My Biggest Issue With Olivia Jade

My Biggest Issue With Olivia Jade

If you haven't heard, famous YouTuber/influencer Olivia Jade and her family are in some pretty big trouble.


At this point in time, I would be surprised to hear you were unfamiliar with the college cheating scandal that came to light last week. If you are, in fact, unfamiliar with said national scandal, then here is a short overview of what is going on:

The FBI recently uncovered that Lori Loughlin, among multiple majorly wealthy celebrity figures, paid both of her daughters', twenty-year-old Bella and nineteen-year-old Olivia Giannulli, ways into the University of Southern California (USC). Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid a total of $500,000 in order to forge fake athletic profiles which stated her daughters rowed in high school, allowing them entrance into the school based on false athletic scholarships. They even photoshopped Olivia onto a rowing machine to make it look like she was doing her workouts- ha!

Now, when I caught wind of the scandal, I was not only shocked like the rest of the population but also devastated. Being the avid fan of YouTube that I am, hearing that one of my favorite YouTubers had been part of such a disgusting ploy simply because her family is wealthy and she could clearly not gain admission into USC on her own, was borderline heartbreaking. I have been watching Olivia's YouTube channel (where she is known as Olivia Jade) since I was a senior in high school, so I feel as though I have been able to watch her grow up and develop her channel.

I raced to Princess Polly's website when she dropped her collaboration with them and instantly spent more than fifty dollars on clothes and shipping from Australia because of how excited I was to see her doing such great things with her YouTube channel (not to mention her line was perfect). My boyfriend bought me her highlighter palette from her collaboration with Sephora Collection for Christmas this past year because I made him watch the video she posted where she announces it, as well as many, many other videos of hers just because I thought she was the coolest. Her style, makeup tutorials, and overall aura of coolness had me swiping up on her Instagram stories the second she announced a new video.

I especially remember watching the video she posted in which she disclosed that she would be attending college. For those that watched Olivia like I did, this was a shock. The question of whether or not she would go to college was very hyped up by her fan base, mostly because she had gotten so far with her YouTube channel that it was clear that a college education would end up being just another thing to add onto her resumé. Now, after the release of the details of the college cheating scandal, I cannot help but think back to the reason behind the previous speculation of whether or not she would attend college.

There are clearly many unsettling things that revealed themselves during this scandal. First of all, Loughlin and Giannulli committed a felony. Second, Olivia and her sister Bella not only took away two spots from hardworking high school students looking to get into USC, but also two scholarships for their crew team, which could have gone to two rowers that have been training for years and years to receive a spot on USC's team.

One of the most unsettling things for me, however, is that Olivia built herself a legitimate career from YouTube, with her multiple partnerships and ambassadorships with renowned brands such as Princess Polly, Sephora Collection, and TRESemmé. She even attends New York Fashion Week for crying out loud- clearly, she does not need a college education to enable her success in her life.

Additionally, Olivia made it clear that she does not care about her studies at all, according to the same video she made in which she declared she was going to college. She literally said, "I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." So with this, she cannot even justify her fraudulent admittance to USC by claiming that it was her dream school or she just wanted to have a normal experience or continue her education or whatever. She made it clear she does not care about school, and evidently truly cares only about fashion and beauty.

So, when you have finally gained a legitimate career doing what you love, and have gained so much success from just a YouTube channel, why go to college? Why take away someone's spot when you know that your degree from USC is not going to do anything for you?

If you love YouTube and fashion, have your own clothing collaboration with one of your favorite brands, and a highlighter palette with a renowned makeup retailer, then there is no shame in pursuing that and making that path your path. If you don't love school and have the opportunity to be rich and famous without it, then why not go for it?

There is no shame in seizing that opportunity, especially if you are able to do what you love. But now, one devastated high school student cannot do what they love; he/she cannot row on USC's team or continue his/her education at his/her dream school. He/she will not end up on his/her desired life path, possibly doing what he/she loves, because he/she did not get accepted into USC. This, to me, is the most upsetting part, for Olivia would have always been able to do what she loves, but the narrative is not the same for the individual who's spot at USC she took.

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The Risky 'Stranger Things' Casting Mistake That Needs Fixing

Not only am I disappointed by such a great show's dangerous decision, I'm upset by the fact that no one has corrected it.


Like many, "Stranger Things" is one of my favorite shows. But after extensive research, I feel like it's my moral responsibility to refrain from watching the upcoming third season of a show that encourages fans to starve themselves.

This article uses potentially triggering language related to eating disorders.

Natalia Dyer is an actress best known for her role as Nancy Wheeler in Netflix's original show, "Stranger Things." Despite its enthralling plot, the first time I watched it, I found myself distracted by her unusually thin frame. While I know many naturally skinny women and actresses, I've never seen someone whose skeleton was so prominent.

Flickr- Natalia Dyer (left)

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two serious eating and emotional disorders characterized by loss of appetite, refusal to eat, excessive exercise, body dysmorphia, and (specific to bulimia) compulsive binge eating followed by purging.

While I didn't find any direct quotes from Natalia about suffering from an eating disorder, I did stumble upon pictures of her from the 2009 premiere of "Hannah Montana: The Movie" and was shocked at how drastically different she looks today.

Youtube- "Hannah Montana: The Movie" Premiere

In 2014, Natalia starred in "I believe in Unicorns," where promotional pictures also illustrate how much she's changed. For those who believe she's "naturally thin," these past films, as well as pictures from her childhood prove that she wasn't always this skinny.

Youtube- "I Believe in Unicorns" 2014

When I first researched Natalia, I found forums in which people who have battled with eating disorders discuss the physical signs of anorexia and bulimia that Natalia exhibits. The most obvious being her frame, visible bones underneath thin skin, sunken-in eyes, "hollow" face, as well as more subtle signs, like scabs on her knuckles (called Russell's sign), white or blue fingernails, and lines around the mouth that seem to age her face.

I am fortunate enough to have never suffered from an eating disorder, so I did a lot of research to keep from jumping to conclusions about Natalia's health. What I've found is that symptoms of eating disorders closely mimic those of gastrointestinal diseases, such as Celiac and Crohn's disease. In this sense, it's possible that those who criticize her for disordered eating are evaluating the body of someone with a dysfunctional digestive system (though the aforementioned physical signs pointed out by people who have had anorexia convince me that this likely isn't the case).

Youtube- Natalia Dyer 2017

While there's little factual information about if Natalia has an eating disorder, there is much speculation that she does, both from those who have overcome such disorders, and those still struggling.

During my search for information, I found several "pro-ana" websites—a contraction of "pro-anorexia," used to admire eating disorders in a positive light—idolizing Natalia's weight loss and expressing jealousy of her outrageously thin frame. In one particular forum, people describe her in "Hannah Montana: The Movie" as "on her way to chunky town," and "mad chunky" in "I Believe in Unicorns." Even going a step further by stating that Natalia's "Stranger Things" co-star Shannon Purser "needs to take pointers from [Natalia]."

Flickr- Shannon Purser

Finding this forum made my blood boil. Not because of the responsibilities of its participants (that's an article for another day), but because of the irresponsibility the casting director—Carmen Cuba—and creators of "Stranger Things" have exhibited in casting a potentially anorexic actress, and Netflix's lack of opposition to this choice.

As a rule of corporate management, businesses have what's called "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) which is defined as "the idea that businesses should balance profit-making activities with activities that benefit society. It involves developing businesses with a positive relationship to the society in which they operate."

From my point of view, Cuba's casting choice for the character Nancy violated the sense of CSR that such a popular show should have, given that she's provided fans who struggle with body dysmorphia a potentially dangerous source of "thinspiration."

Youtube- Natalia Dyer at ages 17 (left) and 20 (right)

There are many different solutions to this problem, but without knowing Natalia's exact situation, it could be thoughtless and damaging to bombard her with messages about gaining weight, meaning the issue of casting an actress who inadvertently (I cannot stress the word "inadvertently" enough) inspires young fans to starve themselves lies solely in the hands of the show's creators.

There are still many facets of this issue I have yet to discuss, but until then, if you believe that you, a friend, or a relative have an eating disorder, contact an eating disorder hotline now.

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"Russian Doll" Is Just a Groundhog of Another Color

Natasha Lyonne stars in the new dramedy that plays off a familiar trope.


I'm mostly writing this article to prove a friend wrong.

Haha, what? No, no, no I'm not that petty…okay maybe a little bit. But he's wrong! He's really, really wrong! But maybe we agree on what we're talking about?

What? You want me to go back to the beginning? I can't—

Oh, alright.

So, last week Thursday I had the Netflix original, Russian Doll, recommended to me by no less than three people in a span of four hours. It was good! It was so good! That was the claim they all made, anyways. And they're my friends, after all. I trust them with my TV-watching habits.

So, I tuned in. That very night. I watched.

The first episode was good…and that's kind of it.

Don't get me wrong! In a world rife with uninspired content that doesn't quite hit the mark, it was good. But it wasn't overly so. Not in the kind of preach to the heavens way that my friends had approached me with.

But I shrugged it off. I kept watching. The episodes were only about a half hour, after all. Surely, it'd get better. Surely, it would reach soaring, post-Icarian heights that man could only dream of. Going where none had gone before.

But it didn't. It merely stayed good.

Now, don't get me wrong, that's no small feat. There's plenty of shows that start off good and get the better of themselves as time goes on (looking at you Supernatural). Even as the latest season of Black Mirror is showing us, nothing lasts forever.

So, I tip my hat to you Russian Doll. To your darkly tragicomic self, a buddy comedy taking direct inspiration from Groundhog Day.

Wait, Groundhog Day?

Yes, that's where my friend is indelibly wrong.

A solid purveyor of the concept that nothing is that original anymore, my friend asserts that apparently Russian Doll is distinctly different from Groundhog Day. Which is utter bologna.

I am going to describe a piece of media content in this paragraph: A snarky, stressed out, contemptuous fella finds themself stuck in a time loop. Every time they die, the loop resets, putting them back to the exact same singular moment that they first heard the gentle, drifting melody of a slightly too-upbeat pop song. They try to escape the time loop by fleeing, by dying, by doing literally anything they can. That's when they realize it's futile and that they'll be stuck forever, perhaps even erased from existence, unless they can become a better person.

Now, which product did I describe: Groundhog Day or Russian Doll?

Truth is, I can't tell either.

That's not to say there's nothing distinctive about Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne is wildly funny and I loved the idea of her being trapped with a "partner in crime" in Charlie Bennett's Alan. The setting is obviously different too (New York vs. Punxsutawney) and the character's drug use provides for some trippy fun, there's no denying.

But in theme, tone, and a lot of jokes, Russian Doll can't escape the shadow of Groundhog Day.

Hell, even in this review in which they try to avoid talking about Groundhog Day they can't avoid talking about Groundhog Day.

And for good reason! Groundhog Day is a brilliant movie that condensed a brilliant concept for a generation. It's such a common staple of contemporary culture that the military widely uses the terminology "Groundhog Day" in its slang. Christ, even Congress has preserved it for all time in its library.

The influence is inescapable and anyone who says differently doesn't know what they're talking about.

Now, does that mean Russian Doll is unoriginal? Or that nothing Hollywood makes nowadays is all that original? No, of course not. To offer a slight concurrence with my friend, everything really does derive from something. One has to look no farther than Jason Campbell's monomyth to realize the stories that we tell are rarely "original" in the lofty ways that we ideally think about them.

But the well-worn trope of living in a time loop, unable to escape via death, only via some higher power or greater good, is so thick in Russian Doll that it's similarities to Groundhog Day are particularly noxious. The show would not be evaluated in the same terms today if it had been released in 1992, forever and a day before Groundhog Day premiered. And that matters.

But Noah, if nothing's original how come you hate Russian Doll more than, say, Black Mirror? Isn't Black Mirror just a reimagining of The Twilight Zone?

Well, firstly, I never said I hated Russian Doll. I happen to like Russian Doll very much. And Black Mirror certainly can't escape its own history, which is necessarily inclusive of The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling's masterpiece series perfected the spooky, thought-provoking anthology series like nothing else before it. Of that there's no denying.

I would contend, however, that Black Mirror does not rely on a singular trope to form its core. While Russian Doll isn't Russian Doll without the die, live, repeat gimmick, remove any similar singular element from Black Mirror, say artificial intelligence, and the show still stands. It moves and breathes of its own accord. While both shows are (mostly) masterfully written, Nadia Vulvokov simply plays the drug-addled redhead to Murray's weatherman Phil Connors if they both don't die and live again.

So call me petty. A hater. A downer. A Debbie downer even. Bottom line? Russian Doll is great. Just not too great.

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