Tuesday, August 1, 2017

FeMEME Fatales

    The Internet's definition of a "meme" is relatively simple: it is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users. However, many of these satirical images do not do justice to the subjects they are representing, which in this case, is women. The 6 images above summarize the search results for "women in memes," and unfortunately hearken back to vintage, often sexist advertisements of the 20th century. 
   Many memes featuring women are bluntly sexual, refer to relationships, overreacting or domestic life, as shown in the collage above. These themes are stereotypical summaries of the daily life of a woman, as shown when an innocent image is paired with text attempting to portray a humorous message. The bottom right image is one of the few positive search results that I found out of approximately 300. Similarly, when a woman is shown in a professional or heroic position, such as the astronaut below, a critical or jarring comment against her success is made. 

Black Frame Fame

   Furthermore, many memes highlighting feminism are sarcastic and untrue, often portraying the woman as whiny and unattractive. Quotes such as "a man told me to have a good day. #Triggered" and "insulting men is okay. Insulting women is sexist" paint negative pictures on what feminism is based on, as well as how feminists look/act different than the rest of the population deemed more desirable. As a whole, the influx of negative memes about women may not stop due to society's idea of characterizing an innocent image with an apparently humorous message to relate to people's lives or the behaviors they observe around them. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Living A Double Life: How Social Media Affects Teenage Girls

Huffington Post

   While perusing the Internet and all of its social media platforms, I have come across a barrage of teenage girls' profiles, the majority of them being edited with filters. Apps like Snapchat and Instagram allow users to enhance their photos with contrasting light and various features for their faces. The animal filters on Snapchat add a new dimension of "cuteness" for girls to explore, while the floral, fairylike graphics provide a seemingly flawless appearance. According to Business Insider, teenagers adore social media because they are able to "make [their] friends jealous" and create virtual "stories" of images/videos that amplify their vacation's importance. Girls attempt to emulate celebrities with millions of followers, such as the Kardashians, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, by photographing themselves with everyday items that have a cult following, such as Starbucks. 


     Singer/songwriter Cailee Rae (pictured above) illustrates that an innocent activity like drinking coffee is worthy of documenting, along with a pair of sunglasses and flirty pose. This inspires girls to seek the same attention from their friends and feel like leaders when they mention the amount of followers they have, creating their own apparent fanbase. 
    However, in actuality, many girls who are obsessed with social media live a double life. The countless images and videos that characterize the life they want to market towards others only reflect certain moments of their day. An article on The Age website mentions how Camryn, a teenager famous for her Instagram selfies, "spends ages putting on make-up, doing a look, turning her head, pouting and twisting for the mirror and her phone camera." Another social media-famous teen named Vali appeared in an interview wearing a basic T-shirt, denim shorts and bitten nails, contrary to the flawless appearance she is known for. Therefore, social media may paint an unrealistic picture of its users if they commit to persuading others that their life is seemingly perfect. 

Celebrities engaging in Snapchat's popular filters


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Girls Just Wanna Have Sun - How Society and the Internet Builds Confidence This Summer

My Style Authority

   Pools, popsicles and sunglasses are keeping us cool this summer, not to mention the different trends in confidence-boosting swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. Stores such as Forever21 and H&M have added plus-size models of different races and realistic sizes in their online swimwear sections. This encourages young women to feel positive about their bodies during the summer months, where clothes typically show more skin. Today's average American woman stands taller and weighs more than previous decades, typically at around a size 14. Compared to models of a thinner body type who wear sizes 0-2, women with curvier body types such as Ashley Graham, are considered plus-size. In 2016, Graham modeled for Lane Bryant's new line of lingerie for full-figured women, including bras of a larger, more comfortable size than similar brands.

   "People like Kim Kardashian have a shape that we haven't seen represented so much before. The reality is that the average American woman is a size 14, and the fact that we haven't been representing her or talking about her is a huge smack in the face," Graham stated in an interview with The Daily Beast. Advertisements depicting women who are "beach body ready" often show figures so thin that Photoshop is the only possible way to achieve them. This is shown below, in an infamous ad from Protein World, a British weight loss supplement.


   Similar images have been present for centuries in various forms, beginning in the 16th century. Corsets constructed with curved whale bones achieved a voluptuous, hourglass figure that was popular in France, the fashion capital of the era. In the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, Elizabeth Swann (played by Keira Knightley) faints from the corset that restricts her breathing, plummeting towards the water below. This silhouette is still desired, as it is thought to be a symbol of strength, confidence and beauty. However, fashion companies are becoming increasingly sensitive to their customers, who reflect healthier body types that are more common in society than the models portrayed.

My Learning

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beauty over body rights?

Image result for body rights for women

     What we learn today will prepare us for tomorrow. Yesterday's lessons and plans are part of the future. Everything we do is getting us ready for what we want, need, and will have earned in that time. The future of a woman's body is changing. From the advanced surgeries and preventions techniques/methods to perfecting the body to unrealistic goals is unimaginable. Living in a world that is focused on looks is disappointing. Looks change, emotions change, and ultimately we as humans aren’t perfect human beings. It’s funny how no one says anything about a woman who gets a boob job and flaunts it for the world but when a breastfeeding mother is feeding her baby the world goes crazy. The importance of inner happiness surpasses the ideal images we have collectively as a society pressured on women. No matter the issues women face today it will not be the last struggle to conquer.  
     As an individual I express and share my views through social media platforms. Advocating for women to have rights over their own body no matter the country, race, or religion that is in jeopardy over a basic human right. It’s not just about looking good but the things that happen to women who go through instances in their life that feel the need to use medical or other measures to take control over their life physically in appearances. Looks aren’t the main concern in society as it used to be with the boob jobs being normalized and even lip injections are a thing now. However, a more concerning issue is the right of abortion or women’s birth control access through organizations like Planned Parenthood are an ongoing debate in this political climate. It’s not just here in the US it’s in other countries across the globe fighting for women to have the right to choose what to do with their body. Women are allowed to change/enhance their appearance with few issues in terms of backlash but an abortion is a sensitive topic that boils some people's blood.
     Every situation is different and I believe it should be treated that way. Having a justice law or ruling to follow as a guide but it should be handled with compassion and understanding. It is complex but can be simple with more discussions that plan to take action and use trial-error methods to find the best possible solution to this madness. Share your thoughts on what you think and discuss it more with friends or family members. Opening and engaging the dialogue will only lead to better solutions/ideas.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Aging as a Woman

        Is age a thing anymore? Does a number matter? We see beautiful talented women who are older like J.LO with younger men talked about in the media. We constantly talk and gossip about women more when they are older and doing things we “expect” from younger women. It’s absurd the whole subject. I don’t think it’s a cultural issue more so than a world wide society problem because it is a constant topic spoken about in mainstream media. Once a woman is considered “old” and does things like wear certain clothing or is dating again it’s like she is not supposed to do those things once she is a certain age. I don’t understand why people care. Why it bothers them? Someone enjoying their life in a healthy, happy, successful way it has nothing to do with you so how come you talk about it like it’s affecting you? Okay enough with the questions, for now but on serious note it’s concerning these mind-sets some people have. Aging as a women is rough already with hormones, menopause, and just everything in between. Adding others unsolicited opinions and suggestions on your life is annoying. Sure as a female I can ignore those comments but it does affect one’s personal thoughts, decisions, and actions.
        As women we are always going through these stages in life where society says we have an “expiration date” or a “deadline”. Oh and my favorite “your time is ticking or almost up”. I understand that no one is the same age forever or we don’t keep the same energy, body, and even same mind-set that we have in our youth. It’s the way of life. What I don’t like is others telling women we need to hurry up on things that don’t need to be rushed. Men do not always get these pressures and a spotlight like women. They don’t feel the pressure. Is it about gender or just age? Do men get pressured eventually on matters similar to women like getting married or settling down having a family etc.? Sometimes I think men do have similar experiences but overall a woman is likely to have her age be the talk of the town compared to a man. I still have “time” but with social media displaying women having their “life together” it puts a indirect pressure towards women. On a physical aspect of the body, face, and features. Looking your best is great but everyone doesn’t have money for lip fillers. Aging causes one to reflect on life. I personally do  not want to reflect on my life remembering all the times other people told me how to live my life. I especially do not want other women to feel that way no matter the age or stage they are in life. Age should not stop or interfere with one's goals or plans in life. Do what makes you feel comfortable, confident, and happy.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A sense of fashion

    Now more than ever have we become more accepting to women in particular with their fashion choices. It still needs more work but it has progressed and that’s worth talking about. Today, one could go out in the world and see two things: 1. A woman wearing barely anything and 2. A woman covered or dressed modestly. Interesting that both will be judged no matter what path they chose. Both are happy with their choices. However, why does both woman be considered oppressed by their societies they are in? Why does their even have to be a standard dress code for women? Oh, because our way of dressing will catch a man's attention and God forbid he can’t control himself seeing some skin or anything attractive? It doesn’t matter what women wear something will always be said. Might as well do what makes you happy.What’s it with a piece of clothing that makes either a fashionable statement or a political/controversial one that gets everyone talking? The way women are dressing today compared to 30 years ago has change tremendously. We don’t even think sometimes we just dress the way everyone else does sometimes just to fit in. Avoid the gossip but people still find a reason to talk. Questions are always being raised on the appearance of how a woman is dressed more than a man's appearance.
    The important message women are sending to the world speaks through their fashion sense or choice of clothing. Currently the fashion industry is leaning toward modest fashion wear due to a high demand from religious groups. From swimwear to even baby wear it’s available. Usually we see less fabric on clothing but now we are working to meet the needs of everyone. Because we all got to wear something. This new turn in the industry is receiving positive feedback and consumers are happier. Having more options of what to wear is always a good thing. It gives self confidence and more importantly choices for women to feel in control of how they want to express themselves. This shows how women are taking control of a male driven industry. Working to design, distribute, and connect with women by women. Girl power is strong and it’s continuing to grow. The important take away is to remind yourself to not worry about what others say or think as long as you feel comfortable, confident, and content with you choice of clothing nothing else matters.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A woman's mind beyond her body

     Living in a generation that is becoming more accepted to the roles women are taking in society is major progress. Seeing women being authentically and unapologetically themselves in everyday life is inspiring. This may be controversial topic but intended to be a focus on something many brushed off their shoulder/thoughts that is important to be addressed. Recently I just watched the Netflix series of the O.J. Simpson trial. The trial of the century as we all know but something interesting about the series is the real raw portrayal of the prosecutor Marcia Clark. In 1995, women were just becoming more recognized through career advancements. A woman prosecutor is not easy as it was a male dominated field. However, Marcia Clark despite losing the case has changed the views of many Americans nationwide on showing a woman's mind can go much further than what her body can take her. It’s a biased mentality our society has instilled within us. A cultural issue that women are only as good as they look. This is a toxic way of thinking. Teaching young girls and women that their mind isn’t enough but it is. Marcia Clark may not have dressed well or have the expectations society placed on her but she was driven, determined, and did a hell of a job at stopping some critics. Her focus was the trial and reaching a wider audience by showing what a woman is capable of accomplishing. Her determination to end domestic violence before it reaches to unimaginable ends such as Nicole Simpson.
     Being a lead prosecutor is an important role and it was admirable to see this on national T.V. during that time and it continuing to be spoken about. Clark was not treated fairly during the trial even by women. It is astonishing to think that just because she is a woman she didn’t deserve the same treatment and respect as the other male lawyers/colleagues in that court room. No matter what was thrown her way she persisted and stayed strong because she knew this wasn’t about her it’s more than that. Marcia Clark is a leading example on how a woman's mind is far better than physical/visual aspects. It’s the inside that always wins. I encourage those who plan on watching the series pay close attention to Marcia Clark and even watch the real court recordings. Both are similar but her portrayal in the series shows a different side of her based on true events. It’s worth the time to watch and think about why she was treated that way and would it have been different if it were a man? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Appalled Graphic Designer Shows Girls’ Life Magazine What Their Cover Should Look Like

REPOSTED FROM Women You Should Know
A couple of weeks ago we ran a piece about an image that was posted on social media and went viral. It was a side-by-side shot of this Girls’ Life magazine cover (left, lead image) next to the cover of Boys’ Life magazine that served as a harsh reminder of the stereotyped messages that, even in the year 2016, are STILL marketing to girls. We weren’t the only ones ticked-off by the image. After seeing it posted on her Facebook feed, Katherine Young, a graphic designer, took matters into her own hands and decided to show Girls’ Life what their cover SHOULD look like.
“When I saw the post I was just in frickin’ shock,” Katherine said. “Can this be real? Is this photo fake? After Googling current issues of these two magazines I found them to be real. I was just appalled.”
Putting her graphic skills to work, in just a few minutes, Katherine swapped out the cover girl for Olivia Hallisey, the 2015 Google Science Fair Grand Prize winner, and photoshopped in some new, inspired and empowering headlines. The result? A magazine cover that offers girls better alternatives to tips on how to “Wake up Pretty.”
Katherine was motivated to change the cover so that others will be more aware of the messages they are sending to girls. “We can do better. I hope this cover inspires us all to do better every day and be more conscious of the imagery our children are bombarded with,” she said in an email to WYSK. “I hope this sparks conversation with both girls and boys. They all need to know that girls are more than a pretty face.”
Girls’ Life… are you listening?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Making Friends with Technology

Preteen girls can now learn programming from plastic bracelets.

These bracelets, adorned with a flower, assist girls in developing technical skills, as well as interacting with each other socially. This type of jewelry is unique as it promotes both programming and physical contact between its users, which goes against the reoccurring theme that technology isolates people. In order for the bracelet to work to its full potential, girls must download the Jewelbot app on their mobile device to customize the colored light notifications. When a friend also wearing a Jewelbot is nearby, both light up in relation to which color each girl assigned that specific person. If all the girls meet wearing their bracelet, each one is illuminated in a rainbow of colors.

However, this trend extends farther than being the source to find friends with similar interests. Girls can program their bracelets to glow when they receive messages from their individual social media accounts (such as blue for Facebook), updates to parents, as well as personalized reminders for day-to-day actions.

Fashion and function are the two key parts of Jewelbots, created by Sara Chipps, Brooke Moreland and Maria Paula Saba. Chipps is a co-founder of Girl Develop it, a nonprofit that teaches coding to women, Moreland is an entrepreneur specializing in technical fashion and Saba currently studies Bluetooth after graduating from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Altogether, Jewelbots encourages girls to be involved with technology and be inspired by each other's eye-catching jewelry. It is a great way to integrate fashion without superficiality to girls coming-of-age and learning that technology isn't characterized by "nerdy" stereotypes.

Grace Hopper: The Woman Who Did It All

   Determination, creativity and bravery are three traits that Grace Hopper possessed during her lifetime. Her interest in math and physics, which she later studied at Vassar College, began as a child, when she was curious how alarm clocks worked. Her analytic, exploratory nature led her to earn a Master's degree and Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale. As one of the first women to earn such a degree, she also continued to teach at Vassar College until she decided to join the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, participating in WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). 

   During World War II, her skills in mathematics were in high demand as she learned to program a Mark I computer at Harvard. After the war ended, she discovered that a moth had infiltrated the Mark II computer and turned it off, popularizing the term "computer bug." In 1949, she supervised programming for the UNIVAC computer and later on, her team became the first to create the "A compiler" for computer language (code). At age 60, she was called back into Naval service because of her technical acuity in programming language and became a rear admiral before retiring completely in 1986. As a workaholic and success in her field, she continued computer work until her death in 1992, at age 85. 

   Overall, Grace Hopper dedicated her time and intelligence to essentially create a new, universal language used in computers. She was awarded the National Medal of Technology, besides 40 honorary degrees from various universities. Organizations and programs to honor her legacy were created, such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, aside from the Grace Murray Hopper Award. Women such as Grace are defining figures in the world of computer science and how people are able to communicate with each other via technology. 

A Lego created on Etsy to commemorate Dr. Grace
Hopper's outstanding achievements 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One of Glamour's Women of the Year: Bono

During Glamour magazine's awarding of its 2016 Women of the Year, the phrase "one of these is not like the others" seemed to apply. Bono, singer-songwriter and philanthropist (two of the many hats he wears) was included in the lineup besides Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and ISIS survivor Nadia Murad, among others. Bono's charities and passion for gender equality were recognized, as well as his new campaign "Poverty is Sexist," which is "aimed at helping the world's poorest women."

He humbly accepted the award, presented to him by comedienne Amy Poehler, stating that "I know how ridiculous it is for me to be on this stage." However, his speech continued with comments about how equality between men and women starts with both sexes unifying their common beliefs instead of dividing them. "We're largely responsible for the problem, so we have to be involved in the solutions," he declared.

For 26 years, Glamour declined previous male nominations, however, Bono's constant advocating for women's rights and environmental issues made him the exception. According to NPR, the magazine's award going to a man was inspired by other "women-friendly actions" of other men, such as President Obama's statement about being a feminist himself. The Internet was obviously torn between supporting Glamour's decision to award a male because of the traditional nature of the women-only lineup. The positive aspect of this, however, seemed to overshadow the negative sentiments because of Bono's statement about how men are an influential part of establishing equality for women. It challenged the way that people think about gender-inclusive awards and organizations. If society truly wants equality, why have gender-specific groups being strictly enforced?

Bono's speech can be viewed here.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Insider Profiles: Why I Love Tecna, the Fairy of Technology

Tecna, Winx Club Member and Fairy of Technology
As someone who is an avid fan of art and animation, I learned about Winx Club on my travels around the Internet. The Winx fairies, a troupe of teenage girls who strive to save the universe and battle opponents, inspire girls to be headstrong and intelligent. One of the founding members of Winx is Tecna, the Guardian Fairy of Technology from the planet Zenith. Her home is characterized by droids, Techsquirrels and technology-generated weather. Tecna set herself apart from other "magical" cartoon characters for many reasons. Her self-confidence and knowledge she shares with others promotes digital literacy, as well as inspiring young viewers to enjoy science.

The importance of including Tecna in the cartoon realm is a major part of educating girls about technology. On the Winx website, her page illustrates her biography and "netiquette" for fans to adhere to while online. Tecna also shows diversity from other cartoon teenage girls with her love for her boyfriend, Timmy. Timmy behaves shy and clumsy around others, displaying intelligence that is celebrated by his friends rather than thought of as being nerdy and irritating. Tecna's math and science skills come into play when she and her team are battling foes, which lends an intellectual mind to the series. She shows that technology can be portrayed in a feminine way with her clothing style and love for computers. Girls who watch Winx may decide to embrace their love of STEM, as the fairies demonstrate aptitudes for adventure, leadership and scholarship, differing from other cartoon television shows of their kind.

The many faces (and transformations) of Tecna

Beyond the Pink: Plastic Crossbows, Young Inventors and Dolls of Diversity


As the holiday season approaches, parents and relatives will experience new added features in the toy aisles. Along with traditional Barbies, board games and stuffed animals, toys that reference science and technology will be present. Outdoor-related toys, such as Nerf, have been coveted by boys for years, however, the brand has expanded its market towards girls. Rebelle, the Nerf line of brightly-colored bows and arrows and foam-shooting guns, appeals to girls who enjoy being adventurous. Roominate, a collection of engineering toys that allow children to construct colorful amusement parks, dollhouses and other cityscapes, has defined a new branch of engineering-inspired entertainment. Girls may build their own houses and dance studios for their dolls, which helped shape their "spatial skills," as a STEM study found. Roominate also encourages education and diversity with their library, laptop station and rocket ship playsets. These gifts inspire girls to not just play with them, but embrace the feeling that they created each part themselves.

Hasbro's "Nerf Rebelle" and Roominate's engineering kits put smiles on creative girls' faces

Besides toys that promote adventurous or scientific attitudes, themes of diversity are becoming present among traditional dolls. Websites, such as ToyLikeMe.org  expand the market to children with disabilities and health complications, "smashing the stereotype" of perfectly-constructed dolls with unrealistic body types. If children with cochlear implants or prosthetic appendages see these toys from a young age, they may feel that their condition is accepted in society instead of being perceived as different from everyone else. Tinker Bell dolls fashioned with hearing aids, Legos walking with seeing-eye dogs and Star Wars Stormtroopers sporting prosthetic legs inspire young people, as well as adults, to recognize that toys sharing their same disabilities remain as heroes.

Likewise, Mattel has recently revised its collection of Barbies with its addition of tall, curvy and petite dolls. The brand will expand to 33 new dolls, with various skin and hair types that reflect realistic body proportions. "We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty," stated Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president of Barbie. Children usually mimic the actions of others and by accepting different cultures and body types expressed in the toys they play with, their own self-esteem may benefit in the long run.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Beauty Standards Are Present In Virtual Reality?!

Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Tall, tan and most likely under 25. This is the description of the ideal woman, who is thought to be sought after by men and held to the highest beauty standard by women.

I personally have seen this concept in action, on the game Covet Fashion, created by Crowdstar, a mobile entertainment developer. I have played the game for a little longer than a year and enjoy customizing virtual models in designer clothing available for purchase outside the app. Users expand their digital closets by voting on other outfits created by fellow "Coveters," which gives them access to new hair and makeup styles. However, during the duration of my gameplay, I noticed that olive-skinned (light tan) models with blonde hair score better in public voting than their darker-skinned counterparts, unless the challenge involves a safari or hip-hop theme. The overall assumption that colored women cannot represent futuristic, fairylike or traditional bridal themes present in the game can be loosely based in prejudice, as well as ignorance. For instance, the images below are advertisements for Covet Fashion. The first graphic consists of 21 virtual models, where only 7 reflect darker skintones. Likewise, the same white model with a platinum blonde bun is repeated 5 times when the opportunity to present new cultural backgrounds could have been utilized.

Crowdstar is not fully responsible for the issue of white models garnering better scores as it is up to the users to vote for the models that are submitted. The integration of new makeup to embody Indian culture, such as a bindi and nose ring, are being implemented, as well as new body shapes arriving in mid-December. Nevertheless, Covet Fashion advertisements almost always depict white models and the new, plus-size or petite bodies will be selected by Crowdstar for a given challenge instead of users choosing which they would like to clothe. Hopefully in the future, similar mobile games will advertise more ethnically-diverse models to inspire their audiences to see beauty in every size, skin tone and culture. 

Unfortunate differences in scores and skin tones are shown below. 



"Top looks" are the outfits created that have the highest score, as seen below. Often, they are all identical.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cyber Monday: Gobbling Up Good Deals

From: piZap Blog

   Today is the day that Americans give thanks for their friends, family, health and everything that makes the other 364 days worth waking up in the morning for.

   However, the family-friendly dinner that is most recognized with Thanksgiving has a new counterpart besides Black Friday: Cyber Monday. According to the Fortune website, approximately 23% of Americans will participate in Black Friday shopping at the physical store, which is a lower percentage than previous years. In-store holiday shopping seems to be waning because of greater deals lasting an entire month instead of one day like the past. In 2015, online shoppers spent $3 billion during Cyber Monday, visiting more than 4,500 retail websites in their pursuit of gift giving. Cyber Monday, which involves one-of-a-kind deals featured in online stores, generates millions of revenue for companies, as well as happiness for its participants.

   Overall, Cyber Monday has many benefits. Shoppers may browse desired products in the comfort of their own home, lessening the pressure on their families to go out after the big meal. Websites generally cover a larger surface area of consumers than storefronts, as more enticing deals persuade them to add promo codes to their online carts. Walmart claimed that it broadened its product scope from 8 million to 23 million items, making 2016 their largest product assortment of all time. Besides, who would want to battle with other shoppers in the middle of the night, often to the point of physical contact?

From: The Telegraph

   Similarly, as Cyber Monday's popularity rises, the desire for updated technology ensues. An Xfinity television commercial explored the popular belief that the elderly are not as technically-inclined as millennials, which has proven to be untrue. I personally have mixed feelings about this advertisement, as the couple's granddaughter deems their house "the gates of hell" because they simply do not house Xfinity's voice-command products in their living room. As the commercial progresses, both grandparents adopt new technical skills to conform to the digital craze of the current era, instead of teaching their younger family members the value of face-to-face contact. The commercial can be viewed here.

    So, whether you are technology-obsessed or prefer socializing in the "old-fashioned" way of speaking to people without a smartphone present, enjoy everything that comes with the holiday season.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pin Your Clothes with Solidarity

After the election resulted in Donald Trump becoming the 45th president, safety pins began appearing on the clothes of Americans. Usually associated with punk rock fashion, they have taken on a new meaning in 2016 as a symbol of solidarity for minorities, victims of discrimination and homophobia.

According to PBS.org, this trend originated after the UK decided to leave the European Union. Soon afterwards, people defended their choice to represent their beliefs with a safety pin, claiming that it was "not a political statement," but a "humanitarian" effort to combat bigotry.

Fear arose when elected Vice President Mike Pence supported so-called "conversion therapy" to attempt to revert gays back to being heterosexual. Many same-sex couples and minorities living in towns who support Trump feel targeted and victimized because of the traditional conservative beliefs around them.                                

   As a result, Americans have decided to hold public events where they provide safety pins to participants who agree with the phrase "I am an ally." People wearing these symbolic pins have posted on social media that they are willing to speak with those who feel terrified about the outcome of the election or are fearful about how it will impact their own lives. Teachers and celebrities supporting minorities and victims of homophobia and racism have made their opinions public, to spread friendship instead of fear.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Plus Side of Fashion

   For years, plus-size women's clothing has been separated from the other racks. Until today. Recently, Meijer, an American supercenter chain, announced that "it will integrate clothing for larger shoppers into clothing racks that currently hold designs for smaller women." Typically, alternative women's sizes, such as petite, tall and plus-size, are separate from the other clothes. Personally, I find this organization easier because, as a petite person, I can search for more garments of my size in the same area. Despite this, I do not agree that alternative sizes of the same clothing item should be priced higher or lower because of the fabric or appliques used. Higher prices may cause women of "special sizes" to feel stigmatized because their clothing costs more, or it is concentrated in an area different than sizes deemed "average" by a certain brand.

   However, the new integration of plus-sizes into the main clothing racks is just the beginning. Larger sizes of clothes are often priced higher than their smaller counterparts, which contributes to an unfair market. Although more fabric may be used in plus-size clothing, other "special sizes" like petite do not reduce prices when less fabric is used, compared to clothing that is not specified as a "special size." This is shown below, in an image that illustrates two pieces of similar-designed apparel from the same store that I explored, with different pricing.

   According to CBS News, women pay "an extra $1,400 per year" added to products geared towards them. Women's products are usually brightly-colored, with different textures and patterns that may cost companies more to produce. Nevertheless, companies like Meijer have been applauded after people discovered the integration of plus-sizes into their main clothing racks, as well as identical pricing of various sizes.

Women's perfume packaging embraces colors
and textures different than those of men's cologne. 

   Compared to past decades, plus-size fashion has become more stylish, highlighting trends instead of more conservative silhouettes. "Special size" apparel is present in more stores instead of solely mail-order catalogs, like Roaman's and Woman Within still provides. Implementing bright colors and separates instead of clothes that hide fuller figures inspires people like Corissa, creator of the "Fat Girl Flow" blog and YouTube channel, to spread positive messages about life to other plus-size women. Overall, fashion allows people to express their attitudes and add their own personal touch on how they want to be viewed, regardless of their shape.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Changing Society

2016: A New Year For Women

   As the 2016 presidential election approaches, the world has come to realize how the role of women in society has evolved from past years. Hillary Clinton's position as the first female presidential nominee, as well as Kellyanne Conway's status as the first woman to be a Republican campaign adviser, is groundbreaking. 

  Stereotypes of women in the workplace have been successfully challenged, which inspires young girls that they can achieve the highest position in the field they aspire to be a part of. 10-year-old Macy Friday's reaction to meeting Clinton in 2014 illustrates the impact of this issue. In an interview with CNN, Friday stated, "I like [Clinton] because, like, she is running for president and a lot of people think that girls shouldn't be president because they are not as smart or they shouldn't have the same rights." In a world that seems to be at a tug-of-war with beliefs about feminism, gender roles and men's/women's rights, it is important that young people form their own opinions about these issues, as they are inheriting the future of the planet.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

About Me, a New Addition to the Blog

Hello! My name is Lauren Brener, a current sophomore who is excited to take part in this blog for the Virtual Girls class. Although I am majoring in Emerging Media, on the Experimental Animation Track, gender studies in technology is a passion of mine. I have written two published online articles about the issue of women in technology that can be viewed here and here.

We all want to feel like a member of the community, both in-person and online, so through this blog, I'd like to establish an area where everyone can share their ideas about girls in technology. I also plan to post articles and interactive content that is relevant to the theme of gender studies and creating online communities. Collaborating about this issue may inspire you to encourage others, including young girls, that there is no limitations for them (and you!) both online and in real life.

A little more about me...

My experience with technology started very early, when I was about 4 or 5. I would log onto our Gateway desktop computer (which, in later years, we dubbed "Ol' Bessie" because of its size) and play games such as "Jumpstart First Grade" and "Neopets." I was fascinated that, if I left a virtual room or clicked a certain link, there was always a way to return back to it and that it would never disappear. As I mentioned in one of the links above, my interest in web design/HTML coding blossomed from editing my profile on Neopets.com and during my senior year of high school, I became the editor of the entire school website.

From personal experience, I believe that girls enjoy technology because they can create their own identity and share it with people who they may never meet. This idea is represented primarily in Buzzfeed videos, where innermost thoughts or actions recognized by many viewers are illustrated. Together, people on the Internet can create constructive environments for users to embrace their individualism and feel that they are supported by the communities they are a part of.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Watch Me Disappear: Two Blogs and a Presentation Related to Gender, Technology, and Body Image

This link provides access to two related blogs that address gendered bodies in virtual communities, particularly related to eating disorders and self-injury, which are issues that girls often deal with as a result of messages disseminated through media and other cultural and social institutions.

Watch Me Disappear: Gendered Bodies, Pro-Anorexia, and Self-Injury in Virtual Communities (Preston-Sidler Dissertation Blog)

Watch Me Disappear: Gendered Bodies, Pro-Anorexia, and Self-Injury in Virtual Communities (Preston-Sidler Dissertation Blog)

And a related presentation...