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November 2017

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5 things you can do to keep your skin healthy

The secret to healthy and youthful skin can seem like a mystery . There are countless beauty products and companies that claim to know the secret. While our skin can benefit from extra hydration, moisture, and certain mineral boosts that beauty products offer, there are a few things you can do as a base that will help you achieve your best natural glow. Follow these five tips for healthy and beautiful skin, no matter your age.

Let your skin breathe.

Starting this off simple, you should know your skin is an organ. In fact, it it the largest organ of the human body. It protects us from microbes, it regulates internal temperature, and permits various sensations. When you get in the habit of wearing heavy makeup daily, you are suffocating your face! Essentially, the key is to let your skin breathe. By all means wear your make-up ( especially if you are a makeup addict like me ), but keep it minimal and save the extra glow highlighter for special occasions.

Sunscreen is your friend

UV rays and sun damage are your enemies! While it feels good to have the warm sunshine caress our faces, it is also essential to have some sort of barrier or protection. Having a good moisturizer, or even a bb cream with included SPF can do wonders. Try looking for a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher.

Go get that facial !

We all know a little bit of self-care and love goes a long way. With our day to day lives, we can experience lack of sleep, stress, imbalanced hormones, and pollution.  All of these thing (and more) have a negative impact on our skin. It is recommended that you get a deep cleansing/moisturizing facial done by a professional about once a month. While our budgets may not allow this luxury, you can also take matters into your own hands by doing an exfoliating treatment at least once a week, or trying out a ready to use sheet-mask to target your problem areas. Remember to keep your skin type in mind so you don’t harm yourself.

Develop a proper cleansing routine

Repeat after me: cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer…

At the end of a long day, the best thing you can do is wash off your makeup and baby your skin. Once you get into this habit, it will become a routine for you, It is essential you find products that are wholesome and alcohol-free to take care of your face.

Hydrate Hydrate

Water is my best-friend ( not actually ). I always have a large bottle of water by my side to ensure that I am hydrated during the day. Water is the ultimate hydrator to your skin and can instantly make your skin looked refreshed, starting from the inside out. Our bodies are already about 55 per cent water, so when we re-hydrate what we lose, we are maintaining the balance. Water flushes the toxins out of your body and can also be used to help symptoms of acne.

Are you thirsty for better skin ? Comment below and let us know what your skincare routine is like!

First hijab-wearing Barbie launched in ‘Shero’ line

Barbie is getting an international makeover. During Glamour’s Woman of the Year summit, a hijab-wearing Barbie was revealed as one of the first of a line of dolls based on the image of inspirational women.

This particular Barbie is modelled after United States Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal for fencing in Rio last year. The doll wears the white fencing uniform, complete with training shoes, mask, sabre, and of course, Muhammad’s hijab.

Muhammad told the press that she used to make her own hijab for her Barbies when she was younger, and that she hopes this new doll will encourage and inspire young girls to feel included.

“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true,” she tweeted.

Barbie has often been criticized for their lack of diversity and the size of their dolls. This inspirational line of “Sheros” is the company’s attempt at breaking that image. The line recognizes women who break boundaries and inspire the next generation of young girls. Last year, Mattel, the company that creates Barbie, revealed a variety of sized-dolls inspired by plus-size model and advocate Ashley Graham.

Other “Sheros” include African-American ballerina Mista Copeland, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Olympian Gabby Douglas, and actresses Kristin Chenoweth and Zendaya Coleman.

The release of the Muhammad-inspired Barbie comes at a time where muslim women are being persecuted around the world. In Canada, Quebec’s Bill 62 law makes it illegal for women to wear the niqab or burkha, while oversees in Europe muslim women are being targeted for wearing burkinis on the beach. In the U.S., white supremacists are protesting immigration and the removal of confederate statues.

The “Shero” line will go on sale in 2018.

What do you think of this Shero line? Does it make up for Barbie’s previous reputation? Let us know in the comments below!

First “digital” pill approved by the FDA in circulation

The Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday they have approved the first digital pill in the United States to help health professionals ensure patients are taking their medication. This revolutionary, and uneasy, advancement in technology and medicine came as an interesting surprise. Abilify MyCite is a pill used to treat patients with mental disorders such as  schizophrenia, depression, and bi-polar disorders. The pill looks like any other normal pill, but it is engrained with a tiny ingestible sensor no bigger than a grain of sand.

Once ingested and mixed with acid in the stomach, Abilify MyCite activates an electrical signal. This signal is then transmitted to a patch that is worn by the patient on their left rib cage.  The information is then sent via bluetooth to a smartphone app, which can list the time the pill was taken, the dosage, and gives the patient the option to upload these results to a database where doctors can access the file.

Image courtesy of Proteus Digital Health

The sensor then passes through your body naturally, as the little chip is made of silicon, copper, and magnesium. The patch that will be worn on the body can last up to seven days and will continually record the data every time you take the pill. The patch is also able to track physical activity, steps taken, heart-rate, sleeping patterns and other data similar to a smart fitness tracker. This pill/patch combo does raise many concerns about patient privacy and the vulnerability of having our personal information available to others..

The patient has the power to upload the data, but can allow access to four other members, including family members or significant others. While this is a big step in digital health, there is also cause for concerns in terms of information sharing, especially considering the increase in data breaches and internet hacking.

Doctors must determine if the patient is capable and willing to use the pill/patch combo. Being an antidepressant, Abilify MyCite, does come with risks, including worsening suicidal thoughts and a list of side-effects determined during the clinical trial, including a possible skin irritation from the patch.

The pills are manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka, in collaboration with the producers of the sensors, Proteus Digital Health. Concerns have been raised that the FDA may have opened the door for other potential digital pills, but advocates says the technology will ensure medication is not wasted and that patents are actually taking their pills and getting the treatment they need.

Abilify was first approved by the FDA in 2012 and since then, the pill with an included sensor was in the works and Abilify MyCite was first approved for marketing in 2012 as well.

What are your thoughts on the first approved digital pill and does this reinforce the fact that Big Brother is always watching ? Comment below.

 

Australia votes to legalize same-sex marriage

More than 12.5 million Australians took part in a non-binding postal vote to decide whether or not same-sex marriage should be legalized. The results were overwhelming, with 61.6 per cent of respondents voting in favour of legislation by Christmas.

The vote took a long eight weeks, with the results announced Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australians were asked the following question: “Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Participation in this survey was voluntary, which is why the 79.5 per cent response rate was shocking.

The survey, which participants had to mail to their representatives, took place because there were twi previous failed attempts by the government to hold a national vote. The debate has been controversial, with many Coalition party members being whipped into voting against the legislation. Instead of holding a national vote, the government created a loophole and spent $122 million sending out voluntary surveys to all residents in order to gauge public opinion.

A bill was introduced to the Senate on Wednesday and will be up for discussion and amendments. Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has said that he will support the public’s preferences and hopes to get the bill passed before the New Year.

“[Australians had] spoken in the millions and they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality,” Turnbull said at a press conference. “They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people asked us to do and get this done.”

Those opposed to same-sex marriage may try to tack on an amendment that will enact “religious freedom protection” for commercial businesses who oppose same-sex marriage, but Turnbull said there is little change an amendment like that would pass.

As the results were announced, hundreds, if not thousands, of people flooded the streets, waving rainbow flags, singing, dancing, and hugging their partners. While the vote isn’t binding, it proves with incredible clarity that the Australian people want this change in legislation. If the government ignores this vote, there is bound to be backlash.

Same-sex marriage was banned in Australia in 2004 when the Marriage Act was amended to define the union as being between a man and a woman. The government has received a lot of pressure to change the Act, especially after Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.

What do you think? Will the government pass the bill or will amendments cause delays?

Woman of the Week: Cheryl Hickman

Cheryl Hickman is the founder and general and artistic director of Opera on the Avalon, a company in Newfoundland that showcases traditional opera and musical theatre. The company is dedicated to promoting work by female artists and empowering them through mentorship programs and gender parity policies.

A singer herself, Hickman was inspired to create Opera on the Avalon after being mentored herself. She has performed with some of the most prominent operatic companies in North America and Europe, including the New York City Opera, Vancouver Opera, Calgary Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Manitoba Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Français. When she speaks, she does so with passion and poetry. She wants Opera to adapt to the times, employing more women and engaging more youth.

In 2017, Hickman was appointed to the Canada Council for the Arts and is the chair of the Governance Committee. Women’s Post spoke with Hickman over the phone about the future of Opera, how to keep a community engaged in such a traditional art form, and the potential of women in positions of power.

Question: Did you always have a passion for music? When did you first discover opera?

Answer: I discovered it at quite a young age. My mom tells me I sang before I spoke. I was a child of the 70s. I still remember terrible 70s lyrics that should be out of my head, but alas, it’s not. My first memory is singing in a Kindergarden production in Newfoundland.

Were you able to get a job as a singer right after graduation or was there a delay? 

I did an undergrad at the University of Toronto and graduate work at The Juilliard School. Literally one of my mentors called New York City Opera – across the square. I walked out of my masters program to a job. But again, that was a mentor who believed in me and picked up the phone. I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time. 

Why did you found Opera on the Avalon? 

The reason why I started Opera on the Avalon was because of Diana Leblanc at the Canadian Opera Company.  I was in the ensemble and as a young performer you didn’t really see a lot of women. It’s a very male dominated world. She was the first female director I worked with. I think it made such an impact in terms of how she worked. It was a revelation. It was such a rewarding and creatively and artistically and emotionally satisfying experience. I realized later I was trying to re-create that experience in my whole professional life.

I started also, because in my genre, there is little opportunity for women. There are very few artistic directors, heads of companies, producers, and little opportunity in the higher levels.  If you aren’t going to invite me to the party I’ll start my own. The company has evolved.

Power balance will only change if you act on it. And so, in the East coast or in Canada we are the only company that insists on gender parity. We hire people from diverse backgrounds. We also insist on parity in all hiring.

Why is it so important to insist on gender parity in the arts?

It’s so topical now. As a young singer, [opera] was a school of “if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. There was a lot of sexism and misogyny. It was an unconscious bias people aren’t aware of. It’s only when you are aware of the fact that people of power are all men, you don’t realize how much that impacts you. 

How do you deal with it? You don’t deal with it. You realize what the rules are. The person who gets fired isn’t going to be the abused. You learn very quickly that in the arts talent forgives all. Success is a motivator for people to look beyond someone’s faults and sometimes the faults are quite large and harmful to other artists. You want to work – if you complain you won’t work. You put your game face on.

What is making Opera on the Avalon such a success?

We embrace artistic risk. What interests me is that we are bringing a quality, high callibre to widest audience possible – especially attracting younger generations because that’s the audience we are building. If we are going to attract wider audiences we need to widen the stories we are telling. We can’t allow stories we tell to be only those of dead white men.

I think one of the things we do is you have to reflect the lives of the community you live in back on the stage. We did a new show “Ours” [about] WWI battle that has a tremendous impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. We are doing an opera called ”As One”, focusing on the transgender [identity] and young people finding out who they are and discovering at a young age who you are as a person.

Do you believe in mentorship? What do you do to help young women?

I mentor through a couple of programs, university programs, and through Opera on the Avalon. We mentor young conductors. The number of female conductors in Opera in this country is shameful, so we are working to change that. I often think there is an unconscious bias – men hire men. That happens with mentorship and encouragement. It is really difficult for set designers, conductors, and directors if they don’t see women in power doing those things. You have to have guidance from somebody that has that lived experience and can also speak about the difficulties and challenges, and encourage you every step of the way. I was mentored by some pretty amazing women and we have to lift each other up. 

Any final thoughts?

I guess what’s interesting, or what’s important is that for too long we have been afraid, as women, to speak up because it’s fear of embarrassment or retribution or contempt. And I think now is the time [to speak]. In the last couple of weeks you’ve seen how that is changing. Someone said to me that a young man got hired for something and someone said he was a boy wonder. The female equivalent is bitch and for me, that’s true. As women, we owe it to the next generation to speak up without fear of retribution. It is incumbent on us.

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Lupita Nyong’o is beautiful…but I guess not European beautiful

As I sat scrolling through Instagram Saturday afternoon, I came across a post by Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o is a Hollywood actress who rose to fame after her role in the award-winning 12 Years a Slave in 2013. She became the first Kenyan-Mexican actress to win an academy award for Best Supporting Actress. After her breakout role in 2013, Nyong’o was adorned as this African princess of sorts- exotic, beautiful, but never more beautiful than the euro-centric standard of beauty displayed in Hollywood.

The image of Nyong’o that Hollywood approved of was a dark-skinned woman with a shaved head — regardless of the fact that her hair had grown since her role in 2013.

Pre-conceptions aside, what followed over the last week was a complete slap in the face. Nyong’o was photographed for the latest cover of Grazia U.K., a fashion news magazine. When the magazine came out, Nyong’o, and many others (myself included) were surprised to see that she looked completely different. The photography and editorial team had lightened her skin and completely removal of her Afro-puff. How on earth was this ok?

The complete alteration of Nyong’o image shows that, according to western Hollywood standards, a black woman cannot be too dark, a black woman must have straight hair, a black woman must speak properly, and a black woman must never be too sexy.

The photographer issued the following apology: “My altering of her image was not born out of any hate, but instead out of my own ignorance and insensitivity to the constant slighting of women of colour throughout the different media platforms.”

Many people who are unaware of the postcolonial issues that black women have faced, much less in Hollywood, are just willing to brush this off and hear the apology of the photographer that altered the image. There is no apology that can fix what has already been done. These events just prove how many people remain ignorant to the struggles women of colour face in the world.

The photographer, while apologetic, was merely following the pre-set Hollywood guidelines for cover photos. Nyong’o has been vocal about how removing her Afro-hair from the cover of the magazine speaks to the prejudice that still exists with black kinky and curly hair. It is tolerable to have straight smooth hair, but utterly classy and unkempt to be walking around with frizzy coils. Blacks are judged on their social inferiority based on their features like skin-tone, hair, and nose structure. This was just another example.

Taking away a black woman’s natural hair is like asking her to repress her culture and her heritage — to be compliant in the never-ending fight for what is deemed beautiful. If you have a problem with understanding this, then you need to kindly check your privilege.

Lyft brings competition to Uber just in time for the holidays

Lyft is coming to Toronto!

Lyft is the second most popular ride-hailing app and has been around in the United States since 2012, three years after the launch of Uber.  The service will make their first introduction to the international market in Toronto, with a plan to start their business up by the end of the year. This will provide a healthy dose of competition for Uber, a company that is not that popular within the city. In October of 2015, Toronto city council amended a bylaw allowing Uber to operate after the company was hit with a lawsuit filed by the taxi and limo drivers industry in Toronto.

Uber welcomes the competition from Lyft, as Lyft’s president John Zimmer said in a statement. “We see [Toronto] as a world class city. It will likely become one of our top five markets overall,” he said. “As a city, that really shares the values that we have at Lyft- focusing on people taking care of people, treating people well, treating people with mutual respect, and promoting both inclusion and diversity.”

While Uber has faced criticism in the past few months in some major cities, including London and Montreal, Lyft has been increasing its market share in the U.S. and even recorded a growth of  $1.6 billion in financing this past year alone. The company says they are now worth $11bn. In May 2017 , Lyft struck a deal with Google’s Waymo, in order to develop self-driving cars.

The services offered by Lyft are very similar to Uber, complete with reduced prices. But, the launch of  Lyft is  also drawing criticism from the taxi industry operating in Toronto. Beck Taxi, one of the more popular taxi services operating in Toronto, said that Lyft can generate the same amount of negative consequences as Uber, referencing sex assault cases. This all has to do with the qualifications and background information of available drivers.

Lyft has began placing calls for drivers. They plan to launch next month, just in time for the holidays. Lyft will be operating in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton and have released five options that Torontonians can look forward to:

  • Regular vehicles for up to four passengers
  • Vehicles that can carry six passengers ( The plus service)
  • High end cars ( premier)
  • Luxury black cars ( Lux and Lux SUV )

No pricing information has been released, but it is expected to be in the same range as Uber pricing, hopefully with promotional discounts considering this will be their Toronto launch. Lyft has also announced it has its eyes on other major cities, including London, U.K..

It will be interesting to see how different Lyft will be in comparison to Uber and how the Toronto Taxi industry will continue to survive.

What are your thoughts on Lyft launching in Toronto and will you be trying this over Uber ? Comment below.

Give the King St. Pilot time to work before bombarding staff

At Monday’s Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board meeting, many city councillors were trying to press staff for information about the King St. Pilot Study. They wanted to know when results would be coming in, when police could issue fines, and when the city should consider technological improvements to the design of the street.

At this moment, the pilot had only been running for one and a half days.

As of Sunday, Nov. 12, King St. was mostly shut down to drivers between Jarvis and Bathurst. Drivers can access that corridor, but must turn right at the following intersection. Barriers prevent cars from passing through. This is a big change, and many people who use the King St. corridor to get to work will have to either take transit or adjust their route.

Of course, there will be a time of transition. There will be people still confused about how it works, and those who have been living under a rock and have no clue what is going on. There is something for everyone to learn — drivers, cyclists, and transit users alike. Even the most informed citizen may forget during their autopilot commute to work.

All of this is to say that one and a half days is not enough to be able to make any sort of judgement on the pilot study. Those councillors asking how much faster the streetcar ran or whether or not to insert red-light cameras to catch cars going through intersections should understand the answers aren’t available yet.

Let’s give this pilot its due time — a few months later, lets revisit enforcement and efficiency. Both of these factors are incredibly important, and as TTC CEO Andy Byford said, when conducting a pilot, you want to do everything you can to ensure it is successful.

Unlocking gridlock in Toronto has never been more important. Over 60,000 people ride the King St. streetcar every day. Most of these people are met with overcrowded streetcars and car-to-care traffic. What should be a simple 15 minute ride turns out to be closer to 30 minutes.

Something needed to be done. Drivers may complain for a few weeks, as will pedestrians trying to cross intersections that didn’t have lights beforehand, but at the end of the day, this transformative pilot should have an incredibly positive impact on downtown Toronto.

But, only time will tell.

What the hell is a basic bitch?

Apparently, I am “basic”.

When I was told this, I immediately took it as an insult. Does this mean I’m naive or dumb? Does this mean I have no depth or that I can’t make an informed argument? Is this an insinuation of intolerance?

No — it all centres on my choice of drink, television shows, and music preferences. All of that combined makes me a #basicbitch. While some are embracing this new label (because what other choice is there), I find it just as offensive as my own personal definition.

Being “basic” is slang for someone who follows trends and lacks individuality. It is a term used to describe a person — particularly white women — who enjoy seasonal drinks, chic clothes, and healthy goods. A basic bitch watches Love Actually every Christmas, gets excited for pumpkin spice lattes, can quote Friends in any conversation, wears Uggs and leggings, and shops at Whole Foods.

This term has been circulating the Internet for about a year now, and doesn’t seem to be going away. If you google it, the term is synonymous with the word “airhead”.

Now, I know I’m not an airhead. I don’t brainlessly go shopping or talk like a valley girl. I’m an editor and a writer. I am capable of talking about anything from business, law and politics to fashion, food, and design. I am tolerant, intelligent, and I have a quick wit. I enjoy listening to other people argue about topics I don’t agree with because it exposes me to new perspectives. I love going to local coffee shops, watching documentaries, and reading.

At the same time, I enjoy a good peppermint mocha and will go to a Christmas market at least three times throughout the month of December. I practice yoga twice a week. I like going to health food stores and I love my blanket scarf. Do my consumption choices or habits overweigh the other aspects of my personality? Apparently so.

Ironically, the word “basic” is a lazy insult. It requires little thought and no creativity. It’s such a blanket term that very few people actually know what it means. Calling a woman “basic” is another way of saying “I have absolutely nothing to say about you as a human being so instead I’m going to make fun of you for what you are wearing, eating, and whatever activities you are doing over the weekend.” It’s a way of making people feel ashamed of who they are without actually pinpointing why they should feel ashamed.

It also shows an incredible lack of understanding into what makes a person an individual. I think you’ll find that most people are quite complex, and that just because a woman relishes in very female (I say with rolled eyes and air quotes) activities and likes to follow certain trends, that doesn’t determine who she is.

And yet, despite these arguments, the term it’s sticking. There are hundreds of quizzes online that will help you determine how “basic” you are. People are commenting on Instagram and Facebook with things like “so basic” every time a woman posts a travel photo of herself on the beach in a bikini or tasting a novelty dessert.

To me, the term “basic” is void of any meaning. It gives people the opportunity to mock and shame women for just being themselves. And anytime women are shamed for their personalities, society loses.

Let me put it another way: call me “basic” one more time and you’ll find out exactly what kind of a bitch I can be.

Hundreds march in protest of Quebec’s Bill 62

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Montreal to protest the provincial government’s decision to enact Bill 62, also known as the religious neutrality bill.

This bill makes it illegal for public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. The ban also includes the use of public transportation.

While the bill itself doesn’t mention these pieces of clothing, it implies a religious and ethnic target — muslim women. Very few other people wear face-covering materials. The protestors are calling this bill racist and hateful, something that is inviting Islamophobia in Quebec.

The protested marched down Berri St. between Ste-Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blv. One hundred and sixty groups from diverse backgrounds were represented in the crowds. They also signed an online petition asking for an end to Islamophobia and hate.

Bill 62 is being challenged at Quebec’s Superior Court. The plaintiffs claim “The Act gravely infringes the religious and equality rights of certain Muslim women in Quebec.”

“While purporting to promote the goals of advancing the religious neutrality of the state and facilitating communication between public employees and private citizens, the Act does the opposite,” the court challenge reads. “It imposes a significant burden on the exercise of religious freedom, and it does so in a discriminatory manner that will isolate some Quebec residents, making it much more difficult for them to participate in Quebec society.”

A judge is expected to review the case on Wednesday. If the judge agrees, the law will be suspended temporarily.

What do you think will happen on Nov. 15th when the judge looks at the court challenge? Let us know in the comments below!