Projects, Pan, and Privilege: Why Your Greek Stereotype Doesn’t Matter

If you guys go on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen those powerful “I Am Not A Stereotype” photo projects of ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities standing up to the stereotypes they face every day.
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If you guys go on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve also probably seen photo projects inspired by those above- but instead of featuring minorities and people regularly impacted by discrimination, they feature college girls wearing Greek letters across their chests.

Everyone knows the stereotypes surrounding Greek students- spoiled, entitled, dumb, wild, etc. Everyone also knows at least one BΓΘ who complains, blogs, and posts about how unfair it is that other students get to judge them because of the letters they wear. The general idea they try to convey is that wearing those letters is a bold move because it leaves them vulnerable to scrutiny by their peers and “marginalized.” (L O L)

As someone who belongs to a panhellenic sorority (surprise), I can definitely agree that being unfairly stereotyped is shitty, but I know that the opinion of Greg From Biology, who eats Pop Tarts for dinner and hasn’t done his laundry in 7 weeks, doesn’t really matter at the end of the day (or at the end of four years). I also know that being Greek and thus “judged” all the time doesn’t stop Greek students from dominating Student Government, Homecoming Court, and leadership positions in student organizations (aka, being extremely privileged [just google “University of Alabama Machine” if you need clarification]).

The problem with this odd trend among Greeks is that it minimizes the real struggles faced by the people featured in the original project. Greek life is a choice, and with that choice comes the obvious risk of being judged by the people you go to school with. Being gay, black, or a woman, however, is not a choice, and the stereotypes that come with that have consequences lasting much longer than the four years you’re in school.

Being called dumb and spoiled because you belong to ΒΛΣ is not the same as being stopped at security checkpoints because you’re practicing your religion by wearing a hijab. It’s not the same as being rejected by employers because your parents named you Tyrese instead of Tyler. It’s not the same as being stopped by police because you “look like you could be illegal.”

Stereotypes, despite being largely incorrect, have serious consequences on the lives of those to which they are assigned. Being a minority of any kind (racially, sexually, religiously, etc.) leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of oppression and injustice- from being stopped and frisked because you “look like a thug” or not being taken seriously as a politician because you’re a woman.

I urge my fellow Greek students to understand that despite the shitty things other students have to say about us, we are in a position of privilege, not only by being Greek but by being in college in the first place, and should recognize that privilege and use it to combat real, stereotype- induced injustices in our communities.

Xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

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Debates, Discourse, and Diversification

This will be a short and not particularly well-written piece since I’m currently studying and just taking a break to address something I saw yesterday.

As most of you know, CNN held the Democratic Primary Debates last night, and my social media was aglow with messages of support, hilarious memes, and dissenting opinions. With the lack of circus and general hostility seen in the Republican Debates last month, there was a lot more meaningful discussion on my social media homepages last night, and I was seriously proud of how engaged my internet friends were in the election process.

That is, until I saw my university’s College Republicans post a photo of them at a local movie theater with the caption “Democratic Debates or College Republican movie night?”

Upon seeing the photo, my mind was instantly brought back to elementary school, when kids would stick their fingers in their ears yelling “la la la la la” to tune out other kids who were bothering them.

Looking at this photo, I saw a group of students purposefully missing an event because it surrounded things they didn’t agree with. Rather than watch the debates, like most intelligent, politically minded people do to gain an understanding of what the other side has to say, they looked away and pretended the debates weren’t even on.

The self reported vision of the Young Republicans club at my school is to foster “a successful Florida Federation of College Republicans as a mature, stable, effective, and respected organization.”

Mature. 

Obviously, there was absolutely nothing mature about what the CR club did last night. As an organization who wishes to help students become active and engaged citizens, it was almost their duty to encourage their membership to watch the debates, and perhaps even facilitate a discussion on their views and how they differed from those of the Democratic candidates. Informed citizenship entails looking at the issues from all points of view, not just the one you think you identify with, and sadly, the College Republicans fell short of this mark.

Part of the purpose of going to college is to expose yourself to new experiences and ideas that are not your own. The 60,000 students you interact with for those 4 years (or more, for those of you on your victory lap) teach you more than your professors could ever hope to. Being a young adult means finding out who you are, and that means being open to other worldviews and opinions that you may have not even considered.

I advise everyone to seize the opportunity afforded by being surrounded by so many different people to challenge yourself to broaden your horizons. Take this time to examine important sociopolitical issues from different points of view, and try to understand why you and others have specific opinions.

In the election spirit, I also invite all of my readers to take the iSideWith test to really gain an understanding of what your opinions are and to use the results as a tool to start having discussions with your family and friends!

xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Artist to Watch: HANA

A few weeks ago I went to see Purity Ring live at the Orlando House of Blues, and it was honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.

20150912_223624_LLSDespite the torrential downpour I got caught in waiting outside the venue, everything was perfect; the music, the lights, the feel-good atmosphere created by soaking wet, blissed-out, 20-somethings. All of it added up to an excellent night, but the real icing on the cake was the opening act; a mysterious, spectral goddess with a killer high ponytail and even better voice, HANA.

Normally, I research and sample a few songs by the opener before going to a show, but between school, work, and interning, I seriously didn’t have the time, and I’m really glad I didn’t. From the first bass drop of her set, I was immediately transfixed and pleasantly suprised (#EpicUnderstatement) by the gorgeous soundscapes (courtesy of LA producer Blood Diamonds) and enormous vocal range of the 26-year old artist.

With a fanbase including Grimes, Lorde, and Purity Ring, HANA is truly a star reborn and on the rise. Beginning her career with an acoustic indie debut in 2009, HANA didn’t really find her fame, and probably for the best. Following a 6 year sabbatical and extensive touring around college campuses, HANA ditched her acoustic guitar in favor of pounding drums, clean production, and droning drum machines for an otherworldly sound reminiscent of indie R&B stars Banks and FKA Twigs.

With the July release of her (re)debut single, “Clay,” HANA became the talk of the blogesphere. The track is a very poppy, sweetly sung “fuck you, I’m doing just fine” to a controlling ex-lover set to an infectious 80’s-esque backdrop, and it’s incredibly addictive.

The real jewel of both her live set and available singles, however, is her minimal, trip-hoppy, base-heavy track “Avalanche.” Using her voice as the primary instrument, HANA bids farewell to the same controlling ex-lover in “Clay” in a gorgeous falsetto, really demonstrating her ridiculous range and true symbiosis with her producer/boyfriend Blood Diamonds.

The singer does not currently have an EP available, but her two singles are available for purchase on iTunes and are streaming on Spotify. To keep up with HANA (and impatiently await her album), follow her on Twitter and Soundcloud.

Nice Guys, Sexual Entitlement, and the Slut Shaming of Millennial Women

We need to talk about vaginas.

Particularly, about people worrying about what women do with them.

I’ve lamented the epidemic of poorly written Elite Daily posts by love-deprived, 20-something year old women waxing nostalgic for a time of chivalry they’ve never actually experienced, but something posted by a Facebook friend was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This post, titled “Why Chivalry is Dead, From a Man’s Perspective” went on to explain that the lack of chivalry is not the fault of men not being decent enough human beings to treat women with respect, but rather that of the fact that women “don’t hold their cards close enough” and allow themselves to engage in strictly sexual relationships with men instead of letting them sweep them off their feet the way they did when our parents were our age.

The author of this article then chose to end his essay with the line:

“It’s pretty obvious that women own the cards, and when they start acting like it, they’ll finally start getting dinner from places that don’t deliver”

If you don’t see the issue with this, let me break it down for you:
This individual (and the thousands of people who shared it) believe that a woman’s choice to exalt her  youth and conduct herself in a sexually liberated fashion (aka, do what men have been doing since the dawn of time) makes her unworthy of romance and only fit for relationships of the “Netflix and Chill” variety, and that is totally and completely fucked.

Firstly, how a woman chooses to express her sexuality is nobody’s business other than her own and that of whoever she chooses to express it with, be it with 1 or 100 partners. Secondly, a woman’s choice to engage in casual sexual activity does not define whether or not she deserves to be treated in a polite and respectful manner by male suitors.

This type of backwards mentality is a direct reflection of the “Nice Guy” epidemic that seems to be plaguing young men my age. For those of you who don’t frequent the internet enough, the Nice Guy is someone who engages a woman in a platonic relationship (complete with the mutual respect and emotional intimacy most normally functioning friendships entail) under the assumption that treating her like an actual person will earn him sex.

The disappointment that ensues when the Nice Guy’s female friend does not reciprocate his feelings or desire to enter into a sexual relationship with him is generally expressed in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. The Nice Guy will accuse his female friend of “using him” for his kindness and time spent with her (as if being friends with someone doesn’t imply that you need to both be kind to and spend time with them #dafuq?). She’s a bitch, and he’s the good guy that finished last.
  2. Nice Guy will blame women as a whole, stating that “girls only like assholes,” which then prompts him to proclaim that he’s done treating girls decently because it “never gets him anywhere.” His masculinity is wounded, and the only way he can rebuild it is to mimic the behavior of “Alpha Males” when interacting with women.

This idea that sex is something earned by treating women with respect is extremely insidious because it demonstrates an underlying sense of sexual entitlement young men feel towards women’s bodies . These men honestly and truly believe that sex is something they “deserve” and something women are obliged to reward them with when they’ve “inserted enough kindness coins” into her.

Furthermore, it reflects an attitude suggesting that women aren’t deserving of respect in their own right and rather only when sex is a possible outcome, aka women aren’t people, just vaginas.

As women become more and more sexually open, there needs to be a general societal understanding that a) women should not be held to different sexual standards than men, b) that virginity and chastity are social constructs meant to commodify women sexually, and most importantly c) women are people too, and what a woman does behind closed doors does not define her worth. 

Xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Hospital Pagers and Changing Majors

Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve wanted to be a psychiatrist. I became that pre-pre-med kid in high school; taking AP everything and making straight A’s to make sure I got into a top tier college, hoping it would improve my chances of getting into an equally top tier medical school. My life revolved around the idea that one day I’d be answering to hospital pager while wearing a white coat with “Dr. Workman” stitched on the pocket, and nobody could tell me otherwise.

So you can imagine the collective gasp of surprise when I told my friends and family that I don’t want to be a doctor anymore. At the beginning of my last year of college.

I entered college double majored in Pre-Clinical Health Sciences (which is my school’s fancy way of saying Pre-Med) and Psychology, and stuck with it for four semesters. But the life I planned for myself literally came crashing down around me when I came home from a final exam review session for my organic chemistry class in a complete state of clarity. As I sat there, listening to my sweet professor giving us all the tips and tricks he could think of for the test, my mind was focused on how much I HATED chemistry. All semester, his class gave me nothing but anxiety. I spent all of my time studying, and spazzing out before and after every quiz and exam, despite the fact that I had an A in the class.

The more I thought about how ridiculously unfulfilled I felt in my course of study, the more it occurred to me that I shouldn’t continue it. Why would I continue to make myself unhappy for the next 10 years studying something I absolutely hated? Since I couldn’t think of a single justification, I closed my textbook and opened myself to all of the possibilities that were now available to me.

To say that I freaked out would be an EXTREME understatement. I had planned out everything in my quest for the MD to the point that I made spreadsheets mapping out which classes I would take until graduation, application dates and requirements for my top choice medical schools, and a study schedule for the MCAT. And with my sudden change of heart, I was back to square one. I now had no idea what I would do with myself for the rest of my life and was in a state of existential panic:

What if I change my mind? What if I’m making a mistake? What if this has some massive butterfly effect and ruins my life? Who am I supposed to be now? Ph.D? MD? D always causes problems!

I was driven so absolutely mad with doubt and internal pressure to make a choice that I opted out of taking summer classes to instead reflect and do some research as to what I wanted to pursue. And last week, I finally decided that I would get my Ph.D in Clinical Child Psychology (and made all of the proper adjustments to my spreadsheet #GirlBoss)

When I finally made the choice and stuck to it, I was literally hit with a wave of euphoria. I was so content in knowing that I would spend the next 8 years studying something I was truly passionate about, and genuinely excited about what the future holds.

From my experience, there are three things I want everyone to know about changing majors in college:

1. Uncertainty is okay
We are expected to know exactly what we want to do in life before we’re even allowed to vote, which means you’re letting child you dictate what adult you is going to want 15 years down the road. Everyone always says that “college is a time of growth,” and they’re absolutely right. You change so much between move-in day and graduation that what you thought you liked when you came in may end up being something you can’t stand by the time you leave. College is a time of exploration and self-discovery; both inside and outside the classroom. Allow yourself to question what you want in life, and if you don’t know, don’t sweat it. You’ll find it along the way.

2. Be Open to New Ideas
Luckily for everyone who wasn’t an Advanced Placement Psycho in high school, most colleges have a General Education Program that spans tons of different areas of study. You take English, Astronomy, Psychology, Physics, Economics, as well as the intro classes to your declared major. Instead of dreading these classes, take them as opportunities to learn what you like and dislike academically. One of my friends freshman year took Intro to Computer Programming and absolutely hated it, so much so that he ended up switching from Computer Engineering to Digital Animation. You never know, the right class or professor can really have an impact.

3. DO NOT FREAK OUT
Changing majors is really stressful, but do not let it psych you out. You wouldn’t be changing majors unless you really felt like your original choice wasn’t the right one. It’s scary embarking on a completely new journey, but you have to know that in the end, you’re making the decision that’ll make you happiest in the long run. Breathe, it’s going to be fine.

xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Tame Impala: ‘Currents’

Tame Impala has been simultaneously one of the most influential and highly underrated music acts of our time. With the 2010 release of their seminal debut album, ‘Innerspeaker’, Tame Impala (led by reclusive genius Kevin Parker) reintroduced the independent music scene to the hard-hitting, otherworldly sound of 1970’s psychedelia. Standouts like “Solitude Is Bliss” and “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind” take you on a journey of introspection and welcomed loneliness.

As the title of their sophomore album, ‘Lonerism’ suggests, Kevin Parker further explores solitude and existential reflection to the tune of raging guitar riffs, which have been heralded as some of the best of the decade. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” dominated 2012’s End of the Year lists, and “Elephant” became a football stadium staple on college campuses all across America.

But strangely enough, Tame Impala’s innovative yet retro sound has yet to truly meet the mainstream.

download Enter the band’s new and surprisingly dance-able 2015 release ‘Currents’.

Parker has largely abandoned spaced out, fuzzy guitars in favor of sparkling pop perfection on the 13 track reinvention of the psych band we knew so well.

When the album opener and leading single “Let it Happen” was released in March, the blogs went NUTS. We had the Grateful Dead- era classic rocker emerge from a 3 year hiatus with a squeaky clean, 8 minute epic pop song- and it was perfect. The track was an exhibition of production at its finest; distorted vocals, insane loops, wobbling base; all culminating in an explosion of Daft Punk- esque synth guitar bliss.

While decidedly pop, the album never loses the psychedelic atmosphere we’ve grown to love. In fact, it throws it into full throttle with woozy baselines, funk-dusted synth, and languid 70’s drum beats- leaving us somewhere between psych-roc and R&B.

The album as a whole is kind of a farewell to an ex-lover, or even former self. Lyrics explore the process of “finding yourself” through the end of a relationship, but without any pretension or cliche. Songs like “‘Cause I’m a Man” let us peek into Parker’s ideas surrounding the reconciliation of romance, introversion, and masculinity; confessing “Don’t always think before I do,” as both a rationalization and apology for his lack of consideration, (something I find highly relatable).

“Nangs,” while only 1:47 long, is another kind of exhibition, this time showcasing Parker’s ability to create lush soundscapes by taking leaves from the pages of many different genres, namely hip hop, IDM, and psych.

Early standouts include:
“Love/Paranoia,”
“Past Life”
“Yes I’m Changing”

‘Currents’ is available to stream on NPR, Spotify, and is available to purchase on iTunes.

Wasted Youth and Saying “Yes”

Hey, Romantiques, long time no see. I am so sorry for the lack of posts. Between school starting back up, my new position at work, and getting my interning all sorted out, I haven’t had any down time to write. But now that I’ve gotten my life together, I will resume posting regularly.

With that being said, I have decided to somewhat abandon my “days of the week” post structure in favor of posting whatever comes to mind. I’ll still be posting favorites, music, fashion, etc., but it won’t be on such a strict schedule.

Today’s post is brought to you by my 20th birthday, which was on June 19th. It really didn’t dawn on me that I am no longer a teenager until my coworker asked me how old I was the other day, and for some reason the realization made me kind of sad.

Being someone who mostly sticks to the background and is generally too shy to make tons of new friends, I spent most of high school in a sort of quiet solitude, and paired with the fact that I didn’t have anything in common with 95% of the people at my school, I kind of missed out on doing all the crazy things you’re supposed to do in your teen years. I never went to the big group hangouts because all (four) of my friends belonged to different social groups. I hardly ever went to any concerts because nobody liked the same bands I did. I never stayed out late driving around with my friends because I always had too much homework to do, and getting into NYU was my top priority at the time.
I thought I would make up for lost time when I got to college, but being pre-med kind of forced me to put exalting my youth on the back-burner. What I thought would be a period dominated with good times I’d tell my kids about turned into endless nights in my dorm room trying to memorize reaction mechanisms and kinematic equations, which doesn’t leave you much time to go out and make new friends to do fun things with.

But last week, I decided I was throwing my young years away and trying to justify it as “investing in my future,” which was making me seriously unhappy. Upon that realization, I decided now was the time to take back my life. I changed my major (which you can read more about here), bought three concert tickets without having any idea who I’d be going to them with, and paid a long overdue solo visit to one of my favorite “hipster” hangouts by my school to remind myself of who I am and what I like. And it felt so good.

That one week of doing exactly what I love made me realize that how important it is to secure your own happiness. I was so focused on making sure future me would be happy that I neglected present me in the process. Two years have gone by and I still haven’t done everything I planned to do, which is something I know I would regret if I allowed it to continue.

My goal for this upcoming school year is to say “yes”. Yes to hanging out with new people instead of shying away. Yes to going out and doing all the fun things I want to do, even if I have no one to go with. Yes to new opportunities to learn and develop as a person. Yes to being myself.

I guess the point of this post is to remind myself (and whoever is reading this) that it’s so important to make the most of your time in college, and for as long as you can when it’s over, because youth is too precious and irreplaceable to let pass you by.

xoxo,
La Nouvelle Romantique

Art Talk: Victoria de Lessepes

There are very few things I am guilty of, and being a fan of The Real Housewives of New York is definitely one of them. Over the years we’ve watched friendships form and fizzle, wealthy women’s wild nights, and surprisingly, the birth of a wonderful artist.

Victoria de Lesspes.

The New York artist started showing her art on the show when she was just barely a teenager, and as she got older, her talent blossomed. Now, at 20 years old, her talent is being recognized and praised in the art world, earning her a featured spot in Milk and Night’s feminism in art’ gallery at 2014’s Art Basel in Miami.

Victoria’s art is modern, moving, and very much guided by focus on the beauty of the female form. Through her work runs a decidedly feminist motif, celebrating women and their bodies in all their naked glory.

Victoria is currently studying at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, focusing on graphic design, fashion design, and animation. She also does freelance work as a graphic designer, working with BEX Lingerie. 

Victoria has a great eye for line and how to effectively use negative space to make her work really stand out and speak to you. Being someone who frequents the fashion scene, the influence of design sketch is more than evident in her work.

I see great things ahead for the talented, young, up and comer, and encourage you to keep up with her work on her website.

Fashion Friday: Jumpsuits

If you spent your autumn last year stalking the runways at Spring/Summer 2015 Fashion Week, then you already know that what is old is now new again. Designers opted to bring back the 1970’s with bohemian looks and disco-ball inspired metallics. As much as I love a good throwback, the one trend that got my attention was the jumpsuit.

Jumpsuits by Dior, Pucci, and Ralph Lauren at Fashion Week.
Jumpsuits by Dior, Pucci, and Ralph Lauren at Fashion Week.

Being a mini-woman, my greatest fashion aspiration is to be able to wear a jumpsuit without looking like an oompa loompa. Jumpsuits are intrinsically and effortlessly chic, and are the lazy fashionista’s dream; it’s an all in one outfit that you can style a million ways with different accessories. All you need is a statement necklace, thick belt, or colorful blazer to take this look to the next level.

Thanks to Dior, Pucci, Chloé, and Céline showing this trend at Fashion Week, I’ve noticed that jumpsuits are the new go-to for nights out on the town and dressy lunches alike, showing how verstile a garment it really is. I was at a formal a few months ago and one of my friends ditched the normal gown for a sexy black jumpsuit and sky high heels- and she totally rocked it. A few weeks after that, my roommate wore the same jumpsuit with a blush blazer and amazing single band, high heeled sandals to lunch with her boyfriend’s parents.

If you obey any of this Summer’s trends, jumpsuits are the way to go. Linked below are some of my favorite jumpsuits to add to your collection on a college girl budget.

Forever 21 ($30): http://www.forever21.com/Product/Product.aspx?BR=f21&Category=jumpsuit_romper&ProductID

H&M ($60): http://www.hm.com/us/product/88750?article=88750-A

Zara ($80): http://www.zara.com/us/en/woman/jumpsuits/long-jumpsuit-with-gathered-back-c399001p2605017.html

Art Talk Tuesday: Meagan Cignoli

“Do it for the Vine” has become part of the cultural lexicon in the age of the millenial, and what used to be a little known clip posting app has become a social media titan in what feels like six seconds.

From pranks and comedy skits, to viral dance crazes, vine has proven itself as a unique platform for artists of all kinds. For me, this is especially true of award winning photographer, director, and over all creative badass Meagan Cignoli. 

From the onset of Vine’s climb to social media domination, Meagan Cignoli saw the app for what it truly was, yet another canvas for her bright and beautiful short form films to reach the masses. Meagan’s videos are playful, quirky, and very well made, which has earned her opportunities to work with leading brands like Coca Cola, Dolce & Gabbana, Disney, as well as several awards including  “Digital Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2014 Hubbies and a Cannes Lion award.

Her unique take on (and accidental discovery of) stop motion takes the whimsy of animation and combines it with the skill and meticulousness of still photography to create truly beautiful landscapes frame after frame.

With a keen eye for design, Meagan describes her process in an interview with Wired Magazine as “an exploration of aesthetics” rather than an animation process, and this is evident in her always balanced color schemes and music selection (which is absolutely amazing btw).

When she’s not working with YSL or Gap, Meagan is also an avid Instagrammer, proving to us that she is queen when it comes to all things visual media. 

Happy Mother's Day! Song is At Home by Crystal Fighters #MCflowers

A post shared by Meagan Cignoli (@meagancignoli) on

I encourage all of you to follow her on Vine, Instagram, and Twitter, and to check out her website to see what this dynamo is up to next!