Smell My Feet, Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Trick-or-Treat, Smell my feet,

Give me something good to eat,

If you don’t, I don’t care,

I’ll pull down your underwear.

I would live up to the hype around Halloween if I were at least 13 years (give or take a few years) younger than I am now. The excitement around Halloween took a turn when I turned legal because going out with friends was the new “it” thing to do. Let’s be real—if you had friends, and weren’t a bore, you’d be headed downtown or some cool bar to get your drink on. On top of that, you’d be drinking until you can barely walk (let alone walk straight), and odds are you’d puke your guts out at the end of the night. Now, it’s more of an obligation to go out and “celebrate” Halloween. And so, this year, I’ve made no real effort to plan out events for tonight. In fact, I’d prefer not to take advantage of this drunken holiday because of the amount of responsibilities I have.

Let’s backtrack: Halloween lost its magic pretty much when I turned 12 (again, give or take a few years). The free candy was still great, even with incessant worries that free candy were laced with drugs and crap by strangers, but I resented and despised dressing up as I approached teenage years—it was an unnecessary and irrationally expensive chore. When I was still considered a child, however, I’d be taken out by either my grandmother or friendly neighbours during the day to trick-or-treat with my little pumpkin bucket in the neighbourhood, and even at the mall. At night, I would be handing out candy or whatever treat to some older kids. I vividly remember being dressed up as a Power Ranger for two years in a row: I went as the Pink and Yellow Power Ranger. I detested both colours, but they were the only two girl characters. Perhaps why I hate(d) dressing up is because of the gender/sex constraints, although now it seems like the only day where you can dress up however you wish without being (really) judged.

Skipping ahead, when you turn legal, everything gets more exciting: you can go to the liquor store and buy alcohol; you can go to a club or a bar legally; and you can buy cigarettes. That’s exactly what I did. I did the whole partying thing nearly every weekend, I believe. Halloween was special, though, because not only was it another excuse to party, but also because the events seemed more exclusive (the entry tickets were definitely exclusive and pricy). Besides New Years Eve, no other time are clubbing ticket prices selling at 25-to-50 dollars. Nevertheless, it did its job. You pay for the ticket, you go to become inexpressibly inebriated, you go to get inappropriately shoved and groped, and you go to ruin your eardrums. It was special.

Halloween now, for me, has nearly lost its appeal. I say nearly because next year I may go and “celebrate” in whatever way I wish to. Anyway, this year, I definitely felt that I should come up with a plan to go out. And I’ll admit, about four-to-six weeks ago I did want to celebrate with a few drinks, but not once did I want to go out and get wasted or pay stupidly expensive entrance fees to listen to super loud music. Reflecting on my thoughts and obligation to plan something for Halloween, though, I realized it mostly had to do with the fact that it’s a weekend and that the hype around Halloween is so inviting. At this moment, I realize that celebrating Halloween has more to do with a sense of obligation. Halloween is ritualized: You celebrate and have fun with it as a child, there are always horror movies coming out around Halloween, and businesses package events nicely (and horrifyingly) to seduce consumers. College and university instructors often bring candy for their students, who are adults.

As a year-after-year ritual, I now feel incredibly exhausted by this obligation. I don’t hate Halloween, although I detest dressing up myself, but I do hate that I’ve always felt obligated to celebrate the last day of October. At any time and any day of the year, we should be able to go out and have fun with our friends and family without it feeling obligatory. I mean, Halloween is not even a real holiday: there’s no statutory day off. I may go out next year and enjoy the festivities, but I won’t be obligated to do so.

Happy Halloween, and smell my feet!

We Need Privacy!: Anonymity from the Internet, Ignorance, & Voyeurism Leads to Disrespect and Entitlement

A few weeks ago, Beyoncé put on a spectacular show (as usual) with a daring and courageous display of the word “Feminist.” You can try and argue that her costume was not a good example of a “Feminist,” but why not? She had complete ownership over her body, and performed to her heart’s content. As of late, what I am going to discuss has been repeated over and over, my statements have been iterated and reiterated in numerous forms–even the way I’ll be saying it–but, nevertheless, it needs to be said: Stop telling women and girls to act “lady like”; Stop telling women and girls to “cover up”; Stop telling women and girls to “quit leading men/boys (or women/girls) on.” Rather, tell men and boys to respect women; tell men to stop sexualizing women; tell men that women are their equals, not their inferiors.

What is most disappointing as of late, however, is the ill-conceived,  unjustified “Okay” the public seems to accept when sexualizing women–particularly celebrities. Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, amongst other notable celebrities are recent victims of a sex crime. Simply by searching up and looking at these nude photos, one violates not just these women’s privacy, but these women are again sexually violated. As Tracy Clark-Flory has discussed in her article on Salon, even she as a woman, was regrettably compelled to seek out these photos. Why? Perhaps because celebrities lead such public lives that the public often forgets that they are simply people and still require a sort of privacy. Perhaps also people are so obsessed and, in a way, intertwine their lives with celebrity gossip that people feel the compulsion of needing to know. But guess what? You’re naked underneath your clothes, too.

With the Internet, evidently information is generally easily accessible; and, anonymity provides a certain sense of safety–perhaps especially for those interested in indecency. And because stories along with pictures involving celebrities are often viral, people’s interests are generally peaked. The issue is, though, that because it’s viral on the Internet, people seem to feel a sort of entitlement to seek out, look at, and even obsess over these photos. The public does not to realize that they are re-enacting the sexual crime, and are re-enacting harassment towards these women.

Whenever I discuss issues around sexism, harassment, discrimination, and general hate, people often suggest that others are: either joking; are young and are not thinking “right”; and (my favourite) that they just don’t “mean” it. I have news for you: Ignorance does not excuse your indecent behaviour and disrespect. If this were to happen to a prominent woman in your life, would you hastily disrespect and violate her by looking at the photos without her consent? Many of you will now say: “If you don’t want people to hack and see your naked photos, don’t take them.” I, in turn, must ask: Why? Why can’t people take naked photos of themselves without fear of being violated? And, why does anyone feel the compulsion to hack in order to steal photos? You are still violating women and are committing sexual crime, though you are not physically violating them.

We are now witnessing the effects of the Internet in that it has not only provided anonymity for the general public, but has most significantly given people the opportunity to become hedonistic, sociopathic, obsessive voyeurs. I leave with these final words: Say YES to Feminism; Say NO to misogyny; Say YES to protecting privacy; Say NO to entitlement; Say YES to equality (across all issues); Say NO to those hacked and leaked celebrity photos.

What I Think the Point of Pride Is

The colours on the flag represent different aspects: sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity/harmony, spirit. More information at http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/06/25/toronto_world_pride_2014_the_man_behind_the_omnipresent_rainbow_flag.html
The colours on the flag represent different aspects: sexuality, life, healing, sunlight, nature, magic/art, serenity/harmony, spirit. More information at http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/06/25/toronto_world_pride_2014_the_man_behind_the_omnipresent_rainbow_flag.html

With WorldPride being hosted in Toronto, ON. Canada this year, and with America making history in strides this past year, I thought I’d reflect on Pride. A queer person, or a person choosing to lead any sort of “alternative” lifestyle, has long been associated with abnormality, being unruly, and obscene (the list of negativity can go on-and-on); with recent history, however, society has grown more accepting, and many people are now not only accepting of those who lead “alternative” lifestyles, but also are fighting alongside people who identify has LGBTQ. Acceptance and freedom of the LGBTQ community, like any social movement (namely the Women’s Rights Movement and Civil Rights Movement), comes from a troubled past—and is still a struggling process today. And, although Pride celebrates all of the success LGBTQ community has accomplished, some perhaps see Pride as an excuse for one giant party. The way I see Pride, though, is that it is a way to celebrate courage and equal love—a “deadly sin” is now a means and a description for empowerment.

As a Canadian, I recognize how fortunate our LGBTQ community is in regards to equal rights, marriage equality, and the considerably low discriminatory remarks and harassment LGBTQ people suffer from. And I’m sure for many of us in support of equality (as it is a basic Human Rights issue, not a “gay” issue) are, at the very least, disturbed by anti-gay laws in Russia and Uganda. In recent weeks, however, we should take note that even though we are seemingly all equal and accepting in Canada, we have our own battles: Vancouver School Board (VSB), for example, was bombarded with (apparently) concerned parents about the proposed changes sexual orientation and gender policies to create a more accepting and fluid environment for Transgender people. This controversial debate in Vancouver, BC reminds us that there is still shame, discomfort, and, most significantly, discrimination around the LGBTQ community even in this accepting and diverse country like ours.

So I find pre- and post-Pride somewhat troubling, especially since Pride is a time for celebration. Celebration seems to only happen during Pride, and discrimination resurfaces pre- and, especially, post-Pride. Having educated myself a little more on the LGBTQ community, and having learned about the different organizations, campaigns, and outspoken activists, however, I’ve come to realize that although the party days may be over, the continuous education and fight to eliminate discrimination is more active today than it has been, say, ten-to-twenty years ago. There are events, fundraisers, and campaigns continuously happening year-round that strive to support LGBTQ and allied people, and most importantly celebrate love—equal love.

These different organizations, amazing activists, and Pride itself, I believe, constantly remind us that exhibited strength, freedom, acceptance, and motivation come from hardships like discrimination. Allies of the LGBTQ community, for example, have found inspiring ways to promote the well-being of LGBTQ people while educating our global community that the fight for equality is not just because LGBTQ people want to get married, or have children, but that, and most importantly, the fight is for fundamental human rights. Through creative and inclusive strategies, numerous activist organizations are leading the charge in addressing challenges LGBTQ communities consistently face. In addition to activist organizations, there are many individual activists who should be commended because of the work, outspokenness, and efforts they put into supporting LGBTQ communities. Those that never cease to surprise and particularly amaze me, in recent history, are those in constant spotlight; Laverne Cox (Time Cover!), Tegan and Sara, and fun. especially stand out because they consistently loudly voice their concerns, and consistently work to support the LGBTQ communities. Some notable, commendable, and downright amazing organizations and campaigns are: Human Rights Campaign, Revel & Riot, The Ally Coalition, You Can Play Project, the Principle 6 Campaign, NOH8 Campaign, It Gets Better Project, and Self Evident Project(fun.) Jack Antonoff, Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Rachel Antonoff, for example, founded The Ally Coalition. Tegan and Sara, on the other hand, are proudly affiliate themselves with (what may officially be) the LGBTQ clothing and merchandising organization Revel and Riot to help fund, with loud and proud merchandise, LGBTQ awareness and equality.Although many of them have a particular focus on equal rights in America, they are nevertheless continuously educating numerous communities about the LGBTQ community. Moreover, their focus on equal rights in America is not unwarranted because, until recent history, many states still had marriage bans (America is on a roll in striking down marriage bans one state at a time!).

With Pride, then, it is an opportunity to revel in the successes the LGBTQ community and allies have accomplished in our global society. In addition, Pride is also a chance for people who are generally and genuinely curious and unsure to become educated about this once-upon-a-time obscured and “shameful” community. Although Pride is often celebrated and treated like a time to simply party, it is a historical marching event which brought together those courageous LGBTQ and allied individuals to loudly announce their existence as human beings, to educate their peers, and to fight against discrimination. Globally, Pride is a month, a week, or a day for celebration, for marches, for showing the diverse and incredible LGBTQ community, but what many people may forget is that Pride is a lifestyle for everyone—being proud of yourself whoever you may be, what you identify with, and how you present yourself.

Something Positive From Something Selfish: Thank You For Your Support!

Dear Friends,

Many of you know that I recently hosted a fundraiser–“Shave to Save, Answer for Cancer”–for the Canadian Cancer Society in which I went ‘Bald for Dollars’, and I simply just cannot thank each and every one of you enough. This fundraiser would not have been successful if it weren’t for all of you wonderful people, especially considering the extraordinary amount I raised given the arguably short period of time I gave myself; I would not have had the courage to complete such a challenge (because, let’s face it, it’s such a drastic change!).

Though I appreciate all of your support, encouraging words, and praises about my bravery, I must say that I do not think that I am being brave. I am, rather, merely attempting to stand a little taller for causes I care about; by extension, I aim to loudly voice my support for organizations in support of these important causes—like Cancer research, prevention, and support.

Many people have asked me what prompted me to do something as drastic as shaving my head to fund-raise for the Canadian Cancer Society, even though it’s for a great cause. Well, I’ve briefly explained the root of this campaign in my announcement post found here. But ultimately I think at some point over the last year I’ve grown weary on wondering about the different ways I can act and speak to voice my concerns and to show support towards people I deeply admire—Cancer fighters.

I have to admit, as well, that I set out to do this fundraiser because I’m selfish. Selfish in the way that I can finally say I’m starting to learn how to emotionally and mentally cope with people’s passing (to the best of my ability, anyway). This year marks the tenth year since my grandmother has passed, and I must say this probably means I am finally learning to cope with tragedy, death, and just the tough things in life. I am also particularly selfish because I inadvertently created this individual fundraiser to commemorate my grandmother’s death on this tenth year, even though I would like to be, and see myself as, impartial and present myself as someone trying to support a great cause just because.

Selfishness, however, has served its purpose because I gave myself the opportunity and drive needed to accomplish something I contend is great. What’s more is that this selfishness has given me the motivation and courage to continually stand for campaigns that I believe will only better our collective community’s health and well-being. Similarly, I now have the courage and motivation needed to voice and stand for human rights (again, to the best of my ability).

Again, I cannot thank each and every one of you enough for your efforts and emotional support, your constant reassurance that this fundraiser would be great (and it was!), your monetary support. I hope this fundraiser has, in one way or another, affected your life in a positive way, like mine has because of all of you.

My warmest wishes,

Natasha Chang

What Cancer Means to Me!

Read my thoughts on Cancer.

Answer for Cancer: Vancouver, B.C.

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I often associate cancer with anxiety, terror, basically all negative emotions, but lately I’ve started to associate cancer with motivation. I’m motivated to strive to be better with my health and lifestyle choices; simultaneously, I’m striving to ensure my community is also on the path towards being better. I believe we can only fight against Cancer by consciously trying to live healthier and to be happier. Of course, being continuously happy is a difficult task, but if you strive to actively deal with the negative things around you through healthy avenues, then you’re already (in my book) being better. So, along with me, motivate yourself to live happily and be healthy; influence your community to do the same!

Cancer also means to making a difference. And because of all of your unconditional support, we’ve made quite a significant difference: we’ve quadrupled my initial goal, and have more than doubled by revised…

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Answer for Cancer: Fighting Back with Bravery!

See what my friend Kenny has to say about Cancer.

Answer for Cancer: Vancouver, B.C.

“Answer for Cancer” features Kenny Wu (http://www.kennyslice.com). Here he shares his thoughts on Cancer and provokes our determination, our bravery, and our individual, as well as collective, fearlessness. Why do we need to raise awareness? Why should we support Cancer research? Because Cancer is not simply an individual’s fight; we need to stand together to fight against Cancer. Let’s fight back with Bravery, with Fearlessness; fight back Together!

Share with me, with all of us, your thoughts and feelings on Cancer. Inspire and motivate others in face of this disease, in face of death.

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Answer for Cancer: Fighting Back with Love!

I’ve started a video project for my fundraiser “Shave to Save, Answer for Cancer.” Join me in raising awareness; let me know if you want to share your views about cancer. Join my campaign! Let’s fight cancer together!

Answer for Cancer: Vancouver, B.C.

I’m starting a video project in relation to my fundraiser–“Shave to Save, Answer for Cancer”–and my hope is that this project will not only bring awareness about cancer to people everywhere, but to also bring comfort to those who are victims of cancer (the sufferer or friends and family members of the sufferer). Again, I need everyone’s help with this project: Let me know if you’d like to be apart of the project or just let me know what you think about the project, about cancer, about how cancer has affected you and/or those around you.
We must stand together and fight back for ourselves, for our futures, for our loved ones! Fight back with Love!

A BIG thank you to Matt Ng for being my first interview. Visit his blog http://www.nmattg.com to see what he’s all about in regards to health; he also advocates for USANA (the health product…

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