Selena Gomez Slays the AMA Stage

Its no secret that some of our most beloved celebrities have cracked under the pressure of fame. And who can blame them? Relationships, addictions, mental and physical health: they’re all hard enough without a constant spotlight. Sometimes the consequences of fame become to hard to bear, even for the strongest of our favorites stars. Other times, that pressure will break their outer shell  and give birth to a stronger, wiser human being. In essence, all the bad is turned into something good- something powerful and resilient. Selena Gomez became the embodiment of this epic transformation at the recent 2016 American Music Awards.

“And I had to stop, because I had everything, and I was absolutely broken,” she said. “I kept it all together enough so I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”

Most people assume they know what Selena is referring to. It would be hard not to. For months, Selena’s off and on relationship with Justin Bieber was everywhere. Literally. Every website, every magazine…everyone had something to say about the romantic struggle between the two. Like any long, serious relationship, it was a long and hard road to moving on. But, that was only one of the overwhelming obstacles Selena faced in the last couple of years.

Amidst all of the media-frenzy over her love life, in 2015, Selena confirmed that she had been diagnosed with Lupus. Being diagnosed with a potentially life0threatening disease did nothing to calm the constant media hysteria around her. People questioned the authenticity of her claims. Some even suggested it was a plight to gain attention and sympathy. As it would turn out, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Though, the genuineness of her claims did little in shielding her from the negativity.

It was during all the chaos surrounding Selena’s life that  the negativity, the doubts and the insecurities managed to slip through the cracks of her well-built armor. Then came the anxiety and depression that would force her to take actions.

The attention her relationship invited didn’t help her condition at all. Even with the amazing support of deathly loyal fans and equally-loyal friends and family, the odds weighed against Selena.The relationship drama was more than enough to overcome for any sane person. The Lupus was debilitating. Throwing in anxiety and depression to the mix? It was a recipe for failure. But Selena refused to go down without a fight.The months of physical and emotional pain were enough to render her helpless to cruelty of the media and judgement of the world,  but still she was able to see her next necessary move. Rehab.

After canceling 34 shows left in her tour in August, Selena reportedly checked into a rehab in Tennessee. Selena went dark over social media and began to focus on her mental health. After years of a selfless battle fought for the benefit of her friends, family and fans, she made choices that would benefit her own happiness. The result are nothing short of mind-blowing.

On the night of the American Music Awards, Selena came back into the spotlight with a fire that had nothing to do with her eye-catching red dress. The confidence oozed from her: it was reflected in her presence, her attitude and, most definitely, in her speech.

Selena may not have performed this year, but she still stole the show and slayed the stage like no other. She is the same Selena that fans have all come to love and look up to, but shes stronger now. Shes filled the the gaps in her armor. It won her the respect and admiration of many. Though, Selena doesn’t need it.  Not anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Update on Sacred Stone Camp

As if there weren’t enough of the heavy topics that weigh on your everyday life, we’ve got another. Never let it be said that ignorance was better than being well-informed. In a recent statement, The Department of the Army and Interior put a halt to the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was the hope of many that this would, finally, after months of endless efforts, create an opportunity for an alternate, more environmentally friendly project. More importantly, that it would put an end to the violence that has been escalating at Sacred Stone Camp.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After moths of dedication, physical and emotional pain- the courage of Sacred Stone Camps’ water protectors prevailed. When the Department of the Army and Interior released their decision to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction, it posed as small progress. Small, but something.

On November 14, 2016:

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.  Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe…”

The statement goes on to admit the dire need for further discussion on the Dakota Access pipeline. The Army Corps recognizes the need for reform and respect. Especially for the beliefs and culture of those involved. The Army Corps moves to further acknowledge tribal input in discussions of treaty rights, protection of natural resources and tribal lands. (Read full statement here.)

Only time would tell if the statement would be acknowledged by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. Furthermore, if the efforts of the Department of the Army were sincere.  It didn’t take long to realize that the progress was limited to construction’s delay. The violence didn’t stop.

Police use a water cannon on protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

In reality, for the water protectors of Sacred Stone Camp,  the violence is escalating. Claiming to use ‘non-lethal’ weapons has been the police forces’ stance from the beginning. Though, that doesn’t equate to non-dangerous or non-violent. Rubber bullets, tear gas, water hoses (in 30 degree weather) and pepper spray are just a few of the weapons water protectors are facing.

Various sources claimed that the water hoses were an effort to put out fires started by the protestors. The following video proves otherwise.

The video shows peaceful, unarmed protestors on a bridge near Sacred Stone Camp as they are drenched in freezing cold weather. There were no fires that can be seen a justification for the use of such methods. Shouts for medics and help can be heard in both this version and the longer Facebook Live feed. The images and audio are somewhat disturbing.

The U.S. Army Corps’ statement came with a sense of hope and relief. They encouraged the opinions of the community’s tribe members and the water protectors. It was the first real act of respect since construction of the 1,170-mile pipeline began. Unfortunately, the statement meant little to those affected by police forces at Sacred Stone Camp. The statement did not to protect them from the increased police presence. Nor did the statement protect them from the increased violence of said law enforcement.

According to PBS News, the Energy Transfer Company spoke out against the Army Corp’s decision. They claimed the decision was unjust. A “sham process,” they complained. One which sent a “frightening message about the rule of law.” Though, nobody seems to understand the horror of injustice quite like the water protectors. The Energy company claims to be concerned about the people who are affected by the pipeline’s construction. Yet they give no regard to the well-being of those fighting to protect natural resources.

One thing is clear. Something has to be done to stop the violence.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Those Who Have it All

Shopping; for yourself, its pretty easy. When you have to pick out a gift for someone else…not so much. Its a nightmare at the best of times, and, during the holiday season, so much worse. There is only one thing worse than shopping itself during the holidays and that is shopping for people who have everything. Not literally. Unless they’re a celebrity who have the cash flowing faster than water from your faucet, thats a stretch. But, they certainly have everything they want. Good luck getting any ideas from them as to what to buy them for the holidays.

Fortunately, you’re not alone. All you need is a few fresh ideas to keep your head above water. Avoid the hair-pulling, tears of frustration and last-minute gifts that have you cringing with guilt. These ideas will help you with those pesky people who refuse to throw you a bone.

Bring Back Something of Value

old-stuff

This works best for old friends and family members, even long-term partners. Its simple, too. Find something with sentimental value- make sure it holds significant value to the receiver. The older, the better. And, if you can manage, try to pick out something that ties the two of you or other members of your family or friend circle together. Memories are something more meaningful than any amount of money can buy. Of course, there are the ungrateful few who will look at you gift and think, “how cheap…” so avoid those people. Target the ones you know will appreciate the value of your sentiment and ignore the lack of financial worth.

 

Gift Cards

These are pretty self-explanatory. They’re the got-to gift idea for extended family members or last-minute emergencies. Some people think it shows a lack of thoughtlessness. On the contrary, I couldn’t imagine someone being happier than when they realize they get to shopping for themselves instead of putting on a fake smile and whipping out the best “I love it” impression they can muster. Save yourself the worry. Save them the disappointment. You can’t go wrong with a gift card.

 

Bake Something

Don’t offer your best friend a plate of cookies and expect unending gratefulness. If you know them well enough, you can do better than that. Not even your parents would appreciate a half-assed attempt at something they did for most of your life. Grandparents? Aunts and Uncles? Perfect. They’ll look at the most botched up cooking attempt as think of it as an ultimate act of love. Just remember that sugar and salt have two entirely different tastes.

 Something To Do

This idea takes a little bit more consideration. Depending on the person, it can be really easy or really hard. If you’re unsure, it may be best to take a different route entirely. But, if done right, you can give someone a gift, an experience and a memory to last a lifetime. It can be something as simple as a trip to the local aquarium or zoo. No one is ever too old to point in awe at animals and underwater species. You can also splurge for a rock climbing lesson or a horseback trail ride. Its a perfect idea for anyone with a sense of adventure. Its also easier than hunting around for something you’re not even sure the gift-receiver will like. Keep in min individual personalities, though. It may not be a good idea to buy bungee jumping tickets for someone afraid of heights. Just a thought.

 

A Day At The Spa

This isn’t just for women, though its definitely a more popular gift for women. Spas offer a variety of services depending on the company and location: manicures and pedicures, massages, steam rooms and mud baths are a few of the services most will offer. Its the perfect gift for a parent or a hard worker who would appreciate the alone time and a little bit of pampering. Just remember that reviews count. Don’t send them somewhere off the grid to save a few bucks that will turn their day off into an off-day.

Handmade Items

Whether is jewelry, woodwork or any kind of crafts, handmade items are a perfect gift for anyone. Most of the time, you can save some money and you can let your creativity run wild. Picture frames, scrap books, wood-carvings, simple jewelry, or unique decorations…you name it, you can make it.

Yourself

It sounds a little corny, we know. Truly, the best gift you can give those closest to you is yourself. Time is a precious thing. Sometimes, in the everyday chaos of life, we forget to appreciate the short but important moments we have with people. Appreciate the people you have in your life and let them appreciate you, too.

 

 

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Poshmark: Every Fashionista’s Best Friend

For all of us who have a passion for fashion that our funds can’t support, it can be a very bleak world. Shopping is more often ‘window-shopping’ than making actual purchases. Its a story as old as time. You spot it: the outfit of your dreams. After a few moments of admiration, you take a quick peek at the price tag. You can feel your dreams dying with every digit you read. Its added to a mental wishlist that has more disappointment then check marks of completion. One day, you say… Poshmark may have made one day a little sooner than imagined possible.

Whether its straight off the runway or bearing a crowned brand of significance, getting the styles you want just got a little easier. Its similar to thrift store shopping, in a way… In a thrift store, you occasionally stumble across a really good find. The problem is that its a rare occurrence. It takes a lot of time, dedication and, to be honest, we don’t all have that kind of patience. Not to mention, you don’t get to go after a particular item. Instead, you’re riding on the hope of finding something that holds semblance of similarity to whatever look you’re going for.

Some, higher end, thrift stores cater to a clientele that demands high fashion and options in perfect condition. In those cases, secondhand shopping is a lot easier than your average thrift store run-through. But, even as secondhand items, high ends brands can be just out of our reach.

When Playtos closet first came out, it was a mix of an ordinary thrift shop and posh secondhand dealers. They only accepted certain brands and in a certain condition. You wouldn’t have to worry about sorting through holed, ripped or stained outfits. The brands, as well, remain a healthy balance of high-end and mall-bought material. If you’re a seller, its nothing short of a rip-off. Even your most expensive trade-ins will only get you pocket change. Fortunately, that makes for a much happier buyer.

Yves Saint Laurent Dresses - Vintage Yves Saint Laurent Mohair Sweater Dress

Playtos posed some of the same problems that thrift store shopping did, though. Its always a hit or miss. You can’t  call out to specific items and hope they come flying at you. Its more like a treasure hunt. Sometimes its fun. Sometimes its anything but. This is why sites like Poshmark and Mercari are becoming so popular.The sorting process is terribly easy. Everything is categorized and available for refining. You don’t have to sift through all the unwanted crap anymore. You can narrow it all down to brand, size, color, price, condition. Be as impatient as you want, the only time consuming aspect of Poshmark comes with an inability to stop browsing.

Poshmark has also been known to harbor brands like Michael Kors,Gucci, Dolche and Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent, to name a few. And I do mean a few. There are countless brands that only your wildest fashion-driven dreams could conjure just waiting to be found. If your sway is toward the more simplistic but still slightly above-budget brands, Poshmark wont let you down.

Gucci Bags - GUCCI NEW AUTHENTIC 💯 soho leather shoulder bag

Like every online shopping site, Poshmark has its risks. You’re buying from individuals who are trying to make money. Keep in mind that you should verify claims of prices the items were originally purchased for; ask for authenticity on high-end brands; ask for additional pictures. Basically, don’t be afraid to dig a little. Of course, items are returnable, to an extent, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep an eye on seller reviews and stick to your guns when requesting more product information. Don’t bend, don’t break, be smart!

If you’re someone who can’t stand the thought of slipping into lightly used clothing, shoes or accessories, sites like Poshmark aren’t for you. But, if you’re the type of person whom is been dying to get your hands on a dress, shoes or accessory of your dreams and a little prior love from another owner doesn’t bother you, its the perfect place to express your inner fashionista, experiment with your tastes and even make a bit of money. You may turn around and spend it on something new, but hey, who’ll be there to judge you for it?

Don’t wallow in self-pity over your lack of financial hierarchy or cry over clothes that you’ll never be able to have. In a perfect world, we’d get it straight off the rack, or runway model, but it isn’t a perfect world. At least now, fashion lovers can settle for second best.

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The Expectation of Female Perfection

Society is never easy on its people. There are stereotypes and expectations being placed on us from the moment we take our first breath. Some are based on the color of our skin. Others, on our body parts. Where there is an opportunity, there will be those who try to force beliefs and lifestyles onto anyone willing to listen. No one is safe from the judgment of social norms and social expectations. Still, some groups and individuals face worse and more persistent ridicule. The female body is a great example of this vicious cycle of expectation. We live in a society with the expectation of female perfection.

One of the biggest expectations of American society isn’t for a career or a good education. It’s for beauty. Obsession is something of an understatement concerning beauty standards in today’s society. Especially the last few years. Go on any social media platform and you will be immediately slammed with a plethora of make-up tutorials and beauty advice, some of which alter your appearance entirely.

The makeup and styles that were often reserved for an older, more mature – more adult – group, are taking over girls of a much younger age. Its completely disconcerting to confuse a thirteen-year-old for a 25-year-old. More so when those pre-teens are getting lip injections and spending hours on hair and makeup.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about female body and beauty positivity. It’s your body, you do what you want with it. These observations are not shaming the decisions of our young generations. Rather, they to criticize and question the negative role society plays in the lives of our youth.

One of the largest concerns is that the younger generations are so affected by what they see in magazines, and movies and on TV that it becomes their reality. It’s a new kind of American Dream: one of physical perfection.

Take popular trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” for example. In the book, Katniss’s character is described as unhealthily skinny. Essentially her family is starving- often going without food due to their poor and underprivileged status in their district. It is meant to portray the devastation that is caused by hierarchies and segregation. Unfortunately, some readers focused all of their attention on that more physical aspect of Katniss’s character, rather than the reason behind it.

When the star, Jennifer Lawrence, came out on screen for her big debut as “Katniss,” there was harsh and immediate criticism. Some viewers suggested that Jennifer Lawrence’s healthy body was too fat to fit the part.

Now, Lawrence is, by no means, fat. Sure, she wasn’t the walking skeleton that Katniss represented in the books, but how could they expect that unhealthy of a physical state from any potential actress? True fans and a number of well-known actresses rushed to Lawrence’s defense. But, it didn’t change the immediate response of many: to judge based on weight or bristly standards of Hollywood.

The portrayal of Katniss is a potential game changer. Young, impressionable readers and future viewers would look to their new favorite character as their idol. Katniss and Lawrence would be there real model – their inspiration. Like so many other celebrities, she would represent beauty standards especially western months.

So, what kind of message are we sending to girls if an underweight, malnourished actress feeds into this? It doesn’t matter why she looks how she doesn’t in the novels. From the moment Katniss or any female character is brought to life on screen, she becomes the #Goals of the entire generations. Lawrence isn’t the first bodyslammed, and she is not the last. With the stakes of everyday beauty running high, there will be those extremes and we have to wonder, how? How did we let it get this far? When did childhood become more about a better body and a better highlight than who has the best hiding spot for kick the can? When how many followers we have become more important than what we want to do when we grow up?

The Internet is just another door to disaster. More so for people already fighting uphill battles like eating disorders. It gives access to dangerous knowledge and the criticism of a society safely hidden behind the screen of their technology.

Eating disorders are still something of a taboo topic in today’s culture. It is becoming a more talked about the issue, but, as a result, the issue itself is becoming more hushed and better hidden from prying eyes. The Internet is only providing an outlet for the victims of the disorders. “Pro-Ana” sites are a particularly horrifying concept.

On these sites, sufferers of eating disorders come together to encourage each others’ disorders and shame those unsuccessful. Some even share tips on how to be more successful in their unhealthy habits. It’s self-destructive and as much as it as communally destructive. If you sensitize is a normalizes potential he deadly disorder. Eating disorder survivors from Australian have been working towards banning these “pro-Ana” sites to make a positive change. It is a small step in cutting the metaphorical umbilical cord to encouraged self-destruction and slavery to societal expectations.

How can we truly cut ties with the beauty standards of society, though? In many ways, it’s an impossible task. The impressions and presumptions are becoming a part of us- an in breakable habit, of sorts. Will the fascination with beauty, despite going against our morals, ever fade?

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