Why All Italians Talk With Their Hands

Why All Italians Talk With Their Hands

We need to use our hands when words fail to describe the moment.
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When I was in fourth grade, my teacher, observing how I talk with my hands, told me to sit on my hands and speak. As I started to stumble over my words, partially because I was embarrassed that I was called out in this way, my teacher laughed and said, “This is how you make an Italian stop talking.”

Fast forward to my college years, and I experienced a similar incident. When learning about the history of the formation of Italy, my professor said, “Want to hear a joke? Do you know how to make Italians shut up? Tie their hands.”

I do not remember when I started talking with my hands, but I know that it has always been natural to me. I talk with my hands, my father talks with his hands, and my family members who are of Italian descent talk with their hands.

So, why do Italians talk with their hands? Well, there is actually quite a bit of scholarly research about that very question. Instead of making jokes, perhaps you should read up on the history of hand gestures.

There are many different theories as to why Italians talk with their hands and why it is passed down from generation to generation. One theory is that Italians used hand gestures as a way to stand out and get attention in the crowded streets. Another theory is that Italians used hand gestures to communicate without foreign occupiers understanding what they were saying. Both of these theories are explained in an article written by Rachel Donadio.

Whatever the reason may be, hand gestures are an integral part in communication. They help emphasize feelings and expressions that words cannot fully describe. There are also certain hand gestures that Italians use for certain words, like when speaking about something good or bad. While others may see a bunch of meaningless hand gestures, there is actually an entire language unfolding right before your eyes.

But here’s the thing: talking with your hands is good regardless of whether or not you are of Italian descent. Let's face it: everyone talks with their hands, at least a little bit. Instead of viewing hand gestures as some kind of joke, you should actually pay attention to the benefits of talking with your hands. If you talk with your hands, there is a higher chance that people will actually listen to you. Talking with your hands also increases your ability to remember things. People who talk with their hands are also seen as more trustworthy and charismatic. Think about that for a second. If someone stood completely still while talking to you, what would you think? Would you think that they were being rigid and cold? Maybe so. If someone spoke to you while using hand gestures, you may be more inclined to believe that the speaker is more personable and animated. Additionally, you might believe that the speaker cared about what he/she was saying.

The next time you see someone talk with their hands, don’t make a joke about it. Instead, think about the cultural significance for Italians and the studies that prove that talking with your hands is actually a good thing.

Cover Image Credit: Steam Gifts

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Drag Queen Soju Brings Attention To Ignorance Towards Asians In America

Soju's efforts are particularly significant to Asians in the LGBT+ community, who are not widely represented in American media.

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A recent episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race," which is currently in its eleventh season, opened up a conversation about the treatment of Asian Americans in the drag community. During the episode's "reading" challenge, in which contestants jokingly exchange insults, Silky Nutmeg Ganache "read" Vietnamese-American contestant Plastique Tiara by repeatedly shouting what she claimed was the word "hurry" in Japanese. After asking what the word meant, Plastique responded, "I'm not Japanese!" as the other contestants laughed. Fans took to social media to express disappointment in the ignorance of Silky's joke, causing other "Drag Race" contestants to weigh in on the situation.

Soju, a Korean-American drag queen who also competed on season eleven, tweeted, "I'm Korean and plastique is Vietnamese" following the episode. She later added, "This isn't about dragging @GanacheSilky this is about educating. All of us can learn." Soju emphasized that she does not believe Silky is racist, but her read was still racially insensitive.

Soju stated in another series of tweets, "If my friends and sisters don't take my heritage and race seriously, then the problem is on me for letting these 'jokes' go on for too long... I've never had a problem for enjoying and celebrating Asian culture. But statements and jokes to degrade us is just not cool." In response to a reply on her tweet, she also added, "this is and always will be educating society about the reality of how Asians are not being taken seriously in America."

Fans praised Soju for bringing attention to and addressing the issue. Many Asian fans, in particular, were able to share their own experiences in their response to Soju. Jokes like the one made by Silky have always existed in the experience of Asian Americans. While the joke itself may not appear too harmful on the surface, it reflects the general perception of Asians in America. Asians are ignorantly treated as a monolith rather than as a diverse group with diverse backgrounds, and Asian culture is often presented as an amalgamation of cultures (mainly East Asian) as well.

Soju's efforts are particularly significant to Asians in the LGBT+ community, who are not widely represented in American media. Both her and Plastique Tiara's appearance on "RuPaul's Drag Race" have given positive representation to LGBT+ Asian-Americans, and it is especially encouraging to see her using her platform in the community to help educate others.

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