History Historical Badasses

Gertrude Stein, the queer feminist at the centre of the art movement

I first encountered Gertrude Stein through her avant-garde poetry in Tender Buttons, an evocative series of short poems that forced writing to its breaking point with sentences like: “Dirty is yellow. A sign of more is not mentioned.” I met her blindly, only through her words, yet I already fell for her eccentricity. I knew there was something wonderful behind the mind that put down on paper the bold tongue-in-cheek yet unbelievably serious statement, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”. I just had to explore her art further. So I began scouring old journals and artist profiles to learn more about her. 

Little did I know that the radical art Stein created could almost be rivaled by the art that she nurtured in the artists around her. I found multiple sources that called her the ‘mother’ of modernism, but after getting to know more about her, I am sure that she would scoff at such a title. After all, she left the United States in 1903 to flee the pressures of gender norms. She was also bored with medical school and seeking an outlet to express her eccentric point of view, she settled down in Paris, where she intended to pursue a life free from heteronormativity. She opened a salon in her home for the world’s creative mind, including some of the world-renowned names such as Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. She was the voice of this ‘Lost Generation, the group of American expatriates flocking to Paris– and even coined the term.

The way I see it, she brought together these esteemed artists and in many ways, elevated them through her no-nonsense critique of their work. I had always internalized that a woman inspiring other artists (typically male artists) was a muse. That term is loaded, as there were often sexualized or romanticized elements typically tied to a muse. Instead, what I admired about Stein was that she was a mentor to the ‘greats’. I see her as a woman that had an undeniable presence in her time, respected by those around her. 

Nothing about her was conventional and she embraced her own strangeness, something that drew me to her further. Stein deserves the title of a trailblazer of the modernist period and of queer identity at the time. Stein’s essay Miss Furr and Miss Skeene were among the first story to be published about homosexual revelation, containing the first noted use of the word “gay” in published works to refer to same-sex relationships. She also hosted one of the first avant-garde exhibitions in the United States, funding it with the money she collected from her art dealerships. I have no doubt that every piece of art in the period has her fingerprint.

And she didn’t hesitate to acknowledge her accomplishments either. Stein didn’t believe that women must be modest, proudly proclaiming “I have been the creative literary mind of the century.” She never sold herself short, a habit I found myself doing as I presented my own poetry or other writing. I was still working with my own feelings of inferiority, belittling my stories as ‘just’ relevant to female-identifying communities. While she wrote about women and her partner, she didn’t restrict herself to writing women’s stories. I found it so refreshing to see her unabashed pride, as it reminded me to take hold of my own achievements and to be confident. No matter how unconventionally and ‘weirdly’ I experimented with my creativity, I learned that I could (and should) still demand to be taken seriously. 

Regardless of all this, I don’t think she should be idolized. I often like to give powerful women in difficult situations the benefit of the doubt, as do most of the historians and writers that grapple with creating a retrospective of Stein’s life. I witnessed a trend in the way that they wrote about her, that she was ensuring her safety as a Jew in Nazi-occupied France by making these questionable alliances with Nazi figures. As much as I respect her as a feminist and as the backbone of the Lost Generation of artists, I cannot excuse her political affiliations and ironic, confusing pro-Nazi expressions. 

At the end of it all, Stein didn’t strive to be accepted or allow herself to be molded by the society around her. She carved her own place into history and I believe it is important to commemorate it, lest she is lost in the shadows of her male counterparts. As a woman in the art world, looking at Stein as an example liberates me and allows me to embrace subversive expressions of creativity. 

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K-pop Music Pop Culture

We have no choice but to stan Blackpink after their documentary “Light Up The Sky”

I became a K-pop fan in 2010 and my first brush with stan culture entailed me watching 280p YouTube videos, following English translators in the early years of social media (to understand what my favorite band was up to), and reading blogs that crossed into Lainey Gossip territory. Watching Blackpink’s documentary Light Up The Sky on Netflix, the world’s #1 streaming service, in perfect quality, was like Christmas come early.

The film offered a rare glimpse into K-pop’s complex curtain (just for a while) and let us know who exactly the people ‘Blackpink’ are and why they are currently the biggest girl group in the world.

I was a casual listener of Blackpink’s – I’ve followed their discography since their debut in 2016. As a K-pop fan, it’s hard not to know who Blackpink are when they made K-pop history within a fortnight of debuting by becoming the fastest girl group to go number one on South Korean music charts. Apart from their ability to drop monster hits, each member is an ambassador for an international fashion house and endorses different brands. They also have a tendency to go viral on social media.

They are whether you love or hate them, the biggest girl group in the world.

Which is why this project being helmed by Caroline Suh (the Emmy-nominated GOAT behind Netflix‘s Salt Fat Acid) is so refreshing to watch. I’ve never seen K-pop handled this way before by Western media, barring a few exceptions. There’s no awkward fixation on the Korean entertainment industry’s trainee system which global media publications love deriding about when covering K-pop. There’s no scandalous aspect, though they briefly touch upon how overwhelming fame gets for the group at times, and their personal battles. They’re also cognizant of the short life expectancy of girl groups (especially Korean ones) and how aware Blackpink are of fame’s fickleness.

The film opens with their debut showcase, where we are first introduced to Blackpink, then we see them at present, recording their chart-topping first album and reflecting on their mainstream success over the last few years. The documentary was shot between fall 2019 and February 2020 (pre-COVID-19). We’re given an audience with the women behind the myth of Blackpink. For the first time since their inception, the four of them are humanized.

Each member is introduced by Teddy Park (former 1TYM member, Blackpink’s producer and songwriter) who shares his observations with us. There’s Jennie, who’s very self-aware and we get to know that she’s been a trainee the longest (barring Lisa and Jisoo). Jennie’s independent but also private, I came out of this film a huge Jennie stan especially during her interview bits. Jisoo, the group’s lead vocalist and oldest member, is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She’s charming, cool and sharp, I’m quite curious about her out of all the members. Jisoo comes off as the most mysterious.

Then there’s the younger members, Rosé and Lisa, who born performers. Lisa, the group’s only foreign member (she’s Thai), is the youngest, she’s the group’s rapper and main dancer. We get to see Lisa’s trainee days, from audition to pre-debut clips and she’s a total beast. The whole documentary endeared her to me because she comes off as the group’s mood maker and glue. And yeah, I agree with Teddy’s consensus of her – when it comes to work, Lisa’s ethic is unmatched.

Lastly, there’s Rosé – the group’s Australian member, who had me rooting for her because of her genuine love for music. Her interviews were very insightful into who she is as a person, I enjoyed seeing her work on her upcoming solo material and sharing her dreams. Two words – Pajama News.

While watching the documentary, I couldn’t help but commend the group’s synergy. While each member is very different, they make up a greater sum of parts which is their biggest strength. The pre-debut footage really drove the point home and it was nice seeing Blackpink’s formative years. I won’t spoil the film, but the amount of work each K-pop idol puts in till they cross their debut really is a Herculean effort.

Watching Blackpink talk about their journey offered insight into their label, YG Entertainment’s trainee system. Though previously documented on Korean reality shows like WIN: Who Is Next and YG Treasure Box, it gave us an idea of their method to madness.

My favorite sequences were their live performances expertly intercut with their music videos and the tour rehearsal in the lead-up to Coachella in the last act, was one of the standout scenes. Overall, the documentary made me proud to see female K-pop stars at the helm of a global cultural movement and I can’t wait to see where Blackpink goes with their musical journey.

And the best part? They’re just getting started.

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Makeup Skin Care History Ancient Practices Beauty

Did women in Ancient Greece have a skincare routine?

Throughout quarantine, I have become mildly obsessed with skincare and taking care of my skin. And by mildly, I mean I have completely changed my skincare routine about 20 times in the past few months. I’ve learned a lot about skincare over the summer, and used that information to alter my routine accordingly. And unfortunately, I cannot even tell you how many hours I have spent watching YouTube videos on skincare and reading the endless amounts of beauty reviews on Sephora’s website.

My newfound love for skincare made me curious about what skincare and beauty ingredients have been used throughout history. So, as a lover of skincare and Greek mythology, I thought I would take a look at the beauty and skincare beliefs, practices, and techniques used in Ancient Greece. And most importantly, try to figure out how to make my skin glow like a Greek goddess!

Skincare has been important in many different cultures and each culture has its own unique techniques to keep their skin glowing and healthy. Cosmetics and physical beauty were especially important in Ancient Greek culture, so having clear, smooth, and soft skin was a must. Clear and smooth skin is something that I definitely strive for at all times.  I’m not always successful, but I give it my best try.

Unfortunately, not all the tips and tricks I found were super helpful. Ancient Greek societies did have some unsafe practices. For example, they used harmful chalks and lead to whiten their skin due to their society’s beauty standards that idolized light skin.  With that exception, a majority of the ingredients that they used are still found in plenty of products today.

Women in high society in Ancient Greece culture wore makeup daily. Their cosmetic products used different flowers, herbs, pigments, and natural resources. To make eyeliner, they would use olive oil and charcoal. They even used olive oil and charcoal to fill in their brows. For their lips, they would mix beeswax and red iron oxide for a shiny lip balm. Iron oxides are still used in cosmetics products today,  but, thankfully, are now made in a lab for safety! Naturally produced iron oxide in uncontrolled settings typically contain heavy metals. Beeswax is still a popular ingredient in lip moisturizing compounds and products today. The Mayo Clinic reported that it is one of the best ingredients to lock in moisture and even helps block the sun.

In terms of taking care of the skin, Ancient Greek women certainly had impressive DIY skills. Olive oil was an essential ingredient in Greek skincare. In products today, olive oil is still used to moisturize and renew skin cells. Herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits indigenous to Greece were used in addition to olive oil. The rose was considered to be the “queen of flowers.” Rose oil and rose water were used in a lot of products to soothe, cleanse, and nourish dry skin. Additional benefits of rose oil and rose water include anti-aging, hydration, repairing skin cells, and balancing pH levels.

Along with beeswax, honey was another beneficial and well-used ingredient in their skincare products. It was used in their face masks and body scrubs. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and helps with the removal of dead skin cells. Lastly, milk and yogurt were considered to be luxury ingredients in Ancient Greece because of their skin-softening properties. Milk was often mixed with honey in many products, while yogurt was viewed as a special ingredient that soothed sunburns and helped remove dead skin cells.

With the help of modern technology and sciences, skincare and cosmetics brands have found their own ways to incorporate the key ingredients of  Ancient Greek skincare into their products. In actuality, the basics of skincare in Ancient Greece and today are not that different, which means I’m basically already a Greek goddess. There are plenty of rose water toners, olive oil lotions, and milk and honey scrubs out on the market for us to try. At this point, I’ve probably tried about half of them, but cannot wait to try more!

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Movies Pop Culture

5 reasons why “Titanic” is the worst movie ever made

Titanic is praised as the epitome of romance, love, and, let’s not forget, the best movie ever.


Stop right there.

Titanic has got to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It’s ridiculous, and I cannot comprehend why everyone has romanticized it, giving it the elite status of all-time favorites. When it ended, I felt like I’d wasted my time just to hear Celine Dion’s amazing voice at the end.

Maybe that was the whole purpose of that movie, I don’t know. I don’t see why the movie had to be made in the first place.

But because it was made, let me elaborate on why I regret wasting 120 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

1. Rose is either a ridiculous hallucinator or incredibly out of it.

 How Rose probably thought Jack would be saved. Source
How Rose thought Jack would be saved. Source

I’m guessing it’s the latter. They’re in freezing water because their ship hit an iceberg. An ICEBERG.

And she still takes over that whole piece of raft, takes Jack’s jacket, leaves him in that freezing cold water, and expects him to live?

I’m sorry, I didn’t know Jack had superpowers and could heat himself. Maybe he’s the fifth member of the Fantastic Four. Maybe they were supposed to be Fantastic Five? Maybe he was supposed to be part of the Avengers? I don’t know.

Now aren’t these the real questions we should be asking?

I just don’t understand Rose.

Why would she call out Jack’s name expecting him to be alive? Did the cold freeze her brain cells too? Because that is the only logical explanation I can come up with.

2. Rose is so unbelievably selfish.

Ugh, I could go on about this forever. There was a lot of space on that massive plank she so comfortably sabotaged. She and Jack could have easily compromised and just shared that space.

Yes, it would be uncomfortable, but it would have led to two people surviving, not just the one.

Isn’t love about compromise and understanding? Since when was it about dramatic inanity?


I remember seeing those images where two people tried to fit themselves in that same sized plank/door/thing.

So, two folks were able to fit on it, and that proves Rose didn’t want to give Jack any space. It totally proves that she clearly wanted all that space to herself.

Shaking. My. Damn. Head.

3. Jack is just as ridiculous, let’s be honest.

Why does this guy not have any regard for his life?

Love shouldn’t be about dying, it should be about surviving. Who the hell are you freezing your butt in ice for, man? Rose is going to live, grow older, get married, have kids, grow old, and then die.

Wouldn’t you rather she did all that with you, rather than without you?


Let’s be real. He could have used his brain, especially since Rose was brain-dead during that last scene, and just said: “Scoot aside, you’re taking too much room.”

That’s all it would take, literally. There was no need to give everything he had to her, only to freeze to death.


Nothing romantic about that. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Ugh.

People need to stop romanticizing Romeo & Juliet, the tale of awful teenage drama, wrong timings, assumptions, and an epically ridiculous death. Don’t base your own story around some updated version.

Death is not cute, and dying for someone else isn’t, either.

4. Their ship is sinking. THEIR SHIP IS SINKING.

I do not ship them and they are nowhere even close to my OTP.

In the movie, the ship is literally sinking. Rose is handcuffed in a room that will most probably end up sinking, drowning her along with the ship.

So what does Jack suggest they do? Kiss.

Granted, they also try to escape, but what was with the kiss at that critical moment.

Aren’t you scared to death of imminent drowning?

How can you not be freaking out of your damn minds? I’m sorry, Rose and Jack, your romance is very ill-timed and I’m certainly not impressed.

I love Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. But gosh, I cannot with the characters they chose to play.


Stop kissing and go save yourself. The kissing and all that can wait.

5. Paint me like one of your French girls.


Clearly, they both took this to heart.

Nude paintings are not the way to a woman’s heart. Unless it’s Rose, I mean.

*Cough* bad first date idea *cough.*

You’ve got to do better than that. I know Jack isn’t exactly the King of England, but out of everything on the ship, this is how he wins her over?

At this point, they’re not just mind-dead, they’re also pretty sex-deprived.


They need to get a room already they already have a room.

Ah, classic romance. What a classic gem of garbage.