Could A Long-Awaited Pop Music Reformation Be In Our Midst?

The tragic bombings during the Ariana Grande concert a few weeks ago was a pretty hard to miss story. Myriad celebrities sent their love and prayers via snapping, tweeting, and posting. Hundreds of newspapers worldwide kept articles about it at the top of the fold for days. In this day in age, it seems hard to miss what’s going on in our world, but one thing we might not be seeing is the change in the genre of music that has been a defining characteristic of American mainstream culture for decades, and what has been one of the signature trademarks of the vast influence America has over cultures worldwide: pop music.

Now, I wouldn’t call myself a pop-culture aficionado, though I do flip through People Magazine frequently enough to be able to tell you a brief synopsis of the Kardashian family dynamic, and maybe tell you who J Lo is dating at the moment. And admittedly I have spent many a car ride mouthing the lyrics or bopping my head along to catchy pop songs, all pretty mindlessly. After a while, the whole world of pop artists and pop music all started to mush together in my brain one big ball of the same song on repeat, over and over again. In the world of pop music over the past decade, news hasn’t ventured much beyond the occasional partially nude photo posted on Instagram that caused a stir, unfinished thoughts that often left listeners speculating on whether the artist had written about an ex, or an artist receiving scrutiny for being too suggestive with their choice of lyrics.

About a week after the tragedy, Grande returned to Manchester and threw a benefit concert, where the ticket sales, Uber fares, collections buckets, text-to-give appeals, and on-screen appeals for BBC viewers all went to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. The concert included many performances by fellow radio giants such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Pharell Williams, Niall Horan, Mac Miller, Chris Martin, Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas, and Little Mix. Though, none of these performances came close to matching Grande’s beautifully vulnerable rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” As I happened to catch a few of these on YouTube the next day, something became abundantly clear as I saw tears stream down each of their faces: these artists are human after all.

Their pain was palpable. You could see it in the tears brimming over Ariana’s eyes, the scream in Katy’s voice, the soul in the Black Eyed Peas’ song. Because it could have happened to any one of them. They say you never really understand someone else’s pain until you get a taste of it yourself, and I think that’s exactly what happened to the pop music industry. Sure, they’ve donated to large charities before, and made pledges to end worldwide hunger, but this was different. It affected one of their most prominent members, so in turn, it affected all of them.

By seeing their pain and hurt, something all humans experience, I saw them as one of us. Despite each of their seemingly easily-acquired success and wealth, they revealed during that concert a more bruised and battered side to the world we so often perceive as perfect. It was as if they had stripped the sheets off of a perfectly made bed. They were not just stars bound by their contracts and record deals, or promoters of various skincare products. They didn’t have filters to hide behind, or managers or choreographers or cameramen. They were just a group of real flesh-and-bones people brought together by tragedy, though prevailing through music.

It’s also said that tragedy brings out the best in people. So, was this just a one time thing, or will there be a permanent change in pop music? You’re asking the wrong person. I just thought I’d shed some light on the possibility of room for growth I saw.  Growth is scary, believe me. Sometimes the possibility of it is even scarier once we have found ourselves in a comfortable rut. But I’ve always been under the impression that that was what art was for: pushing the boundaries and setting the bar higher.

Truthfully, I have never been more optimistic to see what lies ahead for their industry. They have the chance to change a mammoth component of American mainstream society for the better, right in their hands. Pop has always played it relatively safe when it came to pushing the boundaries, and setting the bar higher. But do you want to know the dirty little secret behind art? It’s not art when you’re not scared. So, I guess I’d turn my initial question around a bit. My dearest pop music, what risks are you willing to take?


One Love Manchester

Reader of the Month: “I am I and You are You”

Hello everyone!

I am well aware that my blogging game has not been on point recently, as I haven’t posted in forever! But I am back with March’s Reader of the Month, E.G., the author of this thought-provoking article on the variety of feelings human beings experience, and how they differ from person to person. A friend of mine, as well as a fellow hopeless romantic, she will give you a glimpse of one of her favorite feelings, that of getting ready for something, and provide critical after thought on how somebody else could react to that feeling differently than she would. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I do, and don’t forget to leave a comment below in response to this article!

~The Legally Brunette Continue reading

Reader of the Month: “Mind Games”

Welcome back, everyone, to Reader of the Month! This month, I have convinced one of my very best friends, going under the alias, Buddy, to join the Legally Brunette family by making her debut as February’s Reader of the Month. In her captivating opinion piece entitled, “Mind Games,” she discusses her experience with having an anxiety disorder,  commonly found among teenagers, and delves into the misconceptions, day-to-day  struggles of feeling “policed” by your own mind, and steps she took to regain control of the fear that had overwhelmed . I am beyond impressed with Buddy’s open mindedness and pure honesty that I know will inspire not only those suffering from anxiety, but anyone who is in need of hearing wisdom from someone who has survived tough times. Leave a comment below showing support for this blog, and for Buddy, as well as all former and prospective ROMs, whose willingness to share their experiences, opinions, and creativity has immensely shaped my outlook on the world, and this blog’s mission as a whole. Introducing Buddy, with the piece, “Mind Games.”

~The Legally Brunette


 

“Mind Games”

By Buddy

                     If there’s one phrase that I hate, it’s “It’ll get better.” The truth is, that things tend to not get better, but more so get more tolerable. Whatever your challenge to overcome is will always be a part of you no matter what, which is sad, but a true statement. For example, I have an anxiety disorder. I worry about events in the future going wrong in such elaborate ways that it keeps me from truly expressing myself and living my life to the fullest. I’m afraid to go up to the front of the classroom to sharpen my pencil because I’m afraid I’ll trip and make a fool of myself. I’m afraid to talk to people if I don’t really know them in fear that just saying “hi” will sound stupid. In fact, my anxiety has only gotten worse throughout the years. As a young kid I just thought I was shy, but when I started to get nervous and anxious talking on the phone with my grandparents, I knew I needed help. Now I go to therapy, and while my anxiety is still there and will always be there, it has become more manageable.

                     A lot of times people wonder what anxiety really feels like, because they just figure “Well everybody has anxiety, get over it.” But the fact is, that those people will probably get anxiety about a project or homework or maybe public speaking at times, whereas with anxiety, you could say “Good morning” to someone and spend the rest of the day analyzing all the wrong ways it could have sounded or been perceived. Anxiety is like having a police officer constantly follow you around saying “You can’t do that.” It’s like becoming a scared little girl again for the smallest things. So while therapy can’t cure my anxiety per se, it has taught me a lot of ways to tone it down and get through my daily life without worrying about things such as whether that stranger that walked past me thought I looked weird.

                    Two of the biggest things that I have learned in therapy have been that 1) Everybody is focusing on themselves and their lives, and are not very worried about how you said something to them that may have sounded weird to you, and 2) There’s a difference between awkward and quiet. What I mean by there’s a difference between awkward and quiet is that, yes, I’m a generally soft spoken person with a quiet nature. However, I still laugh and have fun with friends and family, so just because media portrays the quiet kids in school as being awkward, does not make it true. I always thought I was super weird for being quiet, since from a young age I would see all the kids around me talking to each other and talking out in class and I would wonder “Is it weird that I don’t talk as much as them?” And then when awkward was added to my vocabulary, I figured that was what I was, when in reality, quiet isn’t weird or awkward.

                    Although I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you’re never going to be perfect, you will have some slip ups, but will they always happen? No. Should you restrict yourself from doing things because you’re afraid you’ll slip up? NO. Not at all. Trust yourself, and your body will trust you back.


About the Author: Buddy is one of the Legally Brunette’s very best friends, and they never have a normal day as long as they’re together.


Mental health is a very serious topic, one that should never be taken lightly. If you believe you or someone you know has a mental illness similar to anxiety or depression, visit some of these websites to learn more information and receive care:

https://www.adaa.org/ (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

http://www.worrywisekids.org/ (Worry Wise Kids)

https://www.anxiety.org/ (Anxiety.org)

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/ (MentalHealth.gov)

http://teenmentalhealth.org/ (Teen Mental Health)


 

It’s De-Lovely.

Hey everyone!

After a brief blogging hiatus, I am officially back. After making so many plans for my blog, I guess I kind of forgot to actually post on my blog. Over the weekend, I took a much- needed detox. From plans, homework, and responsibility, so I went to Maine.                  Yup. That’s the whole story. If you feel overwhelmed, I will always vouch for a warm bath and rummaging through Pinterest for inspirational quotes and whatnot, but in my family, our most commonly used “inspirational quote” goes along the lines of “Give up and just go to Maine already.” 

So yeah. Official Weekend Status Report: Check! A few members of my family -myself included- have also made it a tradition to embark on an annual trek to the ole Vacation Land right around Valentines Day. Well, I don’t know if it is coincidence or not, but very recently, Beyonce announced that she was having twins!! The initial reaction my cousin (the same one who relentlessly pressed me for the status of my purchase of her most recent album, Lemonade, until I finally bought it) and I went through was pure giddiness. Any time Beyonce posts a picture with caption, it’s declared an official holiday. But let’s be real here- any time Beyonce posts a picture, it’s always declared a holiday in our minds!

To commemorate the joyous occasion, we decided to combine our annual Single-Pringle Valentine’s Day dinner with a not your average Beyonce baby shower. We crafted (Including making a string of cut-out bees saying cute Valentine’s/bee puns. Our cheesiness ranged from “I think I’m POLLEN for ya!” all the way to “You make me feel aHIVE.”), binged (I had to be there with my cousin as his experience with The Office came to a close. Speaking as someone who has watched the series roughly four times in a row     -36 seasons in total- I am well aware of the challenge in itself to cope with the mere thought of life after The Office. But luckily I did encourage him to pick Parks and Recreation, so all was well.), snacked (A few months ago, as I was waiting in line at a local T.J. Maxx, I discovered  possibly the best impulse buy I would ever make: heart shaped pasta. I know, I know, but I just had one of those moments! A Pinterest epiphany, some might call it.) played (There was snow. There was sledding. There was snow-mobiling. There was hot-tubbing. There was “Holy schnitzel it’s wicked ch-ch-ch-chilly out here”-ing. Oh yes, and there was ski-biking.), and sang (Hamilyonce: the two best things to have possibly graced the earth. This really needs to become a power couple name or something…). So yeah, it was a pretty awesome weekend, and a good gettaway from all of the hub bub life throws at you. To  read more opinion on travel, check out this blog post!

Well, when all is said and when all is done, I do believe Beyonce said it best: “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.” Am I right, single ladies? Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without us.  Continue reading

Dear Hillary Clinton

(Letter originally written on January 16, 2016)

Dear Mrs. Clinton,

        My name is (real name), and I’m (real age) years old. I’m not exactly sure how to begin, or if I even want to. I know that once I begin, it’s not only begins this letter, but the beginning of letting go.

        On behalf of girls everywhere, I believe there simply aren’t enough words to express how grateful we are for you. Not just that you were an outspoken first lady who wasn’t afraid to articulate your thoughts on how the country should be run. Not just that you were an impassioned senator who served as a backbone for an entire state during one of the world’s most gruesome terrorist attacks on the United States.  Not just that you were the first female presidential nominee. But that you gave girls like me, hope.

        Mrs. Clinton, facts and polls and websites and tallies may claim that you were “defeated,” but in my opinion, you have won. You have won for the LGBT community. You have won for African Americans. You have won for immigrants. You have won for millennials. You have won for women. And most importantly, you have won for the United States of America. Just look at how many supporters you gained throughout your campaign. If facts and polls and websites and tallies think that 65,844,954 votes is considered “defeat,” then they may have to look at a dictionary. Being defeated is when you have given up hope. Let me tell you, my, along with 65,844,954 people’s hope is far from given up.  It is stronger than ever now, because we have realized, thanks to you, that we are stronger together.

        I have noticed a change in how boys at my school treat girls. Thank you. I have noticed a change in how girls treat their education. Thank you. I have noticed a change in how people interact among races, religions, and sexualities. Thank you. Thank you for taking that one small step for (wo)man, so the rest of us could take giant leaps for (wo)mankind.

        Over the summer, I was a part of the Edward M. Kennedy Senate Camp, where students learned how the senate works, and we took on roles of different senators. I was given Patrick Leahy. We learned about different speech mechanisms, (…) and how to incorporate them into our very own speeches to create a persuasive argument. Our goal was to create a comprehensive immigration bill, once and for all. After much debate, I proposed a new bill. It allowed Republicans to get their way on border security, and Democrats theirs on allowing immigrants already residing in the U.S. to embark on a path to citizenship without having to worry whether their families would be torn apart. A vote was taken in the subcommittee that day, the vote resulting in an overwhelming amount of support from senators of all parties. The bill passed that day. It coincidentally passed on the same day that I realized what I wanted to make of my future. I wanted to do this for a living. I wanted to make change, for the better.

        I am writing this letter to you today, with more hope for the United States than ever before. People you have inspired, myself included, will stop at nothing to passionately continue the fight for peace and unity among our people. Your influence has without a doubt reestablished our country’s core values, and ensured the limitless futures of every single person. I feel honored to have supported you throughout your candidacy, and still support you today. Remember how I said, that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to begin writing this letter, because it would signify the beginning of letting go? What I am letting go of is anger, and disgust and fear. Those feelings felt safe to me, because everyone else was feeling them. One of the most important lessons I learned from you, is that a true leader shouldn’t waste time on dwelling and regret. I believe you said once, that, “Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.”

        As a girl just figuring out the world for the very first time, here is my vision so far: America is simple, yet incredibly complicated. We are grooming a future generation of believers, and go getters. Quick-thinkers and even quicker typers. We don’t rush to judgement, or our senate to decisions. We absorb knowledge, and thrive off of growth. We see different points of view, and will most definitely revive the lost art of compromise. We are not perfect, but strive to create a more perfect union. Together. Together we are stronger, and stronger we are together. I am changing my feelings of anger, disgust, and fear, into those of wisdom, empowerment, and love. I will follow through on my dream of making change for the better by speaking up about global issues, advocating for peace, and encouraging my generation to lead lives of eternal kindness, and forward thinking. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for changing my vision, and thank you for changing the world.

Sincerely,

(real name)

~The Legally Brunette Continue reading

Reader of Month: “The Life of Twin”

Hello everyone! 

Here I present to you the second installation of Reader of the Month. This month, an author going as Lou, wrote about her thoughts on being a twin. A great writer I already knew Lou was, will blow you away with her utterly relatable dissection of common misconceptions, and outlooks of living life with another half. Comment down below to support Lou and her wonderfully written piece!

~The Legally Brunette Continue reading

Reader of the Month: “The Effects of Moving”

Hello everyone! 

Welcome back! It’s been awhile, but I’ve been working very hard on some recent projects I’ve been preparing for the blog. This post today is a very special one- one in which I want to bring you (the readers) along the journey of writing, editing, and publishing a blog post. Since I started this blog way back in, what was it? March? I’ve been bringing up a lot of my own opinions about various topics facing our world today-yet as our world continues to grow and diversify, so do opinions. So, I thought, as my blog starts to grow and diversify, so should its content. When reading and receiving various comments, and gaining lots of positive feedback, many readers enjoyed talking about their perspectives and opinions on some of the topics I was posting about. I was originally planning on starting the “Reader of the Month” program in the New Year, but I just couldn’t wait! Every month I will be accepting a piece of writing or artwork from a reader who wants to submit, and publish it. It all got started one dark, bone-chilling night (melodramatic, I know, right?) down in my basement with a group of friends, and we just started talking. That was it. We just kept going on and on about different experiences we’ve had, how they’ve shaped our lives, and that was it. That dark, bone-chilling night sparked this very blog-post, one that I hope will inspire many of you to form opinions, and spread them to all who will listen! Okay, I really should stop blabbering on and get to the blog post. This month’s reader of the month is none other than one of those friends, going under the name, Echo. Echo, a new student in class with me this year, will be sharing her story entitled, “The Effects of Moving.”  Continue reading

The Fault of ‘Manning Up’

        So ladies, we’ve heard this word “feminism” kicking around for awhile- at least most of us have. Ideas such as the equitable balance between men and women in a household. Equal pay for equal work. Even making history-sorry, I mean herstory- by nearly electing the first woman president this year (Oy! It still hurts to say “nearly.”). But really, for most of my lifetime, at least, since I can remember, women have played an increasingly dominant and powerful role in our society. The notion of feminism has edged away from what it once was, a radical idea that a woman could be treated the same way as a man, the term feminist now being an adjective many women are proud to plaster on their self-résumés. Despite the fact that we women climbing aboard the equality train, the group that seems to have lingered a tad too long on the quiet car and missed their stop, are men.

Let me ask you something, whether you are male or female: What does ‘being a man’ mean to you? Does it mean muscular, and toned? Or intelligent, and crisp? Does it mean washboard abs, or perfectly-gelled hair? Does it mean kind, humble, or athletic? Or, in most realities, is being a man your only source of happiness? The ways we define the roles men play in our lives widely varies among every person. And no way of defining that role is necessarily wrong. But often when I hear the words, “Man up!” or, “Show them who’s the man” all the way to, “Who wears the pants in the family?!” it makes me wonder what people really mean by that, especially now that the definitions of ‘being a man’ so greatly vary nowadays. Those phrases have always gone along the lines of needing men to become more tough, or to harden their outer shell. You see, I don’t believe the true measure of a man is how tough their proverbial shell of armor is that blocks their feelings and emotions from the rest of the world. Feelings and emotions simply don’t have gender roles. They are for everyone. I believe the first step to becoming a man is to let that shell of armor go, and that is unfortunately where some men fall short. This idea of ‘Manning up’ and sayings alike, are so ingrained in peoples’ heads, women included, that a man showing real emotion is almost unthinkable in society today. Because of these little knick-knack sayings, we have shaped not only the way men see themselves, but how women see men. 

        Earlier, I was talking about this new uprising of female power all over the world. A revolution, I guess you might call it. As women have been joining forces through this newfound fight for equality, some men seem to be utterly confused, as if they have gotten away with living in a 20th century euphoria, and have just been awakened by everything they though they knew, suddenly backwards. We are living in a world today unlike anyone would have ever imagined. Women, of all people, are fighting. Not with their fists, but with their words.  Women are rolling up their sleeves and going to work! We are demanding equality. If that doesn’t go against everything we thought we knew since the beginning of time, then I don’t know what does. But remember, just 50 years ago, it was still an unspoken social policy that women should play this very delicate housewife role. Respect for women in the workplace, and respect for women in general is a new idea that many people, including women, are still uncomfortable with. So, does a ‘being a man’ mean having respect for women, to you? Does it mean not being afraid to share emotions and feelings? Does it mean having the will to stand up against people uncomfortable with change? This is yet another example of our rapidly diversifying world. Men and women are changing, in very different ways. Women are still fighting for the same rights men are granted, and most likely will be for quite a while. Men are changing their ‘measure of a man’, and what it means to be one. We have a lot of social construction to do, and we are just breaking ground. To me, the thrill of change is exhilarating, and I am lucky enough to be watching occur it all around me. So, let’s be apart of it! Let’s redefine what ‘manning up’ means! I challenge both men and women to speak up. In order to be a more perfect union, we need to be united under a more perfect union. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and let me know in the comments section below what you thought of this post, and what you are doing to defy the rigid gender norms cast upon our very world today. This is our country. We’ve been through the ringer, no doubt, but what we sometimes forget about going through the ringer, is that we come out of it. 

~The Legally Brunette

 

What is Happily Ever After, after all?

Hey everyone!

Today I wanted to post an opinion piece on something that has been on my mind a lot: Happily Ever After. Just as a starting point, in 1950, happily ever after was pretty much one goal: a woman finds her dream man, watches him make money and succeed in his career while she plays the role of obedient housewife and keeps the family from splitting at the seams. But my only question, really, is why? Why did that have to be? Why does that have to be? The main theory I have to think, is from our mainstream social culture. You see it in fairytales. Movies. Books. Dolls. History. This summer, I have been doing lots of camp counseling, and I noticed something. As I was reading page after page of princess stories and Barbie Fairytales, I couldn’t help notice that each happily ever after ended with the prince asking for the princess’ (i.e. the most beautiful one) hand in marriage. Yes, it does sound nice, but to me, it seemed like the books were drilling it into the little girls’ heads that this was the only way to feel genuine happiness. It drives me crazy when things are so specific to one gender such as the color pink to girls, and baseball to boys. These books seem to be brainwashing girls (and boys) to fitting these stereotypes. As I talked about in a previous post, Some things aren’t meant to be shared, or are they?, my life certainly didn’t start out as a fairytale. Far from it. Let’s face it. I’m not going to have that dream wedding. My dad won’t walk me down the aisle. Or see me graduate. Or meet my children. I’ve come to terms with what I won’t have. And every once in a while, I cry. A real good hard cry. It’s not fair. He shouldn’t have died. I should have spent more time with him. I should have helped more. My mom shouldn’t have gone through that. She didn’t deserve any of it. Those are regrets. And I have lots of them. But they can’t bring him back. They can’t reverse the clock. But circumstances I have faced, no one else can understand. Let me tell you, it’s certainly hard to find some who lost their dad at age 7. Something about that makes me think about happily ever after. So what. I didn’t get their definition of “Happily Ever After.” That’s what so many people don’t realize. I am living in my defined “Happily Ever After.” My dad is my dad, and he always will be. I will never stop loving him. But if I know him, and I think I do, he would want me to go out there and go get everything I’ve ever wanted and then some. My dream one day is to be a female rights activist, and make speeches all over the world advocating for women and their needs. End gender inequality, and prove myself. Prove my happily ever after. Every day, I am trying something new. I am meeting so many wonderful people this year who make me so happy. They are just pieces of my Happily Ever After puzzle. I know I will run into people in the future, telling me what I’m doing is wrong. That I shouldn’t be standing up for women because they aren’t worthy of being stood up for. That, my friends, is called pressure. These stories put loads of pressure on girls and boys. That boys always have to ask girls out. Or for their hand in marriage. That girls should change their last names to their husbands because that is the family they “belong” to. Is that really all they think of us girls? That we’re some charity cases that are just looking for some place to belong? I say enough’s enough. Us girls need to stand up for ourselves! I’m begging you, we need to take a stand against stereotypes, and criticism, and out right discrimination! Also, I forgot to mention, who says boys always have to marry girls? Get over yourselves. It’s 2016 and people who are too scared to leave the comfort of 1965 get to have a say in who people love? I have been very impressed with Pope Francis so far. He has definitely  moved the Catholic church in a more progressive direction. But still, many people are uncomfortable with LGBTQ+, and commit acts of violence (verbal and physical) as a way of stopping a Supreme Court approved law? I guess my point from my non-stop rambling is this: People’s Happily Ever Afters shouldn’t be determined by demeaning stereotypes that tell you who you should love, how you should live your life, and qualities you should possess in order to live “the life you’ve always wanted.” Even if you’re young, you can still make difference in issues around the globe. I guess this blog post is my little shout-out to the world, expressing how I feel in the only way I know how: writing. Thank you very much for reading this very rambly, but hopefully inspiring post. Please like (posts) and subscribe to my blog! Comment down below telling me how you feel about Happily Ever Afters being portrayed in our culture, and how you will take a stand. Also if you are feeling rambly and brave as well, tell me how you feel about a world issue that you feel is worthy talking about. I so enjoy writing these posts. I use writing as my voice in the world, and I think it helps lots of people who are still searching for theirs. I will be blogging again very soon!

Remember, this is a community of friendship and trust. If you decide to be a part of this journey on The Legally Brunette Blog, you have to be willing to trust, listen, care, grow, and not be afraid to show your silly side!!

Au Revoir!

-The Legally Brunette

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