Cultural Criticism
Ugly doesn't exist. Here's why.
“As I looked in the mirror, my mother placed her hands on my shoulders with disgust filled eyes,” student Dani Adams recalled. “She sighed before saying, ‘We will just have to fix your face later,’ then left the bathroom. 

Adams stood there crying, telling herself that she wasn’t enough. She thought it was true because her own mother didn’t think she was good enough, then who would?
It hurt me to hear this story not only because one of the most beautiful, sweet, caring young ladies I had ever met had such low self-esteem, but also because the woman who told her she “wasn’t good enough” was also the one she called “mom.” That made my blood boil. People like my classmate’s mother have set beauty standards for the younger generations that force us to create and uphold a certain image that is “perfect.” Anything less than perfect is not accepted. So what is “perfect?” 
Perfect is something or someone having all the required/desirable qualities, elements, or characteristics. This definition can change based on the country you’re in, and the mindsets of the people surrounding you. Here in America, the definition of “perfect” has more to do with looks than anything else. Throughout history, a majority of the people that live here fancy skinny women, or buff and muscular men that have money. Of course, they also have to be white or at least light-skinned. Their faces have to look a certain way, no double chins allowed, only straight white teeth, and women can’t wear anything above a size six. 
I spoke with Denise Tench, a woman from my church, about the beauty standards and trends that were relevant when she was in her teens. “Every female was trying all types of diets, waist trainers, fasting and other weight-loss methods to get the glass Coke bottle or hourglass figure,” she explained.
We aren't taught to love the jelly rolls or different pigmentations of the skin. We aren't exposed to the beauty of melanin, all of the different eye colors, the many imperfections of the face that make us beautiful. 
We are taught things like “being fat is bad because it causes so many health problems,” but that's not completely true. I myself am fat, and I have no major health issues besides being fat. Why does the fact that I'm a little bit bigger than other people have to be a problem? It doesn't have to be. Appearances are nothing compared to what's on the inside. And yeah, it's a cliche, but your beauty truly does shine from within. 
This is partially our fault for enforcing these ridiculous standards on others constantly. Not only are some of us still trying to squeeze into those old jeans that we know are way too tight, but we’re also just starting to tell others how the way that they look doesn't matter. Sadly, it was too late for our generation. We have already been exposed to the pressures of society, and the idea of making ourselves as “perfect” as possible, just so we can make it through their day without much judgment.
“Everyone is beautiful, period,” said Vivian Snow, a 16-year-old student at Dearborn STEM Academy. “There is no ‘beautiful in your own way,’ nor is there any such thing as ‘perfect.’” Snow was labeled the “ugly” child at school and bullied on a daily basis, but that didn't stop her from keeping a smile on her face. While she accepted a boyfriend who only liked her for her body when she was younger, her perspective has changed. 
“I was only twelve when I started dating him,” Snow said. “I was young and dumb, but I truly thought that that was love. Now whenever I think about that relationship, I think of all of the people like me who were in a toxic relationship because they were afraid that nobody else would love them. Us ‘ugly’ people don't get much of a choice anyway, or at least that's what people make you think.”
Snow is right, us “ugly” people are made to think that we have to stick with anyone who shows any interest in us, even if they're literally one of the worst people on the planet. That's why so many of us try our best to become something that everyone wants, but not what you want for yourself.
We as the people of the world — and specifically the younger generations, since the future is in our hands — should start to end this cycle of overrated, and fairly boring beauty standards. It's time for a change, don't you think? Let us make 2020 the first year of full acceptance of all people, regardless of what they look like. Let's try to agree that everyone is beautiful (and if you want to add the “in their own way” thing, then do that) and just start being real to ourselves.

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Cultural Criticism
The truth about public relationships on social media
Singer-turned-reality star Ray-J got into an online spat with his pregnant wife Princess Love in late November last year. The couple was in Las Vegas for an event when Ray-J allegedly had an affair in a separate hotel room. Love began posting passive-aggressive messages about her husband on her Instagram story prompting Ray-J to go on Instagram live and tell millions of people that he was still in Las Vegas, trying to prove his innocence and get people off his back. 
Both fans and the press were questioning him about what happened between him and his wife. If he said anything to those people, his words could have been twisted, which is something social media likes to do. Then he would have to explain himself to his 2.2 million followers on Instagram when frankly the only person he should have to explain his actions to is his wife, not his followers. This is a problem we could all avoid if we stopped blowing things out of proportion. The toxicity when it comes to public relationships is so real, and very few see the strain that social media puts on relationships. 
Some couples put themselves into this situation by putting everything about their relationship online, inviting vulgar accusations. I’m not saying they deserve this but they could avoid some of it by keeping things more private. Even couples that do keep things private face accusations and get dragged into scandals. Unfortunately, not a single couple on Instagram is safe from the way we publicize online spats and make them worse.
YouTube makeup artist and entrepreneur Jeffree Star and his partner Nathan Schwandt split in January after being together for five years. Star stopped posting on Instagram and Twitter for three days until Jan. 11. when he posted a video on YouTube titled “We broke up.” In the video, he talks about his and Schwandt’s relationship and the breakup. He explains that Schwandt never wanted to be famous, but he would appear in videos because Star asked him to and because he believed in everything that Star was doing.
“Me and Nathan are friends,” he said. “I feel like I need to say that because I think the internet spirals and creates so many false stories.” In this specific line, he addresses how social media makes up false stories about relationships during sensitive times. 
The problem is before he put out this video, fans were speculating if he and Schwandt really did break up because Star took the phrase “Nathan’s wifey” out of his Twitter and Instagram bio. False stories and speculation about a couple’s status can ruin trust and communication, while also discouraging them from dating again in fear of having to go through a huge scandal. 
Most people don’t realize that the couple controls what we see and we don't always get to see what happens behind the scenes. There could be problems that are legitimately affecting the relationship and people on social media have no idea, leading them to say or do things that only make it worse.
“I know that sometimes social media can be the source of arguments being bigger than need to be,” said Jorge Murilleo, a 15-year-old student at the Dearborn STEM Academy. Social media and its users have a tendency to blow things out of proportion by twisting words, making up rumors and false claims. 
I believe that relationships on social media should be less targeted when it comes to drama and scandals. I’m not saying that couples shouldn’t be on social media, I follow a variety of couple accounts myself. All I’m saying is that social media shouldn’t break up couples or blow arguments out of proportion. Having that much vulnerability on a big site with people who don't exactly share your views or don't know the value of “if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything” can damage any relationship no matter the strength and established trust. 
We make relationships work for us by establishing trust and understanding that every relationship is going to have problems or arguments and a lot of times social media makes these things worse. We need to let people be and let them handle their business so online couples can be two happy peas in a pod.

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Free Write
He is freedom
His name was social security.

He was built of 9 numbers with bright blue eyes. 
He was the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Late at night he would visit me, 
Reminding me that I am lost without him.

He would visit me at job applications to show me what I am missing out on. 
I was jealous of everyone that had him.

What did he see in that blonde-haired light skin girl?
She doesn’t know how to treat a man. 
She inherited everything she got. 

These? 
These are hard working hands. 

I crossed the ocean for you, 
That girl didn't even move a finger 
But it was never enough. 

He always picked those gringos over me. 
I wanted to let him know that I am great without him. 
I spent 5 years looking for you. 
Now I’m done chasing you...
But then there he was again at the job application, 
Beautiful as can be. 
I fell for him again. 
I wanted him,
I needed him, 
everyone needs him. 

He is freedom, he is hope.
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I wish I could make this sound poetic
I wish I could grab my brain and wring it out 
Until everything I wish I knew 
was soaking my feet 
right there for me to look down and see.

Maybe then I could put reasoning into words that weren’t ‘self sabotage’ 
And my name
Maybe then I would know who I am
Know why I am

How do I say it’s all my fault with grace
How do I say I hate who I’ve made myself 
Like Edgar would 

The blame I could spew at others, I swallow 
Instead of it going down like warm tea in a sore throat
I’m swallowing glass shards 
I once looked at my reflection in 

I’m a mystery to myself 
Don’t know if I’m hollow or overwhelmed 
A coded book with a foreign language I don’t understand 

I wish I could make this sound poetic 
I just don’t understand it 
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I speak my heart
My every word
So true.
The sentences flow
My every word
So melodious.

She looks me back
With those deep brown pools
Which dig into my skin
As though she can see
My every thought
My every wish.

A silence spreads
Vibes of disappointment
Fill the room
Wrapping around my form
Choking me.

My gaze dropped
To the floor
Where I left
My courage.

A quiet apology
Escapes my lips
No louder
Than the buzzing
Of a bee.

I wish to leave
But her gaze
Pins me down
To my position.

I whimper,
Wishing her to look away
To forget
All I said.

I close my eyes
Wishing to melt
Into the floor
To forget
All I said.

I wish every moment
To be a nightmare
To simply drift away
As I open my eyes.
A wish
That never
Follows through.
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