BCM 332

Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes

I have a friend who has travelled the globe. She has got down and dirty in small villages in Nepal, she has danced the night away in Paris and has helped to develop schools for orphan children in Cambodia so they can end their poverty cycle.

What a legend! Right? Well, maybe not. She may have been doing more harm than good.

The rise in voluntourism has lead to individuals – such as Daniela Papi, founder of PEPY and advocate for clever travel – to question whether we are perpetuating a vicious cycle or doing real, honest work.

Voluntoursim is a term that refers to the use of “discretionary time and income to travel out of the sphere of regular activity to assist others in need” (Bailey & Fernando 2011, p.407).

According to Bailey & Fernando 2011,

“these trips satisfy one’s longing for adventure while providing valuable services to the communities they visited.”

I applaud these kinds of people for their selfless nature and wanting to go and lend a hand to less fortunate communities.

But, the issue I have – and agree with Daniela Papi in this – is that there is the “white hero-fixation” about going overseas and helping those less fortunate than I, “we have a tendency to swoop in when times are tough, patch it up and fly out again”.

I interviewed Daniela Papi in 2013 and she stated that we need to change the way we see voluntourism, “wealthy travellers to think they have a “right” to help people just because they are wealthier. Instead, they have to earn that right, and learn how they might be able to help, by being the students of the communities they visit, rather than the teachers.”

Papi established PEPY – Promoting Education, emPowering Youth – in Cambodia after her time volunteering there. The organisation aims to promote youth to venture overseas and volunteer however, they must fully understand the communities they are helping. Moreover, there needs to be an initiative for skilled workers to go overseas to these communities in need and educate the locals on how to build buildings or teachers going over to train local people to be teachers.

I say this in the hope that by doing this, we can perhaps create a community that does not need to rely on the aid of foreigners but are somewhat self-sufficient.

References:

Bailey, Andrew W., Fernando, I.K., 2011, ‘Decoding the Voluntourism Process: A Case Study of Pay It Forward Tour’, Journal of Experiential Education, vol. 33 issue 4, pp. 406 – 410

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BCM 332

Who runs the world? Well….not girls

Feminism, the fight for social and political equality between the sexes. A simple yet often misconstrued term.

A word that is thrown around constantly but with little to no knowledge of its meaning. However, when asked whether Hollywood is filled with sexism, many would say yes. The feminism debate came to the forefront – again – in 2015 at the Oscars when Patricia Arquette’s acceptance speech went viral as she asked for wage equality for all women.

This was not the first time Hollywood was called out on their blatant sexism displayed throughout the awards ceremonies. Amy Poehler started the #askhermore campaign which asks journalists and reporters to give more than just the boring old questions that are devoid of any substance such as, who are you wearing, how long did it take you to get ready, what are your must-have pieces?

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ELLE magazine flipped “the script” for red carpet interviews as they asked men the same questions that women are constantly bombarded with at every award ceremony. The result? A combination of hilarious, insightful and varied responses.

James Corden, the host of the Late Late Show, was asked how did he get ready for the event? “I put one leg in and then the other in and I lifted it up and then I sucked in and did it”. What’s your must have fashion piece? “I always wear a G-string. I’m never without one. You should see the one I’m wearing now”.

But the #askhermore campaign is not without criticism. Sarah Miller, a writer for time.com, wrote:

“women created the movement, and many seem to be empowered by it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if others wanted to just talk fashion”

I think she has dramatically missed the point. The issue is not talking about fashion, it is about having the choice to be asked more. In my very humble opinion, I feel that this is what feminism is about. It is about having the choice to be a career-driven women who wants to have a family as well. It is about feeling accepted for being a stay-at-home mother. It is about choices, freedom and seeing ourselves on an equal playing field with men.

Because, when you #askhermore, it is amazing to see that she is so much more than a dress.

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BCM 332

It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White

Well, according to Michael Jackson, in love it may not matter. But it does in the 21st Century media where we continually try and change people’s ideas, fashion, sexuality, and now, race to fit the “popular”.

Recently, magazines such as Vanity Fair, ELLE and InStyle have been accused of lightening the skin colour of their cover girls. In particular, was Gabourey Sidibe who looked drastically different on the cover of ELLE in January 2010.

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Similarly, Kerry Washington was “lightened” on the cover of InStyle and so was 30 year-old powerhouse Keyan celebrity, Lupita Nyong’o on her Vanity Fair cover. Many of the excuses given was the lighting used to take the portraits – and could not be edited to suit reality – as well as the lighting angles used on the covers – for example, the lighting under Washington’s face casts a white glow on her cheekbones.

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Even Beyoncé was not exempt from this as her album cover saw her wearing a blonde wig with severely lighter skin.

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Co-producer and co-director of documentary, Dark Girls, Bill Duke summarises the notions that we as a society still hold,

“Colourism is unfortunately still an issue today. Dark skin is considered less than light skin in the minds of many in our community and in the media”

But why? Why do we still hold someone of a different race to be lesser than us when we all stand and applaud the atrocity of Kylie Jenner styling her hair in cornrows and Miley Cyrus chomping on grills?

As Johnson (2015) states, “marginalised groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun”. No, no they do not have that option and it is seriously distressing and face-palm worthy when white people think it is totally norm to wear traditional headdress of American Indians or to – falsely –  represent an African-American woman by wearing brightly coloured headscarves and beads. Instead, we see them being manipulated and altered to fit a white society’s ideals of beauty – white.

Amandla Stenberg did an amazing video on black culture and what it means when white people ultimately make these things fashionable. But Amandla said something that is ever so poignant and will stay with me forever:

What would American (and the world) be if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?

Now how can a sixteen year old notice this and, we cannot. It’s time to change.

 

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