Bloom VoxBox Reviews:

I’m happy to say that I enjoyed the first three products I tried out in my Bloom VoxBox. Lucky for me, I had three more products in my lovely box left to try and review.

The products I received in this lovely Bloom VoxBox are the following:

  • SinfulColors SinfulShine with Gel Tech in the shade VIP
  • Cutex One Step Nail Polish Remover Pads
  • Secret’s Outlast Xtend in the scent Completely Clean
  • Not Your Mother’s Plump for Joy Thickening Hair Lifter
  • Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse (hand and body oil)
  • Sunbelt Bakery’s Fudge Dipped Chocolate Chop Chewy Granola Bar

For the purpose of this keeping things short and sweet, I’ve divided my reviews into two posts with three products in each. If you’d like to check out part one, click here!

Not Your Mother’s Plump for Joy Thickening Hair Lifter


Trying out NYMs Joy Thickening Hair Lifter was both a fun and weird experience. For the longest time, I have loved NYM’s hair products. Actually, it is NYM’s Kinky Moves curl cream that completely changed my hair styling. Beforehand, my hair would either look wet and crunchy or super frizzy despite my usage of hair oils, creams, or gels. But when I started using NYM’s curl cream, my hair was happily bouncing with little frizz most days.

I was delighted to receive another product by them that I had never used.So after I showered, I applied this thickening hair lifter and styled as usual. I came to find that my hair didn’t feel or look any different than any other day. I naturally have thin, frizzy, curly hair which can look thick and voluminous because of my curl formations; most people mistake my hair for being thick.

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I went ahead and tried using this product again on a day I was going to straighten it. I applied the cream to damp hair and then styled as usual.The results were better than when I left my curly, but nothing overwhelmingly awesome. My hair did look a little thicker. However, what impressed me was that it kept my hair from looking dead even when with pin-straight hair. Usually the bottom half of my hair will end up looking the thinnest and flat, but this lived up to its hair lifter name. With the tiny bit of added thickness, I found it to be useful when straightening the hair.

I end up rating this 6/10 only because the lifting part works, but the thickening was underwhelming. I know I wasn’t going to get rope-thickness, but I really didn’t see a difference that would make me purchase for its thickening qualities.

Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse


I still can’t pronounce this product name, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of a try. As a lover of body and hair oils, I have tried many of them throughout my life. For my hair, I have stuck with Argon Oil which has been a game changer for moisturizing my lovely locks. For my skin, I only use jojoba oil with no real additional stuff.

I used this product on my hands, always massaging it into my cuticles and found it to be fairly awesome. With the weather warming up, I really enjoyed the “dry” feeling it left instead of leaving that greasy feeling that only gets worse when you start to sweat. Granted, the dry feeling was a tad overwhelming when in colder environments, but I am constantly moisturizing anyways, so this wasn’t a huge problem.

I also enjoyed the smell, a soft floral, very much because I am not fond of scented things since they make my sensitive skin itchy of blotchy. This one did not make my skin feel itchy or sensitive.  I am sure that I will use this product again for the summer months and rate it a 7.5/10.

SinfulColors SinfulShine with Gel Tech in VIP


I hate to admit this, really. It is totally my fault for not trying this product out.

I just can’t do gel.

I’m well-aware of the wonderful qualities that come with using gel (long-lasting, beautiful clean look), but the removal process scares the living shit out of me. Having to keep acetone on your nails for a long time is not good. Nor is buffing your nails, which can’t be avoided when using gel polishes. I never buff my nails because it removes the ridges, which actually is the opposite of what you want to do to have strong nails. The high point on a ridge is the thickness your nail should be, so when you buff them you are actually removing nail plate to even out the surface but making them weaker at the same time. I also never use too much acetone because it will dry out my nails and skin, which can end up weakening your nails in the long run.

This is just a personal choice I have made and hold no thoughts to those that use these products. If this is the best thing for you, by all means, keep on doing you. If you are interested in receiving this polish, I will gladly send it to you so you can try it out.

REALLY. YOU CAN HAVE IT.

I received these products courtesy of Influenster for honest reviewing purposes.

Bloom VoxBox Reviews P.1: The Best Stuff

Being an Influenster has its perks. My latest VoxBox sent to me is their new Bloom box featuring a variety of products to help spice up ones daily life. Inside I was excited to find both awesome everyday useful products, like deodorant, to yummy goodies to help keep hunger at bay while I travel to and from work on the T (public transportation for those not from Boston).

Previously I received and reviewed Degree’s MotionSense Dry Spray, but this would be my first doing a series of mini honest reviews of a VoxBox containing some great stuff.

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The products I received in this lovely Bloom VoxBox are the following:

  • SinfulColors SinfulShine with Gel Tech in the shade
  • Cutex One Step Nail Polish Remover Pads
  • Secret’s Outlast Xtend in the scent Completely Clean
  • Not Your Mother’s Plump for Joy Thickening Hair Lifter
  • Nuxe’s Huile Prodigieuse (hand and body oil)
  • Sunbelt Bakery’s Fudge Dipped Chocolate Chop Chewy Granola Bar

For the purpose of this keeping things short and sweet, I’ve divided my reviews into two posts with three products in each.

Sunbelt Bakery’s Fudge Dipped Chocolate Chop Chewy Granola Bar

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Of course my first review is on the only food item in my VoxBox. Being a total mom, I stashed this in my purse the day after receiving my box and headed off to work. Per usual to the T’s failure to get me to my destinations in a timely manner, I ended up starving on the RedLine’s platform and pulled out this bad boy to enjoy.

This was probably one of the yummiest granola bars I have ever had. It was chocolatel-y, it was thick, it was filling. When I first unwrapped it, I was overwhelmed by how thick they had covered the granola bar that I expected it to be hard to bite into. However, once I did, I found it to be super chewy and not at all prone to the messiness one experiences when eating things like Nature Valley’s Oats & Honey Bars. On top of that, it was fairly big that, when I finished it, I actually felt full – which lasted for a couple hours. I didn’t however, feel bloated or grossed out as I would have if I had eaten a Snickers bar or something similar.

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Overall, I would give this a 10/10 for a delicious pick-me-up snack when your next meal is nowhere in sight. Based on healthiness… I’m not sure. Depending on your normal dietary needs, this could be alright or fairly bad. I probably wouldn’t eat one of these everyday, but I don’t as bad as if I had chosen a Snickers bar.

Sunbelt Bakery’s Fudge Dipped Chocolate Chop Chewy Granola Bar Mars Bar Snickers Bar
160 calories 250 calories
11 grams of sugar 27 grams of sugar
50 milligrams of sodium 50 milligrams of sodium
7 grams of total fat 12 grams of total fat

 Secret’s Outlast Xtend in the scent Completely Clean

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Apparently Influenster likes to send me deodorants, because I am stocked for the next year with samples I’ve received. Nevertheless, I’m glad to share that this one did its job: kept me from smelling. I’m not too enthused by Secret, only because I used this brand before my body got used to it ( and became ineffective). But before this happened, I was very content with how it held up throughout the day.

The same downside for every deodorant is that it leaves those white marks on anything. This is especially true for this product because it applies white and powdery. Nevertheless, I can’t complain so I’ll rate it a nice 6/10 only because I do prefer the Degree I received last time and my normal choice.

Cutex One Step Nail Polish Remover Pads

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I will admit that upon receiving these pads I didn’t think I would find any real reason to purchase them ever again. I figured, why buy these when I could simply use some acetone and a cotton ball to do the same job. I was wrong.

The Nail Polish Remove Pads claim to “strengthen and nourish with botanical oils for natural nails,” which I thought was a stretch because my experience with acetone usually leaves my nails and finger very dry. However, when I tried it out on some gradient nails I had done a week before, the polish came off very easily. Not only that, but one pad removed the nail polish off all ten fingers before finally drying out. And even more awesome was that my fingers and nails were significantly less dry than when I use normal acetone.

I tried them out again after using a deep red (Ravishing, Dahling by China Glaze) – a polish that always leaves my fingers stained when removing – and I had almost no red fingertips!

I was amazed. Whenever I use acetone and cotton balls I have to use a bunch for both hands and even more if I’ve painted them with a dark shade. But Cutex’s pads held their own against both bright neon colors and dark shades, which makes me rate them a 8/10 because I’m all about less mess. It isn’t a full on 10 only because it would still hurts my frugal soul to buy pads of remover when I could get more bang for my buck in a bottle of acetone and cotton balls. Nevertheless, the overall healthiness of my nails wins me over and just the fact that my room didn’t reek of acetone for the rest of the day too. Yeah, these pads don’t smell strong of acetone, which is a bonus!

Stay tuned for my next post on the other three products in my 2016 Bloom VoxBox!

I received these products courtesy of Influenster for honest reviewing purposes.

Latina Magazine, Honor Our Black Latinas.

Not long ago I wrote on PopSugar’s (now redacted) article that suggested our social media queen Kylie Jenner held all the best characteristics of various successful Latin women. The article itself was not received well by PopSugar’s readers despite multiple updates to its headline. Instead, after a flood of angry tweets, PopSugar took down the article and issued an official apology explaining the intentions of the article itself.

Of course, by this point, the damage had been done and many were upset with PopSugar’s audacity to suggest a white woman could even remotely be some kind of Latina rag doll mismatched with the best qualities of various women like Selena.

But all was said and done and we moved on – until a couple days ago.

Latina Magazine (LM), launched in 1996, took it upon themselves to declare Beyoncé an honorary Latina.

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

For many this might seem like something insignificant to be upset about; they didn’t say Beyoncé was Latina, just that she was an honorary one, right? Unfortunately, this is only where the trouble begins.

First off, I have nothing against Queen Bey and her awesomeness. She is, by far, a marketing mogul and a great artist; I listen to her frequently. But LM’s declaration as her becoming Latina does away with her identity, which is wrong. As Vibe points out in their response article, by declaring Beyonce an honorary Latina, they are erasing her identity as a Black female. Vibe states it very clearly:

“There’s this thing called erasure. The black woman has long been the most neglected and undervalued person in America. Dubbing Beyoncé “Latina” strips her of her very identity when she is raising her voice against white supremacy and unapologetically owning her blackness.”

Besides this obvious ignorance to who Beyoncé is, LM steps on toes by deciding that they have the right to declare who is what in their identity. We can’t have honorary Latinas just like we can’t have honorary Black women or honorary Arab women. That doesn’t make any sense and actually hurts all the women who are of that ethnicity and/or race. photo-1456553583670-f4242f36d0fc.jpg

This brings me to my second point that hits the nail on the head as to why LM’s “honorary” idea is wrong. For decades there has been a stigma against Black or Afro Latin@s in the Latin Community. They have ended up shuffled in the mix and brushed aside for not fitting in either the Black community or the Latin community. Aleichia Williams from the Huffington Post touches on her personal experience with this struggle that still goes on today where people are shunned for being too this or too that. LM could have used this time to speak up on the spectrum that makes up Latin@s because – frankly – we are all over the place.

Rather than declaring Beyoncé an honorary Latina, LM could have honored one of the many black Latinas that are usually missing from mainstream media. Take, for example:

  • Gina Torres: actress in shows like Firefly and Suits as well as of multiracial Cuban decent.
  • Zoe Saldana: a dancer and actress who is also Puerto Rican and Dominican.
  • Rosario Dawson: a strong female who has won a number of awards and is also Puerto Rican and Cuban.

They could have also reflected on past influential Black Latinas like Celia Cruz who shattered glass ceilings and is christened the Queen of Salsa for obvious reasons (if you don’t know, go listen to her right now).

As my fellow friend and Latina writer, Alex Herrera, points out in her Open Letter to Latina Magazine:

“I watch the struggles, I grew up with girls looking for representation while I, a white Latina girl had so many to pick from and so many who represented me.”

Being of paler complexion, I can too attest to fitting the media’s Latina mold much more easily than my friends and, more importantly, my family. My lighter skin and curly black hair was often the only representation of who Latinas were in pop culture.

But this should still not be the case.

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Articles like LM’s or PopSugar’s make it seem like being Latina isn’t good enough. In order to qualify as a good Latina, you have to actually not be Latina – and that really is a mindfuck. What is worse about this situation is not simply the honorary aspect, but the fact that Latina Magazine is supposed to be a literary place dedicated to Latinas, and they seem to not be keeping their word. How does that make us feel?

Mad, for one.

This is not okay. Take the time to honor our strong, Afro-Latinas. Don’t declare other people honorary Latin@s simply because they traveled to Cuba, have Latin@ friends, listen to Latin music, or “wish to be Latin@.” That’s not how it works.

Latina Magazine, shame on you.

Images: Death to the Stock Photo; Beyonce/Instagram; Molly Belle/Unsplash

Product Review: Degree MotionSense Dry Spray

I’m an Influenster member (check out the badge at the bottom), so my latest product to try out was Degree MotionSense Dry Spray Antiperspirant from CVS.

Now, I’ve never really used spray deodorants before. Although I did have a short affair with a cheap brand’s version for about a week a few years back, the results weren’t what I expected. Besides the feeling that I was applying cold hairspray to my armpits, it wasn’t effective in the least when it came to odor (especially after working out). Instead of trying out more brands, I simply gave up and went back to solids. Nevertheless, when I received Degree MotionSense Spray in the mail, I decided to give it another shot.

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PROS:

Comparing it to my last spray on deodorant, I really loved the fact that it came out dry and relatively clear when spraying it on. There was some white residue that showed up, but the overall application process was much nicer to my armpits – especially the lack of cold, wetness one usually gets with other sprays. photo-1453167710320-151adc31f6d5

Even better that was effectiveness when it came to odor. The scene was very floral (which I personally didn’t mind), but not overpowering that I felt I was wearing antiperspirant perfume. Using this product for daily activities resulted in no fowl smells throughout the day whatsoever. I even came home a few times and went straight into my workouts without reapplying to have no smell that I sometimes have after long spurts of cardio, which also showed me it is long-lasting as well!

CONS:

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a product that has completely eliminated the white residue. Just like any other deodorant/antiperspirant, Degree MotionSense also leaves behind a bit of white marks on your armpits and clothes. I did have some mishaps with spraying it on and then putting on my shirts because it wasn’t entirely clear to begin with (see above), so I had to take my usual precautions to avoid this.

Maybe avoiding the white residue is impossible when using deodorant/antiperspirant, who knows?

ON THE FENCE:

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I’m not sure about how effective of an antiperspirant it really is for a couple reasons.

  1. The weather in Boston, up until now, has been fairly chilly, so I have had no real exposure to warm weather or hotter temperatures where I would actually sweat even just a little- where is Spring, yo?
  2. I wore this without reapplying during my evening workouts and had maybe less than my usual amount of sweating. I am generally a sweaty person, so to have no sweat would be impossible. However, this held up and kept me somewhat dryer than usual, but nothing I would go bragging about.

OVERALL:
I would rate this product 7/10 with 10 being the best because it did its purpose and made my smell good. It is dry, effective, and long-lasting deodorant which is exactly what I want when it comes to my armpits. Although it leaves behind a white residue, I expected this because there is no product that actually goes and stays on clear despite advertisements.

I am unsure about how effective of an antiperspirant it is, but I’m not a huge fan of them anyways because I sweat so much that nothing really does much in that area. I tend to stick to deodorants only, which is just my personal preference. If you do like antiperspirants, I do think you should give this a shot to see if it may work for you based on my experience during my workouts.

Let me know what you think!

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes; these opinions are my own.


Images:
Yanko Peyankov, McKinley Law, Michael Rosner-Hyman/Unsplash; 
Courtesy of brands

Boston Marathon: 3 Years Remembered

It has been three years since Boston was the victim of a terrorist attack during the annual Boston Marathon. Christened the “Boston Marathon Bombing,” my city was left distraught and shocked to see a day that was usually filled with joy and pride wrecked because of two individuals with malicious intent. To top it off, four days later the city was placed on lockdown once again as law enforcement hunted down those responsible for the attack.

But despite the darkness my city faced, we gathered together to stand Boston Strong.

It wasn’t easy. Passing by Copley Station on my way to classes was hard. Seeing the platform barely lit and empty was strange on so many levels. I was also reeling from having had to face an emotional rollercoaster alone. When the bombs went off, my parents were out of state and there wasn’t anyone around to seek comfort from. And knowing that there were others dealing with even bleaker aftermaths pained me emotionally.

#peace

A post shared by BostonTweet – Tom O'Keefe (@bostontweet) on

I am a sentimental person, regardless of how much I try to harden myself. I even feel sad when I see someone’s lost a glove at a bus stop or I accidentally kill a bug. So you can only imagine how harrowing it would feel to see my city and Bostonians – a place I love endlessly and proudly claim to be from and people I will forever admire – physically and emotionally hurting.

But we overcame. We got through it. We are always strong.

The 3rd anniversary of that tragic day fell on Friday April 15th, and I did my part by doing a good deed (even though we really should do this everyday). However, my state of mind always shifts on the Monday when the marathon actually takes place.

I’m still traumatized. I may not have been there at Copley, but this is my city and I knew people who were present. I heard the stories. I heard the confusion. I saw the faces of those scared heading home or trying to reach their loved ones. I can’t forget that, nor probably ever will.

I don’t think it helps that last year I was also in Bangkok when a bomb went off not far from where my boyfriend and I were riding. Or in China when one went off there too.13907288056_aca59e17b6_z

I feel this way over a tragic event that happened three years ago, and all I can actually think about now is that this is daily for others. I’m not trying to compare one event to another, but if you face something like this and it doesn’t cause you to think of mortality and humanity, I don’t know what will.

And no, I’m not going to turn my profile picture into a flag. But if I felt aware beforehand of what was going on in the world, I feel even more inclined to do so now.

A good friend of mine had the opportunity to return to Palestine last year and I was able to hear all of the great things she was doing to help the communities through the organization went with. She even had the chance to finally enter Jerusalem again, even though she was born there, and take a stand against the discrimination many Arabs face. Instead of trying to look as little Arab as possible, she chose to wear a hijab:

“They told me not to look too Arab when I went to Jerusalem. My brown and dark skinned Palestinian brothers and sisters don’t get to have that privilege. So I wore a hijab.”

This is only one of the many steps she took to make a difference, and her courage to put it out there speaks volumes of the kind of person she is.

But not all that she shared were the wonderful, positive moments that had happy endings. She also enlightened everyone as a direct source to what was truly happening in an area of the world that is constantly misunderstood or biasedly painted to outsiders. As most would know, we must take the media and news with a grain of salt because impartial journalism is supremely rare these days. She became one of my sources for a clearer picture of the events happening in Palestine.

It didn’t make it any less easy to know, but it helped place my trauma in perspective and realize the privilege I have of living in Boston. It also reminded me that others around the world stood with us as we picked ourselves up and brushed off the debris before coming together as a city and family.

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We should reciprocate their global support. We can stand Boston Strong because we are unstoppable united, and we can use our strength to uplift others who may be looking at a similar situation that we went through.

I will always view this city as a great and magical place; there is never a moment I wish to be from anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, I know that what we experienced and overcame together is only an iota to what others face on a daily basis. And I’m not going to let myself forget that either just because I’m not physically or remotely near those places facing grim situations.

Our tragic marathon event is no less impactful than the others around the world. But knowing that the 3rd marathon since then still has hundreds of runners crossing that finish line and accomplishing life goals reminds me I can one day overcome my trauma and pain from that day as well. Even though I haven’t been able to head down and watch the runners, I support them from afar as best I can and post this semi-long message as a reminder to myself (and others) that we survive and we can help others do so too.

Holy crap that was tough. Done! Now it's time for beer & burgers. #BostonMarathon

A post shared by BostonTweet – Tom O'Keefe (@bostontweet) on

Images: rebeccahildrethdocbrownx44462140@N08/Flickr; bostontweet/Instagram.

 

The Little Things: Latinos Can’t Be Generalized

Today I came across an article on Lizzy’s Homemade Ice Cream by ElMundoBoston.com introducing the new Guatemalan owners, Miriam and Alberto Benítez. The headline photo has the couple standing proudly by the storefront window at the first shop’s location in Waltham, MA.

The headline reads: “Los latinos también podemos ser miembros productivos de la comunidad.” To translate for all you non-Spanish speakers, it reads, “Latinos can also be productive members of the community.

This headline and photo speak a powerful message and makes me beam with pride for identifying as a Latina.

With the recent comments generalizing all Latinos as horrible immigrants who are ruining the United States (*cough* Trump and Republicans *cough*), it is refreshing to see a news outlet focusing on the good and amazing accomplishments being achieved by Latinos in the United States.

We have been targeted and portrayed as criminals, drug mules, horrible aliens or illegals that steal the jobs of born and bred American citizens. And even before the disgusting comments by Trump to build a wall and keep out “Mexicans” (by Mexicans, he means all Latinos because he doesn’t really get that not all of us are Mexican), the media hasn’t done much better than to cast us as maids, drug lords, gang members, or, even worse, omitted us from the public eye.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip🍦#icecream

A post shared by MINNIE KIM (@eatingwithminnie) on

This is not to say that we are the only ethnic group being shamed, as we have simply been swept along with every other ethnic and racial minority group in this country and spoken about as trash. But it makes a difference when others are shown how wrong this negative mentality is and that what (or who) we thought were detriments are actually benefits.

As the daughter of two Guatemalan immigrants, to see other Guatemaltecos succeeding and being honored for it makes me joyful. We aren’t an entire population that can be labeled as one, but we should stand strong together in fighting this kind of thinking through positive actions and coverage of people like Miriam and Alberto Benítez.

Por Yadira Betances, the author of the article I’m referencing, quotes the previous owner as saying:

“Lo más importante es que son personas honestas y con integridad”, dijo [primer propietario, Nick] Pappas de Miriam y su familia. “Su compromiso con el negocio, su carácter y su ética de trabajo es lo que más me gusta de ella”.

Translation:
“What is more important is that they are honest and people of integrity,” [previous owner Nick] Pappas said of Miriam and her family. “Her commitment to the business, her character and her work ethic is what I most like about her.”

I’m so happy for Miriam and Alberto Benítez, and I am happy that hard-working people will manage Lizzy’s delicious ice cream, too.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a difference. Today it was this story that cheered me up to remind me that I am not a bad person for being Latina and that my parents aren’t bad people for immigrating.

Let’s continue reminding everyone of this. Let’s not let them bring us down.

 

Images: Alex Jones/Unsplash; birdieintheparkeatingwithminnie/Instagram. 

How to Style Naturally Curly Bangs – BUSTLE

I’ve just recently published an article on Bustle on how to style naturally curly bangs. This topic is somewhat important to me because I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my hair, so finding ways to accept it in its natural state is always a major plus.

For those women out there who break hair rules like getting straight bangs when their hair is curly, this is a great read to see four new ways to keep your hair healthy and curly. Not only will it save you time styling (straightening hair takes forever), but will also give you some new looks to boost confidence.

Check it out HERE!

Signed,
Vanesa

Driver’s License Not Included

Nothing irks me more than people continuously nagging me about the same thing for months at a time. In my case, I am constantly reminded that I don’t have a driver’s license (in fact, I don’t even have a permit). Most people who find this out are flabbergasted that I haven’t taken the time to learn how to drive. They are confused because, in most places, learning how to drive is synonymous with a rite of passage in a teenager’s life.

If you can drive, you might remember taking a driver’s ed course when you were a teenager. You had to sit in a classroom on a Saturday with a bunch of other kids watching videos or listening to some person go on about the ins and outs of being on the open road. Maybe you skipped this part and went straight to driving with a stranger who was supposed to make sure you didn’t run over mailboxes (or people) for a couple hours a week. If you can drive, you might remember waiting in the RMV to take a permit test that most people failed, or to finally do a series of tasks like a dog-in-training before someone signed off on whether you were decent enough to actually drive without supervision.

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But my teenage years were not filled with eagerness to get behind the wheel. Instead, my life revolved around dealing with whiteness in a school that lacked racial and ethnic diversity (and still does), as well as a rocky battle to stay alive and fight off a deep depression threatening to engulf me. If you are thinking, this seems like a lot, then you are correct. And before you decide to write me off as dramatic, teenage depression and a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in private schools are both real and serious issues. But I’ll get into both of those topics at a later date.

All you really should know is that my mind was preoccupied with other things than to consider driving an important task to complete. Sure, other people who have dealt with serious, if not more serious, issues got their driver’s license, but I did not and I don’t regret it.

barcelona-trafficInstead, I did other things. I focused on myself: healing my mental state and recovering from a whirlwind of emotional battles that left physical scars. There is nothing wrong with that.

If I wanted to, I could list off everything I did manage to accomplish between my teenage years and now, but I won’t. Why? Because despite my list of accomplishments, the older I get, the more people expect me to drive. I am not a full-functioning adult without a little card in my wallet that lets me operate a big box on wheels.

“Have you got your license yet?”
“When will you learn to drive?”
“It is important to learn to drive.”
“You need to stop depending on people to drive you everywhere.”
“Get it together, Vanesa.”
“C’mon!”

It is not that I didn’t want to drive when I was younger. And it is not that I no longer want to learn. Being able to drive is a great skill to have, so don’t think I’m saying it’s stupid. I get it. I understand where you are all coming from; I heard you the first time.

But here’s the thing.

Learning how to drive – as in, being taught how to drive in a class and being instructed – costs money. The typical driver’s ed course can cost between $200 to $800 dollars. On top of that, I would have to pay to get my learner’s permit and my driving test. Then, take into account that I could fail those and have to pay again. There is the option to opt out of taking a driver’s ed course and learn on my own, but that is riskier for a multitude of reasons.

“I am not a full-functioning adult without a little card in my wallet that lets me operate a big box on wheels.”

Even if I did do all of that, money continues to be a major factor. I would have to pay for car insurance, gasoline, and probably other random car things like flat tires or whatever happens to cars for them to stop functioning. If I wanted my own car, I would have to chock up money to actually buy one and then pay that too (probably monthly). I am a 24-year-old college graduate: you do the math.

Want me to learn? Pay for all of that – and maybe my dreadful student loans, too. Oh, and my grad school applications while you’re at it.

“Cash rules everything around:
CREAM.
Get the money; dollar, dollar bill, y’all.”

Let’s say that, by some miracle, someone offers to pay for all of that. Then I would have to deal with my ongoing anxiety.

To my dismay, being in cars is not always a great experience. Whether I am sitting shotgun or in the backseat, little things that would probably go unnoticed by the average person are triggers for me. A minor tap on the breaks that makes you jolt forward a tad can cause heart palpitations, sweating, nervousness, a struggle to breathe properly, etc. My heightened awareness of gestures, words spoken about the state of the road/car, or motions on turns can generate horrible mental thoughts because I’m an overthinking freak that can’t really control what is happening.

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I mean, it really all stems down to my lack of control and not knowing the outcome. I don’t know what is going to happen and there is no way of knowing. It may seem that the obvious solution for this would be to put me in the driver’s seat, so that I could at least manage a minute aspect of the road. Unfortunately, this would also force me to be aware of a multitude of things – and having panic attacks while driving (as some of my friends have had and told me about) does not sound pleasant AT ALL.

As of right now, I am focused on applying to graduate schools and writing pieces for publication; driving isn’t really important to me. I have other things that come first on my list of priorities, just like when I was a teenager. And, in the end, I do not feel comfortable driving with how my anxiety is presently.

But I need to clarify this:

My choice to not drive doesn’t make me dependent on others to bring me places. 9/10 times I have managed to get from Point A to Point B without relying on anyone to take me (I can tell you about that one time I walked 5 miles to get home because that was my only – cheapest – option). If I do ask for rides, it is because I am lazy or tired; it does not mean I couldn’t do it without a car.

My choice to drive doesn’t make me any less successful. I didn’t miss out on anything in my teenage years by not pushing on a gas pedal. I didn’t give up rite of passage or forsake my adulthood. The idea that I have to drive because I am 24 is ridiculous – and your insistence that I “get it together” is hurtful. It is like you forgot what I have done to succeed as a human being.

Do not forget that driving affects others, too. Being comfortable with that responsibility should be a personal choice, not something  you pressure someone into.

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I’m thankful that I have people who wouldn’t mind driving me when I need somewhere to go. Thank you for being willing to take me somewhere and not complaining – surprisingly, you are not the ones asking when I will be driving.

I know that when I do learn to drive, I will not share this news with all of you who complained. I will let you believe that I cannot drive because you have refused to ask in a sincere manner why I haven’t learned and instead used the question in an attempt to shame me into getting behind the wheel.

I love you all, but please shut up.

Miss Colombia Has Human Emotions

Human errors happen everyday, but most of ours don’t get broadcast to the entire world. Unfortunately, that can’t be said for Steve Harvey who accidently crowned Miss Colombia as 2015’s Miss Universe. His mistake was watched by millions, was a notification as “breaking news” on news apps, and resulted in memes at his expense. The accidental crowning of Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines (who was the actual winner) sparked controversies over who really won this year’s pageant and the denial that Miss Philippines is the actual winner.

I have never been a fan of pageants for various reasons, but understand how important they are to the women who do participate in them. I’ve had a few friends who have actively and seriously worked to be amazing overall personalities in different pageants; through the stories they’ve shared with me and by observation, I have seen how being a part of these competitions have positively changed their lives and helped them grow as individuals. To compete in pageants takes a lot of work, effort, and commitment and isn’t just about showing up with some nice makeup and a dress.

Now imagine all of that in such a high-scale competition like Miss Universe. You are standing on stage representing, not only yourself, but also your country. You have that pressure on you to be an amazing woman against (for lack of a better term) other amazing women, which you also care for and support. It is not just your friends and family watching, but people all around the world. Add the fact that it is also being recorded for future viewing. You are on stage and then you win –

but you don’t.

I can’t fathom what would go through my mind thinking that all my hard work paid off, only to be told that I didn’t actually win. It takes guts to stand there and remove the crown you thought you won and hand it over to someone else. Honestly, I would probably cry like the girl in Miss Congeniality; just stand there and cry with confetti raining down on me. The heartbreak, the confusion, the shock, and a dozen other emotions running through you because you were so close, but no cigar.

This event has been going viral on all social media sites, but Globalgrind’s article stood out to me: Miss Colombia Suffering Psychologically After Steve Harvey’s Screw-Up. It wasn’t so much the headliner, as I don’t blame her for having some sort of emotional distress afterwards, but the comments that followed.

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No one really knows how something feels until it has happened to them. On top of that, everyone reacts differently to events, moments, situations and can affect him or her differently. We were not the ones that put the hard work to get to where Miss Colombia was, but we decide to talk shit anyways.

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Her reaction on stage was graceful and she maintained composure, even though she was asked to give away her crown. She stood there and smiled, before walking away and letting Miss Philippines take the stage.

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This shouldn’t mark her as a bad human being for feeling emotional distress. This shouldn’t give us the opportunity to shit all over her and conclude that she never deserved the crownWhat horrible things to say that, because someone may feel traumatized for experiencing rejection on international recorded stage, he or she was never worthy. It is obvious that she was, as she won her country’s competition and managed to become runner-up.

While I do believe that Miss Colombia’s choice to sue Steve Harvey over the incident is a bit much, I think that everyone’s reactions to her having human emotions are also far-fetched and horrible. She was not only embarrassed, but has been forced to hear about it for the last two days. It’s a viral video on YouTube and probably won’t be forgotten, especially in the pageant world. It isn’t about her gaining fame, but how it feels.

No, I don’t hate Steve Harvey for what happened. I actually think that him being sued over the incident is sad as I’m sure his intentions were never malign. He made a mistake and it is costing him a lot. He may also feel emotional distress over the situation, though different from Miss Colombia’s.

Meet your next queen. #MissUniverse

A post shared by Iris Mittenaere (@missuniverse) on

And to imagine how this will affect Miss Philippines reign is also sad. Many believe she didn’t deserve it and support Miss Colombia because she wore the crown for 2 minutes. What will Miss Philippines go through having to defend herself? Although she did win, she will have to deal with the backlash of the entire incident too.

The entire situation is fucked, to be honest. But let’s be a little nicer people.

Images: MissUniverse/Instagram

 

 

Kylie Jenner: The White Latina

The world has been keeping up with the Kardashian/Jenner clan for what seems like thousands of years. We obsessively seek every detail about these women’s lives as if they were magical. And maybe they are a tad spectacular given that our infatuation with them has led to all of their careers as social queens (yes, I am summarizing and do recall Kim’s sex tape). But their spectacularness stems from our showers of attention to everything they do from dawn to dusk and more.

Unfortunately for them, being the world’s guilty pleasure – because, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us do keep up with them – comes controversy, debacles, and plain ‘ole fuck-ups. So what’s this week’s crazy headline for the K family?

Kylie Jenner: The Latest Latina Beauty Icon.

Yup, that’s right. A white woman is apparently the trendiest Latina according to PopSugar Latina‘s article originally titled: “Kylie Jenner Is Basically a Mix of All Your Favorite Latina Celebrities.” 

I'm going live on Kylie radio right now with @harryhudson and @jordynwoods link in my bio!

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

If you’re thinking, “wtf…,” so was the rest of the internet. To PopSugar’s dismay, their lovely article on the baby Jenner was torn to shreds for comparing her to Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, and the phenomenal Selena Quintanilla to name a few. This wrath upon their seemingly-innocent article led to PopSugar Latina’s editor to recall the piece and issue a statement that follows:

“We hear your feedback on the original content of this post loud and clear. As proud Latinas ourselves, we know Kylie is not Latina and never meant to imply that she was; we were simply trying to point out the influence our strong, passionate community has on others. We apologize for any offense we caused.”

— POPSUGAR Latina Editors

And that’s it.

But wait, it’s not!

What a slap in the face it was to see this article stating that Kylie could be all of these Latina women when she’s not even Latina!

I am Latina, and I pride myself in being of this ethnic background. So to see that a Latina woman wrote an article that basically claims a white woman is a jumble of a bunch of successful Latina celebrities was just a big confusion. It was even more daunting to realize that no one – no editor, supervisor, friend, or whatever – stopped this piece from being published. It was wrong. It was completely wrong.

I woke up like disss

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Now, I’ll say that I’m not attacking Kylie Jenner for being who she is and how she looks. While she’s gotten into some hot water with cultural appropriation and being called out on it endlessly, my frustration is not so much at her but at everything else. Obviously, this issue is because of cultural appropriation, and we can’t ignore that. We can’t just look the other way when these things happen because denial does nothing more than perpetuate the problem. Even rereading the editor’s statement, “the influence our strong, passionate community has on others,” screams cultural appropriation.

Kylie didn’t think, yes this outfit is totally Selena and I’m going to represent her today. However, PopSugar’s article did spew these ideas that it was okay for people to actively accept that Kylie could totally be a celebrity Latin woman because of her physical appearance and lifestyle. That is bullshit.

What ends up happening by comparing Kylie’s image and lifestyle to the endless Latina celebrities *insert sarcastic tone* is a Frankenstein’s monster come to life. You take aspects of celebrity Latinas and connect them all together to create a new Latin woman that isn’t actually Latina. This leads to Kylie becoming a new Latina beauty icon (because she just needs one more notch in her bedpost).

yew nork

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Kylie Jenner is white. Kylie Jenner is rich. While there is nothing wrong with both of these things, they add a mountain of privilege to her lifestyle from birth. We all know it in the back of our heads, so why do we need to give her more when we – Latinas – have significantly less than her? It doesn’t make sense! People of color struggle to be represented in so many facets of our lives including the media; I don’t see a reason why we take the little we have and just toss it off onto a teenager.

The thing that irks me is the fact that, as a Latina, I must search high and low for those who identify like me. Then, when I find these people, they are deemed not on the same level as their counterparts. However, when those with privilege do/look/become/obtain something that sort of resembles a characteristic of a person of color – like Selena Quintanilla – we can finally say, yes that is a good thing because a white person has now done it. 

This struggle isn’t just my own, but of every other person of color.

@kuwtk

A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

It’s disheartening to think that another Latina wrote the PopSugar piece, a Latina editor approved it, and nowhere did someone say that this comparison was going to get a major backlash. But I stand firm with the tweets, comments, and responses that explain how exalting a white woman as a Frankenstein’s monster of celebrity Latinas was wrong and a bad idea.

And saying she’s anything close to Selena… well, that’s just blasphemy.

Images: KylieJenner/Instagram