Why You Should Cut Your Hair Off

I Pulled A Britney And I Don't Even Regret It

I accepted the fact that like my life, my hair would briefly be unrecognizable.

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Pop star Britney Spears is known globally for a variety of reasons, whether it be for her hit songs, having dated Justin Timberlake, or having a little sister that was the star of a past children's show. Although she could be recognized for all of these reasons and more, perhaps her most memorable moment was in 2007 when she shocked the world by shaving off her luscious blonde hair.

Tabloids were all over the situation in order to benefit financially. They made Britney out to be deranged and focused on the peculiarity of the situation instead of what caused it. The public was left knowing that Britney Spears had essentially lost her mind, but many weren't informed about what she was going through at the time. She had just gotten divorced and was in a heated custody battle over her child. Shaving off her hair was really just a cry for help.

A little more than 10 years later, this incident is used as a meme and is often accompanied by a comment that it's easier to understand her meltdown now that us generation X kids have grown and have had struggles of our own. I especially can understand the way that hardships can cause someone to want to change something, anything, about themselves.

Maybe I didn't go as far as shaving my head, but similar to Britney, I decided to change my look when my life took a sudden turn. I was entering my junior year of high school, which everyone warned would be the most challenging. I had just experienced my first major heartbreak, changed my entire circle of friends, and stopped playing the sport which at one point had helped to define me. All of this caused me to no longer feel like myself and I figured that if my personality was suddenly reforming, my physical appearance should accompany that.

It all started with a rash decision to dye my hair blonde. It wasn't something I'd planned on doing or thought much about, I just suddenly found myself at the hair salon at the point of no return. I'd never dyed my hair before, not even temporarily. I knew it would be something drastically new, but that felt necessary.

It took about three times dying it to get the color I wanted. The first two times were too brown; it felt too much like my natural look. I wanted to reinvent myself, and a few highlights weren't going to cut it.

Just weeks later, I decided to take my new look one step further and cut the hair that had grown down to my abdomen all the way up to my shoulders. It hadn't been even close to that length in over five years which terrified me and even caused me to cry when I saw it for the first time. Eventually, I accepted the fact that like my life, my hair would briefly be unrecognizable.

I continue to change my hairstyle and color when my life abruptly transforms. Less than two months ago, I cut my hair back to that short length and dyed it red when I was stressed about beginning college. I'd never been away from home for even a few days at a time and I've never had such a heavy workload, so life felt drastically different once again.

Maybe the blonde or the very short hair wasn't my best look, but I'm glad I did it and I recommend that other people do something of a similar fashion when their life begins to reform. It can be very therapeutic to see yourself in a different light, no matter how drastic the modification is. Changing your hair can be seen as symbolic because it's a temporary adjustment, just like whatever obstacle you're suffering through at the time.

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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.

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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.

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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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