By Natalie Issa
New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is known for wasp-thin models gliding across the runway, donning fashions that were perhaps designed to only look good on a certain body type. And while there’s nothing essentially wrong with thin models, a little diversity on NYFW’s runways couldn’t hurt, either.
Cue Egypt “Ify” Ufele, the genius 10-year-old designer behind Chubiiline. Ify started her clothing line after she was bullied at school because of her weight.
“I was bullied, and they called me all kinds of names,” Ify told NBC’s “Today”. “One time I got stabbed with a pencil.”
Ify could have been debilitated from her experiences and let her bullies get to her, but instead, Ify chose to create. She started by making clothes for dolls, and quickly graduated to creating clothes for all shapes and sizes on her grandmother’s sewing machine.
“I turned negative attention into positive attention,” Ify told “Today”.
And now? Well, Ify’s killing it. She’s officially launched her own clothing line, called Chubiiline, making her the only child designer to launch a plus-sized fashion line at NYFW.
Ify described her clothing line as “African print design with an urban twist” to Huffington Post.
Chubiiline’s big debut at NYFW this past February was a huge hit, with models of all shapes and sizes parading down the runway while wearing Ify’s killer designs.
On seeing her vision come to life, Ify told Huffington Post, “I can actually see my hard work is not in vain.”
Ify also began BullyChasers, a movement with a goal to spread awareness about bullying and gun violence in schools. According to DoSomething.org, 160,000 teenagers skip school every day to avoid bullying.
Needless to say, it’s clear that this little lady has a big future in store. And we can’t wait to see what she does next.
(Image via the Huffington Post)
By Sonia BIlladeau
On March 2nd a UK company called Coexist announced a “period policy” that will allow women to rest from work when on their menstrual cycles, without classifying it as a sick day. This policy is to build a more effective workplace among their employees.
And, unsurprisingly, there’s a lot controversy regarding this policy.
Japan already had a policy where women can take the time to rest from period pain. In fact, it is a woman’s right to take time off in Japan because it is protected by law, according to The Guardian.
So, would a period policy be good or bad for a company? Here are some pros and cons discussed by the UK and Japan.
Con: Everyone Knows It’s Your Time of the Month
There’s a potential “yikes” forming in our mouth. A woman worker in Japan said, “If you take menstrual leave, you’re basically broadcasting to the entire office which days of the month you have your period. It’s not the sort of thing you want to share with male colleagues…” Taking a period day or two would mean notifying your boss and asking for those days off which could be… well, embarrassing.
Pro: Period Positivity
Let’s face it: every woman in the world has/had a period, so why is it still such a taboo? When someone says “period”, men and yes, even women, make the face we know so well. But this policy has the potential to make period-shaming disappear! Women could become more confident in something that happens to them naturally. The director of Coexist said, “For too long there’s been a taboo surrounding periods – I have women staff telling me they’re ashamed to admit they’re in pain. I want us to break down that shame and replace the negativity with positivity.”
Con: Weakness in the Workplace
Since the late 1800s, women have been fighting for equal rights in the workforce, and some would say if women get privileges from work, then it is not equal. Also, taking a menstrual leave could be interpreted as a sign of weakness, according to a Japanese worker. A comment from The Guardian states, “[It] looks like it is protecting women’s rights, but it eventually will make things worse. The discrimination at work will never end if the rights of women and men are not balanced.”
Pro: But Workplace Improvement!
Coexist designed the period policy so women workers can be most efficient at work. Women workers can take the time off to gather and renew their strength. Coexist’s director explained, “I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods. Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell.”
Pro: Not Reaching Your Sick Day Limit
The “Pioneering Period Policy” leader, Alexandra Pope, said, “And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain – no matter what kind – they are encouraged to go home. But, for us, we wanted a policy in place which recognizes and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.”
Con: Possible Abuse
Some would say if women can get a whole off because of their menstrual cycle, would they want to go back for the next three weeks of the month? And what if menstrual leave was paid? Some may say women might abuse it. But there’s an easy fix: “Lots of women in another department used to take menstrual leave because they didn’t realize those days off were unpaid. As soon as someone pointed out that they weren’t getting paid during that time, they stopped taking time off,” according to a new policy worker.
Ladies, what say you? Is this something you'd be all for, or completely against?
By Natalie Issa
Needless to say, there’s a lot of hooplah going on politics-wise. For those of us who are not well acquainted with politics, we might just want to through in the towel altogether.
Yeah, but maybe that's not be the best idea.
Women have only had the right to vote since 1920—less than one hundred years. It’s crazy to think about, right? That we've only had the right to vote for less than one hundred years?
To fully appreciate this fact, let’s take a little walk through history and see what exactly the suffragettes had to do earn our right to vote.
The suffragette movement hit the ground running before the Civil War. Around 1820s, most of the states allowed all white men to vote, despite the amount of property they possessed. The same courtesy wasn’t extended to women, however. Which is a huge problem. Obviously.
And many women during that time also thought that this was a huge problem. So in 1848 a group of (mostly) women activists met in Seneca Falls, New York to debate about women’s rights. Not surprisingly, most of the group agreed—women deserved the right to vote.
The women’s rights campaign faded into the background a bit during The Civil War, (because, you know, there were some pretty important things going on) but made major changes in the 1890 when the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was formed.
Now, it’s important to note that NAWSA focused only on gaining the vote for white women. Unfortunately, NAWSA purposely excluded black women from their organization because of the time period.
But these BA African-American women did not let another form of oppression get in their way. The National Association of Colored Women was formed in 1896, making black suffrage one of their priorities.
In 1913 another more militant group of women emerged that called themselves the National Woman’s Party. This group of ladies was widely criticized for their militant tactics, and for ignoring the war effort when World War I began. Their tactics included chaining themselves to the White House and going on hunger strikes, as well as picketing the White House to gain more publicity.
As aggressive as their campaign was, many people opposed the inhumane way these suffragettes were treated in jail—there were many accounts that related moments of being painfully force-fed. Ironically, people’s opposition to the treatment of the suffragettes created more support for their movement.
Finally, after roughly 100 years of campaigning, both black and white women were granted the right to vote on August 20th, 1920. Like most movements or figures in history, the suffrage movement certainly wasn’t perfect. But we can both appreciate good things they did and learn from their mistakes.
The fact of the matter is, all of the suffragettes made sacrifices to give us the right to vote. Shouldn’t we honor their hard work by voting ourselves?
So go ahead and vote! You don’t have to a completely perfect knowledge of politics—just try your best. Your voice matters, and you are entitled to the right to put it to use.
(Image via biography.com)
By Jessie Bruner
With the most recent presidential election hanging over Americans’ heads, issues such as abortion, immigration, and national debt have been topics for debate, and topics that most Americans consider to be there number one concern. Based on these topics, Americans tend to make their decisions on whom to vote for. But one political issue could change the future, and the election, drastically, especially for millennials.
Gun control is a hot topic in most political battles. Some say that guns are the reason behind so much crime. Others say that gun control would only increase the rate of crime in the U.S. But some recent studies have shown what other countries have done with their gun laws, and how it works.
Time magazine wrote an article on Switzerland’s commitment to guns and gun safety. Helena Bachmann, a writer for Time, states that “[u]nlike some other heavily armed nations, Switzerland’s gun ownership is deeply rooted in a sense of patriotic duty and national identity. Weapons are kept at home because of the long-held belief that enemies could invade tiny Switzerland quickly, so every soldier had to be able to fight his way to his regiment’s assembly point.”
However, the Council on Foreign Relations provided evidence that in the United States, there were 88.8 firearms per 100 people in 2007, with Canada trailed at 30.8. In 2013, the U.S. found that 3.54 homicides per 100,000 people were firearm related, while Canada showed a mere 0.38. The evidence is clear from these two countries, that less firearms in the country resulted in less firearm-related homicides.
Should the U.S. choose to follow Switzerland’s mandatory gun safety regime and hope for the best for their citizens? Or would less legal guns result in less firearm-related homicides and crime? What would either option mean for millennials?
Gun safety and laws like Switzerland’s could give America hope for the future. Hope that we could maintain our firearms and know how to use them in the event of an emergency. This could also result in more personal safety if used properly. The regime works for Switzerland, so why not the U.S.? However, the evidence is also clear for the United States and Canada. Would stricter gun control result in fewer homicides?
For the average millennial, the Switzerland approach would mean they would need to obtain a firearm and take annual gun safety courses to maintain proper skill levels and improve safety measures. If we take the stricter gun control route, this would mean that some Americans would have to give up their firearms, and inevitably, their right to the Second Amendment, which is the “right of the people to keep bear Arms” and that is “shall not be infringed.”
A study done by Cato Institute says that in 2013, more millennials then ever before were in support of allowing private ownership of assault weapons. 70% of people ages 18 to 24 voiced the opinion in favor of firearms, compared to their older counterparts. Out of those interviewed, aged 45 to 54, only 54% said they wanted to keep the firearm laws where they were.
As it stands now, more millennials are likely to support less strict gun laws and believe that owning and being able to properly fire a gun makes them feel more safe and secure in their own country. In contrast, however, the same study stated, “millennials are less likely to own a firearm.” They found that they are “half as likely to report owning a firearm as those over 55.” This offers an interesting contrast between the two results.
Whatever the decision, to own a gun or not, to keep the gun laws as they are or make them more strict, millennials have the obligation to be informed and stay informed on the issue. Whatever the decision, it could mean a large lifestyle change for anyone involved in the issue. Whether your opinion is “guns kill people,” or “people kill people,” the responsibility to make our nation a safe place for ourselves and future generations weighs heavily on our shoulders.
By Sonia Billadeau
The time has come to elect our new commander in chief. There have been multiple candidates who have stroked our cores and then candidates who couldn’t fight anymore.
The candidates still in the race have gotten some good support but the support most noticed is from those who are known worldwide. Many celebrities have influenced numerous millennial and the entertainment industry, so do they also influence who you to vote for?
Bernie Sanders, Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump are three of the presidential candidates who have predominately been endorsed by celebrities, many of whom are women. Let’s take a brief look at who is voting for who:
Bernie Sanders, U.S. Vermont senator, is a democrat who stands for gender and race equality and cutting costs of schooling. Here are some ladies who support him:
Susan Sarandon, known for Thelma and Louise, said Sanders has peeked her interest. She tweeted, "We need a leader who is courageous and levelheaded in times of crisis: Bernie Sanders #Bernie2016".
Belinda Carlisle, former lead singer of the band The Go-Go's, signed a letter of support for Bernie Sanders, according to AM New York’s website.
Mia Farrow, known for Rosemary’s Baby and The Great Gatsby, tweeted, “However you may vote, Bernie Sanders is pretty great. He doesn't pander, is consistent and clear on important issues.”
Hilary Clinton, former Secretary of State and wife of former President Bill Clinton, is a democrat that stands for same-sex marriage, Obamacare and gun control. If she wins, she will become the first woman President. Here are the women supporting her:
Demi Lovato performed for Clinton’s rally at the University of Iowa and boldly stated, "I am voting for her because I truly believe that there is nobody more qualified to run this country — our country — than our secretary of state”, according to marieclaire.com.
Salma Hayek, known for Frida, tweeted in the group ‘Latinos for Hilary’, “I have a lot of hope for Hilary. We need someone with experience who can endure. And this woman has endured it all. Hilary is tough.”
And Jennifer Lopez firmly stated “I think it’s time for a woman president”, according to E! News.
Donald Trump, President of Trump Organization and a republican candidate, stands for stricter crime punishments and expanding the military. Here are a few ladies supporting Trump:
Ivana Trump, ex-wife of Trump, said, “Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president”, according to Slant News.
Tila Tequila posted a YouTube video voicing her support for Trump, according to Business Insider.
Ann Coulter, known for Sharknado 3, said in an interview, "I love the idea of the Great Wall of Trump. I want to have a two-drink minimum. Make it a big world-wide tourist attraction and everyday live drone shows whenever anyone tries to cross the border. I have not had this much hope for America since November 7, 2012 ... God hasn't given up on America yet”, according to Slant News.
To get more information on the 2016 Presidential candidacy, visit: http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com.
By Rebecca Moore
Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and, of course, Trump: these are all people you probably recognize. As the presidential race has become increasingly televised over the past decade, and now with social media, it eclipses our lives for the greater part of two years. Of course it’s important to be well-educated and vote in the general election, but the reality is your senators and congressmen play a bigger role in affecting change.
As millennials, we tend to get an especially bad rep about our lack of knowledge or involvement in politics. The claim is not unfounded. In 2014, we had a measly 17.1% turnout. This is embarrassingly low. While there are likely a plethora of reasons as to why this is, I don’t believe it’s apathy. Most young people have opinions on how the country they are about to inherit is to be run, but the political system either looks too complicated or too corrupt for them to feel like they can make any difference. However, we can change that. The first step to that is knowing who your representatives are and contacting them to make sure they know what their constituents want.
You’ve heard the phrase “contact your representative” before, but let’s be real, have you ever written them a letter? Or even picked up the phone? Maybe once, but certainly not often. The reality is those forms of communication are becoming the ways of the past, but now, you can contact them the way any normal 21st century person would: an app.
Welcome Countable, the revolutionary new app that allows you to actually make your voice heard.
An app that allows you to see what bills are being voted on, and then voting yay or nay to those bills. Your vote is then sent to your representative. Also, the app will tell you who they are when you sign up, so no more ending up like those people on Lie Witness News.
Let’s do a quick walk through.
This is what your home screen will look like. You’ll see featured bills, trending issues, a profile spotlight, currently made up of presidential candidates, and below all that are current active bills.
It will ask you for your home address if you want your votes sent to your representative, but no worries, they would be getting that info anyway if you contacted them through the traditional letter. I’ve never received any junk mail from them and you can turn off your email notifications in the settings.
Now a profile has been set up, so we can go vote.
I could go through the trending bills on the home page, or I can search.
I want to be an astronaut one day, so I need congress to keep giving the space program money. Up in the right I see a bill I want to vote on. I can either vote right there, or click on the bill to read more information first.
This page contains other users opinions and more information on the bill, such as cost, where it’s been passed, who sponsored it, etc.
Countable breaks down the bill into easily understood language without talking down to the user.
This page has a feature that I very much like: no commenting on other people's votes. Huzzah for no more tasteless cyber arguments! The first thing you will see is people who vote for or against, and a comment on why. Now, if you particularly like something someone said, you can give it an upvote, making the opinion higher on the page, and also raising that person's profile score, but you can’t respond. This feature is one that I think focuses the point of the app, and not yelling at some random person 7 states away about gun control or abortion. The other people’s comments are usually brief, and are a good way to see how something matters to others, but not the dominating focus.
After you’ve voted, and decided on whether or not to share a short statement, you can go back and check on bast bills. For example, the first bill I voted on was on repealing No Child Left Behind.
Now that the bill has been voted on, I can check to see if my representatives (shown on the bottom) voted how I would have. This helps me to decide if I want to vote for them next election cycle.
You can follow candidates and organizations, and even yours truly if you’d like.
Countable is bringing a real, accessible way for people to get involved in politics. Download it today, or go to countable.us to start making your voice heard.
(Images via Countable’s desktop platform)
By Sonia Billadeau
One of the biggest nights in sports is also one of the biggest nights for arrests and rescues. Almost every year at the Super Bowl, police and FBI around the country arrest sex-traffickers and recover children from being sold into prostitution.
This year, the search for prostitutes and customers began three weeks prior to the game. The pursuit used police decoys offering themselves as profitable targets typically on sites like Backpage.com. Also known as the National John Suppression Initiative, the setups were positioned in 14 states and included 23 assorted law-enforcement units.
Through January 17 to February 7, about 552 people were arrested for the attempt to buy sex, and about $187,000 in fines was filed against them, according to reason.com.
In result of the organization, 10 teenagers were located. Seven teens were found in San Francisco, where 50th Super Bowl was held. No gender identification has been made public.
According to Soroptimst.org, seventy-nine percent of the victims of sex trafficking are women. With the victims found, eight out of the ten victims could have been teenage girls.
Ways traffickers or “pimps” market their victims or inclined workers are by mouth or online. With online sources, revealing pictures of the young women are posted with descriptions such as "willing and ready to provide you with a great experience", according to NBC News.
Because of the proximity to the Super Bowl, the San Francisco set-up had the leading number in law enforcement. More than a half-dozen police units, the FBI and 5,000 volunteers contributed to their search.
“The six-county operation yielded 85 arrests for soliciting prostitution, 12 ‘pimps’ apprehended, and 129 adult sex workers ‘contacted,’” stated at reason.com.
How one can be lead into human trafficking, or recently defined as modern slavery, is by the certain situations they are in. The many attributes of falling into trafficking, according to divinecaroline.com, may include:
Trafficking is not the victims’ fault. Some may ask: how can one end up in something so crooked? According to the Divine Caroline website, “[t]raffickers make false promises of a better life. They paint unrealistic pictures of what life could be like with lots of money. They quickly befriend a person showering them with gifts and displays of affection, particularly recruiters who will later force a girl into prostitution”.
Most women adore tangible gifts and words of affection. The right thing said can lead a woman onto the wrong path. And that is the same for men and children. Human trafficking sounds vile, but it is easy to fall into the trap.
Global events like the Super Bowl may seem innocent and fun, but for years these events have become distracters for the billion-dollar trafficking industry.
Ladies, if you or know someone in this situation, please protect yourself and try to give a helpful hand. If someone is offering you a job opportunity, make sure you do a background check and not to get too personal. Make sure you show love for your family and/or friends and that they feel secure and appreciated. If they feel this from you, it may prevent potential victims to not go anywhere else for that attention. Always be careful of who you trust.
To get help or learn more information, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1.800.373.7888 or text “HELP” or “INFO” at 233733.
(Image via The a21 Campaign/theodysseyonline.com)
By Rebecca Moore
Abigail Harrison, or better known to the internet, “AstronautAbby,” is one of the most impressive young people in America right now. She dreams of becoming the first astronaut to land on Mars, and with her resume, she’s more than qualified.
In 5th grade, Abby was chosen to participate in her school’s GEMS program (Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science) where she studied science and engineering and even worked with NASA. By 8th grade, she made an award winning project entitled Debate and Diplomacy: The History of the ISS.
In high school she balanced Model UN, Student Youth and government, captaining her gymnastics team, being a varsity member of both the dive and track and field team, all while volunteering with local kids science programs. She even spent her senior year with a doubled class load, attending the University of Minnesota and getting a jumpstart on her college credits. Now she attends Wellesley College, studying Astrobiology. Somehow, in all that, she’s found time to start a nonprofit: The Mars Generation.
Their mission: “to build a stronger tomorrow by energizing our youth today about space and STEM and educating kids and adults about the importance of deep space exploration to humankind”. The Mars Generation will serve as a catalyst to identify students with an interest in STEM and nurture their study in STEM education. Abby isn’t just about focusing on her own dreams, she wants to inspire others to reach for theirs.
“I’m really excited about Student Space Ambassadors,” says Abby, speaking about one of The Mars Generation’s newest programs. “So often I get people coming up to me and asking ‘How can I do what you’re doing?’ What they really mean is ‘How can I impact my community?’”
The Student Space Ambassador Program was designed as a mentorship program to give guidance to teens and young adults excited to share their love of space with their community. Students ages 13-24 are eligible to sign up. “From formal presentations, to reading story books to young kids, to answering questions at an event you can share your passion for space. The Mars Generation will provide ideas and resources to help you evolve your own outreach efforts.”
The Mars Generation currently has a rather impressive board of directors filled with NASA astronauts, private industry engineers, and other notable scientists. Students who are lucky enough to gain one of these spots will truly have a unique and remarkable experience.
With the current government haggling over NASA’s budget, democrats wanting more money to be put into global warming research, and republicans wanting it in deep space, the need for more of the next generation to be educated and inspired on the purpose of NASA is vital.
Commenting on the budget, Abby said, “We need them to do both. A large part of what they do is looking after our own planet. Their mission is space exploration, earth observation, and education. A lot of people forget about the second because they just think about outer space. We can’t have an either or. We shouldn’t have to trade exploration for protection of our own planet. And vice versa. Both things are incredibly important for us today and our future.”
Unfortunately, NASA’s budget is still barely a period on the national budget. For years now, it’s been below 0.5%. The agency that is responsible for much of our current day to day technology, including cell phones, MRI’s, and microwaves has been sidelined. It’s an incredibly short sighted move, but luckily Abby and people like her are not taking that lying down. For all the cynicism that Americans have about their own future, Abigail Harrison should give everyone a little more hope for what tomorrow has in store.
Go to themarsgeneration.org to learn more about Student Space Ambassadors and their other programs, including space camp scholorahips.
You can follow Abby on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her own website. Also, keep your eyes out for March’s issue of Seventeen Magazine, where she was named one of their 17 Power Teens of 2016.
(Image via Abby's Twitter)
By Jessie Bruner
Sean McElwee, writer for Aljazeera America, reports that in the 2014 midterm elections only 42 percent of Americans actually voted. This is the lowest level of voter turnout since 1978, says McElwee. In a poll done by USA Today in 2012, 59 percent of people who didn’t vote said that the reason for not voting was because they were frustrated that “nothing ever gets done.” 42 percent also pointed out that there was a lack of difference between the two presidential parties. Many of those interviewed for the poll didn’t believe that the elections made much of a difference in their lives anyway.
If the election in November continues on the same downward spiral as the 2014 miderm elections, then that leaves only about 50 percent of the population of the United States voting for a president that has a lot of power over the entire nation. Studies also show that those most likely to vote are the stereotypical, rich, white males with good paying jobs, which feel secure in their finances.
However, the obligation to vote lies in the hands of millennials; individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 in the current world. A survey done by the U.S. Government shows that millennials today are the “largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population” (whitehouse.gov). The same document states that millennials value such things that would sway a major election: community and family. They are also investing more in human capital and social sciences. They are living in today’s world. We are living in today’s world. With a title such as the “largest, most diverse generation in the U.S.” and possibly its history, wouldn’t the obligation to vote fall heaviest on our generation?
The consequences of not voting are enough to make an impact, contrary to popular belief. Young people today make up around 25% of the population. With numbers like that, our vote could win an election, especially considering past elections. In 1960, one of the closest votes in history took place as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon battled against one another for the title of President of the United States. As the ballets came in and the final vote was counted, John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by .17% of the popular vote, the first time in history that a candidate won by less than a 5% margin. In a race that close, every vote matters.
As the 2016 election approaches, millennials have the responsibility to determine which candidate will be the best fit for our nation. With diversity and creativity built into our title, our obligation to not only vote, but to be informed about our vote, grows ever important. Our obligation not only stands with us and ourselves, but all those women who fought for women suffrage. They wanted to be heard, and they knew their vote would matter. Let us appreciate their sacrifices and hard work, and show the world, and ourselves, what our votes can do.