The Brazilian Blowout

My hair is afrotastic.

Yes. Afro-freaking-tastic. I can’t wash my hair every day because it dries out my scalp. But if I don’t wash my hair after two days, my roots mat together into dreads. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my curls but I hate how much they expanded with the rain and never EVER laid right. I know part of this is because I’m biracial and the crown of my head is so frizzy and dry it is pathetic.

So, naturally when I found out about this thing called a Brazilian Blowout, I HAD to try it.

I’m going to tell you one thing: DO IT.

I am on week two since having it done and I can tell you it’s awesome. In fact, I’ve been taking photos of my hair once a week and plan to post them into one blog post.

Let me give you the low-down on what this treatment is. It’s not a chemical process that is going to fry your hair. You go to the salon and you get your hair washed with this special cleansing shampoo. Then you are washed and conditioned with step two in the product line. After that, the stylist will add a serum to your hair, blow dry and straighten your hair. The heat bonds all of the proteins and vitamins that are in  products to your hair. Then, the stylist will rinse you, add some serum and product to your hair and then blow dry and straighten your hair again…..And BOOM. Your hair is silky smooth and not frizzy. The process lasts for three months.

Now, I was a little nervous to see what my hair would do after I washed it. I liked my curls and I knew I didn’t want them to be gone completely. And, I was right in thinking that they wouldn’t be. I still have my curls, but they are much looser and less frizzy. In fact, there is essentially no frizz at all. And my hair dries a lot faster.

So, let me break it down into pros and cons:

PROS: Hair is more manageable, hair is less frizzy, hair dries quickly,hair texture doesn’t change for the worse, hair feels healthier, it takes less time to style (I went from a flat-iron time of 2 hours to 20 minutes and still maintained curl)

CONS: It is a long process (Set aside 2.5 hours for this treatment)

Here’s some beginning pics:

This is the night before the blowout when I completely brushed and picked out my hair (And before I did laundry, obviously)

BEFORE. LE FRIZZY

BEFORE. LE FRIZZY

AFTER: LE SHINY
AFTER: LE SHINY

The bottom picture is right after the treatment.

 

Do it, you won’t regret it.

 

 

 

Fighting Your Own Demons

I am a selfish person.

Yes. I said it.

I don’t know exactly how or why this occurred, but I know I’m not happy with it. Allow me to explain.

Last night as I was laying next to my fiance, we were having a minor argument/discussion about the time we spend together. I was complaining that we don’t spend enough time together, to which he responded with that we do, but I always want more. I didn’t believe him. He came back at me with, “I’m always trying to make you happy but it seems like I can’t ever meet your expectations and it’s frustrating.” Again, I didn’t really think about what he was saying. I then told him that it’s not like I’ve changed as a person, and he said, “No. You have changed as a person.”

So we sat in silence for a little bit. He passed out and I was left to my own devices. I started reflecting on my relationships over the past few months and went back even as far as a year. I examined my relationship with him, my mother and my sister. And I realized something.

He was fucking right. As much as I HATED to admit it, he was right.

I can’t exactly pinpoint the event that made me become this way, I just know that I don’t like what it’s done to me. I have been selfish to the point of it being exhausting, exhausting enough to cause unnecessary problems in my relationships with everyone.  I could defend myself until the cows came home, but there really isn’t any justification for the person I let myself morph in to. Instead of thinking of what I can give to the people in my relationships, I focused on what I could take. That’s not fair. I continued on by allowing myself to have expectations of people, but they weren’t allowed to have any of me, which also isn’t fair. I think it came down to a combination of me trying to prove to everyone that I couldn’t be walked all over and trying to prove I didn’t need anyone.  I inadvertently then pushed people away.

On this day, October 10, 2013, I’ve decided that I need to become a better person and cast away the demons I have let myself create. I had a dream last night that I literally had to fight the devil (Yes, I know that sounds weird). And I woke up before I ever found out if I won the battle. I think that’s symbolic in the sense that I will always have some fight inside of me raging on, but the fact that I’m fighting it proves I can keep evil at bay.  I’m at a point in my life where I really, REALLY need to move forward and not look back. I don’t have to forget the past, but I can’t let it affect me any longer. I know somewhere along the line I would like to have children and if I want to raise them correctly, I have to change how I act. I can’t expect them to not vibe off of my attitude or my demons. So I need to learn to battle them now.  I’m going to start out by trying to do something nice for a person every single day. I’m going to actively engage all of my customers at work and make an effort to learn more about them. I’m going to give of myself more instead of take from others.

I don’t think they have “Selfish Bitch Therapy,” so I am going to have to take this day by day, and change a little bit each day to become the person that I used to be.

Yesterday I said there was nothing quite like change. There isn’t. And it’s time I made a change into a better person. It certainly isn’t a battle between heaven and hell, but it’s a battle worth fighting.

Change On The Horizon

It has been forever and a half since I last posted a blog. I feel terrible because I had a goal to post at least three things every month for this entire year. Sadly, I have failed at that. But I guess you, my reader, could say that I haven’t been blogging because I have been out living.

First, I got engaged.

Yes, engaged. Diamond ring and all that goes with it.

Now, let me make it clear that we have not set a date yet. In fact, we will probably be in the engaged phase for a while given our financial and life circumstances. He is finishing up his degree and I am working. That brings me to part two…

I moved out on my own with my fiance, which has taken up most of my time.

It’s funny how in one instant you can be thrown into adulthood. One minute I was buying silly things that I didn’t need, and the next minute I was buying a couch and a dining room table.

So, I guess you could say that this blog is about change; welcome it and embrace it. As long as we live, change is inevitable. The important thing is to stay true to yourself during times of change.

If you can do that, you can do anything.

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God Save The States

When people think of America, they are supposed to think of a land of opportunity. America was once the land where people fled to to escape the hardships of their countries.

And now, America is a land of entitlement.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that July 22, 2013 marked the addition of the Royal Baby in England. As I was browsing Facebook yesterday, and was working at my job, I noticed that while I was excited for this historic moment that a lot of people weren’t.  Many people said, “This is America and that’s not American.” Others said, “That baby isn’t any more special than mine.”

Well then.

I read the arrogance; because deep down,  dissing the birth of a child is nothing more than selfish and arrogant. I examined the words and the people that came into the bar that told me I was not American for watching this news. I responded to them with, “If you define being American as being so ignorant that you cannot appreciate or acknowledge the entire planet, then I feel sorry for you. This planet is far more than the United States,  which is a country in turmoil and owned by China.”

So is this what this country has become? A land that is so self-engrossed that it whines about the birth of a child? The Royal family is loved for the reasons it is hated; it’s rooted in tradition and it embraces its people. Not another single leader in the world besides the Pope has the devotion from its people that the Royal Family has. You don’t see people falling over President Obama, that is for sure. People ask why did the Duke and Duchess appear today to the people. Tradition.  And that’s what sets that country apart and above this one. Their people love and respect them because they legitimately show a concern and love their people.

I mean, Lord, just today the news says of another mayor, Weiner, in New York getting in trouble for sexting. You don’t see the royals acting like that, do you?

American entitlement and ignorance. It’s a growing problem and has been for centuries. It doesn’t matter if you’re Chinese, black, Latin or white; this country teaches you to be entitled.

And it’s a damn shame.

Racism is in existence because of entitlement. Racism isn’t about the color of people’s skin; it’s about attitudes.  I am reminded of a time in college at Penn State University when I attended a race relations seminar. As someone who is biracial, people were interested in what I had to say. They were shocked as well because I told them the truth:

I experienced more black hatred from my black father and his family then I did from my white mother.

Shocking? No. It’s not. That’s what racism is all about; allowing your cultural hangups to define your life. I didn’t know there was racial hatred until my father pointed out that there was a skin color difference. Up until then I thought everyone was the same; it was he that made the distinction that he was different. In this same seminar I sat down with a young, black female that was from Africa. She told me of her problems with the African Americans at the school because they told her she wasn’t black enough.

Crazy right? She’s from Africa and they don’t consider her black.

The reason:

She spoke proper English and not ebonics.

Again we have arrogance.  Ebonics doesn’t make you black, and neither does proper English speaking make you not black. Its things like these that make people hate each other. There is no proper way for a race to act; people should not be entitled.  If you want to speak ebonics then fine, but it doesn’t make you black, it makes you sound uneducated. And you know that stereotype that black people love fried chicken? They aren’t frying chickens in Africa;  that’s an American thing. African nations were largely a part of England, so stop saying “This is how my people talk” because thats how American black people think they’re supposed to talk.

Racism…..arrogance.
It all goes hand in hand and these are just a few examples of how this pathetic country has allowed this to exist because of refusing to educate its people. You work for something; you aren’t entitled to anything.

Racism will end when the arrogance ends. Racism will end when entitlement ends.

Arrogance will end when people stop being ignorant to the other countries of the world.

We have one planet and America is well on its arrogant way to ruining the whole planet with its entitlement.

Stop being selfish and start being proactive.  Remember Princess Diana? People loved her and she worked for the people. She helped as many people as she could and her son William is well on his way to following in her footsteps.

Try some of that. And then maybe this country can rebound to the land of the free instead of the land of the entitled.

DuBois Flood 2013

As I sit here writing this from my Galaxy Note 2, I am playing Yahtzee by lantern light because the electric is out. My mom is kicking my ass.

And I’m one of the lucky ones.

The heavens opened up today and downpoured a bunch of rain on DuBois, Pennsylvania today. All the roads coming in and going out of town are shut down. Three blocks from my house is submerged under water. 

Today I realized two things, one I’m very lucky….

And I’m entirely too dependent on electricity.

I hope my little town recovers. I feel like we can do anything if we come together.

To everyone out there in the wreckage,  stay safe. To those who lost today, I pray for you. And hopefully our electric, and our town, comes back to power.

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If you can find it in your heart to pray for my town, please do so.

More pictures can be seen on our community website herehttps://m.facebook.com/?refsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2F&_rdr#!/DuBoisLIVEdotCOM?__user=100003329398087

A Review of the Most Magical Place on Earth

I scratched another thing off of my bucket list for the year.

I went to Walt Disney World.

Now, I know to some of you that may seem like a rather odd thing to add to a bucket list, but most of you probably don’t understand the history I have with this magical place.

It was always the same: Me, my mom and father, and my grandparents.  Later, we added my sister.

IMG_20130619_013410My first trip to the park was when I was two years old.  My family had gone down to visit my great-grandfather in his home in Palm Coast, Florida. Despite having a terrible cold, I still remember the magic I felt from having one day at the Magic Kingdom. I wore a pink outfit. I met some of the characters. It was everything I had wanted it to be….except for the sniffling. I remember the castle being a pinnacle of the trip and being forever a symbol I would never get sick of seeing.

The next time I was there, I had a little sister to share the magic with. I was eight years old and she was two.  We liked Mickey’s Toon Town, which is no longer a part of the park. We liked it because we could meet characters and get our picture with them.  The castle was different this time because it was a celebration.  A giant “25” was emblazoned where the clock usually is and the castle was decorated like a birthday cake.  My grandma took pleasure in buying my sister and I matching outfits, specifically, she bought us Winnie the Pooh turtlenecks to wear in sunny Lake Buena Vista.  Nonetheless, when we got our pictures with Pooh bear, Eeyore and Tigger, they loved to see our outfits.

17677_327591920695118_1265725431_nWe can fast forward to three years later and my family was back at the most magical place on Earth.  We expanded our reach this time and went beyond the Magic Kingdom to what is now Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  It used to be the Disney-MGM Studios. I remember this because it was the first time I had ever rode the “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,”  which scared the crap out of me.  I remember it distinctly because I had to go to the bathroom halfway waiting through the line and I promised my father I could hold it through the whole ride because we had waited so long.

I was right.

But boy did I run like a bat out of hell for that bathroom when the ride was over.

I also remember that my little sister got to be in the parade at the Magic Kingdom park with Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  She was part of the “Be Our Guest” float with plates and dancers. The electrical parade was my other favorite part because everything was lit up so beautifully. I remember getting a Minnie mouse stuffed animal dressed in red because we went around Christmas. We even had an awesome hotel stay because the hotel screwed up and booked our room to someone else and ended up upgrading our regular room to a kids room for no additional charge.  My sister and I got to sleep in bunk beds from a tree house and had our own television with a Nintendo 64.

2669_141914360590_7457067_nThe next time we went to the most magical place on Earth was when I was 19 and my sister was 13. It was also the last time my grandfather ever got to go to the parks.  It was just me and my sister and my grandparents this time.  We were both finally big enough to ride all of the coasters at the park. We went very early in the morning to the parks and made sure we rode each coaster before the masses of people started to flood in to the park.  “It’s A Small World” was another stop because it was my grandparents’ favorite ride. We say the “Country Bears Jamboree” because my grandpa always had us watch it because it was his mother’s favorite. We stayed for the day time parade and then we left shortly after. I didn’t realize it would be his last trip there, but nonetheless, we made it special.

So many of these family memories needed to be shared. It’s the reason why I love Disney so much today. It’s the reason why I try to make people happy and give them some magic.  If we can believe in a little magic, life is definitely a lot more sweeter. So last week, my boyfriend and I ventured down to Walt Disney World together. He had never been there before, so I figured it was time he found out why I love the place so much.

DSC_0094-001We did something I had never done before, and that was park hopped.  In my times there, I had never actually visited Epcot or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I highly suggest to all Disney travelers that you park hop.  It’s worth the money because you don’t have the restrictions of one park access.  When you have the ability to leave a park and go to another when one gets a little too busy, it saves a lot of aggravation.  I can tell you that we park hopped for two days and STILL didn’t see everything the parks have to offer.  By the way, this entire resort is about the size of San Francisco. At least that’s what Wikipedia says.  I believe it because I felt like I walked twenty miles in two days in the sweltering Florida heat.

We started out at Animal Kingdom.  I was pumped because I brought my brand new Nikon D5100 and wanted to take some nature shots.  I had two lenses. Now, Expedition Everest is a must stop in this park.  It is a roller coaster where you chase the famous Yeti.  They make it not as scary for younger kids, but don’t fear adults, the coaster is plenty exciting enough for you too. Check out the Dinosaur ride as well, especially if you have little ones that have a fascination with dinosaurs. The next thing that Disney Goers should attend is the Festival of the Lion King. It was awesome. It has all of your favorite songs plus two acrobatic acts. Definitely check out the drummers in Africa and then, go on the Kilimanjaro Safari.  This is without a doubt the highlight of Animal Kingdom.  The cast members put you in a jeep like jungle cruiser and drive you out onto their wildlife reserve that they have built to resemble the natural habitats for the animals.  You can see rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, antelope, elephants and lions. Hands down a must do. Either wait in the line or get a FastPass, which, a FastPass is an option where you get a little ticket to come back at a scheduled time, and they let you skip ahead to the front of the line. It is a God send.

DSC_0609-1After the Animal Kingdom, we ventured to Magic Kingdom for a little bit. We ended up ending both of our days at Magic Kingdom. Magic Kingdom is definitely the busiest park of the four major parks.  There are three parades there throughout the day and a fireworks display at night over Cinderella Castle.  The must do list of things here would have to be: Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Jungle Cruise, It’s a Small World and checking out New Fantasyland.  Parents, if you need to keep your kids busy for cheap, take them to the arcade in Space Mountain.  I played 25-cent skee ball for a solid half hour and basketball for 50 cents for another 20 minutes. It’s fun and gives you a break if you need to kill time. Definitely stay til the park closes. I say that for older people, because once those kids tucker out and their parents take them back to the hotels, you essentially have the park to yourself.  We stayed until the last possible second and I was able to take so many pictures because no one was around. Stay for the Electrical Parade and the Wishes Fireworks.  I can’t promise that you won’t cry, because I did.

In all my times visiting Hollywood Studios, I have never rode the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, but I imagine it is a must do.  It just gives me an excuse to go back because I never rode it. Check out the Tower of Terror, but make sure you go to the bathroom first.  If you’re a Star Wars nerd, you should check out Star Tours. Also, you should go in May because Hollywood Studios hosts Star Wars Weekends.  They have Jedi training at Hollywood Studios and I loved watching this four-year old boy talk crap to Darth Vader as he battle him with the Force. It was so freaking cute. He looked Darth Vader in the face and said, “The party’s over Vader,” got out his light saber and battled him.  If you’re interested in stunts, check our the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. It’s an easy way to kill time and enjoy yourself because they show you how a movie set works and how action sequences are put together.

DSC_0442Finally, there is Epcot.  I didn’t get to ride the Test Track because it was down for maintenance, but check it out. Also, go to World Showcase.  World Showcase is the section of Epcot devoted to select countries. It’s cool because they build it as if its actual buildings from the countries and they hire people from the countries that speak the native language.  We ate it Italy and the pizza at the pizzeria was delicious.  And adults, you can get an alcoholic drink in every country. You want a margarita? Head to Mexico. You want Italian Beer? Head to Italy. It’s all there for you to sample, and you get to look at awesome scenery.

Walt Disney had a dream, and I am happy to be a part of it.  I would love to someday even work in the corporate offices to see how I can make magic happen.  I saw so many children there with the biggest smiles.  The staff there is the friendliest.  Everyone told us to have a magical day. This place is literally the most magical place on earth. I’ve been lucky enough to experience it five times, and I plan on experiencing it many more times in the years to come. For me, Disney is about the memories you can create that last a lifetime.  That’s what Disney has given me over the years and I can only hope to someday give it to others, and possibly to children that I have down the line. You have to live it and believe it.

This place gets a ten star our of five-star rating from me because I can’t get enough of the place. I can’t say enough about the memories I had there. I really can’t express all that Disney has done for me.

Go and check it out and make some memories.

I Did Not Live Until

The internet is a vast source of information. One can pretty much get anything and everything he or she wants instantly, that is with the exception of things he or she must order and receive within four shipping days. There are pictures everywhere: pictures of cats, pictures of puppies, memes of television shows (personally, I love Gordon Ramsay memes) and quotes from your favorite movies. You can stream live videos. You can steal people’s identities……..

And now I have gotten completely off of my original topic.

Back to reality. Okay, the other day I was browsing the internet.  I had up tabs from Facebook to used car dealerships, to quotes about life, to pictures of various animals, to Game of Thrones spoilers……You name it. I happened across a saying that said, “You haven’t truly lived until you have created life.” I can’t even remember what search engine or quote site it popped up in because I had to leave right after I saw it. Nonetheless, the quote stuck with me…..

and it left a terrible taste in my mouth. There are two reasons why it did.

First, the whole notion of, “You haven’t lived until….” is rather crazy and stupid in my eyes. I mean, I could end the sentence rather easily and say, “You haven’t lived until you have died,” or rather literally with, “You haven’t lived until you have been born.” The notion that someone else could possibly live the same life as me is completely ridiculous; it’s my life and it is lived my way for a reason. That reason is not for someone else to try to tell me what I should be doing. I could compile a list of things that I have done that I think are the greatest things in the world, like, going to Walt Disney World. However, I am not naive enough to think that every, single person on this planet should go to Walt Disney World.

Second, the statement itself is just completely and totally ignorant. There are millions of women in the world that are physically unable to get pregnant. Millions of couples try to get pregnant each year, whether it be by intercourse or insemination. Guess what? A good portion of those women don’t ever get pregnant. Some of those women get pregnant but are never able to carry to term and miscarry. These couples then look to adoption to care for a child. My point is, how can anyone in the world have the nerve to say a statement like that when there are millions of women out there that cannot have that blessing. Motherhood isn’t defined solely on carrying a child in your womb. Yes, the blessing in and of itself exists, but to be a mother takes something more than just carrying a child for nine months. Being a mother is a calling, and I know many people who were called to it though they were unable to have children. I know some women that carried their babies and didn’t take care of them. Being a mother does not always mean just “carrying a child.” There is far more to it than that. With that being said, I feel it is apparent that it is grossly unfair to say that creating life is the pinnacle of living.  Many people do not get to create life, and they live. Many people who have created life abandon life.

And don’t think I’m one of those people who thinks that being in love is the pinnacle of life either. It is for me, but I know it isn’t for everyone.

Instead of everyone telling each other what that major, life-changing, “I lived” moment is, we should all have our own moment.

For me, “I did not live, until I understood death.”

What’s your moment?

And whatever it is, make it your own, not someone else’s.

Enjoy the Memes:

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Gordon Ramsay Meme

Gordon Ramsay Meme

Dear Mike Jeffries

As many of you have seen in the news over the past week, Mike Jeffries has come under fire for his comments about so-called “not cool” people shopping at his stores. He is the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch and many people think because of his statements of not cool people that he is a certifiable asshole. Well, I can’t say that I disagree with that statement. But when he is talking about what it means to be “not cool”  and “unpopular….”

Plus-sized models in Glamour Magazine

Plus-sized models in Glamour Magazine

………..he is talking about what he deems to be “fat people.”

According to him, anything for a woman bigger than a size large is “not cool.”

According to various articles, the one I clipped this from was in the Orlando Sentinel and can be read here, Jeffries says:

“We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends,” Jeffries said. “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

As someone who studied media and ethics, I understand that he is going for a certain branding technique. But since when is decency a sacrifice for branding?

One of my 36DD breasts would not fit into a shirt that comes out of Mike Jeffries store and it’s why I don’t shop there. However, I do remember being a teen girl and wanting so desperately to fit into their jeans when it was absolutely out of the question for me to even squeeze my calf into the pant leg. So I pose a question to Mike Jeffries and ask him, “What kind of message are you actually sending?”

Male models for the "popular" type of people

Male models for the “popular” type of people

Eating disorders are a serious problem in the United States and I’m sure they are in other parts of the world as well. I do not understand why he feels that it is okay to make clothes so small that you would possibly need to result to those measures to fit into. Nothing screams I’m cool more than ,”I threw up countless times to wear this tee shirt” right? NO. It’s wrong. It’s wrong to brand yourself to the point where you’re morphing people’s minds. Eating disorders are not cool.

I don’t shop at Abercrombie and Fitch because I’m “too fat” to do so. And even if I was thin, they are ridiculously overpriced anyway. If this store still exists when I have children, my children will not be shopping there or supporting that store.  And when I googled a picture of Mike Jeffries, he looked like someone who was judged harshly as a child and is trying to get back at the universe by making a clothing line for what he deems to be “beautiful people.”  He also looks like he shoves a crap ton of botox into his face in the efforts to look more attractive, and sadly, it’s morphing his face. Your definition of beautiful is pathetic. Beauty isn’t something that can be attained by the clothes on your back. Beauty comes from within, and THAT is what you should be telling all of your “popular” people. That’s the message you SHOULD be sending to the rest of the world.

With that being said, I feel like I should write a letter to this CEO.

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

…………………………………………………………………………………………

Dear Mr. Jeffries,

I am an American. I work almost every single day of my life. I am a daughter, granddaughter and sister. I am a niece and a cousin. I also am a girlfriend.

Yes, a girlfriend. You will probably be surprised to hear that considering I tinker between a size 12 and 14 in pants. My boyfriend is quite handsome as well, even though according to you he isn’t because he doesn’t have washboard abs.

But he did spend five years in the United States Marine Corps defending your right to say what you want to say.

But according to you, I’m not beautiful and neither is he.

I work out on a daily basis and have numerous health problems. I love with my whole heart. I donate my time and money to causes that I care about. I try to give more of myself to others than what I give to myself. I try to make the world a better place.

But according to you, I’m not beautiful.

I graduated from high school and college. I kept a very high grade point average. I survived a lot in my childhood bullying wise. My father was a drug addict on top of that bullying. I remember when a boy I liked called me a whale. I remember not having dates to dances by people who had worn a lot of your clothing. They too believed what you believe, that I am not beautiful.

"Let the beauty we love be what we do."

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.”

You must change your appearance quite frequently. I think it’s because you don’t feel beautiful. You think by branding yourself into this clothing line that you can be beautiful. But, you’re wrong because beauty comes from the inside; beauty isn’t about your clothes.

Beauty is a personality trait.

And you are not beautiful on the inside. I feel sorry for you. I hope that someday you feel beautiful because it is apparent from how you brand your clothing and act that you do not feel beautiful at all. Maybe people bullied you when you were in high school and you need to talk to someone about it.

Maybe.

You see, none of us are really that different. We all have trials and tribulations independent of the size of our clothing. You’re no different from a girl who has anorexia or a guy that weighs 400 pounds.

We are all beautiful.

I only hope that someday you can see that.

Sincerely,

Ali Prescott

Keep to the Code

This is an official warning that graphic content will be discussed. Rape will be discussed. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………

When I was 21 and a senior in college, I was still a virgin.

When I was a freshman and a sophomore, I wanted nothing more than to lose my virginity. I felt like it was this giant disease I had that infected the world. If you would be more interested in that segment of my story, please read my guest blog here. When I was junior, the urge began to fade.

When I was a senior, I just wished I would meet someone worth taking it instead of just blindly giving it away.

But I remember one night when I feared I might not get that chance…

And if it was not for a good friend of mine, I would have been a victim.

My girlfriends, specifically my roommates, and I had a code: Keep each other safe, and if one of us gets too drunk, take care of the other. For four years I kept to this code and it worked very well. If my friends would get drunk, I would be the one that would pace myself and stop drinking to make sure that the others got home. They did the same for me. It was easy. We knew that we did not want to regret any decisions in the morning. And my one roommate, knew she wanted to keep my virginity safe. I guess you could call her my virginity keeper.

Yeah. My virginity keeper.

One night, she came to visit me at school and we ended up extremely wasted at a party in a three level house. I still considered her my roommate even though she had graduated the semester before.  I just wanted to have fun and I didn’t want any trouble. So we stuck together because that is what we always did. We had met up with some guys and other friends before we ended up at this house….this terrible, creaky, dismal and over-crowded house. I remember one guy that had found me attractive. I told her I wasn’t interested in him, so she made a mental note, despite the drunken state we were both in. We meandered through the levels of the house talking to various people we did not know. We held hands too. I know it sounds silly, but we did to make sure we had a hold of each other. We had made our way into a hallway next to the bathroom of the third level. Loud music was playing all over the house.

That’s when everything changed.

I had to go to the bathroom and she was talking to someone. So I started off on my own. Only because the bathroom was literally ten feet away.

Ten feet.

I got grabbed.

The guy that had found me attractive was pulling me into the bathroom. I knew I didn’t even want to kiss him, despite him putting his lips on my face. I didn’t want any of it. Yet there I was in a bind because of how my arms were pinned. I kept saying, “No. Leave me alone.”

But he kept on pulling and yanking me into that bathroom. I kept fighting to get away and people around me just left me go.

I thought to myself, “No. not like this. It can’t happen like this.” I knew I didn’t want him to take it, and if he was being this aggressive with kissing, I figured it would only go downhill from there.

That’s when she grabbed my arm and started pulling me away. I was in a tug of war between a guy and my roommate. She kept screaming at him and he kept screaming back at her. Until finally I crumpled to ground. That was enough for him to lose his balance and let me go. And I crawled away with my roommate in tow. We stood up and ran down the three flights of stairs. We ran out of the house and hid behind a dumpster because I was afraid he would come after us.

Then finally, we ran some more until we met up with some people and were safely nestled in our apartment.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

Looking back at that moment, I know I would have been in a terrible situation if it wasn’t for my roommate. I could have lost something that I didn’t want to lose.

And you know what’s terrible?

Many girls run into similar situations all over the world. And their friends don’t help them.

We live in a culture. Specifically, we live in a rape culture. And it seems like people don’t really want to talk about it. The fact that society creates and allows rapists to thrive is sad. With that being said, we, as women, know that we have to be strong. But at what cost?

People expect women to just protect themselves. People also expect women not to “put themselves in compromising situations.”

Since when is living your life a compromising situation?

Women shouldn’t live in fear that any day a man could come up to them and force himself on her. That’s wrong. And men should be the ones to change, not women.

But yet, it’s expected for us to change. I remember the night. I didn’t “express interest” or “lead you on” and yet you still wanted to take away something from me, something you felt you were entitled to have. As if I should feel guilty if I had anyway; sex should never be an expectation. You didn’t get that something that you wanted.

Something, thankfully, you didn’t get because my roommate and I kept to the code.

In various cases of rape, I have noticed a growing trend: these girls get left by their “friends.”

I’ve got news for you; a real friend wouldn’t let that happen. A real friend wouldn’t abandon you and leave you in a compromising situation. That whole safety in numbers thing…..it works. Granted, I know that in some cases a man could over power both females, but he would most definitely have a hard time trying to force himself if another person was clawing at his face or gouging at his eyes (which would be my personal attack preference).

I was so pumped last week when I saw various pictures going through my NewsFeed for “Take Back the Night.” I can only hope that it brings back awareness to everyone all over the world that acts of violence like these need to be stopped. There is no way this can continue. Women, for now, we must stick to the code and keep each other safe at all costs. I can only hope and pray that someday society will stop allowing rapists to be sympathized for.

And I can’t wait for the day that we don’t have to fear anymore. I also cannot speak for actual victims because I never have actually had to live through that horror, only the fear that it was immediately going to happen.

This cannot happen anymore.

Men, you should NOT let this happen anymore. The fear, the act…..it MUST stop.

It’s your job to make the change, not ours. You aren’t a victim when you try to be aggressive and take something from us.

In fact, you’re just pathetic.

If any of you need help, contact: Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
A 24-hour phone and chat service to help victims of sexual assault or abuse.1-800-656-HOPE (4673). Visit the site here

Also check out this blog that quite frequently discusses the matters. It’s excellent:
http://makemeasammich.org/

In Defense of Real Journalism

This blog is a companion to the last blog I wrote titled The Boston Marathon Explosion in Pictures.

What would the world be without technology? At the click of a button, people can find monotonous amounts of information. When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he probably had no idea what that would one day become. Nowadays people can carry mini computers in their pockets that make phone calls. I know because I have the “phablet” Samsung Galaxy Note II. These phones take pictures, surf the internet, transmit data and many other things. In a moment, people can capture anything on a device and upload it to Facebook, Twitter and various other social media environments.

Photo credits to Bill Hoenk of TIME Magazine http://www.time.com

Photo credits to Bill Hoenk featured in  TIME Magazine
http://www.time.com

That’s a far cry from the cameras of old.

Photography is changing and photojournalism is changing as well. Journalists used to hope and pray that they would get notice of an event, whether it be good or bad before their competition found out the information. Nowadays, everybody has access to all kinds of information, so it’s a chronic rush to publish before the competition. But, it’s important to cover the truth and only the truth.

Whether one likes it or not, the journalists cannot always capture the good moments. This world is full of tragedy and it’s up to them to capture those pictures as well.

Time Magazine just released the front cover of their newest edition and it features a little boy crying with blood in his hair. He was a victim of the Boston Marathon attacks. Now many of you may be disgusted by this image, while some of you may be moved by it.

But this little boy is a face of millions of children in the United States; the millions of children that could have been on that cover if they were in Boston that day. This little boy is lucky to be alive and people are upset that he graces the cover.

Why?

Tragedies aren’t supposed to be easy to look at. Tragedies are supposed to remind us that life is precious and that we need to live every day with purpose. Tragedies remind us that we aren’t invincible. The United States may be a great nation, but the people of America need to remember that there is not such thing as invincibility or being untouchable.

But the thing is, it’s always been like this in the world of photojournalism. Even back to the Vietnam War and way before that. Journalists have been capturing the truth for a number of years and they have faced scrutiny for it many times.

Photo credit to Kim Phuc. Found on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/in_pictures_the_vietnam_war_/html/5.stm

Photo credit to Kim Phuc. Found on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Many people do not realize the problems photojournalists face. Photojournalists are there to document events as they happen without any interference. Why with no interference? Well, because that compromises the validity of the story. I was taught in my ethics class by Russell Frank at the Pennsylvania State University that it is completely unethical to change a situation or interact in a situation that you are documenting. That is both in writing and in photography. The only, and I mean absolutely only time anyone should intervene is to prevent death. Otherwise, journalists are supposed to be flies on the wall of their situations. Journalists have a duty to their readers to present nothing but truth and facts. No person wants to read a story and find out that the journalist lied, and no one wants to see a picture that was staged or extremely photoshopped. It’s not truth, therefore there is no room for it in the journalism world.

Photojournalists have been capturing those hard moments for a number of years. Quite frequently photojournalists are placed in war zones with the American troops to send images back to their news companies for publication. Sometimes those images can be quite graphic. But that’s their duty. War is not pretty and if any of you out there are so blinded that you think it is, you are sadly mistake. People die, people bleed and it can be hard saying good-bye to your fellow brothers in arms. Some photojournalists have been taken hostage or even killed. Lisa Ling and Euna Lee were captured in North Korea in 2009 and put into a prison until Former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea to negotiate their release.

How many of you have traveled to document something and been put into prison?

Photo Credit to Eddie Adams during the Vietnam War. Found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/in_pictures_the_vietnam_war_/html/6.stm

Photo Credit to Eddie Adams during the Vietnam War. Found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

People also forget that they seek information and sometimes that means getting what you do not want to see. Online mediums often place disclaimers to their graphic content.

But is it really their job to protect people from the truth?

When the planes crashed in to the Twin Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, photojournalists faced similar dilemmas that those of the Boston Marathon attacks faced:
“What am I walking in to?”
“I must separate my feelings from my job.”
“It’s my job to report the whole truth.”

Can you imagine walking out the front door with a camera or a pen and notebook in your hand hearing that these tragedies occurred?

Think about that for one second. Your loved one could be in one of those buildings that may fall to the ground..

And you have to do your job.

Maybe photojournalists aren’t so bad after all. Maybe they’re just trying to make a living like the other millions of Americans in this country.

A lot of people argue that photojournalists aren’t really human when they publish photos that are controversial to others. A lot of people argue that there are certain things people should not see.

But, why is the truth so bad? Would you rather be lied to?

It’s hard to be a real journalist. It is hard to sit at a desk and pound out a story on a daily basis. It is hard to go to a simple borough council meeting and determine the most important factors  to put into a story to give to the people of your town. It is hard to go to a sporting event and cover every single play and get every single player’s name spelled correctly. It is hard to weigh what is important for a reader to know and what is not important for people to know. It is hard to be standing behind a lens and see a dead body. It is hard to look up and see planes flying into a building while fire and ash spew from the sides. It is hard to see people dismembered lying on the ground.

Photo credit to Richard Drew of the Associated Press. Featured at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-falling-man_39992_600x450.jpg

Photo credit to Richard Drew of the Associated Press. Featured at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com

It is hard to be a journalist.

But if there were no journalists, no one would ever know anything. And if people don’t know anything, then they cannot protect themselves.

The next time one looks at a picture and feels like complaining about its content,

Perhaps you should take a moment and step back and think of how the person that took that photograph felt knowing all he or she could do was capture that moment and hope for the best.

We all feel, some of our professions just don’t allow us the luxury of acting on our emotions.

If you want to check out more images, feel free to not only search, but check out these sites:
http://lightbox.time.com/2013/03/18/a-decade-of-war-in-iraq-the-images-that-moved-them-most/#5
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-airplane-shanksville_39999_600x450.jpg