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Lianne Wong

Would You Wear it if You Really Knew How it’s Made?

There’s a common saying, “out with old and in with the new”. But when styles are constantly changing, the new seems to be in even before the old is out. One new item fashionistas are dying to get their hands on right now originates from a bird’s very own coat. That’s right – feathers. Even celebrities like Ke$ha and Steven Tyler are often seen sporting the feathered-hair look.Feather hair extensions are a versatile accessory that can be worn to make a bold, outrageous statement or a more casual and effortlessly chic look.  The feathers are applied using small metal clasps and can be styled in any way and washed like regular hair. The extensions are available in a range of colors and are commonly in a long, thin shape with a distinct pattern. Although feather hair extensions are in the fashion limelight for many trend followers, those who are more conscious of the immorality of feather hair extensions discourage wearing it. The extent to which fashion puts animals’ welfare at stake sparks much controversy for animal rights activists.One stylist specifically speaks out against feather hair extensions. As interviewed on, Kristin Jackson, a professional New York City hair stylist who has worked with celebrities like Katy Perry, states, “I’ve made the conscious decision to not do feather hair extensions because of the practices used to obtain the feathers. As a strict vegetarian, I’ve always been passionate about animal rights and welfare. I don’t think that any animal should have to suffer in order for a person to feel cool or follow a trend. The birds that are farmed to make these accessories are usually kept in small cages and treated horribly. Even worse: most of these birds are simply raised for their feathers, and once they are ready to be plucked, they’re… Read More

“Where are you from?”

Countless times I’ve been asked, “where are you from?” “what kind of Asian are you?” and “are you (insert ethnicity here)?”. So far, people have guessed my ethnicity to be Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese. Strangely, they rarely get the correct answer the first try: Chinese. As a Canadian-born Chinese person who grew up in America, I have seen Asian-Americans being misunderstood in more ways than just their ethnicity. While the latter is understandable—I even have trouble telling Asians apart sometimes—what troubles me is the West’s misconstrued ideas about Asian people. Whether it’s the stereotypes that Asians are good at math, conservative, bad drivers, kung fu fighters, musical prodigies—you get the idea. Well, I’m terrible at math, as are many of my Asian friends; I’m no goody two-shoe; I’m a cautious driver; and there is no way that I could  fight anyone if my life depended on it. Most importantly, I play the piano because it’s my hobby.Asian stereotypes are constantly being reinforced by the media, which serves as the foundation of knowledge for society’s views on Asians, among other things. The stereotypes are starting to get old, and unfortunately they can lead into something even worse than mere unspoken assumptions.Let me phrase this as simply as I can: “curiosity killed the cat.”The other day, my mother told me about some co-workers who assumed she spoke Mandarin after she told them her ethnicity, and then they attempted to converse in Mandarin with her even though her native dialect is Cantonese. Let’s not forget that my mother and her co-workers work at an English-speaking company, thus all workers could and should speak English fluently. My mother explained that she wasn’t offended because she understood her co-workers’ curiosity, but shefelt uncomfortable nonetheless.Anotherinstance of curiosity gone wrong was when a middle-aged, male customer… Read More

I’m sorry, but my skirt isn’t talking to you

’m all for living efficiently. As a student at the University of British Columbia (UBC), getting from one classroom to the next means finding the best shortcuts, which has been difficult considering the size of the Vancouver campus (approximately 993 acres!). I’ve found that the shortest routes are often through the back alleys of buildings, which grant me the much appreciated opportunity to press the snooze button several times before my 9 a.m. classes.I’m happy to report that it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the easiest ways to get around on campus and, more generally, Vancouver (thank you, BC Translink). I feel—as I presume many other UBC students do—an immense feeling of liberation when traveling around this city. Especially after having grown up in a small town, obtaining the freedom to walk or ride where I please is a treasured novelty.But, of course, this privilege has its limits. Once classes are over and the sun casts shadows across the campus, I often get an uneasy feeling. For a while, I tried to figure out why this anxiety spreads through me like a ticking bomb until, at last, it dawned on me. Why, of course—it’s because I’m female!There is no doubt that it’s difficult for women to feel safe in public. We are far more likely to be subjected to sexual harassment than men, and every day there are various accounts of men harassing women through stalking, molestation, and rape.So how do women avoid this sort of misconduct? Well, I, for one, certainly would not take advice from the Toronto police officer who advised the female students in York University in January to stop “dressing like sluts” in order to decrease their chances of being sexually assault. The officer’s comment triggered a worldwide response, and protests subsequently… Read More

What has pop culture done to us?

Speaking figuratively, let’s pretend for a moment that North America is a male celebrity. The word is out that his girlfriend is really his mistress as her name is pop culture. As eminent as she is in our daily lives, she shifts to her second job on the streets at night. It sounds vulgar, but we have here our nation’s very own, well, prostitute. North America has bought her, objectified her, taken advantage of her, and obtained pimp status by showing her off to the world.It seems that the process of buying into pop culture today has turned into a widespread infection, and if you’re not doing it, then maybe you should get yourself checked out.A prime example of the commoditization of pop culture—or rather, the epitome of buying your way into popular culture—is Rebecca Black. Black began as a 13-year-old aspiring singer whose parents spent $4,000 to have a record label, ARK Music Factory, release a professional music video of her on YouTube. Within a few days she was granted instant recognition.  Her single, “Friday,” reached an outstanding 167 million views on YouTube before it was removed, making her song a worldwide hit. Although many people across the globe may know her, her recognition is not entirely positive. Black owes a substantial amount of her notoriety to, as some people believe, her lack of singing talent as well as the poor lyrics and tune in her song.Although I do have sympathy for Rebecca Black, I also understand why some people are frustrated with her. There are a lot of people who have natural talent, but have to work hard to get recognized and often do not ever get acknowledged. In other words, they are not as fortunate as Black to be able to pay their way into the music… Read More

Are we too attached to our smartphones?

Last week, my cousin and I had a discussion about cell phones. He told me that he wanted the new iPhone, but was waiting for the iPhone 6 to come out next year. I was taken aback: The iPhone 6? I thought people still carried the iPhones 3 and 4!I may have been slacking in the technology newsfeed department, but at the rate that large-scale companies like Apple are developing ideas for new products it certainly is hard to keep abreast of technology's latest.Cellular technology is a crucial aspect of life for many, but have smartphones become too important to us, and for all the wrong reasons?We hold our devices, such as cell phones, very near and dear. While this is not always a bad thing, it can be excessive. I have witnessed multiple instances of people obsessively treating their Smartphone like a newborn baby, similar to how a certain caricature of man would call his sports car his ‘girlfriend.’Cell phone users tend to embrace their devices as fashion accessories. The way we choose what kind of  phone to buy often reflects the image we want to project. We can even accessorize them with different phone cases or key chains, and sometimes even with colourful stick-on gems. Whether we realize it or not, our cell phones say a lot about who we are, and technology has become a very personalized part of our selves.Another thing that seems a little peculiar to me is the way in which people use technology not productively, but for more trivial reasons. A friend once told me that the only reason he uses his Blackberry Smartphone is for BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), an instant messenger application used between Blackberry devices. This did not sit well with me. BlackBerry devices provide a wide array of functional uses,… Read More