Redefining Womanhood

January 2018 Issue

 

"Letter from the Editors"

 

Dear Readers,

 Welcome to Redefining Womanhood, the fourth issue of Girl Talk Magazine!

Mass media devotes a significant amount of time to women and their bodies, especially today. Advertising promotes the idea that women are expected to adhere to a particularly crafted body and beauty standard with defined facial features and hair color. Imagery that narrowly define womanhood occupies our TV and computer screens.

Perhaps the most prominent conversation about women’s bodies taking up the most media space today began with Harvey Weinstein and was followed by an abundance of allegations reporting sexual harassment and assault. Many of these cases had been kept secret for decades, despite the fact that everyone knew they were occurring.

Girl Talk Magazine’s second issue, The Body Issue, addressed body image on a personal level, its role in our lives, and how it affects the way we perceive ourselves. While Redefining Womanhood still contains self reflection, it focuses the issue of women’s bodies with a more global perspective and the role they play in interactions between individuals, communities, and nations.

Along with pieces about consumerism shaping society, school's’ approach to health class, reproductive rights, and many others, we got the opportunity to speak to women who are making marks on the world each day. Our conversations with Emine Bozkurt, advisor for the IDEA organization, reproductive justice activist Brittany Brathwaite, and a woman who witnessed the daily wrath of Harvey Weinstein at Miramax enhanced our understanding of the complexity of womanhood in a rapidly changing world.

This jam-packed issue begins with girls from all over the world expressing gratitude for women they are grateful for. With an approaching season filled with giving, there are countless women who deserve appreciation each day.

-Charlotte and Eunice

"Women We're Thankful For"

  -Charlotte Kramon

“ Ellen Degeneres would be the one I’m most thankful for, as she was a role model to me at a specific time in my life when I wasn’t doing so great emotionally. She taught me to not take life so seriously and to be okay with being gay. “

  • Raymar Lagos

“ I’m thankful for my mom because even though we have our differences she always wants what is best for me.”

  • Matt Dederick

 

“I’m thankful for my birth mother for always supporting me and staying by my side.”

  • Sikkim Hamilton


 

“ I am extremely thankful for my mom. She was able to give up her entire career to come to a foreign country and take care of her children. A career she worked day and night to earn degrees and her Ph.D for. Even after building such a great background in her education, she was able to put aside her desires, in order to provide her children with a better life with more opportunities. Apart from her tremendous sacrifices, she was able to transfer her culture and morals to me to make sure that I don’t forget my own roots. Regardless of being rewarded such knowledge through hard work, she maintained a down to earth aura that amazes me to this day. I am privileged to have such a caring determined and passionate woman as my mother and am even more blessed to share her blood and character.” - Diyah, Florida

 

“Malala Yousafzai and Madeline Albright. Malala because she advocated for education through adversity and personal challenges, and Albright because she was the first woman Secretary of State in the US, a position that was almost reserved for men before her term.” - Gamin Kim

 

“Michelle Obama for her grace and leadership. The most inspiring moment for me is at the Democratic National Convention where she says “when they go low, we go high” in response to the rhetoric her and other women faced from President Trump. This speaks volumes to what character is acceptable and what embodies true leadership, most especially in when facing attacks that seem unfair.”- Tyree Ransom

 

“I’m thankful for Emma Watson because she’s advocating for equality everywhere including in politics and in the performing arts business. I’m also extremely thankful for Michelle Obama. She’s taught this country so much about class, kindness, and leadership.” - Shayna Gerard

 

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice ever to be appointed to serve on the Supreme Court. She on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and was a strong proponent of equality and women’s rights. And thank you Eunice for doing this; we need women to look up to.” - Judy Zhang

 

“Nikki Haley, our ambassador to the United Nations, is a first generation American whose parents came to the United States as immigrants from India and built a successful life for themselves and their children. Nikki and her family truly embody the American Dream. She is not only the first woman elected as Governor of South Carolina, but the first Indian American woman to accomplish this. Nikki is not only a role model for women and young girls across the world, but is a champion for Conservative principles and is a representative for the millions of conservative women in our country. Nikki has taken the United Nations by storm and has regained the level of respect that the United States deserves on the international stage. Nikki is standing up to the retrogressive regimes that wreak havoc on our world in order to bring peace and make change. Nikki also serves on the National security council under President Trump to maintain our country's health and security. I think she should be recognized!” - Phoenix Berman, Florida

 

“I am grateful for Eleanor Roosevelt, one of most outstanding First Ladies. She not only talked the talk, she walked the walk. She horrified Washington by dancing with an African American. She said, "Americans, after all, “come from all the nations of the world,” and as some of us have remarked, we may be “the only proof that different nationalities could live together in peace and understanding, each bringing his own contribution, different though it may be, to the final unity which is the United States.”- Karen B Prosser

 

“Emma Goldman, easily the most underrated figure in American history. She was an outspoken activist in the early 20th century. Fighting for birth control and urging her followers not to register for the draft. She was a major figure in her time but most people haven't even heard of her.” - Zachary Hagen Smith

 

“Michelle Obama” - Mc Kenna Burns

 

“This one isn't a famous person but I look up to my nainai (grandma in Chinese) because she always stands for what she thinks is right. When she was younger she participated political rallies in China and as of now, even though she's old fashioned she's open to change! As seen when I taught her to dab, but also more importantly when she taught me about the importance of being open minded” - Melinda Zhou

 

“ I’m thankful for my PhD advisor. She is incredibly intelligent and offers a unique scientific perspective which helps guide our research. She is strong, courageous, and unafraid to try and push norms and traditions set as precedent before as a woman in the field of biological research. She has tried to pave a path in the field for other women and people to follow as well for the sake of progress and benefit to all”. - Adam Cohen

 

“I’m thankful for my mother, which you’ve probably heard a lot, but I’m especially thankful of how much she pushes herself to learn about and understand me, while still being fun and funny and an all around lovely person. I’m so lucky to know someone like her and I want everyone to know how great she is!” - Logan Boomer

 

“ A woman I’m thankful for? My girlfriend. She listens so patiently to me and puts up with me ruining the mood with bitmojis, which I find way funnier than any human being should. Long distance is tough on anybody, but I’m her first girlfriend and she’s a total goddess through everything that her family and homophobic people in Saskatchewan put her through. I owe my sanity to her, and even though we’re in Canada and our Thanksgiving is over, I’m so thankful that she’s in my life, and that she wants to stay in it. ” - Audrey Coolidge, Canada

 

“ I’m thankful for each and every woman that has had the courage to stand up against sexual predators that are in powerful positions. There is a depressingly long list of men in Hollywood who have been accused of seual assault and harassment and I’m sure there are plenty more guilty that are to be named..and this is just in the entertainment industry. Every woman who made a statement put their careers and private life out in the open when it was not even guaranteed that all the public backlash they would get both for and against them would bring them justice. It still brings a lot of hope that maybe things will change and at the very least shows bravery toward young women today so that they won’t feel like they have to just endure it or brush it off. This thanksgiving, I’ll give thanks to the women who shared their stories and truths , in spite of the consequences that it brought them because they have opened the doors for other women to start speaking their truths.” - Hannah Ji

 

“ I’m thankful for my mom because she is a strong and amazing woman who has truly taught me how hard work and determination can pay off. She worked her way up to becoming a leader in her field and is able to balance an amazing career and motherhood.” - Alyse Rovner

 

“ My great grandmother- for being unconventional, successful, and curious in a time where women were none of these.” - Charlotte Slovin

 

“ I’m thankful for my grandmother for showing me how valuable education is, especially since she never got a chance to get one.”

  • Guatemala

 

“I’m thankful for my mom for leaving her abusive husband and showing me and my sisters that women can support themselves without a man. She taught me to stand up for what I believe in, no matter what others may say. She loved me so I could learn to love myself.”

  • South Korea

 

“I’m thankful for Priyanka Chopra. She inspires me to become an actress like her, and take on roles that break gender stereotypes.”

  • India

 

“I’m thankful for my school teacher, because she is my mom and always believes in me and my dreams, no matter how big they are.”

  • Mexico

 

I’m thankful for my mom. She has risen to the top of an industry in which men usually dominate. She is one of the few women who occupy her role, and I am inspired by her achievements everyday when I watch as she refuses to let the fact that she is a woman set her back or silence her. Everyone knows not to mess with my mom. She remains kind and warm-hearted but doesn’t allow herself or anyone to be treated in ways they don’t deserve. On top of working incredibly hard everyday, she makes time to be an incredible mother and has had such loving devotion to raising my sister and me. I don’t know how she balances everything she does, but she never fails to inspire to me to be the best, most hard-working version of myself I possibly can.

 

"That's Just Harvey"

 

On October 5th, 2017, the New York Times released an expose of Harvey Weinstein titled “Harvey Weinstein Paid off Sexual Harassment Accuser for Decades.” The media reacted accordingly- blowing up with new articles, tweets, and interviews of stars who worked alongside Harvey and those who had heard of his behavior through others. Amongst the whirlwind of media attention, there were two clear narratives.

 

One. Harvey Weinstein was respected and feared. Film mogul and director of countless critically acclaimed features, Mr. Weinstein had an iron clasp on the movie industry sitting on top of his throne at Miramax entertainment.

 

Two. No one was surprised. Countless claims of sexual harassment smeared Harvey Weinstein’s reputation in the film industry long before the New York Times article, and those who worked alongside him believed it was only a matter of time before he was exposed.

 

I had the opportunity to interview a close co worker of Harvey Weinstein, who worked in Miramax Entertainment for decades alongside Harvey’s important projects.

 

During her time working as an assistant in the 90s, Miramax Entertainment was the “ultimate status symbol.” “It was one of the hottest companies (in the movie industry)” at that time, and thus, its workers felt pressured to push the boundaries of what they would tolerate at that company.

 

With Harvey Weinstein, workers had to tolerate his antics daily. He was “rude and demanding- mostly to people who were inferior”, she states, describing Harvey’s abusive behavior as an “ongoing, daily thing.” When he was in a bad mood, his co workers would whisper to one another to “watch out” for Harvey, “the loose cannon”. Even when Harvey was in a good mood, he was still very vicious. He would unnecessarily bully all his co workers to get his way. When his co workers realized the immense power he had, they were forced to attempt to rationalize his aggression and bad temper with the saying:

 

“That’s just Harvey.”

 

    What made her most uncomfortable about Harvey Weinstein was what she had heard from Rose Mc Gowan, actress of movie Scream. Working alongside Harvey Weinstein, Rose Mc Gowan confided in her that Harvey would frequently make her uncomfortable with his advances, many of which contained sexual overtures. Unfortunately, she states that her younger self was “not brave enough, nor as aware of accountability” at that time to report such behavior to her superiors.

 

    However, she is inspired by the recent turn of events that have brought these issues to light. She believes that although “things have not changed that much in Hollywood for women, what has changed is the dialogue.” Sexual harassment, instead of being accepted and even encouraged, is now increasingly talked about and is no longer acceptable in the workplace. For any young girls wishing to become involved in the movie industry, she states that the best piece of advice she can give is to “be brave”. “Don’t be deterred by men like Harvey Weinstein.” Instead, be “educated and empowered,” and most importantly, brave, to report these issues of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior as they occur.

 

    Yes, Harvey Weinstein was respected and feared. Yes, no one was surprised when they heard of allegations against him. However, with each voice speaking out against Harvey Weinstein, the narrative against sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace becomes louder and louder, until finally, the excuse “that’s just harvey” is not valid any longer.

"Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Am I Even Beautiful At All"

  -Ali Wood

A cultural look into beauty and how beauty is defined

      As a mixed race child raised in Los Angeles, one of the preeminent beauty defining cities in the world, I have developed a complex idea of what beauty means. I have experienced first hand how two cultures can contradict the idea of true beauty. From the time I was a young girl, the question of what it meant to be beautiful was often on my mind. Coming from a family that preached the importance of looking one’s best, I was never sure which “one” I should be, Japanese or Australian, for both cultures have their own idea of what is truly beautiful. All cultures have their own manuals on how to become beautiful, but the true epitome of beauty is defined by the person staring back at you in the mirror.

     I live with Japanese beauty products scattered around my house, each one adorned with a light skinned, wide eyed women with thick doll like hair. I’ve sat with my mother as she lathers cream after cream on my face in the hopes of warding off undesired wrinkles and freckles. I receive gifts of whitening products from my mother’s compatriots that I have been too scared to open. I come to school with extended eyelashes, longer than my own fake nails. All these products are meant to make me the most beautiful Japanese woman I can be. This is the standard of beauty I have been exposed to and expected to uphold as a woman of Japanese descent. But I am not only a Japanese woman, I am an Australian one too. The Australian women in my life praise the freckles that are sprinkled across my face. They embrace the color the sun gives them, even using tanning wipes to achieve the optimum sun kissed look. Lashes and nails are not of the utmost importance, but having nice white teeth and a nice beach body to match are essential. These are the ideals for an Australian woman in my Aussie family’s eyes.

    But if the cultures that make up my genealogy have different ideas on what makes a woman beautiful, then what is true beauty?? This is the question I have pondered time and time again. The essence of beauty has always seemed to be found in a product, whether it was cream or a mask. But when you begin to pick apart products that seem to make us beautiful, you are just left with the product, not the answer to why you are not seemingly beautiful. A cream does not determine if a woman is beautiful. Nor does the color of her skin or the lack or abundance of freckles on her face. Beauty is a cultural ideology that society has burdened women with as a requirement to achieve. When you grow up with an inside look on multiple nationalities as I have, you see the ways different countries define beauty based on their cultural standards and unique environments. These definitions turn into expectations thanks to constant advertisement of products and the glamorous people who are paid to promote them.

      And while beauty can be seen as an arbitrary standard enforced by the masses,  it is hard to swim against the tide of the established ideal of beauty, such as a Barbie doll figure and a diminutive personality. Being beautiful, cute, pretty, or hot has become essential for a woman. From the Princess Diary makeover to the Regina George effect, it is constantly being promoted in the media that to succeed, beauty is a must. With teenagers especially, the idea that boys only go for the pretty girls has been promoted, evidenced by classic character types such as the ever popular cheerleader. However, in recent years, the global ideas of beauty have evolved to include more types of women. The 21st century has been a door opener for exposing different ideas of what constitutes beauty with movements such as #Plusisequal which celebrates body positivity through models such as Ashley Graham, who was the first plus size model to grace the cover of the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. More and more versions of beautiful are being highlighted in the media making beauty more diverse than it has ever been before. But while there are more versions of beautiful in the world today, the standards of cultural beauty are more demanding than ever. Girls in Sierra Leone are going to extreme lengths to achieve light skin through bleaching while other girls in Europe and the United States are idolizing and trying to mimic perfect photoshopped bodies that only a computer can achieve. Gifts of plastic surgery are being given to young South Korean girls by their parents to fix their eyelids, noses, cheeks, and chins. When considering national standards of beauty the idea of diversity is hard to embrace due to the fact that classic beauty has been established over generations, whether it is a Geisha with lily white skin or a Swede who covets blonde hair and big blue eyes.

      But deviating from your nationality’s idea of beautiful does not make you less beautiful in any sense. With beauty being an opinion with no right answer, in theory anything and everything should be beautiful, right?? Formulating your own opinion on what is beautiful should be celebrated and accepted. Beauty is defined by the individual’s opinion, as I am fond of stating.  After years of being exposed to contrary beauty standards, I have come to learn to take things that make me feel beautiful, rather than subscribing to one culture or person’s idea on what makes a women beautiful. I wash my face with Japanese face soaps and creams. I indulge a guilty pleasure by having eyelash extensions and fake, elaborate nails. I tan at the beach and smile when my summer freckles appear. My freckled face does not make me less Japanese, nor do my extended eyelashes make me less Australian. My opinion of what is beautiful does not compromise my cultural identity but re-enforces who I am. Just because the popular view of beauty may seem ubiquitous it, does not make it correct. What is beautiful should be an opinion that every girl should formulate for herself and while it may be difficult to appreciate what makes you shine, you are better off appreciating your own unique traits rather than being a slave to prejudiced societal standards. There are no wrong ways to be beautiful. Today, there are more ways than ever, just put your best foot forward.