Florence and the Machine’s new song “What Kind of Man” is like crying for forever while spinning in a circle. It’s like letting those tears fling off of your face onto your ex-boyfriend who is standing nearby watching patiently. Your tears cause him to think it’s raining and he pulls out your old umbrella he kept, which makes for a great alternative music video to the song. And as you spin, you gain power, and it REALLY shows and you eat him like a hungry mama spider eats her most recent mate. Goodbye ex-boyfriend. ★★★★☆ 4/5.

Thanks, tips: Selecting your Shampoo

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As some of you know, I recently graduated from hair school. I picked up some pretty good tips along the way. And so, I’m going to spread the knowledge seeds to you, post by post. Let’s start with something basic. ***ShAmPo0**

You might be tempted to grab whatever bottle of shampoo and conditioner is on sale at Shopper’s Drug Mart. Fructis this month, Pantene Pro V the next. It’s wise to switch up your shampoos and conditioners often (you know, normal often, like once you have finished a bottle try something new). Our hair gets used to the chemicals in our products and they become less effective over time. So keep up the good work on that front.

You want a Shampoo that is: Paraben-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free (if possible), perfume-free. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, and estrogen disruptors are linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues in women. That is no good. No shampoo is worth it. Sulfates are responsible for the lather in your shampoo. Lather is actually really pointless. It gives us a false sense of clean. Sulfates are bad news too, my friends. These surfactants strip colour from your hair too. And they’re derived from petroleum. Need I say more? Gluten-free is less important for those of us who aren’t sensitive. But We really don’t need gluten in our shampoo anyway. Stay away from perfumes in your hair products. Manufacturers don’t even need to specify what the perfumes are made of. God only knows.

You don’t want a Shampoo that is: Full of all of the bad stuff I mentioned above. You also don’t want a shampoo that lists water or its fancy spanish brother “aqua” as the first ingredient. Shampoo with water listed as the first ingredient are often 90+% water. How helpful is that, really? If you’re going to spend money on a product, make sure it really is a product and not just water with a pinch of weird lathering chemicals and thickeners. You also don’t want to buy a Shampoo+Conditioner combo. Shampoo opens the cuticle (outer layer of your hair) and conditioner seals the cuticle back up. Shampoo is slightly alkaline, and conditioner is slightly acidic. When you mix the two together, they can’t perform their individual jobs, obvi. And please do not buy a shampoo-conditioner-body wash. EVER. Also, it’s impossible to repair split ends with shampoo or conditioner. So don’t believe those bottles that tell you otherwise. They’re probably just Elmer’s Glue.

Shampoos I like:
1. Seanik Shampoo Bar from LUSH. It has sulfates, which is shitty. But it smells phenomenal and it doesn’t have any major plastic packaging. You can also read all of the ingredients on their website. I will often only go through one bar in three-four months. $11 online and at store.

2. Davines Calming Shampoo is a real treat. It’s pricey, but Davines has a great line of products. They have a wicked sustainability mandate and awesome packaging/branding. $25 online. Probably more at a salon.

3. Avalon carries a nice ylang-ylang shampoo. I actually like most of their shampoos. These can be found at most health food stores or in the organics section at grocery stores. More affordable ranging between $9-11. They use recycled material for their packaging.

OR  Make your own shampoo with this lovely British lady.

Facebook sabotaged your dreams of a high-school reunion

You already know who has had babies. You can see that the guy who sat behind you in Grade 11 Chemistry is now working for a real estate company. He takes pictures of every house he sells and inserts faces of crying children in the windows– it’s pretty great…so you keep him on facebook. You can see that the “popular girls” still go out to clubs together and somehow manage to look the same in their selfies from 2008 onward. The “popular guys” are still getting very high in their dads’ garages. They look the same, really. Some of them are starting to lose their hair, but hey, who gives a shit. We’re turning 25 this year. And I already have a varicose vein.

When I go home for holiday visits, I am always in a state of paranoia when I am out for a walk or stop into the mall. I look entirely different than I did in high-school. I have short hair now and wear anything from a jean jumper to an ironic shirt that says “Epic Weekend” to long floral skirts that once belonged to what i would deem a very fashionable old lady diva. Gone are the days of padded bras, boys! A whole lifetime of changes and hormones have flooded my body since I was 17. I bumped into an old friend two Christmas’ ago and I couldn’t help but study the newly formed lines on his face. I went home and studied my face in the mirror too, wondering if i too had signs of aging that I hadn’t noticed. There’s something weird that happens to you when you haven’t seen someone in seven or eight years. It’s like you’re able to tap into some repressed younger version of yourself that was more this or that– more bubbly, less cynical, more easygoing? Maybe you try to bridge the gap of the years and blend together the person they once knew with who you are now, and it comes out very awkward. Maybe your response to them telling you about their new job is  “that’s dope, brah”.  That could encourage a conversation about “blazing”, though. God knows you don’t want to tell them about your recently diagnosed anxiety disorder that has led you to avoiding weed altogether. It’s better that they remember you as someone who was slightly on edge than someone with OCD.

High School reunions are usually also held in the oddest of places. I mean, historically. It goes something like this. The wealthy guy, whose parents were caught laundering money last year, offers to rent the nearby Portuguese Hall and pays for the alcohol for the night. The coolers are stocked with Bud Light (for the girls) and Corona for the guys). How sweet.  He’s basically the host and so he is now claiming the spot as the coolest guy from high-school. You might have to re-arrange the old hierarchy in your mind. It’s been on your to-do list anyway. 

 You stand in a corner with the two people you’ve kept in real touch with over the years. You’ve all been to university and you’re all underemployed. Your one friend works for her dad when she feels like it, and the other has been trying to make money by selling her old designer clothes on Craigslist. No one is really talking, because there are so many things to be nervous about. Is someone going to make you play Twister? You see what appears to be  a bunch of blue, green, red and yellow dots in the near distance.  You can’t believe how many stereotypes are in the room. Which one are you? The sad girl. Shit, really? How did that happen? You’re in a committed relationship but you told that special someone not to come because you know you’d be so wired and strange and probably at least seven different versions of yourself. You text them, though, every five minutes saying things like “Oh god, why am I even here?” and they respond “Did you empty the dishwasher today?” and you say “Yes, I put the dishes away in the left cupboard instead because I found that it worked better.”

 By the time you’re done that text, you look up and someone who you recognize perfectly (thanks instagram) is standing infront of you and calling you by your nickname which makes you shudder. You try to react appropriately to their outstretched hand with your secret handshake code you had back in grade 10 with them. Their hand is sweaty and bloody (?) and has lots of warts. Jk. It’s a fine hand. You glide over to the table with Cheetos and popcorn and you stuff your face because you feel your hyperglycemia kicking it. Handshake partner says something pretty basic like “I see you still like to throw down with the food” and you both LOL and you privately question whether you’ve gained weight, forgetting all of your healthy body politics you’ve cultivated over the years. You don’t have much to say to them, as the Bud Light hasn’t really kicked in. They invite you to the after-party which is taking place in the field that everyone use to go to drink when we were underage. You, without hesitation, say something like “FER SURE BUDDY! SEE YOU THERE!” You attempt your secret handshake again but you forget the little thumb bump at the end, and she walks away. 

You text your lover again and say “Faccck, I just tried my secret handshake with Kate and it was a total disaster” and they text back immediately “not the end of the world………” and you feel bad that you didn’t invite them because clearly they are sad at home and paranoid you might rekindle a love for “that guy you used to wrestle after school”. You recognize 100% of the music playing. Someone made a playlist with all of the popular songs from before high-school, but ones everyone knows so that we can all drunkenly mouth them together and try to dance in acceptable ways that make us look youthful and hot. Before anyone notices that you haven’t shaven your armpits, and not because you forgot,  you shimmy your way over to the EXIT sign and motion to the group that you’re going out for a smoke. But you don’t even smoke! You’re free, little buddy. Don’t even worry about being weird and leaving, you just went because you wanted to remind yourself that you actually like the way your life is going. 


Grammar snobbery 

Growing up, I used to think canal was pronounced canail. Even spellcheck didn’t want me to write that. I learned a lot of words from my mom. My mom says a handful of words wrong. She says wreaf instead of wreath and Christian instead of Kristen. Mom: “Are you going to Christian’s house after school?”  One time she even tried to order a quesquedilla at a restaurant. Despite everyone trying to correct her all the time, she continues to say these things. Now they’re just endearing, and don’t frustrate me. But these are the things that make people look less intelligent. And when we believe people are less intelligent due to poor grammar or misuse of words, we can slowly begin to discredit their opinions and beliefs. When we’re listening to someone speak, our whole body involuntarily reacts when someone uses the wrong word or pronounces something wrong. For the longest time I used to think when something was terrible it was notrocious. I later learned that what I was trying to say was atrocious. I still say things wrong all the time. I mix up words in weird ways and come out saying oblomerate instead of obliterate. Its not because I don’t read enough. It’s because I don’t stress that much about how I’m saying things. I worry more about painting a good picture with words…and getting the message across in the most honest and true way I can. I feel that language is malleable. 

I remember coming across this article at Everyday Feminism a year ago and being totally impressed by it. It is written by a self-described recovering grammar snob. She, Melissa Fabello, discusses how grammar snobbery has no place in the feminist movement because grammar snobbery is an extension of classism and colonialism. Grammar police, who are very active on facebook and Twitter, often completely disregard the clear intention of someone’s status update and jump right to correcting the thorny and improper use of “their”. It’s very embarrassing to spell things wrong or use words incorrectly. When people point out these errors (often simple ones because we’ve rushed through something), we can dwell on them for a long time. Using proper grammar and punctuation challenges me on the daily. And I’m university educated. 

The thing is, the English language is ever-evolving whether we like it or not. I like it. I don’t find Shakespeare relevant to my life. I don’t use big words because I often won’t use them right. I also feel like it’s important to keep language accessible. Most of the best poetry is written very simply. Fancy words have their place and time and use. Like at dinner parties with English professors. But we shouldn’t be running around feeling personally insulted when someone uses the English language in some way that we deem as non palatable (not desirable). It’s a hard language to learn, as we all know. When we call our friends out on their grammar blunders, we are patrolling their expression. Did you understand what they meant? Good. Don’t stress then. If you didn’t understand, ask them to clarify. They will likely choose different words to describe their thoughts the second time around. 

As native English speakers, we can’t continue to oppress others with our grammar policing. Its the opposite of progressive. What small effort we put into “trying to educate” our friends is shadowed by the shaming nature of correcting their speech, and interrupting their thought flow and overall message. 

This little poem by Aysha at Diaspora defiance is very powerful: 

when my mother struggles to spell a word in english

I want to break the entire language

into little pieces

so the edges of these letters
will stop cutting her

Emma Hewson Reviews Meg Jay’s Book and You’ll NEVER Guess What Happens Next

Don’t you just despise headliners like that? Me too.

Emma Hewson is a complete self-development junkie, having scoured the pages of hundreds of books over the last decade. By day (and night actually), she is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and performer. Check her out at emmahewson.com.

Um, just wow. And here is Emma’s review on Meg Jay’s “The Defining Decade”

The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now 

By Meg Jay, PhD

Who wrote it: Meg Jay, PhD, a clinical psychologist who focuses on twenty-somethings and whose Ted Talk, Why 30 is Not the New 20, was a massively successful hit in 2013.

What its about: This book offers practical insights as to why the decisions you make in your twenties matter more than you might think. Jay mainly discusses work, love and family, and how these areas might play out in your thirties and forties depending on your choices now.

Who should read it: Anyone and everyone in their twenties! It really carves out the perfect demographic in its title. A little too complex and serious for teens, and not as useful for those in their thirties and beyond, as the research focuses on twenty-somethings exclusively.

Overall impression: Not many authors focus on twenty-somethings, and as a young person myself, Ive always felt a little left out in the self-development crowd. Luckily, The Defining Decade does not disappoint. By giving examples of past clients, Jay encourages her readers to view their current circumstances as important indicators of where theyre headed. Research has shown that your twenties offer the most potential to change your habits and personality. As long as youre willing to set up your life in such a way that youre always adding value, thats a good thing. The common theme seems to be Is what Im doing now giving me a foundation for what I want to do later?

Best points:

  1. When discussing career, Jay states that twenty-somethings who dont feel anxious or incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed (p147). That barista job you think is okay for now? Jay says that even if they pay the same, workers should focus on how much experience capital a job offers before taking a position. A.k.a. What will be more valuable on a resume – a barista job or an entry-level placement in my field? What will be most relevant or interesting when Im being considered for higher level positions?
  2. Relationships have consequences. Especially for women, there are biological factors to consider when thinking about dating. Its not enough to wait and see if you might want a family in your late thirties, because by then it may be too late, too difficult or too expensive to be possible. And seriously consider ditching all the losers  youve been dating! You need experience figuring out what your real needs are in relationships if you want to be sure to find a compatible partner in time for children (if you want to have them, of course).

Final Thoughts: The Defining Decade is a highly motivational book for any twenty-something looking to use their time in the most efficient ways possible. This book shows you how to start taking your life seriously as a young professional in an easy to understand, attainable way.

There is no way the dragons would follow my never-ready beach body into that sauna tent

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Let me paint a quick picture of the scene: I am cutting my 14-yr-old brother’s hair in the basement of my mom’s house. He’s not being easy to work with as he is annoyed by the itchy hair on his neck. My mom has long gone to bed. Their pug is snoring loudly on the floor. My boyfriend is lounging on a nearby leather couch. Both of them are watching Dragon’s Den. I have maybe seen one episode. It’s alright. It’s whatever. It’s another TV show that follows the same structures as most “reality” TV shows– with all the booms, and drama, and commercials. I’m always astonished to hear my brother use words like “investment” or “settlement”. He’s growing up! I happened to catch sight of one moment where some dude was trying to promote his outdoor sauna tent. Oh neat, a portable sauna. I’m interested. And to no one’s surprise, out comes some bikini babe. All of the male Dragons raised their hands in much excitement to volunteer themselves to try out the new sauna (so long as the bikini babe comes in as well). Arlene Dickinson sat back and smirked. Let’s just take a short break from our entrepreneurial discussions to engage in a world of acceptable sexualization and commodification of women.

It was in that moment that I just finished up my brother’s haircut. The bikini babe was climbing into the sauna tent with the dragons hovering close behind her booty, nearly smelling her ass, cause WHY NOT. Where did she come from? She’s clearly not a part of the company. Did he hire her from a Kijiji ad when he flew into Toronto? What did the ad say? “Looking for hot woman to lead dragons into a tent: 100$ an hour”? I was hunting for praise and compliments from the both of them. You know, a “Wow, Steph, you’ve really improved! I like the way the hair falls in the back”. But everyone was still fixated on the TV. I felt a sudden urge to punch the TV, or vomit, or explode, or scream. All of those options seemed totally justified. I looked back at the TV and found myself in a comparison battle with Bikini Babe.

I said the following to myself very rapidly in my head:
Oh well, she’s probably really stupid. (like, even though she’s hot she probably isn’t as smart as me?)
She does look wayyyy better in a bikini than me.
Look at how nice her hair is.
There is no way the dragons would follow me into that sauna tent.

Annnnd this is where I really started to lose my mind. I was suddenly in a sexualized environment, not by choice, with my partner and my younger brother that I had not foreseen. It’s like everyone may as well have suddenly started flipping through Maxim magazines. If you want to watch the clip, you can here. 

Why are we always reminded that sex sells? That business and sex are like peanut butter and jelly. Delicious combinations. This is what we teach young people. We teach them, and we reinforce these societal norms within ourselves as engaged TV consumers, that we’re much more likely to successfully sell our products with sex. That you will be more successful if you incorporate a sexy woman, and especially a sexy woman that you can interact with. Sexy women are between 100-125 pounds, they have long hair and good teeth and smooth skinned bodies. Do you need a little boost to convince people that your project is worthy? Add women with little to no clothes on. Maybe even name them with new names if their birth names aren’t hot enough. Cathy? How about Amy. Meet Amy.

I’m tired of TV. I’m tired of the thousands of millions of hours of research that go into it. It’s not real. It’s 100% designed and fabricated to make us feel and react in predictable ways. I’m tired of manipulative, money hungry beasts (the kindest word I could use) running shows and commercials that are 100% engineered and backed by psychology studies. I’m tired of things happening to my body and my brain when I watch TV that are so calculated and somewhere some man is high-fiving his assistant because the number of viewers has quadrupled in the last five days. Why should I have to engage in hateful subconscious self-conscious body battles with TV-worthy models? Why should I have to be ashamed of my body while I sit next to my boyfriend, as I run through a whole list of things I “should” do now.  Start going to yoga again. Eat less simple carbs. Get more sun. Eat more salads.

The less time I spend with magazines, the less time I spend with TV and movies, the better I feel. The more I walk around in the real world, with real bodies, varying in size, shape, ability and so on, the more real I feel. I refuse to be sabotaged.