it needs to be said

Reader’s Remorse

Earlier this week while getting my hair done (laugh all you want), I was reading the newest issue of Lucky Magazine – one of my personal favorites for shopping tips and easy access to style. Literally, it’s nicknamed “The Shopping Magazine,” so you could assume that the 99% of the population who earns an average income/is still hooked to their parents’ credit cards would benefit from any of the advice Lucky has to offer.

My hair stylist isn’t one of those that tries to have a conversation with the blow dryer on high and shrieking in my ears, but as she stood over me, she asked, “Is that Lucky?” I gave the chillest “YAAAS” I could.

She continued, “I used to love Lucky, but I would always call the stores to see if they had the clothes that they featured in those shopping pages, and they had no idea what I was talking about!”

Hearing her say that actually embarrassed me, and all I was doing was reading the magazine. Lucky  is one of my dream magazines to work for and everyone can agree Eva Chen is literally one of the coolest chicks in publishing. But as a college student working towards a future in journalism and a (realistic) goal as a market editor, learning that a magazine possibly wronged a reader upsets me.

Even though I’m just an intern at Guest of a Guest, I do a lot of editorial work covering style. When I have to put together looks for a post, it’s certainly fun and I love it, but it’s not as simple as copying and pasting photos from Forever21.com. We use certain outlets to find pieces and see what retailers offer them. But it doesn’t stop there – we then have to confirm that the retailer is still offering the product (and since we’re looking for products online, we need to be sure they’re in the correct currency!).

I take my style posts seriously and I would never want to disappoint a reader who actually wants to buy a product that I feature, whether it’s a skirt, shoes or something as minuscule as a ring. Would you want to take a few extra steps to feature something that can give a reader satisfaction, or would you sacrifice your work ethic (AKA, be a totally lazy bum) which ultimately upsets readers?

But this concept doesn’t apply just in the realm of fashion – it’s an ethical dilemma in all of journalism. Feeding inaccurate information to readers provides them with empty calories and not the proper nutrition they need.

There are journalists out there who will go at extreme lengths to add excitement to a story, such as twisting details and even fabrication. And as much as I love excitement (and drama), that’s no excuse to not perform correctly. Following the Code of Ethics, more commonly known simply as “the rules,” will benefit your career just as much as “taking risks.” But if you believe that inserting diluted information into a story, or even a gorgeous yet unattainable piece of fashion into a spread, is a “risk,” then you’re mistaken. Doing your job correctly and efficiently will get both your readers and your employers to appreciate your work.

I don’t know if a career can be destroyed over incorrectly marking a price on a bracelet for a spread, but journalism is journalism and I wouldn’t recommend it. Give readers the information they deserve, and realize this: every story is interesting. Don’t rely on fabrication for entertainment.

Diamonds Are (Really Not) A Girl’s Best Friend

Even with the amount of energy that I have, I, just like most of the general population, feel like I’m struck by bricks when my alarm sounds at 6:30 on a Monday morning. But to actually make matters interesting, this is New York City, and no two days are alike. There is constant commotion, a story to tell, and something strange to see, instantly clicking our internal lightbulbs back on.

It wasn’t even nine AM before something strange and discomforting was brought to my attention by my friends at CityElla. Much like myself, these ladies value women’s views and goals. To see anything suggestive posted by them would result in an instant double take, but all for the right reasons. Standing in line at Starbucks, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a photo that was posted by CityElla on my feed – one that is destined to spark controversy across many levels – of this billboard ad:

I don’t know how many outdoor ads real estate firm MNS has up across New York, but this one is placed in a prime location of 8th Avenue and 21st Street, where enough people will see it and stop – not just walk on by like it’s any other billboard.

We’re taking several steps backwards with this ad. I shouldn’t even have to say that this ad sexualizes women and kicks them down on the ladder. This woman is clothed in nothing but a button-up that clearly isn’t hers and a deviant glare that says, “I’m only here for the floor-to-celing windows and short walk to Central Park.” At this point, it isn’t even about real estate. It makes it look like women are skipping the “love” in storybook romances and are just falling for materialism, like a rich investment banking man who already owns the apartment a block from Bergdorf’s.

On that note, it also brings up an assumption that is so Little House on the Prairie-centric. Women have been carrying on with their own lives perfectly fine over time, but this ad subtly announces that women have difficulty flying solo – that is, they can’t function without a “man” in their lives, a sole provider, and they can’t afford to live in luxury on their own.

Lana Del Rey may believe that money is the anthem of success, and tangibly, that may be true, but success comes in different outlets for everyone. On my end, I don’t condone seeking success through someone else’s achievements – such as marrying or using someone for money, especially if he has all the complementary attributes (one being an apartment he bought through MNS).

When women don’t marry for love and prefer an invincible credit card over undeniable bliss, it throws us all into a pool of Courtney Stodden seconds. It makes all women out to be that they’re gold diggers who are more excited about the presents their men give them as opposed, well, their literal presence . Shouldn’t that be enough?

Don’t sacrifice your happiness for material items. That one night you spend in the penthouse might seem somewhat monumental in the moment, but will the great story really get any better?

Remember that your actions as a dignified individual do make a difference. If women keep acting like the model in this ad, more ads will be created because the social hypothesis is being proven true. And deep down, you don’t want to contribute to that assumption – do you?

Excuse Me, Miss, Should You Be Here?

It’s hard for me to argue that without controversy, entertainment would be a lot more difficult for us to find. But once a controversy turns personal, the lines are crossed and what was once entertaining turns into a nuisance.

And unfortunately, lines were crossed against Whitney Wolfe, the (former) VP of Marketing for the dating app Tinder. I, at least, think she was effective in her position – Tinder continued to grow and accumulate more members under her wing. But out of nowhere, she was suddenly fired from the company.

Why? Well, if you’re a tech-savvy feminist, don’t ask the former Tinder VP, Justin Mateen. His justification was that having a young female on the Tinder team made the company “look like a joke” and that other social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat “don’t have girl founders.”

That statement right there is a problem in itself, a reflection of immature thinking on Mr. Mateen’s part. So a female didn’t come up with the concept of Facebook. Not every company has to operate identically to others, even if it’s in the same industry.

Some industries are more male or female-dominated that others. Fashion vs. sports are two of the most talked-about industries for gender favoritism, but in tech, there’s enough room in Silicon Valley for literally any idea. And if there’s enough room to consider all types of apps, websites, gadgets… why isn’t there enough room for women?

It seems that sexism isn’t just saved for back-and-forth messaging and right-and-left swipes, but it just gets worse and worse in office environments and outside everywhere else. Even though women are getting stronger, the argument against workplace sexism is constantly hanging by a loose thread. The funny thing is that it neither falls nor tightens – it just stays constant.

There’s no scientific law that proves men are smarter than women, or vice versa (other than “Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider”). Every person is unique and is stronger in some areas than others, which is an affirmation that everyone needs to be reminded of. What one may lack in HTML or CSS proficiency may be made up for in, you know, common sense and the ability to carry out a conversation. And, believe it or not, these are important field skills.

Whether you’re in tech, editorial, medicine, us ladies shouldn’t let anyone put out our flame. And if anyone tries to, keep burning and fire back – that’s what Ms. Wolfe is doing. She’s suing Tinder in a sexism lawsuit and has apparently been ridiculed for a significant portion of her career at the app. Mr. Mateen better hide, and not just from her, but from all of us.

I Am Weak. (And You Are, Too, Honey)

Ben & Jerry’s. The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Tumblr. What do all of these things have in common?

They all strike me and strip me down to the floor. They suck the energy out of me – and I let them do so. Simply put, they are my weaknesses.

Okay, so they aren’t that bad, but they aren’t completely good, either. The good thing is that it’s easy for me to point out what I naturally cling to. However, in a business environment, it’s not as easy of a question to answer.

This past winter, I had an interview for an internship at a website I would’ve given up all three of those weaknesses for; a website that I looked up to, both in personal interest and in the future of my career. I knew this was an interview I had to be prepared for. It was a competitive internship position – paid, even – that many, many kids were on the prowl for.

The conversation was off to a good start. Much like a normal interview, I talked about my interest in the company, the work I was doing at the time, all those typical points. But it took a turn when I was met with the question “What is your biggest weakness?”

Here, I couldn’t say that I bowed down to ice cream and Bravo. But being the prepared young professional I am, I did have an answer rehearsed. Sadly, it was one of my poorer decisions.

I had heard once in a TV show where a character was giving interview advice to someone else (or someone might’ve actually told this to me, but I’m sort of glad I can’t remember now), and something I took out of it was if an interviewer asked for your biggest weakness to give it a positive spin. For example, “I pay too much attention to detail!” “I’m a perfectionist!”

That was exactly what I said in this live questioning and the look on my interviewer’s face was priceless. She smiled and I could see her bounce like she was trying to cover up a chuckle. As soon as I saw that, I felt like choking and tried to justify myself. It wasn’t so bad, but it definitely wasn’t one of my proud moments.

Currently, I’m reading #GIRLBOSS, and NastyGal CEO Sophia Amoruso only confirms what I did was totally stupid. She says that if you give an answer like the ones above (I really just would rather not repeat them), you’re not being completely honest with yourself. It’s almost like you’re trying to disguise an actual problem. “A #GIRLBOSS knows where she excels and where she could use some work,” she explains, “so get to know yourself and your weaknesses.”

Ms. Amoruso hits it right on the nail. After that experience, I really pinned down what my faults were in a business setting. As negative of an activity as it may sound, try to uncover what your problem areas are – and then use that as fuel to improve. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. And no, my Ben & Jerry’s addiction is not a problem, as much as my friends, family and Duane Reade cashier may tell me…

“I Know A Lot Of People.”

Aside from a career in online media, residences in New York and Paris, and a teacup Yorkie named Champagne, one of my goals in life is to establish a wide, well-versed social circle. Whether real or fictitious, I look to influences from Ari Gold of “Entourage” to Kyle of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” that establish fantasies in my head of a large Chanel-clad clique sparkling and stepping behind me as we enter a magazine launch party at some sophisticated meatpacking rooftop. It’s a dream life, but who can blame me?

They say that “if you can dream it, you can do it,” so I’ve begun to take the dream of professional and social success into my hands and turn it into the life that I’ve envisioned. And it’s happening, there’s no doubt. However, I’m not strutting around in fur shawls yet. But I look at and talk to people even my own age and they’re climbing up the ladders and building a hierarchy not based on talent, but more so on location, or, even more SMH-inducing, their “connections.”

I hate to say that a lot of small things irritate me, but nothing turns me off more than hearing someone say “I know a lot of people.” And then they roll their eyes, talking about the semi-socialite that they have to drive to McDonald’s, but then go hang out with them on the porch of their Long Island mansion. That’s wonderful for you. Can you see me clapping in your honor?

But I came into the city not knowing anyone in any industry that I envisioned a future in. And for a small girl striving for a career in media, it’s not easy to stand out and contact people. Although I’ve gotten it done, it’s almost condescending to hear someone say “I know a lot of people” or “I have connections” when you ask how they were selected for an internship position that you applied for (several times) and wanted so badly.

Meeting new people, connecting, and making new friends is one of my favorite activities. Being open, personable and relatable attracts others to you (even if you do so on LinkedIn, Twitter, what have it). But I have to create a circle and create connections all on my own. Getting what you want isn’t easy, but I’m not backing out any time soon, and my mom did always tell me I have an infectious smile.

Frat Boys And Promoters: They’re, Like, The Same Thing

College in New York City is a unique experience that not everyone gets to live. Sleeping in the epicenter of the city that never sleeps is exactly what it sounds like – countless endless nights, crossing the streets from dusk till dawn, and doing it all again less than 24 hours later.

But there’s more to it. When the sun sets in the city, an underground society comes to life. Gangs of girls are strutting down the sidewalk in stilettos, accompanied by their cheerful comrades and a guy or two with his hair spiked in a black button-up slapped on his chest. Where are they going? What are they even doing?

The longer you follow, you notice they approach a tight door with a bouncer, unhooking a velvet rope and letting in the ladies with their body-con dresses. You didn’t think it was real until you finally saw it, but that guy following those girls helped them get in through that door. And that’s not just any door, that’s a nightclub. And that’s not just any guy, that’s a promoter.

A club promoter is not a typical person that the masses would have the “pleasure” of meeting, especially for those in college. Nightclubs are one of the biggest entertainment outlets for college students in NYC. But who can blame us? It’s not like we have frat parties to crash 4 times a week…

Or do we?

I’ve experienced the club culture, and as much as I loved my off-beat NYC world, the back of my mind always wondered what a frat party would be like at a big school. So although it was sort of true that we didn’t have the stereotypical college-esque frat party to frequent on weekends, the good thing about New York is that if you’re looking for something, we probably have it. And on that note, I was right.

I had come across a group of young guys one day and understood that they were recruiting people to come to a future party their frat was throwing. And since I got the invite and was secretly more excited than I should’ve been, of course I grabbed my gang and we headed across the river for a very, very strange night.

This is where the similarities come into play.

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1. They look for girls to come party. Promoters need to bring girls to clubs so that it gives the club more attention. In this sitch, the bros were seeking out belles so that their party could be more crowded. For both sides, the more girls, the better, because as bad as it sounds, girls who look like they’re smiling and having fun attract all types of people.

On another note, both at nightclubs and frat parties, these girls are dressed exactly the same. Yes, it’s acceptable for a girl to wear a black hip-hugging dress and patent heels to Avenue. At a frat house, the ensemble is a bit out-of-place. Just a tad, IMO.

2. They pile on the alcohol. Promoters never make the ladies pay for anything, booze included. When you arrive at the VIP table, bottles upon bottles of Vodka are just ready to be picked up and mixed in with a splash of cranberry juice. And they keep coming, so don’t expect to complain about empty handles.

A frat party is similar in this fashion. I didn’t believe the rumors that the bros had been drinking since happy hour all the way through 1 am, but they somehow accumulated enough alcohol to sustain the guestimated 220-person max in their crowded townhouse. Keep up the fundraising, boys.

3. They’re dangerous. You may have heard Ghandi-esque people say “you can only trust yourself,” but it might actually apply here. While promoters try to serve you at the club and make sure you’re having a good time, some often want to serve girls in other ways. The unlimited alcohol can quickly turn into a negative rather than a quirky benefit. If your promoter keeps pouring you drink after drink, beware.

The same for frat boys. And it’s unfortunate because they’re your age and sometimes, you think you could actually be friends (or more) with some of these guys. But some of them might have cruel intentions. I’ve seen them lead sideways-stepping girls up the stairs and their partners in crime clapping them on. You don’t want to be that girl.

It may be all fun and games, but it’s not a game you can play forever. I’m all for making as many friends as possible. Just don’t get too friendly.

Dear HR, Why Don’t You Love Me?

The drama you endured in seventh grade is not completely irrelevant. If anyone has ever said “your experiences shape you as a person” or some cliché bull of the sort, in a way, it’s not far off. Seeing your BFF Katie talk to your crush, Alex, when she obviously knew how much you “like-liked” him was totally not cool, and then finding out he asked her to the Halloween dance instead of you was nothing short of a cut in the gut.

But in one way or another, we’ve been here, at this stage and felt this tinge of emotional pain. The guy you went out with last week doesn’t call you back. Your mom spits out cupcakes you baked for her office party. Your dog doesn’t run to you when you walk in the door. There is nothing more heartbreaking than being told that you aren’t good enough, but it’s exponentially more hurtful when it comes from someone of higher authority – a potential employer.

A hustling and hungry student (ie: me) is all too eager to not have her eyes glued to job boards and edit resume after resume to send to Human Resources departments. The cover letter has been quadruple-checked for spelling errors and address changes and you think, “I’m gonna kill it.” And once you press “Submit,” there is no going back.

This semester, I probably went through this process about 40 or 50 times in total. For those of us who struggle with patience, the anticipation of getting a response from a company that you admire like a fangirl makes you tick. It’s exhilarating to know that you could possibly contribute to a force that has had such influence on your interests and your life, but it’s stressful to have to play the waiting game with HR.

Silence screams in exponential volumes. Companies get applicants for jobs and internships like they’re hosting a One Direction meet and greet – it’s hard to get back to everyone, let alone even skim the applications. I’ve been in this situation and have re-sent and re-re-sent applications to companies, especially the ones that are at the top of my “Dream Careers” list. But still, just because you send once doesn’t mean it’s enough to get a response.

Nothing, however, compares to a rejection notification. There have been instances when I’ve gotten automated email responses within 12 hours of applying that said, “Currently, you don’t fit the qualifications.” Some messages have been more personalized, and while I appreciate being notified, it can be upsetting. You stare at your screen, take a deep breath and think, What do they have that I don’t have?

You see how your questions have come full circle – what does Katie have that you don’t have? What does the lucky applicant who got the job have that you don’t have?

From what I know, you have to keep moving forward. Remain positive. Remain polite. If you’ve spoken to anyone regarding positions and opportunities, don’t lose touch. Hustle and do anything you can to stay in the game. If you’re passionate enough about it, you’ll get what you deserve… And probably a nicer guy than your seventh grade crush.

Hailing The Queens

One of my favorite movies this past holiday season was, to say it nicely, a controversy. Orchestrated by a renowned director and performed by a half-rookie, half-Oscar-nominated cast, The Wolf of Wall Street stole my heart in a mere 3 hours. I did not want to stop talking about it. I would’ve paid to see it again. And again. It was unique, engaging, and sticking to the point of entertainment in general: entertaining. Dubbed by my friends as fairly “prim and proper,” they were surprised to learn how much I enjoyed this film that was referred to as “softcore porn.” But as an entertainment enthusiast, my response was, “It was just fun. And the action never stopped.”

If you’ve seen the movie, then you’ll know that the action never really did stop, no matter where Jordan Belfort was, and no matter who he was with. Does the name Naomi ring a bell? How could it not? Belfort’s deviant-turned-mistress-turned wife slayed him at first glance.

But dare I say it was more like lust at first sight rather than love? She was golden tan and platinum blonde and voluptuous, so of course the power-hungry (or, power-thirsty, rather) Belfort craved for her affection. And he got that on the first date: a full-frontal right at her living room entrance. Not just for Leonardo DiCaprio to enjoy, but for everyone who paid $12 to see this cinematic masterpiece.

This is where the majority of the controversy lies, though. Noted as offensive and an objectification of women, ladies were warned that they wouldn’t last through this movie. Even my vocal, open-minded aunt confessed that she left halfway through. Critics complained that Margot Robbie’s nudity – along with others’ that were displayed in the movie – sold women as objects of desire. However, Robbie defended her character and said that it was voluntary. She told a British magazine, “If it’s justified and the character would do it, it should be there.”

One of her biggest points was during a Red Carpet interview at the Golden Globes that I never initially took into consideration, but resonated and stuck with me. When asked about being criticized as a result of her nudity, she felt that it was expressing how much power women actually do have over men – but in a desirable way. More specifically, in this case, the benefits of Naomi’s body won over Belfort’s heart and mind, and with that, she was able to get anything she wanted from him, whether it was material, physical, or emotional.

Any girl can use this to her benefit. But that’s not a good thing. Whether a woman wants to climb a corporate ladder or pin a guy into a relationship, sex isn’t the way to achieve it. The pleasure can only last for so long.

So a man hires a woman for a relatively important role based on looks rather than professionalism and qualifications. Sure, she’s attractive, but just because she gets the job done in between the sheets doesn’t mean she knows how to use Google Analytics or write up a flowchart. If you fall for that, then congratulations, you’ve been officially screwed intwo ways!

And no matter what the physical exchange is for, the results are short-term for men, but whether women want to fight it off or not, the feelings last with them, thanks to oxytocin. That’s the hormone that’s released when a woman peaks. Therefore, it is literally impossible for women to not emotionally attach onto men they sleep with. Once again, guys, you are screwed in two ways.

As much as my or any other girl’s body can be a powerful tool to get what they want, there’s no breath of relief that compares to any professional accomplishments I’ve had. My personality and my passion will get me where I want to be, both personally and professionally. Not my body.

Judge Me, But Don’t Judge Me

If anyone I ever went to high school with wants to come to me and tell me what they thought of me, by all means, do it. I don’t know what I was really labeled as. Was I a dork? A teacher’s pet? Was I a loner? Was I friendly?

While I wasn’t aware of my social standing in high school, I did everything I could to come across as well-rounded. I was very involved in extracurriculars like French Honor Society and Student Government, I got straight A’s, and I made sure I was friendly to everyone. I think it was important to be friendly to everyone no matter what. As a teenager, you wanted your reputation to be positive. I admit, I do look back and wonder what impact I had in high school, and if I had any on my classmates.

But if I’m being honest, none of that matters anymore. Once you get to college, you can start fresh, but I made it a point to make sure that in college, I kept my values, and the number one value that I believe in is to be yourself. I never faked anything – my personality, my opinions, my interests. Reflecting on my past two years at FIT, meaning that my college career is almost halfway over, I have stayed true to this and I really do deserve a pat on the back/pint of Ben and Jerry’s/all-inclusive vacation on a Mediterranean cruise.

While I’ve achieved this, it’s unfortunate that others seem to look down upon this or that their opinions may not match up to mine. That’s fine and they can think what they want. Several of my hometown “friends” made an attempt to alter my priorities, judged me based on my personal choices, and assumed that my college experience wasn’t “fun.”

Here’s the thing: I’m having so much fun. Launching my career may be one of my biggest priorities right now, but I have never had more fun or been more entertained as a student at FIT. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for college. While the internship and job hunt can be stressful and frustrating, it’s a creative and thrilling experience, too.

But if you’re going to judge me because I’m not parading down Fraternity Row every weekend, I might just have to judge you right back. I’m sure it’s fun and I believe that, but if that’s your only concern right now and you’re not even thinking about what you’re going to do after you graduate, when will you think about it?

 

 

Room For Growth

 

I had been warned as an ambitious and daydreaming middle schooler who swore that she would be an anchor for ESPN’s SportsCenter that if I wanted to reach my dream job, I would have to relocate to a small town in Idaho for 12 years after college covering stories on families’ pets for the local weekend news show before getting any sort of “big break.” Sort of like a season 1 of How I Met your Mother Robin Scherbatzky without the luxe Brooklyn apartment and 3000 miles away from any borough of New York.

Even as an overly-optimistic sixth grader clad in braces and Harry Potter-shaped glasses, I kept telling myself two things whenever this caution sign came to my head. 1: I will not end up in Idaho. 2: If I have to go to Idaho to live my dream, I will.

But my naïve optimism could only go such a long way. When I began to pick up production internship opportunities in college, so many of the job descriptions read, “Going on runs, assisting in daily office tasks,” and the like. At the time, all I cared about was the status of having an internship and where I worked. So with any chance I was given, I made sure to take it.

Going into an office and not knowing what you would do that day was an exciting feeling. To know that I wouldn’t be sitting at a blinding cubicle was pleasant and that I would get to run around a bit made me feel useful. No matter what my assigned task was, it was very largely appreciated and I strove to earn the respect of my seniors. However, I knew that I was capable of doing the same tasks as a production assistant. In fact, I was doing the same tasks as a PA, but I wasn’t getting paid.

When I hear about internships my friends are doing now, it seems to be that there are so many lopsided levels. From what I hear, if you’re interning at a small start-up, you’re extremely integrated in the efforts that your company is trying to accomplish. On the other hand, students who get internships at well-known companies are labeled as “The Lucky Ones,” and then what do I hear? They get bitched at all day and they have to tape labels on clothes for 12 hours straight.

How on Earth are we, as students who are paying several prices to intern for these companies, supposed to learn from getting yelled at all day? What is a student supposed to gain from going around asking employees “Is there anything I can do for you?” and the answer is “No,” when really, there’s a huge task list with chores scribbled on it that have yet to be crossed off? If your student intern is studying communications, chances are he or she has learned the ABC’s of press release writing. Let her use her academic skills in the workplace.

And if she messes up? Don’t scold or scare her. We learn from mistakes, but we don’t learn from harshness, yelling, or negativity in general. Teach us. As interns, we are here to learn about our potential careers. Employers: these are our lives and we don’t have time to waste. Take us under your wings with sincerity.