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  • How do we nurture our creativity?

    Creativity makes life joyful; community makes creativity possible By Akcinya Kootchin When I was young, creativity was a state of being. I loved art class, wrote short stories and danced. Yet as the years went on, I found myself dismissing my creativity. I didn’t think I was great at anything, so did I deserve to create anything at all? However, as my creativity waned, I was simultaneously making these amazing friends, all of whom were undeniably creative. So, when in the midst of a pandemic, school, work and endless responsibilities, my once inescapable creativity now seemed unattainable — but I knew where to look for inspiration. I don’t want to talk about creativity the way we do in school... What does creativity mean? How do you manage it? How do you make money? No disrespect; I am grateful for my education. But, what I want to know is how does creating make you feel like you’re alive? What inspires you? How do you move forward when it feels impossible? So I asked. And I’m going to tell you what I heard. First, let me introduce you to some friends of mine. Julia (she/her) is a musician who also finds creativity in painting, cooking and hair & makeup. Ifiok (she/her) is a writer, a self-described “amateur” photographer and decorator. Imani (she/her) is a painter, curator, writer, graphic designer, and recently she took up dancing. Before you get imposter syndrome (like me), let’s remember that I’m trying to move outside the capitalistic narrative of creativity. All these titles after their names? They aren’t all things they do for profit, or even their primary mediums. They're for joy, release and play. Today, we’ll be giving them all equal weight as we discuss creativity. What does creativity mean to you? When asked to define creativity, everyone called it some version of their “authentic expression.” Imani talked about the importance of reflecting on your experiences and your culture. Julia spoke about rooting creativity in your authentic self. And Ifiok? Ifiok reminded me that maybe “creativity is not as complex as society makes it to be.” How was her laptop made? Redesigning her apartment? Dressing for the day? She sees creativity in all that. And that's important. Because if you see creativity that way, then there isn’t so much pressure on how you choose to express yourself. When do you feel the most creative? There’s this story Julia told me. One time, she was creating music, and was in a really good place. You know when you just feel like everything is flowing? When you can look up and suddenly five hours have gone by, and you’re better for it, and you’ve created something... Everyone I talked to said they found they were most creative during that flow of time. But in this instance, Julia was flowing along, and then she hit a wall. She felt stuck. She realized that the sounds she was creating, and the direction the song was going in was new territory. She was scared to push herself. Because what would come out of her? What if it was a part of her she had never met before? But she took a breath and permitted herself to fail. And in doing so, she was able to push forward and create one of her favourite songs she’s ever written. It’s called No Warning, and will be on her debut album releasing in Summer 2022. What inspires you? Parents, strangers, friends, coworkers — inspiration has a human face. As a curator, Imani works to help increase the representation of Queer, Trans and BIPOC people in the arts industries. It is her community, and how her creativity can benefit her community, that inspires her. Ifiok told me about her relationship with her dad — one of her biggest inspirations. Like any human relationship, she told me, theirs has gone through phases. And each phase of their relationship has inspired a new wave of creativity. Julia told me that when she got bored of writing about her life, she turned outwards. She started going on intentional walks and observing the world around her. This inspired her to find new ways of storytelling. Like she told me, art is about capturing the human experience — not just her experience. How do you sustain your creative practice? Softly. Everyone I talked to sustains their creative practice with great care and self-compassion. They go for walks, they take breaks when they need to, they rest when they're tired. The women I spoke with showed great trust that their creativity would wait. And wait, apparently, it does... Ifiok's solution to burnout is to take part in “little acts of creativity.” When she isn’t writing, she brings creativity into her life through journaling, organizing, or taking photos. Julia practises “showing up for her creativity.” Like Ifiok, if she doesn’t want to make music, that’s fine. Yet last summer, when she lost her inspiration, she filled up an entire sketchbook instead. When I asked Imani this question, she talked about self-care, and sustaining yourself beyond your practice. But what surprised me was so simple. She told me that she trusts that her ideas are good. It is through that self-trust that she gets out of her own way, and allows her creative self to practice. How important is community to sustaining your creative practice? Ifiok’s creativity primarily exists in her inner world. But for Julia and Imani, community is integral to their creative practice. For Julia, her stories revolve around how soliciting others’ feedback pushes and grows her music. For Imani, community is “the most important thing.” She talked about how the curatorial and the creative world is rife with gatekeeping and creates barriers to access for many marginalized communities. Imani wants to “help break those barriers down and increase access to those spaces so that [communities are] represented within the art displayed in these spaces,” and so “people feel comfortable going into those spaces and engaging with the work, in a way that feels representative, or [that] they just feel comfortable, regardless of what’s being shown.” This goal is rooted in community. Imani also shared how being involved with activism and organizing in the city is inspiring. Particularly, seeing how activists and organizers connect with artistic practices. Like she told me — “everything is connected.” What do you do when you feel unmotivated? To summarize, when asked what they feel when they are unmotivated, their responses were very similar — cry, rest, spend time alone, talk to people, walk, run. You either do the work or you don’t. But regardless, you need to be kind to yourself and trust that the motivation will return when you (or it) is ready. What are your thoughts on hustle culture? I’m not going to lie — a vein of hypocrisy entered our conversations here. No one I talked to enjoys hustle culture. Imani talked about how capitalistic hustle culture drains people and degrades collaboration. Julia spoke about how she doesn’t believe that “art, acceptance, love, [or] play” exist in a rushed, standardized world. And yet, both of them were quick to admit they still fall into the trap of hustling. It was only Ifiok who could admit that she doesn’t overwork herself. Something, she says, she has grown to appreciate. Regardless, all our conversations on hustle culture boiled down to this idea that, yes, motivation and hard work are good, but is the framework that validates those traits one we should perpetuate? My final thoughts So now, it’s a cold Tuesday, and the sky is grey, and I am trying to summarize how I feel... I’d love to say that writing this provided me with divine inspiration, but that isn’t true. What happened was that writing this article proved I could write an article. While I sat, and asked insightful questions, and had deep conversations, I had already taken the most important step — I had started creating. And that’s what I would like to leave you with, reader. I would like to tell you (from the depths of my fears and insecurities) that all you need to do is start. Because I believe that anything — any misshapen, colour-clashing, discordant thing that we create — makes the world a warmer place. And if you get stuck, you can always remember this list of tips to nurture your creativity: You are a creative person (believe in yourself) Be curious and make a conscious effort to see the world as a beautiful place Find the silver linings Be compassionate (people are harsh on themselves even when they’re doing great work) Embrace uncertainty Let yourself learn and grow from bad situations The little acts of creativity are just as important as the big ones (Re)connect with yourself (remember what your inner child loved doing) If your creativity feels stagnant, it’s because you’re not nurturing it You are allowed to fail This piece was published in New Wave's Spring 2022 Issue

  • Home is where the heart is, but where is the heart?

    The word ‘foreign’ does not belong in my vocabulary By Madeline Liao Growing up, I always hated the word “foreigner.” I especially hated being called that in a place I considered home. As a first-generation immigrant, I have long battled with the concept of home and what the idea really means to me. I moved to Canada with my parents when I was six years old, leaving behind the rest of my family and the routines I knew as a young child in Taiwan. This chapter brought me new opportunities and experiences, but it also instilled a lot of self-doubt over the years. Spending your school years in a country different from what you and your family have known alters how people look at you. Some people fixate on your differences and build their opinion on you based on these assumptions. When we first settled in Canada, we lived in what was a predominantly white town at the time. The cultural landscape of Kelowna, B.C., has somewhat changed since then, but for many years I was the only Asian kid in my classes. I didn’t think much of it when I was young, but as I got older, I realized how it substantially influenced me and the way I felt about myself. The subtle racism, the weird looks at my school lunches, unintentional comments resembling othering (the act of treating someone as if they do not fit into societal norms) — those moments stuck to me like a leech. The worst part is, I didn’t realize the leech was there until it was almost too late. Feelings of internal racism and self-doubt made me involuntarily lose parts of myself. I began to tear away at bits of my heritage. From speaking less Mandarin, to hating the meals we ate at home, I lost aspects of myself that I am still trying to gain back. This further dissipated the definition of home in my brain; the more I was losing my grip on my cultural identity, the less I felt like I belonged anywhere. It wasn’t until high school that I truly regretted the decisions I made as a child. Sure, I was just a kid, but those choices I made continued to affect me as I grew older. I realized that I was letting my culture and ancestry slip away from me by neglecting those parts of myself, by being afraid of sharing my heritage with others. In hopes of fitting in, I actually fell more out of touch with myself. Initially, a small part of me felt that my home was back in Taiwan, where my family was. Although I just so happened to live in Canada now, that didn’t change how strongly I believed that Taiwan would be the same, exactly as I left it in 2008. When I would go back during summer vacations, it felt like I was going back to somewhere familiar. It felt like that sense of home I had been longing for. The presence of my family, the smell of familiar spices, and even the cheesy Taiwanese soap operas playing on the TV all made it seem like home. Yet that familiarity seemed to translate differently in other people’s eyes. To them, my family and strangers, I was an outsider — the foreign, English-speaking kid who was different. Although they never said it to my face, I could feel that kind of mentality from those around me. This shattered the idea of home I had so ingrained in myself and made me see the reality of it all, how I didn’t truly belong, but I didn’t understand why this was happening. I honestly still don’t fully understand why I was being viewed as different when I speak the language, am part of the culture and appreciate my heritage. Hell, I was born there. Why did people see me as a foreigner? Various memories have stuck with me, which have implicitly shaped my self-view and identity. At times my uncle would say, “She wouldn’t understand, she’s foreign,” to my mother like I wasn’t even in the room. Or that one time in Grade 2 when my teacher used me as an example to describe the word “alien” during our weekly spelling classes. While these comments may have been lighthearted and innocent, they still stand out in my memory and make me doubt my identity, even years after they happened. Foreign, alien, waiguoren (foreigner in Mandarin); I never liked these words. They made me feel strange, unincluded, isolated. Like I didn’t belong. This feeling manifested itself into a personal crisis — an internal debate between who I am and where I fit in. Many questions have popped up throughout my life. Why am I considered different by the people I identify with? Who am I if not the same as them? Am I anyone at all? These questions have stuck with me through the majority of my upbringing and still linger to this day. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being oversensitive, but the idea of home has become such a jumble in my head that the word itself makes little sense. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, home is “The place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives”. Does this really make sense to me? It seems so simple, just a place where you live. But the feeling of home, that feeling of solace and safety, is so much more than just a place — and that feeling was what I was chasing down as it continuously slipped out of my hands. As I got older, I continued to evaluate the idea of home. This internal conflict gradually became undramatized as I matured, which allowed me to step back and look at it from a more composed perspective. After spending my childhood in a state of self-hate, I eventually realized how important it is to hold on to your roots. Going back to Taiwan in the summers helped me stay connected to my family and culture. I took classes to better my reading and writing skills, and I continue to have conversations with my family to learn more about our history. In pandemic times, technology has definitely been a reliable friend. Staying connected through video chat and messaging has been a source of reassurance, and while it doesn’t beat actually being there, it is the next best thing. Meanwhile, my environment in Canada has become more diversified, especially after moving to Toronto for university. I’ve been able to find people I can connect with and feel a bit less “alien.” I am extremely fortunate to have a connection with both countries and be able to physically exist in each space. I have the privilege to learn, the privilege to gain back what I threw away in my childhood and the privilege of finding a definition of home. Above all, I have to acknowledge that I am a settler of colour on unceded Indigenous land, that I have the responsibility to listen to the voices of Indigenous peoples and recognize how to reduce the harm done by colonial policies. People often feel pressured to choose an identity that they have to carry with them for the rest of their existence. What they don’t tell you is that this identity can be multifaceted. In fact, it has to be, your identity is made up of all your life experiences, your ancestors’ experiences and every single thing that came before you. It is not just a box you check. This mindset is the same for the concept of home. It can be hard to find a sense of belonging as an immigrant child. The complicated labyrinth of finding yourself becomes entangled with even more questions and confusion. But while the experience can feel lonely, it is not limited to one person. It is important to understand that there are so many people who feel the same way and have had similar thoughts throughout their own unique experiences. I’m still trying to figure out what home means to me. But now, I am learning that this definition does not have to be set in stone, nor does it only have a single and final description. Home is widely interpreted as such a place-rooted word when in reality, it is a flexible concept that is different to every individual. Home doesn’t necessarily have to be a house or a place — it can be anything and everything. I’ve learned that home is family, friends, experiences, adventures; it is all the things that reside in you. The definition doesn’t have to be logical to everyone as long as it makes sense to you. So, maybe home can be two places at once. This piece was published in New Wave's Spring 2022 Issue

  • My Double-Sided Childhood: Growing Up Mixed

    Too Indian for the Caucasian people and too Caucasian for the Indian people By Saskia Wodarczak Growing up in and of itself is quite the process, full of new changes and obstacles, judgments and scrutiny. Especially if you’re growing up as a person who could easily be described as someone leading a double life, there is a lot of scrutiny towards not just you, but also your family (which is a real double hit). While that is absolutely fabulous and all, it personally took me more years than I’d care to admit to figure out how confusing and questioned it was, at the time, to be mixed. I’m German-Fijian and yes, it is true, a lot of people call a combination like that, “exotic.” Trust me; I’ve gotten that a lot, even in university, and it gets really old really quickly. Don’t get me wrong, growing up mixed race is not some great disadvantage. On the contrary, I think I got the best features from both my maternal and paternal side, though granted, I’d have loved to have my Oma’s blue eyes. What really struck me, however, is how lonely you feel, which I never realized throughout school. For a bit of context, I grew up in a Western Canadian city that is predominantly Caucasian with a large variety of Asian populations, so there was always a major diversity. I was talking to my mum about this, and she told me that when I started both preschool and then elementary school, she would go out of her way to befriend the only other Indian mum that there was so that she wouldn’t feel lonely, which shows that you don’t just have to be mixed race to feel like an outsider in a giant community. Circling back, mixed kids get to lead a life with two identities, which is not as glorious as that of Superman, but is perhaps one of the loneliest feelings I’ve experienced. Not to be dramatic, but it is a constant battle of fitting in with each side, when you know deep down, in reality, you never can. You will constantly feel like an outsider. To be blunt, I am too Indian for the Caucasian people and too Caucasian for the Indian people. I simply do not fit in anywhere. It took me so long to realize that I switch my identity depending on who I am with, which leads to identity crises and overthinking. Why do I feel like an outsider? Am I good enough for this side? Could you translate that for me? Do I fit in? Well now, no I don’t, because I don’t know the language. While yes, I am a member of both sides of my family, I am one hundred per cent still separate. For example, I was not taught Hindi or German, and the language barrier was, and still is to this day, a huge one. Growing up, I honestly thought there was something wrong with me, because I’d ping pong: dinner at my Nani’s meant that I’d have to have more Indian mannerisms and then lunch with Oma and Opa meant that I’d have to pump up the Caucasian mannerisms. It is important to note that I was never forced to or taught by my parents to be more of one than the other, it simply depended on who I was with, or where I was, what I was doing or talking about. Basically, it turned into a cycle. Even today, I’ll use more Indian mannerisms or reactions around my Indian friends, and more German mannerisms around my non-Indian friends. I’ve noticed it is easy to make friends when you have the aspect of race in common. Especially when I moved here to Toronto, I found that there were so many more people here that I could relate to since there’s a greater South Asian population, which, ironically, is the side I’m closer to because growing up, I interacted with that side of my family more. It’s funny though, people that I’ve met that are German know immediately that I’m at least part German, and most of my Indian friends in Toronto immediately knew that I am at least part Indian. Now, for my all-time favourite question: have I ever been prejudiced against or looked down upon for being mixed? The short answer: yes, absolutely. While it has always been so subtle, that little bit of prejudice is still there. It is as simple as comments about my skin tone, or that classic, “But you don’t really look Fijian/German, your features don’t really apply to either.” Even double-takes or those pinched looks at the Mandir when I’m introduced as my mother’s daughter. All of that simply screams to me that I don’t belong and that I’m an outsider. Yes, it has definitely taken me a very long time to understand that I need to buck up and accept that I won’t ever totally be part of one culture. But I have learned that I can use both to my utmost advantage; I’m incredibly cultured through the aspect of food, can so easily accept a wide range of diversity, and, as self-centred as this may seem, it is so rare that I judge someone because I understand how it feels to be on the receiving end. Growing up mixed taught me so much, and although exposed me to a lot at a young age, was one of the factors that really taught me that race is not something to be looked down upon for and that it is essential to practice acceptance, in any form, to make it in the world. This piece was published in New Wave's Spring 2022 Issue

  • The Resurgence of Indigenous Fashion Through Decolonial Love

    By: Stephanie Davoli Justine Woods on reclaiming her Aabitaawikwe identity through her relationship with land, life and love For many Indigenous artists, it’s nearly impossible to create — and to simply live — authentically and truthfully without acknowledging the realities of colonization. This is the case for Justine Woods, an Aabitaawikwe designer, garment artist, and creative scholar. Woods is a 2018 fashion design graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary art, media and design from OCAD University. She is presently back at TMU where she’s a PhD candidate in media and design innovation with a focus on Indigenous fashion practices. As a member of the Georgian Bay Métis community, and someone with a strong passion for art and design, Woods has spent countless hours examining the connection between her adoration for fashion and her Indigenous roots. A Love for Her Homeland “My work and research is entirely informed by how I move and live around the world with respect to my Indigeneity,” said Woods. “Spirituality, a relationship to the land that I come from and stories are essentially what inspires my work.” This worldview influenced Woods’ 2021 thesis exhibition for her master’s degree. For this collection, Woods created several garment and beadwork constructed pieces that centred around the “praxis of decolonial love.” “I wanted to look at relationships of love that exist between my body and the land, my body and non-human nations (like plants and animals), as well as the practices I was engaging in through the making, designing and wearing of these garments.” The creation of the collection involved countless hours of research, pattern drafting, stitching and sewing, as well as deep introspection into why she was creating each garment. “Everything was connected in relationship to one another to support my body as an Indigenous person, as I was engaging in cultural practices, in relation to the land where I come from,” shared Woods. “Every choice that I made in the design process was intentional and had a function.” The functionality element Woods describes can be seen in the ice fishing bib pants from her collection (pictured below). This piece in particular reminded Woods of fishing trips with her father and the love she has for her homeland. Sustainability and Spirituality The garment, sewn in double-faced wool and vegetable tanned deer hide, while lined with seed beads, also emphasizes Woods’ commitment to sustainable fashion design. “The majority of the materials I prefer to use in my work are land based. A lot of my pieces feature rawhide, deer skin, moose hide…,” said Woods. “Supporting the economic resurgence of other creators is also very important to me, which is why I always try to support Indigenous, independent bead sellers.” Sustainable garment creation is a natural practice for many Indigenous designers, according to a CBC article from last summer. Many scholars also point to Indigenous sustainable design practices as a guiding light for the future to combat the ever-worsening climate crisis. “The importance of connections to our land, and thinking about our impact, those values really inspire a different relationship and meaning with fashion,” said Taylor Brydges, a PhD in Canadian fashion and a current post-doctoral student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Building Community Through Beading Circles Woods continues to share her Aabitaawikwe culture with others through the weekly beading circle gatherings she created at TMU in the beginning of 2019. Despite switching to a virtual experience due to the pandemic, the circle has only grown in popularity and has recently secured a partnership with Indigenous-owned company, Manitobah Mukluks. Through the 1867 Indian Act, many Indigenous gatherings, including beading circles, were banned in Canada until 1951. Today, beading circles are a celebration of the resistance of Indigenous Peoples. “Beading circles are an act of resurgence,” said Woods. “It’s a space where both Indigenous and non-Indigenous folks can form reciprocal, respectful relationships that contribute towards anti-colonial futures.” In addition to her design work, Woods is expanding her career into teaching. She is currently a graduate assistant and contract lecturer at TMU where she is creating an entirely new course that opens in the Winter 2022 semester titled “Indigenous Craft Practices”. Despite her many jobs, spreading the word of decolonization through the promotion of Indigenous love and values remains at the forefront of all Woods’ endeavours. She hopes that her work will one day help future generations have an easier time connecting and relating to their Indigeneity. “What makes Indigenous fashion so powerful is that it’s a visual stance that we’re still here and our culture is still flourishing even though, you know, they tried,” says Woods with a laugh. “Going forward it’s just that — continuing to piece together teachings, knowledge, and continuing to refuse.” This piece was published in New Wave's Spring 2022 Issue

  • What did I do?

    “After all of these years, I’m still wondering” By Julia Sacco Instagram has a new feature where you can go back and look at your very first liked posts. It’s a bittersweet experience to look back at everything I loved at thirteen. I spent so much time trying to emulate the women that I saw. Every morning meticulously styling my hair, dragging my mom to Brandy Melville despite their questionable moral practices, and taking videos of bath bombs for no reason other than social acceptance. When going through these old posts, I noticed something. You had liked some of them too. You. You were trying to replicate exactly what I was. You, the one who seemed to find an issue with everything that I wore, the way that I spoke, and the way that I styled my hair. So what did I do wrong? What about me was so different? Was it the extra ten pounds that I had on you? The reason that my ringer tee fit slightly different than yours? Was it my face? Still awkwardly carrying baby fat that you somehow had shed? What about me doing the same thing as you, trying as hard as every other middle schooler, was so repulsive to everyone? I wish that I could go back to my younger self and tell her that I wasn’t so unlike you. But that wouldn’t make much of a difference, would it? Because after all of these years, I’m still wondering. I didn’t stop at the hair and the clothes. Yet still, I tried and tried and try. Now, as I look at my life I still feel the vehement rejection everywhere I turn. Friendships are a rarity, nobody seems to care for me as I care for them. I obsess over unfollows, each one a sting telling me that I’m still doing it all wrong, that it doesn’t matter if I like the same things that you do. I will always be wrong. What did I do to deserve this?

  • Paris Hilton and “The Nice Guys”

    By Kristyn Landry Emerald Fennell’s colourful film, Promising Young Woman, is not your typical feminist thriller. CW: "Promising Young Woman" contains harsh depictions of sexual assault, some of which are discussed in this review. Carey Mulligan’s character, Cassandra Thomas, is nearly unconscious as Neil, played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, slides his hand between her legs and tells her, “You don’t wanna go home.” The film is Promising Young Woman, directed by Emerald Fennell. This is one of many scenes throughout the movie that brings discomfort and fury, but despite Cassie’s seemingly dazed state, she’s most definitely in control. Every week, Cassie goes out to a club pretending to be “too drunk to stand,” and waits for the inevitable “nice guys” to come and see if she’s okay, bring her home, and attempt to further intoxicate and sleep with her. It’s then that she ennacts her revenge, with a level-headed stare and their realization that she knew what they were doing all along. It had always been the dream of Cassie and her best friend, Nina, to become doctors. Yet now in her thirties and working at “a shitty coffee shop,” Cassie seeks revenge, not only on the many “nice guys” of the world, but also on those involved in an incident that occured in medical school, one that has haunted her days since. Following my first watch, I demanded that every single person I knew join me in my pain. It is not the only feminist-driven film to tackle issues of sexual assault, but it sets itself apart in its appealing aesthetic and stomach-twisting circumstances — horror wrapped in Cassie’s pastel dresses and colourful nail polish. Released at the end of 2020, it did not quite receive the traction it deserved. However, this film is truly special as it showed what can be done when corners aren’t cut and rape culture is recognized for what it is. *** Sometimes you watch a romance film and know that the guy who serendipitously bumps into the main character will fall in love with her. Other times you watch an action movie and know that it will end with the bad guy in handcuffs. This doesn’t happen in Promising Young Woman. Rather, Fennell continuously subverts the expectations of the audience by blinding us to the darker pretenses just before we are upon them — showing us what we want to see before revealing the truth to us. For a thriller, doom and gloom is far from the aesthetic. Instead, Cassie favours a very soft, bright wardrobe: pinks, reds, light blues, floral dresses, braids and bows. The setting itself is very sugar-coated as well, whether it’s the overtly pink of her parents’ home or a decoratively dreamy coffee shop. Everything about this film reflects your favourite rom-com — except when it doesn’t. The soundtrack consists of the DROELOE remix of Boys by Charlie XCX, a violin rendition of Britney Spears’ Toxic by Anthony Willis, the ever-powerful ballad, Angel of the Morning by Juice Newton, and probably the most 2000s pop song ever, Stars Are Blind by Paris Hilton. What this in turn does is manipulate our feelings and expectations as we’re watching the film. When we’re listening to “Boys,” with its upbeat tone and lyrics, we’re thrown off by the grinding hips of businessmen in the club, and not the ever-common montage of dancing young women. The Stars Are Blind scene takes an especially sharp turn into romance city, with Cassie and Ryan, played by Bo Burnham, dancing and singing in the middle of a pharmacy. Scenes like this are pleasant, fun and only bring us more shock when we’re ripped away and thrown back into the thriller Fennell had promised. The chosen casting is no exception to this theme. The film includes many well-known comedy stars: Adam Brody, Sam Richardson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Max Greenfield and other actors whose familiarity will initially fill audiences with a sense of comfort when seeing them on screen, whether your go-to watch is Superbad or New Girl. Our expectations, once again, unexpectedly work against us, as Fennell brings to screen the real world “nice guys,” only making the true nature of their character all the more appalling. This shows the audience not to trust in their expectations and that even in pleasing environments, with humorous interactions and a pastelled wardrobe, the danger is only charaded — not absent altogether. *** Promising Young Woman was not some big campaign for Fennell to exclusively hate on men and their part in violence against women. While much of Cassie’s revenge does centre on male perpetrators, the women in her life are also not safe from the retribution she seeks. “When you get that drunk, things happen. Don’t get blackout drunk all the time, and then expect people to be on your side when you have sex with someone you don’t want to,” says Madison, played by Alison Brie, while she and Cassie are out for lunch. Though this invitation from Cassie seemed like a light-hearted opportunity to catch up, it is quickly used to put Madison in the hot seat and confront her for not believing a classmate who came to her after being raped. Brie’s performance is chilling, perfectly capturing a superficial friend who may not have committed the assault herself, but was a bystander all the same. Cassie also takes the time to confront Dean Walker, the dean of her old college, a woman who didn’t work hard enough to convict a rapist after the victim went to her for help. Here’s an excerpt of their conversation: Dean Walker: “It’s so hard, but you know also if she was drinking, and maybe couldn’t remember everything…” Cassie: “So she shouldn’t have been drunk?” Dean Walker: “I’m not saying that, I —” Cassie: “Sorry, I don’t mean to sound critical, Dean Walker, I just want to be clear.” Dean Walker: “None of us want to admit when we’ve made ourselves vulnerable, when we’ve made a bad choice. And those choices, those mistakes can be so damaging. And really regrettable.” Cassie: “Regrettable?” Dean Walker: “Yes, I mean because what would you have me do? Ruin a young man’s life every time we get an accusation like this?” Addressing female bystanders’ role in rape culture seems criminally unique. Not only does Promising Young Woman recognize bystanders and other involved individuals apart from the rapist, but it also points a finger to the women who look the other way, surely giving the “women do no wrong” believers a rude awakening. *** Promising Young Woman is colourful, quirky, sweet — yet also heartbreaking, uncomfortable and rage-inducing at times. Escapist Movies, a YouTube channel dedicated to film reviews and analysis, describes it well: “Promising Young Woman is not a rape-revenge story…Promising Young Woman is a tragedy.” It is not the empowering tale of a woman seeking revenge on those who deserve it (though seeing her get retribution is very satisfying), but one of a woman facing grief, trauma and seemingly punishing herself for being unable to prevent it all. It is full of so much more than I can discuss in this non-spoiler reflection, and so incredibly worth the watch. Fennell never once promises a happy ending. She jerks her audience back and forth between laughter and heartache, enjoyment and disgust, like a dog with a new chew toy. She holds a pastel-tinted lens to today’s rape culture and still exploits it for what it harbours: the too-often ignored violence against women, the too-often disregarded claims and the too-often promising young men that are let off just for that fact.

  • top 10 movies to watch this summer

    Watch these movies to officially get into the summer spirit By Negin Khodayari The weather is finally starting to look appealing and I can’t help but shift into full "senioritis" gear and pretend like I’m already on summer vacation, burying my weight in gelato under the Italian sun and dancing my way around every Greek beach in search of my one true love. But, I do still have finals to submit and well, it’s mid-April, so I could use all the help I can get to forget my deadlines and start basking in the summer glory. I’ve compiled a list of movies that scream “SUMMER!” and I wanted to share them with you so we can all start romanticizing the next few months. Mamma Mia (IDEALLY The first, but why not both) photo Retrieved from IMDb I’m sure you’ve all heard of this one but you can’t blame me for putting it at the top of my list. A movie musical set in the Greek Islands to ABBA’s greatest hits starring Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan AND Meryl Streep. That’s it, that’s the pitch. Monte Carlo photo Retrieved from IMDb Three friends take on France one summer after saving up for the trip for months (sounds like a page out of my diary). Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy’s characters could not have prepared for a more romantic, hectic and luxurious whirlwind. This movie is filled with all the European fantasy storylines you could think of, making it a must watch on my summer list. The Lizzie McGuire Movie photo Retrieved from IMDb “Sing to me Paolo!” Yes, that's right, this iconic line is from The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and the internet will never be the same. On a school trip to Rome, Hilary Duff’s most notable character, Lizzy McGuire, meets a young musician, Poalo, whose duet partner, Isabella, happens to look EXACTLY like her. If that doesn't sound intriguing, I don’t know what does. Under the Tuscan Sun photo Retrieved from IMDb I repeat: Under. The. Tuscan. SUN. This movie combines my two favourite things: Italy and warm weather. Who hasn't considered running away from their life in North America to take a long tour of Italy and impulsively buy a villa along the way? Well, for those of us who can’t afford that just yet, this movie will tie us over until we can. Eat, Pray, Love (This was inevitable) photo Retrieved from IMDb This movie follows Julia Roberts as she leaves the comfort of her home, career and former husband to embark on a journey of self-discovery in Italy, India and Bali. Eat, Pray, Love shows us different cultures, foods, rituals, languages, and how despite being from different places around the world, we can all learn from shared human experiences. Call Me By Your Name photo Retrieved from IMDb It’s the ‘80s in an Italian cottage country and you're biking around with a 17-year-old Timothée Chalamet during the beautiful summer days under the sun. This movie is vulnerable, honest, scandalous, and all tied together with beautiful scenery and breathtaking performances. Cheaper by the Dozen 2 photo Retrieved from IMDb Now, I’m not going to lie, my admiration for this movie may very well be tainted by my admiration for a young Tom Welling, but any movie with Steve Martin is worth a watch. This comedy takes you on a classic family cottage trip, but with 12 kids, so you can expect the storylines to get messy. Featuring a young Taylor Launter and Hilary Duff, this star-studded cast is hard to beat. Camp Rock 1 and 2 photo Retrieved from IMDb This was my favourite Disney musical series as a kid and I would be doing my younger self a disservice if I didn’t add it to the list. Despite some questionable lying, this group of musically ingenious high school students made me want to pick up an instrument and go to camp. I never did, but I did learn all the songs and sing along to Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers every time these movies were on TV. It's literally in the name, what screams summer louder than “CAMP.” High School Musical 2 photo Retrieved from IMDb I tried so hard not to add this one, but let’s be honest, no summer movie list is complete without the sequel of this ICONIC High School Musical. This classic follows the East High Wildcats on their summer vacation filled with glamor, friendship, heartbreak, drama… and let’s not forget impromptu performances on golf courses and in pools. Just watch it, you know you want to.

  • What’s the hype around journaling?

    By: Yanika Saluja Journaling has always been people’s go-to, but is it too overrated? As kids, teenagers and even adults, we all have had a time in our lives when we wanted to keep a journal, sometimes just to vent or doodle — because let’s be honest, we were bored. For some people, journaling is an escape from reality. Many of us, including myself, have so many mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and insomnia on top of everyday stress. At a certain point when you feel like you have no one to hear you out, you turn to writing your thoughts down on a piece of paper and keep it to yourself. Journaling can help you figure out what you are going through or the mistakes that you made. Moreover, it may even help you write down ways to deal with your problems. I’m not going to lie, it does help sometimes. Yet it leads me to wonder: Is it actually helpful or is it just another reason to bottle up your feelings? Do we give too much credibility to journaling? Writing down your emotions is good to keep track of your life, or see the progress that you have made mentally and emotionally, but does it really make your mental health better or is it just a bit too overrated? Journaling is a good thing and can be a huge milestone during recovery. I myself used to journal for a while, and though it helped me jot down my thoughts, it didn’t really help me reduce or control my anxiety. I have suffered with anxiety my whole life. So, I decided to make a journal where I would always write the cause of my anxiety attack, the trigger and what I did to control it. I also used to write about my day sometimes to let out my thoughts. It went decent for some time, but after a while it began to be more of a burden and responsibility to write. I started to feel obligated to write in a journal and so, for the sake of completing the task, I did. When it did not help me, I realized how much credit we give to journaling, and how talking it out with someone could be better than writing our thoughts down. However, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. A lot of people do feel like they are getting better with journaling — it all really depends on the perspective. I would like to argue that journaling can sometimes be more harmful and feed your anxiety. Journaling can lead to more overthinking as you would be going through the same thing all over again. Sometimes, in my experience, writing about negativity can cause you to spiral and may make you use your words against yourself. Journaling can often keep you isolated in your own thoughts leaving no room for growth or recovery. Journaling is not a bad thing and I cannot stress this enough. However, what I do believe is that you need another outlet to give you the reassurance or the shoulder you are looking for. Journaling is not something to be done just because it is a trend or because you are going through a rough patch in your life. Journal if you feel like it can really help you or if letting it all out on a piece of paper is what you want to do to feel better — not because your therapist or someone else told you to. Do what makes you happy and relaxed.

  • The Struggles of Trying to Get Over My Fear of Driving

    By: Yasmeen Aslam After negative comments from my driving instructor and getting into a car accident, I thought I would never be able to sit behind the wheel again When someone turns 16, everyone’s automatic response is: you can finally get a driver’s license. At least, that’s what people told me when I turned 16. Everyone expects you to jump up and down at the prospect of being able to drive and take yourself wherever you want to go. Now, I will admit, I was excited to get my G1 license. I passed the test on the first try and couldn’t wait to start practicing in an actual car. Yet when I got behind the wheel for the first time, I was filled with feelings of dread and anxiety. After (horribly) testing out my skills in an empty parking lot, I came to a conclusion: I hated driving. After bringing this up to family members, many reassured me that feeling nervous in the beginning is normal and will eventually go away once I drive more. When practicing, I could never get one hundred per cent comfortable with sitting in the driver’s seat — and this was only in parking lots. The thought of driving on an actual road wasn’t even plausible for me. In fact, it felt less than impossible. Two years passed and I still couldn’t get rid of my nerves. So, I did what most people do when they’re learning to drive: I signed up for driving school. My younger sister and I had taken the class at the same time. While I did learn a lot, the drunk driving videos they showed in class was not good for my existing fear. After the in-person class, it was time to start the in-car lessons with a driving instructor. My sister started her instructions right away, as she loved to drive. She actually ended up getting her G2 later that year. I, on the other hand, did not want to contact my instructor right away and thought I’d wait it out. Months passed and in that time, we had gotten another car — a Jeep to be specific — and it was meant to be shared amongst my sisters and I. Once I started driving the Jeep, my nerves slowly disappeared. Granted, there was still a bit of anxiousness and I was still only practicing in parking lots, but I felt extremely comfortable driving that car. My driving skills improved and I finally believed I was able to start my driving lessons without my anxiety completely overtaking me. However, the COVID-19 pandemic started in March and driving schools closed during that time. When they reopened in the summer, I finally contacted my driving instructor to set up a time to practice. Before my first lesson, I told him that I hadn’t driven on the road yet. When my first lesson was complete, he asked me: “Are you sure you haven’t driven on the road before?” This gave me a confidence boost, as I thought he believed I was a great driver. Yet, things took a turn for the worse. With every lesson that would pass, my instructor would constantly belittle my driving skills. I personally thought I was doing fine, but every small thing was critiqued. The first time he taught me how to parallel park, he expected me to get it right on the first try. After parking a bit too close to the curb, my instructor started yelling at me and told me I wouldn’t pass my G2 test — in fact, he specifically told me that I would get a “negative zero” for my parallel parking. Many people haven’t mastered parallel parking even after having enough driving experience, let alone doing it for the first time. I honestly believe he was insulting my driving skills because I’m female. He would praise other students’ skills (all of them were male) while disparaging mine. However, his attitude changed during my last lesson. He told me that if I drove the way I did that day, I would pass my test. It would’ve been much more beneficial if he had been this encouraging during the past nine lessons. Then, three days before my G2 test, the unthinkable happened. I got into a car accident. I was out practicing, with my dad in the passenger seat. I stopped at a red light, waiting for it to turn green so I could make a left turn. As soon as it was safe to go, I started turning, when all of a sudden a car came speeding down from the left, crashing into the front end of my dad’s car. There weren’t any serious injuries, thankfully, but I did have whiplash and had to go to a chiropractor for the next three months. In the moments after the accident, all I could think about was messaging my instructor to postpone my G2 test, as it was still within the 48-hour cancellation window. However, I decided against it, and went ahead with the test. Obviously, I failed the test, as my anxiety had gotten much worse after the accident. The one thing that had scared me when I started driving was getting into a crash — and after it had happened, I thought it was the universe’s way of telling me I shouldn’t drive. I thought my instructor’s insulting comments had been right and I was a terrible driver. However, as much as I hated driving, I was still passionate about getting my license. I wanted the freedom that came along with it. So, I scheduled another G2 test in December, as my G1 license was set to expire in March. It was risky, as it was going to be winter and driving without snow was already scary for me. Yet in those months, I continued practicing and worked on my mistakes. I would practice over and over, wanting to perfect everything that was going to be on the test. On the day of my second G2 test, I went on a full ramble to my examiner. I told her about my driving fears and everything that had happened to me in the last couple of months. She told me to take deep breaths and reassured me that all would be fine. I was still doubting myself at that moment. I took my time during the test, and tried not to let my lurking fear cloud my mind. I’ll never forget the relief I felt when my examiner told me I passed. Now that I have my G2, I can’t help but think in some weird way, all of the negative things that had happened to me actually made me a better driver. It homed in on my weaknesses and made me want to improve. I will confess I am still afraid of driving, but not as much as when I first started. I’m going to keep driving and hopefully, after enough exposure, my fear will dissipate. After all, I still have my G test to take.

  • The Muslim Experience Navigating Mental Health and Religion

    By Laviza Syed Two young Muslim women discuss their ongoing relationship with God while battling trauma and mental illness Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault Dissociative amnesia. An occurrence where your brain blocks out certain events or traumatic incidents, leaving the individual unable to recall certain events. Circumstances in your life, however, can trigger your brain into remembering. A year ago, this was the case for Masuma Akbar, when she remembered the second time she was sexually abused by another one of her cousins. The culture around Muslims seeking help for their mental health, or mental illness, is an extremely taboo subject. This creates a very dangerous playing field for those struggling with traumatic events and simultaneously creates a rigid dichotomy between their faith and their mental health. Akbar, a second-year child and youth care student at X University*, describes how her relationship with God and religion fluctuates while she battles trauma and mental health. “I can pinpoint the moment when my view of God especially set me back,” says Akbar. Attending an Islamic school system as a young teen, Akbar consistently felt like the outlier, the outcast, not fitting into the mould of those around her. She felt, and was treated, drastically different from the other young Muslim students at As-Sadiq Islamic School. Akbar also lived in a joint family system her entire life, until three years ago when her family moved out when they learned she was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of one of her cousins. “With brown culture, I was shunned by family members saying, ‘she's making stuff up.’ Hearing that from your family is definitely heartbreaking,” says Akbar. She says she began questioning at a young age why she felt uncomfortable in certain areas of her house; why she felt anxious, why her heartbeat was fast. It was never considered or taught to her that mental health was an issue, or that these were signs of something much bigger and would have a lifelong impact if not given the importance they needed. “I was in Grade 8 when I spoke up and sought therapy, but my relationship with religion was horrible because of how the Islamic school system and culture pressured religion and the hijab on me,” says Akbar. “People would say, ‘she's acting out because she wants attention,’ or ‘she's acting out because she wants boys to like her.’” “There was always an excuse for my behaviour, rather than asking what was wrong or why I was acting the way I was,” adds Akbar. Muslim communities have created an intrinsic tie to mental health and being religious. The notion is that mental health issues are a test from God, and seeking help undermines your level of religiosity. These constructs are a harmful narrative that prohibits medical or professional help for many individuals. When Akbar remembered the incident of her second encounter of sexual abuse, it created another obstacle, both mentally and spiritually. “Do I even want to try to make a relationship with God, or do I want to stay in the place I am now?” “I would describe my relationship with God as a seesaw because, on one hand, I want to be closer to Him, but on the other, I'm content with my belief in God and how I view Islam and how I am as a person. The problem is that it's so hard to continue to have faith in your belief when you're constantly getting shit thrown at you.” Akbar says older generations of Muslims, such as parents and grandparents, look at depression or anxiety as a weakness in faith as if devout worship would create a link to magical healing. When Akbar wore the hijab from Grade 3 until she was 17, she says she didn’t automatically feel more religious or feel a significant increase in her mental health. In fact, she says it had quite an adverse effect. “I felt like I was letting down the religion by sinning or doing certain things while wearing the hijab, so in return, God was letting me down." "Every day is like a breaking point, and He's seeing me, face hardship after hardship, and I want to believe after hardship comes ease, but it's definitely challenging, and I know I have the faith in me, it’s just a matter of making that faith stronger,” says Akbar. The myth that consulting an imam, which is an Islamic leader, or a religious scholar is enough to address someone's mental illnesses or personal challenges should be dismantled immediately. Most imams and religious scholars are not trained in mental health services, resulting in a gap or difference in opinion between a scholar and mental health professional. “I've been to your regular sit down therapy sessions, and also eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, which is a sensory treatment for trauma or stress. And for Sheikhs, I spoke to a few as well,” says Akbar. “But because of my relationship with God, even though there are answers that seem appropriate from religious scholars, I just don't believe it. I don't believe that that could be true.” A barrier for many Muslims is the fear that mental health providers or services will not understand religion or spirituality as a core or foundation, and that fear prevents many people from seeking out help. A therapists’ perception of religion could be the reason for the deterioration. This is where cultural and religious awareness in the medical field is of great importance. That being said, Akbar says she has been to both Muslim and non-Muslim professionals and realized the pros and cons of both. “From the perspective of someone who is seeking help, are you willing to sit in front of somebody, who is also Muslim, who knows what is considered right and wrong, and be able to talk about the things in your life that aren’t necessarily appropriate?” The most important thing to remember is that healing is personal and depends on your comfort, Whether the help comes in the form of a Muslim or non-Muslim, a scholar or therapist. Akbar is not alone in her struggles with mental illness, trauma, and trying to formulate a relationship with God through those times. Hania Noor was faced with extreme anxiety, feelings of otherness, and a disconnect with God when moving overseas. Noor’s experience shines a different light on how mental illness can curate your relationship with God. Noor moved to Canada from her home country of Pakistan at the age of nine. This move was not only a drastic change to her life as a child but also impacted her relationship with spirituality. Being connected to religion in a Muslim-majority country is not as easy as it may seem. Noor explains how constantly being surrounded by religion turned it into nothing more than meaningless, ritualistic actions that became draining rather than empowering for her. When Noor came to Canada, and those ritualistic acts went away, she felt completely disassociated from religion, because she never understood it from the start. She came to a new and secular country and completely distanced herself, feeling judged from the outside and insecure on the inside. "I've struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. When I came to Canada and I was dealing with some really rough times in high school, that's when I sought out that connection, and I understood the concept of religion for myself,” says Noor, explaining how she refound religion. The journey to discover her connection with religion again, on her own, in a country where she already felt unaccepted and different, became a gruelling process. However, she emphasizes the importance of finding religion and God as you grow, on your own terms. She says the connection you have with God should be very personal. “Being religious has pushed me to take care of myself more, almost like a safety blanket,” says Noor. “When I'm going through something very rough I'm not the type of person to talk about it, so having God always made me feel like I had something to fall back on, something to rely on.” “I struggled with anxiety before and I still turned to God, but nowhere near how I do now. It's just the first thing I seek. I'll just talk out loud and have a conversation with God. I feel so understood because when you talk to people, sometimes there are no words for how you feel. But in this situation, I don't even have to say it out loud, He just knows. That's all you need; for someone to understand, someone out there that's hearing you, listening to you, and the help will come. I've felt the help come. I've seen it come over and over,” says Noor. In terms of receiving help for her anxiety beyond her relationship with God, Noor would always prefer to seek out a method that would increase her love for religion and form her relationship through it and would seek out religious scholarly advice before turning to therapy. “It’s obviously not treatment, but I have that sense of comfort with people that are Muslim. God is such a big part of my life, so if I was talking to a professional, and we could have a foundation or shared understanding of the basis of religion, that would make me so much more comfortable and accepting of the advice I was receiving." For those who have a God-centric view on life, speaking about their experiences in a secular space could result in them moving away from therapy as a whole. "Especially living in the West, if I was to go to a therapist, certain things I was going through might not be completely understood, or view it in a certain way. Therapists are people at the end of the day, they still have their own biases, and I would never want there to be a disconnect between us. It has to be the right person, they have to be a balance of being Muslim and being a therapist, it can't be just one or the other,” says Noor. Feeling judged and out of place while adapting to life in a new country helped exemplify Noor’s connection with religion. She came from a community-based lifestyle and having the involvement of others in her religion created distance. Being placed in a situation where she felt like she had no one else to turn to create that personal connection for Noor. Being rejected by everyone else allowed her to find solace in God. “Take everybody else out of it, and just isolate yourself to you and God, and see how your view towards religion will change when you just seek Him out and remove everything else,” says Noor. Because of each and every individual’s different lived experiences, their relationship with religion and how they view God will change. The problem within Muslim communities is trying to use a general solution and apply that knowledge to every case of mental illness will never work. Undermining someone’s religiosity when they present trauma or mental illness will never work. The first steps to decreasing the stigma around seeking help are to raise awareness and educate the Muslim community on the realities of mental health struggles and normalize mental illnesses. As a collective, we must stop treating mental illness as something to be ashamed of or hidden. As Muslims, we need to be open to being vulnerable. We stop trying to show ourselves as ideal to everyone else and show young Muslims that there is not one mould they must fit to be accepted as Muslims. We have to be open to saying what we’re going through and supporting others experiencing similar problems, and uplift one another, rather than one-upping one another. *X University, officially known as Ryerson University, is undergoing a renaming process to halt the perpetuation of its namesake’s racism and contribution to cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada. New Wave Zine is committed to honouring and respecting the land we operate on, and to uplift the words and art of First Nations, Métis and Inuit folks.

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