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Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

By beauty, culture, renoNo Comments

Women across the globe often feel as though certain aspects are expected of them — to look and present in a specific manner according to their surroundings. From body piercing ideals to the length of a woman’s hair, standards differ from country to country in order to conform to what is considered conventionally beautiful. So, how do foreign women living in the United States adapt to American beauty standards?

Firstly, American beauty standards must be defined.

“You cannot say what is truly beautiful, but you can say what most people like from each country,” said Merle Ocampo, a nurse from Hernani, a fifth class municipality of the province of Samar, Philippines. Ocampo, 58, is the supervisor at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Reno, NV, and began her career in America after traveling from her home country in 1993. She currently has one daughter attending the University of Nevada, Reno, who identifies as a Filipina-American woman.

“Yet, the Philippines have ideals that are very strange,” Ocampo said, “If you go to a drug store, you will see whitening products left and right. Whitening soaps and creams, everything. For some reason, they think if you are fair, you are beautiful.”

A study conducted by Peggy Chin Evans and Allen R. McConnell about minorities responding to American beauty ideals showcased that, “In American society, many women strive to attain mainstream, Western standards of beauty, which are derived from a predominantly Anglo-Saxon influence.” In addition, this study also concluded that Whites often follow trends to attempt to change their racial makeup; the opposite goal from minorities living in the United States. For example, many women have been found to utilize-fake tan or other bronzing cosmetics to mimic a more sun-kissed skin tone, whilst many women of color struggle to find cosmetic ranges that encompass colors deep enough to blend with their skin seamlessly.

Indeed, americanized beauty stigmas have evolved to encourage body modification at any cost, increasing the numbers of women seeking plastic surgery. With the YMCA USA reporting that more than $684 billion were spent on eyelid surgery in the average year from 2013 to 2016, the much sought after “american eyelid” has become a standard among society.

Yet, beauty standards fall outside of the cosmetic realm, often including clothing or style in general. Zoe Fitch, 19, is student athlete at the University of Nevada, Reno, who moved to Reno from Guernsey, Channel Islands, United Kingdom. She emigrated for educational purposes in 2016 and hopes to remain in the United States after graduation in 2020.

“One of the beauty standards that surprised me was that I felt super comfortable walking around all the time in sports gear even when I’m not necessarily about to go and work out,” Fitch said. “In England, it is a bit unusual to walk around in active wear all the time, but over here it is a common thing that loads of people do.”

Forbes reports that one of the biggest challenges clothing companies have in advertising to immigrants is not being sure of where their audience is in terms of assimilation, with a gross average of $5.5 billion spent on advertising to Hispanics alone as of 2010.

Noris Buitrago, 22, traveled to the United States from Panama City, Panama, for her education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Through her 4-year experience in America, she has been able to define key differences in beauty standards between the United States and her home country.

“I think beauty and attractiveness mean something a little different in my country,” Buitrago said. “Beauty is also accompanied by intellectual knowledge and good qualities. If a woman is physically attractive but also professional and more conservative, she will definitely get a lot of attention.”

However, many women feel the pressure to americanize their beauty and style ideals to an extreme standard. Ocampo further explained the judgement she faced in representing a Filipino woman in America.

“The city girls would look at me and say, ‘What is she wearing?’ but I didn’t care,” Ocampo said. “I think women should be secure about themselves. So the judgement they will get, they will not be affected, it will not destroy them, but they will define themselves.

“I can put on makeup, but if i don’t feel good inside, I don’t feel beautiful,” Ocampo said. “You have to feel good about yourself to make you feel beautiful and like you are a part of something bigger than just beauty.”

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A Percussive Passion

By culture, Millennials, musicNo Comments


One of my main passions in life is drumming. I love playing the drums. I am obsessed. When I’m not drumming, I’m annoying those around me with my incessant tapping.

Whether I’m playing to favorite songs on my headphones, practicing with my band Grimedog, or performing live, drumming gives me incomparable feelings of peace, freedom, power, and interconnectedness. I am free to let these feelings flow through me and simultaneously express them, spiritually and physically.

There are a wide variety of possible drum set-ups. Most drummers play three or four-piece kits with two or three cymbals. The reason for playing smaller kits is the simplistic beauty to it. There’s nothing elaborate. Everything’s right there, nice and tight. There’s less to transport, set up, and tear down.

I started on a five-piece kit with one crash cymbal. I play fast, intricate fill combinations. I prefer more options. I outgrew that kit faster than I could afford more equipment. I’ve had as many as nine drums and six cymbals in my kit, but I’ve found that seven drums and five cymbals is the sweet spot for me. Nine drums is fun, but I can achieve the same effect with seven, and it’s just as exciting and fulfilling.

People like to talk smack about drummers. A classic example is the old jab, “You’re not a musician; you’re a drummer.” I tell people I am a musician. I write most of the lyrics for Grimedog, and I sing occasionally. I love guitar solos and bass riffs, but drum parts in most songs have always sounded lacking to me. I play drums because that is where I can contribute the most to music. Another cliché is drummers are stupid.

The Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm conducted a study on the link between drumming and intelligence (Ullén et al., 2008). The study had drummers play different beats, then complete a 60-problem intelligence test. Researchers found a positive correlation between accurate timing, problem-solving, and general intelligence.

Researchers at Harvard discovered drummers’ internal clocks don’t rely on linear time, but waves similar to brainwaves, heart rates, and auditory nerve firings (Hennig et al., 2011). That is the most scientific description of how drumming feels. I also experience what Oxford researchers call a “drummer’s high” (Dunbar et al., 2012). Even if I’m having a horrible day, drumming pumps me up.

Drumming for extended durations requires vast energy. I can start a winter set shivering. By the end, I’ll be sweating through my clothes. However, there’s a soothing, positive energy that comes over me and gives me enhanced focus and a feeling of indestructibility.

I love feeling the music flow through me like a wave of energy and emotion. I love feeling those polyester film skins respond to my constant bombardment. I love following cell phones up past the outstretched arms to the faces glued to my every movement and recognizing the wonder in their eyes at what I am doing with two sticks and some tendons.

SnowGlobe Concert

SnowGlobe Day 3 Photos

By burningman, california, culture, dancing, edm, festivals, laketahoe, Millennials, music, musicfestivals, newyears, partyNo Comments

2017 ended in style as SnowGlobe Music Festival came to a close. Neon blue and red lights lit up the Igloo as the Los Angeles based band, Justin Jay, played trance-like, dreamy music. The crowed swayed back and fourth as guitar player, Ben Glasser, jumped up on an amp in front of the stage. Jai Wolf turned a crowd of people into a magical sea of music lovers all on the same wavelength. As the 2018 countdown began, Alison Wonderland slayed the main stage to end the year.

SnowGlobe Concert

TroyBoi Talks New Album: Left is Right

By burningman, california, culture, dancing, edm, festivals, laketahoe, music, musicfestivals, newyears, party, rap, snowglobe, troyboiNo Comments

On a quiet, peaceful afternoon Troy Henry, known as TroyBoi, was sitting in his house in Miami, Florida. Looking at the view from his lounge as the sun began to set and created what he describes as the perfect conditions to make his favorite track “Wavy” off of his new album Left is Right. Henry wanted to paint a mental picture through music that would capture that exact moment and take him back to that place each time he listens to it.

Making Left is Right not only was a way for Henry to show what he could create as a producer but was also a way for him to tell a musical story. Each track on the album flows into the next one in a certain way. Henry wanted to cultivate a variety of vibes and feelings with every new song that each has been inspired by a variety of influences including house, hip hop, trap, R&B, and reggae.

Henry said he’s been working on the album for about a year and has recorded songs everywhere from his house to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He develops ideas from everyday sounds like footsteps banging on a staircase, people coughing, and raindrops then records it on his phone and uses these sounds for inspiration later when producing.

“I tend to let the music write itself, and that’s a trait I’ve learned from Michael Jackson. He’s one of my greatest inspirations,” said Henry, “It’s just whatever comes at the time is what I make.”

Music has always had an influence in Henry’s life, and with the support of his friend, IceKream, he finally decided to end his eight year career in real estate to pursue music full-time. Henry said no matter what he did his parents were always supportive and the best thing he could do for them is to go out [to the music scene] and give it his all.

It is definitely clear that Henry remains in touch with his humble roots of making beats in his bedroom. “I am very grateful for the fans I have out here,” said Henry, “I’ve got some new music i’ve been working on still from the new album, and I just want to have a good time with everybody and end the new year with a bang.”

Looking forward to the future, Henry said the only thing he wants to do is become bigger and better whether it’s getting hyped to perform at festivals or writing new music.