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When Kardashians Feel Better, We Feel Worse

From scandalous sex tapes to complex divorces, Americans are united in recognizing the “KarJenners” by their dramatic lifestyle.  Kim Kardashian, the first celebrity in the family, has an immense social media presence and therefore affects millions of lives. In this technologically advanced generation, it can only be hoped that those who influence the world around them, especially those who have impact on the mindset of younger people, will adamantly promote body positivity and confidence. Does Kardashian fit this criteria?

Kim Kardashian has spoken out about body image many times. Much of the time, her comments can be viewed as empowering, but almost everything she says has a tone that is less positive towards body confidence. The topic has made an appearance in almost every one of her interviews since her pregnancy. In a post on her app she stated, “After I had North, there was a part of me that was nervous about whether I’d be able to get back to anywhere near my pre-pregnancy weight and feel confident again, since I was now 50 pounds heavier. I knew I had to put in a lot of work, but I got there. After 10 months, I felt like I was even better than before.” This could potentially be analyzed as a quote encouraging working out, meeting goals on being fit and being happy with yourself, if it weren’t for one word: better. If Kardashian had said she had felt even “happier” or “more confident” after losing 50 pounds, the whole message of her response would have changed, but because she said she felt “better than before,” Kardashian has implied that it is better to lose weight than to accept yourself for who you are. This is an ultimately negative message to send out into the world, especially for someone as powerful as Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian has a condition called psoriasis, a skin disorder that causes red blotches and inflammation all over the body. She has revealed multiple times that because of her psoriasis she gets frequent injections. “I’ve learned to really live with it…I’m just accepting it as a part of who I am,” said Kardashian in an interview with Cosmopolitan. This is a powerful quote that expresses positive body images, but on an episode of her TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, she referred to her psoriasis multiple times as her “big flaw,” which is not a positive sentiment to project. She also said, “people don’t understand the pressure on me to look perfect,” implying that her psoriasis makes her somehow less good-looking. Many psoriasis patients had a negative reaction to these comments and attacked Kardashian on social media.

Kardashian’s journey through weight loss is what comes to mind when people think of her body positivity. After she had Saint West, her second child, Kardashian’s public announcements of her weight and how rapidly she was losing weight increased. She began to post her goals for losing weight and her methods for doing so on her app, for millions of people to see and follow. She gave out recommendations on how to lose the most weight. Recently, Kardashian posted a video of herself playing with a choker on her snapchat story, captioning the post, “Guys, we’re having real problems here. See my choker? Look how big it is! My neck even lost weight. Is that wild or what?” She rarely speaks publicly about becoming a better person or having good morals, but mainly about being “better,” in this case better-looking. Although she inspires young women to have confidence and love themselves because of how she flaunts her body on social media, it’s not fair to show the world such insipid, contrasting messages.

Some may make the argument that Kim Kardashian’s body type alone is enough to make her a role model for body positivity. It is true that Kim Kardashian defies many beauty standards by showing people that you don’t have to be unachievably skinny to achieve fame and to be confident, but Kardashian has made many comments implying to others that although confidence is important, losing weight is the best way to feel empowered. In the age of technology, it’s important for everyone to know that being happy with yourself is more important than losing weight, and Kim Kardashian’s message certainly does not help.

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Opinion: Gun Control in America

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signs new gun control laws in Topeka. Photo credit: John Hanna/AP
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signs new gun control laws in Topeka. Photo credit: John Hanna/AP

Kansans aged 21 or older will be permitted to carry concealed guns starting July 1 when the law takes effect, even if they’re not trained or don’t have a permit. April 2, 2015, TIME.COM (Senate Bill 45)

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In the midst of turmoil and violence dividing the United States over issues of police brutality and race relations, the issue of gun control has taken a backseat in the American news cycle.

That does not mean gun rights activists have given up their fight to create new relaxed gun control legislation in both typically strict states (Pennsylvania, California) and typically easygoing states (Texas, Kansas).

On April 2, 2015, Kansas’ Republican Governor, Sam Brownback, signed a multitude of new laws that make it easier for Kansans to get their hands on guns, be it for personal use or possibly criminal use. Now any citizen within the Kansas state borders may legally carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Nor is any kind of training course required to receive a firearms license. According to the governor, the ability to own a gun “is a constitutional right, and (Kansas is) removing a barrier to that right.”

Congressional Republicans are praising this new law and are crossing their fingers that it works so that they too can introduce similar legislationon a federal level. Kansas is the trial run for this bill — known as “the constitutional carry.” 

Liberals do not seem too bothered with these changes in Kansas. There is a general sentiment that I have witnessed of “eh, it’s their issue, not ours.”  GFS is an incredibly liberal school, yet I have not heard a single person talk about this important issue. 

What we all need to come to terms with is that all of America will be affected by the success of this measure in Kansas. If this bill is successful in Kansas, federal lawmakers could attempt to pass this sort of law all throughout the United States.

Philadelphia faces an average of 11 violent crimes per 1000 residents, whereas Wichita, Kansas, the home of the most violent crimes in all of Kansas, has only 7.42 violent crimes per 1000 residents. In Kansas, this new law might actually work. Violent crime is significantly lower in Kansas than our hometown of Philly. 

The problem lies in the ideology itself. It is not a fact that deregulating guns would lead to a higher violent crime rate in Philadelphia or even Germantown, but can our city, state, or federal government take that risk? While I, personally, hope that this law leads to a decrease in violent crimes in Kansas, a law permitting citizens to carry a weapon without a permit (and without required training) could affect us in a much more negative way here. There is already so much violence in Philly and even surrounding GFS proper. Any means to decrease that violence must be taken, but I am skeptical of the ability of this law to do so.

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Opinion: “Famous Jameis” Winston, Rape, and the NFL Draft

Jameis Winston, from a casual sports fan’s perspective, is the guy who is about to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He played quarterback at Florida State, won the Heisman Trophy (the award for best player in college football), lead the Seminoles to the College Football Playoff this year, and is seemingly on top of the world.

State attorney Willie Meggs at a December 2013 press conference annoucning that Winston would not be charged with rape. Photo Credit: Don Juan Moore, Getty Images
State attorney Willie Meggs at a December 2013 press conference announcing that Winston would not be charged with rape.
Photo Credit: Don Juan Moore, Getty Images

What a lot of people do not know about him, however, is that he is a alleged rapist, protected both by the Florida State community and the local district attorneys.

Here are the facts of the case: Erica Kinsman, the alleged victim, said that originally, Winston was nice. He pretended to be her boyfriend to get a creepy guy from the bar to stop following her. That is where things took a turn for the worse. He asked her to take a shot with him, a shot that she is now convinced was tainted. The rest of the night is spotty. She recalls waking up in a cab with Winston and two other men, something that she says she would not normally do with a complete stranger. The cab went to his apartment, where the alleged rape occurred.

She remembers him being on top of her. She remembers not being able to breathe. She remembers his roommate coming in and pleading him to stop. She remembers being taken into the bathroom, where the door would lock. She remembers being on the floor, getting pushed to the ground. Finally, she remembers him telling her she was allowed to leave once this horror show was over.

Kinsman went to a local hospital, where a rape kit was administered, but not analyzed until months later. When she and her father met with a Tallahassee Police officer, she was instructed to “think twice” before filing a report. He allegedly stated, “This is a huge football town. You should think long and hard if you want to press charges.”

The Tallahassee Police Department did nothing for 10 months. When they finally acted, the story began garnering national attention. Most notably, ESPN Analysts Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith called the incident “poorly timed” and “terribly unfair” to Winston. Winston maintains the sex was consensual.

The Florida State Attorney said he did not have sufficient evidence to charge Winston, and the FSU conduct code hearing cleared him of everything, so he was allowed to play in the College Football Playoff. While he was being praised for his on-the-field prowess, Kinsman was getting death threats. She was ostracized by the university community, and finally dropped out in November 2013.

When Winston is seen on ESPN, the anchors discussing his draft stock often mention his “off the field issues”. No one ever mentions that he is an accused rapist. Instead, they use this vehicle to avoid the obvious: that he should, under no circumstances, be allowed to play professional football. He should be in prison.

If I were the owner of the team with the top pick, I would not pick him, even if I thought that he was the best player in the draft. I would pick someone else, while simultaneously donating a large sum of money to an anti-rape organization. This would send a message to both Winston and the other teams in the NFL that rape, convicted or not, can never be tolerated. However, that is not what will happen. Realistically, he will be taken by whatever team thinks he will make the most money for them. After all, whatever makes money will happen.

The Winston case embodies all that is wrong with collegiate and professional sports. Why should this man, because he can throw a football and read defenses adeptly, be excused from all types of punishment? Why should he be allowed to stay at the school? Why should he be allowed to play in the NFL?

Professional athletes have for a long time been heroes and role models for the youth in their respective communities. When I was little, I would read the sports section of the newspaper with my dad. These people are not just names on a page. These people are people I looked up to, people I wanted to be like when I grew up. Alleged rapists can not be exempt from the rules just because they are good at a sport, and they sure as hell cannot be role models for children.

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The Brits’ journey across the pond

Winchester College student Alex Cheung visited GFS in October along with three others. This article was published in the Winchester College publication. 

The average American man consumes 2640 calories per day. Within twenty-four hours of arriving, the four Wykehamists who travelled to Germantown Friends School, Philadelphia managed to put this statistic to shame with the assistance of the fabled Philly Cheesesteak and its colleague, the donut. Aside from succumbing to the culinary temptations, George Berry, Henry Websdale, Alex Cheung and George Tall enjoyed both a culturally and educationally enriching exchange over the Half Term Break.

The first couple days were about settling in and becoming familiar with the city of Philadelphia. We were fortunate enough to watch two of our amazing hosts place in the top ten of their respective races at the State Cross Country Meet. Similar to the races, the rest of the trip was at a very high pace. During the first weekend, we journeyed to New York, where we visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the new World Trade Centre. Some of us felt so comfortable in New York that we feel that it is now our hometown. The trip to MOMA instilled in us a true appreciation for art. Consequently, we ended up visiting five museums over the space of four days, including the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the National Gallery in Washington D.C. After this cultural marathon, I don’t think the four of us will be seen in a museum for a little while.

After experiencing lessons at GFS for a few days, we were struck by the informal student-teacher dynamic; students addressed their teachers by their first names. However, this casual relationship was conducive towards a more comfortable atmosphere and did not mar the pupils’ intellectual curiosity and rigour. During our free periods (bookies), we were able to share experiences of Winchester with others while at the same time grasp the lifestyle of an American high school student.

Ten amazing days went by too quickly. None of us were ready to leave GFS and travel back across the pond, but as it turned out, Philadelphia wasn’t ready to let us go either. US Airways, after an exceptionally long wait, decided to delay our flight by one day. We once again roamed the streets of Philadelphia and continued to capitalise on any opportunity to eat.

Unfortunately that night, the dream really did end. The four of us are all in agreement that this was by far the best holiday in our Winchester College careers and it would not have been possible without Dr Webster, our wonderful hosts and the entire GFS community. We hope to be back in Philadelphia soon.

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Oliver Mitchell Boyask on Politics Opinion

Opinion: Washington needs to go

So there’s an election coming up. May 20, to be precise. If you live in Pennsylvania’s 4th Senatorial District, encompassing most of Northwest Philadelphia and Southeast Montgomery County, then you should probably pay attention.

Leanna Washington, your State Senator since 2005, is running for re-election and trust me, you do not want her representing you. Since assuming office she has missed one-third of voting sessions – even the ones on bills that she has supported vocally. If that were not enough, she is scheduled for an arraignment this month to address charges against her that she used her legislative staff to organize her annual birthday fundraiser while on taxpayer time.

Washington certainly is not spending her time in office doing the things her district would want her to, like voting. But this doesn’t seem to bother her, as she allegedly expressed to a former aide, “I am the f***ing senator, I do what the f*** I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me.”

No, Senator Washington, you do what we, the people whom you represent, want. And while we can’t change you, we sure can replace you.

Running against Washington are two seemingly qualified candidates: Art Haywood, a Cheltenham Township commissioner, and Brian Gralnick, a leader at the local Jewish Federation. Honestly, either one would be a step up from Washington, but there are some significant differences between them. Gralick is much younger than Haywood but is far from inexperienced. Since graduating from Penn he has mostly worked in community service, helping the elderly in Northwest Philadelphia as well as across the state.

Haywood’s accomplishments are harder to define. He’s worked as a solo practitioner representing non-profits and he seems to have done a lot of good things, but Gralnick appears to have the upper hand concerning accomplishments one could actually credit to one person. While they are both solidly liberal and would make fine senators for this district, Gralnick’s community service sways me to support him over Haywood.

 

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Opinion

Community Day comes with a side of controversy

Courtesy of Anne Gerbner
Courtesy of Anne Gerbner
Students at the Awbury Arboretum found a slithery friend on Community Day. From left: Bridget Curtin ’14, Joanna Booth ’15 and Isabelle Goldstein ’13.

This year marked the second ever all-Upper School Community Day. Classes were canceled on a slightly rainy Friday; 9th through 12th graders were sorted into groups, and were sent out for a morning of volunteering in the Germantown Community.

Many students had positive experiences. Caryn Miller ’13 said, “I worked at the Boys and Girls Club field picking up litter and moving things in their building. It was fun.”

At Awbury Arboretum, 20 students cleared a field for a future orchard while a few walked to a nearby historic mansion to do office work. Awbury Education Director Heather Zimmerman was delighted with the work and energy of the GFS crew.

However, as much as the masses enjoyed helping the community, some felt idle, even burdensome to the volunteer sites. Caryn said, “we were done after only an hour and then we just came back to school and played soccer. We didn’t really do that much.”

A similar opinion was echoed by Myles Wyche ’14 who said, “It was somewhat of a joke. We went there [Church Lane Garden, and] they didn’t have any real work for us to do. They were trying to make sure that we didn’t mess up the garden more than they were trying to make sure that we helped out the garden.”

Although GFS has the best intentions, it sometimes feels that those intentions are misguided. Many volunteer sites cannot handle a sudden large number of inexperienced kids coming for a few hours.

A lot of planning goes into making Community Day a success, but is one day really enough to make a difference?

This year also had a peculiarity in that it took place during the Day of Silence. While there were no particularly outspoken complaints, this aspect of the day seemed to occur without a hitch. The only request of Community Actions Club was that individuals who chose to be silent not be group leaders.

Katherine Walden ’13, leader of Support for Positive Body Image, had an insight on the obstacles. She said, “I think there might have been a miscommunication between Community Actions and SAGA. But honestly, club scheduling was crazy this year. The schedule has been so full all year that it was almost like everything had to happen on the same day.”

In my opinion, Day of Silence is a national event, and by excluding people who chose to be silent from being leaders, while it logistically made sense, defeats the purpose of demonstrating “being silent.”

Community Day for the most part went off without a hitch and it was followed by the closest GFS has ever been to a field day. I do not know if having hundreds of volunteers work on a single day is the best way to do it, but remaining involved in the Germantown community and doing our best to help out is at the very core of GFS.