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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The Debate on Euthanasia: Against the Right to Die

Suicide. The word makes your stomach turn and your heart rate rise. There’s something about suicide that leaves you feeling empty, filled with regret and sorrow. He or She should not have chosen suicide as the only route. Life is too precious. Yet, assisted suicide through death with dignity laws gains support under impressions that death is a better option for them. They may chose suicide, and we may be okay with it.

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Remembering World War II – and Reflecting 70 Years Later

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Imagine. The date is August 15th, 1945.  You are an ordinary American citizen waking up on what seems like an ordinary day.  You still expect that the war will continue, as it has for the past four years.  Then, you hear the news.  The war is completely over!  Japan has surrendered!  You can barely fathom that the war is actually over.  A feeling of relief rushes through you that you have not felt for a long time.

Recently, it was the 70th anniversary of World War II’s culmination.  Seventy years ago, on August 15th, 1945, a day known as Victory over Japan Day, it was officially announced that Japan had surrendered to the Allied forces. It must have been an unforgettable day, as World War II made enormous impacts, both detrimental and beneficial, on our world.

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Empowerment Over Grants: NGOs and International Development in Cambodia

This summer I had the chance to travel through Southeast Asia for 40 days on two programs with Rustic Pathways. I was able to spend time biking in Bagan, Myanmar, eating market food in Bangkok, Thailand, walking through the rice fields of Ban Ho, Vietnam, and seeing the famous elephants in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Part of the time I spent in Southeast Asia this summer, was focused on international development and the work that non-governmental organizations do, specifically in Cambodia. Many see Cambodia as a place for tourism, especially in Siem Reap. It is home to Angkor Wat, one of the most well regarded UNESCO world heritage sites in Southeast Asia. Adversely, though, the amount of tourism in Siem Reap often draws visitors away from seeing other parts of Cambodia. Many visitors would not know that Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is the leading city in the world for non-governmental organizations. Others are often completely blindsided to learn about the tragic events that occurred during the Khmer Rouge regime. Although they were only in power from 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge killed over 20 percent of the total population in Cambodia at the time, equaling to more than 1.5 million deaths in the span of four years.

Kompong Cham Province in Cambodia doing a needs assessment for kids at a local school
Kompong Cham Province in Cambodia doing a needs assessment for children at a local school

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The Faults in the Yemen Crisis

862261-reuters_yemen_children_Febx-1427866770A child wakes up to the screams of his family. He looks up at the bombs raining down from the sky and wonders where they came from. In a mere instant, the child and his family die. There is no burial or grief, for the death toll in Yemen continues to climb.

Many illustrate the war in Yemen as a chess game, with Yemen as the proxy battlefield between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two most powerful players of the middle east. Iran backs the Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia, who supports the return of President Hadi’s reign.

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Disability Through a Different Eye

“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” Buddha stressed.

As a child, I never grasped that concept because I lived in America: a world of affluence, success, and a high standard of living. That changed when I traveled to Vietnam.

As I ambled out of the airport, the first things I saw were clouds of dust and pollution hanging perpetually in the air. Squealing mopeds swarmed the roads. The streets were filled with the crippled. Cripples that had entire arms savaged from war stared hopelessly past us into some desolate void. Cripples adorned with deformed and mangled faces desperately begged for money at our feet as we solemnly walked by. Cripples with all sorts of mental illnesses and handicaps were abandoned and starving to death. For many, Vietnam was a place of devoid of compassion and full of suffering. Their pain inspired me to pursue my new life mission: to end their suffering.

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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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Stuck Inside a Bubble

 We all are living in a dream
But life ain’t is what it seems
Oh everything is a mess
And all these sorrows I have seen
They lead me to believe
That everything is a mess

 Dream
Imagine Dragons

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I am young, and sometimes I just want to have fun. Just like everybody else my age.

My mom was driving me to the mall as I was listening to “Dream”, by my favorite band, Imagine Dragons.

This song led me to what some people would call an “existential crisis”: I worried that I was closing my eyes to all the sadness of the world, that I was living in a dream, in my own little bubble.

I started to think about the other young people that just want to have fun, but don’t have the same opportunities that I have. Like education, for instance. While thousands of people are complaining about getting up early, heaps of homework, and tons of exams to study for, there are people like the incredible Malala that actually want those opportunities.
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Take a Stand: India’s Growing Problem of Child Laborers

A 13-year-old girl was found locked inside the apartment where she worked as an unpaid, barely fed domestic servant, while her middle-class owners vacationed in Thailand. It is hardly surprising that this teenager’s story provoked outrage and front-page stories after her rescue in March.

However, although her age might be one shocking facet of this story for a western reader, she is part of an estimated 40–60 million child laborers in India — currently employing more children than any other country in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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