#28DaysofBlackCosplay: Nerds, Black History Month, and Pure Joy Collide

Alanna Mode, Sean’s PhotographyWhen some people think of cosplayers—the enthusiastic fans of comics, movies, and TV shows who show up at conventions decked out in incredibly detailed recreations of their favorite characters’ looks—they tend to think of nerdy white guys in haphazardly put together ensembles. As anyone who’s ever spent any time at a large…

via #28DaysOfBlackCosplay is the intersection of Black History Month, nerdiness, and high fashion — Fusion

Assemble the #GirlSquad: Finding My New Best Friend on BumbleBFF

tldr; I tried online friend-dating so you don’t have to.

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are just things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples?

Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should.

After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends.

To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples? Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should. After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends. 

I don’t mean friendly acquaintances, like that girl you always see at the gym and often chat with. I don’t even mean surface friends, the ones you see once a month for drinks and some pleasant small-talk. I’m talking the dream of female friendship that, lately, has blossomed beautifully in our pop culture: the Broad City love, the tight-knit ride-or-die crew. The women whose lives are woven together deeply through late night giggle sessions, daily commiserating over nothing at all, and deep existential talks while drunk.

broad city
TV’s weirdest and best female friendship

To be clear, not everyone wants or needs this level of female friendship. Plenty of people do well without. But it was certainly something of a lonely shock for me to be plunged from many years of effortless community building (through school), into a work-from-home situation where I trudged from coffeeshop to coffeeshop and wasted time in insipid MeetUps. I still had the friends I had relied on to keep me sane throughout school, and I still loved them as much as ever. But there’s a difference between even the most fulfilling GroupMe chat, and the reassuring feeling of having a friend in the same city who can run over at a moment’s notice. I had been confident that I could build a strong friendship network in my new city. After all, I had met *soulmates* in unlikely places. I had made friends even under the crushing pressure of a graduate school program I grew to deeply resent. I had never failed to make connections before—and now I would have all this “free” time. I could be flexible! Instead, I found myself split between my new city and my yearning for my friends in other places. I traveled a lot of weekends, dropping in for an intense bout of fun and emotional connection before returning to my lonely weekdays of work. Without the support of a structure, like school or a workplace, I found myself floundering. To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?


 

In the corner of the internet where my online friends live  (a secret facebook group that doubles as constant sleepover/oversharing extravaganza), a woman mentioned a new resource that I had been waiting for without realizing it: BumbleBFF. You may know of Bumble, the dating app that requires women to make the first move when meeting men. BFF is a new feature in this app, which lets you create a profile and swipe on potential female friends like you would in a dating app.

Once you download Bumble (or set it to the BFF option), you create a profile by linking your facebook, much like tinder. You write a blurb about yourself, which is one of the hardest and most awkward kinds of writing that exists. You can also play around with your photos by deleting, rearranging, or adding new ones from your camera roll. Crowdsourced word of advice: pictures of pets? Good convo starter. Five bathroom selfies from slightly different angles? Not so much.

 

Many of the women using the app referenced well-known TV friendships in their blurbs, noting that they aspired to find their beautiful-tropical-fish-Ann-Perkins, or that they were looking for the “Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler.” I must have seen that line about Tina and Amy at least ten times. Are women more conscious of the expectation that they have a #squad? Probably. TV has perhaps fueled the desire for this kind of friendship—which is not a bad thing in itself. Many, many of the women on this app were also quick to note that they were on BumbleBFF because they were new to the city, or were looking to expand their social circles beyond work and their boyfriends. I’m normal, I promise!
It’s weird in some ways and not others, of course. It makes perfect sense, in this moment, to try and make friends the same way we do so much else: through an app. What’s weird is the slight mismatch between this interface and its purpose. When you swipe, you decide based on a picture and a blurb…but a lot of women don’t fill out the blurb, or list only a series of cryptic emoji (burrito, wine glass, twin bunny girls dancing). It’s pretty visual, and that’s a strange sole criterion for friendship. After all, I have never made an IRL friend solely based on her cuteness. But for a lot of these women, who for some reason chose only a selfie and no other info, that was all I had to go on.

It’s kind of a distasteful process to confront your own visual prejudices so clearly. The game-like aspects of this app, like all dating and social-matching apps, winnow your preferences quickly and clearly. The act of swiping trains you to quickly assess a limited amount of information and make a decision. In all honesty, I hesitated, and often swiped left, on *basic* white girls with chevron print dresses or monogrammed wine glasses. I swiped left on people who listed alcohol as their main interest, because it felt like they were performing some kind of *bitter-but-cool-millenial* wine-guzzling act. (I also like wine, and drinking, and brunch, but GIRL everyone does! It’s not a lot to go on when meeting an individual). They are probably lovely people, and we could have had a fine time together. Regardless, I swiped left because some part of me instinctively recoiled, and there were a lot of other women to look through. I’m sure other people on the app did the same for me.

I have never actually used a dating app, since my current boyfriend and I have been dating since before tinder was a thing. It was fun to participate in this facet of culture. As a low-stakes way to specify the kind of friends I wanted to meet, it was great. But for my (squad-)goals, did it work?

IMG_8014
Aren’t these redaction stickers the cutest?

I had a few matches within the first couple hours, which was heartening! When you match with someone (meaning both of you swiped right on each other), your phone buzzes in celebration and a whole world of possibility opens up in front of you. At least, that’s how it felt the first time I matched. A new window comes up, letting you know that the hours are ticking down on your new #foreverfriend, and one of you will have to start talking. Members of the secret facebook group mentioned above agreed: it is awkward af to start small-talking someone you don’t know if you’re not face to face. Some girls sent a blank, “how are you?” which was about as inspiring online as it is in person (which is to say, not very). A couple people sent compliments: “I love your hair!” or “ooh, the donuts in your pic look so yummy!” As is the case when I make in-person small talk, I felt like I was lifting heavy weights. (Small talk is tedious, y’all. Why don’t we as a society just acknowledge this fact?) It felt easy to let conversations fall by the wayside. After all, these were still strangers to whom I owed nothing. But that also meant that moving forward to meeting up was hard. Usually one or both of us flaked, or the topic never came up at all.

While I’ve yet to meet up with any of my matches, I suspect that this app, like most dating apps, can only do so much. We will still have to wade through the slough of small talk and introduction together. We will meet, and leave that meeting, still basically strangers—and it will take some effort to keep any momentum going. One or both of us will have to be very proactive, in a way that I find most people of my generation rarely are—at least when it comes to making and keeping social engagements with people, especially people you don’t know well. It’s too easy to lie back in bed, log in to netflix, and lazily flick through the next 20 women waiting in your screen. BumbleBFF may help us take the first step, but the hard work is still up to us. I remain optimistic, though. If anyone wants to buzz me, I’ll be here.

 

What is Peach?

What is Peach?

peach-app

peach.cool is telling you: this is really cool, guys. Having cool in the url is the #1 youths-approved way of signaling your coolness. Continue reading “What is Peach?”

Best of #AskTrump

I tend to avoid talking/thinking about Donald Trump because

a) his popularity is terrifying and inexplicable to me AND
b) I am afraid of summoning him by invoking his name.

Buuut this #AskTrump hashtag is too good to ignore. Here are some of our favorites.


 

Continue reading “Best of #AskTrump”

Artist Spotlight: Jack Sjogren!

We love showcasing projects and artists! B.C. sat down with illustrator (and Buzzfeed contributor) Jack Sjogren (pronounced show-grin) to talk cartooning, butts, and celebrating the freedom of weirdness. Check out the Q&A, along with Jack’s work, below.

Continue reading “Artist Spotlight: Jack Sjogren!”

Acro Collective Greatest Hits: Celebrating 100 Posts!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that this little project has already reached 100 posts! Thank you so much for continuing to grow with us and for supporting this community of thought, discourse, and love.

To celebrate our first major milestone, I highlight some of our most popular and beloved posts, in case you missed them or feel like revisiting the ideas they present. Stick with us! We love having you, and the best is yet to come.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that this little project has already reached 100 posts! Thank you so much for continuing to grow with us and for supporting this community of thought, discourse, and love.

To celebrate our first major milestone, I highlight some of our most popular and beloved posts, in case you missed them or feel like revisiting the ideas they present. Stick with us! We love having you, and the best is yet to come.

Weekly Link Roundup: Charleston, Voting Rights, and Marriage Equality!

This week, as with all Weekly Link Roundups, we’ve gathered up some reading that’s near and dear to our hearts. This week, we cover the Charleston massacre, the legalization of gay marriage, films by and about women of color, and more.

This week on the interwebs:

  • The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. Yeeeees!
  • Congressional Democrats introduce a new bill designed to bolster the gutted Voting Rights Act. From the article: “The 2016 election will be the first in 50 years where voters will not have the full protections of the VRA, which adds urgency to the congressional effort. Since the Shelby decision, onerous new laws have been passed or implemented in states like North Carolina and Texas, which have disenfranchised thousands of voters, disproportionately those of color. In the past five years, 395 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states, with half the states in the country adopting measures making it harder to vote. “If anybody thinks there’s not racial discrimination in voting today, they’re not really paying attention,” Senator Leahy said.”
  • Don’t know what to watch this weekend? Indiewire collected a list of 115 films by and about women of color, following a Twitter conversation led by Ava DuVernay (who’s just been tapped to direct Marvel’s Black Panther!)
  • From The Toast: an interview with a slavery specialist who guides historical tours, and an interesting look in an arena of “heritage tourism.”
  • Don’t let the Charleston massacre get lost in the 24-hour news cycle. From the African American Intellectual History Society: a powerful syllabus that collects op-eds to spur further discussion and a wealth of resources on South Carolina, Confederate history, the Confederate flag and its symbolic legacy, and the history of American racism.
  • A particularly powerful piece that’s worth reading from the syllabus above: ways in which our racially fraught, violent history, which is sometimes framed as something antiquated, is in fact persistently present. A warning that this is a fairly upsetting read. But then again, so is being a victim of racism.
  • Finally: do computers dream? Google’s neural image recognition software gives us an idea of what “AI inception” might look like.

Weekly Link Roundup!

  • Words to be intoned—on the steps of South Carolina’s capitol, and in your heart. “Take it down now…drive out this cult of death and chains.” As usual, Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic speaks truth.  Here, he makes clearer the connection between the racial terrorism of Dylann Roof’s murderous crimes, and the logic of the Confederate flag fluttering in the breeze.
  • Words that need to be spoken (via The New Yorker) and the history of the church that Dylann Roof bloodied.
  • Parsing the stakes of “is this feminist?” or “is this feminist enough?” (via The Mary Sue).
  • Maggie Mertens argues that women’s soccer, and women’s sports more generally, deserve feminist attention. With women playing on a turf field for the World Cup and getting paid a fraction of what men get paid (surprise, surprise?), I’d say she’s right.
  • And finally, because the world is a bitter place and laughter is a good protection against emotional exhaustion, have this tumblr, which hilariously captions old dress patterns. That doesn’t sound funny, but it is.

Have suggestions for our link roundup? Leave us a comment below, or get in touch through our official facebook page. 

#distractinglysexy and Drawing the Line

Last week, Tim Hunt surely earned himself a lot of love letters by claiming that women in the lab are distracting—you know, always falling in love with him (I’M SO SURE, TIM HUNT), crying, and other female shit.

(Incidentally, this sparked one of my favorite twitter hashtags of all time, #distractinglysexy, in which women in STEM documented how hard it is to hold tissues and test tubes at the same time! How conveniently a hazmat suit hides tear tracks! Etc. )distractinglysexy1

Tim Hunt’s sexist remarks were infuriating not only on their own merit (or lack thereof), but also because they make me fear that for every lumberingly blatant misogynist speech, there are a hundred Tim Hunts not voicing their misogyny—only thinking it. It was striking in the way he kept claiming he was just “being honest,” and shouldn’t have said those things in a room full of journalists, as if his real mistake was revealing the depths of misogyny in the sciences, not the misogyny itself.

This incident, and the responses to it, are yet another reminder of the way in which women who work in fields dominated by cis-hetero men (ie. most professional fields) must grapple with the policing (and self-policing) of their beauty. It’s no secret that women, whether walking into a grocery store, a first internship interview, or into their own corner office, deal with an overload of information on how to self-present—as competent, as low-key, as anything but #distractinglysexy. How much makeup can one wear in a lab? A boardroom? When does that extra swipe of eyeliner push you from “intriguing” to “overdone”? Like women’s bodies, women’s faces are a battleground where the war over modesty and “appropriateness” is waged.

Thinking about makeup and the performance of appropriate womanhood brings to mind Caitlyn Jenner looking into the mirror at her Vanity Fair cover shoot. Caitlyn Jenner marks a watershed moment in American thinking about gender presentation—as she went from Bruce Jenner, an emblem of masculinity in the Cold War Olympics, to channeling the immediately “legible” femininity of Marilyn Monroe and other screen sirens.

Photo @VanityFair / Twitter
Photo @VanityFair / Twitter

Her revelation to the American public was, of course, not going to be complete without a ‘glam squad’ supplied by a magazine in the business of selling femininity. In the write-up above, Vanity Fair lovingly details the individual products used on Jenner, and quotes makeup artist Mark Carrasquillo in saying,  “‘I didn’t want her to look like a man in a dress. I wanted her to look like a beautiful 65-year-old woman,’ said Carrasquillo—and that is exactly what he achieved.” There is, of course, nothing wrong with Caitlyn Jenner wanting to look like what she considers her most beautiful self. But the discourse surrounding Jenner focused on a very particular image of womanhood, which uses makeup to emphasize the person’s traditional and hetero-acceptable femininity. It thus erased trans-women (and cis-women) who either can’t or don’t want to conform to this image.

From high-school hallways to corporate offices, women walk a thin line between “successfully” inhabiting a beauty standard and stepping outside of it. The margin can be as thin as the missing half-inch of fabric on shorts that get high-school girls sent home. It’s not just about wearing makeup versus going bare-faced, but the ways in which powders, creams, and pigments play back into age-old virgin/whore dichotomies. In these cases, the onus is on women to use their purchasing power to present themselves as willing and able to adapt themselves to “appropriateness.” Sometimes they lack that purchasing power. Let’s not forget that looking “right” for the context is a class-based and racial issue as well, more often than not. To take a prominent example opposed to the more demure examples of Taylor Swift and even Beyonce, Nicki Minaj’s alter ego Roman and her “Barbie” phase were both memorable for their very intentional use of makeup as message. By wielding strikingly artificial pink hair, green eyeshadow, and lacquered lipgloss, Minaj reminded us of the extent to which femininity (especially femininity that dared to be loud, deep-voiced, and not particularly “feminine”) is a performance that others will try to police. This makeup made some people uncomfortable. That, like Nicki’s monster-rap voice, was part of the point. There was nothing “natural” about it.

Photo from Mypinkfriday.com | Official Site of Nicki Minaj
Photo from Mypinkfriday.com | Official Site of Nicki Minaj

This is not to erase the agency of women who use makeup or choose not to, but to prompt a more thoughtful consideration of the ways in which women are pressured toward the “right kind” of beauty construction. Makeup and the performance of beauty are complicated issues. No amount of misogyny and policing can fully erase the pleasure, for those who love it, of tracing one’s lips with a beautiful, velvety lipstick. These instances remind us that makeup and self-presentation serve purposes beyond “prettiness” as it’s traditionally defined.

And makeup can be a weapon. I wear thick black eyeliner all the way around my eyes these days. This veers just beyond the kind of eyeliner that is conventionally considered “attractive” or appropriate for daytime—except for those who see my eyeliner as an invitation to comment on my “exotic” looks. As a young Chinese-American woman alone in a new city, with a soft-spoken voice and a manner that can come across as naïve and trusting, this eyeliner is my daily ritual of preparation. At least, while others might see me as a quiet, malleable person tapping away silently at a laptop all day, I can look back at them with assassin eyes.

The author in disguise as a lemur
The author in disguise as a lemur

Weekly Link Roundup! McKinney, Twitter trolls, and more

Here’s some of what we collected this week:

  • VOX on some of the fraught history behind swimming pools, McKinney, and police assault of young black children.
  • The problem of plastic waste in the ocean, and what one fashion company is trying to do to change it.
  • The Mary Sue sits down with the inimitable Kate Beaton. 
  • Twitter  has added a new anti-troll feature. 
  • Women in STEM fields respond to Tim Hunt with a hashtag funnier than his asinine comments deserved: #distractinglysexy.

Have suggestions for our weekly link roundup? Leave us a comment or like us on facebook and let us know!