Damn, girl! Trendy naturalista’s guide to a bangin’ twist out [best tutorial videos on YouTube]

By Ciara Rouege

I’m still new to the natural hair game. If you’re also a converter, I’m sure you know the earlier years are like being reborn and then visiting the Beauty Supply for the first time ever. Hair lessons accumulated over more than two decades with a fresh relaxer have been made almost useless. Luckily, I’m a proud student at the University of YouTube and have been taking a few crash courses.

The twist out is one step above a wash-and-go, but don’t deny its power. It’s the most versatile of styles, working with many different hair types, which is probably why it’s also the most popular. It’s a simple style, but don’t be fooled — practice is still needed!

Although this is a list of my favorite twist out hair tutorial videos (so far), it’s also class notes on what I’ve learned about natural hair during this transformative process. The biggest lesson being all natural hair is different. I’ve come to except that some hair styles will forever be out of reach simply because of my current length and inherited thickness and texture. Here are points to consider when creating the most bangin’ twist out:

Are you using the right products?

The natural hair industry has exploded in recent years, leaving naturalistas with a growing lists of options. Try to sample as many products as possible. And remember what’s most popular or most expensive, may not be what’s best for you. Personally, I’ve gotten the best results with the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Curl Defining Creme Glaze.

How much product are you using?

I got some greedy ass hair! So, I’m pretty generous with the products. In fact, I spray my hair with a homemade solution (Formula: setting lotion, caster oil, olive oil and water). The solution also replaces the hair moisture after I’ve padded it dry following a wash.

Are you starting out with wet or dry hair?

I’ve done and seen both. While wet hair leaves me with the most body, I will re-twist after a couple days just to keep the curls formed. I’ve noticed with my own hair, some sections are naturally coiled while others are more bushy. However, it’s become less and less ‘diverse’ as I continue to avoid harsh chemicals and heat styling.

Bria Larine does an amazing twist-out on dry hair (with few spritz of water).

Are you twisting close enough to the root?

Don’t be afraid to make it tight! Depending on your hair texture, starting your twist further from the root could leave you with curls on top of an afro, essentially.

How big are you making your twist?

It’s completely up to you! I prefer fairly small twist (even though it takes much more time), but maybe you feel better with medium-sized twist or BIG twist. Whichever size you use, I agree the best results come from using equal-sized twist across your entire head.

Toni of Natural Hair Sistas used only six jumbo twists:

If you’re starting out short — a twist out is still possible. Here’s some advise from Shawntas Way as she styles her sister’s hair, which is a just above the shoulders: 

YouTube has hundreds of tutorial videos for achieving the best twist out, so no matter your hair type — there’s something out there for you! I’m at the start of my natural hair journey myself, but I hope this was helpful. 😃

National Side Chick Day? Yes…this is really happening!

By Ciara Rouege

HOUSTON — It’s clear the term “significant other” has a whole new meaning amongst the millennial generation — it’s definitely become a lot more literal these days. Yes, we’re talking about the real significant “others” in some people’s lives, otherwise known as side chicks and side pieces.

National Side Chick Day is not on any official registries, and there’s a bit of back-and-forth on whether to celebrate the day on Feb. 13 or Feb. 15, but the sentiment is always the same: get romantic time in with your main person, or spouse, on Valentine’s Day and then catch up with your side piece the day before or after.

Sugar babies, mistresses and secret lover boys have been around for centuries, but it wasn’t until the last five years or so that having a “lil’ somethin’ on the side” became somewhat of a standard practice in the modern dating scene. It’s become so standard that many have set aside a day for cheaters to recognize their other snuggle buddies.

In the liberal spirit of egalitarianism, we can drop the “chick” and call it National Side Piece Day. It’d be sexist to assume a woman can’t have a midnight friend, or that an undercover boyfriend isn’t seeking lavish appreciation.

It’s a running joke that side pieces don’t get much play on Valentine’s Day, but National Side Chick Day could gain some momentum. Of course, if it does…it’s presumably going to be on the down-low.

If the idea of a National Side Chick Day has you almost ready to pass out, check out this ‘How to become a Side Chick’ guide on the popular DIY site WikiHow that has us in stitches!

Note: This article was first published Feb. 13, 2017 on the CW39.com

Girl, let’s #NamaSlay with Trap Yoga Bae!

By Ciara Rouege

I’m about as flexible as a No. 2 pencil, but where ever there is trap music— it’s sort of my mission to try and be there. Or at the absolute least, I’m accepting the Facebook invite.

Trap-themed events have been popping up like corn in a paper bag the past year. I doubt 2018 will be any different. Paint…and trap music. Fashion…and trap music. Brunch…and guest what? Trap music. Not that I’m complaining— I plan on catching all that shit!

Girl Houston Trap Yoga Ciara Rouege

After clicking ‘going’ a dozen times on Facebook — and one unused $22 Silent Trap Party ticket later — I finally made it to a trap event with some close girlfriends in December.

It was my first event, so I tried to keep it clachet with some trap yoga. We signed up for a class at Boyer with the hella fine and fabulous Trap Yoga Bae. She hails from Oakland and became a certified yoga instructor in Rishikesh, India.

She legit, girl! She cute, too.

First thought walking in: Please, ladies! When are we going to stop treating our boyfriends like girlfriends and stop bring them to girls night out?

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Second thought: Girl, Trap Yoga Bae is funny!

No, this is not your mother’s YMCA yoga class— expect to hear ALL the curse words and a bit of sexual humor. No jokes: 18 and up!

“I need you to stand strong at the top of your mat with legs about waist-length apart— about as open as they would be if your man’s head was between them,” Trap Yoga Bae said to to the class.

Don’t forget, it is TRAP yoga!

Girl Houston Trap Yoga Ciara Rouege Trap Yoga Bae

The classes—  unless otherwise stated — are beginner friendly with easier and advance alternatives for all the poses. I attended a class were we did traditional movements including the child’s pose,  downward facing dog, the basic warrior stances, tree stance and many others.

There will be some twerking (or fast hip rotating— depending on your background), a DJ for all your spirit’s musical needs, some anti-fuck boy affirmations and lots of cheerful group participation.

The workout is a bit challenging, but the music and hilarious instruction keep you fairly distracted. Nothing frees the spirit more than light fun and good humor, so I’d recommend trap yoga to both one-timers and hardcore yogis.

Now, will I be adding “ass, I command you to grow” to my daily meditation routine. Well, mostly likely not.

Is it real yoga? I’m told it’s 100% certified, black girl on a rock mediating in India bonafide yoga. But hey, no more questions from me! Grab your own mat and trap yoga it up at the next class, girl!

Girl, that RING! Astros Carlos Correa celebrates World Series win with on-field proposal

By Ciara Monet Rouege

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros finally earned history Wednesday after demolishing the Dogers 5-1 in Game 7 of the World Series. While fans in Los Angeles and back at home in Houston were overwhelmed with excitement, no one had a bigger smile than Carlos Correa and his soon-to-be wife.

The Astros shortstop surprised his girlfriend, Daniella Rodriguez, with a marriage proposal on live television.

“And right now I’m about to take another big step in my life,” the player said to a reporter before reaching into his pocket and turning around. “Daniella Rodriguez, you’ve made me the luckiest man in the world. Will you marry me?”

Rodriguez, who is the 2016 Miss Texas USA, broke out in tears as she pushed through a field barrier to Correa.

The answer was yes!

The couple engaged in a loving kiss and embrace before Correa slid a gorgeous diamond ring onto his fiance’s finger.

Definitely, our close to first favorite moment of the World Series.

This article was originally published on the CW39 Houston website on Nov. 2, 2017.

Cuffing, breadcrumbing, lovebombing: Is millennial dating slang really shaking up the love game?

By Ciara Rouege

HOUSTON — With cuffing season in full effect, romance is definitely in the air! But for millennial singles, the air may be just a little bit shadier.

Benchingbreadcrumbinglovebombing and stashing are just a few terms today’s young people are using to describe their relationships. Of course, to most Gen. X-ers and Baby Boomers these words can sound like straight up gibberish. For example, do you know what about ghosting? To close the communication gap between the generation, NewsFix hunt down the definitions this modern lovers slang.


Millennial Dating Slang Cheat Sheet 

Cuffing Season: Finding a family-appropriate holiday hook-up to take home for the holidays.

Stashing: When an unmarried person keeps a relationship hidden away for whatever reason.

LovebombingOverwhelming a partner with attention and gifts.

Ghosting: Cutting off all contact with a lover.

Haunting: When an old flame pops up in your social media feed seemingly out of nowhere

Netflix ‘n’ ChillInviting a love interest over to watch Netflix, but both parties know they’re meeting up to have sex.

BreadcrumbingLeading a person on without fully committing friendship or relationship.

Benching: Telling a person you want a relationship, even going as far as setting up dates, but never seeming to follow through.


Dr. Norma Ngo is a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. She believes these trendy terms come from a dating scene sped up by social media, dating apps and digital dating services.

“I don’t think the practices are necessarily new: ghosting…breadcrumbing…benching,” Ngo said. “People get out of relationships. People have backups. That’s been going on for a long time.”

And new terms are born each day as dating continues to go digital among young people.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of singles aged 18 to 24 using online services and apps to find love tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to almost 30 percent in 2015. On the flip side, 23 percent of people in a 2013 study said singles who used online dating sties were ‘desperate.’

Ouch!

“I think the only term that I would say is probably newer with millennials is haunting— only because that’s more of an online thing,” Ngo said.

Younger players, same old game

These terms may be unheard of to most, but are the practices behind them a millennial thing? Residents we talked to at the Brookdale Tanglewood Assisted Senior Living Home in Houston said no way!

So what’s up with breadcrumbing? We now know it’s when you lead a person on, but Dorothy Meehan says that’s nothing new.

“Yeah, they have been doing that since the beginning—throwing out those breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel,” she said.

We asked her Meehan’s husband Bob, if he knew what stashing was.

“Stashing away something? A place to put it that nobody knows,” He responded.

Well, sort of. In today’s dating 101, stashing is when an unmarried person is in a relationship, but they’re keeping it kind of hidden for whatever reason.

“You didn’t keep it a secret that much. If your friends didn’t know, somebody knew,” Bob said.

In some ways, John Wise said millennials have it a bit easier than singles had it in his day.  He told said when a person see someone they might be interested in, they just search for them online to find out more about them.

When John first spotted his future wife, Gail, he wasn’t able to catch her name. To find her, John jotted down the license number of the car she was riding in, next had a police buddy run the plates— and then VIOLA! He had a phone number to call her.

Hoping her family wouldn’t find it strange, he kindly asked Gail’s aunt if he could take her out on a date.  Now wouldn’t it have been easier just to send a friend request? Well that wasn’t an option in the 1960s.

You had to show a little more initiative!

“Go ahead and do your thing, whatever you need to get the person you want,” John said.

It’s also important to point out that while most Baby Boomers and Gen. X-ers were getting married in their late teens and early 20s, today’s singles are tying the knot much later in life.

So what are millennials actually doing different?

According to the National Marriage Project in 2013, today’s women are walking down the isle at 27 years old while men are getting married at 29 on average. Researchers said it’s a number that continues to rise with each coming generation.

Millennials are also different in that these singles oft get through the “opening stages” of a relationship online before investing in-person.

“A lot of this stuff is done before you meet the person through texting— actually through the app— and then you get to the texting-talking stage,” Ngo said. “And then there’s very quickly, getting to the sexual intimacy part of it.”

Haunting and Netflix ‘n’ chill are catchy phrases, but are some of these practice dangerous? Dr. Ngo said you may want to take it slow with lovebombers.

“[Lovebombing] is when someone very quickly attaches to you and show you with a lot of attention and gifts— and demands a lot of your attention. The moment you decide you want to spend time with someone else— or talk to someone else — they really have a problem with that,” Ngo said. “When people start to feel that it’s controlling, then it’s out of balance and not healthy. And in some cases it can be borderline abusive.”

Each generation has like to put it’s own spin on dating slang, but we can all learn a few lesson from the more experienced lovers. Both the Wises and the Meehans have been married for 56 years— so they know a thing or two!

Because while the players may change— the love game will always be the same!

This article was originally posted to the CW39 Houston website on Nov. 2, 2017.

What’s Mine is Yours…Sometimes: But the Sex is Good Podcast [Episode 1]

It had been more than six months since Chris and I decided to create a sex and relationship podcast. Finally, we ran out of excuses Sunday and just clicked record!

Faced with an infinite list of topics to cover, we thought it would be good to start with the basis of most relationships: sharing.

Sharing a life with a person can be an endearing experience…but sometimes it can also be a tight pinch in the ass. In our first episode, we discuss a wide — and I mean WIDE — range of sharing scenarios from toothbrushes to money to intimacy in an open relationship.

But the Sex is Good Podcast: What’s Mine is Yours…Sometimes [Episode One]

It’s only our first podcast, but we’d love to know what you think. What topics should we cover? In what ways could we improve? Also, be sure to like our page on Facebook!

Here’s a link to articles mentioned in the episode:

The Four Stages of Sharing a Bathroom With a Significant Other: bit.ly/2vVXL95

My Boyfriend’s Other Girlfriend Just Had A Baby, And That’s OK: bit.ly/2vDdaZ8

‘Chain me in there real good’: How I went from a creamy crack addict to a natural-haired beauty

By Ciara Rouege

Just over a year ago, I was the bright-eyed poster child for creamy crack— that cold, thick and hair-straightening miracle mayonnaise!

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Just a few days after I got a good relaxer back in April 2015.

You may call it a perm, or sometimes a relaxer. Either way, my southern-born mother always taught me to call it a necessity.

A scripture from the black girl bible: she who steps out with unlaid edges, steps out on her mother and herself.

There was no way in heaven or hell, I was going to step out! Neither mom, nor my three younger sisters, would ever allow it.

It would make me cringe: to look in the mirror and see those tough, unrelaxed strands uprooting themselves from my tender scalp.

I’d grab that rat-tail comb like it was the Good Book, churn that perm mix with a little wooden spatula like I was in the trap house of Jesus— and make things ‘right,’ again!

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Girl, you know how it is! #Truth

In college, a younger woman tried to enlighten me.

She said hair relaxers were hidden chains of white oppression— the unrepentant enforcer of European beauty standards.

She said I was trapped in the ‘bad hair’ mindset.

To which I responded,”Well, tell’em to chain me in there real good— cause I ain’t walking around her with no nappy hair!”

Oh, God bless her sweet little heart! But like most of the natural-haired prophets at the time, itty-bitty was being a little too political for my taste.

In 2013, it seemed more and more women were talking about Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair.’

The film, which debuted in late 2009, made natural hair increasingly political for millennials— but also more trendy. And man, some of these ladies were committed to that #naturalhair life!

I remember scrolling through my Facebook feed, thinking who are all these bald-headed bitches in my timeline? All preaching about the Big Chop.

Still, while I wasn’t a lone naysayer— oh, far from it! I was raised to give credit where credit is due. In my mind, I started looking at natural-haired women in two categories: the woke…and the broke.

If you were WOKE, that meant you were giving us life straight from Mother Earth! The ‘fro was perfectly hedged, the curls were glossy and the edges were tamed.

Oh! And if you weren’t at least an eight in the face and a 10 in the waist…Honey, you better take this TCB and sit your ass down somewhere. In my old opinion, only beautiful, fine-bodied women could get away with natural hair. Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 10.34.46 PM

All the rest were BROKE with their dry puffs and funky locks. Terrible! I know, but that’s just where I was at in my thinking at the time.

Eventually, I decided to give natural hair a shot because it was ‘the cool thing to do.’

I failed about five times. (OK, technically four times. There was a period when my wallet was super-tight and I couldn’t afford to get a relaxer even if I wanted to.)

I couldn’t wrap my mind around it: natural hair ‘isn’t sexually desirable,’ natural hair ‘isn’t appropriate for the work space.’ Oh, and the jokes!

Light-, medium- or dark-skinned, all black women have a peculiar set of social boundaries that we’re forced to live within. I’m about three shades too high on the chart to be rocking an afro without it being perceived as a ‘statement piece.’

I was overwhelmed with the concerns rationalized in the eyes of the generations that came before me.

It was just easier to just keep relaxing— to keep dusting the immense dandruff of my shoulders, to keep watching the hair strands falling into the sink and to keep scratching off those chemical burn scabs.

And then, I had an epiphany.

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Shout out to Charles ‘Chip’ Fields for taking this cute picture of me rocking my natural hair.

The youngest of my sisters— just 7 years old at the time— was being mocked by a classmate because her ‘hair looked crunchy’ and her features ‘weren’t cute.’

I was disturbed by her low self-esteem. She just kept asking me, desperately, “RaRa, am I pretty?”

Our mom eventually told me what was going on, and she showed me a picture of the classmate. I’ve never been more outraged in my life than staring at that little girl.

Looking back at me was a scuffed, dirty little pale-faced kid with beady blue eyes and lackluster, damaged blonde hair. She had on a tattered white dress and bruised knees.

It had nothing to do with the child.

It was the realization that there are women in the world of all backgrounds and ethnicities who— even on their worst day, even if they’re in shambles— would look at a black woman’s features and belittle her.

I tried to rebuke the feeling by giving my little sister an ill-guided pep-talk praising the gorgeousness of her natural hair.

“But your hair isn’t like mine,” she said. “And May May’s isn’t, and Anna’s and mom’s.”

She found me out; I was speechless.

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In April 2015, Cosmopolitan magazine was under fire for an article that suggestively showed white women as fashion dos and black women as donts.

In that moment, I thought about all the little black girls staring at their reflection, struggling to find beautifulness and womanliness within themselves.

Girls going through life exhausting themselves over their God-given hair and bodies, begging for approval from a social structure that taught them through the lessons of their own mothers that femininity was not inalienable.

I remembered siting between my mothers legs with tears rushing down my face as she yanked and pulled my hair; and laughing beside my sisters with stained towels draped across our shoulders and chemicals burning into our scalps.

It’s self-evident that all women are taught that beauty is pain. Still, I thought, this shit is out of control.

I didn’t know it, but the relaxer I’d applied a couple weeks before that conversation would be my last.

 

Feather brows? No…or hell nah! 

By Ciara Rouege

The internet is buzzing about a new make-up trend that many have already predicted won’t be flying back home for the summer months — if not at all!

Feather brows is a technique in which a part is made across the center of the eyebrow and the opened hairs are feathered out. Of course, the goal is to give the appearance of a bird feather.

This look is a joke — literally!

“Note to self: when u make a joke about starting a funny brow trend people will take it seriously and…well. start the trend,” Stella Sironen, the Helsinki make-up artist who started the trend, said in an Instagram post.

Of course, it is the internet so many people have already decided to run with it. Some have already given feather brows a chance.

I’ll admit while I think this looks ridiculous, Sironen does look like a futuristic fantasy with the outlandish brows and shimmering peach eye shadow. Plus, it’s cool how she managed to perfectly separate and feather such thick eyelashes unlike these hot messes below:

But when a trend is born, who is to judge the origin? I’m sure more will attempt this ‘artistic’ look.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to give this one a thumbs down— but that’s just me! What do you all think? No judgement (to your face) if you like them.

Girls’ Life controversy: When feminism falls short

By Ciara Rouege

Quickie

The publisher of Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life magazines has come under fire after celebrities Blake Lively and Amy Schumer criticized its editors for solely focusing on fashion, beauty and romance with its female readership while encouraging career exploration and self-discovery among males. Many are calling the content sexiest and say its in need of a major revamp.


In an episode of ‘Blackish’ all the children catch influenza, and then the mother falls ill while trying to care for them. Like any self-respecting television mom, Rainbow tries to fight through the virus. But, alas! She loses and the family is forced to lean on its last resort: Dre, the father.

Terrified, he answers the call. And like any American sitcom dad, Dre ass plants as a substitute-mom and the children’s healths are thrown into complete jeopardy.

Until, eureka! He finds a solution. Dre decides to stop acting like a mom and starts caring for his family dad-style. Cue hilarious montage. All the kids make a miraculous recovery. Roll credits.

What the hell does this half to do with a pre-teen girls’ magazine? Well, everything.

The problem is about parenting, the most gender-restrictive experience of human life. The solution, which emphasis the difference between gender equality and gender empowerment, is applicable to women in the work life, romantic relationships and social environments. Gender equality and gender empowerment are not interchangeable — or even interconnected.

Girls Life magazine remake

Graphic designer Katherine Young revised the cover of Girls’ Life magazine after the internet uproar. “I fixed it,” she wrote.

Girls’ Life Magazine editors shouldn’t be criticized for making a magazine that isn’t comparable to its male counterpart, but instead for failing to expose girls to the poignant elements of womanhood.

Chelsea Handler ban proves nipple-phobia exists

By Ciara Rouege

When you find an excuse to stand half naked on a snow-covered mountain range, take it! Comedian Chelsea Handler has made her next strike in a battle with Instagram and its fickle policy banning nude post.

Handler has been banned from Instagram after posting several partially nude photos including a tasteless ass pic, mimicking noted Instaslut Kim Kardashian.

The war started in October after Handler posted a topless picture of herself riding horseback. It was a hit at Russian President Valdmir Putin. It’s hard to say who had the better rack. But Chelsea, you do have the better steed!

It couldn’t be more clear Handler is trying to stay relevant. However, what’s with America’s fear of boobies? Entertainment media often alludes to sexual activity in manners that are more blatant and tactless. There are thousands of Instagram accounts featuring women modeling every inch of top skin– minus the nipples. Is it female nips that scare us?

Male nipples are often glanced over with no concern and female nipples incite eroticism or public shame.  The madness behind the Handler nudes reflect the patriarchal institution that controls mainstream perception of the female sexual identity.

Picture from Nicki Minaj’s Instagram

It all points to a deeper problem with our perception of the female body, which can only be viewed naked if its not being sexualized. We see hundreds of images everyday with women posing cleavage forward or butts tooted out, but a single picture of a woman standing topless in a backpack disturbs us.

Be sure to cover those nipples, ladies! Otherwise, you’re naked. Instagram should just cut to the chase and say female nipples are banned.

I’m going to have to side with Handler on this one. I’ve seen cruder pictures on Instagram and across other social media. We all know that one girl whose profile picture is literally an up-close snapshot of her bare ass.

Shine Strong If You’re Thin, White and Pretty

By Ciara Rouege

Don’t be too pretty or people will think you’re dumb and vain. Don’t be too ugly or men won’t be attracted to you— you’ll die alone. Be professional and glamorous but not too glamours otherwise you’re co-workers won’t take you seriously or too professional otherwise you won’t make office friends.

It’s hard out there for a woman. Society always wants us to live in some strange middle ground where we have to be the appropriate amount of everything. How often is a handsome, clean-shaven man in a stylish suit told to tone it down for his job interview otherwise his skills and genius will get overlooked?

Pantene Shampoo’s “Don’t let labels hold you back” commercial from the “Shine Strong” campaign tells women to proudly tip the scale of appropriateness. The video features a woman being negatively criticized for having characteristics men are most often praised for.

The campaign, which was created by the Grey Advertising Agency in New York, has received overall approval in the advertising community for its ability to highlight a social issue that is often down played in corporate America and life. Pantene manufacturer Procter & Gamble brought the ad’s intentions full circle, when the company announced its collaboration with the American Association of University Women in June. The partnership will support college women by underwriting monetary grants and create a new program designed to encourage female student leaders to speak out against gender bias and stereotypes.

The campaign also includes a commercial titled “Sorry, not sorry”, which aims to persuade women to stop apologizing for mundane offenses or essentially being human.

Pantene’s movement would be prefect…if it wasn’t blissfully ironic.

Throughout this ad campaign the commercials have failed to represent the full-figured women or women of color who dominate the female demographic of this nation. The casting sends a subliminal message that Pantene will help you shine strong in the office, if you’re fair skinned and—should I say, living life with a high metabolism.

Surely, shampoo usage doesn’t stop after a woman reaches the double-digit pants sizes? The average women in the United States is a size 12.  And although I’m forced to leave the passively racist ethnic hair section at Walmart to buy Pantene’s products, shouldn’t I and sisters of color be represented too?

Pantene should be praised for its intentions: Unfair social labels have prevented many women from achieving their career goals. But until it diversifies the women pictured in its campaign, Pantene will continue to promote harmful definitions of beauty in America.

RANT: Women & Clinical Sex

By Ciara Rouege

The Vagina Monologues is my favorite book about feminine sexuality. Nothing beats a woman bitching about a vagina being frustrated with pap smears. Living a sexual life is like a getting a never ending pap smear for women. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward the first time. There are always more people involved than you would like. And as most of the world is figuring out, it never really accomplishes what it is meant to do.

I could tell you about the first time I had sex, but I’m not. I will tell you about the first time I got a pap smear. Actually, I didn’t start visiting the gynecologist until this year. I started going because the pediatrician’s first question to me was always, “Oh, is you’re daughter in the restroom?” And second; you can only be in college for so long, still convincing your parents you’re a virgin. So junior year I stained the proverbial white wedding dress and scheduled an appointment for the gynecologist. Basically, I only had it once in my entire life. The pap smear— not sex.

The doctor is an Indian man, who makes punny jokes about my significant weight gain. He’s tall. He’s cute, and has the faintest accent. He tells me to take off my clothes and throws me a backless robe. He’ll be right back. Soon enough, I’m on my back with my legs resting on cold metal stirrups. He keeps telling me to relax, and stop clinching.

“I can tell you’re clinching because they’re little dimples on your butt,” he said and then grinned. In the Vagina Monologues, an older woman talks about dreaming of beautiful flowers during sex. I try thinking about flowers, but I can’t hear my thoughts over the loud crunch of the parchment paper sliding under me. I admire the women who can drift away during this. Not during the pap smear— during sex.

This pap smear is the most I’ll think about my vagina until the university does a performance of the Monologues in the spring. The Monologues aren’t a fun conversation about the vagina. It’s just a reminder 1 in 4 girls are raped, and most women are sexually assaulted by a family member. It ends with a guilt trip about feeling safe in the US, while millions of women across the world are slaves to sex trafficking and war.

In Superbad, chubby Jonah Hill doodles various costumed dicks in class. It’s freaking hilarious! Women don’t assert their sexuality in the way men do. How many tastefully drawn vaginas did your eighth grade art teacher have to erase from the whiteboard?  In fact, most drawings just look like dried prunes. In Scare the Teens into Abstinence 101— ergh, health education class— the teacher shows you gruesome pictures of vaginas.

We have a word for women who talk happily and frequently about sex: whores. God bless the day we start having happy conversations about female sexuality.

Ben Carson Blames Feminism for Ferguson

By Ciara Rouege

Ferguson has become a storm raging with racism, elitism and now— through comments from an arrogant black Republican— sexism has been tossed into this tornado. In an interview with American Family Radio, 2016 presidential hopeful Ben Carson said the senseless death of a young black man involved in an altercation with a white cop in Ferguson happened all because of the women’s liberation movement. Or at least 1960’s feminism laid the foundation for Michael Brown’s problems.

I hate to say it, but a lot of it had to do with the women’s lib movement. You know, ‘I’ve been taking care of my family, I’ve been doing that, what about me?’ You know, it really should be about us.

After explaining that Brown and the thousands of other young black men need a strong father figures in their life to come above the struggle, Carson was persistent in suggesting independent women have driven men away from being dedicated-fathers. Carson is promoting the misconception that feminism is about debunking family values to give women freedom. It’s this type of ignorance that makes feminism a difficult movement to promote, and manipulates women into feeling guilty for having needs. In regards to women in the home, black women have managed to nurture their children and at the same time put bread on the table since our shackles were unhinged. In many lower- and middle-class families–black or non-black–women have been forced to work full-time jobs while handling the most demanding parenting responsibilities. The Women’s Liberation movement taught mothers they’re more than cooks, maids, nurses and sexual pleasures. It wasn’t until recently that men haven’t been ashamed to throw on an apron and help out around the house. If anyone has lost the meaning of ‘us’, it is old men like Carson who discount the sacrifices single black mothers make to put their children in school and keep them off the street. Feminism isn’t about women neglecting their families. It’s about women demanding social and political justice, and holding men accountable for the collective responsibility of raising independent daughters and sons.

Bye Lammily! I’m not buying it.

By Ciara Rouege

It seemed Barbie was the toughest toy to open on Christmas morning. First, you had to tear through the tough cardboard if you didn’t stab her plastic casing out. Then you had to fiddle with those tedious wire ties— given you remembered not to toss those stabbing scissors aside.

The only expectation I have for the new and normal Barbie designed by toy maker Nicolay Lamm is easier packaging. I doubt normal Lammily is going to free womankind from superficial standards. Barbie encourages girls to aim for the supernatural, but Lammily encourages girls to reach for the super lame.

Normal and realistic aren’t be interconnected terms

As her creator often reminds us in his infomercials, Lammily is designed to teach girls average is beautiful. She comes with reusable sticker acne breakouts, stretch marks, cellulite and other skin imperfections. Lammily is built according to proportions Lamm retrieved from CDC data for the average 19 year old. In America, obesity in teens has quadrupled in the past 30 years. Children shouldn’t idealize a doll that passes signs of poor eating and bad exercising habits off as normal.

Related: Lammily Enforces Dangerous Beauty Complex – Elementary Students React to Lammily Doll

On the other hand, Matel’s Barbie does encourage girls to pursue supernatural standards of beauty, which can lead to serious psychological and health complications. The measurements are so disproportionate to the average woman, research supports Barbie would be anorexic and unable to menstruate. Barbie has proven to encourage self-esteem and eating disorders in young girls, trying to meet these ridiculous quotas. And we can’t forget the permanent tip-toe feet.

Yes. Barbie herself is unrealistic, but the ideals she represents are feasible. A woman can have long, silky hair. A woman can have a clear face if she follows a healthy skin regimen. A woman can have a tight waist and plump bottom if she puts in the work.

Barbie and Lammily put looks before brains, instead of showing both go hand-in-hand.  

In a promotional video for Huffington Post, Lamm heralds his doll for wearing little cosmetics. The comment is innocent, but it reflects a bigger pressure we place on women starting at a young age. We tell girls they can be either be smart or glamorous— they can’t be both. We say a girl who codes can’t be a frequent shopper at Sephora. Mattel has put more than 150 career Barbie dolls on the market, and we discount all Barbie’s accomplishments because she is wearing high heels and eye shadow. If anything, Lamm needs to put less time into designing the imperfect woman and filling the career gaps Barbie manufactures have failed to promote. Now, that would be a doll worth celebrating!

Second Graders Compare Lammily to Barbie

By Ciara Rouege

Designer Nicholay Lamm takes social stereotypes head on, pressing misconceptions deeper into our subconscious with the manufacturing of his normal Barbie doll. In his next move to bring Lammily to store fronts everywhere, Lamm takes his doll to an elementary school to be judged and compared to Barbie by a group of second graders. The interview takes a questionable turn, when the teachers asks the children to compare jobs Barbie and Lammily would choose. Naturally, Barbie is thin and fashionable so she must be a vapid model. One little girl goes as far to say, “(Barbie) doesn’t look like she would do any job.” Keep in mind–Barbie had landed on the moon long before 1969 and has already been a female president of the United States.

Lammily needs to be fashionable and beautiful in her own right because average is beautiful, but our daughters are capable of being more than ordinary. The students quickly recognize their mothers, aunts and sisters in the Lammily dolls wider build and more modest look. There are no problems in appreciating the care and love our mothers give us, but we don’t need to enforce an age-old complex.  “This one is all fashion-y, and then she thinks she’s better than everyone else,” says a boy in reference to Barbie.

Women shouldn’t have to dress-down or wear double-digit sized pants in order to feel intellectual and capable. It breaks my heart, when I meet beautiful and fit women who fear being look-down on as dumb or self-centered because the world says “smart” and “humble” women should prove they care more about books than pretty dresses. Next we’ll be heralding Lammily because she’s a virgin.

Yes, Please Lean Out Sandberg

By Ciara Rouege

Comedian Amy Poehler is the kind of woman who can turn funny puns into serious business. In her new autobiography “Yes, please”, Poehler dishes out an array of modern women issues and experience. She closes with a quick comment about this decades queen of all career-advancing women Sheryl Sandberg, author of the life-style book “Lean In.”

Poehler suggest Sandberg and her many subjects lean out.  She wasn’t taking a swing at Sandberg for raising the spirits of women across the country and encouraging them to pursue their CEO dreams. She was saying life is about more than a corner office or a building in downtown with your name on it.

Women have been under a lot of pressure lately to be successful career women, and the pursuit for financial achievement starts to divert from the path to happiness. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, women are experiencing depression at rates higher than men. We jump the gun and say women are more depressed because they are expected to be more successful. Simply put: women are  unsatisfied in our progressive society. Pushing and equipping women to pursue more profitable careers is giving them more financial stability, but Poehler says we shouldn’t train them to ignore deep-seeded desires such as intimacy and belonging. The things you’re not going to find in a checkbook. The human needs that are met in romantic relationships and meaningful friendships.  Leaning out is about taking the time to invest in your love ones and your character.

Poehler isn’t just giving good advice for women. It’s good advice for everyone.

3 Reasons I can’t be about that Street Harrassment life, HollaBack

By Ciara Rouege

The feminist movement strikes again with an advertisement meant to startle the world into gender consciousness. After pimp slapping everyone with potty-mouthed princesses, the latest injustice pulled from social obscurity is a YouTube video from Hollaback addressing street harassment.

Hollaback wants to institute laws that make all forms of catcalling a misdemeanor similar to harassment. The non-profit feminist group believes catcalling is a form of intimidation meant to subordinate women in a patriarchal society. The organization wants to build awareness and spark conversation about what is too far when trying to catch a woman’s attention on the street.

1. The video doesn’t differentiate between flirting and harassing. 

It’s important to build social consciousness, but it needs to be directed at a specific issue.

Mad TV

Our video woman is approached in several different manners including greetings, flirting and borderline stalking. It’s important to notice the editor included every response, which is different than every harassment. A man shouldn’t be arrested for trying to tell a woman she is beautiful or good morning. However, I wouldn’t mind slapping police cuffs on a guy who has followed me for several blocks.

Hollaback is over inflating the issue and making the organization look immature. I just can’t be about that immature life.

2. Hollaback is inadvertently making women less independent and more afraid.

MMA Champion Rhonda Rousey/ Yell Magazine

We’ve all heard the arguments: men are stronger than women. Men are faster than women. Men are more combative than women. Most women are intimidated by strange men approaching them because they don’t feel capable of defending themselves if push comes to shove. We’ve trained women to think if they get into an altercation with a man, then they’ve already lost. It’s not true; girls can defend themselves against boys. The organization is so busy addressing the patriarchy it’s playing off most women’s fear of being sexually assaulted. Instead of spreading propaganda, let’s encourage more women to take combat training or to get psychological help for anxiety resulting from sexual assault.

Hollaback is creating reasons for women to be afraid. Girl, better pull out your inner Rhonda Rousey!  I just can’t be about that intimidation life.

3. Gender-focused laws are lame! 

The video seeks to institute laws preventing street harassment— that’s awesome! Let’s not paint the picture only men— specifically low-income minority men— harass women in public places.

Regular Show Meme/Troll.me

Our society has given women a pass to do the same. I’m talking about unwarranted touching— which women justify as flirting. Or my favorite argument: (*high-pitched valley girl voice*) Well like, a girl can’t really hurt a guy! I see it all the time, women rubbing their hands on men without permission. The guy just smiles awkwardly if it makes him uncomfortable or he silently pulls away. We’ve conditioned men that it’s just flirting.

(To save everyone from an annoying rant…I’ll make a side on this.)

Hollaback is perpetuating the notion feminism is men versus women. I can’t be about that knocking-down-the-fellas life.

Feminism: The New Age Scarlet Letter

By Ciara Rouege

Mainstream feminism has been running rampant for the past year, and almost every female celebrity is trying to jump on the bandwagon— Beyonce and Drew Barrymore are among a few A-list names pushing the movement. U.N. Global Women’s Goodwill ambassador Emma Watson has now joined the roster after giving a stirring speech supporting the HeForShe campaign.

“The more I’ve spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man hating,” Watson said in her speech. “If there is one thing that I know for certain, it is this: that has to stop.”

Time Ideas blogger and contributing editor at Reason magazine Cathy Young said Watson is asking men to ignore their own problems to help womankind. Young is one of many men and women who criticize the feminist movement for allegedly promoting female superiority.

Over the years feminism has earned a bad reputation in America and across the world. New age feminism seeks to change that by pointing out radicalism and inviting men to support our cause. In her speech, she acknowledges that men have issues that most be faced and wants encourage more gender equality in the feminist agenda.

Watson’s feminism brand revamp couldn’t come soon enough.

ALL LABELS COME IN DUELING COLORS

Women Against Feminism encourages people to share their reasons for supporting the counter-culture in a feminist mainstream world.

I once met a woman who thought all feminist were lesbians, and another that thought we were a bunch of make-up hating uglies who couldn’t get a good man.

Feminist shouldn’t reject criticism because in one form or another these remarks are true. There are feminist who are homosexual. There are feminist who believe make-up represents an oppressive patriarchal institution, and those who use radical feminism to ignore the deep seeded problems preventing them from having a healthy relationship.

Feminism is no different than any other ideology, and should not be judged based on generalizations or radicalism. For example, ISIS is not a fair representation of Islam or the Westboro Family Church of Christianity. Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin are not quintessential Republicans, while all Democrats don’t agree with President Obama or Wendy Davis.

The “I love my boyfriend” and “I don’t hate men” statements on the site implies that most of the participants believe all feminist are women, which is far from true.  A potent point in Watson’s argument was to make feminism more open to men.

Women Against Feminism gives a voice to people who believe mainstream feminism is outdated or problematic. The downside is that the site attempts to fight man-hate with feminist-hate.

Publishing a series of declarations and titillating comments about the virtues of anti-feminism is over emotional and intellectually vacant. Scrolling through the post, the visitor doesn’t find a single rational or creditable argument to be against feminism. One post states that feminine inequality is nonexistent with no factual support. In most countries women continue to out number men for degrees, and yet in 2013 only 14 percent of executive roles were held by women in Fortune 500 companies.

“Men and women already have rights where I live,” says one submission, echoing the sentiments of hundreds of others on the site.

I found this attitude toward women’s issues to be particularly disturbing. If its not happening to me, then its not something I should concern myself with: the thought lacks humanity.

Although Staton and her comrade Susan B. Anthony were wealthy and influential they fought to give all women the right to vote. Not all the feminist protesters during People vs. Liberta in 1984 had been sodomized or raped by their husbands, but they came out. They believed that a woman is still a rape victim, even if her husband is the rapist.

I’M NEUTRAL, DON’T SHOOT ME!

It’s natural to not like labels, and the feminist title is a difficult tag to wear.

Beyonce recently started accepting feminism identity, after a decade of leading the girl power group Destiny’s Child in the ’90s and sampling renowned feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her latest album. Since having her babies and joining the Bossy campaign with Sheryl Sandberg, she seems to slowly be coming out of the closet.

Labels are hard to wear because they confine us to a certain identity. They aren’t flexible enough to encompass our thoughts or change as we evolve at different stages of our lives. And not to mention no one wants to be rejected for representing the “wrong” group.

I’ve realized my generation has a particular disgust with labels, so we try to avoid them at all cost. We don’t want to be perceived as too liberal or too conservative, too religious or too whatever.

I’m proud to be a feminist. I’m not going to allow an uneducated public to pressure me into feeling otherwise.

Seriously, the Bechdel test?

The Bechdel test for television and film is nothing new. It doesn’t demand an intangible standard like requiring all movies to have lead female characters, or pushes male writers and directors to go in depth on female character development. It’s plain and simple.

The comic strip originally published by artist Allison Bechdel in 1985 has three basic rules: it has to have two named female characters, the two female characters have to talk to each other, and lastly their conversation has to pertain to anything other than men.

The Center for the Study of Women in Film reported this year that women accounted for merely 28 percent of the television industry including writers, directors, executive producers and cinematographers. On camera women held 15 percent of protagonist roles and 30 percent of speaking roles.

These figures are steadily rising. In fact since 2010 at least one female driven movie made reached the top 5 in box office records.

The test has opened a dialogue about women in film, but it’s time to give it a rest. The world is ready for deeper female characters and a tougher test for female equality.

How Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Should Have Answered

When a man makes a naive comment in a room full of more than 7,000 tech-savvy women, he should apologize. And quickly.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently apologized for a borderline sexist comment he made at a women’s computer science conference in Arizona last week. He was giving advice on how women should approach wage negotiations—specifically how should women go about requesting higher wages.

He told the audience, with less than 500 men in attendance, that not asking for a raise is “good karma” and the system would deliver pay increases when warranted.

It wasn’t long before the Twitter-verse was in a frenzy, criticizing Nadella for promoting a serious issue for women across all industries. The responses reflected a combination of anger, disgust and thankfulness.

The smartest and most charismatic man couldn’t have survived a women-focused conference without making at least one flop. Women should understand Nadella couldn’t possibly give relevant advice to people struggling in a system that has lifted him up.

In a strange twist of events, Nadella’s failure has given feminist success in bringing wage disparity based on gender to the front line.

Economist Linda Babcock from Carnegie Mellon University says men are four times more likely to negotiate higher pay than women. According to her research, men and women are equally harsh towards women who ask for pay raises. It’s become a crucial issue in bridging the wage gap. Babcock discovered women often receive backlash for deviating from the social script.

Nadella runs a multi-billion dollar technology corporation. The sorry letter was a great move in image management, but his sentiments were dishonest. Many high powered men (and women) start to view women as combative when they fight for the salary they deserve.

Those women in the audience were looking for encouragement. He should have been able to give it to them. In his letter, Nadella retracted his entire statement about women and pay raises. He said women should ask for pay raises if they think they deserve it.

Wish Nadella would have thought of this before he opened his mouth in Arizona a few days ago.