Makeup Isn’t My Mask

There are a lot of sexist memes on the internet, which makes sense, it being the internet and all. Sexist memes combine two of the internet’s favourite things: memes and sexism. Most are some variety of the same theme, usually meant to explain that girls who pretend to like cool things are just lying liars who are only pretending to like cool things, most likely to attract boys. See: Fake Geek/Gamer Girl, the Bernie v. Hilary campaign positions sign, and about a hundred others.

When the denizens of this too-large corner of the internet are not talking about how horrible it is when girls like “boy” stuff, they’re talking about how horrible “girl” stuff is. For example, makeup and the “take her swimming on a first date”/”this is why men have trust issues” meme, which I find to be one of the most infuriating. You can see an example below, but basically it’s two pictures of a girl, one with and one without makeup. In the “with makeup” photo, her skin is flawless, eyebrows groomed, face all-around made up in a conventionally attractive way. In the “without makeup” photo she has sparse eyebrows, undereye circles, blemishes, maybe some hyperpigmentation, If she was the kind of girl to wear makeup every day, this picture would be the one of the day where everyone asks her “Are you sick?”

The fabulous Nikkitutorials

Apparently, it’s some sort of huge betrayal to a certain section of men on the internet for women to wear makeup because it’s a “lie”—as many women have so correctly pointed out, if these men think that winged black eyeliner is a natural feature, they deserve to feel hoodwinked—but there’s something about these memes that I find even more discomforting.

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7 things I learned from running my first half-marathon

For about a year, I’ve been talking about running a half-marathon. I thought about starting with a 5k or another shorter race since the last competitive running I did was in middle school, but a half felt like so much more of an accomplishment, and I prefer longer distances anyway.

After telling myself several times that I would begin training and then letting all my plans fall by the wayside when I got busy or hungover, I figured that once I actually shelled out for a registration fee I might feel more motivated, so I signed up for the BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon. On Sunday, after approximately three months and 200 miles of training, I ran 13.1 miles/21.1 kilometres in 2:08:12. Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s easier than you think…

I started training with the belief I could finish a half-marathon with no training. I obviously wanted to do better than just “finish,” but without race experience I had no estimate for how fast I could go. A few weeks ago I ran the full 13.1 miles in 2:24:38, so my goal was to at least beat that time, and to do so I knew I would have to average 11:01 per mile or less. Well, I ran the first mile (always the hardest for me) in 10:20, and I figured if I could stay around that pace I’d be in good shape… then I ran mile 2 in 8:24. I was flying (it helped that the first few miles of the course were downhill), and it felt amazing. I only ran four miles out of the rest of the 11 in more than 10 minutes, and averaged a full minute and 26 seconds per mile faster than my first attempt.

All photos by Steven Mac Sweeney
All photos by Steven Mac Sweeney

Continue reading “7 things I learned from running my first half-marathon”

5 Women Who Did More Than You Learned About In School

The more I learn about history, the more I learn how much I thought I knew was wrong. I’m lucky in that I’ve had a number of history teachers throughout my education who taught us about more than the America-rah-rah, white-upper-class-Christian-European-male-centric stories, but even so I’ve come to learn that there are so many stories I was never told, and so many stories that were so much more interesting and in-depth than I ever knew. So many of these stories are about women, either women whose accomplishments have been undeservedly forgotten in history, or women who are remembered in a too-superficial way, not celebrating the complexity of their lives and achievements. Here, for International Women’s Day, are five women you probably learned about in history class, but not the way you should have.

Helen Keller


I remember reading The Miracle Worker in middle school. The story of how Anne Sullivan helped Helen Keller learn to communicate is one of the most inspiring tales of perseverance and triumph I can think of. But that’s pretty much where things ended; we got a brief summary of Keller’s work as an adult, but as far as our education was concerned, she was forever a little girl learning to spell out words on her teacher’s palm .

But if Helen Keller’s childhood is an incredible story of determination, her adulthood is even moreso. Of course, she was a staunch advocate for people with disabilities (a cause that still often goes unrecognized in feminism today), but she was also a feminist, a pacifist, an anti-racist activist, and a socialist. Her writings on workers’ rights and equality are as powerful as her ability to overcome her physical obstacles, and tend to be overlooked in favour of telling her “miracle” story.

Continue reading “5 Women Who Did More Than You Learned About In School”

Anywhere that you tell me to, Gilmore Girls

When filmmakers want to retell a familiar story, it seems that they tend to turn to remakes or reboots, recreating a version of the original work with a new cast and crew, perhaps throwing in a cameo from the original star as a plot point or just a wink and nod to long-time fans. While there are occasional instances of many-years-later sequels, it seems that usually after a certain period of time filmmakers feel that audiences prefer to start fresh.

On the other hand, television seems to lend itself better to continuations of old stories, perhaps due to the ease of a next-generation series a la Girl Meets World or the upcoming Fuller House, or the procedural nature of a show like The X-Files (of which I have not yet watched any of the latest episodes because I’m saving them to binge watch all at once). Given that this tendency toward long-awaited continuations has led to Netflix confirming a four-part Gilmore Girls revival, I definitely can’t complain.

Like most book-obsessed, somewhat nerdy girls my age, my two fictional role models growing up were Hermione Granger and Rory Gilmore. We had so much in common: both of us always with a book in our hand, focused (sometimes overly so) on school—we even both studied journalism! Rory was smart, driven, and even if she wasn’t real, I looked up to her. I was devastated when her college years arrived and she turned off track (why did you steal that boat, Rory, why?!?!), and elated when she returned to college, with the finale sending her off on the campaign trail to report on Barack Obama.

Then there’s Lorelai. If Rory is who I was, then Lorelai is who I wanted (and still want) to be. Not the teen-pregnancy-with-awful-Christopher part or the terribly-strained-relationship-with-her-parents part, but pretty much everything else. She, too, was smart and driven, owning her own business and finding a perfect niche. She was witty as hell and enviably funny. She had great friendships in her town and an even greater relationship with her daughter. And our all-consuming coffee drinking habits are remarkably similar.

The minor characters are just as wonderful, with so many memorable supporting roles like Paris Gellar, Lane Kim, Luke Danes, and the only one of Rory’s boyfriends who really matters, Jess Mariano, but the titular Gilmore girls are by far the most important to me. When I was a kid I wasn’t much of a television watcher so most of my fictional heroes came from books—the aforementioned Hermione Grander, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles‘ Cimorene, and others, but Lorelai and Rory were the exception. To this day, I think that the more I am like them, the better.

In a way, this makes me nervous for the Netflix revival of the show. I remember my heartbreak when Rory “let me down” by stealing a boat and quitting my college, my devastation when Lorelai and Luke broke up. My diction may be slightly exaggerated here, but only slightly. What if Lorelai and Luke don’t get back together? What if Rory goes back to (ugh) Logan? More importantly, what if she’s not still writing? What if she’s changed? I mean, sure, I’ve changed too since 2007, but I’m a real person; I’m allowed. All revivals contain a certain amount of fan service; most creators aren’t as diabolical as to completely destroy everything their audience loved about the original, even in the name of progressing the story, and I’m totally okay with that when it means things turn out the way I want them to.

On the other hand, I do care about the story. Gilmore Girls wasn’t a generic show I watched for the eye candy. I cared  (still do) about the characters and their lives like they were people I knew in my own life. And so I’m willing to be disappointed in the name of good storytelling, if it comes to that. But, you know, ideally the storytelling is great and leads to Rory and Jess getting back together to write novels in Brooklyn. Regardless, as the theme song says, “Where you lead, [Gilmore Girls,] I will follow.”

Stories You Should Read This Week (4/2/16)

It’s time for the latest edition of Stories You Should Read This Week. I’ve got six links to awesome things I’ve read around the internet recently. Read them at work, read them on the bus, read them in bed. Tell me what you think, tell the authors what you think, tell everyone what you think.


Burgers, Bitches, and Bullshit by Bethany Cosentino (via Lenny Letter)

I generally like to avoid most-things-Lena-Dunham, but this essay by Best Coast’s front woman Bethany Cosentino on Dunham’s Lenny Letter site is a must-read. Not because her experiences–being told to smile, being lauded for her looks over her achievements–will be unfamiliar to many (most) women, nor because should come as a surprise that success may only increase these sexist instances, but because Cosentino rightly joins artists like Cvrches’ Lauren Mayberry in loudly and boldly calling these assholes out.


A Chat About Diversity in Publishing by Nicole Chung and Linda Z (via The Toast)

Like the interviewee, who works in my dream career of publishing, I fit the majority demographic of the publishing industry: female, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, and from an educated, middle-class background. Yet books about people in this demographic are still so often pigenholed as “Women’s lit” rather than just “lit,” and books by women who are minorities in other ways (non-white, LGBT, and so on) are even further marginalized on the shelves. The current cultural conversation is about another media format (see #OscarsSoWhite) but it’s just as relevant in books.


Marcia Clark On What Episode One of The People v. O.J. Simpson Got Right and Wrong by Maria Elena Fernandez (via Vulture)

I’m a little too young to really remember the O.J. Simpson trial, but I still remember and know that it was a major event if not the major event of the mid-90s, so of course I was excited for the start of this miniseries, even if it’s helmed by Ryan Murphy. In this interview, Marcia Clark talks about her reaction to the premiere episode.


An Invitation Into the Shadowy World of Match Fixing by Ben Rothenberg (via NY Times)

Match fixing conspiracies seem to abound whenever there’s an upset, or a lot of betting on a match, or pretty much any time a sport is played. But it does happen, sometimes obviously and sometimes not. Tennis is the sport currently embroiled in the scandal, but this fascinating read could surely occur in any sport.


Alternatives to Resting Bitch Face by Susan Harlan (via McSweeney’s)

I’ll just post an excerpt from this perfect list:

I Would Prefer Not To Face

A Smidge of Self-Awareness Would Not Go Amiss Face

The Situations Are Really Not Analogous Face

Please Tip a Bottle of Bourbon Down My Throat Immediately Face


Stop Trying To Out-Feminist Each Other by Maya Kachroo-Levine (via The Financial Diet)

I’ve been reading The Financial Diet recently since my fellow Ithaca journalism alumna Maya is a writer there, and I enjoyed this piece she wrote about your earning versus your partner’s earning and whether it matters as a feminist. She says, and I agree, that it doesn’t. If you earn less than—or more than! or the same as!—your SO, your partnership and everything else in your life can empower you as a woman and a feminist, and just because you don’t shout about it doesn’t mean people can tell you otherwise.

Portland: 22-24 January

When I was in college, a lot of people told me that they could see me living in Portland. While I ended up a few hours north (for now, anyway), Portland has been in the top three on my U.S. cities to visit bucket list (along with San Francisco and Chicago). Now that Steve and I have taken a trip there for the weekend, I’ll have to decide on a new city to round out my dream-visit-top-three, but I can definitely see why people could see me living there, and I’m already wondering when I might be able to go back!


When we arrived, we checked into our lodgings, which was a classic roadside motel with a hilariously garish neon sign. It turned out to be the perfect location, right next to a MAX light rail line that would get us downtown, and only a few blocks from Mississippi Street, which we had been told was one of the best places to eat and drink. We decided to head there right away as we’d been driving all morning and seriously wanted some food.



I’d been forewarned about the unbelievable number of food trucks, but it still took me by surprise. Apparently there are some 500 around the city—enough that you could eat at a different truck every day and not repeat yourself for over a year! We couldn’t be quite so ambitious, but we started off outside a cool German bar called Prost! with a kimchi and tofu cheesesteak sandwich from a Korean fusion truck and a pulled pork sandwich from a Southern style truck. We washed them down with a couple of German beers and we were on our way, walking down Mississippi and then all the way into downtown. IMG_5466


After a few hours of wandering to get a feel of the city and the various downtown neighbourhoods, I decided it was time to go to the place that was the epicentre of my dreams to visit Portland. Explaining to Steve that if we wanted to visit some of the outer parts of the city, we might not want to come back downtown for the rest of the weekend, but that I was not going to miss my chance to visit this particular location, we made our way to Powell’s books.

If books are a religion, then Powell’s is surely Mecca. Everyone I have ever asked about visiting Portland has told me that Powell’s is a must—as if it hadn’t already been at the top of my list. I went in determined to be… reasonable, let’s say, about the number of books I would purchase there, and I must say I did a pretty good job of sticking to my goal of a five-book limit (I bought six so, okay, one over isn’t too bad). However, I could’ve spent hours just poring over the shelves and seeing everything the shop, which stretches over nearly an entire block, has to offer.

(if you’re curious, I ended up with Ignorance by Milan Kundera, Crazy Salad by Nora Ephron, Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Young Skins by Colin Barrett, and Black Oxen by Elizabeth Knox).



Although I was sure nothing else could top Powell’s that night, we travelled on, once more in search of food and drink (I’d been told that those were the best things to do in Portland, and we found this to be true). We had a late-night snack at Voodoo Donuts, braving the queue that stretched out the door even at night, and then after another while longer walking, stopped into a pub.

Oregon is known for its beer, having some of the biggest and best craft breweries in the United States. Although the most famous are not from Portland, several like Deschutes (from Bend) and Rogue (from Newport), have tasting rooms/pubs in the city. As Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar ale has been one of my favourites since I was introduced to it while in Galway, we chose to stop at their pub, and ended up each sampling a flight of beers.

From left to right: Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, Cold Brew IPA, Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Farms Fresh Roast.



After that it was back toward our motel for some real food and then bed. We chose Fire on the Mountain Brewery, having heard good things about their wings—and their vegan wings. I was happy about the amount of vegetarian and vegan food in Portland, more than I’ve ever seen in any city except perhaps Ithaca, although it came as no surprise. Having never had chicken wings even before I was a vegetarian, I was excited to try a vegan version that was apparently actually very good, though in the end I opted for the vegan drumsticks instead. I can’t really remember what chicken tastes like since I’ve only eaten a few bites over the last decade and a half, but these seemed right. The sauce was deliciously spicy, and the appetizer we ordered led to us fighting over the last onion ring, so you know it was good.  IMG_1559


Day two was similar to the first, except with more rain. We took cover from the storm at Olympia Provisions. Although the wait was unbearably long for some reason, the food was delicious when it finally came out. They’d been highly recommended so I’m sure it was just an off morning, speed-wise. We then headed down 23rd, another row of shops and bars, browsing through artsy treasures and, yes, eating more (Salt & Straw—I’m a huge fan of weird ice cream flavours, and though I chose the somewhat more normal coffee bourbon and honey lavender, I did sample an olive oil ice cream that was surprisingly delicious).

After 23rd it was on to yet another neighborhood, this time Hawthorne, for more browsing through packed antique shops and marveling at the selection of food trucks. We passed a bar called 4-4-2, adorned with paintings of soccer balls, and couldn’t resist stopping in for a pint. If only we’d known about it that morning and could’ve gone to watch the EPL matches! Still, we were able to catch the second half of the USWNT v Ireland WNT game (the USA crushed the girls in green 5-0).

We then took the bus north to the Alberta Arts District, where there were—no surprise—more pubs and restaurants to be found. It was getting late, so the shops were closed, but we had a few pints and eventually ended up at a not-so authentic Irish Bar called the County Cork Public House. Still, the fish and chips was yummy and they had a dart board so it was an enjoyable place to continue the evening. We finished up with a drink at Ecliptic Brewing back on Mississippi and then, exhausted, went home to bed. We had an early morning and a long drive back up to Seattle ahead of us.

Waterfalls are probably my favourite aspect of nature, so I knew we had to stop at Multnomah Falls before heading back to Seattle. It was about a 45-minute drive outside of the city, and we crossed our fingers that the rain, which had held off for most of the weekend apart from Saturday morning, would stay away just a bit longer. We arrived at the falls to threatening clouds but no precipitation yet, and we were amazed by the height and power of the water that flowed over the rocks and down toward the Columbia River.



The path was about a quarter of a mile walk to the bridge that crossed in front of the falls and we traversed this with ease, stopping to marvel and get fairly drenched by the spray. The rest of the trail up to the top of the falls, another mile at least, was much more arduous. “Surely we must be nearly at the top,” I thought, before reading the sign: “Switchback no. 4 of 11.” Sigh.



Still, when we reached the top, the view was certainly worth it, as was the view of the waterfall from above as it tumbled down to the pool and river below.



We tried fruitlessly to take selfies in which both we and the background were visible (at least we look cute, right? I promise there’s an amazing shot of the river just behind us… you just can’t see it). Eventually someone took pity and offered to take one of us.



The rain started just as we reached the bottom of the trail again, and our time in Oregon ended as we returned to the car and made our way back to Seattle. See you again, Oregon, for sure.