How Negative Comments Inspired This YouTuber to Come Clean About Her Eating Disorder

When Courtney Sailors wasn't making silly videos to entertain her followers, she was obsessing over food and pulling out her hair. Gathering the courage to share her stories changed her life completely.

Read the full story in Seventeen magazine.

Inside the Gold-Plated World of Instagram’s Narcoculture

In the last nine years, 60,000 to 80,000 Mexicans have died in cartel-related violence. Thousands more have disappeared. Cartels have brutally beheaded politicians and journalists, sometimes publicly displaying the heads as warnings to others.
You'd think if you were affiliated with the cartels, you wouldn't post about it on Instagram.
My latest: a look at the community of people who post to ‪#‎narcos‬ and‪#‎narcostyle‬, and how it reflects the normalization of Mexico's brutal, ongoing crisis.

Read the full story in Kernel magazine. 





Girls Are Sharing Their Acne Struggles on Insta to Show You Don't Have to Be Ashamed of Your Skin

"What they all have in common is that they are super supportive of one another: It's become a community where they can safely share how life-altering dealing with acne can be: Not only can it drastically impact your self-confidence, it also can physically hurt." 

First on Seventeen.com

SmokinCigs23 on Instagram: A Different Take on "Famous for Nothing"

SmokinCigs23 is the pseudonym of a 17-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio, who’s Instagram-famous —she has almost 20,0000 followers—for posting selfies and party photos while bashing on “haters. 

But she’s not what you might expect from an Instagram celebrity: She doesn’t wear makeup or spend hours debating which selfie to post. She doesn’t do the “hand-on-hip” pose; she doesn’t dress up—and she certainly doesn’t care what you think.

The UK is Putting Women at the Forefront of the Fight Against Religious Extremism

The United Kingdom has been in the center of controversy surrounding the spread of Islam in Europe for decades: from the Salman Rushdie affair to Malala Yousafzai’s tragedy, the country has at once fostered dissidents of Islamic nations and at the same time absorbed massive swaths of immigration from them.




And at a time when Islamic extremism is rife, the UK has turned to women to help combat violent ideologies.Kristin Aune, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University and Co-author of 'Reclaiming the F Word: Feminism Today' says the government has been putting a lot of money into Muslim women’s groups in the UK, and in 2008, an all-Muslim-women’s advisory board was founded to tackle the same issue. Why is it that the government has decided that women are the best equipped to lead the fight against religious extremism?
For one thing, the current (male) leaders have not been doing too good a job at it. For another, women’s heavy and historical influence in the home is a major factor in promoting safe communities. Aune, who emphasizes there are many sociological, psychological and economic aspects that go into the making of a terrorist, agrees that family life is the greatest influence. Huda Jawad, formerly a Programme Director of a grassroots Muslim rights group in the UK called Forward Thinking, told the BBC that women have always been at the forefront against extremism “as no mother would want her son to become a suicide bomber.”   Earlier this summer, a letter detailing a plot to take over the British school system and institute Islamic ideals was leaked to the BBC. The letter- the validity of which is disputed- called for its recipient to make fake, public accusations of teachers’ religious favoritism for Christianity, and to prompt the removal of authorities who would be resistant to the pivot toward Islamic education.  "We have an obligation to our children to fulfil our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles,” the BBC reported it read.   Whether the letter was a hoax or not, it ignited a government study into the practices at Muslim-majority schools in the UK, particularly in the city of Birmingham. The study found strict Islamic ideals were being enforced in an organized and deliberate fashion in a handful of schools. It found routine cases of rejection of evolution, intolerance of LGBT people and the enforcement of sex segregation. In one case, the study revealed a respected teacher had expressed adoration for Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki at a school assembly. Another teacher declared the world’s problems could be solved by a global Islamic state under sharia law. The researchers did not find any direct threats or calls for violence,  but concluded that in this culture of intimidation, teachers would fail to challenge extremist views. To combat the potential for religious extremism and promote moderate ideals, the British Department for Education has proposed enforcing two different religions be taught at any school teaching religion at the GSCE level- around age 16. So in this perfect storm of a confrontation between the Islamization of Europe and secular Western ideals, teachers in Britain are handed the fragile responsibility of enforcing moderation.  And in the UK, as in the U.S., 87 percent of teachers are women. In this case, instructors and administrators of all religions will be forced to step outside of the teachings of their upbringings in order to see the bigger picture- or at least, to instill a value for nationalism over theism or the traditions of their home countries. Saiyyidah Zaidi is the founder of Working Muslim, a group that acts as a bridge between employer and Muslim women employees in the UK. She says that though it might be difficult for a religious teacher to teach another faith, “at the end of the day, you have the requirement to do a job, to teach something.” Aune says teaching a religion different than your own would be challenging only for conservatives. “I think most mainstream religious people would welcome this because they will think there’s nothing to be scared of in finding out about another religion. It might make you more effective in explaining why one religion is superior to the others. A teacher should be comfortable pointing out the different views and the common points,” she says. “I agree that teachers may feel personally challenged by this, but it is their duty.”

The Longer the Race, the Smaller the Gender Gap

Studies show that women have greater potential the longer the distance. So why do we see that the longer the distance, the fewer amount of women competing?

In 2007, Paula Radcliffe won the New York City Marathon less than ten months after giving birth.

The greatest gift I've ever received is a t-shirt with a print of the ad for the 1978 Lady Waffle Trainer, the first athletic shoe made for women. When I showed my mom, she told me she wore them on her high school cross country team and shrugged it off like it wasn’t the beautiful relic I thought it was. But it’s true: the creation of the Lady Waffle Trainer was one giant leap for womankind that lead to many small steps for women.


Women now dominate the running community: more women are running in more races every year; last year, women comprised of 57 percent of all race finishers in the United States. And, studies show that women have greater potential the longer the race; when it comes to endurance sports, the longer the distance, the smaller the gender gap.


Competitor.com’s “Running Doc” says that the physical advantages women have over men kick in when an event is “at least as long as the marathon— anything 26.2 miles or over, or its equivalent in another sport...the longer the event is, the greater the possible advantage is.” Because women have a smaller body mass than men, they are able to expel heat more efficiently, allowing for greater tolerance of overheating over long distances. And, women burn more body fat than men but less carbohydrates, meaning that they have a greater ability to endure physical feats. A biology professor at the University of Washington predicts “women might compete against men most successfully in events lasting several hours, where overheating and glycogen (storage of energy) depletion are particularly common.”


And yet with all of this progress and all of this potential, it is not likely that we’ll see a female winner of the prestigious 100-Mile Western States race or the Boston Marathon. The longer the race, the fewer women there are. Despite their dominance in 5ks, 10ks and half marathons, female participation in full marathons has remained around 40 percent for 15 years. In triathlons, women's participation has hovered around 30 percent. In ultramarathons, women are nearly nonexistent.


What will it take to get more women going the distances at which they have the greatest potential?


Gary Berard, an elite coach out of New York City, predicts the Boston Athletic Association, which puts on the Boston Marathon, makes their qualifying times for women easier than the qualifying times for men, because they have been pro-active in women’s inclusion.


“The women’s standard is exactly 30 minutes slower [than the men’s] no matter the age. My guess is the BAA has exacted this idea for qualifying based on increasing the percentage of women participants, because I don’t feel 3:05 qualifying standards for men is equivalent to a 3:35.”


If it’s true, it is proven to be working: with 54 percent men and 45 percent women in the Boston Marathon, it is one where there is the most equal representation. So perhaps, while we’re at this crossroads where women are stopping short before reaching a place where they meet their greatest potential, it takes a version of athletic affirmative action to incentivize women’s participation in long-distance events.

Lena Dunham Admits Sexual Advances Toward Her Younger Sister, and the World Oddly Shrugs

In her new book Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham wrote about being sexually curious about her younger sister, but when “right-wingers” pointed it out, she accused them of “twisting [her] words.” And in an affront to the movement to open the conversation about female sexuality that Dunham herself spearheads, all feminist media has remained quiet.


Lena and Grace Dunham. Photo Credit


Like most other feminist millennial writers with an awkward unsureness about literally everything in the real world, I am a Lena Dunham Superfan. I binge-watched GIRLS' first season through a bootlegged HBO GO account and celebrated the second season's airing at a GIRLS launch party. I watched Lena rise to fame through her character, Hannah. I fell in love with the raw realness of the mental and emotional struggles I so related to as a Midwesterner turned New Yorker trying in vain to promote what I had seen a thousand times in movies and TV shows, and finding a crowded market of a million others trying to do the same. On my tight budget, I shelled out a week's worth of food to see her speak at The New Yorker Festival. And when her book came out, I devoured it: I laughed, I cried and I was ultimately weirded out. The relationship Lena describes with her sister is creepy, and is not one that is representative of female sexuality. Worse, her wild reaction to the accusation that she had sexually assaulted her sister is the product of the white female privilege she is frequently accused of donning. How dare anyone make that outrageous claim about her, the innocent white girl?? But the comparison she makes between herself and a sexual predator in the book Not That Kind of Girl is particularly incriminating: “Anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying.” Toward Grace, her sister, she is consistently needy and physically forward, at times explaining she paid her sister to kiss her on the lips or to "relax on her.” For her to retort by blaming the primary accuser of "twisting her words" is a miscredit to her own writing and it's confusing.  She made the first comparison.
It's incriminating, too, that Grace has admitted she is uncomfortable being the subject of Lena's openness about her sexuality. “Without getting into specifics,” she said in an article in the New York Times Magazine, “most of our fights have revolved around my feeling like Lena took her approach to her own personal life and made my personal life her property.” Can Grace be a victim if she doesn't think she is? Grace has appeared in movies with Lena, she goes to events with Lena and is on the book tour with her: it's clear theirs is a close sisterhood and that Grace didn't come to the conclusion that she was molested on her own. In fact, Lena tweeted that Grace laughed at the accusations. But the answer is yes: a majority of sexual abuse happens between people who know one another. A great amount of sexual abuse goes unreported because of the deeply personal and private feelings of shame and confusion that follow. These are not only facts about sexual abuse but advocacy issues Lena herself is passionate about; the best support for this argument comes directly from the book Not That Kind of Girl itself, in which Lena describes a drunken and involuntary sex scene in college to her friend Audrey, and Audrey gives her a sympathetic pat and tells her what she experienced was, in fact, rape. Since the book has come out, Lena has appeared in multiple national interviews and appearances talking about that rape scene and the confusion in her realization that what she had experienced was rape. In a conversation with a GIRLS producer where she was proposing that scene for a GIRLS episode, she says “No one knows if it’s a rape. It’s, like, a confusing situation...” In another chapter, she describes a close relationship she had with an elementary school teacher who drew hearts around her name in class and one day put something of Lena’s down his shirt and then suggestively said “You do a lot of talking, but you never show any action” to the young, trusting Lena. When she explained that scene to her mother after school, her mother promptly removed her from the school. And so to fail to recognize when she is a perpetrator is a failure in understanding the depth of sexual abuse and is the worst face of feminism: the stubborn refusal to see both ways. Imagine finding out that your older, and very successful feminist sister, did sexual things to you that you would not like done.  Would you feel empowered to speak out against her?​ It's been a week, and the snarky quick-witted feminists at Jezebel are still silent on the issue. It’s been trending on Twitter for two days, but no word yet from historical feminist giant Ms. Magazine, nor feminist-leaning Mic.com, nor Bitch nor BUST magazines. Is the feminist world treating this like the Catholic church treated the Catholic priests’ sex scandal? Like the NFL treated Ray Rice pre-TMZ leak? Are we sweeping it under a rug, hoping it will go away before it gets too big? When a powerhouse for good is exposed for extreme deviance, supporting institutions turn their heads and trivialize grave accusations in order to protect their interests. In the cases of the Catholic Church, the Ray Rice scandal, and now the accusations against Lena Dunham, abuse is treated as a pithy mishap, a bad apple, a misleading vignette of an otherwise exemplary institution. The feminist world is abandoning its values just because we love her. It’s choosing to do PR for Lena instead of journalism.