The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

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Military Service Knows No Gender

From the Kavanaugh scandal to the growing appreciation movement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to the court’s most recent ruling in favor of the transgender military ban, there is never a dull moment in the nation’s highest court. On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Supreme Court agreed with a 5-4 majority to enforce the ban against transgender people in the military while the order returns to the 9th Circuit courts for further speculation.

The ban dubbed the “Mattis Plan” after former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, includes a series of detailed restrictions that dictate who can serve in the US military on the basis of their gender identity, claiming gender identity affects one’s ability to serve effectively and productively. The Pentagon released a statement claiming they will continue to operate under the Defense Department’s 2016 policy enacted by the Obama administration, which allows for active military participation regardless of gender and sexuality. The implementation of the Mattis Plan, however, serves as a major blow to US inclusion policies and activists who have been working toward making the United States a more accepting nation.

It is mind-boggling that government officials, or anyone for that matter, can make an unsupported judgment on someone’s ability to serve their country based on how they identify and express their gender. It is essentially the same as ostracizing left-handed people and claiming they are “possessed by the devil,” solely based on a part of their identity they have no control over. This idea used to be deemed acceptable and is now viewed as archaic and vulgar. The general population has come to realize that dexterity is simply the result of our neurobiology.

And despite common misconception – and, at times misinformation – gender identity is not a choice and is as much ingrained in who we are from the day we were born as the hand with which we write. Just as some great soldiers have been left-handed, plenty of transgender people have served in the United States military with valor and efficiency, proving to be vital members of war and defense effort.

It brings me deep sadness that institutionalized hatred is still commonplace in the United States, and that I no longer find myself surprised to learn about the passage of yet another exclusionary policy. I know change and progress take time, but events of the past few years leave me pessimistic for the future. For the entirety of Trump’s administration, the president has dedicated his time to undoing Obama’s policies of inclusion, and has essentially made a game out of doing everything possible to upset the “liberal democrats” he speaks about with such distaste. Trump’s presidency represents an era of exclusion, and it will take great effort to reverse such hateful policies. My hope for the future is that it will become self-evident that no one’s worth, validity or ability to contribute their talents to benefit our world is in any way diminished by their gender, sexuality, race, religion, or any other aspect of their identity.

Athlete Spotlight: Anna Barrow ‘22

Before going to bed, most Bates students probably are not thinking about waking up before six the next morning to brave freezing temperatures, rain, or even snow in order to work out for an hour and half knowing that they’ll have to go back and do it for two more hours later that same day. For members of the Bates Swim and Dive team however, this has been a reality since November. After winning the Maine State meet for the fourth year in a row, competing against Division I Dartmouth for the first time in program history and continuing to have swimmers racing season and even lifetime-best times each meet, the training is paying off. None of this is more true than for first-year Anna Barrow ’22. After swimming multiple lifetime-bests in the season opener at Wesleyan last fall, the walk-on swimmer was already accomplishing goals she had set for herself before the season began. Yet, when she was a sophomore in high school her future in the sport became uncertain. “I had a pretty major injury [tear in shoulder] that took me out of [swimming] for a year, then I was in recovery all of my junior year.“ When she couldn’t swim for those two years, she dedicated her extra time to helping others in her community as a student ambassador for her school, running the Volunteers of America club, and even volunteering weekly at her local hospital. Her love for community engagement is what brought her here to Bates in the first place. She said that “when [she] came here everyone was inviting . . . it was really special dynamic.” The “special dynamic” is also present on the team which is unique in the fact that swimming is such an individualized sport. Anna agreed with this statement, saying that “there’s such a big individual aspect to it . . .but also you have to work as a team . . . you can’t do it by yourself.” The women’s team record makes Anna’s statement ring true. Some of the women’s team wins this season have come down to few races where not only did first place matter, but also second and third. Anna reflected back to her senior year of high school when she was allowed to return to the sport and said, ”I fell in love with it all over again, and I was 100 percent sure I was doing this in college.” However, since many college teams had already finished recruiting for the class of 2022, she would have to be a walk-on; that was no issue in Head Coach Peter Casares’s mind. When Anna sat down with him at the very beginning of the season, she told him that she felt that she had a lot more potential than she had shown previously. She was right. Besides swimming lifetime-bests from the start of the season, her line up of events is also arguably one of the hardest combinations in the sport: 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley, and the 200 butterfly. The individual medleys in particular show Anna’s skill since they involve swimming all four strokes. Even more extraordinary is that she’ll swim all three of th ose events at the NESCAC championship meet. “I just didn’t really think this was how the season was going to go, but I’m super excited!” Anna’s open-mindedness about her swimming is exactly what makes her unique and fun to coach, according to Coah Casares. “It’s exciting [to work with her] . . .so many times swimmers anticipate their results and their abilities, and that’s to be expected based on hundreds of swims and practices. Her growth mindset coupled with her talent for hard work has already made an impact on her team. It’s a terribly unique combination at the college level–and yet shows us all just how powerful it can be. She simply wants to ‘see how things go’ first and foremost.” Anna’s story of dedication and resilience in order to continue doing the sport she loved proves that there is truly more to swimming than just staring at a black “T” at the bottom of the pool for hours. It’s the camaraderie, the cheering, the bus rides, the meals spent together. It’s the million little things that push these athletes to get out of bed and walk out into cold, knowing what awaits them for the day. The Bates Swim and Dive team next competes Feb. 2 in Worcester, Mass. for the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Invitational. After that, both teams tackle the NESCAC Championships held at Wesleyan (Feb. 14-17) and Middlebury (Feb. 21-24) for the women and men’s team respectively.

{Pause}: Cookies, Art, and Zero Expectation

Students are frequently told to prioritize “self-care” practices such as meditation, reading, or signing up for yoga classes instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media. More often than not, these activities feel time-consuming, particularly when already faced with homework, exams, and club meetings. Devoting a half-hour on a Wednesday night to secular meditation may seem particularly impossible, though for many students, {Pause} provides a simple escape from the intensity of college life.
Every Wednesday night at 9pm, attendees arrive at Gomes Chapel and are greeted with hot chai, a plate of cookies, and candlelit pews. After a brief introduction and the bang of a gong, students sit in silence, interrupted only by short spurts of music, poetry, dance, or other forms of art.
One of the program coordinators, junior Lila Patinkin ’20, appreciates {Pause} for its lack of expectation. A common issue for college students is feeling a constant pressure to find a place, a group, and an activity. She referred to the event as “a really wonderful break from that, and a time where you can re-center and think on something that you wouldn’t give yourself a half-hour to think about otherwise.” For Patinkin, {Pause} provides a space to forget about the social pressures of college and take time for her own thoughts.
Sophomore Abigail Kany ’21 also mentioned enjoying the lack of expectation put on {Pause} attendees. She particularly likes the fact that unlike most activities on campus, students do not have to interact with anybody while at the event. “Everybody goes into this space and you can sit next to people or far away, and it’s one of the only times during the week at college that nothing is expected of you,” Kany describes.
{Pause} has a similar calming effect on the other program coordinator, junior EB Hall ’20. She struggled with adjusting to Bates as an underclassman, and the event has not only given her something to be passionate about, but has also provided her with a space to focus on her own growth. “It has allowed me to be more centred and actually enjoy myself in college,” Hall described, attesting to the powerful ability of {Pause} to create an approachable meditative atmosphere for students.
What is special about {Pause} is that although its aspirations are similar to more classic meditation styles, it does not force students to dwell in silence. Threaded through the event are small snippets of art, which serve a dual purpose of breaking up the quiet and sparking guided thoughts in students. Although this past week’s theme was MLK day, other themes are more abstract, such as “crows” during the first week back.
Kany began attending last year, after hearing about the event from her Bates tour guide. She appreciates the prompts, although she admitted that her mind frequently wanders and moves to things that she had been thinking about during the day. “That’s what I like; I can think about things that I don’t really have time to process during the day, and I’m given an excuse to sit there and think about that one thing.” Similar to the program coordinators, Kany appreciates {Pause} because it allows students to take time to reflect.
Although devoting time on a Wednesday night may seem infeasible, and {Pause} is “kind of a weird concept when you talk about it out loud,” as confessed by Kany, the event is special in its ability to balance reflective silence with artistic entertainment. Looking for a way to quell the demands of endless people encouraging you to attempt “self-care”? Try giving {Pause} a shot.

Identity and Belonging in College

“Congratulations! On behalf of the President, Faculty, and Board of trustees of Bates College, we are pleased to offer you admission to the Bates Class of 2022.” For many students, opening the email or letter admitting them to college grants them permission to finally take a breath, and promises a successful future at a place they get to call home for the next four years. However, just because a student gets into college does not necessarily mean they will feel at home there. Along with college comes a new set of responsibilities on the shoulders of these students; there is the intensity of the classes, the obligation of sports and clubs, the 3 hours’ worth of work for every hour of class, the pressures of having a social life, the fear of branching too far out of your comfort zone, and the struggle to prioritize mental health and self-care. With all of this to think about, college becomes a vexing game of time management.

In the midst of this juggling act, some students are thrown a few more pins while tackling the internal conflicts that arise with the role of identity. Even at a place like Bates, where people are actively trying to make the college an inclusive and aware space, some people still face the difficulties with feeling like they don’t fit in.

A lot of the time, when college students are questioning whether or not different aspects of their identity fit in, they tend to wonder if college is even the place for them. In my own experience as a first-generation college student, there are a lot of times when college seems like a time to prove myself to those around me. Getting into college is a huge accomplishment for anyone, but for first-generation college students, it is more than just a personal achievement. Rather, it is a milestone for everyone in the family. While it is an honor to be the source of pride for your family, being the first person in your family to receive higher education can come with some obstacles. The most prominent obstacle is that first-generation students cannot benefit from their parents’ college-going experience. Sometimes I find myself questioning whether or not I’m good enough to attend a place like Bates. It can be hard to know who to turn to, but luckily at Bates, I have found many resources to rely on to guide me through these upcoming years.

Many other students can relate to the struggles of identity and belonging at Bates. The feeling of fear and uncertainty is one that can be applied to everyone in college. Whether you are unsure of who you are and who you will turn out to be in the next few years, or are feeling unsure about the next steps in your life as you commit to a major and graduate, there will always be people around you who feel the same way. Despite the complexities that come with identity and “fitting in,” everyone here at Bates College is here for a reason. Sometimes you have to think back to the moment that you opened up that acceptance letter and remind yourself that ever since you were accepted into college, you have had every right to be here and to be successful.

Unapologetically,Unconvincing Appropriation

I didn’t understand cultural appropriation until I found myself staring directly in the eye. The first few times I probably just ignored it, or maybe I didn’t even recognize it for the fear of being the creepy brown girl, sticking her nose in other people’s business. I let it go because I don’t have the privilege to claim other people’s business as my own and judge it, unapologetically.

I have heard arguments on the other side too, don’t get me wrong. I fully entertained them because I felt like I was obliged to be the bigger person, even if that meant letting other people walk all over me, as they plundered, looted, occupied, and enslaved what was not their business. There exists an argument that pulls at a “reverse appropriation” of Western culture by the rest of the world. It doesn’t convince me though, because I am well aware of imperialism, colonialism, and the Western-centric worldview that basically paved the path for this “reverse cultural appropriation” that became synonymous with modernity and development. I am unapologetically unconvinced because it has been pushed down our throats historically, in the name of being respected and noticed in a world that is obsessed with the idea of this version of modern development.

The reality of cultural appropriation hurts because there are sections of society that can afford to do/wear culturally associated things without ever going through the struggles experienced by the people from these cultures. We are supposed to “fit in” so we can prove that we are non-threatening as people and as cultures, while the people with whom we are supposed to be assimilating unabashedly dress “exotic” at our expense. If people were ready to acknowledge and learn from the history that affects the power dynamics around the display of a cultural “trend,” then they would be free to appreciate other cultures once they’ve had this learning experience.

Even when not being subject to explicit bias for our differences, fear has taken root inside our hearts. This insecurity and lack of confidence for just being ourselves is not our fault—it was etched upon us, and onto our very existence. This insecurity looks like the forgotten pieces of colorful clothing that lie in the back of my closet. It looks like the uncertain woman I see in the mirror who, just before she walks out the door, turns around and changes into something less conspicuous. It sounds like “well-meaning” compliments that refer to my culture as “costume.” It is the many questions I would get—if there was a special reason, some occasion, an event that I decided to put on “fancy” clothes? Clothes that I grew up in and around, but now rarely wear. It feels like the anxiety that comes with the attention I get—good or bad—makes me not want to stand out, but I wonder if I will have to burn the very back of my closet in hopes of that?

Now, in all honesty, I am a lot more privileged than a lot of my fellow people of color, either living away from their cultures or having had modernity creep up on them. I am a little more racially ambiguous, aware, in a more accepting environment and at a point where it’s getting easier to be unapologetic for being me; and yet this anxiety hasn’t left my side.

I don’t want to be called an angry-snowflake who is making an issue out of a non-issue. Working on bigger, more serious issues and speaking about this somewhat invisible but pinching experience are not mutually exclusive—and I don’t want to be told what is “more important” for me to focus on. I don’t want to be called “exotic” —I am not a different species, something rare, or for a show display—there are too many of us and we want to take our identities back.

The Mainstream Media Madness

The mainstream media in recent times has been described as out of touch, biased, and a factory for producing fake news. In this tumultuous era of politics, these labels fracture the sanctity of the “Fourth Branch of Government,” whose duty is indispensable. The media is supposed to be the watcher on the wall, observing, reporting and holding those in power to account. The question to be answered is whether the media is fulfilling its mandate or whether it has been corrupted and is being used as a tool for those who foster division and discord. From a Millennial’s point of view, the media seems to mistake neutrality for journalism, which results in it being out of touch and indirectly advancing harmful ideas.

In the halls of the great media giants, especially those who claim to be nonpartisan, there is a misconception that neutrality is objectivity. Let us look at the recent government shutdown, but through the lens of the pre-Trump years. Back then, CNN, MSNBC, and others would either portion more blame to the Democrats for a shutdown or use their favorite term “both sides.” This is a type of defense mechanism to shield them from the wrath of conservative outlets such as Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the corrosive Breitbart News. For whatever reason, the actual journalists feel compelled to cower in some cases to the loud, mob mentality of the far right outlets because God-forbid if they were ever called biased or liberal. This was seen in a comical display after the second presidential debate back in 2012 when Barack Obama clearly won his bout with Mitt Romney. A CNN poll clearly showed Obama winning the debate by 7 percentage points, however, the fact that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer twisted his tongue when describing Obama as having a “slight, slight edge” is unbelievable. He then went on to say that once you look overall, it is “pretty much of a draw.” In political circles, a 7-point lead is substantial and in this particular case, when so many other polls confirmed a win, one wonders why CNN sought to be neutral.

They do it so that they are not labeled as liberal, because, for some reason, they care so much about what the extremes have to say. Oddly enough, they did the same thing during the 2016 Presidential election cycle and were still unfairly labeled fake, liberal, and “lamestream” news by conservatives. He-who-must-not-be-named stripped the mainstream media, minus his extremist friends at Fox News, of the air of trustworthiness and objectivity.

The disease to please has largely died with the ascension of the new president, as the mainstream media quickly realized that their duty and call to action has never been stronger. At the moment, they are one of the most important institutions in our society as we are on the precipice of slipping into a world where craziness is the order of the day. However, even with their increased attention to detail and a noticeably more vibrant urge to call it as it is, they still remain out of touch. The mainstream media has declined in popularity, as new media, powered by strong and outspoken online voices have taken root in the ear of an entire generation. Online sources such as The Young Turks, The David Pakman Show, and social media platforms in general, have filled a gap due to their accessibility and authenticity. The status quo is shaking in its boots as these vocal alternatives cut through corporate bias and establishment control. One of the reasons Hillary Clinton was defeated was because her opponent was able to get millions of views worth of free media coverage.

Ultimately, that fever and excitement is the same force that allowed Bernie Sanders to almost close a 60 point gap between him and Hillary Clinton, and it is the same force that pushed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the forefront of the Democratic Party. People crave authenticity, and whether you are boasting about sexual prowess, or calling for health care to be a right, it cuts through the mainstream media’s groupthink syndrome

Students Collaborate and Celebrate in SANG AI Asia

Every year, the student-run cultural evening Sangai Asia is organized by the club of the same name to celebrate Asian cultures and the students who represent them on Bates’ campus. The event’s title is fitting: the word Sangai is a combination of two Hindi words SANG and AI and translates to coming together to promote solidarity. This year’s performance took place on the 25th of January. The show was a great success. The night was full of vibrant performances put together by extremely talented individuals. The success of the show can be largely attributed to the teamwork of performers and organizers. Each year without fail, new performers contribute to the show and surprise the audience with their outstanding work. On Friday, the Bates Gamelan team opened the show, followed by the Bates Otaku dance team. The show also included Bates Taiko club, 2Beats and the Bollywood dance team, all of which performed beautifully choreographed pieces. Mark Su ’22, Wanyi Lu ’19 and Yichun Liu ’21 played ‘Laputa’ by Joe Hisaishi and Ursula Rall ’20 performed a Japanese folk song called ‘Kojo no Tsuki’ on cello with Mathieu Moutou ’22. Additionally, the audience was treated to two solo dance performances: MinAh Kim ’20 danced on a K-pop song called ‘solo’, by Jennie from Blackpink and Chelsea Anglin ’19 sang a song ‘Xiao Xing Yun’. Importantly, Sangai Asia is completely student run. From back stage crew and publicity for the show to the choreographers of each performance, students are not only responsible for putting together a successful show, but also for a smooth production process. Students get involved with the show on a volunteer basis; being a part of the show on any level means putting in a lot of dedication and hard work. This allows the Sanagi Asia platform to be a positive space to build community through shared passions and interests. I choreographed the Bollywood dance pieces with two other choreographers on the dance team, Kayleigh McLean ’19 and Anjali Thomke ’19 and doing so was an extremely fulfilling process. It was a delight to share this experience with so many other people who not only showed interest and enthusiasm in being a part of the Bollywood performance, but also made sure they gave the performance their all. Events such as Sangai Asia are extremely important for the Bates community. Bates has been working towards creating a more diverse community on campus. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. Promoting student organized cultural events is an important step towards greater diversity in campus culture and programming. People of color on campus from cultures across the globe need to feel recognized and appreciated for what they contribute to Bates. Within a community that tries to take active initiatives towards inclusivity and diversity, it is very important to validate the presence of cultural minorities by providing them with opportunities such as Sangai Asia. That being said, I cannot speak for the entire POC community on campus. When I get to share my Indian culture through Bollywood dances with other students on campus, I feel more welcomed and acknowledged for despite of my cultural differences from the majority at Bates.

Skosh’s Multi-Genre “Shaking the Ghost” Defies Convention

If you are looking for a fun, local, Phish-meets-Dave-Matthews-Band group, than look no further! Meet the band Skosh. Skosh is based in Lewiston/Auburn and has amassed quite a following from Bates students and in the greater Portland and coast areas. So, I jumped at the opportunity to listen to an up-and-coming local band and review their new album “Shaking the Ghost.” Skosh is a four piece, funk/classic rock/blues band from Buckfield, Maine, a mere half hour away from Bates. The members of the band are: Jedidiah Allen on drums and vocals, Elijah Allen on bass and percussions, Jay Larkin on vocals and guitar, and Peter Richard on the saxophone. Together, they work to create smooth, well-executed performances in the Portland area. The band’s Facebook page boasts a large 5,000 followers and likes since their start in March 2008, and they state their interests as “playing live music wherever, whenever, for people who like to party!” This, my friends, is an interest many college students can stand behind. Skosh’s music is what I consider to be a mix of rock, funk and country. They brought together a multitude of instruments, and I felt like I was listening to Phish’s crunchy, younger brother. My personal favorites from the album are “Angels in the Bathtub” and “Cleopatra Stardust.” “Angels in the Bathtub” is a lighthearted, sunny song about love and life. It’s easy to dance to, comforting like a cozy sweater, and reminds me a lot of Dave Matthews Band. In fact, the main vocalist in the song does sound a lot like Dave Matthews! What’s not to love? “Cleopatra Stardust” is a little more upbeat with a windows-down-in-the-car vibe. A fast beat paired with a fun jazz lineup creates a song that just makes you smile. I listened to it the other morning before heading to class and I had a pep in my step all the way there. Overall, Shaking the Ghost is a funky folk album with hints of jazz. No two songs are the same, and there’s a nice mix of upbeat, lighthearted to low, relaxed songs. Songs like “Untitled” have stronger hints of upbeat jazz than others, but in general the album is different than any music I have heard in a while. Skosh surprised me with how much I enjoyed listening to them! I was excited to hear a local band because I had been looking for a band that I could see perform live nearby. Skosh did not disappoint! I am looking forward to future releases from them. The band is refreshing and lighthearted; their music is quirky and you can tell the performers are incredibly talented. I would highly recommend listening to “Shaking the Ghost” on Spotify or attending their upcoming performance, “Who’s Bad?” a Michael Jackson cover show in Portland on April 5th.

Robinson Players’ 24 Hour Musical Success

After only one twelve-hour-long rehearsal in various locales in Pettigrew Hall, twenty five cast members, a nine person tech crew, two costume designers, a choreographer, musical director, and director put on an original musical on Saturday night. The “24 Hour Musical” included 10 musical numbers in total, with 3 fully choreographed large ensemble numbers. Performers learned and memorized choreography and lyrics day-of and utilized scripts when necessary. Costume designers Sara Hollenberg ’19 and Drew Murdock ’21 pulled, pieced together, and created costumes throughout the day on Saturday. Director Ali Greene ’20, choreographer Shae Gwydir ’20, and musical director Izzy Eichenbaum ’21 held auditions at 4PM on Friday afternoon. At 9PM, Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum announced that the cast would be performing a musical written they’d written. Around 11PM on Friday night, they dismissed the cast and crew to get some rest. Rehearsals began at 9AM Saturday morning and showtime was a mere 12 hours later. Greene explained that the Robinson Players were inspired by Brandeis University’s annual 24 Hour Musical, an event organized by the Brandeis community to create an all-inclusive bonding experience in which incoming first-years are introduced to theatre at the school. Bates’ Robinson Players make a similar effort each September through the club’s annual One Acts festival, which allows first-years who are interested in getting involved with Bates theatre to try their hand within the confines of a short play. The Rob Players wanted to inaugurate an all-inclusive event at the start of the winter semester as well, and thus the 24 Hour Musical was born. All students who auditioned were cast, and tech director Rebecca Berger ’19 invited all additional students interested in doing lighting, sound, and props for the show to get involved regardless of experience. Greene clarified that the show is Bates’ only no-cut production and explained that one of her main goals was to “find a way to get [each actor] to speak onstage.” Cast member Claire Sullivan ’19 remarked that experiencing the entire production process of a musical in 12 hours “just goes to show how much work really goes into a show.” Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum said that the pressure of an uber rapid production process is all part of the fun. Because it was so quick, “[the group] got comfortable enough to act like fools around each other, were able to roll with the punches, make mistakes, and ‘own it,’” said Gwydir. Eichenbaum echoed that sentiment and said that the “experience was all about getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new, and having fun.” “Actors are conditioned to try and make things as perfect as possible,” said cast member Emma Gomez-Rivas ’19. “We all understood that this project wasn’t necessarily about producing a perfect show,” said Gwydir. To that point, Greene stated that “there’s something really important about learning to fail onstage… you will fail and it will be the best learning experience.” The director said that with the help of such a supportive audience, she and the cast released their inhibitions and put on a unique and genuinely entertaining show. As for next year, Greene, Gwydir, and Eichenbaum hope that the 24 Hour Musical becomes an annual Rob Players tradition. “It was so special, and I really want more people to have an opportunity to be a part of something like this,” said Gwydir. Greene loved the experience of “putting on a funny show that’s well-intended.” All three also expressed that they were impressed by the level of commitment from the cast and crew. “Their patience and optimistic attitudes throughout the whole process made the day so special,” said Gwydir.

Skin Care Routine of the Week: Less is More

Too many hours of my adolescence were spent pouring over the videos of prominent YouTube beauty gurus. I routinely absorbed their gospel, blowing my meager allowance on overpriced makeup and skincare products. All the women in my family were born with naturally glowing skin. I put my faith in the potentiality that the right combination of name brands would make my skin look that way, too. I remember being painfully insecure in my early high school days, wearing scarves multiple times a week as a shield. Any woman that I saw – real or advertised – would be a marker of comparison for my own face; the reality of airbrush and Facetune never consoled the critic in my head as I scrubbed my face red with products containing salicylic acid and sulfates. It seemed that the more I put on, the worse it got. These days my routine is far simpler. I’ve noticed, like many people, that during times of high stress and PMS, my skin will do what it wants regardless of my attempts to control it. However, by maintaining a gentler and more hands-off approach over the last few years, I’ve seen marked improvement in the texture, dewiness, and sensitivity of my skin. In high school, I failed to recognize how getting four hours of sleep a night would do some damage. Now, I am a loyalist to the idea of beauty sleep, and I swear by the fact that a good night’s rest improves the brightness and smoothness of my face. In addition, drinking plenty of water or tea has the positive byproduct of improving your complexion. And though I don’t do it often enough, making sure to wash any makeup brushes you are using once every few weeks or so ensures that you are not adding excess oil and bacteria into your skin. The frequency of my breakouts decreased dramatically simply by abiding by a more health-conscious lifestyle. In terms of products, I wash my face with the CeraVe foaming facial cleanser in the morning and at night. This face wash was recommended to me by my dermatologist; my skin responded extremely positively when I substituted this gentle cleanser in place of harsher, beaded exfoliants. Thanks to this skincare column, I’ve recently added facial oils into my routine. Though I was dubious at first, these oils really have made my skin softer and glowier—and, though I feared it, they have not made my skin more oily. In the morning, I apply a few drops of the Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil. After letting it sit, I follow up with the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion on my face and neck. At night, I repeat that routine except I apply a few drops of Rosehip Seed Oil. I used to have a bad habit of popping blemishes on my face before they were ready; no matter how satisfying it was in the moment, the resulting scarring and swelling was never worth it. Rosehip Seed Oil reduces scarring, and I’ve noticed that it also calms down any redness and sensitivity I may be experiencing. I also apply e.l.f’s Illuminating Eye Cream in the morning and at night to reduce under-eye puffiness, prevent against wrinkles, and wake me up. Other than these few steps, I occasionally play around with drugstore face masks—if anyone has any recommendations, I’d love for you to send them my way! The bottom line is that my confidence increases on days I feel good about my skin. Over the last few years, opting for fewer products with fewer ingredients has worked wonders for me, while also saving my wallet. Of course, I am no professional, and I do still experience bouts of breakouts. For those days, I highly recommend the Clinique Airbrush Concealer in whatever your shade may be. Although it is a bit more expensive than a drugstore product, I cannot leave the house without it. Finally, while I, like many people, strive for perfect skin, it is equally important to remember that the language we use to speak about our skin— “blemishes,” “bad skin,” etc.—all work to stigmatize the extremely normal and common experience of acne. Remember that the notion of “perfect skin” is an abstract and unfounded concept created to profit off your insecurity. No matter what your skin looks like, find a routine that makes you feel confident!

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