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September 2018

Rachel Kushner's book cover

Insight’s Fall Reading List

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Have you reached that point in the semester where school is kicking your ass? Need a mental break but don’t want to scroll on your phone for hours on end? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our fall reading list for some fun, enjoyable books that are the perfect escape from school or work.

The Mars Room

Novel By Rachel Kushner

Review by Nikki Moylan

In 2003, Bay Area native and former stripper Romy Hall is sentenced to two life terms in prison due to a botched trial. Acting in self-defense, Romy is seen as a true murderer despite what really happened and feels like a misfit once she is locked up. She meets intimidating characters that quickly warm up to her, despite their bleak chances of ever getting out. Kushner does a great job of showcasing the serious flaws in the California prison system, and writes the diverse prisoner population in a realistic and somewhat sympathetic way. The novel also includes the perspectives of other characters for some chapters. Romy’s fate at the end, however, seems unjustified based on the other circumstances she’s already endured.

The Chalk Man

Novel by C.J. Tudor

Review by Nikki Moylan

Five childhood friends, all disconnected from each other due to unfortunate circumstances, come together once again to solve a series of murders in their tiny English town. The killer communicates using chalk symbols like Eddie and his friends used to when they were in school. The novel switches between present day and the memories of Eddie’s youth. Readers identify with Eddie in the present day, as he is just overwhelmed with stress and life. In between the thrills, it’s humorous how Eddie tries and fails to connect with the high school students he teaches and also his gothic and stereotypically millennial roommate. It is well-paced, beginning and ending with gruesome twists. This thriller is Tudor’s first book, and it sets high expectations for the next, all while making her an author to watch in the future.

Scar Tissue

Book by Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman

Review by Andrea Heerdt

Scar Tissue begins by Anthony Kiedis exploring childhood memories after he decides to move from his mom’s house in Michigan to live with his dad in Los Angeles. Kiedis recalls going to clubs in Hollywood as a kid with his dad who was heavily involved in the acting and celebrity scene at the time. The book explores Kiedis’s first encounters with drugs and sex at a very young age as he remembers smoking pot for the first time when he was just 11 years old and his dad offering up his girlfriend to help Kiedis lose his virginity in middle school.

Throughout the book Kiedis continually struggles with heavy drug use especially when his funkadelic mega band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, starts to explode in the late 80s music scene. The memoir is a sincere look at the lead singer’s struggle to get his substance abuse problem under control as he disappears on several day-long drug binges causing him to miss recording sessions and shows. Kiedis dives into the detail of his outings using dirty needles on the street to inject China white heroin and dirty socks to clean up the injection site, while also facing homelessness for a period of time.

There are many ups and downs in the book as the band’s success skyrockets them to the top of the music charts, but crack, heroine, and speedballs are a reoccurring theme as many of the band members can’t seem to shake the drug use despite the early demise of former Chili Peppers guitarist, Hillel Slovak. For musical and non-musical people alike, this book is a captivating read that explores themes of substance abuse and sobriety, love and belonging, and musical artistry as the book walks through the formation of every Red Hot Chili Pepper’s album.

floral gray background

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.”