Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Everyone has their own idea of beauty and their own thoughts on artwork; some prefer intricate, complex works and others find peace in the simple. It's the idea of individual expression that gives it its power as art - it connects with everybody differently.

There is a concept in Japanese culture that plays into this idea, commonly referred to as "wabi-sabi". I'm not Japanese, so what I am talking about is based on the knowledge I've gleaned from some research, but the general idea is that the imperfections make the objects beautiful. And genuinely, I think this is amazing.

Much of the pottery that is created to fit this aesthetic is plain; its colors are faded with time, the designs are simple and, in many cases, it may not even be finished. The overall concept is that beauty is incomplete, imperfect and impermanent - a lesson that can easily be generalized to daily life.

The notion that perfection - often found in the forms of mind games or retouching - is beauty is deeply permeated into our culture, so far that it can be jarring to see a normal-looking person on television. Every magazine cover is photoshopped, every interview features people with professional, perfectly-done makeup and every Instagram picture passes through at least a hundred filters. In Western culture today, messy hair is a problem to be fixed, not a sign of a fun afternoon. A few extra pounds are a deal-breaker. Fashion - and ensuring one does not mess up with one's clothes - is paramount at all costs, because everyone has an opinion about it that they broadcast to the world.

It goes beyond the judgment of the moment - it delves into the minds of the young kids, ensuring they too believe that the only way to be "pretty" is to bleach your hair and fake your tan. It rips apart people and shoves the superficial into their faces, screaming that they're ugly if they don't convene to Eurocentric beauty standards, going above and beyond to prove their dedication to their image.

Perhaps we can all take a lesson from the idea of wabi-sabi, either in pottery or in real life, in many cases. Beauty is impermanent for sure - aging is inevitable, your makeup will be washed off, you will not look the way you do today forever. There is no point in creating a person today that you inflexibly idolize since that won't be you in two or three years; focus on loving yourself instead.

Beauty is incomplete; every person is like a perpetual flower, constantly blossoming to their full potential but as each layer of petals peels off, another lies formed and ready to open up. This is why it is so important to love yourself for yourself - you are going to change, but you are still beautiful.

And finally, beauty is imperfect. Stretch marks, eye bags and scars are beautiful because they are natural. They are human and inevitable. They are from experiences that have shaped your mind and that are unique to you. Don't be ashamed of them. You are organic and gorgeous and better than the judgments that try to get you to turn yourself to plastic.

And remember, when life gets you down and you find yourself nitpicking flaws in your own appearance, the things you're criticizing are art to other people.

Cover Image Credit: Watson Chawan

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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