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The Pointe of Ballet Get an in-depth look into how beauty standards affect ballet dancers today

One and the Same Learn how conformity affects teenagers

The Price of Perfection Gain a new perspective on how media trends influence teens

Fancy Feminists Learn what feminists believe about makeup

Cover photos by Michelle Su



The Pointe of Ballet

Perfectly poised, slim waists, and life with numerous pressures.


One and the Same

Two words: teenage conformity.


The Price of Perfection

Young women across the world struggling to reach perfection.


Fancy Feminists

Who said feminists can’t wear makeup?

Other Articles


Ballet Costumes Through the Centuries


Top 10 Trends of 2016

A closer look at the history of ballet costumes.

10 trends that will keep you looking fab and flawless.


Not #Flawless

Six women and their insecurities.


Fashion Trends Around the World

Be in style from country to country.

Photo by Lisa Moomaw

Photo by Lisa Moomaw

Photo by Lisa Moomaw

Photos by Abigail Daly

Meet the Blend Team

Molly Dowe

Rebecca Brackin

Michelle Su

Molly has been writing almost daily for over 12 years and has loved every second of it. She has also spent a lifetime focusing on fashion: her younger sister used to change outfits six times a day! Her belief is that everyone is unique and should never try to be something they are not (in fashion and beauty inside and out); and she tries to adhere to this every day. She likes shopping for clothes when she has time outside of school and volleyball, but often just hangs out with her friends and family instead.

Rebecca has a passion for music--she loves to sing and play piano. She also enjoys spending time outside playing soccer, hiking and swimming. She adores travel and to see the unique fashion styles of people all around the world, so she wrote a story about it (page 28). In her free time, Rebecca loves to watch movies, especially classic and musical movies. Her friends would describe her as spunky, classy and a little bit sassy.

Michelle loves art, shoes, small flowers (like the one she’s holding) and, perhaps most of all, lions. Especially cute lions. Other than making magazine spreads of course, Michelle would like to spend every day painting while drinking tea. She hopes to travel the world someday--Europe, South Asia and Fiji, to name a few. She spends her spare time watching an unhealthy number of television shows and learning languages.

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Photo by Michelle Su

Editor’s Note

Lisa Moomaw is the chief editor of Blend. Outside of playing lacrosse, being Vice President of her class and copious amounts of schoolwork, she loves shopping, bread, photography and reorganizing her binders. Her stories about beauty standards and insecurities are an expression of the meeting of her passion for social issues and for beauty and fashion. She would like to thank Molly Dowe for redoing her feature spread three times in order to make this magazine’s page arrangement work.


lend is a beauty magazine with an edge. In the earliest moments of brainstorming our features, our group quickly realized that we were all straying away from articles you might find in Seventeen or Vogue. Yes, we were interested in the latest beauty trends around the world (page 28), but we also wanted to dig deeper--why do we follow trends in the first place? (You can find that one on page 16.) With this epiphany, we were on our way with the theme and message of Blend more or less solidified. As the production of our magazine continued, I will confess that I started to ask myself more and more frequently why, oh why was I stuck as chief editor? I dreamt of semesters where my classes did not involve struggling to use the pen tool in Illustrator, converting to CMYK, relinking broken photo links and reminding my darling group members that the drop caps are Didot, not Avenir book. To put it succinctly, putting this together was not all sunshine and rainbows. However, the goods far outweigh the frustration

and sleep deprivation that went into this magazine’s creation. From that fateful first day, I also rejoiced in the team bonding and laughs and inside jokes that made Blend into what it is. I discovered that the paintbrush tool is much easier to use than the pen tool and changing the drop cap to Didot size six became second nature to every member of our team. Most of all, though, I fell in love with every page and font and caption that has come together to make Blend what it is. So, dear reader, I hope the same thing happens to you: every word makes you smile and you fall in love with it all just like I have. Enjoy!

Lisa Moomaw, Blend chief editor

BLEND 2016 • 5

Ballet Costumes Through the Centuries Story and graphics by Michelle Su

Italy: Dancers wore long,

1459 heavy gowns that hung

to the floor. This greatly limited movement, so ballet was restricted to small curtsies and pliĂŠ.

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s Belgium: Marie Anne

1700 de Cupis de Camargo

shortened her dress just enough to see her complex footwork. Even though only her ankles could be seen, it was considered scandalous.

s Romantic tutus were

1800 popularized by Marie

Taglioni in 1832. They were light and fluffy, and were shortened over time.

Ballet, considered as one of the most elegant and captivating genres of dance, began at an Italian royal wedding in 1459. Since then, ballet dresses and costumes have changed drastically.

Bell skirts and pointe shoes

1850 were popularized by Anna Pavlova in the 1850s in Russia. They were often white and gauzy.

Since then, skirts have

Present gotten progressively shorter and stiffer, becoming what we now know as the Classic tutu.

Information courtesy of,, and

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The Pointe of Ballet 8 • BLEND 2016

Photo by Michelle Su

Finding beauty in the movement. Feature by Michelle Su

BLEND 2016 • 9


he stage is still. The silence is palpable and the audience doesn’t dare take a breath. The conductor takes his spot and the orchestra begins to play. Spotlights shine on Clara’s slim frame and her doll. Her pointe shoes tap against the wood and she preps for her first turn. Whether it’s fouettes, pirouettes, or chaines, ballet is an art form, but an extremely dangerous one at that--just not in the way you’d expect. Out of all of the sports, anorexia is highest amongst dancers, especially ballerinas. Beauty is completely subjective, but our perception of the media has been twisted so much so that young dancers are subconsciously forced to conform to the pressures of society. Nowadays, society is more accepting

Photo by Michelle Su

of different body types, but the idea of an “ideal look” is starting to disappear painstakingly slowly. However, sports are often less compelled to follow this change, especially in ballet. Flat chest, nearly underweight, small face, long hair: these are all examples of what is generally expected of female dancers. “There’s all kinds of pressures on everyone to at one point conform,” Ballet Austin’s director of 24 years, William “Bill” Piner says, “and at the same time be able to stand out and be someone that people want to pay money to watch.” Uniformity is one of the most important and aesthetically pleasing concepts in ballet. Even so, balance is more important than uniformity. “[The body] is like a sculpture, with the wire in the middle and all of the support around it… and the proportions have to work, otherwise it’s really difficult to stay in balance,”

Photo by Michelle Su

Left: Bill Piner, Director of Ballet Austin, at his desk, speaks about his company with pride. Right: Ella Gross stretches at her barre. Below: Ballet Austin, one of the biggest classical ballet schools in the country. Photo by Michelle Su

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Piner says. “It’s hard because it’s like any elite art form or sport; there’s a certain body type that’s going to lend itself to being successful, and being able to make those mechanics work.” To those who are genuinely passionate ab out dance, body types and looks are irrelevant and unimportant if are able to carry out the choreography safely and elegantly. Media trends have twisted and exploited beauty standards, like most



“Not rejecting them for what they are but helping them transform into something exquisite.” - Bravo

things in the present day. Tall and thin body types spiked in the middle of the 1900s and have been popular since then. Ballet dancers like in the 1800s were hefty and muscular- not at all the long, skinny almost bone thin dancers that people started idolizing in the 60s. “I think it’s kind of silly, if not stupid, because I have seen dancers on the stage that are hefty with large bones and muscular, and they are gorgeous and absolutely beautiful in terms of athletic abilities,” says Toni Bravo, professional dancer and teacher at Balance and Ballet Austin of 26 years. As a freshman at Anderson High School and dancer of 11 years, Ella Gross has experienced this directly. “We used to have an awful director--don’t know what her name was--but she was so hard on the girls, and she would do morning weigh-ins, so every morning they would have to weigh themselves, so if they didn’t weigh a certain amount they would get a demerit,” says Gross. But are these trends reasonable? Dancers who were tall and skinny gained the most attention, making it more popular to lose weight-regardless of the morality or rationality to do so. Gross has seen the pressures in play. “It makes sense historically, but it’s not ethical. All the best dancers have been a certain body type- skinny, pretty, long hair, and through the

regard.” While there are few things that we are able to do, spreading awareness and showing support can be effective.

Photo by Chris Reilly

Above: Ella Gross displays her flexibility during her photoshoot with Chris Riley. Left: Toni Bravo, professional dancer and teacher, hangs from a sling in one of her performances.

Photo by Chris Reilly

generations that’s still what people look for today,” Gross says. Trends are learned and passed on from one to another, so teachers are the one of most influential figures for young dancers. As an authoritative figure, they often play a huge role in helping young dancers develop the right mindset. Students greatly look up to them, and while most are patient and unbiased, some have the habit of teaching what they were taught, which can be destructive. Being a teacher herself, Toni Bravo has seen these teachers first-hand.“Some teachers think that teaching just means giving them the moves and having them look a certain way,” Bravo says, “They think that some bodies aren’t built to be a dancer but no, maybe that body was meant to be a dancer. Then again, the kid doesn’t know. They trust the teacher to know what’s best for them.” In this generation, it is impossible for media to not have a role in influencing young dancers. Bravo believes that society demands certain standards-certain things are considered beautiful because of what is portrayed in magazines, and certain things are not. Thankfully, as teachers, Bravo and Piner aren’t the only ones who believe that being healthy is more important than “looking like the ideal dancer.”

“Everyone--male, female of any age and any profession, has a lot of outside pressures about looks- too fat, too thin,” Piner says, “They have all sorts of pressures on them, and I know, and I can only speak from how I like to run the school, I know the company: we want healthy, athletic, strong bodies. And across the board, I know everyone does.” In some parts of the professional world, there’s a certain body type and weight that is necessary to get the job. “If you want to be a dancer at American Ballet Theater, you can’t have any fat on your body, you have to be very poised and elegant, you have to have hair long enough to put in a bun, and have a small face, and distinct features, and it’s disgusting,” Gross says. These restrictions, on top of the pressures that young dancers already face regarding self-confidence, are enough to push them into unhealthy habits. “It’s a combination: a lot of those kids have problems accepting themselves, and they aren’t being accepted by others, in the dance world, in the fashion world, and even by other kids,” says Bravo. As society slowly grows and changes into a more accepting one, we learn of things that we can do to help it. Confidence is completely personal, as Piner explains: “There’s a high need; a high desire to fit what they think is the ideal. All you can do, all I can do as a leader in that industry is to preach as much as I can about what’s healthy for you, and what you can do as an individual to be healthy, and everyone’s different in that

The meaning behind every arabesque, bourree, and glissade, the facial expression, the seat one sits in in the theater: these are some of the factors that determine the emotion that is felt by the audience.“That’s the thing about dance; of the art forms it’s the most open to interpretation; based on the people that are watching, it’s always different. It’s something that is not easily definable, it’s not easily “this body is beautiful to me,” it’s this combination of the lights, the music, and the movement quality, the music and how it all sort of comes together in the composition--it’s the most beautiful thing,” Piner simply states. Confidence is wildly attractive and understanding of what one is capable of is moving. As Bravo believes, “When you see a person that understands what they’re doing, and not because they are mimicking what someone else is doing, when you can see that their mind and their heart is in it, I think they are beautiful no matter what.” When anything threatens this sense of selfworth, part of this beauty is lost. “It is when they’re pushed and pressed to do something that makes them feel insecure, makes them hurt or makes them just not feel safe. How can you put your heart in the performance when you’re feeling that pain?” Dance is more about emotions, how the dancers evoke them. “I don’t believe that weight determines how good you are at a certain sport, and I don’t think it should matter at all,” says Gross. Those who know and love ballet look beyond the surface and know that physical beauty isn’t the true beauty of the sport. “The beauty of dance is, not necessarily what the body is when it is standing there,” says Bill Piner, “but what you can do with that body, and it’s the movement that is, to me, the most interesting and the most beautiful.” •

BLEND 2016 • 11


Billowing sleeves look good with shorts, jeans, and skirts. They can be worn anywhere and are very comfortable to wear. If worn with a swimsuit underneath they can make comfortable beachwear.

This has become widely popular among young women these days, due to the many celebrities who sport them. In order to get feathered eyebrows one must use a brow spoolie which can be bought from around 3 to 15 dollars depending on how high end the manufacturer is.

Story by Molly Dowe


Braids work well for any face shape or hair length. They can also be done in different ways to frame the face. For a braid with a twist you can do crown braids or side braids to stand out from the crowd. Celebs everywhere have been working this style.


Winged Eyeliner

Photo by Molly Dowe


Photo by Molly Dowe

Current fashion trends are important to know about, even if they’re not everything. A fashionable new dress can make you feel terrific, and a different shade of lipstick can help you create a dramatic entrance. These are some of the top ten fashion, hair and makeup trends from 2016.

Feathered Eyebrows

Photo by Molly Dowe

Billowed Sleeves

Photo by Molly Dowe

Top 10 Trends of 2016


Winged eyeliner has become very popular over the last few years, although it’s been done for many years. If you have blue eyes, brown and copper tones work well with your eyes. For green eyes choose colors with reddish undertones. For brown eyes use blacks or blues to bring out your eyes. An inexpensive eyeliner is Almay, which can be found at any CVS.

Photo by Molly Dowe

A-Line Shapes

Short hair can look good on everyone, as long as one chooses what length works for them. It all depends on the face shape. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson have been rocking short hair this year. Achieving this style can be done by going to a nearby hair salon.

A-line has been a part of the fashion world for a while, and it is rising in popularity, especially for the spring. A cute mix of jackets with modern and colorful prints, cropped cuts, and highwaisted fits. A-line dresses, or skirts with embroidery, paired with shirts or knits, are feminine and so chic.


Bold Hair Colors

Bold lip colors have recently risen to popularity. Celebrities and young women alike have been wearing red and brown lipstick to make a statement. With the recent release of Kylie Jenner’s makeup brand, these colors are moving further into the mainstream. Some of the cheapest quality brands are e.l.f. And Maybelline New York.


Shirt Dresses

Photo by Eileen Fisher

Long eyelashes have been extremely popular this year, along with the rise of easy-to-apply fake eyelashes and winged eyeliner. Nearly every celebrity has this look including Katy Perry and Adele. One of the least expensive ways to get this look is buying mascaras or fake lashes from a local drugstore.

Bold Lip Color

Photo by Molly Dowe

Long Lashes

Photo by Molly Dowe



Photo by Molly Dowe


Short Hairstyles

Photo by Molly Dowe


Bright blues, purples, and reds are currently popular in hair color (or dip dye color), even among celebrities such as Demi Lovato. This look is not difficult to achieve if one buys a hair dye kit from the store. If one is too scared to dye their own hair, then going to a salon is a better, although more expensive, option.

Shirt dresses have become a very big deal this year on and off the runway. Designers such as Brandy Melville have brought them into the mainstream. Many young women wear them daily, with sneakers or sandals this look is classic with a bit of modern flair.

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Photo by Annabelle Abel

One and the Same Teenage fashion conformity in today’s society Feature by Molly Dowe

14 • BLEND 2016

Why is that? Somewhere in the world, there is probably at least one person wearing the same shirt as you, or as your best friend, or as the person who rides next to you on the bus. In many cases though, this number is much larger in just one school, because of people following others they deem to be “popular.” These popular people don’t have to be nice, but if they are wealthy, or pretty, then their clothes are most likely imitated by their peers.

Photo by Molly Dowe

Think about some of the noteworthy (and sometimes inexplicable) trends of the past: poodle skirts, bell-bottom jeans, the torn jeans and flannel shirts of the grunge era. Who wore these things first? And who followed?

Torn jeans of the grunge era.

Many young women conform because they don’t feel like they are pretty enough by themselves. They feel like they need to wear the same clothes as their friends even though that may not be their style. “I think people want to belong and want to be esteemed by others, and so one way you do that is to wear something that shows that you’re part of the group, that you’re like the people you’re with,” says Dr. Heather Clague, a psychiatrist based in

someone you know -- you’re not alone. This feeling is prevalent among teens, and it’s often detrimental to young women’s confidence and feelings of self-worth.

the Bay Area. There are also hundreds, even thousands, of female celebrities whose style women everywhere want to imitate, down to the last worn-out t-shirt and pair of shoes. They want to look and feel like those famous people.

It’s not universal, though -- and doesn’t have to be. Conformity is less rigid in certain social contexts. In some situations and professions, ideas about fashion and beauty are very different than the “ideal” espoused by mainstream culture. Dr. Heather Clague, who is also an improvisational comedian, makes this point. “I think

Why? “We tend to look at those [celebrities] and those images and think, ‘Whatever she’s doing, she’s doing right - because she’s rich, she’s famous, and everybody wants to be her,’ says Barb Steinberg, a teen life coach for young women. “But, a lot of times, we might not be feeling so great: We might not feel rich, successful, beautiful. So we think, ‘Well, if I have a little bit of what she’s got, maybe I’ll feel like that. I’ll feel better.’” This occurs so often in our 24-hour-a-day media-soaked culture that sometimes we don’t even recognize when it’s happening. Young women will change their clothing to fit what they think others will like or admire, not what they believe represents their personality or style.



“People can put too much emphasis on appearance. They become overly focused on that dimension of who they are.” -Clague

In psychological terms, one reason this occurs is that women feel the need to be like others, and they believe that their appearance is worth more than their personality. “The problem is that appearance can be over-valued - people can put too much emphasis on appearance, to the point that they become overly focused on that one dimension of who they are, and judging both themselves and other people by appearance only, and that can lead to extreme behaviors, like spending an inordinate amount of money on clothing,” says Clague. If this sounds familiar -- like you or

Photo by Molly Dowe


ith every piece of clothing often comes a question: “Will my friends like this?” Young women in America and all over the world spend hours on their appearance and clothing. Most of them wear what the most popular celebrities and models are wearing. Others try to match what the most popular girls in school have.

Multiple girls in the same class wearing Converse shoes.

there’s more flexibility about looks in comedy than there is in other skills. Just off the top of my head, my guess is that there’s more forgiveness and flexibility for comics,” says Clague. Spike Gillespie, an Austin writer who also writes and performs wedding ceremonies, makes a similar point about the couples she marries. “Everyone has an idea of what ‘the perfect look’ means to them, and a lot of people will go for that traditional “big-white dress.” Even if that’s not who they are in real life, they go for it. But at the same time, because I do a lot of non-traditional weddings, I also wind up with clients who will go for a hipper look, or show up in a black dress, or a rainbow dress. A lot of people also wear Chuck Taylors to their weddings, which is funny, because back in the day Chuck Taylors were the shoe of the punk rocker,” says Gillespie, who was also a punk rock musician in the 1980s. Interestingly enough -- and to the frustration of those who consider themselves to be “fashion-forward” or “trend setters” --fashion choices that are meant to be non-conformist can

BLEND 2016 • 15


end up being adopted and celebrated by the mainstream culture. “As you know, a lot of the times what will happen with things like punk rock or hipster clothing is that the mainstream first will make fun of it, and then the mainstream will adopt it, and then it eventually it becomes a parody of itself, a cliché,” says Gillespie. So that emo outfit or band t-shirt you wear, to show how different you are? Keep an eye on the fashion magazines: It may end up making it into the mainstream, and be worn by everyone you see. This is not to say that conformity occurs the same way everywhere. The things that people wear in a small town, versus the styles in a big city, can be very different. “Every society has a status hierarchy,” says Clague, “and there are visual correlates and fashion correlates of that status hierarchy. So, if in New York it’s ‘How expensive are your pumps?’ in Berkeley it might be, ‘Is your sweater Fair Trade?’ There’s status pressure, even if it’s in a different or more subtle way.” In many schools around Austin, Texas there are also very different ways that people conform in different schools. At the Liberal



“In New York it’s ‘How expensive are your pumps?’ In Berkeley it might be, ‘Is your sweater Fair Trade?’” -Clague

Arts and Science Academy, “There’s definitely the kind of people [who dress for cowmfort], maybe more than in other places just because this school is super chill and laid back with everything other than schoolwork. As long as you’re passing your classes, you’re fine. No one really cares if you bring a blanket to school,” says Lucia Melendez, a LASA freshman. At Reagan High School the kids are described very differently “Some people wear bright, glistening colors and some

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“At LASA, as long as you’re passing your classes, you’re fine. No one really cares if you bring a blanket to school.” -Melendez

people can interpret that as them being an extroverted person. There are also some students that wear their senior shirts or school shirts to portray pride to our school,” says Jasmine Dalvi, a freshman at Reagan. At Anderson High School the mainstream clothing is much more preppy “I think a lot of the kids at Anderson dress to impress in a way, while others seem to just throw on whatever they can find,” says Jadin Leon, an Anderson freshman. The differences in high school cultures are huge and are affected by many different social and economic aspects. In high school, there can also be quite a bit of sexism related to conformity in clothing. In many schools across the country, the dress code requires girls to cover their shoulders and have fingertip length shorts , even if their arms are not as long or short as others. In contrast, the dress code for boys is a lot more laid-back--and far easier for them to follow. To be fair, sometimes the motive behind such codes can be wellmeaning. Some are even motivated by safety: One viewpoint holds that the inappropriate or revealing clothing of young women and girls can be contributing reasons that they are sexually harassed, even raped. Such codes suggest that girls should dress more modestly so they don’t cause “distractions” to boys. But this is a tricky argument, because it can lead to the incorrect conclusion that a young woman dresses a certain way because she wants a certain kind of attention -as opposed to it simply being her style. “I think that some cultures are more sexist and more focused on a woman’s visual appearance than others,” says Clague.

are “preventing distractions” for boys are really oppressing young women. “According to the administration, dress codes are [instituted] to “prevent distraction in a learning environment”, but that’s unethical for a few reasons. First of all, the way that dress codes are often enforced is humiliating to the girl involved. Administrators will ask a girl to change or put on a jacket because what she’s wearing isn’t “appropriate”. This can create a sense of shame for the girl. Giving teachers and administrators the power to lower a young girl’s self confidence is detrimental, and it promotes slut-shaming,” says Nadia Freeman, a freshman at McCallum High School. “As well as being harmful to a girl’s self esteem, the basic idea that dress code is built upon is unethical. Saying that a girl needs to cover up her body in order for boys to be able to focus on their school work is like saying that a girl is responsible for a boy’s inability to control themselves around her. Not only is this an insult


In fact, an argument can be made that the codes that school administrators say


“Clothing is a form of self expression, which is especially important for teenagers.” -Freeman

to women, it’s an insult to men. It is completely objectifying to women. And it is completely animalizing to men. Clothing is a form of self expression, which is especially important for teenagers. Censoring this on the grounds that it will keep a distractionfree environment is unethical,” says Freeman. Many girls across the country agree with Freeman and have tried to open dialogue about this issue with school administrations, as Freeman herself did while a student at Kealing Middle School. Spike Gillespie makes a similar case that clothing should be worn to make oneself happy. After all it’s pretty hard to justify items for women such as push-up bras and Spanx being worn for self expression. “Just, be comfortable.

Another thing: I hate high heels and Spanx and push-up bras and things put out there to make women think how they are already isn’t good enough. Anything that makes you physically


uncomfortable is not worth bothering with,” says Gillespie. It goes without saying that fashion is a multi-billion dollar business. Countless advertisements, magazines, YouTube stars and the twitter feeds of celebrities constantly announce the latest trends. But fashion is a powerful way to express oneself in ways that are deeper than just attention-getting or following the style of the season. Style can also change very dramatically in a person’s life, especially when she is a teenager. Teens often feel motivated to try new things in order to find themselves. “I remember high school, and I see this even now: In freshman year, a girl dresses in black, but sophomore year she’ll be super-preppy. She’s trying it on: ‘I think I’m gonna try this out this year.’ I feel like this is just experimentation: You’re trying to figure out, ‘Who am I? What do I like?’” says Steinberg. This kind of experimentation can also be confusing for teens. Teenagers often are conflicted because they are going through their own changes, but they also want to be like their friends. “I think when you’re a teenager, two things are going on: You want to have your own identity -- you want to be special, you want to be different, you want people to notice you and like you. (Some people want to be noticed more than others.) But another part of it is, I want to belong -- I want to fit in, I don’t want to be an outcast, I don’t want to be isolated, I don’t want to be alone,” says Steinberg.

Photo by Molly Dowe


“Anything that makes you physically uncomfortable is not worth bothering with.” -Gillespie

The process of finding a personal style, when you’re also feeling pressure to conform, is incredibly complicated. “The first problem is, it takes you longer to figure out who you are and how to be yourself. A girl can try so hard to be what she thinks she’s supposed to be, and look like she’s supposed to look, that she never figures out that she doesn’t really like jeans -she likes dresses! She can’t figure it out, because she’s not even paying attention,” says Steinberg. A girl can be so consumed with conforming that she’s blind to her own real likes and dislikes.

A whole display at JC Penney dedicated to one blouse.

The final point is clear: Your clothing is what you choose it to be, and it’s not for anyone else to decide. “I think wanting to change yourself to please yourself is awesome. I’m all in favor of


could change all the time. Friendships end. Relationships end. And then where are you? You’ve been working so hard to make that person happy, but not yourself,” says Steinberg. “I know that it’s fun to try new clothes -- I love trying out new hair, different clothes, different makeup. And as long as it’s bringing you joy and pleasure and happiness, go for it. But when you find yourself feeling, Oh, god, if I don’t have these jeans, or that shirt, I’m going to be a loser, and people are going to think that I’m lame -- then it’s not fun anymore. It’s not something that’s bringing you happiness,” says Steinberg.


“We really are already good enough, just how we are.” -Steinberg

that. But trying to please someone else, and making them the barometer of what needs to be done to please them? That could change every day. One day, they could want you to be blond, and the next day they could want you to cut your hair and be brunette. You’re left chasing someone else’s approval, and it

The final point is simple: use fashion to make yourself happy. Be who you truly are! Everyone should have confidence in themselves, whether or not they dress like somebody else. You decide what defines you, nobody else can do that for you. “[Ultimately] we really are already good enough, just how we are.” says Steinberg. •

BLEND 2016 • 17

Not #Flawless Six young women open up about their insecurities Story and graphics by Lisa Moomaw


veryone, even Beyoncé, maybe, has something they don’t like about themself. People often don’t put much consideration into why they’ve got such a problem with their appearance: it’s just the way it is. However, insecurities don’t come from thin air, so these six young women (for privacy’s sake, some names have been changed) did some soul-searching to try to better understand where their frustration towards their least favorite physical features--common grievances shared by millions of others--come from. From there, they found that perhaps qualms from family members caused their desperation for a whittled waist, or idolizing a movie star leads to detesting their notably not voluptuous hair. As it turns out, this generation’s young women share more than just similar insecurities: the very roots of them are repeated as well. Luckily, there was another pattern in the mix: identifying the reasoning behind insecurities and avoiding comparing them to others served as a catalyst for acceptance. After all, attractiveness is subjective--maybe looking at oneself a certain way lets anyone be #flawless.

“If she could, Alexa Muller*, 15, would trade her long, blond curls for sleeker and straighter hair, bringing her closer to what the media has identified as perfection. As Muller says, “In social media and magazines and movies and stuff, the really pretty people are always the girls with long, straight hair.” Comparing her locks to this “stresses [her] out”, because she finds that, since people want to be like celebrities, they compare themselves to them and it “points out flaws.”

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“My hair always gives me something to worry about,” says 22-year-old Rosemary O. Although she’s become more accepting of it over the years, she still longs for the “big, flowing, and beautiful” hair of her African family and friends over her short hair and bald spots. Sometimes mistaken for a man by strangers, she sometimes compares herself to these women whose “femininity is not hidden behind their hairstyles.” Rosemary sees that other people aren’t concerned about it, but admits that “it never escapes [her] mind that there is someone, somewhere watching.”

15-year-old Amber O’Rourke’s biggest insecurity is less common--with one blonde set of eyelashes and one brown, she sometimes wishes for more ocular consistency. As O’Rourke explains, her concern comes mostly from looking at her peers and people around her. “I guess I’m insecure because it’s different than everyone else,” she says. Kristina Kim, 16, considers her biggest flaw to be her weight. A combination of comparing herself to her skinny sister and comments from others often make confidence in her body a challenge. “My family makes suggestions to me sometimes that I should do something about my weight, and I know they do it with good intentions and because they think I’ll be happier if I could just be comfortable with myself and not have to think about my weight,” she describes. Despite the thoughtfulness behind it, Kim also says “it’s hard to balance being told to change with being confident in who [she is].”

Amanda Lin, 22, recalls her frustration looking at her face in the mirror, especially during her younger years. “Ugly red blotches of pimples stained my cheeks, glasses usually had a glare that would mask my mono-lidded small eyes, an awkward blunt fringe poorly shaped my face, and chubby cheeks refused to shrink into my face to form a defined jaw line,” recounts Lin. At one point, she even considered plastic surgery after seeing one too many “perfect photoshopped body and the perfect airbrushed faces.” Lin describes it as “media saturation of this ‘ideal woman.’” As she matured, however, through pursuing what she loved, she found the “confidence to see the beauty that was already there.” Hannah Saquing, even at age 15, stands at just 4 feet 10 inches. When she puts on her wedges, she’s still only up to 5 feet exactly. Although she’s often called “adorably tiny”, she “feel[s] insecure about [her] height sometimes because [she’s] so much shorter than everyone else.” However, Hannah says she’s learned to embrace her short stature. As she says, “there were times when I thought I did [want to be taller], but why be mainstream?”

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The Price of Perfection How unrealistic beauty standards take their toll on today’s teen girls Feature by Lisa Moomaw

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A vulnerability to being influenced by unrealistic beauty standards and an inability to keep up with them causes girls to replace self-compassion with frustration at themselves for not being hot/skinny/pretty enough. Increased media exposure and narrow ideals set the stage for comparisons where young women come out on the losing end. Today more than ever, Americans are starting to realize that girls are feeling the effects of the competition to look perfect no matter the cost, but the exact impacts of impossible standards are far from common knowledge. Standards for beauty are shaped by what people are trained to see as attractive in their daily lives. As media exposure increases exponentially with the rise of social media, it becomes an even more significant influence. Alia Shaukat, a 15-year-old high school freshman--making her a member of the most impacted demographic, thinks exposure to others’ images is especially important. On Instagram, a photobased platform, “most of the time you see all those Instagram models, and they’re stick thin with a large bust and a large butt,” says Shaukat. From there, the expectation for what young women should look like becomes virtually unachievable. To make media portrayals even more out of reach, retouching becomes more prevalent, and more accessible with every day--any social media user can retouch her photos before posting them. As Shaukat says, “Since Instagram is based on pictures, and

Photo by Lisa Moomaw

ust about every young woman in America spends considerable amounts of time fretting over her appearance, whether it be over too-short legs, stomach flab, frizzy hair, or stubby eyelashes. In the 21st century, larger-than-life posters of tanned, largebusted and flat-stomached women surround American adolescents. Girls, even of their same age, clog their Instagram feeds with flawless skin and long legs, and women with heavy, dark lashes and contoured cheekbones strut across their television screens. It’s virtually impossible not to compare those girls’ perfection to one’s flaws, and young women suffer because of it.

Meagan Butler, Wellness Counselor at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy high school in Austin, Texas, is especially familiar with how high school girls in particular are impacted by beauty standards. She is also the coauthor of a book titled The Smart Parent’s Guide to Facebook: Easy Tips to Protect and Connect with Your Teen, making her an expert on the effects of social media as well.

people alter their pictures all the time, we can alter the reality completely.” The changes from the original photo to what young women see are significant enough to be harmful--“It’s all over the Internet: those photos where you see the real person now versus the

[ ] “Someone’s vulnerable if they feel like [beauty is] their ultimate value.”-Yamini

retouched photo,” describes Joan Yamini, a psychologist and licensed psychotherapist. Although beauty standards affect young women almost universally, some are more susceptible to the impacts than others. Yamini believes vulnerability begins with a girl’s family setting--when physical beauty is a priority for the family, it becomes one for her as well. “If it’s something expressed throughout

[the family’s] interests, all that sets the stage for media representations to be really important,” she says. “Someone’s vulnerable is if they feel like that’s their ultimate value.” On the contrary, “If [girls] get a lot of positive feedback about how they look in their family, that’s a very powerful shaper.” According to Yamini, the self concept a young woman forms from her family setting can make or break her susceptibility to beauty standards for the rest of her life. Comparison to others and to what they perceive the standards to be just exacerbates the issue. As Shaukat says, “People always post like pictures and stuff and they’re like ‘goals, I wish I was like this’, but these people have a full crew of hair and makeup, and then for fittings for clothes and stuff, and also their photos are usually retouched.” This comparison is problematic, though. “I think it’s dangerous for people to be comparing themselves to that when it’s definitely not completely true,” she says. Meagan Butler, a wellness counselor at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy high school, is also all too familiar with how beauty

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standards create competition among high school age girls. “What I hear from a lot of our students, especially ones who have struggled with eating disorders, or with disordered eating, or body dysmorphia, etc, it’s not just that they feel the need not just to meet the beauty standard, but exceed it,” she explains. This competitiveness leads to an increase in the impact of beauty standards even further. When meeting beauty standards becomes an integral part of life as a young woman, girls face the consequences. According to a study cited by Butler, girls’ self-esteem plummets once they hit puberty, likely at least in part due to societal beauty standards. “Negative self talk--that’s something I see in the majority of people,” says Butler. “Saying ‘I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough.’” When young women begin to feel that they aren’t meeting the standard, their assumption becomes that it’s their fault. As Shaukat explains, “We try to pinpoint what’s wrong with us when there’s nothing wrong.”

[ ]

Beauty standards affect certain people, generally those whose appearances are even less represented in the media, even more adversely. “Being different, racially, ethnically, or sexually, and not included in repeated idealized media images can also cause shame,” says

Above: Joan Yamini, a licensed psychotherapist and psychologist, sees both the scientific and the teenage perspective of the beauty standard issue. In addition to her credentials in psychology, she also has a daughter in high school. Right: Alia Shaukat, a freshman, poses in front of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, where she goes to high school. Photos by Lisa Moomaw

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Yamini. “Exclusion can be an indirect devaluing and can lead to the feeling of disgrace and shame.” Butler agrees that media plays a role, saying “the depictions of women are getting thinner and whiter.” To put it more frankly, “It’s basically telling girls-African-American girls--that they have

“They feel the need not just to meet the beauty standard, but to exceed it.” -Butler

to be white,” says Shaukat. Young women of color often end up struggling to accept their racial or ethnic identity when beauty standards constantly tell them their appearance is not consistent with what’s attractive, whether it be skin color, hair texture, or body type. So how can we ameliorate the pains of the young women suffering as they try and fail to meet an impossible standard? According to both Butler and Yamini, society needs to examine the assumptions people make subconsciously in reaction to beauty standards. As Yamini says, “Once [unconscious assumptions] are made

conscious, you can evaluate them. And so I think as a culture, we need to keep doing that.” Butler thinks people could do this with media training. “I think there should be a class or a course and everybody’s trained to interpret those images as unrealistic, false, retouched, fake, and should look at an image and go ‘clearly not [real]’”, she says. Another important aspect is changing how young women--and people in general--treat themselves. Butler believes that “self compassion is the answer--teaching self compassion, teaching self kindness, teaching how to talk to ourselves in a positive way, teaching how to re frame images.” Luckily, although the situation seems grim, there’s still hope. Grassroots movements calling for greater acceptance of a wider range of appearances are beginning to grow in social media and gaining support from celebrities and parts of the general population. “There are people that are trying to make the image and the standard more diverse,” says Butler, even though it’s “such a small sect of what sells right now.” Similarly, in observing her peers, Shaukat feels that, while society definitely has work to do, “everyone is sort of growing up to accept themselves better than the previous generation, and I think that’s really great.” •

Fancy Feminists

Sophie Wysocki puts on her mascara for the day. Photo by Rebecca Brackin

The controversial question answeredCan feminists wear makeup? Feature by Rebecca Brackin

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harcoal black mascara, perfectly drawn winged eyeliner, and vibrant red lipstick. The dazzling girl sits in front of the mirror every day to do this.

The definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” In the past, we see patterns of feminists standing up for physical appearances issues, such as body confidence. Many feminists believe that women should not have to be pressured by society to reform to using things to make them seem as the society’s perception as beautiful. That’s where makeup comes in. Makeup has always been a controversial issue; especially when it comes to feminists. They are often questioned by others around them, and even themselves if they are contradicting their feminist beliefs by wearing makeup. Elizabeth Kushnereit, a college student at the University of Texas at Austin is a part of an organization called the Feminist Action at UT. The organization is located on campus, however anyone is free to join. Kushnereit explains how the organization is one of the more interactive, mobilizing programs on campus. Last semester, the organization created an electronic magazine, and some of Kushnereit’s work was published. Kushnereit’s feminism has not always been what it is today, but she has always known there is inequalities in the world. “I think that my feminism was not always amazing or awesome, but I always had this general understanding that there was inequality, and on the bases of race, because I am biracial, and also on the bases of gender, because I am a woman,” Kushnereit said, “I would see inequality being portrayed against my mother, and I think I started coming into feminism at a young age that way, but it wasn’t really until recently when I started to get really involved into classes with a very ethical and intersexual lens,

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Photos by Rebecca Brackin

She is a feminist.

Left: TK Nelson, the president of Feminists of LASA club, poses in her school library. Right: Elizabeth Kushnereit, a member of the Feminist Action Project shows off her bold lipstick.

that I really felt that this really is my feminism.” Kushnereit is in fact a feminist who wears makeup. She wears it almost every day, and she wears it because she really enjoys it. “I was very scared to wear makeup, and I was for a long time. I mean, I would wear foundation and such to cover up scars, from acne, but I was scared to wear any makeup beyond that. I was scared to wear

[ ] “I embrace a high feminist identity, and I am more than happy to wear any colorful makeup.“ -Kushnereit

colorful makeup, like lipstick or glitter. Anything like that I kind of shielded away from, because my issues with femininity and being a hyper-feminist weakness. In the past I kind of steered away from it unless it was Halloween, and I would wear glitter something, but I no longer do that. I embrace a high feminist identity, and I am more than happy to wear any colorful makeup.” Being a feminist can alter your views and perspective on many topics, but one of the most physically prominent is makeup. Kushnereit completely agrees that her feminism influences her views

on wearing makeup. She also says living in the U.S. creates a different perspective, “I’m kind of only talking in a U.S. scope, and everything I have said so far is U.S. experience, and my experiences with makeup here, which I think is really interesting in thinking of it in a world scope because of course, my understanding is only limited to things we learn in the west, and the way we portray makeup here. But, for example I was telling a friend about this interview, and she had mentioned the idea of contouring and who has high cheek bones, and maybe that not all white people have high cheek bones. It’s interesting to think that makeup is different in different parts of the world, and so it’s maybe not even shamed in some places, but it is in others. I think as a feminist, when I think about that the questions I want to ask is more if this is something that is harming someone, and expanding it to a world view, what might that harm look to different cultures.” The Feminist Action Projects does a great deal of research on various feminist issues, and they see many things in the media about these issues. Kushnereit has noticed several things in the media about makeup. “I feel like you hear two stories in the media, and one of them is this hyper-capitalist, ‘you need this makeup’, and ‘you need to have this contour kit or this lipstick to look beautiful’. Sometimes celebrities are curated to look like they are makeup-less, and guilts you into buying it. I think there is a big dichotomy in the media presentation.”

[ ] “Not everything depends on the outer beauty.” -Wysocki

Society plays an enormous role in the reasons that women wear makeup, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that wearing makeup is so controversial. Nelson believes that majority of society’s perception of makeup isn’t so bad, but only that small handful of people that ruins it for some people. “I feel like society has a pretty good perception of makeup. Most women have a good perception of makeup, and now a lot more men, at least in the US are now realizing ‘hey, makeup is for girls, or whoever wants to wear a it. It’s not my place to say what they can or can’t do.’ That is the opinion of most of the people I interact with. In society, there is obviously a really big problem with trying to crush people’s self-esteem. Sometimes there is things that say you need makeup to be pretty, which is not true, because you can wear it and be pretty or you can chose to not wear makeup and still look pretty.” Nelson, being a part of a high school club, sees a lot of young girls with insecurities. She explains that makeup can be a self-esteem booster, or destroyer, depending on how you view it. “It depends on how you view it, because makeup could be good for your self-esteem because it won’t necessarily hide the things that you

don’t like, but enhance the things that you do like. If you really like the shape of your eyebrows you can totally define them and make them look like more apparent on your face and more people see them and more people are like ‘Damn your eyebrows are good’ or you can see it as ‘that girl is wearing makeup and she looks better than me. Oh no I’m going to cry.’ I feel like I don’t know if a lot of people see it that way, but I feel like more people see it the first way vs the second way.” Kushnereit and Nelson are apart of wonder organizations and clubs, but you don’t have to be a part of a club or organization to be a feminist. Sophie Wysocki, a freshman in highschool at LASA, is a trendy, hip girl who is a strong feminist, and she stands up for it. Sophie believes in gender equality, and it’s just that simple. She wears makeup, and she likes to have fun with it, too. A research study sponsored by Huffington Post found out that 44 percent of women feel unattractive without makeup. Wysocki believes this is because of society’s expectations that women need makeup to be beautiful. “That [society’s expectations] should be stopped, and women should not feel pressured or feel like they need to wear makeup to be beautiful, because everyone is naturally beautiful.” Wysocki said, “Not everything depends on the outer beauty.”

Photos by: Rebecca Brackin

Kushnereit isn’t the only feminist who wears makeup. Thousands of feminists around the globe wear makeup. TK Nelson, a highschool student at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), is the president of the Feminist of LASA club. Nelson is a strong feminist, and she is not ashamed. She wears makeup, and she’s proud of it. “Usually when I put on makeup, I don’t think ‘Oh, I look like a skank,’” Nelson said, “Usually, I think, ‘damn, that wing is good.’ So I don’t just think how people could perceive me on a level of slutiness. I just think, this is for me.”

Sophie Wysocki smiles, showing off her makeup.

be limited within ideas of just their own community. Individuals can create and thrive within their own mindset, and construct their own perspectives that are inherently different that one another not necessarily superior. Makeup can be a personal choice that someone has to enhance their natural beauty, and give them an extra boost in self-esteem. Although makeup is a controversial issue throughout the feminist community, makeup is and shall remain a personal choice. •

Wysocki also added to the controversy of the media, and commented on the advertisements for makeup, “Well I think their advertisers are trying to make people feel like they need these this makeup to make themselves prettier. They guilt people into buying them. Advertisers shouldn’t do that because it just kind of puts social pressure onto these women to make themselves think they need makeup, so I think that they should change their advertising to be more accepting.” Millions of people around the world wear makeup, and millions of people around the world are feminists. Just because someone believes women shouldn’t be pressured by society to do things doesn’t mean you can’t wear makeup. Feminists should not

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Fashion Trends

8 2

around the world It’s always good to know the fashion trends where you live, or anywhere you are traveling. If you are traveling, knowing the latest trends can have you looking like a stylish local in no time! 2016 has some new, booming trends are bound to have you looking fashionable in places all around the world.


Story by Rebecca Brackin

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3. Paris, France

Funky patterns and floral prints are all the rage; short sleeve, loose shirts with cool patterns are a popular style for the Brazilians. They are easy to pair with some comfy jeans, and are perfect for the spring and summer.

Vintage, high-waisted pants are the newest trend in Paris. These jeans/ pants resurfaced from the ‘80s, and are back in style. They pair with many different types of shoes, and can be dressed up or down.

2. Los Angeles, California

4. Milan, Italy

Bohemian rompers and jumpsuits are a go-to look for residents in Southern California. They are flowy and comfortable, but they are also very chic. They are perfect for any summer or spring outing.

Velvet is also a trending street style that has been brought back by previous decades. Milan locals adore the royal colored velvet, with a soft, yet edgy look.

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Photo 1 by Photo 2 by Photo 3 by Photo 4 by


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5. Nairobi, Kenya:

7. Sydney, Australia

Pretty in Pink! Many women have been drawn to beautiful pink coats for their winter wardrobe. The pink coats can be elegant, sassy, or edgy. The 20th century made them famous, but 2016 just can’t get enough of them.

Distressed denim are very popular in Kenya. Instead of your average “plain jane” jeans, these jeans have a little something different, which makes them popular. The ‘90s introduced the edgy ripped jeans, and people have been loving them ever since.

6. Seoul, South Korea

8. New York City, New York

Graphic prints on tees, skirts, and more are a super popular trend all around the world, especially in Seoul. These fun prints can be edgy and quirky, adding a unique spin to your average tee. They are by far one of the most comfy trends.

Black leather jackets are a classic that everyone loves. They go with anything, and they are beautifully sleek. They can be worn by people with many different styles--edgy, classical, and more.

Photo 5 by Photo 6 by Photo 7 by Photo 8 by

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