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.