AFH Photo // Janna Mach
It wasn’t until last year, when my peers chose to focus on my underarms, that I devoted a second of thought to it.

“She needs to shave her armpits.” Both girls and guys labeled me as this super feminist -- a pejorative term that brought to mind “Social Justice Warriors” and “Feminazis.”

In this the age of the Internet, where social media and instant gratification pair together to create a fast way to access all kinds of information, these platforms allow anyone a voice and an audience.

As we scroll, we often see dramatizations and inaccurate posts that try and sway us this way or that with pseudo facts. We con ourselves out of critical thinking when we blindly accept these as truths.

My choice, purely based on comfort, was now associated with what many people misunderstood of feminism -- someone driven only by agenda and not by personal preference.

I am, in fact, a feminist. But what reasonable 21st century female wouldn’t be?

I simply believe that men and women  should have equal rights.
Read more…
TIP Photo
I really wanted this new makeup kit at Sephora. There was this cute dress I’d seen online at Fashion Nova. I could have purchased shoes or gotten a facial or a pedicure. 

But instead, I decided to use part of my first summer paycheck to buy a three-month-old puppy. My friend named him Milo. 

The moment I saw him, I thought he was the most adorable Havanese Poodle in the world. It may have been his hoppity run that sold me. Or maybe it was his short-cut tail that wagged back and forth. Or his soft paws and hazel green eyes. Whatever the reason, I became overjoyed when I saw him. 

We took him home and that is when we truly started to see his personality. Milo is comical and thinks he is bigger than his miniature size. His favorite defense mechanism is to throw himself around and growl. It’s more amusing than intimidating. 

However, his looks aren’t everything. Milo’s a puppy so I have to stay alert and responsible. He likes to put miscellaneous items in his mouth, so I have to be watchful and make sure he doesn’t harm himself. He is being trained, so he still makes messes around the house that I have to scold him for. 
Fortunately, doggy treats exist and, with the promise of being rewarded, he is becoming 
obedient. 

The saying “a dog is a woman’s best friend” couldn’t be more true. Over time, materialistic things lose their worth. But with Milo, his love for me is unconditional and that is something that I will always value. 

His loyalty is unwavering. When people go to pet him, he retreats towards me and then sits. He follows me everywhere, sometimes to be nosy, but mostly because he always wants to keep me within eyesight. Milo recognizes when I am sad, and will lick my hand to comfort me. When I’m happy, he gets super-excited and jumps at me. 

At the end of a long day, I can’t wait to  get home to see him. He usually runs and  scratches at the door as soon as he hears the  key.
Read more…
AFH Photo // Janna Mach
Imagine a girl whose hair cascaded down her back now dealing with her curls falling against the cold floor -- never to grow back again.

In 2012, my beautiful sister Paola developed a disease called alopecia, which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles.

After having undergone many treatments, the medicine ended up being too strong and led to an itchy, red breakout all over her head.

I got used to seeing my parents cry -- not because her locks weren’t coming back, but out of fear of how society would treat a young girl with no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes.

Kids did make fun of her, saying,“You have no edges.”

Yet even when my sister got a curly, brown wig, she still felt the sting. Some classmates would question why she was wearing the weave, while others thought it was comical to pull the wig off her head.

People associate baldness with being unattractive. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be so many hair-regrowing products on the market, including those ridiculous spray-ons.

To combat this bald-shaming, there is a movement commemorating today -- September 13 -- as National Bald is Beautiful Day.

During this time, everyone should take  a moment to appreciate the boundless  beauty all around them.
Read more…
AFH Photo // Mary Nguyen
After Drake’s “Views” shattered first-week album-stream records following its April release, listeners flooded social media with praise, some saying it was the greatest thing to bless people’s ears since Michael’s “Thriller.” 

When I finally had the chance to hear it, I was blown away -- by its mediocrity. 

Sure, there were songs I liked, but also others I equally disliked. 

And yet, many in this generation are so in love with Drake. 

His role in the teen TV drama series “Degrassi” helped introduce him to young audiences. And the angsty messages in his songs surely tug at teens’ heartstrings. Others, meanwhile, are impressed with his ability to both rap and sing. 

Now, I’m not knocking his talent for producing good music. But other artists, including The Weeknd, Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole, have better flows than Drake, 

What may set Drake apart from his peers is his ability to take all the things he’s good at, put them together, and create nice songs. 

But are nice songs enough to shower him with all this hype?
Read more…
AFH Photo // Gabrielle Cartagena
Straight hair and expensive clothes are the norm at my school.

When I first arrived, my hair was curly and my style was unique. Being different did not faze me.

But being different eventually got to me. I started buying the pricey brands that everyone wore, without even liking them all that much.

These clothes put a strain on my parents’ income, but they felt like a necessity to fit in. However, I was not only sacrificing my family’s money. I was also sacrificing my own identity.

My natural curls also became a rare sight. Every week, I would go to the salon and spend $40 on straightening my hair. I was certain I never wanted to see my frizz again.

My dad knew a hairdresser in New York that would do the longer-lasting treatment for a good price, and I pleaded with him and my mother to take me as soon as possible. They finally gave in.

By the end of the day, I had gained a new ’do -- but also lost a defining piece that had been with me for 13 years.

Eventually, chemically altering my hair took a toll. My once healthy locks were now brittle and beaten. I knew I had to stop.

Now, after two summers, my hair is growing back to normal.

I regret rejecting my spontaneous look to begin with.

I finally realized that people like or don’t like me for me -- and not for my clothes or hair.
Read more…