Rarely within the confines of the shiny, commercial, and deceptively safe bubble that surrounds the fashion industry does any sort of real controversy present itself. Sure, you can compare two identically clad, rail-thin starlets and squabble over who wore it better, but such arguments aren’t exactly 60 Minutes material, and also generally make me want to die a swift and painful death. As a result, whenever there’s any sort of real confrontation sharp enough to puncture that superficial bubble, heaven knows I’m going to pounce on it like the last warm M&M cookie at Panera. As evidenced by the wildly different outfits that flounce down the runway every season year in and year out, inspiration can come from anywhere, and can mean something completely original to every creative mind committed to designing clothes. Unfortunately, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the women behind Rodarte, were unable to comprehend that some ideas are best left on the cutting board. In 2009, the sisters embarked on a “road trip” from El Paso to Marfa, searching for something to spark ideas for their next collection. Though they were probably anticipating nothing more than cute desert critters and some scenic tumbleweed, what they found was Ciudad Juarez. For those unaware, Juarez is a Mexican border city located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. It is also the location of more than 400 female homicides since 1993, and that’s only the police force’s guess – the locals estimate that the carnage includes over 5,000 deaths of women mostly between the ages of 12 and 22. Women aren’t the exclusive victims: what CNN calls “the most dangerous city in Mexico” racked up another 39 murders between this past Friday and Monday, mostly as a result of drug trafficking. While any sane person would perceive this horrific community as a tragic hellhole for men and women alike, all Kate and Laura could see was dollar signs. In late 2010, Rodarte launched a collaboration collection with makeup giant MAC, and there can be no mistaking the source of their inspiration. A deathly pale lip product is entitled “Ghost Town.” Eye shadows tinged with bloody splashes of red boast names such as “Bordertown” and “Sleepwalker.” There’s even a jar of a product called “Lip Erase,” whose purpose is presumably to make the wearer appear as pale and emaciated as possible. Promotional photos of the makeup show a bone-thin woman with eyes ringed by bruise-like eye shadow, staring bleakly into the camera. She looked dead, which was clearly the intention. Needless to say, I was furious. In absolutely no context is it ever acceptable to market a death-themed product if the product is inspired by a place where death is all too real. Not only this, but Rodarte and MAC had chosen to romanticize and commercialize the exploitation and murder of women, which to me bypasses offensive and closes in on disgusting. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one angered by the lack of propriety and blatantly ignorant nature of this collection. Bloggers took to the Internet with a vengeance, forcing the partners to set up a fund to raise money for the women of Juarez to pacify the critics. This small positive measure, however, proved to be too late. After several more subsequent promises from the embarrassed partners, the collection was canceled altogether. What is important to take away from the carelessness of the Rodarte-MAC collaboration is that fashion, if left unchecked, can easily be both ignorant and downright stupid. That is not to say that intelligent people cannot appreciate the aesthetic appeal of fashion. However, stupidity is the existence of Lauren Conrad’s abysmal debut collection, and the reason why Mondo Guerra didn’t win season eight of Project Runway. Ignorance is everywhere – in politics, in classrooms, and in industry. Ultimately, fashion is as much a product of individual integrity and opinion as it is a result of factories and magazines. Whether or not you choose to spend money on a product based on the demeaning and degradation of women, is up to you.]]>
They’re also throwing American pop culture for a loop that it hasn’t seen for decades.
This re-emergence of cool, tough women has come seemingly out of the blue, though they’ve been around for decades.
There is Beatrix Kiddo from the Kill Bill movies, Joan Jett, a.k.a Buffy the Vampire slayer just to name a few.
However, only a few years ago the most popular act on tour was Britney Spears and I know I am not mistaken when I say that everyone packed into movie theaters to see Clueless.
So, why the sudden change?
The appeal of strong women has been around for generations and another of the kind could be the catalyst to get the ball rolling again.
Though the damsel-in-distress way of doing things has been the status quo for women since the dawn of time, what seems to be socially acceptable now is being capable of taking care of oneself.
For example, though Sarah Palin is a controversial figure, part of her appeal is her image of a hard-working hockey mom wielding a shotgun.
Palin is undoubtedly a strong woman that knows how to take charge in her life.
This blatantly take-no-prisoners mentality is what got so many women (and men) to flock to her during the Presidential campaign.
She is widely known as being a force to be reckoned with and to many women, this image is comforting.
Confident women, besides being more common these days, are also downright cool.
After all, who wouldn’t want date a woman who views herself as large in charge?
At least a woman who is sure of herself and comfortable in her own skin would be perfectly fair.
Young women in the public eye have turned in droves towards music, more specifically by starting their own bands.
Savvy Norman, a former South sophomore, said she and her band Plumbean are “all like a little family.
She counts Kurt Cobain, Fiona Apple, and Layne Staley as her musical influences.
On the celebrity spectrum, Taylor Momsen, star of the popular show Gossip Girl, has recently formed her own band called The Pretty Reckless.
Of the group, Momsen states that she “writes all the music, writes all the songs, and sings. It’s rock, man.
Momsen is not the only one who’s into the hard-core sound of rock these days.
Demi Lovato, Disney Queen and star of the so-sweet-it’s-nauseating show Sonny With a Chance, counts death metal bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Job for a Cowboy as her favorites.
Female rock stars are also showing up in pop music, such as in the hit “Airplanes by B.o.B ft. Eninem.
The song features Hayley Williams from the alternative band Paramore and is a hit on the airwaves.
The fact that she has been asked by rap/pop/R&B artsit to be in a song with him and renowned rapper Eminem is a truly revolutionizing one.
Need more proof that rock chicks are definitely back in music? I highly doubt it. But, take some anyway.
Courtney Love, lead singer of the rock band Hole (and the widow of Kurt Cobain), has recently released her first album in years.
Also, Gwen Stefani has abandoned her ventures into pop and has returned to her band No Doubt.
The band No Doubt is where she first made it big.
As a result, in choosing to return to her band, in which she is the lead singer, with men playing instruments in her background, she is reinstating the fact that woman can easily take charge.
Cat Power, Neko Case, Florence + the Machine, Karen O: the list goes on and on.
No longer are women leaving the instrumentals to the guys in the studio.
They’re picking up a Gibson Les Paul and doing it themselves.
The revolution of strong women doesn’t end on the music charts: they’re becoming more and more present in movie theaters as well.
Take the character Hit Girl, from the recently released movie Kick-Ass.
According to the New York Times, Hit Girl has become the film’s most “persuasive ambassador, beating bad guys to a pulp and uttering words that “little girls are definitely not supposed to say.
The actress Chloe Moretz who plays ‘ËœHit Girl’, is a deadly thirteen-year-old assassin with a penchant for butterfly knives and blood-n’-guts. Sweet, right?
The heroines we see in films today are no longer delicate flowers waiting for someone to save them – they are independent women, ready for anything.
“Just give me some Christian Louboutin shoes and a gun, Moretz said.
Here, perhaps, lies the problem with the movement of the strong woman: to keep up.
Many young girls might be growing up too fast.
The previously mentioned Taylor Momsen has been photographed smoking in public, as has well as virtually the entire cast of Twilight.
Many of the stars are too young to being doing this.
The number of tattooed stars has risen as well: everyone from Hayden Panettiere to Miley Cyrus has gotten inked.
So, is the revolution of the strong woman a good thing?
Overall, more woman wanting to become independent and confident is definitely a good thing, but at some point we must learn to draw the line between being authentic and being trendy – if you really have a passion for something, whether it be rock and roll, karate, or gung-ho politics, go for it!
But, if you’re just in it for the cheap thrills of a tattoo you might not want when you’re eighty, or blackened lungs at the age of 35, I just might have to set Hit Girl on you.]]>
I had heard the shocking rumors, and endured the most terrible horror stories; yet I had also watched the reassuringly adorable videos suggesting that maybe the experience wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Either way, it was with great trepidation that I decided to brave perhaps the shadiest of internet websites: ChatRoulette.com. ChatRoulette was created by Andrey Ternovskiy, a seventeen-year-old from Moscow, who loved using Skype to chat with his friends.
As a result, the website he created randomly pairs up strangers for webcam-based conversations. If one wants to leave a chat, he or she can simply click the “next button and move on to a new conversation.
The website has already garnered some famous users, including a man who improvises songs on his piano about the people he chats with, and another interesting guy who likes to dress up in bikinis and sing Lady Gaga songs to the camera.
Sophomore Jackie Lebovits, describes the site as “bizarre, and sophomore Grace Nathans, thinks that “it’s possible to have a good experience on the site, though you do put yourself at risk of “scarring images. As previously mentioned, I had heard rather many bad things about ChatRoulette, including the fact that it was littered with middle aged men of questionable character.
I wasn’t really excited about exchanging pleasantries with motorcycle repairmen from Tennessee by myself, so I did what any other teenage girl would do in my situation: I called for backup. With my friend at my side and my webcam poised, I clicked the appropriate button to start my first chat.
As it turned out, we met some pretty awesome people, including a French teenager who was online with his mom; they were very sweet and fun to talk to.
My friend and I also encountered some German punks, a Brazilian soccer player, and some nice girls our age from Brussels.
One of the unanticipated benefits of ChatRoulette is the diversity.
In just under thirty minutes I met people from all over the world, and some of them barely spoke English! Though the cultural benefits of video chatting with people across the planet are obvious, the cons do slightly outweigh the pros.
Absolutely anyone can use this site, meaning there’s a high risk of meeting someone who you wouldn’t come near with a ten-foot pole in real life.
My advice? Visit ChatRoulette at your own risk, with a buddy by your side, and with a clear sense of when to click the “next button. You never know who you’ll meet.]]>
Following tradition, the senior class continues to find their hangout spot in the Wheeler Commons, which has also come to be known as the fabled Senior Commons.
“It’s really convenient, senior Liza Barnes said. “We won’t block the hallways, and we’re free to make as much noise as we want.
Senior Stephi Dworkin agreed, claiming, “the senior commons is a nice place to meet up with everyone in between classes.
Despite the convenience of the relatively empty lounge featuring nothing more than a few couches, the presence of the commons seems far more respected due to the traditions that lay behind it.
“I don’t really know why we’re excited to have the commons; it’s really just tradition and an honor. No other grade really has a space where they can hang out, so it’s cool that the seniors get a designated spot, Barnes said.
The junction between the mixed media and photo room, considered as the “artsy hallway, has taken a far different course than the Senior Commons.
Rather than having an area dedicated to the presence of a specific grade, the hallway has been deemed home to students and friends with common interests centralized around the arts.
Students scramble to have lunch in and around the hallway, especially in the Mixed Media and Glass room. Clara Lorant, a sophomore, says she “loves having lunch in the photo and mixed media rooms despite the overall atmosphere being a “bit pretentious.
“It’s usually too crazy and there aren’t enough chairs, Lorant said.
Further down the artsy hallway is the chorus room, where students love to spend their free time during lunches and free blocks.
“You can eat there, listen to music, play the piano, and really get to spend time around other kids who really enjoy music, junior Jake Light said. “You’ll find that kids who aren’t in any chorus or music classes hang out there to be with their friends. Some actually end up making new friends. It’s not as loud as the cafeteria, not as crowded, and there’s always a place to sit, and you’re generally with people whoÂ you like hanging out with, rather then just who happens to be there [the cafeteria].
When the weather is warm outside, the courtyard serves a good spot for students during their free blocks. “It’s nice to get out for some fresh air after being cooped up inside all day, junior Anastasia Lymar said.
Lastly the library, easily the most populated area in the school year-round. Time and time again it has proven that no social group or grade has any form of dominance in the library.
As for the merit of actually getting work done in the library, senior Greg Gruener points out that he “like[s] coming to the library because [his] friends are here.
“It’s really the only reason I like to come here. It’s difficult to get work done unless you’re really, really focused, he said.
Hangout spots througout the school have developed in a way that there’s some place for everyone to feel comfortable.
Junior Jacob Gilbert, who just transferred from New Jewish Gann Academy this year believes “at first it’s tough for people to find a spot around the school to hangout.
“In the beginning, I just wandered a lot, but after a little bit, I realize that there’s a space for everyone in the school, Gilbert said.]]>
Shocked, I thought there must have been some mistake. It turned out, however, that the word written on the board was an introduction into reading one of my now-favorite books of all time, The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.
The novel, Salinger’s magnum opus and his best-known work, describes the adventures of Holden Caulfield, one of the most famous anti-heroes in literature.
The novel has been subject to constant criticism, challenged by parents and school libraries alike, who believed the book to be inappropriate.
Salinger, who lived out of the public eye for half a century in the small town of Cornish, New Hampshire, died at the age of 91.
Salinger was considered by many to be a recluse, and indeed he has not been interviewed since 1980.
His hero in Catcher is similarly isolated; Holden, after being expelled from his latest expensive boarding school, hops a train to New York City alone. He has many compelling experiences in his three days spent on his own, from an awkward encounter with a prostitute to sexual advances from his former English teacher.
Though the novel was published in 1951, its themes of teenage angst, loneliness, and fear of the future have been, at least up until now, timeless.
With the death of its author, has one of the most revered depictions of teenage angst in literature now become obsolete?
For me, at least, the answer is no. For half a century, Catcher has been controversial in the extreme, making its way to multiple banned-book lists across the country.
In 1981, it was both the most censored book and second most taught book in American schools, though many dismissed it as containing a “self-obsessed central character, bogged down by “too much whining.
But what Catcher‘s critics fail to realize is that Salinger created not a radically different or difficult character, but a perfect and timeless representation of collective teenage uncertainty.
At some point in everyone’s life, we have all been Holden Caulfield. Everybody has felt scared or alienated or alone. At some point, we have all looked towards the future and have had no idea what to expect.
With Salinger’s passing, we are losing one of the world’s greatest and most misunderstood authors.
What is most important to realize, however, is that we have not, nor are we likely ever to lose Holden Caulfield, who is as relevant today as the day he strode, a free man, from Pencey Prep, swearing to leave the “goddamn phonies behind forever.]]>
So far many girls, including girls from all classes, freshmen and seniors alike, have attended meetings and clinics to take part in this experience.
They are very enthusiastic about getting this new sport up and running.
At the first organized practice on April 5, prospective players were introduced to college-level rugby players from Boston University and Boston College.
The girls learned the basic skills and rules of rugby. They also participated in training games that required speed, arm strength, and power on the field.
The lessons proved to be helpful for those unfamiliar to the sport and allowed the girls to become more comfortable with one another.
Rugby is a game of skill, strategy, and hard-hitting ferocity.
If tackling is not learned and executed in the right way, serious injury is possible. There is little or no protection in rugby, so players have a much higher risk of getting hurt.
Players must learn to move with their bodies and not throw themselves at other players, similar to football. Players must understand the risks of playing this high-risk contact sport.
Originating in Northern England, the sport is now played in over 150 countries around the world. Rugby has 59 rules, unlike soccer, which has just seven core rules.
Needham was the first school to take the initiative to start the local rugby team, but it was only able to attract three players. Head coach Diana Parker looked to Newton South for help, and so far, 15 girls have been added to the lineup.
“It’s good for girls to be players because girls are using the same techniques as boys. That means less discrimination against girls, freshman rugby player Paris Caldwell said.
The rugby team is now recruiting girls from West Newton, Watertown, and Newton North, as well as from Newton South.
The team hopes to dissuade critics of female participation in rugby. They seek to eradicate gender-based judgement and to break down stereotypical barriers about female roles in this sport.
Having minimal options in high school contact sports, the girls feel that the rugby team will give them an opportunity to exert themselves competitively and physically without preconceived judgment of the role of women in extreme contact athletics.
With that being said, the girls have bright hopes about the team’s future in the sport.
Rugby, a more internationally acclaimed sport in nations liked Great Britain and New Zealand, is being praised for its strong impact in the United States, especially in female culture.
Women now receive a fair chance to deliver hard hits and make game-changing blocks without judgment based on their gender.
The introduction of the game to the US has brought a new meaning to female contact sports, and new light to gender barriers.
The girls can now play a contact sport without the stigma of playing a “boys’ sport.
This is an opportunity that girls all over have been waiting for, and the girls rugby team has made that a reality.]]>