Bad Year

It is the end of the year. 2017, the horrifying monster in 2016’s closet has finally released it’s tight grip on us. If it was kind to you, congratulations on your successes and your luck. The rest of us have been chewed up and spit out.
The moral of the story this year, for me at least,  has been “Things Don’t Go As Planned.” I learned my lesson by trying to fight the winds of change as much as I could, to follow on a beaten path, to be as “safe” as possible in order to avoid any extra heartbreak. Needless to say that was a mistake. A messy one.
As humans, one of our most profound abilities is to grow. Our experiences, especially the scariest ones, help us to evolve, to become stronger and wiser. This year I witnessed the women in my life go through their own metamorphoses- my grandmother, who lost her husband of 50 years, became independent and stayed strong, never letting herself cry in front of her children and grandchildren. She began to surround herself with friends again, and by Thanksgiving she was laughing and cooking and sharing all the same, and did the chores my grandfather always did for her without as much as a sigh. My 15 year old sister’s friend ended his life after so many bad days that it seemed impossible to continue. She stood in a line of grieving kids for hours for her chance to say goodbye. That night, she texted her friends she’d lost contact with, and patched up the holes in their friendship. After years in the same position at the same company, my mother decided to start a business helping others find jobs. She left a journal page open, which revealed to me that she wants to write a book in the future. She knows she’s only getting started.
And then there was me, who came running home after a string of stress and bad decisions left my mental state in shambles. I was lucky enough to be compassionately received by my family. For once in my life, I had no idea what was next. It turns out that downtime and trauma leave you the opportunity to become re-acquainted with yourself, to reassess your priorities, and to outline who you want to become and how you’re going to get there. In that time I was able to assess where exactly I saw my life going within the next 5 years and I feel more hopeful than ever before.
My best friend’s father, Gregg, had a catchphrase: “You are always where you’re supposed to be.” Nearly 4 years after his death, Gregg’s voice still repeats this mantra in my head whenever I begin to doubt myself. This statement might seem too broad to be universally true, but 2017 showed me that Gregg was onto something. Did my vision for this year include a mental breakdown? Of course not. My grandmother didn’t plan to lose her husband, nor my sister’s friend’s parents to lose their child. If you’re anything like me, the endless possibilities of what life could throw your way in a year absolutely terrifies you. Knowing that a curveball could smash my hopes and dreams for the future in an instant is quite possibly the root of all my anxiety. I would love to share advice on how to deal with this, but I have yet to find any that truly helps. However, I find solace in the idea that we are constantly learning and absorbing our surroundings. Where you are at the end of this year may not be where you want to be, but in honor of Gregg, look around and assess what you’re learning from your current situation, and how it can help you grow in the long run. Calming, isn’t it?
If you’ve had a bad year, I extend my hugs and best wishes to you. You win some, you lose some. It will be okay. It’s impossible to say what 2018 has in store for us, but before we begin our next trip around the sun, do something I only ever began to do halfway into this year- count your blessings. Understand that things can’t always happen our way and why that might be a good thing. You may be just where you’re supposed to be.
All the love,

Art is a Woman, a Woman is Art

For this photo series, I wanted to capture the essence of teenage girls and highlight natural features. These photos were taken on 35mm film and with no editing. I dabbed glitter, blush, lip gloss and mascara on my best friend and had her stand in front of a sheet in my bedroom.

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Modesty and Nudity: Nothing Wrong with Either

 In today’s society, people will tell you that what you’re wearing defines who you are; what kind of person you are. If you’re covered up, you’re a nice, respectful, young individual. And if you’re not, you’re a whore, slut, etc. People shame others because of their appearance disregarding the fact that they could actually be a decent human being. What matters is whether the individual feels comfortable in what they’re wearing. However, there will always be hurtful behavior which is usually done to women and by men and surprisingly, by women as well.
 As a Muslim woman, I am told to cover up which I don’t necessarily mind, but to think modesty is the only way to get respect is wrong and we need to stop teaching young girls that. There is nothing wrong with modesty and there is nothing wrong with nudity. The two are basic lifestyle choices which depend on the person. This stigma against the two needs to be stopped. If we don’t stop it, then who will? The next generation will learn from our behavior and shame others. We will never live in peace if this occurs.
   In shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “Game of Thrones”, nudity is shown a lot. Some viewers out there have repeatedly said that they refuse to watch the show because of that sole reason because it disgusts them. Thoughts like these are hurtful because our bodies are art. Our nudity is art. Why can’t our choices be respected? The “FreeTheNipple” movement is something that was created to encourage women empowerment. It shows that women should not be ashamed of their bodies because each one of us are beautiful. If you are bothered by the topic of nudity, then simply refrain from it. Don’t comment injurious things. You will not benefit from it; no one will.
   In other cases, some men and women are also shamed because of their modesty. Because they don’t like to show their skin, they are made fun of. People have to understand that just because someone doesn’t like showing skin in public does not mean they are ashamed of their body and how they look. Maybe they are saving themselves for a special someone and that is perfectly fine. Also forcing someone to strip when you know they’re uncomfortable is sexual harassment. In third world countries, this is fairly common and not okay.
   Understanding that there are different people in the world can make a big difference. Understand that there are people who want to show skin without being called horrible names. Understand that there are people who don’t want to show their body and they should’ve feel ashamed for their decision. The world would be a much better place if people learn to respect others decisions. And remember Modesty empowers some and nudity empowers some and there is nothing wrong with either.

Cultural Appropriation: Fashions Biggest Faux Pas

As summer quickly approaches, warm weather, Senioritis and music festival season has already begun. While students and celebrities alike begin to assemble their summer wardrobe, it’s important to ensure that fashion choices are not culturally insensitive or offensive.

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