I Am Still Alive. I Am Still Breathing. And I Have Few Things I Want To Say

I Am Still Alive. I Am Still Breathing. And I Have Few Things I Want To Say

I don't give up that easily.
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They hug me with such pity in their eyes and they say, "don't give up! You are so brave!" But their eyes twitch as they say this and I know that they are lying. They think that I can't hear them as they turn around and whisper to themselves; that girl is dead.

The phone rings and I ignore it because I am tired of explaining, "I am fine," to people that send me heart emojis and then start complaining about their ex. As if they were just asking about my soul because it was expected of them. I tune them out as they continue ranting about their insignificant daily struggle. All while my lifeless eyes dart back and forth. And I full on know that in their head they aren't rooting for me but actually enjoying the darkness that took over my life.

And so I move on. Cut ties. Burn lies.

But it's always funny how people want to be your friend when you come out of the flames but couldn't offer water when you were in the fire.

And so that's how I got here.

Now the people that commented on the lack of life inside of me pretend to be excited when they see me with fire in my eyes. "I knew you would get through it." They say to me with clenched teeth. I can see the steam and confusion radiating from them as they try to figure out how I am still alive.

Now people look at me and ask, "how did you move on from such pain?!"

Because I wanted to live.

That's why.

Because my grandparents didn't leave a country for freedom so that years later I could play victim on linoleum tile. Because when I looked up at the night sky I could still see the stars. And when I woke up in the morning the sun was back right where it said it would be. Because all around me the world told me to be ashamed of the tissue between my legs. That I should hold my dead down. Living in darkness is normal. Burning in flames is just life. I was not given the name of a Greek goddess so that I could wash up dead on the beach.

And I am alive. I am still breathing. The world is still turning. The tides, the sun, and the moon are all there. And me? I'm not going anywhere.

This is not where I offer up my testimony on how life gets better and one day you will smile. This is not where I preach to the choir. This is not where I tilt my head back with a laugh and say the pain was all worth it.

This is where I say; I am the warrior queen raging like fire. I am the girl that rolls her windows down so she can sing classic rock on the country roads. I am the girl that's seen fire, darkness, and Hell.

Eyes of a hawk.

Eyes of a survivor.

Eyes that will haunt you.

A queen until death.




Cover Image Credit: Matas Olsauskas

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As A Victim Of Sexual Abuse, Painting '#MeToo' On A WWII Statue Is Taking The Movement TOO Far

There is a line you should never cross and that is it.

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The famous picture of the sailor kissing a woman was taken right on V-J Day, when Japan surrendered to the U.S. in World War II. For decades it was seen as a representation of how excited and relieved everyone was at the end of the war.

The picture touched the hearts of thousands as you could feel the overwhelming amounts of joy that came from the snap of the camera. While the woman in the picture died back in 2016 due to a struggle with pneumonia, the sailor just recently died on Feb. 17, 2019 at the age of 95.

Most people saw it as both a heartbreak and heartwarming that the couple that was once photographed were now together.

Other people saw differently.

There is a statue made of the picture that resides in Sarasota, Florida. Police found early Tuesday morning of Feb. 19, two days after the sailor's death, that someone had spray-painted #MeToo on the statue's leg in bright red.

As a woman, I strongly encourage those who have been sexually assaulted/abused in any way shape or form, to voice themselves in the best way they can. To have the opportunity to voice what they went through without being afraid. As a woman who has also been a victim of sexual assault and has been quiet for many years...

This act of vandalism makes me sick.

While the woman that was kissed by the sailor was purely kissed on impulse, she had stated in an interview with 'The New York Times' that, "It wasn't a romantic event. It was just an event of 'thank God the war is over.'"

People were celebrating and, as a sailor, that man was so over the moon about the war being over that he found the nearest woman to celebrate with.

While I don't condone that situation, I understand both the reason behind it as well as the meaning behind the photo. I understand that, while it wasn't an intended kiss, it was a way of showcasing relief. To stick #MeToo on a statue of a representation of freedom is not the right way to bring awareness of sexual abuse.

It gives those the wrong idea of why the #MeToo movement was started. It started as a way for victims of sexual abuse to share their stories. To share with the world that they are not alone.

It helped me realize I wasn't alone.

But the movement, soon after it started, became a fad that turned wrong. People were using it in the wrong context and started using it negatively instead of as an outlet for women and men to share their horrific experiences of sexual assault.

That statue has been up for years. To wait until the sailor passed away was not only rude but entirely disrespectful. The family of that sailor is currently in mourning. On top of it, it's taking away from the meaning behind the photo/statue. World War II was one of the darkest, scariest events in — not just our American history — but the world's as well.

Sexual abuse is a touchy matter, I encourage everyone to stand up for what's right. But to vandalize a statue of one of the most relieving days in America's history is an act that was unnecessary and doesn't get the point of #MeToo across in the way it should. If anything, it's giving people a reason not to listen. To protest and bring attention to something, you want to gather the right attention.

This was not gathering the right attention.

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Should We Forgive The Racist Pasts Of Jeffree Star And James Charles?

When is it "acceptable" to move on from the past, if at all?

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The online beauty community is no stranger to scandal. Whether it's a problematic shade range or a site-wide hack that robbed customers of their money, brands make waves all the time. But what about the influencers, i.e. the beauty gurus — the people who post makeup tutorials, swatches, reviews, etc. onto Instagram, YouTube and Twitter?

They're pretty problematic, too. Let's break down some of the most famous and most infamous beauty gurus.

1. Jeffree Star

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Jeffree Star, or Jeffrey Steininger, is the over-the-top, former-pop-singer, wildly popular male beauty guru. He launched his own makeup brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, in 2014.

Star, though notably accepting of the LGBT+ community (which, as an openly gay man, he should be), has a long term history of making derogatory and racist comments.

At first glance, he seems to own up to his past racial slurs and racist comments (like telling a black woman that he wanted to throw battery acid on her skin and using the N-words) in an apology video where he declares that "the person that said those horrible, vile things... that person was depressed, that person was just angry at the world, that person felt like they were not accepted, that person was seeking attention."

He blames his past actions on depression and anger. We can kind of accept that, right?

That is, until more slurs come to light.

Jackie Aina, another beauty guru who is well known for her outspoken nature, took to Twitter in September of 2018 to say that she would no longer support Star as a black woman. Her Tweet featured an open letter to Star.

"I have not and will not excuse his blatantly racist behavior and — not his past references to me in derogatory terms, his use of the N words nor his efforts to eliminate spaces and opportunities for people of color," Ms. Aina wrote.

Around the same time, Star's former hairdresser posted photos of conversations he'd had with him in which he used the N-word, along with a video of him referring to Jackie Aina as a "gorilla" in 2017.

Back to the apology video: Star claims that those videos that showed him in an angry depression were taken 12 years ago. "I look at them and it just makes me sick to my stomach because I don't know who that person was," he said in reference to these old videos.

Well, Jeffree, I think that person is the same one that referred to a black woman as a gorilla and other derogatory terms.

2. James Charles

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James Charles Dickinson skyrocketed to popularity when his senior photos didn't properly accentuate his highlighter and he had them retaken with his own ring light. Shortly afterward, he became CoverGirl's first CoverBoy.

His first scandal happened in 2017 when he posted a now-deleted Tweet prior to a trip to Africa. "I can't believe we're going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?"

James deleted the Tweet almost immediately.

About nine months later, he took to Twitter again to make a formal apology video, in which he also apologized for other, older Tweets from when he was 13 that were also racist and, as he put it, ignorant.

"They did not come from a place of hate, they came from me being a really ignorant 13 year old that shouldn't have had a Twitter account," he said in the video.

Since James' 2017 public apology, he has been a proud advocate for inclusivity in the beauty community.

When the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation launched, James gave a review that called out the brand on their poor shade range.

When James released his eyeshadow palette collaboration with Morphe, he featured four distinctly different makeup artists on his channel to use his palette.

When James launched his line of athleisure, Sisters Apparel, he kept it size and gender inclusive with unisex clothes all available in sizes XS through 3XL.

So, where do we all draw the lines here?

Do we forgive James' and Jeffree's pasts? Do we call them out? Do we "cancel" them?

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