Beauty in the 21st Century

#nofilter. #nomakeup. #beautiful.

No matter how cringe-worthy this opening may seem, at some point in time, these were exceptionally popular hashtags on Instagram. After all, everyone seems to love celebrating confidence and ‘natural beauty’ in the 21st century. Many online magazines targeting female audiences regularly feature articles like ‘Celebs Who Look Flawless Without Makeup’ whilst many song lyrics that aim to glorify a woman’s bodily beauty focus on the effortless nature of their allure. Even though these forms of celebration can seem positive, they simultaneously point out our underlying assumptions and opinions concerning physical appearance. We are starting to see makeup as the norm – something we desperately need in order to look presentable on a daily basis. Even though celebrities experience more pressure to maintain their weight or skin, we’re all interested in making our faces workable canvases for makeup. However, what happens when you want to go beyond simple facial touch-ups?

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Feminism Flashback: The 1960s

60s ArtWhen we think of the 60’s culture in the America’s, our minds flash images of poppy psychedelic art, tie-dye hippies, retro styled diners, and Polaroid cameras snapping shots of dolled up couples next to Ford Mustangs. We think of the glamorous Hollywood, sunny boulevards, flashy cinemas, and flawless film stars.

In juxtaposition, these dazzling imageries may be overshadowing the real heart and soul of the 60’s. Imagine this scenario: women of all shapes, sizes, and colors crowding city streets, holding up posters demanding gender equality. These protestors demand freedom from male supremacy and discrimination.

But how was this passion for equal rights fueled, what was the catalyst in the Women’s Liberation Movement?

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The Universality of Women’s Empowerment

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.31.16 PMWith the darkness that patriarchy, institutional oppression, and unequal rights can bring to many countries, many remarkable women radiate a light of defiance. All around the globe, female figures are becoming more distinguished in society and their influentially strong voices are being amplified. The following three women come from three different countries but the story of their lives all hold inspiration through dedication.

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Opportunities: Girls Who Code

Girls Who CodeThe United States Department of Labor states that there will be 1.4 million job openings for computer specialists in 2020. However, only 29% of these open jobs will be able to be filled. Women particularly are a severely under represented group in the technology field. As a result, Girls Who Code (GWC), a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors, has taken action. GWC inspires girls to not only learn the hard skills of computer science, but also teach valuable soft skills.

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“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

%22Educating, connecting, and empowering

It’s generally accepted that people are not born hating others. This is one issue that is seen to be a product of nurture rather than nature. If intolerance is something children learn, it seems that we must be able to find a way to prevent them from learning it, or help them learn different values.

A large part of raising more accepting and compassionate children should come through education. Since the inception of mandatory education, schooling has had a large impact on children’s personalities, beliefs, values and ideas. Children are very impressionable and schooling takes up the bulk of their time from a young age. Adjusting a curriculum is no light matter, but it may be essential to shape a new generation of more tolerant global citizens. Greater understanding about others and their differences goes a long way to reducing hatred. Just recently, I witnessed the evidence of this. On Facebook, a friend of a friend had commented on a post about a terror attack carried out by Muslim extremists. The comment revealed a negative attitude to Islam in general, largely as a result of the prominence of a few extremists recently. My friend, although Christian, responded with a beautifully put defense of Islam and credited his recent experience meeting people from a range of religions, including Islam, for helping him to understand more about faiths other than his own. Meeting like-minded people who happened to practice different religions had clearly helped change his perspective, increasing his tolerance of and respect for others. Being able to understand more about a religion that is so often defamed by a few highly-publicized yet anomalous extremists meant that my friend would no longer be one of the people who vilified Islam in the wake of attacks by extremists.

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The F-Bomb

We, as members of society, have a way of exponentially warping definitions, leaving basic principles in the eye of the storm. Living in a patriarchal society, the term ‘Feminism’ is stigmatised to such an extent, that identifying yourself as one is a gutsy feat. 

“Men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.” That’s the simplest and most accurate definition of feminism, but the movement has come to be seen as anti-men, anti-marriage, radical, pro-choice, and many other things that it is not.

The word “feminism” in its simplest form is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes “. However, the same word has unfortunately been tainted by some of the extremist feminists who have, in their understandable fight for equal rights, in fact only became the sexists themselves. A contradiction if ever there was one.

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“A Vision for Tomorrow”

When you think of the term “vision”, what comes to mind? Is it the type of vision you have when you think about your future? The term where vision is used to describe you seeing physically? How about both? Albino global citizens throughout impoverished nations have neither of those two perceptions due to the immense amount of trauma and conflict they experience in their respective homes. Oculcutaneous Albinism is the most common forms in which the vision and pigment are affected to create a lack of normalcy to the person; they do not blend in and are hardly accepted. This issue is often overlooked, but has been increasingly noted in recent years and taken under careful watch under the United Nations Human Rights Council. Yet, I’m sure if someone were to ask you if you knew that persons with albinism are subject to ritual killings and attacks, you would not be able to say you were fully aware. This issue alone highlights the multiple forms of stigma and social exclusion faced by those with albinism. The purpose of this article is to change your no, into a yes. To educate and help spread knowledge of those who suffer the discrimination due to a disability in which they inherited through rare genomes. As the younger generation of the world, it is our responsibility to minimize the numbers of those who experience this discrimination and encourage equality amongst all populations that fall within every ethnicity, race and nation.

Albinism is a genetically inherited condition that is very rare found in both genders. In order for one to inherit albinism, both parents must pass on the gene carrying the disorder and this can occur in any country or ethnicity of the world. Albinism causes lack of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair, along with light sensitivity (sun) and visual impairments. On top of it all, people with Albinism are very prone to Melanoma (Skin Cancer) due to their fair complexion. Unfortunately, no one has been able to find a cure to the multiple strands of albinism, including Oculcutaneous (OCA) or just Ocular Albinism (OA). OCA affects the skin, hair and eyes, however there are multiple degrees of OCA. The two main subtypes of OCA include Tyrosinase Negative (OCA1), where there is little to no pigment production at all. Next, there is Tyrosinase Positive (OCA2), where some pigment is produced where a sandy blonde color is given to the hair; this is most common in African countries. Lastly, there is OA, which only effects the eyes primarily.

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Your Voice: #YesAllWomen Trend Analysis and Review

In the United States, society has evolved into one of toxicity through its relentless enforcement of artificially constructed gender norms — to the extent at which massacres rooted in misogyny and sexism ensue. Women are objectified in many different aspects. We are forced to oblige to strict school dress codes to supposedly “avoid distracting our male peers while they learn.” These dress codes equate bare skin to sexual implications, perpetuating the hypersexualization of women and suggesting that men are inherently untamable in the face of what they deem to be an attractive woman. Women are constantly in danger of sexual assault and harassment, which is only made worse by the widely held mindset that it is a woman’s responsibility to not “provoke” men.

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21st Century Gender Equality

Women have made great strides away from the societal infatuation of complacency that was prevalent in the confines of the domestic sphere era, but we still have lots of work to do. As Emma Watson famously declared in her “He for She” speech at the UN this year, “It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals.” Although “feminism” is a loaded word, it is our responsibility to equip ourselves with the education and tools necessary to fight barriers that afflict both sexes in the 21st century, regardless of the stigmas attached to the word.

I envision a culture in which males and females are granted the social acceptance of being as masculine or feminine as they wish, and are treated with equitable respect and dignity. Whether masculine or feminine, each individual should be allowed to possess qualities of assertiveness, ambition, intelligence, financial empowerment, and sexual identity that were once previously designated exclusively to masculine beings.

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