Would this Brazilian butt lift make my ass look fat?

Attacking the urge for cosmetic surgery in a world wanting to be more plastic

Would this Brazilian butt lift make my ass look fat?

I contorted my naked body to get the best possible view of my ass in the mirror. How was it simultaneously too flat and too jiggly? I sat back down on my bed and continued to watch a beauty guru vlog about her experience of getting a Brazilian butt lift from a Toronto plastic surgeon — a surgeon whose clinic is just up the street from my house.

The procedure removes fat from the waist and redistributed it to the hips, thighs, and buttocks, giving a person a more pronounced hourglass-shaped figure.

Growing up, cosmetic surgery felt like a Beverly Hills thing. It was what celebrity gossip magazines and trashy tabloids like TMZ made fun of celebrities for. Us Weekly detailed the latest about Ashlee Simpson’s nose job and Victoria Beckham’s breast augmentation, which she denied until a few years ago. It was not until Heidi Montag’s infamous 10-procedures-in-one-day People Magazine cover that I saw a woman being upfront about her cosmetic procedures. And no wonder — media outlets bullied these women mercilessly for supposedly being shallow while simultaneously bullying them mercilessly for supposedly being ugly.

The conversation surrounding plastic surgery has shifted since the mid-2000s. While Twitter users and gossip blogs will still find ways to tear women down, popular opinion has swayed in favour of cosmetic surgery. This is particularly true for young women. Over one million Americans under the age of 29 underwent a cosmetic procedure in 2018, and physicians say that they’ve noticed an increase in young women receiving treatments.

It’s not exactly clear why this is, though doctors have some ideas. First, many of the less invasive treatments, such as Botox, are done preventively. Alongside investment in Olay’s Anti-Wrinkle cream, millenial women will inject fillers into their foreheads and around their eyes to prevent their face from creasing in the first place.

Another reason for the increase is social media’s influence on our body image. Snapchat filters and apps like Facetune make it easy to morph your face to be smaller, your skin to be smoother, and your eyes and lips to be bigger. No one is immune to shaping their boobs and slimming their waist — even Beyoncé has been called out for it. Face tuning often goes unnoticed, but has massive effects on the self-esteem of the audience. It’s not the case that everyone has perfect skin; what is the case is near universal access to smartphones. We’re all editing ourselves, but we don’t think of others as doing the same. Especially not Beyoncé.

Not only that, but more people are opening up about their own cosmetic procedures. The pressure for online vloggers to be authentic means that many beauty gurus discuss their experiences with lip fillers, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and of course, the Brazilian butt lift. They make it seem normal. Everyone is filling their lips. Loads of girls get nose jobs. People I admire are going under the knife to change the shape of their bodies.

I scrolled to the comments of the Brazilian butt-lift vlog. They were all positive, things like: ‘Omg, u look amazing,’ and ‘YAS our girl’s looking thicc.’ The commenters were right: the vlogger did look good.

I opened Google Chrome: “How much is butt lift.” According to the search results, just over $4,000. I allowed the thought to roll around in my brain for a minute, and went back to the mirror. My hands pulled the fat around my waist toward my back to make it smaller, and I squinted my eyes. I couldn’t afford it now, but maybe in a couple of years. I turned around and lifted my butt, but wasn’t able to tell what it would look like bigger.

Going back to my computer, I looked up Brazilian butt lifts in Toronto, and saw an article from The Toronto Sun: “Woman dies undergoing ‘Brazilian butt lift.’” Don’t get me wrong, I’m no subscriber to the Sun, but I read the story. The 29-year-old had seemingly gone to a legitimate surgeon in Florida, and then just died.

I’m not willing to risk death for a fatter ass, but according to the numbers, millions of women are. In the age of quick fixes on Facetune and Instagram, it’s easy to forget that these cosmetic procedures aren’t just cosmetic; they’re medical, and they’re not without risks. Death is the worst-case scenario, but side effects range from infection to rejection of the fat or implant, to permanent paralysis. For now, I’ll save my four grand and appreciate the fact that my body is alive.

Sometimes, it is Black and white: navigating interracial relationships

Learning to balance love while acknowledging differences

Sometimes, it is Black and white: navigating interracial  relationships

Do you remember the scene that went viral from This Is Us — when Kevin’s Black girlfriend, Zoe, became upset with him because he forgot to bring her silk pillowcase, and he had no idea why? Or recently when the internet went into a frenzy after seeing G-Eazy suck the Fenty foundation off Megan Thee Stallion’s face? Seriously, what in the ‘caucacity’ was that?

Maybe you recall when the entire universe needed so badly for Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston to imitate their on-screen romance off-screen? These are all examples of how interracial fraternization is represented in popular culture — whether we support them or not.

Personally, I am the product of a 25-year interracial marriage between my white Canadian father and my Black Jamaican-Canadian mother. I would characterize it as a generally happy marriage, aside from when my Black mother is running late — I’m sorry, but Island time is a real epidemic — or when my white father turns the temperature down to an ungodly 14 degrees Celsius in the middle of winter.

I’ve grown up in a family in which it’s a requirement to tease and make fun of each other’s ethnic quirks, but in a way that isn’t insulting. That comfort with each other allows for open communication and limits the potential for a culturally ignorant environment. Luckily, my parents have been surrounded by and thus have immersed me in diverse communities, so cultural ignorance has never been a factor in my upbringing.

My parents come from completely different backgrounds, yet they have managed to create a balanced environment where we are all able to benefit from and enjoy each other’s cultural traditions. The best example of this cultural balance would be Christmas Day. In the morning, it’s a Jamaican brunch with my mother’s side of the family, the spread including escovitch snappers, jerk pork, fried plantain — pronounced “plan-tIN,” not “plan-tAIN” — breadfruit, boiled banana, callaloo, bammy, and ackee and saltfish.

After a much needed food-coma nap, we head over to my father’s side of the family for a classic Canadian Christmas feast filled with turkey and sweet potato mash — with roasted marshmallows on top. Yes, the whiteness jumps out of all the fixings. Christmas is just one example of the many ways I am fortunate enough to be able to experience cultures from both sides of my family, who are equally accepting of each other’s values and traditions.

My parents aren’t the only couple in my family channelling Zoe Saldana and Ashton Kutcher in Guess Who, since my Black Jamaican-Canadian great-aunt and white British great-uncle do as well. Think Prince Harry and Meghan Markle minus the Megxit — my aunt and uncle were not pushed to go back to Canada from England. Rather, they have established a content life in England with a beautiful home and loving family. I asked my aunt how she and my uncle have been able to maintain a successful relationship, given their different backgrounds. She said that the main things to maintain are respect and communication. Love is fleeting, but respect is vital and communication is necessary. Everyone always thinks they’re right, so they have these little prejudices toward other cultures. However, if you have respect for each other’s views, then the culture question becomes palatable. You can communicate and begin to understand each other’s way of doing and saying things.

I can recall my own experience with an overly tall white boy. He said to me, “Wow, this is my first time being with a Black girl.” My first thought was, “And? Do you want a trophy?” Yet I suppressed my anger because that’s what Black women are supposed to do in the presence of a white man, right? Needless to say, that night fizzled, as did his chances.

Racialized people do not exist for others’ fetishization. We are not something that you can obsessively fantasize over and conquer. Neither do Black people exist for the sole purpose of creating light-skinned babies as accessories with ‘good’ hair and light eyes just so you can up your Instagram clout. If you have talked or even thought about dating only people from a specific race, that’s fetishization coupled with a racial microaggression, and it’s entirely problematic.

It’s demoralizing. Yes, white people who have an ethnic ‘type’ — I am speaking to you. And to the racialized people who seek out the white saviour partners for the benefit of cultural and financial status, that’s an equally damaging process.

Interracial relationships are valid and enriching, but if you find yourself in one it should be for the right reasons.

Who taught us to hate ourselves?

Hyper-visible and invisible: racialized people are constantly striving to be something they’re not

Who taught us to hate ourselves?

If the path of time never stops — if it is an eternal arrow moving toward infinity —  when do we become ourselves and how can we lose ourselves? What have we lost?

It was years into a process of bleaching and starving myself that I realized that I was actually trying to erase my identity out of a deep-seated hatred for my own cultural heritage. I hated the way that I naturally looked, the dark hair and eyes, the curvier body, and the pronounced, bumpy nose. I wanted to resemble the image of an ideal, but such an ideal was so far removed from reality that I just perpetuated racism against myself until I broke.

In each person, there is the voice of society telling us right from wrong. This mechanism is important for the formative development of our sense of morality, abstract thinking, and even the notion of the self. Yet, it is clear that the society around us is systematically racist, and thus might teach you to believe that you are wrong because of the colour of your skin, ethnicity, or citizenship. From a young age, we are immersed in a world that internalizes and reinforces racism, as well as other forms of discrimination, through social conventions and expectations.

It is impossible to conceive a self that is not laden with pre-existing worldviews, and that means that you know the dynamic of superiority and inferiority as early as you are socialized. For those from marginalized communities, our personal history has always been marked by this looming internalized racism, to the extent that there is no specific moment where we lost ourselves but it is rather that we were always taught not to find ourselves.

Internalized racism, in my experience, is more than accepting and supporting racial hierarchies. You are dealing with self-loathing, which reflects how society perceives you because of your race. It is simultaneously a social and psychological issue. It reaches the core of who you are, and affects how you think about and see the world around you, especially in reference to people from your own racial or cultural background.

In multicultural societies there are politics of recognition — the idea that recognition is an essential pre-condition for forming a personal or group identity. This means that for marginalized people to forge a place against dominant groups, they must have interest in their identity being recognized.

Internalized racism is a tool for assimilation because it creates negative psychological effects during racial identity development. We reduce ourselves, erase ourselves, and lose ourselves. It is only in this way that the conflict between marginalized and non-marginalized groups for recognition — and hence power — can ever be resolved. If we come to oppress ourselves and our people, then the power dynamics that are inherently interlaced with racism will continue. Internalized racism turns the politics of recognition around, so as to make marginalized racial groups ‘recognize’ their own ‘inferiority.’

As a racialized person, I now know far too intimately how internalized racism manifests in different aspects of and times in our lives. I wish I would have known that not wanting to speak my parents’ languages, to tell people my full ethnicity, or to bring traditional foods to school as a child was indicative of a far-reaching battle that I would have with myself later in life.

The bulk of my internalized racism presents itself in feeling ugly from the outside inward. But there is no reasoning for a girl without any sense of self-worth. Every pound that I lost ripped at me in ways different than gaining weight ever could. The smaller that I became, the more beautiful I felt, and the less secure I was about my place in this world.

Still I kept pushing myself to fit a mould that I was not biologically constructed to fit. I saw a flat stomach and lack of breasts as a sign that I was finally reaching a threshold of what was appealing to others, and only because I thought that to be white, stick-figured, no-workout type of person was the most attractive. I didn’t really have any examples to tell me something different.

Now, as I’ve somewhat moved away from that rigidness and anxiety, I can realize the self-worth I lacked. People tell me that I look a lot healthier. But I don’t think that I’ve actually released any of that self-hatred. I’ve just come to understand its presence in my life, which mitigates the irrationality in some ways.

I certainly have not risen past my internalized racism; I had a mental breakdown last winter, crying and screaming because I no longer looked the way I wanted. Even if I was not visibly different, I felt substandard and unappealing. My entire self-worth is tied up in the way that I view myself, and I view myself as the other.

Internalized racism is the trap of all traps: it lets racialized people self-destruct. It should not be separated from historical policies that aimed at the assimilation and oppression of different races, but instead should be seen as the next manifestation of colonial relationships.

And yet because this revised form of racial discrimination takes place on the psychological level, it will require a moment when one can establish racial equality within oneself in order to be ameliorated. How is that possible when spiralling in a timeless void of anxiety and mental trauma? Is it even possible if racism is moulded into one’s psyche from the beginning? I don’t feel like it is. I am so far down the rabbit hole that, even though I support the need for radical equality between social groups and despise the unjust lack thereof, I can’t separate my own mental well-being from those social facts. The mind is unreasonable. It won’t enter into negotiations.

When I started university, I was bleach-blonde, frail, and hateful toward myself. Although time has kept moving onward and I have grown into new dimensions, I feel the internalized racial hierarchies moving on a continuum within me and can only hope that they won’t be there forever.

A chat with the cast of Hart House’s Legally Blonde

Yeah we got an interview — what, like it’s hard?

A chat with the cast of Hart House’s <i>Legally Blonde</i>

You have definitely watched the 2001 Hollywood cult-classic Legally Blonde. And we’re completely and totally sure that you saw Kim Kardashian’s Halloween spoof of Elle’s admission video. And, even if you deny it, you’ve guiltily enjoyed Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)…more than once. But, have you seen the musical? Join The Varsity as we ask Paige Foskett, playing Margot, and Moulan Bourke, playing Paulette, all about Hart House Theatre’s newest musical, Legally Blonde.

The Varsity: As actors, how was it bringing the world of Elle Woods to life? Is stepping into the shoes of such iconic characters a struggle?

Paige Foskett: It can sometimes be hard stepping into roles that have been done — and loved — so many times before, but ultimately you just have to find the heart of who these people are, and really bite into the text as actors. The more you do it, the more you find new and exciting ways of being this person that have maybe never been done before.

Moulan Bourke: As an actor I love bringing what people know as a movie to life. Many individuals who are not normally patrons of the theatre will come to this show. I believe it is important to respect our predecessors in these iconic roles, but to also infuse your own portrayal of the character. Every creative team and actor will have a different interpretation of this show and I’m proud to share this version of Legally Blonde with audiences!

TV: The movie has become a seriously iconic part of contemporary North American culture. Entire dissertations have been written about its place as a piece of feminist media. Has this cultural legacy and feminist lens affected your characterization or acting?

PF: I think if anything it just makes you really lean into the honesty of the story. It’s been really important for us to not make it a joke because the writing already lends to the comedy. We have found the power in who Elle is, and what she is fighting for. I think it’s so powerful to get to embody all the people in her life who rallied behind her or pushed against her and made her stronger. She is a total badass.

MB: Even though 20 years have passed, this story is still so incredibly relevant today. Elle Woods inspires everyone in this show by the power or her love. Absolutely, my characterization of Paulette was influenced by the heart of this story. This show is iconic and its lessons are prominent. Elle reminds Paulette to never give up and the importance of self-love. These women display strength, power, love, and sisterhood which I strive to have as a performer and as a person.

TV:  Even though it’s only been a little more than a decade since the debut of Ms. Woods’ foray into litigation, a lot has changed in contemporary culture. Did you feel the need to, or have you had to contemporize any aspect or the play?

PF: Saccha Dennis made the really smart choice of setting our production in the ’90s where a lot of these references and the writing makes more sense. I think it’s more truthful to the text to set it in a time where all of these references and the circumstances we see play out are actually really accurate. I think to set it in modern day there has to be a lot of changes made, and you have to go about it from a different lens.

TV: Many theatrical productions feature localizations, especially for comedic and dramatic productions. Is Hart House doing anything to localize Elle to a ‘foreign’ Canadian context, well aware of its setting in Harvard and are the actors doing anything to assert their Canadian identity through these iconic Americans?

PF: For Saccha it was actually quite the opposite. We put a lot of importance on figuring out who these American people are, and really leaning into that. There’s nothing Canadian about this version of the show. And Saccha made sure to catch us every time we said “Sowww-ry!”

TV: If you could distill your production to a few remarks about its significance, plot, or really whatever you’d like, what would you say? What is your production, in essence?

PF: I would say that this show really is spectacular because it is so fast paced, funny, and honest. Every character we meet in this story totally reels you in, from the lead roles like Elle or Paulette, to the store manager, to Elle’s dad. Everything is so cohesive and honest. And in our production especially the costumes, set design, lighting design, and choreography are so out of this world.

MB: I think this production’s essence is the power of love. Elle literally gets into Harvard to follow who she believes to be the love of her life. She finds the love and power of law through helping her sisters. She reminds us of the importance of self-love. This show is women empowerment.

Catch Legally Blonde at Hart House Theatre until February 1, with discounted student tickets on select nights.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Book Club: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

A brilliant collection of essays on millennial existence

Book Club: <em>Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion</em> by Jia Tolentino

Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror is much more than a bundle of 4,000-word papers. I never thought to purchase additional essays on top of the stapled New Yorker magazines that arrive at my doorstep weekly; but giving Tolentino’s breakout novel a read was easily one of the best decisions I made last month. Commentary on topics that are so relevant alongside writing so concise is as hard to come across as snow in July.

For the unfamiliar, Tolentino is a staff writer on pop culture at The New Yorker. Her labelling as the “Joan Didion of our time” by Vulture is apt; she speaks on seemingly mundane things like gifs and “cursed energy” on the internet with an impossibly great deal of insight and conviction.

Tolentino acts as the omniscient eye on behalf of us drooling app-addicted adult-babies. She reminds us of what we are doing and what it all means. Though she seldom proposes solutions for the problems she explores, her works by no means are inconclusive. The theme of her every article — and in this case, her every essay — suffices as a conclusion in and of itself.

For instance, one of Trick Mirror’s chapters in “The Story of a Generation in Seven Scams” is on the presentation of wealthy scammers in the media. Though it has been made clear by the likes of Netflix and HBO that Fyre Fest founder Billy MacFarland and Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes were both unethical and deceitful, I had never regarded them as scammers.

I do believe, however, that they manipulated the public’s beliefs to pursue lofty goals while neglecting transparency. Yet, this practice is not unique to scammers; similar techniques were and are used by revered masterminds like Larry Ellison of Oracle and Elon Musk of Tesla.

Even Uber, the ride-hailing app everyone has come to hate but still habitually use, was populated by software engineers, executives, and managers whose paychecks depended on scamming. They secretly ran Greyball: a software tool that allowed them to deny service to officials in cities where they were illegally operating Uber vehicles. If the practice of deceit and unethical practices made one a scammer, then it seems that most — if not all — of Silicon Valley is run by scammers.

Tolentino encourages readers to reconsider who and what is a scam, then bluntly concludes: “The choice of this era is to be destroyed or to morally compromise ourselves in order to be functional — to be wrecked, or to be functional for reasons that contribute to the wreck.”

In sum, her collection of essays is strung together by the theme of the digital age, which carries along subthemes like capitalism, religion, and feminism. She is able to speak critically on popular ideas without brashly offending anyone — a skill I still struggle to hone.

She calls out the hypocrisy supporting marketable feminism by asking how we can have She-EOs and no federally-mandated child care. She calls herself out on the share of scams she practiced to get where she is today. At the start of her journalism career, she rode on the capitalistic wave of feminism to break from writing wealthy high schoolers’ college essays: another scam.

Tolentino’s gripping commentary on the state of Western life in the twenty-first century is woven together with personal anecdotes and current news. The essays stand to help us transcend one step closer to her level of enlightenment, to push us to analyze popular practice more critically.

Independent thinking is priceless, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to do in digital spaces where unpopular opinions are attacked and censored. Tolentino reminds readers of how to formulate arguments against conventional thinking, as well as how such arguments can bear logical and valuable insights. She speaks with no hidden agenda.

The bundle of essays she offers us proves her competence in crystal-clear thinking and writing. If you’re a fan of her witty work in The New Yorker, be sure to add Tolentino’s Trick Mirror to your reading list. Get ready to have your woes articulated into essays so clever that they would knock the socks off of even your toughest teaching assistant.

Getting paid to set up dates I’m never going to go on

Let’s talk about sex, dating profiles, and catfishing

Getting paid to set up dates I’m never going to go on

I started to work as a dating ghostwriter about three months ago after trying and failing to secure a job as a journalist at a major media outlet. I wanted to keep writing, so I settled for anything. For the past few months, I’ve been conjuring Match.com profiles for clients I have never met and chatting to their matches.

Every night, I squeeze wafts of romance from my fingers to my laptop keyboard as I reply to messages, and focus on the commission I’ll receive if I get the two to agree to meet one another — even just once. Three years ago, when I ghostwrote college applications for cash, I thought my bar couldn’t sink any lower. Clearly, I was wrong.

Over time, I’ve started to grasp that all the jobs I’ve taken during my miserable writing career were no different to that of a salesperson. Although what we’ve got in the back of our trunk may vary in appearance, they share the same consecrated destiny of being sold.

While a traditional salesperson sells to their clients, a dating ghostwriter sells their clients. Due to them being downright boring and self-centred, with a breadth of self-contradicting hypocrisy that is too hard to miss, our clients need to be sold, and I should only be glad that there is no return policy. Whether they are to be kept or discarded, it’s no longer my business.

Having set my conscience straight, I still struggled with my sales record. One of my very few successes involved adultery. The match to my client was a married woman who couldn’t decide whether or not to leave her husband.

“Why did you marry him?” I asked. She didn’t reply until a day later, confessing that like many women, she was desperate when she entered her marriage. She was 37, and had been single for three years. While she was single, she had been to weddings where the brides were younger than her sister’s kids. The ticking clock gnawed at the core of her self-esteem, and she was grateful when the husband, who didn’t seem to care much about her baggage, came along.

He liked her for who she was. He tolerated her when she threw a tantrum. He didn’t like to be outdoors and neither did she. They seemed to be a perfect match. But there has never been a day where she could close her eyes with a smile of certainty that the man at the end of the aisle was the right one. She signed the certificate that bonded her to this man without ever being content, and that’s why she kept on looking.

“He is nothing like I have ever imagined for a husband,“ she wrote. “Does that make me a bad person?”

I looked down at my phone and wondered how much a therapist makes an hour. Probably more than me. Tilting my head as I glimpsed over at my boyfriend snoring next to me, I thought about the great loves I had and then lost, the possibilities I squandered, and the secrets buried by the passing of time. But no matter how many layers have been laid over the top, the lament that our past hums still sends shockwaves that get us every time. 

So I made something up. I told her: “You know how people always try their clothes on in the fitting room before they decide whether they should bleed cash on them? Well, we believe that what’s fitting must be the best — sound reasoning. But I know a woman who always buys clothes that fit her ideal, hangs them in the bedroom where she can see them every day, and reminds herself that’s the body she will work for. Your husband fits you now, but you aren’t the person you want to be when you’re with him. That’s why you keep looking. It doesn’t make you a bad person.”

She asked me if the woman who bought unfit clothes was my ex. I shrugged and planted the fictional character on my mother.

I have no idea what happened on their first date, or to their marriage, but I did get my commission.

In most cases, I chat to charm. I fish for the weakness in my matches and pamper it. Sometimes it works, a lot of times it doesn’t, and I keep telling myself that most writers make ends meet by ghostwriting these days. Either ghosting someone’s profile or memoir, we sell our authorship, and we often sell it cheap. But what isn’t to be sold in the world that we know anyway? And wherever there is a need, there is a market, right?

I remember the big dream I had for myself when I was a kid to be some writing hotshot and laugh. I laugh so hard that I nearly choke on the last sip of my latest bottle of gin. 

It’s no wonder writers drink.

The winter blues call for a drink

Here are 10 tunes to thaw the ever-encroaching ice and snow

The winter blues call for a drink

1. “Let It Play” by lilcobaine

Don’t try to deny it, we have all been drunk and missed that person. It’s just… complicated. This is that emo rap, the Lil Peep-esque track that starts playing and subsequently makes you miss them at 2:17 am. You’re not hungover yet, but if you’re about to text your ex, you probably will be tomorrow. You pull out your phone and open your messages. It’s cuffing season, so it’s up to you to hit send on that “shawty come through” message. Please note the music video is not family-friendly.

2. “Moodna, Once With Grace” by Gus Dapperton

Okay, so maybe things didn’t work out with your crush at the house party last night. You wake up, hungover and lovesick, unable to tell which of the two is the cause of the pit in your stomach. Reaching for your phone on your nightstand, you scroll through last night’s activity. Oh yeah, you Shazam-ed that song. You hit “play” and the vaguely familiar guitar and synth fill your bedroom.

3. “Only Trying 2 Tell U” by Puma Blue

Caressed by a sweet falsetto and a slow melody, this sweet jazz tune may be your remedy for that big headache of yours. This is a slow and steady track that makes you feel like you are caught in a memory. It’s bittersweet, yet ever so repeatable.

4. “Flirting in Space” by Brad Stank

This smooth jam will make you want to sink into your bed as your headache is slowly eased. It’s for those cozy moments where your bed is at its most tempting, enticing you with a fluffy duvet and a warm pillow, and although your head is pounding, your mind is currently being transported into space by way of Brad Stank’s smooth guitar and dreamy synth.

5. “Downers” by Greentea Peng

Sometimes you just need some tough love — or maybe just some chicken soup for your R&B soul. Greentea Peng delivers an omnipresent perspective on taking downers and drowning out the world around us. Heartfelt and powerfully delivered, her live performance in a COLORS show is especially impressive.

6. “Bounce Back” by Big Sean

This one may be an oldie, but it is definitely a goldie. Big Sean’s track is supported with motivating lyrics and a catchy beat to help you bounce back from taking an L last night. This track is for the hungover hustler whose mantra is work hard, play hard. After a night of partying, you best believe they will be grinding it out the next day.

7. “Different State of Mind” by Kid Bloom

This track has a dream-pop sound to autopilot your mind down a stream of consciousness. Where will it take you? Maybe you’ll sink right into your bed? You’ll just have to listen to find out.

8. “Time” by Sebastian Mikael

You wake up hungover in the morning after a wild Saturday night party next to your bae. This song gives you all the imagery of a perfect Sunday. It’s smooth, sensual, and loving. Sunny side up eggs, unmade beds, and nothing but time to spend with that special someone. On a cute note, the artist filmed the music video with his girlfriend.

9. “Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune (a Modular Reflection)” by Ann Annie

This song is a prime example of déjà-vu. It is obviously something everyone has heard before. This cover of the famous piece has been completely transformed via soft synths and a harp-like melody. Though digital, the familiar notes still exude an overwhelming feeling of tranquility to the listener.

10. “Mint Jams” by Casiopea

This wildcard album is for the person who needs something upbeat, funky, and easy to listen to. Casiopea is a Japanese jazz fusion band,  and this song is from is their 1982, perfectly named, Mint Jams album. The music is like a more chill and complex version of old-school Sonic the Hedgehog music that is being emitted from your Gameboy Advance.

But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

How you can squeeze yourself and your ethics into a nice pair of jeans

But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

There are few things that spark more joy in my life than fashion. It’s been my passion, identity, and therapy. I live for the next piece of clothing that I can get my hands on, roam malls until my feet ache, and follow every fashion show with an unrelenting dedication. I saw my future in an episode of Sex and The City when Carrie Bradshaw realized that she had no money because she spent it all on shoes.

However, as fashion month and the Global Climate Strikes intersected in September, it seems necessary to look at the everyday practice of shopping in order to better understand its impact on the environment.

Like many markers of climate destruction, the fashion industry saw a major boom after World War II. Advancements in technology meant that brands could use synthetic fabrics, efficient factory lines, and outsourced labour for mass production.

The expansion of the global middle class, which has only risen since the advent of the twenty-first century, created a captive market to buy these clothes, fuelling both the economic growth and pollutive nature of fashion brands. According to a 2018 article from Nature Climate Change, textile production now emits 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year — more than international flights and maritime shipping.

The main culprit of this crisis is fast fashion, which is the equivalent to fast food in the moral hierarchy — meaning it barely scrapes the barrel of decency. Large clothing brands, like H&M and Zara, seek capital above all by ensuring that you buy new pieces every season, and they don’t care about the negative effects of this consumption pattern. Actually, they count on you brushing your hands through racks of clothing while disregarding the negative effects.

Slow fashion is designed to help you consume mindfully in response to fast fashion. It’s epitomized by the ‘capsule wardrobe’ — the idea that closets should contain timeless pieces with a limited amount of seasonal variation. The assumption is that the lack of sustainability comes from overconsumption, and that clothing is overconsumed.

I’m not in a position to prescribe the capsule wardrobe. I currently have 222 pieces of clothing in my closet — without counting dirty items, undergarments, socks, winter apparel, shoes, bags, jewelry, and the pieces at my childhood home. It’s foreign to me how a person could own less and still get dressed in the morning.

That being said, our world is on fire. And this scientific reality forces us to consider how to tackle the climate crisis within the parameters of our social reality — what we can give up, for the ability to change our lifestyle intersects with a host of other social justice issues, making it so that certain populations actually can’t give up everything.

Since it would be absurd to ask low-income families to invest in more expensive, higher quality clothing without trade-offs, and we remain far away from eco-conscious brands becoming accessible options, it is the responsibility of wealthy consumers and nations to make sacrifices for change.

I can’t incentivize slow fashion because I’m not a policy expert. What I can do is appeal to shopaholics, like myself, who have the means to alter their consumption patterns.

We must build a relationship with clothing that emphasizes how fashion expresses personal identity and cultural values, not material wealth relative to others. This can enable a balance between sustainable behaviour and human culture. So before you buy that next item, consider whether it’s absolutely necessary, where the clothes originate, and whether there are better alternatives.

I don’t want to throw your favourite French army jacket into a dump with half-eaten McDonald’s burgers. Slow fashion doesn’t have to mean purge and abstain. I only ask to break the awing hypnosis induced every time you enter a store. Stop dragging your hands through that endless array of clothing and take the initiative to resolve your dangerous shopping habits.

This can include prioritizing brands with an ethical, eco-conscious mandate; Marie-Kondo-ing your closet in minimalist terms. Shopping vintage, upcycling, or looking for clothing with non-synthetic, organic ingredients are also admirable efforts.

However you approach slow fashion, just try to crack the surface, because once you have your footing, everyone can move forward.