Category Archives: Pop Culture

Why the Term “Plus Sized” is Officially Out of Fashion

By: Jillian James

In the fashion industry in the United States, it has been a common practice to call any model that is above a size four “plus sized”. The official dictionary definition of plus sized is “clothing or people of a size larger than the normal range.” However, several recent studies have conformed that the average American women is a size 14-16.


The term “plus sized” is harmful and derogatory because it makes women with beautiful, healthy bodies feel like they are out of the norm or less desirable because they aren’t a size four or smaller. By this standard, the vast majority of women in America would be categorized as “plus sized.” The representation of women in the fashion industry is heavily distorted from reality, which can be harmful by causing low self-esteem and even eating disorders.


However, the fashion industry is finally starting to take notice of these issues. A recent movement called “Drop the Plus” has gained national attention. It calls for all women of all body types who work in the fashion industry to simply be called models. Other movements have urged companies to use models with a variety of different body types in their adverting. The lingerie company AERIE has vowed to stop retouching entirely and to depict a wide range of body types in their advertising.


Currently, one of the most famous models in the world is Ashley Graham, who is a size 14. She recently broke barriers by appearing on the covers of British and American Vogue, and is redefining societies’ standards of beauty. Hopefully this is the beginning of a lasting trend to stop using the word “plus sized” and to have true representation in the fashion industry.


An unretouched Aerie ad




Why Prostitution Should Be Legal?


By: Cassandra Hedrick

Prostitution is considered one of the oldest professions, though I don’t think there is research to back that up. It still persists today, despite being illegal in most places worldwide, however there are some places that have legalized and regulated it. Because it is illegal, it actually makes it more dangerous for women who choose to do it, which of course does not include anyone being prostituted against their will.

I spoke with a former prostitute (who wishes to remain anonymous), who said “Well, I think it should be legal because simply it’s an exchange of goods for a service, people just don’t agree with it from a moral standpoint, but that shouldn’t influence legislation.” When asked why, she said “I think it’s ironic that the one advantage women have over men in our society, their sexuality, is only allowed to be monetized on big companies and the governments terms. You can use women to sell anything you want, you can sell their appearance, the idea of their body, everything. But the second a woman wants to take advantage of their over-sexualisation and monetize their bodies for themselves it’s illegal. It limits women’s agency over their own body and sexuality.” She also explained that illegal prostitution means workers cannot report assaults or they will also be charged with a crime.

On the topic of safety, the former prostitute explains that legal brothels would make the work much safer, stating “Legalization would also allow for brothels to be run, which if run correctly can be much safer for women than independent work.” She says. She goes on to explain the benefits of legal brothels, which includes a safe space for prostitutes to work. Brothels also set the pricing so individual workers don’t have to deal with the hassle of negotiation because “negotiating price can be degrading, stressful, and sometimes dangerous. In a brothel a price would be set and the women are not forced to negotiate their worth and risk the patron getting angry and potentially violent when discussing cost.” In addition to the safety of workers, we can tax brothels and put that money back into the community, essentially eliminating the need for women to get into sex work just to support themselves.

Prostitution should be legal and regulated for the safety and autonomy of the workers. There are many ways we can make prostitution safe and legal, while banning it makes it more dangerous. In the words of a former prostitute, “it is possible to form legislation that protects women and gives them the control in the situation.”


When Women are Leaders

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Women are not typically found in leadership roles, especially in the workplace. In fact, only a quarter of chief executives are women and most of that is because of women who own their own businesses. This is because of two main reasons: men tend to be favored for management positions and are given the experience that leads to them, while women get stuck in a cycle of bias. Because women are unable to prove their ability in management positions, they are not given management positions, causing them to not be able to prove their ability.

In this study from the American Psychological Association, men and women in leadership positions were observed. While women tend to use mentor style leading and men tend to use commander style leading, it was found that they are in fact equally effective in leadership positions. Actually, Alice Eagly, PhD noted that in some ways, women are actually more effective in leader ships positions.

There is no reason for women not to have leadership positions. They are equally effective as men, if not more, but because they have not had a chance to prove themselves, they are not given the chance. One organization working to give them a change is the Institute for Women’s Leadership. They provide training programs for businesses that help them get more women into leadership positions. It is important for women to demand and strive for leadership positions in the workplace, because they can and will do great things. You can do this by starting to apply for higher positions in any organization you are involved in, like clubs or teams at school. So, girls, get out there and show the world who’s boss.

The Freedom of Decision: Marriage and Child-Raising are a Choice, Not a Requirement

By: Jillian James

Sociologists are noticing a trend among modern women: they are getting married and having children at lower rates than ever before. Why? Why are women choosing to delay or forgo the experiences of marriage and childbirth, the two things that used to be so commonplace that it seemed like a requirement for women?

Part of it stems from the fact that marriage used to be something that was tied to economics and, for most women, was the only way that they could provide for themselves. Up until very recently in history women haven’t had very many opportunities to attend college, make their own incomes, and forge their own futures. They had to depend on marriage and their spouse to provide for them. The patriarchal structure of society meant that women had to get married at a young age or risk falling into financial despair or becoming dependent on their parents.

Now in modern society, women are finally being given choices. Marriage and child rearing are absolutely wonderful life paths, but they are no longer their only life paths.

Both men and women are now focused on carving lives for themselves and finding their own personal fulfillment before marrying. The emphasis is now on cultivating a relationship with a person and searching for a partner that you truly connect with. Taking the time to grow with your partner before marriage could potentially lead to less divorce and stronger relationships.

Women are also choosing to forgo marriage entirely, focusing on other facets of their lives. They may focus on careers or their own personal well being and fulfillment, or enter domestic partnerships. Many women who don’t marry are still in satisfying and enriching relationships with their partners.

Many women are also choosing not to have children or to delay childbirth until later in life. This could be because women are taking the time to pursue their own personal passions, like traveling, or are waiting until they are sure that they are financially stable and have achieved their own personal goals before having children.

In the end, choosing whether or not to get married or have a child is a personal choice, a choice that every individual woman should make for herself. A woman should always be the one who makes the choice to marry and have children, because then she will be happy and fulfilled with her life and relationships. In modern society, women have the freedom and the power to create their own lives, and that is a remarkable thing.



Feminism is for Everyone: How the Patriarchy Hurts Men Too

By: Jillian James


Recently millions of women gathered all across the world to advocate for feminism and their rights. The faces of women of all races and backgrounds were on TV screens all across the country as they raised their voices and spoke out, sending a message to the nation.

However, it is important to remember that women’s rights are human rights. While women are the face of feminism, a patriarchal, hyper-masculine society actually hurts both women and men for multiple reasons.



Every single human being, regardless of sex or gender, feels a wide variety of emotions. Societies that perceive men as being weak or devalued because of their expressions of emotion are creating unhealthy environments and are actually emotionally stunting. Sayings like “boys don’t cry” and “be a man” are toxic. In order to have emotional well-being, every person should feel safe and secure in expressing their emotions, and societies and cultures should applaud and encourage emotional expression instead of making it be perceived as a sign of weakness.


In order to be in a healthy and happy relationship, partners must be willing to communicate and be emotionally honest. This can be a struggle in heterosexual relationships because hyper-masculinity can put up emotional walls. If a society puts little to no value on a man’s ability to be emotionally honest and vulnerable then he will struggle to feel comfortable communicating in an intimate relationship.



Men in heterosexual relationships should feel comfortable asking women questions about their health, and women should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it with their partner. Being able to have open discussions about periods, birth control, and other topics in a relationship is incredibly important. Having both partners be well-educated and informed on women’s health can make you both feel more comfortable and confident in a relationship.

Living in a patriarchal society is limiting for both genders. There are actions that can be taken in order to actively fight the patriarchy in society. Don’t be afraid to call out anti-feminist or hyper-masculine behavior. Try to educate the men in your life about women’s issues and women’s health and encourage them to express their emotions. Taking steps to de-normalize toxic masculinity will help create a healthier society as a whole. A society that has gender equality is an overall happier place because the boundaries of gender expectations and ideals are gone, and instead people can live their lives freely and become their truest selves.


Laughing through it all

two children laughing on green grass - one with short red hair and blue pants, the other with longer light brown hair in a flowery dress

Photo by BMiz

There’s been a lot of things going on in the world lately that have been far from funny. But humor’s always been one of my favorite kinds of stress relief, and that’s definitely been something that a lot of us have needed.

I was talking with my mom recently, and she brought out an idea that I’ve heard a fair bit: that humor is always about making fun of someone. We’d been talking about political correctness, and she was saying how frustrating she finds it when it comes to humor, because “safe isn’t funny.”

Now, much as I love my mother, I’ve come to loathe the term political correctness whenever it comes up in our conversations. (It’s one of the few generational gaps we have that feels like a chasm.) She uses the same tone when she says ‘political correctness’ that I’d use for ‘sentient, flesh eating fungus,’ and she often casts it as being the antithesis of everything that’s spontaneous and fun.

Thankfully, she’s wrong. I’ve been a fan of absurdist humor for a long while, and although it doesn’t lend itself to straight up jokes a lot of the time, I still find it to be awesome. (And a lot of jokes can end up being absurd, especially when told by little kids. This collection has been entertaining my partner and me for the past week.)

There’s also a really rich history of humor being used subversively to push back against injustice and inequality. (Granted, sometimes that does involve poking fun at people in power, but that’s a kind of offensive that I’m totally comfortable with,)

So, this week, I’m going to keep being thankful for the people who can help us laugh, even when it can be especially hard. (And Tig Notaro’s always good for knowing how to do that.)

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Come Out of the Quiet

This speech by DeRay Mckesson caught my attention the other week, and I’ve been thinking a lot about his ideas since then.

(It’s really worth watching, but in case you’re just skipping ahead, here’s the part of it that I’m going to be talking about: even when a lot of us are ‘out’ about who we are, it can be easy for some of the less convenient parts of ourselves to get overlooked and/or pushed aside when we don’t prioritize talking about them.)

I really like thinking about this, because I feel like it fills in a gap in how we talk about marginalized identities. We’ve had the metaphor of in the closet for ages, but it describes a pretty all-or-nothing situation. My last big ‘coming out’ moment was almost 20 years ago when talking with my grandfather – ever since then, it’s something that comes up as I meet new people, but there’s no big reveal. And that metaphor has always broken down when it comes to talking about identities that are a lot easier to pick up on visually (many racial and ethnic minorities, a number of physical disabilities, etc.)

But regardless of how apparent these identities are, it can still be really easy for them to get overlooked. (The whole “I don’t see race” thing.) It’s not something that happens out of malice, but just a consequence of the fact that human beings are pretty self-centered – it’s easy for us to forget about perspectives that are different from our own unless we’re making a conscious effort to include them.

Which is why the idea of coming out of the quiet is so compelling. It captures the fact that we’re already here, and we’re already a part of things. We’re just told – in various ways – to keep it down when it comes to talking about things that challenge the status quo.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that all of our efforts are stronger when we include this breadth of voices, and that the costs of exclusion are far too high. So here’s to coming out of the quiet, in all of the various ways that we’re called to do so. May we end up making a glorious noise.

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Finding Your People

Recently, I was talking with some other folks at Planned Parenthood about how isolated some people who support PP and reproductive justice can feel. It made a lot of sense, but I realized that I hadn’t thought all that much about what kind of a toll that can have on people.

Part of that is definitely due to circumstance – I’ve lived and worked in various different ‘liberal bubbles’ for a while, and so even though my political opinions haven’t been universally shared, it’s always been somewhat easy for me to find moderately like-minded folks. (Given that meeting new people in the US often involves ‘what do you do’ as an opening question, I often let people identify themselves as kindred spirits early on. And there are also some abrupt changes of subject, too.)

So if in-person conversations aren’t necessarily going to be places where you find shared viewpoints, where do you look? When it comes to something like supporting women who have abortions or opposing the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, people can easily find the statistics showing that that’s an opinion that the majority of folks in the US share. But abstract numbers can only do so much.

And this made me see a lot of the recent social media campaigns around PP in a totally new way. For most people, it was primarily about showing support for Planned Parenthood in the face of the ongoing attacks. But a side benefit of it is that you can be reminded of who the people are in your life who support this work. For people who feel isolated, that can be a real boon, and that feeling of camaraderie can translate into more in-person connections too.

Not everyone feels the same kind of need to cultivate community around these issues, but for those of us who do, I’m really glad that the internet is making is easier in a lot of ways. If we have to weather the kinds of political attacks that have been coming down lately, at least we can do it together.

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Fun Friday: It Gets Better (and Better)

Remember when Target announced that they’d no longer stock/advertise their toys in a gender-specific way? And remember the guy who posed as Target on Facebook and trolled the haters of the idea? Well, he’s back at it again, this time as Frito-Lay, the maker of Doritos.

Doritos partnered with the It Gets Better Project and recently introduced rainbow chips. As expected, people had a problem with that. So, experienced troller that he is, Mike Melgaard, took to defending the crispy rainbow delights.

Read more on Huffpost or on Mike’s Facebook page.


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Fun Friday: An Introvert on the Weekend

If you’re like me, an introvert, weekends are best served up with a cup of tea and a good book. If you get invited out somewhere this weekend, feel free to use these excuses, or just wear one of these shirts from so you don’t have to talk to anyone. Happy Friday, y’all!





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