Why I Strive Towards Extreme Minimalism

Why I Strive Towards Extreme Minimalism

The reasoning behind a North American college student and nomad.
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Last summer, I spent six amazing weeks as a camp counselor at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, and a part of my identity among both my coworkers and my campers was that I was striving to be a minimalist. One night during bunk-talk, me and my co-counselor asked all of our campers to assign their bunk mate what animal they are. When it came around to me and my co, we had all of our campers shout (shout-whisper?) what they thought we were in animal form.

For me, they thought I would be a turtle. When I asked why, they said, "Well you've always talked about being able to carry everything you own in a backpack and suitcase, so it's like you have your home with you just like a turtle has their shell."

For the past seven months, that comment has resonated with me, and it has helped me take more active steps to becoming an official “turtle” so to speak.

It hasn’t been an easy journey though as camp life and college life are polar opposite in terms of fashion and general hygiene upkeep. Throughout the summer, I was limited to a uniform and 1-2 outfits of “rec/street clothes” and only had a few minutes each day to wash my face and shower. And on top of that, makeup was just not a thing anyone had time for. However, in college, I love to look well put together and professional on a daily basis.

This factor equates to owning and needing more material goods, which makes it a lot harder to fit everything in a suitcase and backpack. But I refuse to stop trying.

And this is why:

After observing my habits for the past few years, I've come to believe that possessions tie me down. Being a minimalist allows me more freedom and gives me more flexibility to leave home and travel, move, explore on a whim.

And my family inspires to do exactly that. I've had a cousin who lived on a boat; a cousin who backpacked South America; a father who walked to Florida, biked around the continental US and was in the 82nd airborne. So here I am, eager to make my mark not out of obligation but out of this burning need. Why the burning need? I have this crux where I hate staying in the same place for too long, especially if I don't have a chance to stretch my legs.

I love the idea of being able to pack up my life in 30 minutes just so I can go catch a last minute flight, hop in a car, ride a train, or do something spontaneous. I wouldn't need to spend hours, days, or weeks planning on what to bring, what to leave behind, or what to get rid of.

Pairing down all my items has been and will forever be a continuous struggle because consumerism and materialism are deeply ingrained in American society. There's advertising everywhere that appeals to me in one way or another, whether it's emotionally, ethically, or logically. However, with consumerism and materialism, there's another catch. Both of those ideals are directly linked to other ideals such as beauty, fashion, and health. As someone who has questioned how beautiful, trendy, and skinny I am over the years, becoming a minimalist helps to reject those bogus influences that I let interfere with my overall view of myself.

Even though adopting this new lifestyle isn't easy, it is worth it. Since I've embarked on this journey, I've found a freedom inside of me despite society trying to infiltrate my lifestyle by telling me that minimalism is "wrong", "weird", and "un-American." But I don't care. I'm happy roaming around with my turtle shell.

Cover Image Credit: Stacey Keba

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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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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