GIFT LIST INSPO

Every year around Christmas I struggle to think of gifts I’d like to receive (and give), which is odd because I am constantly dreaming of my next purchase and therefore source of serotonin. But this year I made sure to create a “buy list” that I add to whenever I find something gift-worthy, so here are some items from my list and additional items I’ve picked out!

Oversized (faux) leather jacket

Oversized leather jackets are trending right now, but they’re classic enough that it’s an item you can keep forever.

Nasty Gal Outta the Way Faux Leather Longline Blazer

Funky candles

I started following influencer/model Matilda Djerf a few months ago because I loved her style, and come to find out she has the best minimalist interior design. She’s been posting her funky candles to Instagram lately and I am obsessed with them.

Foam The Cream Bubble

Colorful Squiggle Candle by YuiBrooklyn on Etsy

Platform Converse

I almost exclusively wear platform shoes, and these are the classic, high-top, Chuck Taylor style. They’re not aggressive platforms and there are tons of color options that you’re bound to find one that speaks to you. The lugged style is another cute option!

Custom Canvas Platform Chuck Taylor All Star By You

Houseplants with trendy planters

I love having plants and there are a lot of low-maintenance houseplants you can find with a simple Google search. For example, this article by Good Housekeeping lists 25 easy houseplants. They’re even more fun to have with cute planters and make for environmentally friendly decor!

Urban Outfitters Hector Face 3.5″ Planter

Urban Outfitters Rattan Standing Planter

AirPods case

Having a case for your AirPods is fun and makes taking them places SO much easier. Urban Outfitters, Target, and Amazon to name a few, all have really cute options.

Urban Outfitters Cow Hard Shell AirPods Case

Puffer Jacket

Gotta stay warm during the winter! And do it stylishly ~ Target has this awesome puffer jacket that is super affordable, unlike most of the ones I’ve seen. It also has other neutral color options.

Target Women’s Puffer Jacket – Wild Fable

Pants, pants, and more pants

Pants are so hard to shop for, but in addition to that they’re one of the more expensive clothing items. I try to thrift and buy second-hand as much as I can, but I find it to be harder for pants. Here are two from Zara and Urban, but know that second-hand/sustainable shopping is always best. (Utilize apps like Poshmark and Depop!)

Zara Faux Leather Pants

BDG Color Corduroy High-Waisted Mom Pant

Skincare

If you need some ideas for what skincare to get, Hyram on YouTube is all-knowing. Brands like The Ordinary, Inkey List, and CeraVe are all affordable, high-quality brands that have everything you could need.

Jewelry

Jewelry is tough because whenever it’s affordable, there’s a high chance the piece will tarnish with time and wear. Gorjana is a jewelry brand with an anti-tarnish barrier and although it’s not “cheap,” it’s very affordable for the quality and has lots of trendy pieces.

Tiffany Heart Tag Charm Bracelet

I’ve always loved this classic Tiffany bracelet and it’s a piece that can go with different kinds of outfits, plus it comes in a gold option if that’s your vibe.

#ENDSARS and #ENDSWAT

TW: r*pe

There have been weeks of protests in Nigeria in opposition to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Nigerians and people around the world are specifically protesting police brutality, which SARS has been a long-time participant of. Unfortunately, the protests turned deadly when security forces fired live rounds on demonstrators and killed ten people just over a week ago. A major part of the movement’s outburst is the result of a video featuring a SARS officer allegedly shooting a man in Delta state before driving off, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Special Anti-Robbery Squad’s purpose is to fight violent crime in Nigeria like armed robbery and car jackings. SARS has been known to abuse power through unlawful arrests which have resulted in raping, beating, kidnapping, and stealing from young Nigerians. Despite SARS being reorganized in 2017, there has been no change.

The movement #EndSARS consists of seven demands from Nigerian youth, who are trailblazing the movement. These demands are as follows: cost of governance, institutional reforms, health reforms, constitution reforms, education reforms, public office reforms, and youth affair reforms. As you can infer, the call to end the Special Anti-Robbery Squad is bigger than meets the eye, like many movements. People are demanding progress and wanting change to ensure a better life in Nigeria for future generations.

Many headlines speak of the absolvement of SARS, which was recently announced in a statement by the Inspector General of Police. However, this is not the news many have been hoping for. The same statement was released in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019; and now, a new unit by the name of SWAT has been formed to carry out the duties of SARS. Through SWAT, officers “will receive training on police conduct and use of force by the the international committee of the Red Cross.” But protesters fear that SARS officers will blend into the new unit without facing accountability and are using #EndSWAT in opposition.

The same article from the Wall Street Journal states that President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, agreed in a televised statement¬†to disband SARS,¬†but has been silent since. Protestors perceive the president’s statement as a way to cover up the issue of police brutality and abuse rather than solve it, and their anger is escalating.

How to help: donate to https://www.gofundme.com/f/4ppyfs-diasporans-against-sars; donate here and explore other ways to help on https://feministcoalition2020.com/

Sources not linked: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGnX2-HHHHt/

5 HALLOWEEN COSTUME IDEAS

Fairy

This costume is perfect because it can be done within big or small groups, or on your own. You can draw inspiration from the Rainbow Magic books, where each character is a fairy named after a color, or Winx Club and Pixie Hollow.

I would apply glitter makeup under my eyes, using the the NYX Professional Makeup Body Glitter.

Dress, wings, butterfly hair clips

Wednesday Addams

Wednesday Addams is an iconic character, so it’s inherently an iconic costume. You probably own a black dress or all-black outfit, plus black tights.

All that’s left is some sort of white collar to throw underneath with two three-strand braids and black boots or flats.

Dress, faux collar, tights

Little Red Riding Hood

This costume is easy because it only requires the red cape in addition to a white outfit that you can pick from your closet. Plus, the cape only retails for $10.

I’d pair this with knee-high socks and any red or white shoes.

Dress, cape, basket

Girl Scout

I think the Girl Scout costume is adorable, and although you may have less of these items already in your closet compared to other costumes, it’s worth it if you have the means to obtain them, IMO.

You can leave the sash plain, or go to your local craft store and pick out some iron-on patches for some DIY action. And it’s customizable that way!

Skirt, shirt, beret, sash

Angel(s) & Devil

Many times I’ve dressed up for Halloween with a headband as my sole accessory, and I have no shame in that. With this costume you can do an angel/devil duo or angel/fallen angel duo, as well as a trio with all three.

You can add matching wings or a devil’s tail for more pizazz, but it isn’t necessary. Pair these with a monochrome outfit according to your headband and you’re good to go.

White angel headband, fallen angel headband, devil headband

ANTI-SEMITISM IN THE US

Anti-Semitism, for those who are unaware, is prejudice against Jews. Judaism is the least liked religious group in the world, with only 38% favorability, according to @soyouwanttotalkabout on Instagram. Additionally, Jewish people only make up 3% of the United States’ population, and 74% of people worldwide have never met a Jewish person.

The Anti-Defamation League has reported a 12% increase of acts of assault, vandalism, and harassment against Jewish people over the previous year. This is also the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents since the organization began reporting in 1979. In August of 2017 there was a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where participants were throwing Nazi salutes, waving flags with swastikas, as well as shouting “Seig Heil” and “Jews will not replace us.”

More examples of anti-Semitism include a Jewish center in Delaware being lit on fire, two Jewish men being violently run over in Brooklyn, and many attacks on Jewish synagogues and cemeteries in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia, and California. A study by the American Jewish Committee reported 35% of American Jews said they’ve experienced anti-Semitism in the past five years, with one-third concealing outward indication of their Judaism. I could go on and list more instances of anti-Semitism, but I don’t need to. As demonstrated by research, it is indisputable anti-Semitism is at an all-time high.

According to The Atlantic, “Some critics attribute the recent spate of anti-Semitic violence, at least indirectly, to the rise of Donald Trump, a charge that reflects the deep political and cultural divide in American society. They say that his rhetoric and tweets, his targeting of minorities, his bullying and name-calling have created an atmosphere conducive to such attacks.”

I have a hard time disagreeing with the quote from The Atlantic for many reasons, but some of which comes from last night’s Presidential Debate in which President Trump refused to denounce white supremacy. He won’t denounce white supremacy just like he won’t denounce anti-Semitism because he has supporters who fall into these two categories. He creates an environment that makes these groups feel protected and supported, which is permissive and extremely dangerous for the victims of these groups.

In conclusion, the United States’ anti-Semitism is an issue that cannot be blamed entirely on a political leader. Historically, anti-Semitism thrives when there is social unrest– the epitome of this year (and presidential campaign.) The concept of anti-Semitism is not new and Jews have been targeted and blamed since the beginning of time, and I hope the world can fight for this marginalized community like they do for others.

ICE ALLEGED HYSTERECTOMIES

A whistleblower has alleged that hysterectomies were being performed on immigrants in the US without consent. A hysterectomy is a surgical removal of the uterus and potentially other reproductive organs. The allegations are said to have taken place at the private Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.

The whistleblower, identified as nurse Dawn Wooten, expressed concern about the high number of hysterectomies being performed on Spanish-speaking women in the area. These hysterectomies are said to be performed by gynecologist Mehendra Amin, who Wooten heard one migrant woman refer to as the “uterus collector.” Amin, however, denies these allegations and claims to have only performed “one or two” hysterectomies in the past two or three years.

The women said they were never told why they were having the hysterectomies, “with some saying that they were given conflicting reasons for the procedures or reprimanded when asked about them,” according to The Guardian. Luckily, several of the women are being represented by lawyers. Pauline Binam, a former detainee, said her fallopian tubes were removed without consent.

While these are only allegations and it would be premature to draw any conclusions, it is very serious, and if true, is a huge failure of a country that bases itself on freedom and justice for all. Additionally, this is a situation that has the potential to bring pro-life and pro-choice communities together, and I’d like to see both sides equality upset.

How to help:

  • Text “SIGN AHZJLZ” to 50409
  • Call your representative to demand an investigation (find their phone number at commoncause.org)
  • Donate to Project South

I DID KAYLA ITSINES’S 12-WEEK BBG WORKOUTS

Kayla Itsines is an Australian personal trainer, author, and entrepreneur. She’s the creator of the Sweat app, which includes the Bikini Body Guide. The Sweat app offers additional programs like a nutritional guide, post-pregnancy workouts, lifting at home, and more. I decided to do the BBG program because my friend had a lot of success with it and it was appealing during quarantine when gyms were closed. It isn’t something you should jump into without any workout experience, but is perfect with some experience under your belt and if you’re looking for guidance like I was. It’s suggested for women aged 16-40 who want to obtain “a state of mind where you are confident and feel good about you.”

BBG is a 12-week program that can be done as home with minimal equipment– I wouldn’t say zero. It’s made up of 28-minute workouts with two circuits each day that are to be done three times a week. The three rounds of circuits are focused around legs/cardio, arms and abs, and full body. How it works is you do each circuit for seven minutes, twice. So, circuit one for seven minutes, circuit two for seven minutes, and repeat.

Would I recommend BBG? Yes. Having the structure this program offers is perfect for someone who needs it because it makes you feel accountable to actually complete the days’ workouts. I took progress photos on week four, eight, and 12 as suggested in the e-Book and saw progress at every photo, even the first four weeks.

In total, I usually spent 32 minutes working out. I’d take one minute breaks in between the circuits, and the occasional break during a circuit if I had to stop, but I always stopped my timer to ensure I was working out for the total seven minutes.

The circuits get progressively more difficult every four weeks, and the last four were the hardest for me. I ended up repeating the first four weeks because I liked it so much and had the time available before returning to school for the fall semester.

All in all, I would recommend BBG to anyone. Home workouts are appealing because of the comfort and convenience of being at home, and especially because gyms aren’t necessarily an option for everyone. My greatest takeaway from BBG in addition to the physical changes is my confidence in “workout knowledge.” I have a better idea of what to do when I walk into a gym or want to work out and will continue to use it as a guide for workouts. I feel stronger and healthier and although I know I have farther to go to reach my goal, I’m so happy I completed the program.

THE BEIRUT BLAST

Last week, Lebanon, a country in the Middle East, suffered a port explosion in their capital of Beirut. According to an article by BBC, at least 70 people have been killed and over 4,000 others injured. Officials are naming the cause as stored, highly explosive materials in a warehouse, specifically, “by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years,” although an investigation is underway to confirm or disprove this.

Previous to the explosion, Lebanon was in economic crisis– their worst one since the 1975-1990 civil war. A plan was proposed in 2019 to tax calls via WhatsApp to gain more revenue, but this led to mass protests and turmoil. At this time, Prime Minister Hassan Diab had only been in power two months having been elected following an uprising.

Many have been frustrated about the country’s corrupt government and see the explosion as a government failure. The Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, tweeted that the amount of ammonium nitrate stored was “unacceptable.” Protesters have been out on the streets following the explosion, which was the final straw for many of Beirut’s people.

The Lebanese government has resigned in the wake of the blast to “stand with the people.” The next elected prime minister will be Lebanon’s third this year. Despite this, many Lebanese citizens question if it will actually bring about change. Parliament’s decision to choose a new prime minister is not expected to be a timely or pleasant one because of the government’s complicated political system.

300,000 citizens have been made homeless with nearly 80,000 children misplaced. Lebanon also hosts the largest number of refugees per capita– approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The country’s health system is weak, made worse by COVID-19 and now with overwhelmed hospitals from the blast.

Lebanon’s prime minister has asked for international help. If you’re able to, please donate to any of these resources: https://helplebanon.carrd.co/

COOL BRAND ALERT: COLOURPOP

ColourPop is an American cosmetics brand based in Los Angeles and owned by brother-sister duo, Laura and John Nelson. You can find their products at Ulta or through their website. I really like ColourPop because of their morals, affordability, and quality.

ColourPop is 100% cruelty-free which is something I look for in all the makeup I buy. Cosmetic animal testing is cruel and not required. It’s done mainly out of convention and to provide data that can be used when faced with a lawsuit, but this doesn’t excuse it. A company using animal testing speaks to their brand’s shortcomings and absence of compassion.

Products from ColourPop are known for being affordable with great quality. In their “Meet ColourPop” video, Laura and John explain they’re able to make such affordable, high quality products because they have all their formulators on their “campus” in LA where they also design, produce, and manufacture products. They have collaborations with makeup artists like Kathleen Lights and Ellarie, and other brands.

I recently discovered my Laura Mercier translucent setting powder has talc in it, which causes flashback and is potentially harmful. I also don’t like spending $40 for a setting powder. I’ve since switched to ColourPop’s $10 No Filter Loose Setting Powder in translucent and it’s arguably better than the Laura Mercier one. They sell it in multiple colors, too!

ColourPop has amazing jelly eyeshadows, cosmetic glitter, a very popular foundation, and just a ton of great products focused around the eyes, lips, and face that won’t break the bank. They even produce vegan products, although they aren’t completely vegan.

THE YEMEN CRISIS

The republic of Yemen is a country located in the Middle East, specifically at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. In 2018, they had a reported population of 28.5 million people. Right now, the country is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in the midst of a civil war.

Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi rebels took control of the country’s capital city, Sanaa. After unsuccessful negotiations, rebels seized the presidential palace. The president resigned and violence persisted between the Yemeni government and the UAE. The country has experienced unlawful, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, attacks on civilians, bombings of hospitals, schools, mosques, and more.

Already fragile prior to civil conflicts, Yemen’s economy was not equipped to handle the current humanitarian crisis that has only exacerbated their vulnerabilities. According to an article by Aljazeera, “Tens of thousands have been killed, an estimated four million displaced and 80 percent of the country’s 29 million people are dependent on aid for survival.” The United Nations World Food Programme reports nearly 10 million people are facing acute food shortages.

Almost 18 million people don’t have enough clean water or access to adequate sanitation. They’re facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak, racking up more than 2 million cases since 2016, and are of course being affected by COVID-19. UNICEF reports only half of the country’s health facilities are functioning and that many of the ones operating lack basic equipment.

Often, pregnant women don’t have access to hospitals. “Women and children are disproportionately affected by the near complete collapse of health services. Our objective is to save lives and eventually rebuild the health care system. For far too many people, time is running out,” says Rabih Torbay, president and CEO of Project HOPE.

Yemen needs help, and has needed it for a long time. The news coverage on this issue– the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, is extremely minimal in the US. They’re facing a cholera outbreak, COVID-19, a civil war, and a humanitarian crisis all at the same time. Yemen belongs to its people and to them only, not the Houthi or Saudi Arabia.

The UN is trying to raise $2.4 billion for aid to Yemen and has yet to reach their goal. If you have the means, please consider donating to one the donation link in this Google Document that also includes petition links, email templates, and educational resources. In addition, you can play a multiple-choice quiz game on freerice.com (or on the Freerice app) which donates 10 grams of rice to people in need via the UN’s World Food Programme for every right question.

TRENDS I’M VIBING WITH

Monochromatic outfits

I see a lot of monochromatic loungewear sets and think they’re so cute and stylish. I’m also into nicer monochromatic outfits like the ones below; it’s so easy. I like it with similar shades, too. Would love for the navy with black and ivory with white stigma to end. It’s not a thing.

Mini bags

This Y2K style is so cute and I’m happy for its comeback. Plus, you don’t have to spend a lot of money because mini bags are everywhere. If you’re looking to invest, however, the Prada Re-Edition 2000 nylon mini bag is amazing and vintage.

JW PEI Eva Shoulder Bag
Pleated skirts

Pleated skirts look amazing paired with a crewneck sweatshirt or oversized t-shirt, but can be worn with nicer tops too. Overall a solid piece that I’m excited to start wearing.

American Apparel Gabardine Tennis Skirt
Collars with crewnecks

This is such a nice way to spice up a not-so-spicy crewneck look. Plus it’s amazing with a pleated skirt and these aren’t hard to find. I got one that was Brandy Melville from Depop, but thrift stores and department stores have these, too.

via Madison Beer on Instagram
Loose pants

I am done with skinny jeans. DONE. The big pants + little shirt combo is something the fashion industry desperately needed, and there are so many styles of loose pants you’re bound to find one that speaks to you: denim, pleated pants, lounge pants, corduroy– I prefer all these in loose styles.

Levi’s Loose Straight Women’s Jeans
Topshop Ted Corduroy Wide Leg Pants
Biker shorts

I didn’t like biker shorts for a long time, but when I found myself outgrowing the “giant tops that covers my shorts” look, I thought to try biker shorts and I am eternally grateful for it. They’re comfortable and cute, and make your outfit look more put together. There’s a ton of places to get biker shorts, but I like Aritzia’s Tna Equator Short 7″.

Princes Diana did. that.
Rectangle / Y2K style sunglasses

Y2K is one of my favorite styles and I draw a lot of fashion inspiration from it. Rectangle sunglasses give me that vibe, but also don’t scream “2000s” as much as a Juicy Couture sweatsuit does, for example.

Princess Polly Creeper Sunglasses
Mary Jane shoes

I have a hard time finding shoes I like beside sneakers LOL, but Mary Janes are unique and fun, have been around forever, and could go with seriously any outfit. In addition to the Mary Jane style, Doc Martens’ 1461 Smooth Leather Platform Shoes are cute and not your typical shoe. ~Diversification~

Doc Martens Polley Smooth Leather Mary Janes
Victorian / Renaissance inspired jewelry

This style + chunky chains are my favorites right now. Jewelry really has the ability to make an outfit or dress it up and give you confidence. The great thing about the nameplate necklace below is you can customize it however you like, and the Old English font is dope.

Princess Polly Excalibur Sword Earrings
Vibeszn Classic Old English Nameplate Necklace
Chunky hoops

We all know hoop earrings are the best, and the chunky style is included. I stick to small hoops because I can’t stand heavy earrings so I like the fact that you can do this trend in any size.

PAVOI 14k Yellow Gold Chunky Hoops from Amazon