CollegeCultureInspiration

I think every female has noticed this phenomenon at some point in their life: men tend to notice women a bit more if their features are slightly enhanced…by make-up. I notice that when I go on my occasional morning jog with no make-up on, barely any guys will try to communicate with me. When I’m at the gym in the evenings after class, I have a bit of make-up on, and for some reason, males will try to come talk to me.

Another instance of this “cosmetic on/off” phenomenon occurs on days when I am hardcore studying in the library after sleepless nights when I tend not to have any sort of lipstick, eyeliner, or foundation on. My acne scars are showing, the shades of dark circles under my eyes are present, and my forehead wrinkles are visible. I do not mind this. This is my natural look and I am proud of it. But why is it that the days I am bereft of any modification, absolutely no guy will sit with me in the library? On days when I am well-rested, showered, and have my make-up on, males with come and occupy some of the vacant seats around me. I attract them with my red lips, and perhaps I repel them with my pale lips.

Why does this happen? I have the same amount of intelligence with or without make-up. I am the same person with or without make-up. I have the same memories, the same sense of humor, and the same sarcastic undertones in some of the words. I am the same person, the same soul, and the same human despite my disheveled and haggard appearance or my prim and proper look.

Perhaps this condition does not only apply to males, and I have only noticed it in them. Maybe it’s just human nature that we tend to approach those who seem clean and beautiful, as opposed to those who look like they just rolled out of bed. It’s just natural for us to judge people by their appearance; it’s an inherent ability that we possess. We tend to feel safer around those who look put together physically.

However, is it possible for us to evolve out of this behavior and thought process? Can we look past people’s physiognomy and actually try to explore their minds? Is that something that our generation could possibly accomplish and set as a trend? Quite possibly, yes. I believe we can do this…next time you see someone sitting alone, regardless of what they look like, just go up to them and talk to them. I try to do this in college and I have met many beautiful souls and amazing characters.

Image: Hayley Bolan

CultureEducation

For centuries, poetry has been an oral tradition used to pass along ancient stories and lessons; poetry has been utilized to connect the present to the past through high-minded speech and rhythm. However, this elevated form of writing soon bored people, conceiving the idea that some new art form was needed to revitalize poetry. That reviver is now known as slam poetry.

In a lot of ways, slam poetry owes its creation to the Beat and Negritude poets whose devotion to the oral and performed facets of poetry led to the birth and rise of slam poetry in the 1990’s. Slams consisted of young artists competing for the attention and adoration of the audience by exploring political, racial, and even economical notions or injustices. Spoken word such as this has fostered a sense of creativity amongst writers while simultaneously keeping the public aware of current issues.

A slam poem that I find incredibly powerful is “Pretty” by Katie Makkai. Makkai explores the notion of pretty and the pressures our society puts on superficiality and appearance. She tells the audience a personal story of her struggles with her own looks as a teenager: she had braces, acne, and eventually got a nose job. By sharing her previous insecurities and her current regret for changing herself to fit societal standards, Makkai is reaching out to change the ideals we hold for young, “beautiful” people. Makkai exclaims how wrong all of this is seeing as she has not “seen her own face in ten years,” and explains how if she ever has a daughter who asks if she is pretty, she will respond by saying “she cannot be defined by five letters.” That she will be “pretty intelligent, and pretty amazing,” but pretty is not all that she will be.

Slam poetry, whether written or just listened to, can be an extraordinary tool for changing the world. By analyzing social issues, we cultivate attention for problems facing our world today. Also, by getting involved in art and in situations that promote intelligent thought, we are creating a brighter, more perceptive future for people. Check out Button Poetry, awesome website that has some amazing slam poems and slam competitions. Peruse them and learn things you might not have known before.

Image: Christian Senger

CultureHealth

I’m a blend of German Irish heritage. You know what that means? I have camouflage abilities that are most suited for Polar Regions. As a youngster, I was blessed with the most delightful smattering of freckles that I then, of course, hated. What I would give to have those damn freckles back! I always envied my naturally bronzed friends and would frequent a tanning salon with dreams of one day, having that all over golden look. When article upon article started to surface about the terrors of tanning beds, I convinced myself they were just conspiracy theories and continued fake baking. It wasn’t until my uncle got a serious case of melanoma that cost a pretty penny for surgery did I start to listen.  (Just an FYI, the articles and various medical studies are not conspiracy theories. Please take them far more seriously than I did.) This really got me thinking. My originally perceived “ideal” appearance wasn’t worth putting my health at serious risk or worth a years worth of tuition. Instead of bed tanning, I decided to pursue an entirely different avenue of tanning possibilities and I found myself in front of the drug store’s selection of self-tanners. I. Have. Tried. Them. All. Seriously, I have. I’ve read review after review in search of a streak-less, smell-less concoction that would turn my alabaster to any shade of bronze. But alas, they all have had their pitfalls! They might not smell bad, but they washed off instantly. They might go on streak-less, but I’d be a ghastly shade of orange. No matter my conviction and determination to uncover this mythical perfect self-tanner, it was always evident that I was using a self-tanner, and that is the exact opposite reaction you hope to have.

So I went off the stuff.

Trust me when I say it was difficult. I had become so accustomed to a semi-darker completion that when I saw it as it really is (after several showers), I was appalled. I have nice skin. Granted, I’m bruised and scratched up from several years of reckless exploring and overall klutziness, but that’s just because my skin has got some serious personality. And that’s how I like it. Even though we are so accustomed to the norms of beauty, or as I like to call them the Triple T’s (tall, thin, tan), I realized this doesn’t apply to me. Sure, there are some things you can change about yourself. You can dye your hair, put on makeup, change your clothes… These things are great additions or frills (I do all three), but they do not provide your body with protection like your skin can. Your skin is all encompassing and has been with you since day one. That isn’t something to take lightly. Never thought about it like that, did ya? Neither had I until I started seeing more and more of the women who I consider role models embracing their epidermis. It’s empowering to take a stand and be unconventional especially when it is something that holds you all together. So think about it. Can you come to terms with your translucency?