform has now become a lifestyle. In fact, it is estimated that Charli D’Amelio, a famous creator on Tik Tok, has a net worth of over three million dollars. Teens, kids, and their entire families have become invested in the platform and spend hours working on creating the perfect Tik Tok that they hope will go viral. Getting on the ‘For You’ page is a dream for many. Some say Tik Tok has ruined people’s lives for increasing how digital the world is getting, but I say it improved it. We should embrace this new digital lifestyle and find ways to accept, adapt, and integrate new platforms like this. 

Despite the obvious attention-grabbing environment, the content on Tik Tok has only gotten better. The process of making the actual clip has become so exciting for many, including me. When I make a Tik Tok, I don’t make it to get likes, or views (I’m a private account too, so I don’t really care about views), it’s always been about putting content out there and expressing my creativity and feelings, which is the same as many others also view it. Sure, there are the occasional posts only asking for likes and follows, but there are genuine content creators who want to entertain others on the platform. Tik Tok is more real than any other platform I’ve ever used, except maybe Twitter sometimes.

Self care doesn’t have to be putting on a spa mask and some relaxing music and meditating or sleeping.

Self-care comes in many forms, and entertainment is a huge one of them. For me, self-care became Tik Tok. It’s one of those apps that just blew up, because it had just the right combination of humor and community. It was a perfect feel-good app that enticed groups of all ages, and will most likely last years from now. Ultimately, Tik Tok has provided me an emotional release at the start and end of every day. Just getting on the platform oddly brings a smile to my face to see all of those relatable, goofy memes.

Movie Reviews Bollywood Movies Pop Culture

Here’s why I finally lost my undying obsession for DDLJ

“Go, Simran, go. Live your life.”

These iconic words, spoken at the climax of the 1995 Bollywood classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ), never failed to make me tear up as a teenager.

DDLJ is the story of Raj Malhotra (Shah Rukh Khan/SRK) and Simran Singh (Kajol) who both reside in the UK and fall in love on a trip across Europe.

They cannot marry, however, because Simran’s father has already decided she will marry Kuljeet Singh (Parmeet Sethi), his friend’s son, whom she has never met. Rahul then pretends to be Kuljeet’s friend and crashes Simran’s wedding preparations to try and win her family over.

I fell in love with DDLJ as a child.

I adored Raj and Simran. I admired Kajol’s unibrow. I recited the dialogues alongside the characters. Most importantly, I treasured the romance. Nothing could be purer than Raj’s love for Simran and what he was willing to do to win her father over.

On the face of it, DDLJ is the perfect rom-com. It presents an unlikely pair – opposites who attract and fall deeply in love – only for a parent to tear them apart. It makes you root for them and cheer out loud when they finally do unite at the end. Like millions of other girls, I also wanted a Raj who would be willing to fight the world to be with me.

Nothing could be purer than Raj’s love for Simran and what he was willing to do to win her father over.

However, as I grew older, rewatching it made me uncomfortable, and it took me some time to realize why.

Raj, it turns out, is the flag-bearer of the creepy guys you see at a store whom you avoid eye contact with because you know they’ll start following you around. He dangled Simran’s bra in her face five seconds after meeting her, and then kept pestering her even when she clearly told him, multiple times, she was not interested in talking to him.

Raj also lied to her about them sleeping together. After all, what girl doesn’t find it hilarious when she wakes up, disoriented, next to a stranger who jokes about sleeping together when she was too inebriated to remember anything?

Worse, when Simran starts to cry upon hearing this, he goes on a rant about how he couldn’t even imagine doing that to her because he knows that honor (chastity) means everything to a Hindustani girl.

What I despise more than Raj’s behavior is that like most Bollywood movies, DDLJ places Simran entirely at the mercy of the men in her life. Her father decided she is to marry a stranger, and before this happens she has to beg him to let her travel across Europe for one last hurrah.

Then, when she returns from a trip equivalent to the last meal, she is punished for doing something deeply unforgivable in her culture – falling in love.

Simran’s own fight and refusal do not produce any results.

As punishment, her wedding is moved up and she is taken to a village in India where her future husband lives. This is a man neither she nor her father has ever met. This is also a man shown to be an alpha male with no intention of staying loyal to Simran. Yet, the preparations continue.

Her future became dependent on Raj and his decision on whether she’s worth fighting for. Simran’s own fight and refusal do not produce any results.

The other women in the film also exist along the periphery. Simran’s mother supports her but is helpless because the only will that matters is that of her father. Simran’s sister teases her about Raj and helps facilitate their forbidden romance.

Simran’s aunt is there only for comic relief due to a potential romance with Raj’s single father. Worst of all, Kuljeet’s sister Preeti exists only as the punchline to a joke that is not funny. She falls in love with Raj who happily leads her along to hide his relationship with Simran.

Meanwhile, the decision to fight for Simran, our signature damsel in distress, is what makes Raj the hero. Thus, DDLJ takes a movie designed for female audiences, as rom coms are famous for, and makes it entirely about a man and his fight while the women are shown holding no agency over their lives. This only reinforces how marginalized brown women are in our real lives.

The movie is yet another reminder that the men in our life, be it our boyfriends or our fathers, are our priority.

The entire movie is a battle between the egos of two men. And like most Bollywood movies, the romance here would not be complete without the man literally fighting for love. Ironically, this aggression plays a role in convincing Simran’s father of Raj’s undying love.

What made me uncomfortable with DDLJ’s “romance” was, ultimately, that Simran had no choice. The grand gesture at the end of DDLJ is Simran’s father letting her hand go, telling her to live her life, only for her to immediately clasp onto the hand of another man.

DDLJ is not a bad movie. I would go to the extent of calling it a pretty good movie. It’s funny, emotional, and really panders to the Indian diaspora at the expense of the British (something the anti-colonialist in me appreciates).

The movie is yet another reminder that the men in our life, be it our boyfriends or our fathers, are our priority.

However, I don’t rewatch it for the romance because it reminds me of something deeply abhorrent in our culture; that we as women hold no agency over our lives, but especially over our love lives.

We are all Simran, begging our fathers to let us be free once before they marry us off to whoever they decide is suitable. We are all Simran as she pleads with her father to let her go; to let go of our hands and our lives. We are all Simran, now tied to another man, as our ambitions and dreams remain nameless and unimportant, all secondary to the concept of marriage and men.

I used to wish for a Raj. After rewatching the movie, I now only wish to be Raj, if only to have the agency of going wherever I want and marrying whoever I want (if I want), the way I know I could never do as Simran.

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Health Care Health Wellness

Here’s how to actually be supportive to your friend with bipolar disorder

Lately, most of my heartbreak has come from lost friendships, some of which I still haven’t gotten any closure from. In part, this is because I have bipolar disorder.

In the time that has passed, I’ve come to realize that I deserved better. I deserved to be surrounded by people who accepted me as I am and so do you.

There have been many situations where I have found myself among my friends, experiencing an episode — either depressive or manic — and felt completely alone in my suffering when a few acts of kindness could have made a huge difference.

1. Acceptance

: A girl sitting and looking out of a window.
[Image description: A girl sitting and looking out of a window.] Via Unsplash
Regardless of whether someone is a lover or a friend, don’t ever assume that they can be fixed. They are not a broken tailgate or a leaking engine.

The assumption that a person can or needs to be fixed can destroy your relationship with them.

This is because people cannot simply ‘snap out of it’. This is because they are not doing it to themselves: it is happening to them.

2. Compromise

Two girls talking
[Image description: Two girls talking.] Voa Unsplash
Someone’s mental illness is not about you unless you are abusing them.

So, expecting someone with a bipolar disorder to meet you at your physical, emotional and mental level is unrealistic. This is why you have to be the one who meets them halfway.

If a person cannot come to you, then you come to them, if a person during mania episode wants to jump off a bridge or out of a window, then suggest bungee jumping or skydiving.

At the end of the day, it is about finding a compromise.       

3. Improvise

Two women sitting on a rooftop while watching sunset
[Image description: Two women sitting on a rooftop while watching sunset.] Via Unsplash
Improvising is very important. There will be times when the notion of order and routine falls out the window and all you can do is wait it out. In those moments, it’s best to simply be there for someone.

Sometimes, you’ll need to take it one day at a time, and if one day is too much then take it one hour at a time.

And if that feels like too much for them, go moment by moment because sometimes, you simply need to hold them through the pain.

4. Don’t retaliate

A girl sitting down, looking sad.
[Image description: A girl sitting down, looking sad.] Via Unsplash
When someone is having a panic/anxiety attack, that is not the time to psychoanalyze them. That is not the time to pull out the receipts of all the times that you were unsatisfied with their behavior.

Simply telling someone to calm down is redundant because that person is already doing everything in their power to calm down.

So sometimes, if you can’t cope, the best thing you can do for them is to call someone they trust. Getting someone a bottle or a glass of water can be helpful regardless of the fact that it might not resolve the panic/anxiety attack.

5. Be patient

Two boys hugging in a bar.
[Image description: Two boys hugging in a bar.] Via Unsplash
People who have compulsive behaviors and various tics exhibit (tap toeing, pen clicking, thigh rubbing, pacing) ways to expel anxiety.

While these might be irritable and distracting to a normal person, rather than simply pointing out your annoyance, something you can do is provide the person with alternate forms of expression.

For example, if a person is pacing, you can both go for a walk; if a person is clicking a pen, you can give them paper to write on.

6. Be responsible

A man and woman playing at a foosball table.
[Image description: A man and woman playing at a foosball table.] VIa Unsplash
Social anxiety is real. It isn’t when someone is being rude, or when someone has poor manners. If you have a friend that does have social anxiety, you’ll have to compromise. If you’re inviting them to a party, you have two responsibilities that you must uphold; the first is to respect the people they choose to interact with and the people they choose not to interact with.

And the next is to respect and accept when they want to leave and ensure they get home safely. Allow your friend to gravitate towards people that they find interesting.

Another option is to bring along games or cards, that way if they don’t want to interact but are interested in the games they can play them.

All relationships are hard work. While the representation of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder still has a long way to go, accepting the people among us for who they are, and helping them out goes a long way.

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Movies Pop Culture

This is how the Academy REALLY chooses how to award Oscars

Getting to the Oscars is the dream of everyone who’s ever wished to work in entertainment,

It’s been almost three years since the Harvey Weinstein exposé (did you hear? He got a 23-year prison sentence!). When I was young, I always wanted to work in entertainment, and Miramax was the Holy Grail. Learning that this man who I revered so much abused his power in a myriad of ways was terrifying. So I did what I always did, I tried to make sense of it all. How exactly was this man able to hold an entire industry hostage for three decades? My search for answers led me to all ends of the internet.

Then in a stroke of luck (but really, intelligent algorithms), I found the Be Kind and Rewind Youtube channel. The very first video I came across was the titled ‘Harvey Weinstein and the Oscars.’ In this video essay, the Youtuber discussed how Harvey Weinstein refined the art of Oscars Campaigning. From finding out where Oscars voters vacation and setting up screens there to utilizing press relationships. All of these things induced a particular kind of anticipation for Miramax films. Miramax studios created ads specifically for high profile magazines like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Harvey Weinstein’s effect on the Academy Award process is apparent. What we often declare as ‘Oscars bait’ films, such as period dramas and inspirational movies, were perfected to garner wins by the Miramax Company.

This Youtube channel also discusses how an award isn’t necessarily a pronouncement of someone’s talent or quality of the film. An excellent example is Elizabeth Taylor’s Academy Award win for Butterfield 8. A film about a Manhattan call girl that is in a doomed affair with a married man. The narrative surrounding Elizabeth Taylor was closer to her winning the award rather than the film itself. Butterfield 8 isn’t a good movie. I could argue that’s a bad film. Elizabeth Taylor disparaged the film for the rest of her life. However, the image Elizabeth Taylor took on after filming the movie is what is of great importance.

During the filming of Cleopatra, she contracted pneumonia, which could have killed her. As Be Kind and Rewind is quick to point out, this coincided with the Academy Award voting period. One of the most bankable stars in the world had been on the brink of death. After years of snubs, Elizabeth Taylor got what she wanted: an Oscar.

Be Kind and Rewind focuses on the stars of old, not because of nostalgia. But because in our contemporary times we have somehow convinced ourselves that the machinations of film studios and actresses are a new phenomenon. There have always been ‘just due’ awards. Before Leonardo Dicaprio had to suffer for The Revenant, Geraldine Page suffered an entire career’s worth of Oscar losses. She finally won in 1986 for the film Life is Beautiful in the Best Actress category even though Whoopi Goldberg had a fantastic run that year. Life Is Beautiful was a good movie, but Geraldine was not being awarded for that film in particular; she was being awarded for a lifetime of excellent work.

Insights like these are essential because, as we look back at the best films of 2019, we often think about which films should be awarded in simplistic terms. But awards are never just about the film, the director or the cast and crew. They are a way to leverage the power and gain influence in the industry. They are a pronouncement on what a governing body thinks is valuable. That being said, it’s the audience that can ascribe life to art. After all, The Color Purple is still a beloved film.  

The Youtube channel Be Kind and Rewind also hits the apparent failings of these awards – consistently excluding women. Particularly women of color. The refusal to reward films that are challenging rather than safe ones and how these awards encourage a winner take all mindset.  The lack of attention and respect that foreign films get is another failure. Foreign language films are less likely to win awards in major categories, creating a bias against them. Truthfully, most winners we see kiss their statues are American and British actors and actresses. This is why Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite Oscar sweep was so satisfying to watch amongst so many people.

On some level, we all know that people in expensive gowns handing out awards is an exercise of vanity and navel-gazing. Yet we still enjoy it because we believe it’s a meritocracy when the truth is murkier than that. The relationship between the Oscars voters and Oscars winners is uncomfortably close. Through discovering this channel, I was able to understand the real importance of taking award seasons with a grain of salt.

Awards are a very narrow arbiter of excellence. And the real power of a film lies with those who watch it with no reservations or motives.

Sometimes, a statue is just that.

TV Shows Pop Culture Interviews

Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef on disrupting Hollywood’s Muslim stereotypes – and what really keeps him going

First-generation Muslim American Ramy Youssef isn’t your typical actor. He’s made waves by taking home a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical television series, for his role in the Hulu series Ramy.

As the co-creator and star of Ramy, 28-year-old Egyptian-American actor, and stand-up comedian Youssef set out to tell stories about a kid from an immigrant family who wants to hold on to his culture. He based the main character on his own experiences growing up in suburban New Jersey as a Muslim who considers himself religious.

I felt like a lot of narratives I saw [of] first-generation children…or anyone from a strong faith background was watching them kind of try to erase where they come from.”

“It shows someone engaging with their faith in an honest way. I felt like a lot of narratives I saw [of] first-generation children…or anyone from a strong faith background was watching them kind of try to erase where they come from and distance themselves from the tension of their parents and culture,” Youssef said in an interview with The Tempest. “I wanted to make something that reflected my experience. [That experience saw me] trying to honestly engage and identify with my background, but still asking questions about it.”

With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Ramy is built around Ramy Hassan, played by Youssef, a Muslim unsure of what type of Muslim he is or ought to be. The show breaks stigmas and barriers in the Muslim community by addressing topics like sex and dating in Islam, as well as post 9/11 feels.

During our interview with Youssef, we discussed Muslim American representation in the media, his character and spoke of the importance of diverse and authentic representation in the entertainment industry.

The show’s trailer premiered in March, racking up more than 5.6 million views on Youtube. Muslims, in particular, have reacted strongly, with many feeling represented, while others criticized the show’s portrayal of American Muslims and the absence of Muslim women.

Youssef acknowledges the critiques, explaining that Ramy isn’t meant to represent all Muslims. “[As Muslims,] we take a burden on to try to represent everybody and that’s not fair, that’s not something other creators have to do in the same way. It’s important to tell the most specific story to you, don’t worry about any of the feedback or blowback because your job is to actually make something that you can grow from.”

When it came to the importance of representation, particularly the media’s often inaccurate and harsh portrayals of Muslims, Youssef explained his thought process while developing the show. As an Arab-Muslim, he represented the identity he could best depict.

“This is just one piece of representation. This is a small slice of an Arab Muslim family, most Muslims in America don’t even fall under that category,” Youssef said. “Most Muslims in America are Black, while many are South Asian. So this isn’t an antidote to a 24-hour news cycle or years of propaganda and war literature on Muslims. It’s simply just one piece of the puzzle.” 

According to Youssef, there are a lot of differences between the Ramy he plays and his real life. He spoke about the family in the show as compared to his own and described how in real life he has a creative outlet to express himself, whereas Ramy, the character, does not.

“This isn’t an antidote to a 24-hour news cycle or years of propaganda and war literature on Muslims. It’s simply just one piece of the puzzle.” 

“This character, this family talks a little less to each other and this character has less of an outlet so he’s more stuck. But the thing that I really love about this character and something that really resonates with me in real life is that when he has a problem or when he’s trying to figure himself out or get the best version of himself he prays,” Youssef said.

“He turns to God. That is where he goes, that is how he feels comfortable expressing himself and trying to figure himself out. This was something that was really important for me to put out there and that I wanted to have seen,” he added.

Youssef aims to depict the reality of Muslims in his show. He wants the audience to see that Muslims have the same problems, values, and desires other Americans do. 

[Image Description: Three men, Youssef, left, with Mohammed Amer and Dave Merheje, are seated in prayer, while Youssef looks up and to the sky.] Via Barbara Nitke/Hulu
[Image Description: Three men, Youssef, left, with Mohammed Amer and Dave Merheje, are seated in prayer, while Youssef looks up and to the sky.] Via Barbara Nitke/Hulu

“I want the audience to see that Muslims have vulnerabilities. I want them [the audience] to take a look at the types of problems that this family and character face and understand that our problems are very much like anybody else problems.”

Through this show, Youssef hopes to recontextualize words and spaces, while also demystifying the tropes about how Muslims are and operate. “When you hear ‘Allahu Akhbar’ in America it means something violent, but when you watch this show, you realize that is something people say when they are looking to find a calm moment- when they are looking to reflect, just an act of worship that is tied to being a human.”

“Dehumanization here is what’s most important. Anything else is just very specific to this story and not really indicative of anything more than that,” he added.

When asked about the advice he would give to fellow Muslim Americans seeking to follow in his career path, Youssef spoke of the importance of taking risks.

“Try to pray and drink a lot of water.”

“Take risks, don’t be worried about the feedback that you may or may not get. Just know, that if you’re young and want to be something, you just have to be as authentic as you can. Be yourself,” Youseff said.

He finished his advice off with a practical note: “Try to pray and drink a lot of water.”

The first season of Ramy is available on Hulu. Earlier this year, the network announced that the show had been renewed for a second season.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

TV Shows BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Why are ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ still so white?

I love reality television, particularly The Bachelor. 

The roses, the crying women in limos, the wine I drink while watching it… I love every bit of it and its experience. What started as something that I simply wanted to try out has now become a beloved show that I tune into every Monday night it is on. 

The Bachelor premiered in 2002 as a simple dating show and soon became one of the most popular shows on network television. It has several spin-off shows – The Bachelorette, Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor Pad, and Bachelor in Paradise – yet, like many reality tv shows, this show still has its very present flaws. 

For it is still lacking one very important thing, diversity, particularly when it comes to the show’s leads. 

There have been 23 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette to date, but only two leads of color have been featured: Juan Pablo who is Venezualan and Rachel Lindsay who is African-American.

Every other lead has been white. Let that sink in. 

There have been 23 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette to date, but only two leads of color have been featured.

Now, this has not been for lack of trying from the viewers’ end. This year, in particular, many viewers rallied together in support of contestant Mike Johnson in hopes of him becoming the first black bachelor. Throughout The Bachelorette season he was a contestant on, Johnson was charming, classy, and very well-received by many of the show’s viewers.

As per usual, though, the franchise decided to go with another white lead, Peter Weber, from the upcoming season of The Bachelor. While I am a fan of our guy Pilot Pete, I would be lying if I wasn’t a bit disappointed when I found out the news. 

So, why have The Bachelor and its franchise shows been so white throughout all of these years? 

It isn’t because of a lack of contestants of color. Throughout the years, the franchise has featured many contestants that have come from a wide variety of backgrounds but these contestants typically get much less screen time, with many sent home at an early point of the season, and so are much less likely to be chosen at the end of their season.

More than 23 seasons and this show is still basically Barbie meeting Ken and vice versa, over and over again. 

The bias that the franchise has towards its white contestants can be seen through social media as well. Typically, contestants of color have a much smaller amount of followers in comparison to their white counterparts. 

For example, black bachelorette Rachel Lindsay has 872,000 followers on Instagram, while Jojo Fletcher, a white bachelorette, has around 2.2 million followers. So, while Lindsay is not disliked by the fanbase or franchise, she does have a much smaller following online, compared to the other white bachelorettes. 

The ratings of Lindsay’s season were also lower than in previous seasons. The first five episodes of her season had around 5.7 million viewers instead of the typical 6.7 million. This occurred despite Lindsay being extremely camera-friendly and charismatic. 

Lindsay even criticized the franchise for how her season was made. She said, “I was denied my on-camera happy ending and labeled an angry black female.”

“Bachelor Nation just doesn’t care about people of color.” – Rachel Lindsay 

With all this being said and taken into consideration, one could say that it will probably be a while until we get our first black bachelor, if at all, because of the franchise’s attitude towards its contestants of color. For, as Lindsay said herself on the Bachelor Party Podcast, “Bachelor Nation just doesn’t care about people of color.” 

Look, as someone who is definitely in the minority of the show’s viewership, I know that these facts are disappointing. Is this the best they can do? More than 23 seasons and this show is still basically Barbie meeting Ken and vice versa, over and over again. 

This franchise can, and should, do better. Hopefully, if fans keep pushing for change, more diversity will come to this cheesy yet entertaining show. 

Book Reviews Race Books Pop Culture

The Hate U Give paints a clear picture of police racism in America

I’ve read a fair share of books in my life. There have been novels which moved me, amused me, taught me, and inspired me. Rarely, though, have I come across titles which have done it all. Most often fall short of their mark. Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give isn’t one of them.

Released in 2017, The Hate U Give quickly took the world by storm, prompting the 2018 release of its film starring Amandla Stenberg who, beforehand, was best known for her character Rue from The Hunger Games.

The Hate U Give was inspired by two distinct things. Its title is in reference to one and that is American rapper Tupac Shakur whose music is well known for focusing on racism and social oppression. The title’s acronym reads THUG, a nod to his concept of THUG LIFE which fleshes out to read: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. “What you feed us as seeds, grows and blows up in your face,” Tupac explained.

The other source of inspiration was the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Together, both feed into the prevalent themes of the book which highlight how oppressive systems keep the poor and minorities from progressing by feeding into a cycle of crime and violence.

The book follows the story of 16-year-old Starr Carter. A black teen who lives in an underprivileged, predominantly black neighborhood but who attends a posh private school where the majority of the students are white and wealthy.

And there Starr teeters, portraying two personas and managing two entirely different worlds. There is the Starr of Williamson Prep (her school) and the Starr of Garden Heights (her home). But the balance she created between the two comes crashing down when she finds herself the sole witness to the police shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend, Khalil Harris. 

Soon, Starr is caught in the middle as Khalil’s death becomes a national headline and takes on a narrative we, unfortunately, all know too well.

Black person. White officer. Shoot first. Media frenzy. Racial tension. No justice.

Many of us are on the outside looking in, yet we fight. We stand in solidarity and protest. We tweet and post and write letters and articles. 

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right,” wrote Thomas (p. 61).

However, true to reality, Khalil didn’t get justice either. 

And it’s this brand of honesty that makes THUG stand out even more. Thomas brilliantly places readers in the thick of the situation. We feel Starr’s fear, pain, frustration, anger, and strength as she realizes the unique position she finds herself in. We feel it as she deals with hearing Khalil’s reputation dragged through the mud. His transgressions used to label him a “thug” and a “gangbanger” and justify his murder. 

We feel it when riots and protests take place, when the blatant discrimination is laid out clear as day, when her white Williamson Prep classmates capitalize on a serious injustice to get a day off at school, when the police put words in Starr’s mouth as they paint a picture to fit their narrative. It’s felt with every word Thomas penned down.

Khalil, then, is symbolic of every person who has fallen victim to police racism and brutality. Philando Castile. Michael Brown. Sandra Bland. Oscar Grant. Freddie Gray. Rekia Boyd. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Walter Scott.

Same story, different name.

Overall, THUG is a tale of racism, activism, grief, family, friendship, wealth disparity, police brutality, and the media’s portrayal of the black community. It educates, impacts and inspires – three signs of a must-read book – and does it engagingly.

Get The Hate U Give here for $10.99. Watch it here for $14.99.

Want more book recommendations? Check out our first ever global Reading Challenge!

Movies Food & Drinks

13 iconic and delicious movie foods that you can make at home

We have all drooled over these movie foods when they appeared on screen, and have wondered what they would actually taste like. But it doesn’t have to end at wishful thinking. You can easily recreate the magical moments in your own kitchen.

Here are 13 iconic foods from movies and their recipes so you can try them out yourself:

1. Remy’s ratatouille, Ratatouille

Remy, a gray rat, is making the finishing touches on a plate of ratatouille.
[Image description: Remy, a gray rat, is making the finishing touches on a plate of ratatouille.] Via Giphy
It’s probably not cool – or safe – for a rat to make you ratatouille in real life, but you – a person – can recreate Remy’s magical moment from Pixar’s Ratatouille through this recipe.

2. Butterbeer, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

A blonde girl in a striped sweater is drinking a yellow, frothy drink in a dark, pub-like setting.
[Image description: A blonde girl in a striped sweater is drinking a yellow, frothy drink in a dark, pub-like setting.] Via Buzzfeed
The Harry Potter series has offered a lot of innovative foods – Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Acid Pops, and Chocolate Frogs – but there’s nothing like the butterbeer. This is a favorite among fans who visit the wizarding world, but you don’t have to make the trip to taste it, you can brew it yourself.

3. Tony’s spaghetti and meatballs, Lady and the Tramp

Two cartoon dogs - a gray male dog and a fluffy, brown female one - both chew on the same string of spaghetti and meet in a kiss.
[Image description: Two cartoon dogs – a gray male dog and a fluffy, brown female one – both chew on the same string of spaghetti and meet in a kiss.] Via Giphy
Is there a more romantic moment than this? The candle lit dinner the two dogs share in Lady and the Tramp has been immortalized through the years, and you can make your own dish and moment.

4. Kronk’s spinach puffs, The Emperor’s New Groove

In a cartoon, a brown, large, muscled-man serves a plate of spinach puffs to a smaller, thinner man and a purplish woman in an extravagant ensemble.
[Image description: In a cartoon, a brown, large, muscled-man serves a plate of spinach puffs to a smaller, thinner man and a purplish woman in an extravagant ensemble.] Via Fanpop
Kronk’s spinach puffs from The Emperor’s New Groove are as iconic as he is. They are his pride and joy, and you should definitely try your hand at making his best dish, as long as you don’t burn them that is.

5. Turkish Delight, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

A white, black-haired young boy munches on a powdery, soft Turkish delight as an older blonde, white woman watches on.
[Image description: A white, black-haired young boy munches on a powdery, soft Turkish delight as an older blonde, white woman watches on.] Via Narnia
If you’re betraying your siblings over food then it either means that you have issues or said food is too heavenly to resist. Maybe the next time you’re trying to negotiate something, use the White Witch’s recipe to get your way.

6. Lembas bread, The Lord of the Rings

A white, blond male elf munches on some bread and nods in approval.
[Image description: A white, blond male elf munches on some bread and nods in approval.] Via Tumblr
One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man. Legolas’ delight over this bread in The Lord of the Rings is enough for one to want to try it for themselves, and here’s the method to recreate the Elves’ magic.

7. Mint sorbet, The Princess Diaries

At a formal dinner, a brown-haired white woman shakes her hands vigorously as she attempts to come to terms with the coldness of her sorbet. Next to her, a dark-haired couple mimics her actions.
[Image Description: At a formal dinner, a brown-haired white woman shakes her hands vigorously as she attempts to come to terms with the coldness of her sorbet. Next to her, a dark-haired couple mimic her actions.] Via Bustle
Mia’s reaction to the mint sorbet in The Princess Diaries is hilarious, and the whole moment is iconic. Maybe when you make it, be prepared for the coldness of the dish to avoid pulling a Mia at the table.

8. Tiana’s gumbo, The Princess and the Frog

In a cartoon, an arm holding a wooden ladle mixes a pot of gumbo.
[Image description: In a cartoon, an arm holding a wooden ladle mixes a pot of gumbo.] Via The Literary Phoenix
Tiana is a master in the kitchen. The gumbo she makes as a child is her best dish just because of the special moment it accompanies. It’s hard to be as perfect as Tiana, but do give this Louisiana dish a try.

9. Boeuf bourguignon, Julie and Julia

A hand prepares a dish boeuf bourguignon in an orange pot.
{Image description: A hand prepares a dish boeuf bourguignon in an orange pot.] Via Tumblr

Julie and Julia is a homage to food, and this dish stands out because Julie burns it the first time she tries it. This is the pinnacle of French cuisine (right to the difficult name) and here’s the original Julia Child recipe for you to try it out!

10. The triplets’ biscuits, Brave

A cartoon show three red-haired toddlers enthusiastically shoving full, round, jam biscuits into their mouths.
[Image description: A cartoon show three red-haired toddlers enthusiastically shoving full, round biscuits into their mouths.] Via
These biscuits might as well be considered a main character in Brave. Every food-related scene features them and the triplets go gaga over them. These are Scottish cookies called empire biscuits, and you have to try these out.

11. $5 milkshake, Pulp Fiction

A white man with a ponytail says "That's a pretty fucking good milkshake." He's in black jacket, white shirt and a bolo tie. There's a vanilla milkshake in front of him with whipped cream and a cherry.
[Image description: A white man with a ponytail says “That’s a pretty fucking good milkshake.” He’s in black jacket, white shirt and a bolo tie. There’s a vanilla milkshake in front of him with whipped cream and a cherry.] Via Giphy
If you pay $5 for a vanilla milkshake, it better be a damn good one. At least, Vincent from “Pulp Fiction” seems to think that it’s worth the price. But you can save the five bucks and make it yourself.

12. Lemon snow cones, Monsters, Inc.

A cartoon shows a white, fuzzy yeti offering a plate of yellow snow cones to a green, round, one-eyed "monster"
[Image description: A cartoon shows a white, fuzzy yeti offering a plate of yellow snow cones to a green, round, one-eyed “monster”.] Via The Best Gifs For Me
Though the snow cones Yeti makes in Monsters Inc. end up being used for something else than as food, they still spark a curiosity. But don’t worry, it’s lemon. Here’s a pretty easy recipe you can try.

13. Spiced hot dark chocolate, Chocolat

A white man with slicked-back brown hair sips something out of a white, porcelain bowl while staring intently at someone in front of him. He licks his lips afterwards.
[Image description: A white man with slicked-back brown hair sips something out of a white, porcelain bowl while staring intently at someone in front of him. He licks his lips afterwards.] Via Giphy
Chocolate and spice is a winning combination, and that’s exactly what Vianne champions in her sensational beverage in the movie Chocolat. It’s a perfect drink for rainy days, and here’s how you can make it.

These foods have only been visual treats all this time but now you can taste them and decide whether they meet your expectations and imagination. From the animated treats to the extravagant meals, every dish served on screen is open for recreation, you only have to put your master chef hat on and start to experiment.