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As Tik-Tokers rise to fame, do their 'copy-cat' dances deserve the clout?
Oh, the wonders of social media. Trends come and go just as quick as a story on Instagram, everyone posting for their shot at fifteen minutes of fame, and the ever growing following of a new type of celebrity- social media influencers and content creators. Everyone who owns a smartphone probably has Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and now Tik-Tok, as it's growing to be a major social media platform for teenagers and young adults. Tik Tok became popular in the United States in late 2019 and since then has grown a considerable amount. Personally, I was one to make fun of Tik-Tok and say it was a dumb app like Musical.ly or Triller, and now months later, I spend more time on it than I do on Instagram.
The amount of creativity that goes into content on Tik-Tok is more than I would've ever expected when I first downloaded the app. People create "point of view" clips that are mini-movie plots for the audience, supposedly easy choreographed dances (that I somehow still can't do as well as Charli D'Amelio), smoothly edited "transition" videos, and of course common "thirst trap" or lip-syncing videos from both boys and girls.
As can be seen from reading this article and even skimming your own For You Page, Tik-Tok allows its users to create as much as they please and whatever they please. However, it's all just for the fun of it until content gets a significant amount of likes and views. People like D'Amelio and Addison Rae have blown up as a result of making and recreating Tik-Tok dances. D'Amelio has over 80 million followers and Rae is close behind with 58 million. That's more followers than some A-List celebrities have on Instagram! These girls, and many others, have gotten so popular so quickly, that they have made a ridiculous amount of money in a ridiculously short amount of time from their videos, ad revenue, sponsors, etc. Their road to fame has been seen as controversial to other teenagers asking, why did they get to become famous for doing something as simple as recreating dances? D'Amelio, according to Celebrity Net Worth, is worth four million dollars and made that fortune in under a year! Rae, according to Celebrity Net Worth, is worth two million dollars.
D'Amelio and Rae's road to stardom has brought many opportunities on and off of social media. D'Amelio is now an official spokesperson for Hollister Co. jeans and has her own coffee order, The Charli, on the Dunkin' Donuts menu (super jealous of this one..I get coffee everyday...Hey Dunkin', where's 'The Alexia'?!). She also collaborated with Morphe on a new makeup brand called Morphe2. Similarly, Rae co-founded her own makeup company, Item Beauty, and works with American Eagle Jeans. Soon, D'Amelio and Rae are both going to be voice actresses in animated movies on the Big Screen! The countless other sponsors and sources of income that have enhanced the celebrity status of these girls are also enriching other Tik-Tok content creators, such as "Snitchery" (Eleanor Barnes), Loren Gray, Abby Roberts, and more.
The issue at hand, in my opinion, is why have these girls gotten so famous in under a year? What have they done that made them stand out from the content of the other millions of users on Tik-Tok? These girls have mostly made "transition" videos and videos of themselves recreating dances. What about their videos has been so captivating that we have all stopped in our tracks on our For You Page to watch and "like" their 15-to-60 second video clips? The way I see it, we all want to be a part of the trends. Whether that means buying new clothes or watching certain people, teenagers always want to fit in and not be the odd one out. Regardless of whether content creators like D'Amelio and Rae are going to be around for a while or just a flash in the pan, they are what's popular now, so everyone wants to go along for the ride. Another reason we all follow and like these simple, yet viral videos is natural human envy, the idea 'why are they so famous if I can do these dances too.'The desire to be financially comfortable and famous is something we all have, but many of us don't have the mindset and motivation to make it happen. The wealth and fame of Tik-Tok creators is inspirational, but perhaps it demotivates users from working hard the traditional way to gain wealth, i.e starting a business, working multiple jobs, etc. and promotes the shortcut to easy money.
Now comes the ethical question, are they deserving of the riches that have been handed to them? How much work really goes into making their content that generates thousands of dollars from sponsors? It seems like they get wealth and celebrity status from not doing anything worthwhile. For instance, Rae is at a high point in her career, so high in fact, that she has befriended the Kardashians, who are also up for debate on whether or not they deserve all the fame they have bestowed upon them. Solely because of Rae's popularity, Kourtney Kardashian posted on Instagram a picture with her in the pool on August 24th. Society has come to a point where it is letting people just like you and me "go viral," for sometimes no reason other than our physical appearance and our trendy clothes. Are D'Amelio and Rae famous for ridiculous Tik-Tok dances or have they put in hard work, such that their prosperity should not be questioned?
Youtube is a competing platform that arguably requires a lot of work and talent to make a stable living. Booming creators on Youtube tend to have a crew and tool kit of equipment in order to make high quality videos. Youtuber Berlin Edmond, a gamer and entertainer, has a paid editor, multiple cameras, professional mics and headphones, lighting equipment, and exceptional computer monitors to give his audience a good viewing experience. Many Youtubers who do this much for each video they create don't get nearly as much recognition or opportunity as content creators on Tik Tok. Generally, successful youtubers have been making videos for years, while people like D'Amelio and Rae have rocketed to fame seemingly overnight. For example, Shane Dawson (even though he's cancelled) continually made videos since 2008 that generated a stream of revenue to afford his lifestyle. In 2020 he stopped making videos, but that was after 10+ years of creating videos and gaining a following. Can Tik-Tokers say the same for the work they put into each video? Most just need a standard ring light and their phone, then they're set to make viral videos. Regarding monetization, Tik-Tok created a one billion dollar fund to pay creators who apply. This source of income gives Tik-Tokers a way to make a living off of undemanding 15-second video clips. While this can be beneficial for smaller, hard working, users, we will have to see where the funds are allocated.
In spite of everything, Tik-Tok has been an amazing outlet for those who choose to make creative content on the platform. Whether or not young personalities such as D'Amelio and Rae deserve their newfound fame, they have become influential idols in the eyes of the young kids watching them. We can only hope that any of the new Tik-Tok celebrities will strive to be good role models for their viewers, and not abuse the power they attain.
And as a woman, I want us all to love ourselves a little bit more today.
Women have such high standards to live up to today. We’re expected to do and be so much. The great Tina Fey said “Every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes." This quote is not only hilarious, but also incredibly true! How many of you feel insecure every time you walk on campus, or every time you walk into a party? Even the girls you think are perfect are insecure. Everyone has flaws. Sure some flaws may be more exaggerated than others, but that doesn’t mean that the girl still feels bad about them. My point here is that it doesn’t matter how “perfect” you are, what matters most is how “perfect” you feel.
In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s important to slow down and focus on what’s important. We become so focused on other people, on other things. If you think about it, we’re actually a very selfless society. We’re constantly worried about other people—family, friends, loved ones. And we all get so wrapped up in our significant others. It’s great to have someone to talk to at the end of the day, but, you can’t forget about yourself. I mean somebody has to take of you and your body, right? Okay, so why does it matter if you love yourself? If you just walk around with your body and your mind and not be happy with it, are you going to be a happy person?? There’s a very large chance the answer is no. Do you want to be happy? …. Well, then listen to what i’m saying here guys.
It’s 8:00 a.m. Time to get up for class and get ready for the day. You go to the mirror. “Wow i look good” (sarcastic tone), you think. You decide to just throw on some sweatpants and grab something quick for breakfast, like a pop tart or something. And then you’re out the door. You’re on the bus and thinking “please no one pay attention to me” “I don’t want anyone to notice me today.” Then you walk on campus with your blinders on, making sure not to draw any attention to yourself. You go your whole day trying to be unnoticed, hidden from the world. Did you notice something about this routine? Where was the positivity in it, where is the self-love? Where’s the consideration for your body? There’s nooooo love here guys. Now what if you got up in the morning, told yourself “damn i look great,” and actually meant it, put on a rockin’ outfit, ate a nutritious and tasty breakfast, and told yourself, “i’m gonna kick this day’s ass.” Your day would be completely different. I promise. By doing these things you’re setting yourself up for success. By looking good and giving yourself a nutritious breakfast, you’re showing that you love yourself. The way you treat and think about yourself has such an impact on your success and future.
So where do you begin if you’re completely unsatisfied with your body, your looks, your personality? Start with small changes then. If you’re unhappy with your weight and the way you feel because of it, do something about it. And no, don’t just say you’re going to do something, actually do something. But, it’s also important to remember that even though you’re not satisfied right now, you’re still beautiful. You’re still capable, you still have amazing things to offer. You’re a human being, that’s something beautiful just in itself! It’s so crucial to keep this in your mind— you will always be you. Stop wishing you were someone else— (this is something i’ve been guilty of way too many times). It’s easy to look at celebrities and try to mirror them or get down on yourself because you aren’t and never will be them. Well, that’s because you. are. you.
Okay, I want you to look in the mirror. Look at your face and your body. Notice all the things you love about yourself. Notice the things you don’t like. Now, instead of endlessly body shaming yourself. Turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts, find the bright side of them. Say you have some extra belly fat, (big whoop) look at the bright side—belly fat is a comfortable cushion! It’s little silly things like that that will make it seem like less of a big deal. The more you practice small exercises like this the more it will boost your confidence.
So as women, i want us all to love ourselves a little bit more today. Go look in the mirror right now. Every square inch of you is gorgeous, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not.
Why is everyone yelling?!
With the dawn of social media comes an entirely new character: the Facebook politician. Usually, articles or posts about politics are fairly sporadic. That is until a major event happens. Suddenly, everyone knows everything about everything. Everyone seems to have a very strong opinion. Everyone is super knowledgeable, and what better vessel of information than they themselves? Which is pretty reasonable, given that people’s emotions run high when something major happens. And I don’t blame them, emotions are good!
In the beginning stages of this wave, I’m doing all right. I’ve edited my friend list over the years so I usually only get to see a particular side of the story. It's one that I agree with, for the most part, so it doesn’t really bother me, but then it gets to the point where it’s the only thing I see. If it is irritating to me, a supporter of the position you’re taking, then imagine what it must feel for someone who’s following you and doesn’t agree with you.
Now if you feel like being annoying on Facebook, that’s completely up to you. I’m annoying myself sometimes. But don’t share things under the guise that you’re actually going to change someone’s opinion by introducing an “informative” article. I put that in quotations because sources are varied and often biased. The people agreeing with you were on your side to begin with.
Also, when have any actual productive conversations occurred through the comments section? Never. That’s because people are either yelling at each other through the keyboard about how wrong the other person is or correcting their grammar. It becomes a painful, yet sometimes entertaining exchange to read. Neither party actually has an open mind or is looking to change their opinion, of course. It’s just an excuse to voice their opinion yet another time.
This is why somewhere down the line I decided it’s best not to share my feelings about a particular topic because at the end of the day, your opinion doesn’t really matter. I realized that whether I did anything or not, things stayed the same. My opinion didn’t offer anyone an epiphany, so I decided to save my opinions for those who I feel could respect it. Everyone feels like an activist when they’re on Facebook, but really it probably provides the same amount of impact as a cat video.
If someone wants to know how I feel about something or wants to know why I think a certain way, ask me in person. Having an actual conversation, in person, is far more effective than just blasting your opinion away. Don’t waste your energy or raise your blood pressure over pointless arguments, but instead talk to someone who is genuinely curious. No one ever changed anyone’s mind about anything by forcing information and their opinion down your throat. You effect the most change by talking to someone who is already open to it.
The NBA playoffs remind me of my basketball journey through time
I remember that when I was very little, my dad played in an adult basketball league, and I remember cheering him on with everything in me. I also remember going to Tuscola basketball games when the old floor was still there and the bleachers were still wooden. I remember always wanting to play basketball like my dad, and that's just what I did.
I have been playing basketball since I was 4 or 5 years old. It started with cheering on Dad at his games. I can remember him lifting me up on his shoulders so that I could reach the goal to shoot. I then started playing when I was 5 or 6 for the Waynesville Recreation League, and I guess I played at that level until I was 9. It was arounf that time that I wanted to stop playing basketball and only dance (yes, I danced for 7 years). I decided not to give up though, because of my dad, and when I was 9 or 10, I started playing Waynesville Youth Basketball for 3 years with some of the same girls who I played in high school with. We played for John Swanger, who is also a pastor for Calvary Road Baptist Church. I could still pick his voice out of a crowd, along with my dad's and my high school coach's voice. He always cared about us, and although he was tough at times, he taught me so much about not only basketball, but about life. Then it came time for middle school, and I didn't really want to play basketball for the school my 7th grade year, I wanted to continue playing youth ball, but the coach told me that it would be harder to play at high school if I didn't start that year, and so I did.
It was in middle school that I really started to become self aware. I knew that I wasn't the skinniest or the tallest, and I knew that I wasn't the fastest. Still, I gave my all to everything I did, but that still didn't seem like enough. My entire 7th grade year I played fifth quarter and sat the bench, and it seemed like nothing I could do could get me to play, and so again, in 8th grade, I was thinking about going back to youth ball, but I didn't, and I ended up playing much more in 8th grade.
I do remember, though, my coach telling me that if I didn't fix the way I shot (because it was weird), that I wouldn't get to play. I also recall being told at some point that I wasn't a basketball player. That almost stopped me from playing altogether.
By high school, I was so ready to play for my lifelong coach, Ann Gardner. Coach Gardner had taught me since I was little, because I always attended her camps as a kid. Dad was the one who pounded hard work into me, and Gardner was the one that sharpened my skills. I will always remember the first time I shot a left handed lay-up at one of her camps, and I thought I was a hot shot. I should also mention that I also wanted to be able to dunk, and I told my dad that. Instead of shooting me down, he told me I could do it, and so for a long while that was a big goal of mine.
Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, I still can't dunk.
I played for Gardner in high school, and by the end of my freshman year, I was playing some games with the varsity team. I played varsity sophomore through senior year, and my sophomore year, we went all the way to the state championship, but unfortunately, we lost at Regionals. Until my junior year, I didn't want to play basketball in college, but something in me lit up, and I decided to start looking for colleges to play at. The rest is history, and now I play at Warren Wilson College.
I say all of this, not to pat myself on the back, but to remind myself what this game means to me. All the hours put in: the running, early mornings at the gym, weight lifting, etc. All of it started when I was 5, and it has all led to this. 14 years of basketball.
Some days, it is really hard to be positive, but it is so important to stay positive on the bad days, something my dad reminds me of. Some days, though, I walk into our gym and the familiar smell of wood floors and sweat hits my nose. The sound of shoes squeaking. The sound of balls bouncing and nets swooshing. Some days I wish I could go back to the beginning and do it all over again. When I take time to reflect on where I came from, as a 5 year old girl cheering on my dad, to a 19 year old woman playing college, I feel a lot of pride, and I feel very thankful for everyone who believed in me. Especially to my dad, who was at every single game, who spent countless hours teaching me, who spent loads of money on gear, and who always, and still does, believe that I am the best there is. And, of course, for giving me the gift of basketball.
Because it is okay to not be "skinny."
In America, we tend to stick up our noses at certain things that aren't the norm. For example, people who are overweight, or the politically correct term “obese." Men and women who are overweight get so much backlash because they are not skinny or "in shape," especially, African-American women, who are typically known for having wider hips and thicker thighs. Robert Darryl, an African-American filmmaker, explains the overall intention of the body mass index in his follow-up sequel, “America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments."
Throughout this documentary he also explains that, the body mass index cannot be used to establish someone’s ideal weight, especially in reference to African-American women. According to Madamenoire.com, Brande Victorian stated that, “The BMI also doesn’t take into account muscle mass, which black women have more of, and which is more dense than fat.” Naturally, Black women weigh more than Caucasian women. Therefore, Black women are being encouraged to lose weight to conform to a certain standard that does not relate to us. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe they are comfortable with the way they are?
For my entire childhood, now going into my young adult years, I have been considered overweight. Growing up as a child, seeing all my friends being able wear shorts and bikinis, made me feel out of place. For a long time I felt like an outcast because I could not wear the clothes that I saw my friends wearing. It took me a very long time to come out of my shell and truly be confident, despite how much I weighed. Up until my senior year of high school I was finally able to come to terms with myself and truly not care about what society thinks I should look like. In my earlier years, I always thought that being overweight was a death sentence. I thought that I was never going to be happy with myself on the inside and out.
Now that I'm older, I can honestly say that being overweight does not affect me how it used to. I am truly loving the skin that I am in and I am not afraid of holding anything back! If anything, this has taught me to have tougher skin and to make a new trend. Plus-size females are starting to become more confident with themselves and letting the world see that curvy girls are where it’s at. It is refreshing to see plus-sized women embracing their bodies and promoting body appreciation. From one female to another, this journey is not always going to be easy, because there are still some times when I wish I was smaller. I don’t get these feelings frequently, but these thoughts do come to mind every so often.
However, once you come to a point where you can really appreciate yourself and all your flaws, those thoughts will be impossible to get under your skin; along with the rest of society’s backward thoughts about how a female’s body is supposed to be shaped and what it should not be. Growing into my teenage years, I always used to dwell on what other people thought about plus-sized females. Putting myself in a position where I was worried about other people’s thoughts and not my own.
The key to having this kind of care free mentality is confidence! I cannot stress enough about how having a good level of self-esteem and respect for yourself plays a big part of releasing that inner diva of yours. The great Diana Ross once said, “I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show!” Remember ladies, no one can really love you better than you can love yourself. Never be afraid to embrace those thick thighs and tantalizing curves, honey!
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign