2021 2021 2021
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Tiffany Forbes Dena Tissera
Kiera Eardley, Dina Ivkovich, Hannah Cohen, Gitika Garg
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Alice Wright, Atara Thenabadu, Binari Almeida, Chanttel Forbes, Coby Renkin, Dilshi Perera, Elodie Ricaud, Emma Spencer, Lily Anna, Gitika Garg, Hannah Cohen, Joseph Lew, Juliette Capomolla, Kiera Eardley, Lara Christensen, Madeena Rohaizad, Maya, Mia Deans, Petula Bowa, Ruby Ellam, Sanjiv Raveendiran, Sarah Arturi, Shannon Valentine, Simone Kealy, Sohani Goonetillake, Stephanie Booth, Thiamando Pavlidis, Victoria Baikie, Vivian Tang, William Huynh, Xenia Sanut, Zayan Ismail
Adrienne Aw, Amy Jenkin, Anita Thuon, Betty Gu, Brooke Stevens, Carla J. Romana, Emma Lucas, Jessica La, John Macatol, Lauren Easter, Madison Marshall, Meili Tan, Monica Ouk, My Tieu Ly, Ruth Boneh, Ruth Ong, Stephanie Wong,
Hello friends, and welcome to the 2021 edition. In other words, an ode to the crazy year that was. From watching riots rage on our streets to workin’ through a 6.0 magnitude earthquake, all while listening to Olivia Rodrigo on full blast and wearing cute Y2K outfits to calm ourselves down, it was the year we were taught to expect the unexpected. In the midst of this, the team at Esperanto realised how truly unique the time that we are living through is. Thus, we decided to document our first post-pandemic year for generations to come — 2021, in all its quirky and chaotic glory. In this magazine, you’ll find analyses, reviews and essays regarding all things 2021, whether that be political instability in Afghanistan or Lorde’s triumphant return to music. So, whilst you’re out there enjoying the final remnants of hot girl summer, we invite you to join us in revisiting the TikTok trends, events, music and movies that defined the iconic days of last year’s commotion. Love — Dena, Tiff & Marissa.
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How It Started vs. How It’s Going The Reasons Why: Reality TV Bla(c)k Lives Matter (BLM): A Year in Review, A Lifetime of Change 2020–2021 Things I Miss From the Pre-Pandemic World Frigid Jones’ Diary A Day in the Life of a Billionaire Barely Moving, Yet Moving Forward The Death of the Tabloid Lil Nas X: Man, Myth or Legend? Taliban Rule in Afghanistan, 20 Years Later: How Did We Get Here? Gratitude Diaries Do Ye Take This Woman? Road Testing the Saviours of 2021: TikTok Food Trends Who What Watch: Down to Earth with Zac Efron Black Widow Solar Power Never Have I Ever
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RIP to the #GirlBoss Mentality Tough Bitches Say No Save the Trees (And My Sanity) Who is That Girl? Free Britney (And All of Us) Is Miss Americana Fearless? Ode to a Snap Lockdown Get Your Bread but Eat the Rich: An Internal Monologue of Living in Late Stage Capitalism Bennifer Sliding Doors The Encyclopedia of TikTok How to Party when the Virus Particles Depart The Several Shades of Lockdown The Real Mirror Gossip Girl 2021: A Review A Rainbow Façade The Sweet (Sartorial) Escape Google Year in Review
How It Started vs. How It's Going WORDS BY Xenia Sanut @xeniasanut ART BY Emma Lucas @emlucasart
My 2021 bucket list: How It Started • Save up for Japan exchange. • Travel more. • Exercise for 30 minutes daily. • Go out more. • Take more off-screen breaks. • Forget that 2020 ever happened.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
I was at my boyfriend’s house on New Year’s Eve. We were sitting in the living room, watching the Sydney fireworks show, and admiring how the explosions of light were reflected on the dark waters of Sydney Harbour. Like many people, I was optimistic about 2021. We were out of lockdown for the majority of the summer, and after a week of the circuit breaker lockdown we were able to stop COVID-19 in its tracks. While my first semester was a hybrid of online and on-campus classes, 2021 still looked like the year where we would do all the things we took for granted before 2020. Until 2021 said, “Ha! Sike”. Both of the trips I had planned for this year, one to Inverloch with high school friends in February and the other to Sydney with two of my travel buddies in July, got cancelled due to lockdowns and outbreaks. I had planned to go to Japan for a semester exchange long before the world knew what ‘COVID-19’ meant My 2021 bucket list: How It’s Going and I got tired of hearing how everything was • Save up for Japan exchange. ‘unprecedented.’ I had Tokyo University in Save up for a Japan trip — sight, but that dream got further away from after this is all over. me with every cancellation and postponement. • Travel more. And then there was the classic “I’m going to • Travel to Sydney. exercise more” New Year’s resolution. I don’t CANCELLED think I needed the pandemic to happen to (Sydney outbreak) know where that was going. • Travel to Inverloch. A new New Year’s resolution, CANCELLED however, was going out and catching up with (Circuit Breaker lockdown) friends more. I have always been more of an • Travel somewhere introverted person, preferring the safety of my (literally, anywhere) bedroom to having to stand shoulder-to-shoulbefore the year ends. der with strangers on a packed train or, dare • Exercise for 30 minutes daily. I say, talking to hospitality staff when I want • Do yoga and a dance workout to order a meal. And while I am still an introevery day. verted person after the events of 2020, I knew • Do a dance workout every I had a lot of social recharging to do. At the weekend. start of first semester, I finally got my red Ps • Do Zumba whenever you and drove down the Mornington Peninsula can be bothered. with my boyfriend, almost crashing twice but • Go out more. feeling freer than any moment in the past year. • Go roller-skating I went roller-skating and did karaoke with old with friends. friends, and left that skating rink and karaoke • Do karaoke. booth having lost my balance and voice — • Get my hair dyed a but having found myself again. bright colour. So where am I now that we’re • LOCKDOWN BACK-UP in lockdown again? Well, I’m taking those PLAN: Catch up on online resolutions that I’ve only half completed and games and video calls. grasping at them like a life raft in the middle • Take more off-screen breaks. of a storm. I’ve gotten my first vaccine and am Do what you can to keep waiting out for my second because it feels like yourself busy and distracted. it’s all that I can do to help make this storm go • Watch more movies. away. Ultimately, I’m trying to stay optimistic • Read more Japanese manga. because that’s what resolutions are: the belief • Get vaccinated. that your problems will be resolved and that • Get second dose. (Oct 27) life has the capability to become better. ‡ • Forget that 2020 ever happened! Stay positive! We’ll get out of this soon!
The Reasons Why: Reality TV Whether you love it or cringe at it, reality television — or what some prefer to call ‘constructed’ television — has truly taken hold of our viewing habits. From cultivating countless pop culture memes, to being deemed a major topic of discussion, reality TV is the second most-watched genre in Australia. This might come as a surprise because many Australians are ashamed to admit this, preferring to accept that their viewing habits are nothing but a ‘guilty pleasure’. Personally, as someone who binge-watches shows like Love Island and Queer Eye, I’ve often felt reluctant to admit that I enjoy a genre that is routinely labelled as 'trashy'. But the truth is, despite the critics, reality TV has got everyone hooked. After doing some research and consulting the people around me, I’ve compiled four of the most popular reasons as to why this genre is oh-so-captivating. 1. It’s All About Status Ever kept up with the Kardashians? Or binged an entire season of Love Island in one night? Well turns out these viewing habits might actually be telling us more about ourselves than we think. In a study that assessed the appeal of reality TV, it was found that our personality is linked to our viewing preferences. The more someone likes reality TV, the more status-oriented they are likely to be. Psychologically speaking, reality television gratifies this need in various ways. Firstly, it makes viewers feel that they are more important than the “ordinary people" portrayed on the show. Secondly, by allowing "ordinary viewers" to feel represented, more people relate to characters on these shows. Lastly, reality TV allows viewers to fantasise about one day achieving the kind of celebrity status being portrayed. 2. A Little Bit of Drama Who doesn't love a bit of drama now and again? Especially if you're simply an observer! After a very long, dull period of lockdowns, everyone's seeking ways to bring about a little spice into their lives — and reality shows know just how to bring the heat. From petty fights to competitive situations, research has compared the experience to the spirit of watching your favourite sports team battle it out on the court. Like every competitive AFL supporter who isn’t afraid to make their feelings loud and clear on Facebook, reality TV shows supporters (such as those from RuPaul’s Drag Race and The Bachelor) have also created hardcore fandoms who display their fierce competitiveness for contestants online. The truth is, we love drama because when we watch reality TV, our brain secretes endorphins, also known as the pain-suppressing and pleasureinducing compounds that are mimicked by opioids and heroin, which leave us feeling addicted. It's no wonder we can’t stop watching!
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3. Feeling Empathy When watching a reality show, it can feel like you're socialising with a friend. For instance, on Love Island when the girls are all together in the dressing room discussing their three-day-old relationships, I feel like I'm right there with them. And no, I'm not desperate, it’s just that this genre of television has proven to evoke empathy from its viewers. Empathy allows us to feel socially connected with participants on the show and feel for them when they get humiliated on camera. In the long run, this can help us to become more empathetic people. Hence why we love to go back to reality TV time and time again... it helps us become better people. 4. Being Healthy Voyeurs It’s safe to say that without our curiosity, there would be no reality TV. People just love to witness and evaluate how others present themselves and interact with others, including in life’s more intimate moments. At times it can feel wrong to be a voyeur, but to be frank, reality shows are created to satisfy that very inclination. Luckily, voyeurism on a spectrum is healthy in small doses. Researchers have found ‘trait voyeurism’, a healthy form of voyeurism, to be the most common among this audience. In this instance, gaining insight into the lives of others is seen as a special limited-edition experience that converts us into virtual anthropologists, curious about human behaviour and society. This perfectly feeds our inquisitive minds and our appetite for this content. Reality TV certainly satisfies our desires for status, drama, empathy, and voyeuristic inclination. But it can also satisfy an endless list of other viewer preferences because there is such a diverse range of content available. Although these reasons may differ, what's true is that people love to watch this genre because it leaves us feeling understood and connected to others in such an engaging way. Reality shows may not be the most dignified genre of TV, but they sure are uniquely relevant and discerning in ways no other genres are. ‡
WORDS BY Elodie Ricaud ART BY Brooke Stevens @brooke.stev
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Bla(c)k Lives Matter (BLM): A Year in Review, A Lifetime of Change I remember when it all started in 2013. Black Lives Matter (BLM) was never strictly a 2020 thing. Its (grass)roots date back to nine years ago when Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted. At the time, there was strong opposition to BLM, as well as the odd belief that it was simply a fringe movement, and that all lives should matter. I was in my mid-teens then, and it was confusing to see all the news sources that disputed the movement and called it exclusionary. As a person of colour (PoC), I know for sure that Black lives do matter. It is unacceptable that not only Black people, but many PoC die needlessly at the hands of authorities. The systems that have been in place — be it law enforcement, the judiciary, healthcare, education or even customary social norms — permeate the everyday lived realities of people of colour in the form of oppression, exclusion, violence, and exploitation.
WORDS BY Zayan Ismail @zayanisml ART BY Monica Ouk @mono.goose
In 2020, when George Floyd — another Black man — was needlessly murdered, the events that unfolded resonated with me on a heightened level and I sensed a tremendous reckoning all around us. It was deeply emotional to bear witness to a movement that was fighting for my rights. I reached a point of spiritual connectedness with my homeland and my ancestors. I knew deep down that this time, things were surely changing. It was a transformational reality that coincided with the pandemic to galvanise a permanent remaking of our societies. In 2021, I do have hope but I am still apprehensive. I am bewildered at the amount of denial and backlash against a movement that is so fundamental and affirming. Racism and its followers have been exposed and highlighted, yet they have come out in large forces to avert the movement. Needless to say, this movement is both large and small. It is both silent and loud and in retrospect, has been going on for centuries. One must only look at the struggles of the African slaves and the anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa and South America. For myself, it has been the struggle to get my point across in predominantly White environments — be it a classroom, a suburb, or even a train station. These mundane encounters remind me that the issues highlighted by BLM are a lived reality.
Bla(c)k Lives Matter (BLM)
Indeed, the beauty and resonance of BLM lies in its pertinence to everyday life. The fact that PoC face discrmination on a daily basis galvanises the movement further. BLM after George Floyd’s passing became a global movement, not just a hashtag. It was partly catalysed by years of mistrust towards those that hold unyielding power. These forces do not listen to the voices of those that are ostracised from society, but instead aid and abate subjugation without any intention of dismantling the system. In Australia, Blak lives have always mattered, but the crying call became even louder when I saw protests in Naarm and elsewhere all over the country. The renewed call to address the alarming number of Indigenous deaths in custody (at least 441) and the much-needed rapprochement towards the Pathway to Justice Report suggests a realisation that what we are still doing is fruitless. The fight for country and acceptance of the first languages, cultures and systems requires much more than a report by a majority White government. Seeing people of all ages recognise the covert ways in which the government substantiates their oppression, through mere ideology and centuries of ‘civilised behaviour’, is heartening. Indigenous people in Australia still face challenges in getting access to appropriate healthcare, housing and infrastructure. Only 59 per cent of Indigenous students graduate high school compared to 84 per cent of their non-Indigenous counterparts. According to Gunia (2020), “they are 14 times more likely to be homeless”. They earn about 33 per cent less and face unemployment rates almost twice as high. They are “more likely to struggle with mental health issues, four times more likely to die by suicide, and they live, on average, eight years less than other Australians.”
A year on, the reckoning has been that this is not just about Black lives. It transcends the colour of the skin. It permeates through governing systems, be it capitalism or neo-liberal democracy. It dates back to the days of the imperial project that transformed and destroyed the coloured lives of many, not just in the United States but everywhere around the world. Sure, the police officer that murdered George Floyd got 22 years — but does that suffice for oppression that has lasted centuries? I still feel unsafe in predominantly White environments, and I still find it difficult to get my point across. The odd stares and daft questions still continue. For a White person, it is hard to even fathom how much ‘evidence, data and facts’ I need to substantiate a simple point. The struggle to legitimise myself and live to my fullest potential as a person of colour (or even a human being) is the greatest battle of my life. If a person of Maldivian heritage can write an article on BLM in 2021, this is a firm affirmation that the cause resonates and reaches far beyond the lives of just Black people. It is a movement for an inclusive and just society. A call to action to do away with old, decaying, archaic institutions that no longer serve humanity. It is a space for young, queer and unique individuals to express themselves and voice concern over their bodily autonomy and reproductive health rights. It is a vessel in which those that have been ostracised by society charter a new path towards equity. It is the last nail in the coffin for unjust laws that seek to divide and marginalise. For me, it’s a beacon and anchor of hope that keeps me moving forward. ‡
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WORDS BY Petula Bowa ART BY Adrienne Aw @illustrations_awy
2020–2021 The years everything went dark. Quiet. We were confined to the careful solitude of our own homes. Of our own minds. We had no choice but to lead slower, simpler lives. It felt like it was only yesterday that we celebrated the new year, making foolish resolutions we knew we wouldn't keep. And for the first time, I spent my New Years alone, thinking that if I started the year off with a clear mind, away from the distractions of the holidays, that I would start my year off right. But I was wrong. We all were. Few saw it coming and the rest just laughed. But here we are now; bound by the chains of our own humanity. The chains of our own mortality. We are slowly being devoured, not by the monster under our beds, but by the monster we can't see. But we continue to fight, both at the hospitals and in our hearts. The sun still shines, but it's harder to feel it behind a mask or within the four walls of your bedroom. ‡
Things I Miss From the Pre-Pandemic World A lot has changed over the past two years since COVID-19 hit Australia, including my grasp on time. The pandemic has shifted us into a whole new way of living, where open borders, limitless outdoor time, and not having to do Zoom catch-ups are now distant memories that we once took for granted. So much has changed that looking back, how we used to live is almost foreign. Do you remember that feeling right before a concert was about to begin? That feeling of standing still, waiting so long for the show to start that your feet are killing you, and the line for the bar is almost not worth it? The feeling when, just as you’re about to give in and go home, the lights dim and your whole body is filled with excitement? The first chord plays, or the artist screams out the name of your city, which drives you wild and makes everything worth it... No? Can’t remember? Me either. One odd thing that I miss from the pre-pandemic world is coming out of the cinemas. Yes, I miss the popcorn and the movies themselves. But I’m focusing on that feeling of leaving the cinema, where it’s still bright or suddenly dark outside. It throws you off like nothing else. You have been sitting in the dark for so long — how the hell is it so bright outside? It has been hours, what do you mean it's only 4pm? I always hated small talk, but what I now hate more is COVID-19 small talk. The majority of my conversations these days are consumed by the topic of the virus. It’s only ever about the daily case numbers, exposure sites, or Dandrews’ daily message to rule-breakers. Before COVID-19, asking “did you hear about the engagement party?” could have signalled some juicy gossip about a disastrous party that was not followed up by a wedding. Now, gossip has hit an all-time low, and that question would only ever be about a dreaded COVID-19 spreader event. And why do I need to know the name of the Chief Health Minister of a state I never (and will never) live in? Take me back to talking about the weather, please.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
What I miss most are the experiences I should have had during this time if it weren’t for COVID-19. While I have become closer with certain friends, there are some friends — in different social circles who I only see at certain events or times of the year, or who live interstate — who I have involuntarily drifted away from. The pandemic has left me feeling very distant from my wider social circle. In an attempt to keep afloat during these treacherous times, I have found myself often forgetting about certain friends. Without the possibility of inviting all these people to a birthday party, planning camping trips, or whatever it was I used to do, these friendships have faded away. I feel robbed of friends I should still have, and memories I could have made. Despite this, I still have hope that once this is all over, these friendships can be repaired and new memories can be made. If anything, this pandemic has rendered me more aware of who I want to be around and has urged me to appreciate the little things in life so much more. This is one gift COVID-19 has given me that I am grateful for, and hope to hold onto for years to come. ‡
WORDS BY Victoria Baikie PHOTOGRAPHY BY Meili Tan @meilimade
Frigid Jones' Diary WORDS BY Sohani Goonetillake ART BY Adrienne Aw @illustrations_awy
January: Nine months dick-free It happened on New Year’s Day: I was happily sipping mulled wine and radiating well-travelled aunty vibes, when my family cornered me and asked if I was dating. That’s when it dawned on me. I, like many singles, had undergone an accidental bout of celibacy due to mandatory social distancing. It had been nine months since my last dick appointment and as soon as the thought hit me, I couldn’t shake it. The next week, I felt personally attacked when my doctor asked me if I was sexually active. Shortly after, I diagnosed myself with dickpression: the state of being sad or depressed by the lack of dick in your life. At this point, I was nervous that if I sneezed, dust would shoot out of my vagina. February: On Hinge or unhinged? Initially, I was hopeful and joined dating apps for the first time. However, these apps brought out an ugly side in me. The swiping led me down a rabbit hole of comparison and my sense of inadequacy flared up. I would shine a light on all of my perceived physical and personality deficits. Looking at everyone’s dating CVs made me reconsider everything. Should I be socialising more? Am I too independent? Am I too into my looks? Which begs the question: am I on Hinge or am I unhinged? In the words of Olivia Rodrigo, “it’s brutal out here”. March: Libido or Libi-don’t? I went on numerous successful first dates (humble brag), however, the consecutive dates that followed did not go down so well. My reentering-the-dating-world anxiety was so bad that I forgot to have fun. My immediate thought after a date was — “WHAT IF HE TOUCHES ME?” followed by “OH wait, I want that”. My anxiety had completely destroyed my sex drive. I imagine when most people tell their new sexual partner that “it’s been a while,” what they actually mean is, “I am about to rock that headboard like a sailor on leave” not “I am literally afraid to have sex again”. I should have known I was not ready for intimacy when my friend’s immediate response to me saying “I am seeing someone” was “therapist or boy?”. The anxieties surrounding sex that I thought I had parted ways with in high school had made a comeback. A sequel nobody asked for. UGH, will year 10 ever end for me?
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May: No boy problems when you’re the problem Feeling unattractive is one thing but feeling undesirable was a fresh hell I had never experienced. The idea that not one person fantasised about sleeping with me made me physically nauseous. It made me realise just how much onus I put on sex as a way to make myself feel confident and valuable. So, after a night of self-loathing and eating ice cream in bed while blasting Taylor Swift, I realised just how dramatic I was being. Just because I’m not getting a “you up?” text at 1am does not mean I am doomed to a life of celibacy. June: Revisiting Mr Reliable To be honest, I came fairly close to revisiting old flings (cue the boos from the girls’ bathroom) but I never followed through. You should never drop your standards, let alone your panties for someone you know is bad for you. As Edna Mode says “never look back darling, it distracts from the now”. I realised my dry spell wasn’t evidence of insecurity, but a commitment to my standards. Contrary to popular belief, your hymen isn't going to grow back if you don't bang one out soon. I reminded myself that holding out for good sex with a good boy that you are 100 per cent about is worth it. July: I am too pretty to be this sexually frustrated Don’t ask me how I fluctuated from crippling self-esteem to a superiority complex in two months. September: Good Vibes Only. Ten minutes with a Satisfyer Pro vibrator, and I forgot men existed. Not sponsored, but should be. November: Day Zero Yes folks, IT HAPPENED. I just had sex. The experience was clichéd, with many whispers of “I never do this”, followed by a dozen whispers of “are you sure about this?”. Despite being a confidence booster, I did not feel hot girl summer-esque afterwards. Sex was never the solution to the anxiety and self-loathing I’d felt during my dry spell. Everyone’s sex life ebbs and flows but if you care enough to label it, it is worth investigating why sex is so validating for you. The dry spell may have brought your anxieties and self-loathing to the surface, but masking these feelings with orgasms and pillow talk is merely a temporary solution to a more serious problem. Dry spells can feel like losing your virginity all over again and just like virginity, it simply doesn't matter. ‡
WORDS BY Thiamando Pavlidis @thiamand_no ART BY My Tieu Ly @alruin_de
A Day in the Life of a Billionaire Billionaires are just idiot man-babies with too many resources. Many of whom are clearly just overcompensating for at least one little… thing. This is the sentiment I have tried to convey in this story, where many of the jokes and anecdotes are actually based on real-life billionaire antics — the gag is, without the context, it’s impossible to tell what’s You wake up and emerge from your race car bed — a literal Lamborghini you paid a profesmade up and what’s real. sional to convert into a bed — and you remove With that in mind, here is your monogrammed robe and pick out one of six identical grey Brunello Cucinelli t-shirts what I imagine a day in the from your wardrobe. You put on your gun hollife of a billionaire is like. ster for your day gun. It's a nice, big gun and holding it in your hands offers you an unfamiliar feeling of power.
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As you enter the kitchen, you are greeted by your personal chef. It’s Heston Blumenthal. You sit down on your special booster seat for breakfast opposite one of your seven teenage girlfriends. They all understand you like no other. It’s definitely not because you’ve taken advantage of a group of young and vulnerable women who have had less experience with men than women your own age, who would most likely ridicule you for your incapabilities and… uh, nevermind. Heston’s made ortolan bunting for you — he was hesitant because it’s “illegal” and “one of the most controversial dishes in the world”, but you love the crunch! You’re supposed to keep a towel over your face to trap the smells or hide your shame from God or something, but what’s the point? Fry up those tiny, endangered songbirds!
After breakfast, you take a stroll through your warehouses. It’s so gracious of you to pluck the poors from the side of the road to work for you, you think to yourself. Sometimes, you even pay them, as a treat. In the main warehouse, they’re building you a long, sleek, thick rocket. It’s really big, huge even. Looking at it offers you an unfamiliar feeling of power. They make bath salts in the other warehouse, but the cops think it’s meth so they keep testing for the wrong things whenever you’re raided. You make eye contact with one of the security guards outside the second warehouse. He has a gun too. Yours is bigger.
A Day in the Life of a Billionaire
Once you finish comparing guns, you head to the basement, where you’re keeping Azealia Banks hostage. One of your girlfriends is an aspiring hyperpop artist and wanted a collaboration. She’s been saying mean things about you in text posts on her Instagram stories all day about this. You’re not really that short, are you? You should’ve taken her phone, but it’s too late now. Maybe you can blackmail her and force her to write an apology letter later. Your girlfriend… which one was it? Anyway, Banks isn’t leaving until that collab is recorded. You finish your delicious dinner of bulls’ testicles in the shape of an orange. You like eating testicles, as the act offers you an unfamiliar sense of power. Heston asks if he’s allowed to go back home to see his family, because he misses them. You tell him no.
At night, you get ready for a call with your friend Joe Rogan, who you’ll be remotely recording a podcast with this evening. You like this sentient thumb because you are taller than him. You talk about throwing money into a well with gasoline and a lit match, and then putting money in a blender and eating it between two slices of bread. Also, cryptocurrency. You tell him you’ll bring some of your fresh drugs from your warehouse when you see him next, but currently you’re laying low in a nice villa in Belize to avoid the investigations into tax evasion. You say all of this on mic. After you hang up the call, you get changed back into your pyjamas, hop on your step to hang your grey shirt up and go back to sleep in your Lamborghini. ‡
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Barely Moving, Yet Moving Forward I think about being young and foolish as frequently as I do washing the dishes and changing my bedsheets I often think about romanticising the heat of summer and drinking in beer gardens, when really I hate the lack of productivity and sticky feeling the warmth brings. But I'd push aside my disdain just to brush past the vastness of living again.
Everyone around me is cooped up and caught in crisis barely moving, yet, moving forward consumed in the land of unknowing where stagnancy is the collective feeling of this digital modernity.
WORDS BY Lily Anna @funkyspaghettii
We're connecting with a collection of pixels conversing in a code of abbreviations Do you know if I'm laughing out loud? Can I still cry “omg” if I don't believe in a God? My body is tiring from all this unnecessary being barely moving yet supposedly moving forward in this digital modernia haze struck by constant scrolling and stimuli the time just rolls on by And half the time, if I’m honest, I'll forget to reply yet I’m, still online (barely moving, yet moving forward). ‡
The Death of the Tabloid
Enter the tabloid — a welloiled rumour mill, relentless in churning aggressively yellow headlines and scathing paparazzi pics. Crowding supermarket shelves and doctors’ waiting rooms, we’ve grown up with these glossy pages always in sight. In high school, I distinctly remember picking up an edition of Famous at the hairdressers — another impressive distributor of these pervasive publications — that read “you’re too fat for runway” across 18-year-old Kendall Jenner’s body. Yes, read that again. Heaven forbid she had a bit of cellulite on her thighs, but looked otherwise flawless. I continued to flick through the pages and mindlessly consume without even batting an eyelid or raising a brow. Why is it that, back then, I never questioned why a young girl’s body was publicly discussed on the front page? Or why dotted lines circled out women’s ‘imperfections’? Or even why ‘best and worst’ beach body lists were considered magazine staples? If there is one thing that has come out of lockdown number I’ve-lost-count, it’s listening to the icon that is Jameela Jamil and understanding just how problematic tabloid culture really is. Jamil is an actor and has been an outspoken critic of toxic tabloid culture towards women, using her platform to call out the blatant misogyny that these publications perpetuate.
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‘Diet disaster’. ‘Dumped at 200 lbs’. ‘Break-up boob jobs’. ’Biggest belly flops’. These are the ridiculous headlines slammed across tabloids that continually berate and dehumanise women in the spotlight. They objectify, scrutinise, and hyperbolise them till they are no longer treated as humans. Why? Because clickbait sells, and as we all know, revenue surpasses everything now, including morals. Tabloid media is ruthless in commodifying sexist narratives that continue to influence and shape public perception. It is rampant misogyny under the now obvious guise of juicy celeb gossip, and the damage of this seeps deep into our society today. We’ve seen it happen to Britney, to Paris and to Taylor Swift, just to name a few. This is a pattern that Jamil frames perfectly: “they strategically build women up, overexpose them, primed to then savagely take down, destroy and repeat. The ‘It’ Girl relentlessly kicked off the very pedestal she was placed on with no room for redemption”. Think British tabloids hounding Meghan Markle, branding her as ‘attention-seeking’ for holding her baby bump or ‘vulgar’ for wearing a one-shoulder dress. I mean, how dare she. The thing is, toxic tabloid culture isn’t just something that affects celebrities. When they are reduced to objects and their bodies are shamed, it affects all women. When their character is defamed, it ridicules all women, because it encourages a demonising culture of sexism, now publicly available to display, consume and replicate. When we buy these magazines bound by threads of blatant misogyny and indulge in the gossip, we contribute to the problem. Now, it is time to take responsibility. 2020 was a pivotal year in calling out behaviour that could no longer continue to be unchecked and this year is exactly the same. It is time to torch the toxic culture of tabloids that breeds an absurd ugliness within society and the media. Put quite simply, tabloids need to die in 2021, and I don’t mean this in the nicest way possible. We must take public accountability, unpicking the narratives that we are sold and rejecting their misleading messages. Stop buying, stop listening, and really, stop funding the patriarchy. Instead, let's start supporting women, looking not at their bodies but the weight of their achievements and voices, because this is what really should make headlines.
WORDS BY Gitika Garg @avantgarg ART BY Brooke Stevens @brooke.stev
Lil Nas X; Man, Myth or Legend? WORDS BY Juliette Capomolla ART BY Marissa Hor @marissa.pdf
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to do a profile on Lil Nas X — and yes, I know that’s really lame. But the man need not be underestimated. With a career spanning less than three years, and a discography of a little over 10 songs, somehow the singer is managing to break records. At the beginning of August, Lil Nas ceremoniously surpassed rapper DaBaby’s streaming record to become the most listened to male rapper in the world. This dethroning could not have been more serendipitous after DaBaby ousted himself as a homophobe at Rolling Loud festival in late July, which saw him dropped from upcoming sets at Lollapalooza and Governor’s Ball. A pretty impressive feat from an artist yet to release their debut album. Yes, Lil Nas X’s accolades are a list well beyond his years (although, I’m still waiting for him to add ‘guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race’ to it), but I would say that’s not even what makes Lil Nas X the artist he is today. There’s this inexplicable appeal about him (unless you’re a homophobe, that is); his shameless sexuality, self-deprecating tendencies (self-proclaimed “talentless homosexual”), and social media expertise (perhaps this stems from his Nicki Minaj fan account he had as a teenager) — need I go on?
But why is this man-myth-legend so controversial? It’s needless to say that his unashamed homosexuality is difficult for some prudish, archaic individuals to stomach. Yes, (un)surprisingly, those same White old men who were horrified at the sight of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B singing about their wet ass pussies also nearly passed out when Lil Nas X gave the devil a lap dance in his ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’ video. Oh, and then again when he and eight other Black men danced naked in the ‘Industry Baby’ video. When he came out mid-2019, six months after the release of the infamous track ‘Old Town Road’ and amidst its 17th week at number one, his audience was still relatively small. Now, with nearly 10 million followers on Instagram, he’s definitely attracting more attention — attention he effortlessly uses to his advantage. It seems that Lil Nas X is not afraid to act as a role model for others just like him. With ‘Old Town Road’ paying homage to the proud history of Black cowboys in the US, he definitely came out of the (metaphorical) gates swinging. But, not without backlash. ‘Old Town Road’ was removed from Billboard’s Country charts shortly after its release, a move that had many pointing out that Country music has, and has always had, a race problem.
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But, it’s needless to say that it’s not just Country which has a race problem. Unfortunately, there still lacks space for a proud Black man to be successful in America and the world. So it appears that Lil Nas will have to continue to defiantly wrestle with the gatekeepers of the music industry for a little while yet — a fight against the systemic racism which has long held that certain genres of music be made only by White people, only for White people. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll surely remember Lil Nas X’s controversial Satan Shoes. If not, do the shoes containing a drop of human blood ring a bell? Despite the somewhat sadistic inclusion, the $1018 USD shoes sold out almost instantly. But it’s the follow up from the rapper which makes him such an icon. After a similar scandal was attached to Tony Hawk’s blood-infused skateboard collaboration, the pair collaborated on a TikTok — the perfect storm. Nevertheless, even Lil Nas recognised the double standard — a White, straight man can release a bloodinfused good with little to no backlash but god forbid, a Black, gay man do the same. What some may see as an over-exaggeration of his sexuality, should be better appreciated for the environment in which it exists. For a 22-year-old Black man who grew up in the south of the United States,
ashamed about his sexual identity, it’s an opportunity only afforded to a few, to comfortably, publicly, and confidently embrace it. Not only is his music a space for Lil Nas X to embrace himself, but it’s also a responsibility that comes with the platform: to let others know they needn’t be repentant. After all, if 2019’s Pride Month hadn’t been met with open arms on social media like it was, perhaps Lil Nas X’s spur of the moment decision to come out never would have happened. But there’s an added layer when we consider the ease at which Nas’ heterosexual peers release songs time and time again about sex with women. Have they ever been questioned whether their heterosexuality is just a “shtick”? The fact of the matter is, while Lil Nas X is a trifecta of what society typically likes to hate: Black, gay and shameless, many can’t help but love him. By wearing his identity on his sleeve, Lil Nas X and his art make the world a more interesting place. ‡
Taliban Rule in Afghanistan, 20 years later: How Did We Get Here? CW:
This article discusses war, violence, terrorism, and misogyny.
A two-decade-long war has come to an abrupt, chaotic halt as the US and its allies withdraw forces from Afghanistan. At least 240,000 people have directly lost their lives in the conflict, with thousands more indirectly injured or dying. 20 years and more than two trillion USD has been spent in the efforts to defeat al-Qaeda and prevent Taliban control in Afghanistan, and yet the country has been rapidly plunged back into the authoritarian rule of the Taliban. The US-led ‘War on Terror’— which was authorised by the UN Security Council — commenced with the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, mere weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The war had the stated objectives of finding and defeating al-Qaeda and countering the Taliban regime, however, the mission also had more ambiguous aims, namely: democratisation, nationbuilding, and human and women’s rights promotion. The people of Afghanistan have been suffering from the fallouts of foreign occupation since the Soviet invasion of 1979, so there was optimism among many civilians that this war might bring an end to decades of oppression and violence. A multitude of failures during the 20 years of the War on Terror, however, has lost the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians. Primarily, it has been the plight of Afghan civilians as collateral damage — where more than 71,000 innocent Afghan people have been killed — which has seen the morality and purpose of the war questioned. While the majority of civilian deaths have been at the hands of the Taliban and insurgent groups, others have been caused by the US and allied forces airstrikes. I believe that this indiscriminate loss of innocent lives is the greatest tragedy of the conflict and is a further injustice for the Afghan people who have already suffered so much.
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WORDS BY Emma Spencer @spencer.emma
Recent events, including President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country, have highlighted the flawed and dysfunctional government system created in the last 20 years. There has been widespread corruption across all government agencies, leading to deep distrust of the country’s institutions. A UN report on corruption in government found that in 2009 alone, Afghans paid $2.5 billion in bribes to authorities, making up a staggering 23 per cent of the country’s GDP. The other failure, which surprised both allied forces and much of the international community, was the lack of resistance shown by the Afghan National Army in the face of Taliban insurgency. Despite spending 20 years and $83 billion USD training and resourcing the Afghan national forces, the army failed to protect the capital Kabul, making Taliban rule all but inevitable. There are many theorised reasons for this failure, namely: a lack of will and morale among soldiers due to entrenched corruption by commanders, inadequate training and illiteracy among soldiers, high death and attrition rates in the force, the US and allied forces withdrawing abruptly, and finally, little faith among soldiers that others would continue to fight or support them. Ultimately, for the remaining Afghan National Army soldiers, it was a better option to collectively surrender to the Taliban than to stay and fight. Importantly, a lot of progress has been made in Afghanistan in the 20 years since 2001. When the war began, no girls were receiving an education, but by 2020, 3.5 million girls were in school, as well as an additional six million boys. Sixty-nine women held seats in Parliament, making up 27 per cent of all representatives. Maternal mortality rates halved between 2002 and 2016, and access to clean drinking water increased by 45 per cent over two decades. Concerningly, however, much of this progress is now threatened by the impending Taliban rule. The lives, rights and freedoms of women, girls, religious and ethnic minorities are particularly at risk of suppression — and already, many of their fears are coming true. Women in Afghanistan are reporting that their rights are being rolled back and that the oppressive Taliban regime of 20 years ago is now returning. Schools and libraries are being burnt down, women cannot leave the house without a burqa and a male chaperone, and girls are once again being denied an education. The rise of extremist terror groups such as ISIS-K in Afghanistan is also posing a grave threat. On May 8, a high school for Hazara girls was bombed by Islamic State militants, killing 80 people, mostly students. At least 160 Afghan civilians and 13 US troops were killed by an ISIS-K bombing of Kabul airport on August 26, with more attacks anticipated. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to have your hopes and dreams for the future ripped away so suddenly. Being able to follow my passions and pursue a career at university has been so empowering and exciting. It’s only since watching the plight of girls and women in Afghanistan that I’ve truly realised just how much of a privilege and a gift education can be, and how devastating it would be to lose those opportunities. Ultimately, it appears that so much of the progress made over the last 20 years in Afghanistan will be quickly undone. This raises critical questions about the costs of the War on Terror: how have so many failures occurred? How can the innocent citizens of Afghanistan, who have endured decades of conflict and foreign occupation, be protected and empowered in this terrifying period? ‡
Gratitude Diaries A friend once told me that the world is just one big ol’ floating rock. And in some ways, she’s right. It is just a big ol’ ball of floating nickel and granite spinning somewhere in the middle of our expansive galaxy. But on other days, it feels like so much more than that. It’s home to seven-something billion people, who all experienced today differently. It’s home to crystal clear waters and gradient skies that calm even the most scattered of thoughts. It’s home to a million love stories and utterly awkward first kisses. Home to kittens called Panko and art that makes us feel things we cannot verbalise. Home to free therapy sessions and the type of camaraderie you’ll only ever find in the confines of a women’s bathroom in a sweaty nightclub. And these small fleeting moments? They’re the minerals — that at the time, feel miniscule — but come together to make life beautiful. So, as an ode to those simple joys, I started collecting my favourite WORDS BY moments from this year in none other Tiffany Forbes @tiffanyforbes than my trusty ‘Notes’ app under a ART BY heading labelled ‘BEAUTIFUL THINGS Carla J. Romana @crmn.studio I’VE SEEN — Love Notes to Life’...
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They go a little something like this:
1. I take the train to uni. It’s my first time on the Cranbourne line since they’ve built the sky rail. We stop at Noble Park. I spot a brawny tradie playing with a kitten on his front porch. I am reminded of the duality that exists in every single one of us. I never see them again. 2. I go to pick up groceries. Instead of being met with the bleak mundanity of a supermarket entrance, I see a man playing his violin by the door. His sign says “what a day to be alive”. He smiles at me. I smile back. I think about him for the rest of the night. 3. I meet a dog on the sidewalk. Its owner tells me his name is Mango. Turns out Mango’s favourite fruit is, in fact, mango. 4. On a flight to Cairns, the girl next to me appears to be nervous about take-off. Her best friend holds her hand until we’re steady in the clouds. Whoever said platonic relationships aren’t just as beautiful as romantic ones, I want to chat. 5. I sit at a Grill’d in Swan Street when I spy a couple on — what looks like — a first date. They’re sitting in the archway of a shopfront, trying to land a bottle flip. Nine failed attempts later, it lands perfectly upright. I hear them erupt in squeals. I laugh in ~single~. 6. My best friend and I have lunch with my dad. We leave. His house is just a speck in the distance. She turns to me and says, “I can tell he really loves you.” Those seven words mean more to me than she will ever know.
7. At my local shopping centre, I see a guide dog puppy being trained to use an escalator. His eyes go wide in shock when he realises the ground below him is now moving. I exchange a chuckle with the small crowd that has now formed at the base of the incline. In our otherwise separate lives, it brings me joy to know that we are now all connected, albeit for a second, by a singular shared memory. 8. It’s a balmy summer night in Melbourne. I’m waiting for my fish and chip shop order. The elderly man to my right asks me how my day was. We engage in small talk. He laughs — and I mean full-bellied laughs — at one of my poor attempts at a joke. It sounds just like my stepdad’s, who passed away four years ago. I go home and cry. 9. My witchy-spiritually-inclined-tarotloving best friend takes me into a crystal shop. She picks a carnelian — a crystal that promotes courage, confidence and attracts good energy. After placing it on the counter, the cashier tells her she can have the gem for free. His only request? “Promise me you’ll pass on an act of kindness today.” 10. It’s Melbourne’s 211th day of lockdown. I walk out of Woolies and overhear the COVID-19 marshall and a random shopper complimenting each other's Skechers. It appears not all humanity is lost. ‡
Do Ye Take This Woman? From ‘Love Lockdown’ to actual lockdown, Twitter rants to Trump sycophants; the K’s have run the gauntlet of woes, rows and alleged hoes. Are we now witnessing the greatest love tragedy of our time or the greatest marketing move since Onlyfans tried to remove sexual content from their platform? When it comes down to it, will Ye or won’t Ye? There’s no denying that Kanye West (Ye) is the king of chaos, and neither Kimberly Kadashian-West (KKW) nor Ye, are novices when it comes to making and breaking headlines. So should the news of their separation be taken seriously or are we all just pawns in a parlour game for Ye’s 10th album or KK-dub’s latest lip-liner lineup? On the topic of pawns, let’s take a look at the timeline of how these two juggernauts came into our lives. There aren’t many people that could say (with honesty) that they have “never heard of them”. Be it as simple-minded as “that woman who got famous from a sex tape’ or ‘that rapper who had a mental breakdown and supports Trump”. WORDS BY Stephanie Booth
Do Ye Take This Woman?
Kim’s most unfortunate, but sadly most famous, on-screen endeavour was her sextape with ‘rapper’ (and I use the term loosely) Ray J. Can’t place him? He’s Brandi’s brother. You may remember him from one of two things: said sex tape or his slightly better performance in the 2001 low-key R&B banger slash Phil Collins re-mix ‘Another Day in Paradise’. KKW and Ye allegedly met via mutual friends of Brandi — with whom Ye was making a track with at the time. Brandi being, of course, the more famous sibling of Ray J who would later go on to star as the other half of KKW’s sex tape — you know, the party that recieved little-to-no criticism for participating in something that was ostensibly his idea? That one. At this time, Ye was connected with Alexis Phifer and KKW with Ray J, so it wasn’t until 2011/12 that they finally met up in a capacity where they could ‘come out’ as more than acquaintances. Fast forward to 2013 when Ye then rented the entire AT&T stadium in San Francisco to profess his love in a subtle manner, proposing to Kim, in an act that would later be broadcast to the world. A decadent wedding in Italy followed in 2014, with an ‘intimate’ rehearsal dinner of 600 friends in Versailles, featuring performances by Lana Del Ray and a ceremony set on the cliff tops of Florence. Kim wore a Givenchy haute couture dress designed by Riccardo Tisci, and Ye allegedly oversaw every detail of the ordeal. It wasn’t the last time KKW would don bridal couture, as her recent appearance in a Balenciaga wedding gown during the listening party for Ye’s 10th album Donda sparked reports of a reunion. Following their decadent nuptials, the Wests continued to add to their dynasty, welcoming Saint (2015), Chicago (2018 — via surrogate) and Psalm (2019 — via surrogate, again, due to significant health risks after KKW’s first two births). With undeniably the most gorgeous quartet of absurdly-monikered minions, surely this dynamic duo were in heaven. But as one of the only redeeming tracks on Ye’s latest offering suggested, it was more of a ‘Heaven and Hell’. A couple of public dates and a couple of kids later, their relationship took us in all directions (North, West, whatever). This marriage (which was not a first for Kim who has already been married twice before) brought together two powerhouses: rap royalty and reality-show regality. A match made in heaven. While Ye largely stayed out of the KUWTK spotlight, his presence and antics did not go unnoticed. With experimental albums, dabbling in religion and church and visits to The White House (coupled with terrifying threats to insert himself into the political gambit), he remained an unspoken presence within the Kardashian-Jenner household.
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Cracks became apparent when Ye started name dropping KKW in his songs and continued to reference her throughout his years of discography: “Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates/Just play piano and stick to karate/I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s.” — ‘Violent Crimes’ (Ye, 2018) “Single life ain’t so bad” - ‘Jail’ (Donda, 2021) Cracks started to emerge long before KKW’s truly harrowing Paris robbery incident (2016) where she was held at gunpoint, tied up and robbed by five men dressed as security guards. Not long after this — KKW took a break from social media as Ye was temporarily institutionalised to address underlying mental health conditions, with suggestions of ‘psychosis’. Ye has since confirmed he suffers from Bipolar disorder. A reunited front came in the shape of renewed vows in 2019 as KKW and Ye said ‘I still do’ in a surprise ceremony at their fifth wedding anniversary, suggesting things were still looking up for the couple.
*2020 enters Stage Left* Always keeping arms length from the camera, Ye was a rare sighting on the family’s substantive franchise, instead, focusing on keeping his antics Kontrolled on Twitter and on a wider, more performative scale (see: Donda listening parties one through three). KKW is a businessperson, entrepreneur, mother and most-recently, a genuinely serious law student (‘what, like it’s hard?’). She appears to be following in the footsteps of her late father, Robert Kardashian, famously the primary defence attorney for close family friend and American footballer, O.J Simpson. The man whose case divided the Kardashian family network and ultimately led to the demise of their marriage. Consider the insult to injury when he was portrayed in a made-for-tv serial by David Schwimmer. Have they not suffered enough? Often dismissed as the ‘failed pornstar and a mentally-ill rapper’, it’s vital we remember, now more than ever (to coin a governmentally-favoured phrase), that they are humans. They chose to put themselves in the public eye — it’s how they conduct their business, sold records, sold makeup, clothes, ideas. Should they do it behind closed doors? Under a mask? A guise? Nom de plume? Would that make them more credible? What they have chosen to show you, or what you have dug out — is to both to the benefit of and detriment of their personal lives and personal brands. ‡
Road Testing the Saviours of 2021: TikTok Food Trends In a year that’s thrown Melbourne in and out of lockdown more times than I’d like to think about, I, like many others, have taken comfort in two things: food and TikTok. Without sounding too sad, both have brought me a lot of comfort… and cured a LOT of boredom. I mean, only so many hours of the day can be taken up by walks within my 5km bubble and chaotic Zoom calls with friends. So, in all that time in-between, I’m sure you can imagine my joy when my two old reliables came together, and I landed on food TikTok (FoodTok?). Like every other side of TikTok, FoodTok has its fair share of trends. So, I picked four of the most popular and road-tested them. Pasta chips In true basic-vegetarian-white-girl fashion, I consider both pasta and hot chips to be essential food groups. So the thought of combining the two into one delicious snack had me excited, but I was left unsatisfied, to say the least. Admittedly, my pasta chips may have ended up a little ~overdone~, a fact I'm going to attribute to my inability to accurately predict the appropriate cooking time of anything, and the generous-yet-entirely-appropriate amount of cheese I decided to coat them with. Nevertheless, I felt I got the gist of this, dare I say it, overrated snack. I struggle to believe that even if you took away the crispiness and slightly charred taste of my “chips” that they would live up to their hype. I kept mine simple with olive oil, oregano, garlic powder and cheese (what should be a delicious combination) and it just did not work. I’ll stick to either pasta or chips from now on. 4/10. Nature’s cereal I’m sorry, but TikTok straight-up lied to us about this one. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive Lizzo for having me believe that a bowl of coconut water, fruit and ice could be so refreshingly delicious. Admittedly, I was skeptical. I mean, it’s coconut water, fruit and ice? But I generally try to be a “don’t knock it till you try it” kind of girl so, I gave it a go. There was just nothing good about it. A cold bowl of soggy fruit floating in what I can only assume water would taste like if it expired? I’ll pass. While my beef with nature’s cereal may lie in my apparent hatred for coconut water, I refuse to believe this is a necessary addition to anyone’s diet. Eat your fruit, drink your water and maintain your sanity. 1/10.
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Folded wrap There’s not a whole lot to say about TikTok’s viral wrap hack. It’s a wrap, with four fillings spread over separate quarters, folded in a roundabout way, resulting in a triangular sort of shape. It’s hard to criticise this one because it’s so customisable. You can fill it with whatever you like and cook it however you like (if you like). I love a good wrap for my lunches, so no complaints here on the taste factor. My only issue is the fold itself (that’s right, the whole point of the trend). The nature of the fold simply does not allow for optimal filling ratios. Too much of anything and your wrap will not fold. If it does, and you want to toast your wrap, it’s got too much height and results in uneven toasting. Delicious snack, unnecessary method. 6/10. Everything but the bagel seasoning (EBBS) This one was technically a 2020 trend but the hype carried over into 2021, so I’m running with that because this stuff has a hold on me like I never thought a seasoning could. TikTok went crazy for EBBS, and I absolutely cannot argue. This stuff is delicious. There are few occasions where I find myself jealous of Americans, but the mere fact that they can buy EBBS ready-made and in bulk is almost enough for me to jump on a plane and never look back. Making it yourself is pretty simple though, so in hindsight, I might regret that. Sea salt flakes, poppy seeds, black and white sesame seeds, garlic granules and onion flakes are all you need to make this god-like seasoning, and pretty soon you’ll be putting it on everything. I started with the classic capsicum and cream cheese like so many TikTokers told me to, but now it goes on my avo toast and more snacks than I’d like to admit. I’m making it for friends and I’ve even got my mum sprinkling it on the odd veggie for family dinners. I can't fault it. 10/10. ‡
WORDS & ART BY Coby Renkin @cobyhr
Who What Watch: 1.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron
In Down to Earth with Zac Efron, you are invited to indulge in all things good in the world during a time of uncertainty, chaos and calamity. The show follows Hollywood heartthrob Zac Efron, who’s now a rugged, bearded gent, but retains his High School Musical sex symbol status. In this series, Efron and his proclaimed “bro”— wellness expert and author, Darin Olien — travel to places known for their health and sustainability. One way to describe the show is as excellent travel porn that’s good for the soul! Efron and Olien traverse the globe, going from Iceland to Iquitos.
WORDS BY Sanjiv Raveendiran ART BY Madison Marshall @madagasc.art
The show tracks countries and communities living alternatively to do their part to address climate change. In Episode One, Iceland showcased their geothermal initiatives which are powering the entire country. Episode Two sees Zac Efron meet his friend Anna Kendrick to sample mineral waters from around the world. One of the mineral waters took me by surprise: it’s called Three Bays, and originates from 900 metres below the surface of a hobby farm on the Mornington Peninsula! As a teetotaller and connoisseur of mineral waters, I obviously had to go ahead and buy this in bulk. The show’s focus on the perennial challenge of climate change reaches its peak in Episode Six, when we’re given a sobering taste of the horrific natural disasters plaguing nations like Puerto Rico.
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I, too, noticed the series didn’t shy away from demonstrating a more personal outlook on climate change either. In an earlier episode, the show hints at the California wildfires ravaging through communities like Malibu, the neighbourhood in which Darin Olien resides. Despite how close to home this news is, he powers through the production, accepting that the wildfires are out of his control. He later discovers that his home and possessions are no more. Seeing Olien, a generally upbeat and optimistic person, holding back tears and choking up reminded me that climate change is just as much a problem in developed nations, as it is in developing nations. Season Two of Down to Earth with Zac Efron, shot exclusively across Australia, is expected to be released next year. This could be a worthy showcase of the bounty of nature we enjoy right here at home, and remind us of our duty to relish, honour and protect it.
This show reveals that Earth is a place of abundance which could last forever, if humans cared for it appropriately. Since the pandemic has forced us to operate within limited confines, there’s merit to the claim that this period has benefited the climate, with fewer planes in the sky and cars on the road. The real test will be how we continue on this trajectory as we get back to business. Season One of Down to Earth with Zac Efron can be streamed on Netflix Australia. ‡
Who What Watch
Cate Shortland’s entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the solo Black Widow film is ambitious. The new release is part spy movie, part superhero flick, part dysfunctional family drama, and part farewell to the first female Avenger, Natasha Romanoff. The film is exciting, touching and funny. A notable cast of Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weiss are accompanied by memorable stunt sequences and a soundtrack that makes the movie feel very age-appropriate.
As the film takes place after the events of Civil War, fans are asking — why didn’t we see this sooner? Marvel had the drive to provide fans with two Ant Man films and two Guardians of the Galaxy films well before we were able to see this stand-alone film for the Black Widow. It is hard to write a review without acknowledging the lack of respect and perhaps consideration that the MCU afforded to Johansson’s character. Being first introduced to Natasha in Iron Man 2, back in 2010, she plays Tony Stark’s assistant described as an ‘expensive sexual harassment’ case waiting to happen.
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WORDS BY Lara Christensen @lara.g.christensen ART BY Madison Marshall @madagasc.art
In Age of Ultron, she is depicted as a woman who is both steely and reproductively sterile, someone whose main purpose is to calm down and soothe the Hulk with her femme fatale wits. She is painted as a possible love interest for Banner, Rodgers and Clint. Her death in Endgame felt slightly diminished when compared to that of Tony Stark’s, as she ultimately sacrifices herself for her friend: a man who has a family… when she doesn’t. As the film is a prequel, restraints are placed on Shortland’s debut because the events shown can’t add to Natasha’s storyline. Where the film fails to develop Natasha’s storyline, it delivers on Yelena Romanoff. Yelena has the same story of abuse and trauma but is given a more emotionally comprehensive script to work with, setting her up for future appearances. The film is able to playfully poke fun at the trope of the female superhero, who flicks her hair and poses as she lands, providing real heart and banter to the sibling relationship. The jokes regarding Harbour’s character — the Red Guardian, a retired Soviet Super Soldier — make audiences feel compelled to chuckle along, as he spends his days embellishing war stories about fighting Captain America (which viewers come to realise, never happened). His comical struggle to fit into his suit is reminiscent of Mr Incredible and mirrors the Fat Thor trope that fans witnessed in Endgame. Is this slightly lazy? Maybe. Is it still funny? I think so.
The stunning locations of Norway, Morocco and Hungary are almost Bond-esque, with the film at its strongest when focused on Natasha’s espionage roots. Since what makes her unique is her background as an assassin, Shortland does well to remind audiences that while she is a superhero, Natasha is a human that needs some ibuprofen after a fight. More insight is given into Yelena and Natasha’s journey as the premises of abuse and trauma are explored in further detail. Their experience as sisters is mirrored by Nebula and Gamora who experience exploitation by their father figure in Thanos, as well as Captain Marvel, who was also manipulated by her mentor, Yon-Rogg. It seems that the MCU has introduced a number of strong female characters who have traumatic pasts that are linked to the actions of men. It is unfortunate that the trajectory of Natasha’s story is so narrow that Shortland’s film can’t help but feel like an afterthought. This feels unfair as the cast and directing all pass the bar. Fans of the MCU can only hope that studios continue to give credit where credit is due by exploring diverse characters that deserve to be seen. But hey, as fans of the Loki series on Disney+ know, it is never too late to reset the timeline. ‡
Who What Watch
WORDS BY Joseph Lew @josephyylew ART BY Madison Marshall @madagasc.art
Bear in mind that the following review refers to ‘Solar Power’ the single, not Solar Power the album. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s a Scorpio — if you can’t tell already, I fucking love Scorpios — or the fact that her voice was the musical score to my period of self-discovery, but I’ve long held Lorde as a personal idol. Her music, Pure Heroine released in 2013 and Melodrama, released in 2017, came at the perfect times, serving as a soundtrack for the escapist generation — a coming of age guided by the sweet ballads of her pop melancholy and heart-string tugging tunes.
When Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor — who goes by the moniker Lorde — first came onto the scene, I had just turned 13-years-old. I was a messy ball of teenage angst, under the impression that no one would ever understand me. Lorde’s lyricism and powerful chords resonated with me in a way no music had ever done before. “A world alone, we’re all alone.” Four years later, when I was finally finding my footing as a semi-adjusted teenager, Melodrama appeared. Through high school parties, midnight Maccas runs, depressive episodes and relationship breakdowns, her music accompanied me — a perfect encapsulation of the teenage experience. She eloquently expressed what we all felt — our fears of getting older, of losing friends, losing lovers, and that our teenage years were all the bliss we’d ever have. “I’ve never felt more alone, it feels so scary getting old.”
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Like many of our personal transformations, Lorde’s journey has been interesting to watch. Her three albums offer windows into her evolution, her own coming of age from a trapped teen in Auckland to a carefree summer-loving success. When ‘Solar Power’ first came out, the reverberating response from my friends was that they weren’t fans. They missed her perfectly curated sound — hollow and haunting. But I couldn’t relate. Maybe it’s just the fact that her emotional metamorphosis is so similar to my own, but the song has a strange magnetism that I can’t escape. In Lorde’s newsletters — a note: if you haven’t subscribed yet you’re missing out — she painstakingly details her creative process. She conjures up images of dinner parties, art galleries, dances and summer evenings — weaving a dreamy, nostalgic narrative. And while some might complain about the unfairness of it all — we are in our sixth lockdown after all — there’s no denying that she’s a master storyteller; this carries through into her music. When I listen to ‘Solar Power’, I can’t help but
think of childhood summers long gone, groggy naps in the baking heat, scoops of vanilla ice-cream and lounging in front of the fan in my underwear. Although it might not seem like it, ‘Solar Power’ is just as much a song about escapism as her others. And I find escape in it too — when the song reaches its crescendo, I can’t help but dance. “Blink three times when you feel it kicking in.” Another power pulls my body to the sound of the beat, and for a few brief seconds, I’m no longer stuck within the four walls of my bedroom — I can see the beach, smell the salt, feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. ‘Solar Power’ offers a glimpse into another reality, even if only for one golden interlude. “Come on and let the bliss begin.” ‡
Who What Watch
Never Have I Ever I think the two words that perfectly sum up Never Have I Ever would be chaotic and cringy. Now, I know this may sound like I’m leading to a colossal Gordon Ramsay-sized roast when a contestant has overcooked a chicken, but it’s quite the opposite actually. Never Have I Ever only makes us cringe this hard because it’s almost like watching your teenage self navigate through high school. I mean everyone has their own version of getting bit by a coyote in front of their whole year level, right?
Issue 03/2021: 2021
WORDS BY Chanttel Forbes @chanttel.forbes ART BY Madison Marshall @madagasc.art
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, possibly on account of there being no coyotes in Australia, but we’ve all had them. For me, it was forgetting I had my camera on when I entered a Zoom class, allowing everyone to cop an eyeful of my toes. Not the nice, freshly-pedicured kind, but more like the type to make even a person with a foot fetish not indulge in one anymore. Embarrassing moments like these make this show not only comedy gold, but relatable, by showing the true reality of high school. Now, I’m not saying no creative liberties were taken. I think we can all agree watching someone through their sky roof is not an average Tuesday night, but relatable in the sense that it’s nice to see characters (especially our protagonist Devi) deal with themes of grief, love, sexuality and identity — all commonly-faced issues by many teens. What adds to this relatability is its diverse cast. For example, usually when a person of colour is depicted onscreen, they fall into narratives that fit into rigid stereotypes. But instead of being the token nerd or just the culturally-diverse classmate who appears once every four episodes (the only roles in which PoC are usually afforded in coming-of-age films), Devi is an expressive, loud, and impulsive girl surrounded by numerous characters who, too, reject stereotypical norms. One way the show has done this is through the open dialogue surrounding sexuality. Devi is one of the first Women of Colour (WoC) to be portrayed to unabashedly enjoy her sexuality, as seen by her quest to lose her virginity. This contrasts the widely-held stereotype that young people of colour are ashamed of their sexuality and thus are less interested in exploring it than any other teen. Other characters also don’t let singular issues define them and the projection of their lives, rather they provide hope and inspiration for people like them. We see this through Rebecca (Paxton’s sister). She has Down Syndrome, and she is seemingly the most well-adjusted character, who has already begun pursuing her dreams and embodies a strong sense of self. This portrayal shows how a person’s disability doesn’t have to define them and they can, in fact, live happy and successful lives. That’s why, overall, this show easily deserves a 5/5 and that’s just the score for Paxton’s abs. With season three on its way, it’s a must watch! ‡
RIP to the #GirlBoss Mentality
WORDS BY Hannah Cohen @hannahcohen__ ART BY Ruth Ong @ru.thx
Girl boss. A title that signposts an era when women were suddenly hypnotised by the tranquilising idea of self-made capitalist empowerment. Almost collectively, the desire to kick off an entrepreneurial career and subsequently build an empire became the motivation for women of the western world. It was a time when our understanding of feminism was maybe a little reductive. It was supposedly rewriting the highly male-dominant corporate success story for the female gaze. It was shamelessly lacquering on a red lip paired with a navy pinstripe suit. Strutting through the bullpen and asserting your authority by just the smell of your perfume and the hairspray smoothing down your perfectly curled locks. Clutching a hot pink coffee mug embellished with variations of mantras like #getitgirl or #riseandgrind. Admit it. We all bought into it for a minute there. We all dared to dream of the day when we’d finally finished scratching and clawing our way right up to the tippy top of the corporate ladder. We swore we’d do anything for it. We’d work harder than anyone just to get a taste of the fantasy lives of these cut-throat women who supposedly had it all. We’d drool over the wardrobes of clothes, the piles of money, the loyal staff, the empire that belonged to women like NastyGal founder and #Girlboss pioneer Sophia Amoruso (you bet I ATE UP the TV series). So when did the words ‘girl boss’ transition from a compliment we used to express in awe of a woman’s financial and career success to the laughing stock of the twenty twenties? When did our motivation to succeed at all costs diminish into something satirical to scoff at? When did I go from wanting to ‘be my own boss’ in heels and a form-fitting blazer to drinking peppermint tea out of a #thefutureisfemale mug that my housemate bought ironically? You might have your own personal gripes with the girl boss mentality (there are, after all, many to choose from), but allow me to share just a few of mine.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
It’s the epitome of #Whitefeminism When we visualise a girl boss, we’re often thinking of a trope we recognise all too well — the face of a woman we praise for redefining success on her terms. Maybe it’s the White lady sitting pretty in the CEO office on the top floor, the influencer who ‘took a major risk’ and started a cult-fave activewear brand, or the marketing intern turned senior chief of advertising. What’s not spoken about, or merely thought of, are the women who had to work, often at horrifically low rates or in appalling conditions, to make the women at top’s dreams of capital bliss a reality. Take our OG girl boss Sophia Amoruso for example. Building her fortune by the way of fast fashion, Amoruso was eventually outed for allegations of discrimination, mistreatment, and abusive management of her South Asian garment workers. Not very #feminist of her. The White-feminist reality of one of the key girl boss pillars is that ‘doing anything’ to achieve one woman’s success is one that neglects the human rights of many others. So, it’s no surprise that after waking up to the fact that a lot of these girl boss brands are built on the toxic mistreatment towards mostly women of colour, we’ve decided to reject this hypocritical contradiction. Because, after all, if it’s not intersectional feminism, we don’t want it.
RIP to the #GirlBoss Mentality
Hustle culture #sucks. Girl boss mentality and hustle culture go hand-in-hand, and it goes without saying (*cough* pandemic *cough*) that both of these things aren’t really fitting the mood right now. We’re stressed, anxious, and probably possessing just enough energy to do little more than drag our feet between the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Going the extra mile to cultivate careers from the ground up doesn’t really feel like the vibe, especially at the moment. But to be honest, I think Miss ’Rona has only further revealed that the girl boss mentality has always been a touch problematic. The extra pressure hustle culture puts on us to work ourselves to the bone not only disregards the necessary practising of intentional rest and self-care, but also completely neglects to address the interplay of privilege and the different opportunities we’re afforded. It doesn’t consider that a woman’s level of success may be given a leg up or is set back by their level of education, their family background, or even the amount of time or spare money they have to funnel into their girl boss dreams. Being a girl boss isn’t necessarily on the cards for everyone, and insinuating that all it takes is working past 5pm and waking up early on weekends is super classist.
Why can’t I just be a #boss? This has been a personal ick about the whole girl boss fiasco I’ve been trying to unpack for a while now. Why should I have to preface my gender in telling you I’m a leader? If it’s so meaningful, where are the boy bosses? To be frank, I wish I had something more articulate or coherent to say about this, but all I can string together is that it feels like a step back that’s only reinforcing patriarchal structures in the workplace. Women have come such a long way in the workforce since the liberation movement; something about opting to label ourselves as a ‘girl boss’ over just a ‘boss’ when we reach career milestone feels like it undermines our position titles. It goes without saying that leaning into femininity while achieving professional success is a massive power move and a huge ‘fk you’ to the notion that professionalism is associated with masculinity. But I feel like the girl boss mentality isn’t really challenging this paradigm, but is instead furthering it. Instead of allowing women to carve out a more compassionate, inclusive, accessible and intersectionally feminist method of killing it in the workplace, girl bosses have gone down the same patriarchal route that men in power have done for decades — amassing their fortunes through power-hungry exploitation. Considering my minor rant above, I think it’s safe to say that unless we’re joking around in the whole ‘gaslight, gatekeep, girl boss’ kinda way, you can rest assured that I won't be taking the term as a compliment. In 2021, reaping success off the backs of exploited women in dire working situations is not the gold star feminist trope we should be striving for. ‡
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Tough Bitches Say No This July I decided to quit playing basketball. I’ve only picked up a ball a few times since. If you know me, you might think this is a bit strange because I probably mentioned my interest in exercise and basketball as soon as we met. The sport has always been a central tenet of my being and yet, when I finally had the chance to play post-pandemic, it only took six or seven games for me to call it quits. Let me explain. Growing up as a lanky brown girl in suburban Melbourne was difficult for a plethora of reasons. Pimples, racism (both external and internalised), raging hormones, a general inability to grasp mathematical concepts: these are just some of the reasons why I (like many of us) found my formative years tough. Luckily, I was able to claw through the wreckage of my adolescence by picking up a basketball.
Tough Bitches Say No
WORDS BY Dena Tissera @dena_c_t ART BY Lauren Easter @lauren.easter.art
As a gauche young girl, adopting the title of ‘Basketball Player’ felt like a big fuck you to the world. I wanted to rage against the idea that I should be a dutiful South Asian daughter who got good grades and cooked traditional foods. I felt I was squashing the idea that the best thing a woman could be was beautiful. I wanted to feel strong in a world that does not afford much power to the daughters of immigrants. I aligned myself with a sport associated with stereotypes of Black masculinity, in an effort to conceal my own budding femininity which I did not yet understand. I felt that with every push-up I completed or kilometre I ran, I brought myself closer to the untouchable person I was striving to become. During my teenage years, I learnt important (and perhaps clichéd?) lessons about the value of hard work by practising before and after school. I must also add that I didn’t come out of the womb a gifted athlete. Instead, I spent hours pushing myself to become someone who could run fast, jump high and shoot accurately. Eventually, the title became me: I was Dena the Basketball Player. I achieved goals, qualifying for the high school basketball team, representative basketball and playing for the Melbourne Tigers. By the end of it all, I felt broken. Years of competition against others and myself, pushing my physical limits, and existing exclusively outside of my comfort zone took their toll. The sport had become a minefield of feelings of inadequacy, comparison and stress. It became a weight I could not carry; towards the end of Year 12, I rolled the ball away under the guise of academic pressure. At university, I toyed with my basketball player identity now and again, joining a team when I could, playing here and there. When the pandemic happened though, I had no choice but to stop. When Melbourne finally began to reopen this year, I networked my way onto a women’s basketball team — an old identity serving as a crutch during an unfamiliar time. But when I picked up a ball in 2021, those feelings of pressure and inadequacy returned. Perhaps it was the months in lockdown, but I simply could not navigate them — so, rather uncharacteristically, I quit. I am sad to report that the act of quitting wasn’t as liberating as I’d hoped. It may sound silly, but I felt I was turning my back on what had once been a cornerstone of my identity. I felt that I’d rejected the fierce competitor in me and the tough bitch persona that I so loved about myself. The decision left a lingering taste of fragility in my mouth. Fast forward to a few weeks later. Sitting on my couch on a random afternoon, I came across a headline on Instagram: Simone Biles Withdraws from the Tokyo Olympics. Not to draw a false equivalency between my adolescent basketball career and the GOAT Simone Biles, but her actions revolutionised the way I saw my own.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Biles is undoubtedly a superstar. Twenty-seven of her total 31 medals are gold, she has no less than four gymnastics moves named after her, and she is widely considered one of the greatest athletes in history. Many expected Biles to dominate Tokyo 2020. Instead, she quietly withdrew, citing her mental health as the reason she walked away. Whilst gymnastics is not in my wheelhouse, I’ve always had the utmost respect for Biles as an athlete. This time, it wasn’t her performance that inspired me, but her mental resilience to leave a situation that no longer served her. I’d thought that fierce competitors never give up, that tough bitches always keep going, but she taught me otherwise. From her, I learnt that tough bitches say no.
In retrospect, my decision to quit basketball was honestly, not that deep. I still had all the amazing lessons that I learnt from basketball about self-confidence, inner strength and hard work — I was just stepping away for the sake of my sanity. Since then, I’ve discovered a love of running and weight training that I may not otherwise have found. I figure I can always pick up a basketball again, whenever I feel ready. I am simply making room for new identities and experiences. These days — whether you’re growing out of old identities like I was, or just trying to get off your phone more — boundaries are a necessary part of life. Through a torrent of hustle culture Instagram quotes, we are constantly being fed narratives of the importance of being and doing more. Nonetheless, it’s imperative that we understand when this message is serving us and when it’s hurting us. Whilst they are not always easy to put up, just remember what the patron saint of boundaries, Simone Biles, taught us: tough bitches say no. ‡
Save the Trees (And My Sanity) The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has been released and well, things look even less optimistic than in the last edition. This is the sixth assessment of its kind by the IPCC, the results of which are momentous to our understanding of and response to climate change. Naturally, the reality of the most recent report is nothing less than confronting. Even as a student at the School of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment, I tried with little success to avoid the findings for several days. Yet, the findings always end up finding us, one way or another. For those of you who are willing to revisit, or have otherwise been spared up until now — let’s go over the details: · The report (known as AR6) weighs in at a daunting 3949 pages. This handbook to climate chaos has been written by 234 of the world’s best (volunteer) climate and environmental scientists, so we can be sure it’s credible stuff. · For the first time, the IPCC has been able to conclude, unequivocally, that human activities are responsible for virtually all global warming (read: 1.07 out of 1.09°C) since the industrial revolution (but we knew that already, right?). · Perhaps most significantly, despite the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, 1.5 degrees of warming beyond pre-industrial levels is inevitable just past 2030 unless we cut all emissions by, well, yesterday. It is not unexpected that in light of these irrefutable results, many of us have been struck with a profound sense of grief. I feel myself sharing my anguish with a deep sense of hesitation, having an acute awareness that the losses that often feel so personal are in fact a symptom of collective trauma on a planetary scale. It is only now that I will admit I have found myself sobbing preemptively over losses that are sure to come.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
There is another face to this disfigured coin, that of eco-anxiety — a feeling which has become so widespread that it has been defined by the American Psychology Association as “a chronic fear of environmental doom”. Not unlike a thick smog, eco-anxiety twists its gritty fingers around our chests, all the while many Australians try to come to grips with the airtight AR6 from the discomfort of lockdown. Though it makes the experience no more comfortable, this anxiety is recognised as a rational response to the reality in which we find ourselves.
WORDS BY Mia Deans @miadeans ART BY John Macatol @monotone_ink
While there are several impacts of climate change that are now deemed irreversible, we (as in, humanity) still get a choice in how much damage is done. If we’re able to sidestep paralysis, eco-anxiety may just propel us towards action and adaptation. Taking action is not just good for tackling climate change, but also climate anxiety. We can attribute this to two important reasons: empowerment and connection — the very things that give our hope a fighting chance. I will save you the speech about using a KeepCup or eliminating your carbon footprint (a notion put forward by BP, no less). I also won’t encourage you to fly less — in this economy, that just isn’t relevant. We’re not going anywhere fast, so what can we do exactly where we are? 1. Change your Super account. Whether you are made privy to it or not, many funds funnel money into fossil fuels, alongside things like weaponry (the same can be said of banks). If that doesn’t sit right with you, there are some great Australian alternatives out there. Assuming we’ll get to our retirement before the planet not-so-spontaneously combusts, several ‘ethical’ Super funds are also very well-performing. 2. Do the things we all know we should be doing. While I refuse to place the blame on individuals, you know better than anyone what is within your personal capacity (and privilege) to support collective actions. In my mind, a significant element of pursuing climate action is reducing the gap between what we believe and how we act — it’s up to each of us to pursue those actions which get us a little closer to the world we’d rather live in. 3. Vote. Dear reader, I have no doubt that when the next election rolls around, you will vote for a party who gives a shit about our environment and the changing climate, just as you did the last election. But if the last election taught us anything, it is that we need more people with us, to get us all over the line. Next election, share your urgency with your older relatives, your unsure friends, and of course, vote with your heart (and your anxiety). ‡
Who is That Girl? WORDS BY Maya ART BY Jessica La @jessicala.png
There's a new trend going around, and if you're addicted to TikTok like me, you’ve probably seen at least one video about becoming “that girl”. Basically, it’s where influencers — generally White, skinny girls — make TikToks about becoming the best version of themselves by sharing aesthetically pleasing moments from their day. This often includes a 5am wakeup to watch the sunrise, followed by morning meditation, a perfect piece of avocado toast, a 5km run and a green juice smoothie — all before 10am. For some, this might seem like a perfectly harmless trend designed to improve your life, but for others, it can be incredibly toxic.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
On one hand, this trend motivates people to take care of themselves. I mean, when you see everyone working out, eating healthy and taking care of their mental health, how could you not? I’ll admit, I found myself in a rut during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wasn’t working out at all. I had lost my motivation. Yet repeatedly seeing people living their best lives motivated me to do the same. I started going on walks daily. Some days, it was just to the local 7-Eleven to get a slurpee. Other days, it was to Coles to get some snacks. And yes, while it might seem counterintuitive to exercise just to buy snacks, going on those walks improved my mental health, and I was able to make it a habit. Although despite the benefits this trend had for me, it really managed to impact my mental health. Why? “That girl” was almost always skinny and White. There was no diversity at all and as a Person of Colour (PoC), this frustrated me. The lack of representation of people of different backgrounds (and even body types) meant that I felt like I could not partake in this lifestyle and that it was not made for people like me. To add fuel to the fire, we seem to forget that the people who indulge in these trends tend to work in social media and earn money from making these aesthetic videos and selling us this aesthetic way of life. Therefore, it makes sense that they have the time to embody typical “that girl” habits — because it’s literally their job. Many of us are not afforded this same luxury and instead are at university, working multiple jobs, volunteering and balancing responsibilities. I mean, how am I supposed to meal prep or go on my morning run when I have four assignments due at 11:59pm? So, with this in mind, I think it’s important to remember, even if you do possess all those habits, the reality is still messy. Life is naturally imperfect. Not every day is going to look like an Instagram-worthy picture. These influencers may have made it look like their highlight reel is their reality, but aesthetically pleasing photos don't show you everything. For example, they don’t show you the dishes they had to clean up before taking a photo of their breakfast. They don’t show you the multiple cameras, the lights, and the millions of attempts it took to get that perfect shot. They definitely don’t show you the green smoothies that didn’t make the cut. You don’t see the hours editing the photos either. It all lies behind a camera. If it was up to me? I’d say that everyone is “that girl” in one way or another. It just might not look picture-perfect, and that is okay. It doesn't have to be aesthetic all the time. You don’t need to post to your thousands of Instagram followers to show them that you're “that girl”. Go on walks. Ride a bike. Play basketball. Choose the activities that make you happy. You don’t have to eat avocado toast to be healthy — oatmeal is fine too (even if it doesn’t look as pretty). Being “that girl” is more than the aesthetics: it's about building habits that make you happy. So as long as the things you do make you happy, yo u are “that girl”. ‡
Free Britney (And All of Us)
Issue 03/2021: 2021
This article discusses sexual assault, rape, torture and mental health. The term “women” in this article refers to anyone who identifies as a woman.
WORDS BY Binari Almeida @binari55 ART BY Betty Gu @_bettygu
From #FreeBritney in the United States to the Taliban raping and murdering women in Afghanistan, 2021 has shed light on a struggle that has persisted through decades — the struggle of bodily autonomy. Since 2008, Britney Spears’ business and personal affairs have been controlled by her father, Jamie Spears. Under the guise of a conservatorship, aspects of Britney’s life have been restricted — including who she is allowed to date. In 2021, we saw the rise of #FreeBritney after the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears. After 13 years of silence, Britney came out saying, “I deserve to have a life. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things, and more so”. In mid-July, Britney told the court that she wanted to press charges against her father. She decided that she was going to use her voice and speak up for herself. As someone who had always seen Britney as a sex symbol — a woman who empowered other women — reading about Britney’s conservatorship shocked me in a way that I couldn’t quite comprehend. I listened as she spoke about how her whole life had been controlled for the past 13 years, how she was forced to perform even though she didn’t want to, forced to use her voice, forced to use her body, all against her own will. As I heard all of this, all I could think about was how nothing could protect her — not her fame, not her money. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, as a woman in this world, you will always be vulnerable. This year, the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo brought not only victories and gold medals but protests and criticism on the uniforms women were instructed to wear. In April, the German women’s gymnastics team, led by Sarah Voss, decided to ditch their traditional outfits, protesting the sexualisation of their bodies. Voss said: “as a little girl, I didn’t see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable”. When I first read about this issue, my first thought was I cannot believe these women are complaining about what they have to wear when other women face worse things in this world. But the more I thought about it, the more their struggle began to resonate with me. As a young girl I was always told what I could and couldn’t wear — not because my parents inherently cared about what I wore — but because of cultural expectations. And so, I rebelled by wearing whatever I wanted. When I was told to cover up, I did the opposite. I started wearing miniskirts and showing off my legs. For me, this was my way of protecting my bodily autonomy. Although now at the age of 22 this is less important to me, during my teenage years it was a battle that meant the world to me. Something as simple as the right to wear what clothes we want can have a profound effect upon us.
Free Britney (And All of Us)
In August, the world watched in horror as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan — and, in the process, seized control of women’s rights, too. Afghans are flocking to airports to escape a future that looks dark for all, yet darker still for women. Women are being harassed, abused, sexually assaulted, raped, tortured, murdered, and worse — so much worse that I can’t even bring myself to type it out. “The Taliban first torture us [women], and then discard our bodies to show as specimen of punishment. Sometimes our bodies are fed to dogs,” says Khatera (Alias), an Afghan mother. When I was 15, I was sexually assaulted on a tram on my way to school. And to this day, that 10 minute encounter is one that impacts my ability to function. Most of the time I choose to drive myself around instead of catching public transport, because the thought of getting on a packed train or tram makes me have a panic attack. Although my experience feels a lot different to what women in Afghanistan are experiencing, the one thing that I am able to understand is an immense feeling of hopelessness. These women and girls in Afghanistan feel hopeless. 15-year-old me on a tram felt hopeless. It doesn’t matter to what extent you experience sexual assault, what every woman faces in that moment when their body is violated is hopelessness. Most days, I struggle to reconcile the multitude of attacks that occur on women’s bodily autonomy. I feel as though we need to prioritise certain attacks over others, as though they have to be situated in order of priority on our agenda of what to combat first. An Afghan woman’s experience feels more “urgent” and “important” to me than athletes in Europe protesting against certain outfits. Yet, it seems all our struggles are linked. As I’m writing this article, news has come from the United States that some of the most extreme abortion laws will take effect in Texas. These laws will prevent abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, at which stage most women don’t even know they are pregnant. I can’t even begin to imagine being put in a situation where I didn’t have the option to choose what to do with my own body. My heart goes out to the 16-yearold girl who was just beginning to explore her sexuality when a condom broke. My heart goes out to the 40-year-old immigrant mother who gets raped by her husband. My heart goes out to every woman in this world who has their body and their choices controlled by others. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and confusing, trying to navigate all these emotions. It’s a sense of this is so fucked up combined with oh well, what’s new? I think what I’ve learnt through all these different stories is that an attack on one woman’s bodily autonomy, is an attack on all women’s bodily autonomy. Every single one of these battles is intertwined. It’s a reminder to me that the fight for bodily autonomy is no more important in the United States than it is in Afghanistan, and no more important in a developing country than it is in a developed one. Across the world, for every woman, the fight for bodily autonomy is different in its own way, and yet equally important and valid. The fight for our rights is not a battle against one another, but rather a fight against the governments and societies that will continue to police our bodies beyond our generation’s existence. This fight is ours. ‡
Issue 03/2021: 2021
WORDS BY Atara Thenabadu ART BY Ruth Ong @ru.thx
Is Miss Americana Fearless? Like many young women in their early twenties, Taylor Swift has prominently featured on my Spotify playlists for many years. Ever since I first searched up ‘You Belong With Me’ on YouTube, I fell in love with Swift’s songwriting and storytelling. Fast forward to 2021, I am still crawling through her social media quotes trying to decode her music videos to see if I can spot any clues regarding her next creation. Taylor Swift is a pop icon and one of the greatest musicians of our generation. However, just like everyone else, she is not a perfect human. Knowing this, it has always amused me why we, as society, put celebrities on a pedestal and give them titles such as the ‘role-model feminist’. It is important to first acknowledge that throughout Swift’s whole career she has been a victim of misogyny within the entertainment industry. The constant commentary and accompanying slut-shaming she receives — stemming from her dating life and her decision to feature details of them within her songs — is a prime example of this. The criticism she receives is a stark contrast to the limited commentary experienced by male singers who also write about heartbreak, like Ed Sheeran.
Is Miss Americana Fearless?
In 2008, Taylor Swift and Joe Jonas had a short-lived romance from July to October. Swift shared in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres that Jonas dumped her via a 25-second phone message, when she was only 18 years old. Jonas proceeded to date Prada to Nada actress Camilla Belle soon after this breakup. Swift’s third album Speak Now was released the following year and featured a song titled ‘Better than Revenge’. The song featured the lyrics: “She's not a saint / And she's not what you think / She's an actress, whoa / She's better known / For the things that she does / On the mattress, whoa.” The decision to feature pointed misogynistic lyrics directed towards Belle is still puzzling to this day. At the time of the release Swift was criticised for slut-shaming Belle and has since justified the lyrics by explaining that at the time (Swift was 18) she believed that ‘someone could steal your partner’ and convince them to leave your relationship and be with them instead. However, as she grew up, she realised that no one can be ‘stolen’ from you; it is their choice to leave. When music tycoon Scooter Braun bought Swift’s old record label Big Machine Records he proceeded to sell her previous albums master copies for $300 million dollars, even after Swift herself tried to acquire them
off him. Braun threatened to disallow Swift from using and performing her own music, but Swift vowed to re-record them. Swift's decision to re-record Red before Speak Now has left many fans intrigued as to whether she will record the song or remove it completely from the album as a sign of personal progress and understanding. She has still, to this day, never formally apologised to Belle. Fast-forward to 2015, and Swift again found herself in hot water after a Twitter spat with Nicki Minaj. In 2015, Minaj criticised the MTV music awards for not nominating her ‘Anaconda’ music video with a tweet that read, “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year” and “When the ‘other’ girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination”. Swift felt that these tweets were directed at her and directly responded by tweeting, “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot”. Minaj’s initial tweet was never directed at Swift and was instead meant to criticise the racist undertones of the music industry. Swift, in examples such as this, does
Issue 03/2021: 2021
make herself out as the victim — a common trope that white feminists find themselves in when confronting intersectional racism. Intersectionality can be considered the ‘intersections’ between and within forms of societal oppression. As seen within this example, women of colour such as Minaj can be subjected to different forms of oppression, such as racism and sexism, simultaneously. Within the current climate, there is a hesitancy to acknowledge the presence of intersectional discrimination, as it means individuals and industries have to admit that they themselves have benefited from oppression within their industry. Minaj’s original tweets were not intended to portray herself as being a sore loser. The music video for ‘Anaconda’ did contain female nudity, however music videos created by White artists, such as Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ and Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, which featured female nudity were still acknowledged with nominations. The mark of Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ video on pop culture is still visible to this day, yet because it made people uncomfortable through embracing Black women’s sexuality, it was ignored. Swift is a cis, slim, White woman who failed to recognise her privilege and role as a beneficiary of the oppression
present within the entertainment industry. She went on to apologise to Minaj soon after their initial exchange, acknowledging that she failed to understand the original motivation behind Minaj’s tweets. These two examples prove that, like the rest of us, Swift has made errors. It is evident that she has reflected on her past and used them as key learning experiences. However, just because an individual is a prominent celebrity doesn't mean that their behaviour should be emulated by the rest of society. Her recent decisions to publicly declare herself an ally of the LGBTIQ+ community, as well as encouraging her followers to participate in the 2020 American federal election, highlighted how she is using her influence to make a positive difference. Swift has proven she has been able to learn from her past and make better decisions on similar issues. It is clear that there will never be a perfect feminist, let alone a perfect famous feminist. Hence, we as fans have a responsibility to call out behaviour that is misogynistic and ignorant. However, we can also create an environment where we encourage education to allow every woman to have a place on that stage. ‡
Ode to a Snap Lockdown WORDS BY Ruby Ellam @ruby.ellam ART BY Stephanie Wong @bymeloniberry
Lockdowns suck. They fucking suck! As the sixth Victorian isolation orders are extended, I find it harder and harder to fulfil the brief of this article — contemplating the benefits of a snap-lockdown. I cast my mind back to the 10 day orders of the last six months, peppered into my (somewhat) back-to-normal life. All I can come up with is: This is hard. I really hate lockdowns. I’m trying to think of the reasons I felt a dose of relief during the third, fourth and fifth ones. I hate my job, so I guess they were a small blessing in that respect. I spend all my free time painting and writing anyway, so two weeks of government-sponsored craft time was not exactly unwanted. I like sleeping in, I like eating snacks, I like my personal space — if you had asked me preCOVID-19 if I wanted a fortnight of that, then I would’ve been thrilled. The benefit of a snap-lockdown is that it often highlights the things you love and how much you miss them, but in a short enough span that you can’t spiral too hard. Really, the best thing in the world is to treat these shorter lockdowns as voluntary holidays. Try to imagine that they’re not government mandated and instead you’ve been given two (to 10) weeks of respite and suddenly things might feel a little calmer, a little more manageable.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
During these ‘holidays’, don’t get bogged down by the shiny, capitalist ‘productivity = morality’ narrative that we impose on ourselves. I have about four breakdowns a day caused by the suffocating reality that my early twenties are gently eroding because our Government Daddy said I’m grounded and can’t see my friends. That choking feeling is not alleviated by the commercial ‘girlboss’ Disneyfied COVID-19 guide to losing weight and finding peace. You could’ve ended world hunger during this lockdown, or resolved your childhood trauma, so why didn’t you? Why didn’t you do all the things you said you would do, Ruby? You didn’t even learn how to make bread like the teenagers on TikTok. Breathe. Lockdowns are not the norm, they are the weird intermissions in the middle of movies from the 1950s (which still exist, even on DVDs, for some reason). So, try to make more reasonable goals for yourself before getting back into your schedule. For example, I discovered the game, New Pokémon Snap recently (and Pocket Monsters as a whole) and my sixth lockdown goal is to break the top 100 players internationally. Right now I’m 3691st in the world, which sounds terrible, but this morning I was at 3980th. Catch me at #1 in no time. I realise these are silly goals, but a snap-lockdown allows me to do silly things with a pretty solid excuse — it’s the apocalypse. So god damn, if I want to take a cute photo of Pikachu, I will. Some silly goals or pastimes I personally recommend are: • Buy New Pokémon Snap, but don’t you dare try to beat my score. • Get on dating apps (obviously don’t meet up, but this is a surprisingly easy way to feel like you’re being social and it could give you something to look forward to). • Do a puzzle (cliché, but actually very fun). • Make a care package for friends/family (my partner and I drew pictures for each of our friends and you’d be surprised how cherished our little doodles were). • Argue with anti-vaxxer family members on Facebook. • Learn a new language or learn an ancient language and summon an Old God. • Sleep until the early afternoon or wake up early, then literally do whatever you want. • Masturbate! When I think about it, it’s really not that bad at home. My partner moved in this lockdown. He’s sexy and handsome, and sitting next to me, occasionally reading over my shoulder. We make art together, we cook for each other. On Tuesdays we watch Only Connect. On Thursdays we watch Rupaul’s Drag Race. We walk to get coffee in the morning and laugh and hold hands the whole way, relishing in the brief taste of freedom. Lockdowns are much easier now that I spend them with someone that I love. But all in all, the best part about lockdowns, is that they end. ‡
Get Your Bread but Eat the Rich: An internal monologue of living in late stage capitalism Ah, the joys of late-stage capitalism. Everything essential like food, electricity and housing is becoming disastrously expensive. Everything that appears free comes at a cost — usually your privacy. Every single purchase, subscription, moment your eyes linger slightly longer on your screen embeds you deeper into the system. In the morning and each night before bed, I check Facebook, scroll on Instagram and get lost in TikTok. I’ve tried deleting each of these apps multiple times, but something always draws me back in. Even if you’re not always receiving messages on these platforms, just seeing the lives of other people, receiving a like or hearing others speak, provides a form of pseudo-socialisation that we become dependent upon and addicted to. Even knowing my privacy is being breached and my attention being sold in the name of making some neo-liberal corporation billions of dollars, I still use social media, watch videos on YouTube and listen to podcasts. Why? It’s entertaining, it’s free and it makes me feel connected in an increasingly disparate, polarised and disconnected world.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
WORDS BY Amy Jenkin
For 21 hours a week, I work at a doctor’s clinic. It’s as if someone has paid for a clone of me, someone who smiles all the time and speaks in a sickly-sweet tone of voice who’s programmed only to book appointments. This clone has no personality or political interests and doesn’t express any social values. In my first job, I worked in a food truck. It was gross and hot, and the workdays were extremely long, but worst of all, the boss was an overt, raging sexist, racist, capitalist middle-aged man. I never argued with him, told him he was wrong or quit in a blaze of glory and fury. I wanted to earn money, and this horrible man was employing me. In real life, I consider myself a feminist, I care about environmental issues, but in this job (and subsequently in pursuit of surviving in a capitalist world), I learnt that often, these passions must take a back seat. Nowadays, every issue has a solution that can be bought, and if you can’t pay for it, you can’t solve any problems. Worried about poverty? Sponsor a child. Worried about the environment? Pay for carbon offsetting or pay double the price to buy an environmentally friendly version of whatever product you’re purchasing. The solution to fast fashion? Slow fashion. Want to participate in social change? Buy some merchandise. Participate in the system, and you can pretend you’re fixing things. Outside of the system, you’re silenced, ignored and still able to change nothing. You’re constantly trapped in a tug-of-war between wanting to overhaul the entire system but not knowing how. You then settle for doing what you can within the system, which in turn requires you to succeed within the system, which then strengthens it. So, how can we offset our perpetuation of the system we hate? There’s no quick fix or all-encompassing solution. But in my life, I try to attend protests for issues I’m passionate about, I’ve left jobs where I feel I have no agency in favour of those that treat me like a human being and align better with my values, I buy less (even if it’s ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, ‘fair trade’ etc.), and seek information from a variety of sources that are transparent in their business models (not just on social media). At the end of the day I try to remember I’m just doing my best in a world that I can’t really control. That thought is both terrifying and liberating. ‡
Bennifer WORDS BY Alice Wright @alicewrt ART BY Marissa Hor @marissa.pdf
You definitely did not hear it here first: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (Bennifer) are back together. The ‘it’ couple of the early 2000s have found their way back into each other’s arms and it’s all pop culture fanatics, like myself, can talk about. We’ve been transported back to a time where skinny, low-waisted jeans ruled the world, the first iPod of the Apple epidemic was released, celebrities’ lives were more important than our own and in all honesty, I was just a small child. But even though I didn’t get to fully experience the highs and lows of Bennifer, I still feel the cultural significance of their past relationship and the reunion of the two. With all this hustle and bustle of pop cultural significance, I think it’s a good opportunity to draw this back to us common folk... to investigate how people feel about the concept of getting back with your ex.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
In my not-quite-expert opinion, it doesn’t work. When things end, they end for a reason. Even with all the attempts to reignite a piece of your past, your demons will haunt you. To find out what others thought about what I once believed was a room-dividing topic, I took to creating a questionnaire. For a few seconds I felt like a true data analyst. I was collecting qualitative and quantitative data left, right and centre. The majority of people said they would never get back with their ex if it was entirely up to them. That’s 85 per cent to be exact. A few reasons being… “I think you break up for a reason, and it’ll always be there if you get back together.” “...people don’t change that easily.” “In my personal experience it didn’t work, as it was a very manipulative situation and used my emotions against me.” “There’s often a reason y’all didn’t work out in the first place and sis, don’t convince yourself otherwise just because you’re lonely or you miss the attention.” “People can change, however, toxic is toxic. Know your worth.” I also want to highlight the statistics surrounding those who did get back with their ex and how it worked out. Roughly 30 per cent of participants said they have gotten back with an ex before. Following on from that I asked: did it last? For that question only one participant (three per cent) responded with yes. Does this prove to us that in 2021, we will stop trying to get back with our exes and learn from one another’s experiences? Here are a few reasons why individuals think that people attempt getting back with their exes… “Because it’s a familiar place, and it’s often easier than getting to know a new person.” “Time blurs all the bad memories of a relationship and makes you miss the good ones. It’s easier to go back to someone you know than to put yourself out there to meet someone new.” “For the wrong reasons: fear, attachment, codependency. For the right reasons: time apart, facilitated growth, changed circumstances that once served to drive a wedge.” “...[We] have a history and it’s really nice being with someone who knows you well instead of having to go back to dating and being with people who hardly know you.” “Comfort, love, manipulation maybe.” It’s interesting that although the likelihood of exes getting back together and it lasting is so minimal, we tend to give it a go so often. More than 50 per cent of participants have attempted to get back with their ex, a third of them achieved getting back with them, and only one person said the relationship lasted. The data tells us that we don’t think logically when it comes to falling in love. I guess this is a sign that as humans, we are likely to follow our heart rather than our brain. I think there’s beauty in the fight we have to maintain connections and reignite flames. We are willing to take risks to fall in love and try again in order to have that happy ending we are all searching for. ‡
Sliding Doors WORDS BY Dilshi Perera @dilshi_perera PHOTOGRAPHY BY Meili Tan @meilimade
I remember laying in my bed one Sunday evening, in a cloud of nostalgia and feels after I stumbled across the latest Tiktok trend — the one where people look into the camera and name a certain phrase or habit that they do because somebody in their life, present or past, once did it. Not only was this the most poetic, heart-warming and wholesome content I had ever witnessed on the platform (and I may or may not have shed a few tears), but it really brings you back to the simple things in life. I feel like this same sentimental, in-your-face emotion applies when you’re contemplating the meaning of life and the impact of everyone around you. I’m talking about those rainy days where you play some Frank Ocean, stare at the roof and think holy fuck what if I never did this, I would have never met this person or felt this experience and… cue the monthly existential crisis.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect, where one choice seamlessly leads to another. Almost too seamlessly… I’m side-eyeing you, universe. This concept alone screams main character energy — but when I take off the glitzy rose-coloured glasses and stop romanticising the littlest things in life, I can’t help but wonder if it’s all in my head? A few weeks ago, I dived deep into this whole spiel while talking with a friend about the possibility of a range of multiverses. What if a little version of you was walking around in an alternate world, living a completely different life, all due to choices you could have once made? Despite what you may think, I was very much sober yet completely plagued by this newfound realisation of what my life could have been. It’s almost like a glass sliding door; on one side is the perfectly etched image of what your life could have been, and on the other side is a reflection of your current reality. I imagined how different life would be if that breakup didn’t happen, if I never replied to that Insta DM, or heck, if I moved my life halfway across the world and danced around Europe with tonnes of fine men around me. So many possibilities were shining through that hypothetical sliding door, it was gleaming at me... it seemed so transparent and within reach. But the truth is that it’s impossible to break through that barrier, no matter how much I may have wanted to in that moment. After all, you can’t change the past. But listen: this is no time to spiral, because although European men are gorgeous and the thought of a breakup still makes me wince, I wouldn’t change my decisions or life for the world. So, pull yourself out of that rabbit hole, dust yourself off and sit down to read about two of my sliding doors — because damn it, this is a beautiful concept.
UDLs & Uh Ohs The main thing that jumps out at me when I think about the many (slightly disappointing) life choices I’ve made is my ‘sweet sixteen’ era. This was the very start of my alcoholism (just kidding) and it introduced me to a world where seriously fun times had equally serious consequences. I know we’ve all seen that text post that reads, “you ever said yes to a last-minute plan and it’s the best night of your life?”. That was me! Except it wasn’t necessarily a night out at the clubs, given my foetus-like age, and ‘the best night of my life’ might be a slight exaggeration. You would think going to a private school would mean that, as students, we were high-achieving and ambitious — but the only thing we were truly excelling at was beer pong. Weekend after weekend, each sweet sixteenth was rowdier than the next, which meant that I was constantly dancing ‘til my feet hurt and drinking way too many mixed drinks. It wasn’t until I projectile-vomited in a Batman limo (don’t even ask) that I realised the lectureand-a-half from my parents wouldn’t be worth it. Not to mention the ghastly hangover — I wish I could shake my past self and tell her that binge drinking ain’t it. In an ideal world, my 16-yearold self would’ve been studying algebra, and I wouldn’t have lost as many brain cells as I did. But hey, what’s some risk without reward, right?
Monash & Marriage When I first stepped foot into Monash as a fumbly first-year, I was a completely different person: shy, awkward and afraid. Over the years though, I mustered some confidence and slowly came up with a little system to make friends. Just look for someone that is similar to you. Although this may seem obvious, it was actually hard to find someone who had obnoxious false lashes with kind eyes. Throughout the years I made many sacred friends, but nothing would beat my story with Tara. I sat next to her on the first day of my second year. False lashes, check; kind eyes, check; she even smiled at me when I walked in! After class, we decided to have lunch, and we hit it off straight away. Three years later she asked me to be her bridesmaid, and I couldn’t be more grateful. And speaking of false lashes, that’s exactly how I met my dear friend Tiffany Forbes (editor of this magazine) in class. It’s funny to think that if I hadn’t sat next to her smiley self that day, you wouldn’t even be reading these words. Crazy, huh? I guess life really just is a beautiful, messy mosaic of experiences, with people and memories that make you into the person you are today. Every life choice has led you to where you are now — even picking up this magazine! (And aren’t you glad you did?) Next time you’re looking through a sliding door, make sure to not look too intensely. Because what really matters is already staring back at you: yourself. ‡
Issue 03/2021: 2021
The Encyclopedia of TikTok
WORDS BY Sarah Arturi @saraharturi ART BY Anita Thuon @turnippp_p
Dear TikTok, You went from being an app that I figured was going to be another millennial phase like Musical.ly or Dubsmash — one where in two years time we look back on the videos and ask ourselves: ‘just why?’ Instead, the day eventually arrived when my sister came into my bedroom and popped the big question: “do you want to make a TikTok with me?” That’s when I realised you had finally cracked her. What’s worse? It was only a matter of time before you’d get to me too. With lockdown boredom in full force thanks to having nowhere to go and nobody to visit, I took a leap of faith and decided to see what all the hype was about. Turns out you were the best mistake of my whole *pandemic* life. I quickly became hooked on you, TikTok, to the point where I almost mixed up the rising case numbers with the growing number of hours I spent on the app — courtesy of Apple’s screen time feature.
The Encyclopedia of TikTok
Perhaps it was your insanely accurate algorithm that proved to defy the concept of time and sleep whenever I found myself mindlessly scrolling. Or the 15 second motivational videos that inspired me to drop everything and move to Rome. Maybe it was the numerous ‘Renegade Dance’ challenges that were consumed to the extent of subconsciously memorising the choreography in my head. Not to mention the endless OOTDs, relationship advice, soap brow tutorials, and 17-part storytimes that also kept me hooked. And who knew a sexy Willy Wonka, Carole Baskin allegedly killing her husband (she whacked him, can’t convince me that it didn’t happen), the newfound satisfaction derived from frozen honey, or Bella Poarch’s M to the B could be so...captivating? I even found myself caught up in a deep love triangle between the different sides of you. I would ask myself; what am I into today?, contemplating whether Spiritual TikTok tickled my fancy or if paranormal videos would become my newest obsession. It felt as though the ‘For You’ page you curated for me knew my entertainment preferences better than I did myself.
With all these highlights in mind, I eventually arrived at the true reason why you became such a big part of my life, TikTok. Ultimately, it came down to your ability to fill the social void I — and all human beings with emotions — faced in the year of 2020. While the global pandemic introduced us to social distancing, you were there to keep us connected. We watched videos of others going through the same isolation blues that made us feel like we weren’t alone. Time started moving more quickly as new trends and DIYs gave us something to do. It became a safehouse, a community and a way to keep on track with the world’s haps and mishaps. You became a platform for minority voices to be heard in combating racial inequality, worldwide disasters, passionate protests and so much more. It was — and still is — crazy to me how a 15-60 second video could dictate my emotions in a split second. Laughter, sadness, compassion, confusion, satisfaction — a rollercoaster, to say the least. Hence, when a breath of normality entered my life as lockdown eventually eased, I was surprised to find that I no longer perceived this kind of content as an escape, but rather a distraction. The warmth of engaging in face-to-face interactions made the long, thoughtless scrolls seem freezing cold compared to precious time spent with loved ones.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
So, as I started to push you away, TikTok, I drew closer to my own heart. I realised that feeding my brain with personal interactions allowed me to unlock an intimate understanding of my deeper, more raw emotions. I began living for myself, and not for an app. I started listening — to my body and to those around me — and kept you as the background noise I could tune into rather than be constantly inundated by. I started striving for the things I wanted to achieve in my current life, rather than keeping the ideas and inspiration stacked away in a ‘liked videos’ folder. It wasn’t about eradicating the app from my life entirely, it was about finding a balance between my real-world experiences and my virtual ones. A mindset I’m still working on today. What’s more is that with all this spare time spent confined to my home during lockdown, lies the silver lining in this glorified rant. Because the longer I’m away from ‘normal’ life, the more grateful I am for having it when a post-pandemic world commences. So let me raise a toast to the app I love most in the whole world: one of the best and worst (did I mention best) social media platforms to exist. Much love, A former TikTok Junkie. ‡
WORDS BY Stephanie Booth ART BY Ruth Ong @ru.thx
How to Party when the Virus Particles Depart
Issue 03/2021: 2021
We oscillate daily between hopeless optimism for spring and summer liberation and the inevitable knowledge that freedom may be farther from reach as cases increase and vaccines decrease. As discussion turns to the reality of zero cases never being achievable — akin to the far away dream of a zero inbox (thank you, SUSAN. YES I DID SEE YOUR LAST EMAIL) — we turn our thoughts to how we might emerge. Like a chrysalis, blinking into the sun, chins filled with acne, tummies filled with Uber Eats and anxiety levels at an all time high. We try to remember how to exist among others. So, why not ease back into the terrifying world with some good old-fashioned games? Re-introduction to Polite Society Class Have you, like so many, spent the past 18 months interacting with people exclusively on Twitter and Zoom, with the exception of that one guy at Coles? Why not host a party with friends where you role-play having everyday interactions? Hold a door open for someone without saying ‘you too’! Catch a bus without touching anything! Don’t post a rant about the government implanting microchips into your body! That Track-Suits You! Gather your nearest and dearest and call for the dress code to be athleisure wear. Not because you’re going to do anything active, just because sweatpants and leggings are all you know how to style right now. Make it easy on yourselves okay? Ain’t no Met Gala here. Moan-opoly A competitive card game whereby the aim of the game is to ‘out-pity’ your competition with your most pathetic/saddest story from lockdown. Bring out the big guns here. Let’s get Lil’ Jon and the East Side Boyz, Low. Don’t Think — Just Drink A drinking game for two or more people. Do not. At any point. Discuss what the rules are. Depending on your individuallyestablished set of rules, when you say ‘drink’, all must do so. Gross-ery Dash Without checking your fridge for what you already have, meet up with a friend to buy pointless vegetables you know you won’t cook and will end up throwing out. Spend $70 on rhubarb and custard apple and don’t forget to throw in a bag of spinach to let rot in the back of your fridge. Puffer jackets are a must. A Toast to You Feel like you went a little overboard on the alcohol during lockdown? Why not host a party for a few friends and indulge in more carbs instead? Lady and the Tramp-style spaghetti kisses (really get those fluids connecting again), Cobb loaves — they are a thing, bring them back. And there’s a high likelihood one of your friends bought an air fryer during lockdown so, did someone say ‘every kind of potato’? Things are a bit shit — and that’s okay. One day they won’t be, so hang in there until then so we can all be together and eat bread in our leggings. ‡
The Several Shades of Lockdown WORDS BY Madeena Rohaizad @deena.rohaizad ART BY Adrienne Aw @illustrations_awy
You may have heard of the lockdown blues, but thanks to TikTok there’s a new colour tinting our once-achromatic routines. The ‘Follow the Color’ trend encourages spontaneity in our generally structured lives, asking us to choose a colour and simply follow it. This colour influences our actions and choices for the day, and thus breaks up an otherwise monotonous routine. As someone who has found themselves in a bit of a slump during Lockdown 6.0, I felt that this was a recurring trend for me, so I decided to switch things up. That’s why, on the 27th of August 2021, I let purple run my day.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
7:30am In classic uni student fashion, I awake dreading my first morning class, and snooze my alarm several times to lie in bed for an extra hour. Though today, I’m tasked with a new mission: to follow the colour. As indecisiveness kicks in, I contemplate every colour in sight. Should I follow yellow, or maybe green? As I consider the logistics of each colour and severely overthink my decision, I hop on Instagram and it’s like the universe knew my dilemma… it’s Wear It Purple Day! 9:38am As I emerge from my room, I head to the kitchen, scrolling through my feed and researching Wear it Purple Day. A day for advocating the LGBTIQA+ community, it represents awareness, opportunity, environment and collaboration. These are all things I’m strongly passionate about, so purple has become a non-negotiable for today. Scouring the kitchen for something purple, I reach for my purple ‘Stardew Valley’ mug and make some tea. While I’m admittedly a coffee fiend, the mug is purple and says ‘tea’. I enjoy it alongside some toast smothered with purple grape jam. Now content with my choices, I head to my Zoom tutorial. 12:35pm After my only class for the day, I’m ready to keep following the purple. Looking down at my attire — my usual mismatched PJ’s — I figure that dressing the part is a good place to start, and it is Wear It Purple Day, after all. Finding something purple in my wardrobe proves difficult. Realising purple really is not my colour, I settle on the only purple items I can find: a lilac satin skirt and fitted purple tank, which is definitely an upgrade from my usual lockdown attire.
2:45pm Apart from choosing my outfit for today, there has admittedly been a lack of purple elsewhere. But I mean, Cinderella had ‘til midnight to return from the ball. That’s when my day of following the purple is saved by an unlikely hero: my mother. She informs me that we’re out of laundry detergent, so I am now tasked with a mission to secure the goods and locate the purple. 3:00pm As I enter my car, I spot my purple Bluetooth speaker nestled in the cupholder. IT’S A SIGN! Who better to listen to on my journey than the queen of purple herself, Ms. Olivia Rodrigo? 3:15pm After 15 minutes of singing about exes I don’t have, I arrive at my local shopping centre on the hunt for purple. Upon entering Woolies, I spy my target: the laundry detergent. While sadly, the brand I’ve been tasked to buy is not purple, the occupants of the aisle are. Standing masked and socially distanced, I listen to a young girl in a bright purple PAW Patrol shirt chatter away about the picnic she’s going to have. 3:45pm I return home from my trip, now ready for my next mission: a purple picnic. When inspiration hit me during my shopping trip, I purchased several purple snacks, and am now ready to do the purple shirt girl justice. I set myself up in my own backyard with a cosy purple blanket, and some snacks. After my picnic, I spend the rest of the day working on an assignment — while it isn’t much of a change, I do feel like following a colour has an impact! Life in lockdown can feel monotonous, and it is trends like these that keep things interesting. ‡
The Real Mirror WORDS BY Vivian Tang ART BY Brooke Stevens @brooke.stev
As the year 2021 bloomed, a prevailing pandemic saw us once again recoil in our homes, clinging to any frothy distraction. Enter Big Brother, The Bachelor, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under — shows at the epicentre of Australian reality TV, to cure us from our daily burnout. Yet, even they no longer provide a place of security or refuge. A misguided fantasy. BIPoC evicted. Sashayed away. Given a rose, only to be punctured by a thorn. Wait, but why are they the first to leave? A mere coincidence or by design? It begs the question, is Australian reality TV the mirror in which we see racism play out? The spaces we inhabit on screen as Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPoC), are either non-existent or hollow, relaying a damaging message. As Junot Diaz, Dominican American writer and Pulitzer Prize winner, simply stated “there’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in [the] mirror…if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” Hence, our process of identity shatters. Caged in a panopticon of mirrored cells where the only enemy is us. It’s a trauma that cannot be choreographed. An estimated three in four Australians from non-European backgrounds suffer discrimination due to their ethnicity. In fact, the majority widely recognise that racism is still largely prevalent in today’s Australia. Though there’s an inkling to overturn these injustices, the country’s inability to address race meaningfully is unavoidably sheltered under the thin veil of the Union Jack and White Commonwealth. Reality programs such as Bondi Rescue prove the sentiment is just as much cause as it is effect in the content we see. Reigning over a decade in a prime-time slot, the show fails to go unnoticed, parading an aspirational image of ‘Australian-ness’ — we are one, and all, we are a White homogenous fantasy. Is it an enduring vanity affair? Are we as a nation too patriotic, progressive, focused on the next step forward that we’re reserving space for White, thin, heterosexual figures on land that is in fact Black, borrowed and splintering?
Issue 03/2021: 2021
The stories on screen are the stories that tell us who we can be and allowing racism to perform on Australian screens, lends acceptability. It’s why microaggressions and throwaway comments remain, translating to an unwavering, universal language of indifference. “Wow, his English is pretty good.” “I can’t understand a word she’s saying.” “She’ll be out of here before the first ceremony.” “That poor fella’s got no chance.” But how can we empathise with BIPoC when their roles are given nothing to relate to? Because it’s not just the burden of underrepresentation breaking people of colour, but the types of representation. BlPoC are not monolithic. Yet our token characters are predetermined, manufactured in a warehouse of distrust and fettered imagination. Diluted, flawed, reliably subordinate, they seek to be redeemed when they do no wrong. Seek forgiveness when they do no such harm. And internalise their anger when their frustrations are subliminally unacknowledged. Because a single misstep outside the coloured lines is a reminder of where we stand in the stencilled hierarchy, unable to erase the fact that one Asian man is not going to represent all Asian men, nor is one Black woman able to represent all Black women. Given the smallest space to perform, we’re forced to manoeuvre, shrug, keep our head down, shed all individual quirks in service to the reigning narrative that speaks to ‘our’ Australia. It’s a symptom of validating stale stereotypes. We’re hypersexual or emasculated, brazen or timid, frail or conniving. A series of monolithic extremes, that fail to parallel true diversity. It’s why the first three to be eliminated from this year’s Big Brother, Korean man Soobong Hwang, Fijian-Australian Laura Coriakula, and Chinese-Australian Allan Liang, is no longer a coincidence. When we fail to normalise nuance, we fail to humanise those that make up the rugged fabric of our society. When we fail to recognise our strengths in diversity, we surpass an opportunity for redemption and develop the need for salvation. The reality is, BIPoC are not a quota to be met nor a number to be added. Alongside executives, directors, writers, and producers, we all have a responsibility to engage in meaningful inclusivity. When the whole country is watching, the power to redefine these portrayals is not a privilege but a necessity. Simply put, when given a large stage, why throw away the mic? It’s easy to adopt a perceived closeness to reality TV contestants. They saturate social, cultural conversation and interactions. They’re in our homes. We hear them speak. We bridge a bond through their story. In this instance, I push aside the borders of race and speak simply as a person that seeks to belong; I no longer want to put effort into an illusion. There are real cracks in the way we interact with one another. There are even more damning cracks in our system. Innately, we were meant to operate without borders. I believe we still can. Take away Black, White, boy, girl, the norm and disparate — there beneath it, there lies the real world. ‡
Gossip Girl 2021: A Review
Hey Upper East Siders, Today’s topic of gossip asks us, “what’s more stylish in 2021 than the With Jéan Andy dress?” That’s right, the Gossip Girl reboot! A highly anticipated successor of the iconic series that ran from 2007-2012. Was it worth the wait? We sure think so. Headbands are out, buzz cuts are in! An ode to its time, a generation of social media users will relate to the show in a lot of ways, apart from the actual embodiment of stinking rich New York teens.
WORDS BY Shannon Valentine
Issue 03/2021: 2021
With Women of Colour (WoC) at the forefront of this modern masterpiece, teen and adult viewers alike can find relatability in the varied characters beyond the rich-kid personas, and identify with the struggles of accepting who someone is behind the guise of social media. New York’s upper class brother-sister schools, St Judes and Constance Billard have moved into one co-ed arrangement and we see the story partially from the teachers’ perspective throughout the series. Underpaid and exhausted by their treatment from parents and students alike, the teachers reinvent Gossip Girl via Instagram as the key to keeping their students in line. The fact that this would be oh-so-illegal in real life, is why we love the escapism of TV shows like this. While you might have also missed the subtle cultural references that the witty script carefully places throughout, I assure you they’re there, fired off in entertaining back-and-forths as the characters develop who they are and who they want to become. As Luna puts it, “I don’t need a feminised transformation in order to please a cis man.” Amen! Promoting again the idea of fluid gender representation and sexual identity. We love to see it! What did they do right? Varied representation of race across society, sexual identity and family life that strays from the heteronormative to a portrayal of relatable emotion. The Gossip Girl reboot is an ally of change in social structure. Pansexual representation in characters like Max Wolfe is needed in mainstream shows and movies to challenge what some teens have been brought up to know as the norm. A deeper exploration of identity can be seen in this reboot, with aforementioned exploration of sexual identity, BIPoC representation, moral standards, changing family structures and prioritisation of self-interest over society’s expectation. References to the preceding show give us that warm feeling of nostalgia, reminiscent of the times we saw Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald grace our screen.
What could they have done better? As iconic as the tailoring of the school uniforms are, it’s a far cry from reality to think that an oversized shirt, bike shorts and knee high stiletto boots would ever be allowed in an American school. Underage drinking — again, a theme of the original series, as the Manhattan elite appear to get away with everything — might not be giving the best ideas to the next generation. Is this what a post-COVID-19 world will look like? At least for New York’s elite. With a lot left to find out, after this six-episode romp’s huge cliffhangers, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters in the next six. Gossip Girl is surprisingly enjoyable and a step in the right direction for representation and diversity on-screen. Simply put, it is a must-watch for fans of the original series. Until November, XOXO ‡
A Rainbow Façade When I scroll through Instagram and TikTok during pride month and see all the ads from companies, changing their logos to rainbow, I cannot help but cringe. When I was younger and did not know better, I thought companies acknowledging the queer community was a step in the right direction. Surely it was, especially after decades, even centuries, of discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community perpetuated by companies and society alike. Little did I realise the insidious nature of businesses donning the rainbow colours of the pride flag. Now, it makes my blood boil. One of the most important points to remember is that companies are not your friends and they don’t really care about you. What they do care about is profit. Think about it, it is good business to expand your market to encompass the LGBTIQ+ community. If a company throws some rainbow patterns on sneakers, stickers or other paraphernalia, of course they have opened up a new market of — specifically queer — consumers who can buy more products and ultimately make them more money. Unfortunately, a lot of queer people do actually lap this up. A recent survey found that 66 per cent of queer adults would be likely to “remain loyal to a company or brand they believed to be supportive of the LGBT community.” However, quite often, a lot of the profit that businesses make goes straight back to bigoted politicians or charities that support awful practices such as conversion therapy. With a quick Google search, I found dozens of companies that do just this. In fact, from 2017 to 2018, nine corporations alone donated over $14 million to homophobic and transphobic politicians, including Pfizer (yes, looks like I’ve got a homophobic vaccine in me), FedEx, Home Depot and Verizon. Yet hypocritically, they all donned pride flags and rainbow merchandise. Wow, what great allies. Why is it that companies did not plaster rainbows across everything before? Well, in the past 10–20 years, LGBTIQ+ rights and representation have advanced, and society in general has become more accepting of the queer community. Consequently, it has also become less of a risk for companies to openly support the queer community. Whilst in the past, opening up the market to LGBTIQ+ people would not have garnered as much of a profit as it does today due to the backlash they would’ve received.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
However, in current times, to strike a balance between the homosexual and homophobic market, the minute pride month ends, you can count on these socalled pro-LGBTIQ+ companies to remove their rainbow logos faster than a panic buyer snaps up toilet paper from a supermarket shelf. This encapsulates the make-profit-over-everything motive that is really at play here, which does not strike me as good allyship. If society were unfortunate enough to regress in how we viewed queer people, companies would respond accordingly. This would not be because companies simply reflect the views and values of the majority, but because the majority of the population also makes up the majority of consumers. Monkey see, monkey do, regardless of the state of LGBTIQ+ rights. Capitalism, and by extension the companies that are intertwined within the capitalist society that we live in, will never fully emancipate queer people, along with all other marginalised groups. Even when businesses actually do put their money where their mouth is by donating to LGBTIQ+ charities, introducing queer-friendly company policies, or campaigning to government officials, I’m still quite wary. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it is important to campaign and make change, but I am sceptical about businesses being the way forward. Besides the fact that support from supposedly pro-LGBTIQ+ companies is already on shaky ground, I’m simply just sceptical of businesses in general, and how they impact society. As long as these companies continue to exploit and underpay their workers along with the environment and their CEOs continue to buy yachts and their sixth mansion in Panama, can they really support the average person, regardless of whether or not they are queer, straight or cisgender? In the famous words of Maya Angelou, “the truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free”. Ultimately, corporations changing their logos to rainbow is either, if you’re lucky, not actually affecting the real lives of LGBTIQ+ people, or if you’re not so lucky, actively harming the queer community. Put simply, it is an empty gesture only aiming to make more money. These companies do not deserve to use a flag that truly represents inclusion, respect and pride. ‡
WORDS BY Simone Kealy
The Sweet (Sartorial) Escape We’re wearing baby tees and miniskirts, toting baguette bags and arranging butterfly clips in our hair. Space Jam is in theatres, Paris Hilton is on TV and Crocs are having a real moment.
It must be 1998? 2005, surely?
Nope. Think again.
It’s 2021, and as things go in fashion: everything old is new again. The long-forgotten era is back in vogue, and we can’t get enough. Thanks to TikTok, the goal is to always look like Lizzie McGuire’s cartoon alter-ego: cropped tank, cute jeans, platform sandals. The bags are tiny, the boots are knee-high. Everyone’s obsessed with Princess Diana — we’re all searching for that perfect oversized jumper to wear with bike shorts à la her iconic post-divorce era, a reinvention of the Gucci bag worn by Di herself throughout the ’90s has just launched, and Instagram account @ladydirevengelooks boasts 106k followers who fawn over the late princess’ frankly flawless style. Meanwhile, @90sanxiety and @2000sanxiety combine for a following of nearly 2.4 million. If all this doesn’t illustrate the unyielding influence of the ’90s and ’00s on today’s fashion culture, nothing will. But this all begs the question: why are we so obsessed with a time that most of us Gen-Z’s and Millennials can’t even remember? Firstly, we’re bound to crave the sweet escape of nostalgia when our reality is so uncertain. “Nostalgia is denial of the painful present” says Michael Sheen in the film Midnight in Paris, and scholar Jacob Juhl agrees that “people become nostalgic in response to adversity”. In the same way that bingeing Seinfeld and listening to The Spice Girls carries a sense of security, there’s a reason that every cropped cardigan feels like a micro-dose of nostalgia getting us through the monotony of this new decade. The ’90s and ’00s represent an ostensibly simpler time, the last iteration of a pre-iPhone world where moments with friends were golden without the golden-hour Insta post. So this fixation with fashions of the past might actually be a veneer over a deeper yearning for connection beyond the realm of the digital.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
The Y2K revival is a game of sartorial escapism, evoking a nostalgia that has become our subsistence throughout the pandemic. In gravitating towards the fashions that were plastered across the magazines of our childhoods, we take a stand against the gloom of pandemic dysphoria and choose to feel joy in the clothes we wear. Reaching for a beaded choker, a white tee under a black spaghetti-strap slip dress, or a swipe of MAC Velvet Teddy invokes the divine power of Jennifer Aniston circa 1999 — and who amongst us wouldn’t kill to spend a day in our favourite coffee shop with our best Friends in the world? In the same vein, sartorial pastiche is a comforting form of self-improvement — and that’s the kind of productivity we need when we can hardly leave the house. In the ’00s, I was a pre-teen dweeb who thought that layered neon Supré tops and thin, non-functional scarfs were the height of fashion. In my defence, I was limited by my adolescent angst. I didn’t capitalise on the velour and the rhinestones! But now, in my early twenties, I can be an elevated version of my 2006 self: I can unironically dress like a Bratz doll, in knee-high boots and tiny beaded necklaces that look like the ones my five-yearold self made at kindergarten, and actually look good. More than anything, dressing up like Lady Di or Paris Hilton is FUN. Fashion is meant to be joyous. The clothes we curate and choose to carry on our bodies should make us happy; every time we glimpse an outfit in the mirror, we deserve to smile. And if right now, that means donning a Von Dutch trucker hat, ridiculously wide-legged jeans and a bandana as a top, then so be it. Reclaim that sartorial whimsy. But please, God, leave the low-waisted tracksuits in the past where they belong. ‡
WORDS BY Kiera Eardley @kieraeardley ART BY Ruth Boneh @ruthboneh
Google Year in Review WORDS BY William Huynh @will.huynh ART BY Marissa Hor @marissa.pdf
2021 was the year that as a Melburnian, I was able to get a taste of normality again. Of course, this freedom was short-lived as slow vaccine rollouts, the Delta variant and snap-lockdowns ultimately defined a significant part of my year — and its Google searches. Thus, here is a list of things I googled in 2021. Can you eat the core of a capsicum?/ How to chop an onion/Basic knife skills This year saw me move out of home for the first time, and having not been much of a cook in my younger years, I made a lot of embarrassing searches like these. I’m not going to lie; the culinary learning curve was steep in those first few months. There may or may not have been the odd occasion where the end result was nearinedible and Uber Eats came to the rescue. Why is my washing machine making a loud banging noise? Another chronicle of the trials of living out of home. This time, the field of battle was the laundry room. I mean, who knew there was an optimal load level for your washing, and you couldn’t just throw whatever amount of dirty clothes you had into the wash? Not me, apparently.
Short-term overseas Spanish programs/ Flights from Melbourne to Madrid Having sadly lost my uni exchange to Spain last year, I was hopeful 2021 might offer the prospect of international travel. My year started with searches of overseas Spanish programs and flights to Europe and Latin America. Looking back now, how naïve was I to think I could potentially leave in the middle of the year? Thanks, Delta. Budgeting tips As many will know, living out of home is a financial adjustment. So, I preemptively tasked Google with protecting me from financial ruin. I was disappointed to discover that my days of impulsively dropping $200-plus on a pair of shoes had come to an end. Is Hinge any good? This year saw my first foray into the dating app sphere in my hometown. I had previously used them while travelling abroad, but had a weird insecurity about getting onto them in Melbourne. However, 2021 quickly became my year of saying screw it. I’m going to be stuck in my home city for the foreseeable future, so I might as well put myself out there. And Google tells me Hinge is all the rage.
Issue 03/2021: 2021
Where to go in Gippsland during winter After four attempts at going to Sydney in the last nine months — each plan forcibly scrapped by snap-lockdowns — I decided to have a crack at travelling somewhere closer to home. I was certainly ‘feeling lucky’ (is that button still there?) to have snuck a winter trip in before Lockdown 5.0. Art Deco/Bohemian/Mid-century/Scandi I found myself having to Google a lot of these Facebook Marketplace buzzwords when looking for furniture this year. I wonder if people actually know what they’re saying when they use these words? I certainly don’t. Melbourne exposure sites The Coronavirus Victoria public exposure site website was easily my most visited last year. I probably should have kept that bookmarked, because it still feels like I’m searching it up every second day — depressing, I know. Vic lockdown end date Writing this in Melbourne’s sixth lockdown, I’m still waiting for the answer…
Zoom fatigue tips I was really hoping we had left Zoom in 2020, but here we are again. Surprisingly, after an entire year, I wasn’t as well-versed in overcoming Zoom fatigue as I thought I would be. I guess Zoom in 2021 hits different when you get a taste of in-person classes and meetings, only for Delta to take it away again. Hoping for less of this in 2022. How to repot my monstera One of the pros of lockdown is that at least my plants have been getting a lot of love! While others may have their cats, doggos, or other animals to channel their affection, the fact that I’m in a sharehouse (and would probably cave under the pressure of owning a live animal) means I’m limited to plant pets. How to leave Australia during a pandemic A search that sprung from lockdown frustration and a bit of curiosity, but evolved into an idea that might be worth entertaining. I mean, I’ve always wanted to work overseas. And now that I’m vaccinated, maybe the pandemic has accelerated these plans? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see. ‡
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens