March 31, 2021
Fading Away by Annabelle Bradley, YPIE Scholar 2028
In this Issue
YPIE QuaranTimes Staff
Salamatu Lawal, Editor-in-Chief and Pandemic News Editor
Alyssa Lee, Assistant Editor-in-Chief and Our Voices Heard Editor
Catarina Mendes, Politics Editor
Julia Azulay, Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor
Shemar Forbes, Layout Editor and Director of Communications
Yismel Castro, Layout Editor
Hillary Diaz Castillo
Welcome to the YPIE QuaranTimes
Women’s History Month is served with due diligence at the beginning of the celebration; sadly, its purpose is slowly forgotten as the month draws to a close. That's why we at the YPIE QuaranTimes want to remind everyone to commemorate the efforts of the women who came before us as well as those who continue to leave their mark on the sands of time.
It’s Been a Year--How COVID-19 Has Ravaged Our World
By Catarina Mendes, YPIE Scholar 2025
Around one year ago this month, everything came to a standstill as the local, state and federal government began to realize the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict restrictions were imposed on workplaces, social gatherings and schools, workplaces, and entertainment venues were closed, some never to reopen. It may have seemed as if the world had descended into madness. People feared going outside, masks became the norm, and healthcare workers became widely celebrated as the heroes they have always been for their intense dedication and sacrifices.
To date, the United States has lost over 535,000 lives to this devastating virus and recorded over 29 million infections. During this trying year, our lives have been disrupted tremendously. Loved ones have been lost, with many dying alone, in fear, in hospitals where no one was allowed to visit over concerns of further infections. Video chats became the go-to way to socialize as people grew bored and even depressed at home.
Not being able to see friends and family and have natural social interactions took a toll on many, especially children, who were deprived of the ability to socially grow and connect with other children. Many high schoolers were unable to see their friends and teachers one last time before heading off to college and didn’t get a proper graduation or prom.
Especially devastating are the financial burdens this pandemic has caused and exacerbated. Many have lost jobs this past year and have struggled to make ends meet. The U.S.’s unemployment rate peaked at roughly 15% in April of 2020, the highest in U.S. history. This number represented a shockingly large figure of millions of Americans who were forced to live in fear of how they would get by and potentially how they would support their families as well. Eviction moratoriums were issued, preventing many from becoming homeless, but this has also enabled squatters.
Truly, Americans and other people all across the globe have had to adapt extremely quickly to many unprecedented changes and losses, and we have now been pushing through for roughly one year. Some communities have been able to rid themselves entirely of COVID-19, while others are still struggling to fully contain the virus.
Mass vaccination campaigns have been rolled out in many nations to administer the fastest-developed vaccine in history. Only recently are the positive effects of this great achievement being realized. Finally, after a very long year, hope is on the horizon as President Biden hopes to have every adult in the U.S. eligible for the vaccine by May 1st.
As the global population struggled to cope with such sudden, devastating changes to their daily lives, health care workers were forced to work even harder than ever before and faced extreme emotional trauma as they dealt with many deaths and witnessed a countless number of patients and families being torn apart by fear and grief in these unusual times. Many of these brave front-line workers are women, who have worked hard on the teams that have developed the vaccines that will lead us out of this situation.
In fact, it’s known that there are significantly more women than men working in various healthcare positions. 89% of all registered nurses are female. Of those who are in healthcare support occupations, such as occupational and physical therapy aides, medical assistants, medical equipment preparers, and nursing assistants, nearly 87% are women.
Nurses have played a key role in overseeing patient care and helping patients to feel comfortable during these difficult circumstances. Other healthcare workers have worked to ensure patients are properly treated and receive the care they need for optimal recovery.
The leadership and dedication of women not only in hospitals but also in science has been instrumental to helping combat COVID-19. Oxford University’s AstraZeneca vaccine trial was led by Professor Sarah Gilbert and German Company BioN-Tech’s partnership with Pfizer to create a vaccine that was spearheaded by Dr. Ozlem Tureci, the company’s co-founder.
Women across healthcare and medical science have made a tremendous impact on our ability to fight COVID-19 and progress to a safer world. As we continue to make progress in our battle, it’s important to take time to reflect on the milestones we have reached, both good and bad, and remember all the ways in which COVID-19 has greatly affected humanity. Little more than one year ago, no one would have guessed what the infamous year of 2020 would bring.
Floral Prints by Shemar Forbes, YPIE Scholar 2025
Science Research Amidst a Year-long Quarantine
By Sean Vargas-Arcia, YPIE Scholar 2026
As a student in YPIE’s Regeneron Science Research Program, I began working on my science research project with my mentor, Dr. Jacqueline Gofshteyn, a pediatric neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center in February of 2020. Since I have had epilepsy my whole life, and I felt bad for the other children who were forced to call the hospital their home, I decided to base my research on the condition of epilepsy. Dr. Jacqueline Gofstheyn, who was my step-in neurologist for my two neurosurgeries in late January and early February of that year, specializes in refractory epilepsy, specifically Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS). As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, I have been meeting with my mentor on Zoom every single week.
In June of 2020, after being approved by Weill Cornell’s system, I received an ID, set up an account and learned how to navigate the system. That summer, since my mentor wanted me to contribute to her research, I worked as an intern for Weill Cornell Medical Center, where I read various research papers on LGS, and by July of 2020, I had finally come up with a hypothesis.
I discovered that females are more commonly diagnosed with LGS along with the recurring theme that LGS was most commonly misdiagnosed and that the male to female ratio of patients with LGS is 1.3:1.6. I considered how females may be more often misdiagnosed with LGS than males. After speaking to my mentor about my hypothesis, she researched the question, and she told me that did not find any clear answers. With this, I began my experimentation.
I took several courses to ensure that I made the right decisions while looking at the patient data, including Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training across different subjects. By August, I was granted Epic Read-Only access, which allowed me to view patient files through a program called Epic Hyperspace. At that time, I created a RedCaps dataset, including demographics, the age of diagnosis, prior malformations, and whether the patient had been misdiagnosed before. If a patient had been misdiagnosed, I noted what they were misdiagnosed with and how long it lasted.
During the next couple of months, up until the end of January 2021, I collected patient data. With the help of my mentor’s Excel spreadsheet of patients with LGS and their Medical Record Numbers (MRNs), I was able to look through a total of 152 patient files. Since LGS is commonly diagnosed during infancy, my job was to look through the full history of each of the 152 patients assigned.
I began with the 152 patient files and ended up having 16 patients who met the credentials I needed for my experiment. In addition to my original hypothesis, I also hypothesized that gene expression is responsible for the misdiagnosis of LGS. I can support this with the fact that a vast majority of the females in my experiment had a chromosome three mutation and were misdiagnosed with LGS. This led me to believe that the chromosome three mutation in females is presented similarly to the regular chromosome three in males, causing some/many females to fall under the misdiagnosis category.
All of this has allowed me to say that I have been working in the neuroscience field and building my resume for more than a year now, during a pandemic no less. And to this day, I am continuing to work on my neuroscience research.
Celebrating Women's History Month by Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028
The Celebration of Females
By Khadija Dewan, YPIE Scholar 2028
She is brave, courageous like a lion.
She is resilient, she will never stop trying.
She is unstoppable, just as the sunrise.
She is brilliant, her limits are the skies.
She is wondrous, inside and out,
Stunning in her appearance, her character, there’s no doubt.
She is incredible, knowledgeable, and independent,
A marvelous being, her existence a transcendence.
So who is this woman, the definition of perfection,
With confidence, beauty, and a heart filled with affection?
Who is this woman and where can she be found?
She surrounds you everywhere, if only you’d look around!
She is my mother, my sister, and my aunts!
My grandmothers, my friends, and everyone who’s fought,
For our freedom, well-being, and for a better life,
With bravery and dedication, all to end strife.
She is Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan,
Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and every woman who has a plan!
Every woman who has initiative, love, and good intent,
Thus even the less-known we mustn't forget.
So this month, we celebrate our women and girls,
These lovely humans who have brightened and altered our worlds.
These females who have fought continuously and strived,
And these females who our children have looked up to all their lives.
Women: The Pioneers of Today, Tomorrow, and the Future
Natalie Maldonado Smith, YPIE Scholar 2025
Women have been at the forefront of monumental advancements since the dawn of time. Their creations have transformed the way people live and have made intricate and difficult solutions more accessible. We can attribute many of our household favorites to these brilliant women.
One of the most fascinating contributions made was by Ada Lovelace, who was an English mathematician who wrote the world’s first computer algorithm. Lovelace came up with this revolutionary idea in 1843. The fact that Lovelace created something that is so crucial in this day and age at that time is certainly incredible; she was certainly ahead of her time.
The next invention hits close to home. According to Health Careers, it’s estimated that the world’s population drinks around two billion cups of coffee per day, and one popular method of making coffee is through the use of coffee filters. That’s where our next bright inventor comes in. Thanks to Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, people worldwide can enjoy rich and smooth coffee on a daily basis. Additionally, Bentz invented a coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today. As someone who regularly brews coffee and uses coffee filters, I can confidently say that Bentz’s invention is truly amazing and that her coffee filters are excellent at doing their job.
Another important invention constructed was made by Marie Van Brittan Brown. She created the first home security system in 1966, which brought safety and relief to people everywhere. The world can be a fearful place, but knowing one can be protected, specifically in their own home, is a blessing. She really put the word “safety” in the phrase “in the safety of my own home.”
Women continue to impress the world with their intriguing ideas and their riveting inventions. From technology to security, women have thought of and done it all. I cannot wait to see what women have in store, but for now, I will just marvel at their past creations, in the hopes that I can be a female innovator and change the world for the better as they did.
Female Journalists Who Have Made a Tremendous Impact on Society
By Shemar Forbes, YPIE Scholar 2025
From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley to Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and Beloved by Toni Morrison, women have long been involved in the writing field. Thus, it is no surprise that the journalism industry is filled with the most fascinating women. Unfortunately, many of these women are overshadowed by their male counterparts, who dominate the industry. Because of this, female journalists whose accomplishments have made some of the greatest impacts on society will be highlighted in the following list.
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Ida B. Wells appeared on the list for monumental figures in Black history for the QuaranTimes Black History 365: A Year-Round Conversation issue; therefore, it is only appropriate that she is featured in this list as well.
Wells was born an enslaved person in Holly Springs, Mississippi and later set free by the Emancipation Proclamation, where she and many other African Americans at the time dealt with racial prejudices and were limited by discriminatory rules and practices.
Wells' own experience with racial injustice led her to become an exceptional journalist. A number of her articles based on racial and political issues were published in Black periodicals and newspapers in the South, including the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and the Free Speech, both of which she owned.
While working as a journalist, Wells was also a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. Although she only held this position for a few years, Wells was able to bring awareness to the poor conditions of Black-only schools in the city through her newspaper articles that exposed the flaws of the Memphis Board of Education, setting the foundation for later school-related reforms.
In the 1890s, after her friend and dozens of other African Americans were wrongfully lynched, Wells spent months traveling in the South to gather information about other lynching incidents. Through her writing, Wells led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States, where she ultimately founded and joined groups striving for African American justice.
Martha Gellhorn (1908-1998)
Ranked among the top war journalists of her time, Martha Gelhorn reported on almost every major global conflict that had occurred during her 60-year career.
These events included the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam War, and the Second World War, where she was, in fact, the only female journalist at the Normandy Invasion on D-Day.
In addition to being one of the greatest war correspondents of her time, Gellhorn also wrote several novels, memoirs, novellas, and short stories, many of which were based on her personal experiences.
Gellhorn’s most notable works included What Mad Pursuit and The Trouble I’ve Seen, which were some of her first novels; and Vietnam: A New Kind of War and Travels with Myself and Another, which described her experiences in war and traveling around the world.
In honor of her work, The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism prize was created in order to honor journalists who have gone above and beyond and whose work “...has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth...”
Hu Shili (1953-Present)
Hu Shili is a Chinese journalist who is considered one of the most revered reporters in such a media-restrained country.
Shili was born into a family of distinguished journalists and publishers; however, her family fell into political disfavor during the Cultural Revolution and was forced to work in the countryside. In 1970, Shili joined the army, and after the Cultural Revolution ended, she attended college and graduated with a degree in journalism.
Shili eventually worked as a reporter for the Worker’s Daily, and in 1995, she became the international editor of the China Business Times, where she provided information on China’s current affairs and business activities.
Then, in 1998, Shili left the staff writers at China Business Times and founded Caijing, a business and finance magazine, for which she later became the editor-in-chief. Under Shili’s guidance, Caijing pushed the boundaries of press freedom in China by publishing articles that critiqued government policy and exposed bribery and deceitful business practices.
Although Shili resigned as editor-in-chief of Caijing in 2009, her work still lives on today, and, in 2011, Shili was listed as one of the top 100 most influential people by Time magazine and was ranked as the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
Christiane Amanpour (1958-Present)
Christiane Amanpour spent the majority of her life growing up in Tehran, Iran. In 1979, however, her whole world came crashing down around her when a revolution broke out in her country, forcing her family into exile and fueling her career interest in journalism.
Today, Amanpour is CNN's chief international reporter and has previously worked for ABC News and for CBS' 60 Minutes.
Although she first gained notice for her 1985 report on Iran, it was her historical coverage of the Bosnian crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s that led her to become the internationally recognized correspondent she is now.
In addition to her coverage of major international events, Amanpour has interviewed multiple world leaders, including French President Jacques Chirac, then-British prime minister Tony Blair, and King Abdullah of Jordan, among many others.
To date, Amanpour has earned several Emmys and Peabody awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award along with countless other awards for her outstanding work.
These women represent a small fraction of the hundreds of incredibly talented female journalists who have made a dent in this world, and their hard work and perseverance serves as inspiration for the generations to come as they successfully demonstrated that anything is possible, despite the challenges and setbacks one may face.
Artwork by Hillary Diaz Castillo, YPIE Scholar 2025
8 Amazing Female Artists for Women’s History Month
By Anushka Singh, YPIE Scholar 2028
1. Rina Sawayama
This genre-defying, Japanese-British singer and songwriter is an expert at portraying themes of identity, depression, family, and love with her captivating glitchy, electropop sound.
Tokyo Love Hotel
2. Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu isn’t known as the “Queen of Neo-Soul” for nothing. This incredible African-American singer and songwriter’s eccentric style and vocals have made her songs some that will be remembered for years to come.
On & On
Kiss Me On My Neck
Solana Imani Rowe, also known as SZA, is an African-American contemporary R&B artist, known best for her Grammy-nominated album, CTRL, and recent single “Good Days.” Her lyrics feature subjects like abandonment, love, and perseverance, and her honeyed vocals are the perfect addition to any sound.
This Japanese-American indie rock singer-songwriter is guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings and make you feel exactly what she is feeling through her raw, expressive lyrics about femininity, depression, and love, as well as her equally gut-wrenching vocals.
Because Dreaming Costs Money, My Dear
Your Best American Girl
5. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is regarded as one of the most influential singers of her generation, known for breaking barriers for female rappers and bringing hip hop and neo-soul into mainstream music. Her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is one of the best-selling albums of all time, and her time in Fugees, have brought a number of incredible songs to the world.
Killing Me Softly With His Song
6. Jhené Aiko
Hearing the sultry, soulful vocals of R&B singer and songwriter Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo is like listening to an angel whisper in your ear. Her lyrics, filled with subtleties, portray such feelings as distress, anger, and bliss. She is best known for her recent R&B album, Chilombo.
While We’re Young
7. Red Velvet
The duality of the five-member South Korean girl group Red Velvet, consisting of members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri, is bound to encaptivate any listener for the long run. Their music falls into either the “Red” category, which includes their more bubblegum-pop, upbeat songs, or the “Velvet” category, which takes on a more sultry and elegant sound.
8. Shreya Goshal
Unlike the others on this list, Shreya Goshal is a playback singer, meaning her songs are pre-recorded for use in films. One of the most famous names in Bollywood, her incredible voice and range, as well as her mastery of over 19 languages, including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Hindi, have made her a staple in studios throughout India.
Dola re Dola
Om Shanti Om
Gender Constraints: Anyone Can Be Masculine (or Feminine!)
By Vanessa Gentile, YPIE Scholar 2027
Have you ever been told that you can’t act feminine or masculine? Have you ever had your sexuality or gender identity questioned for wearing certain clothing or liking certain things that people of your gender typically “don’t like”? If so, you have been subjected to gender stereotyping. According to OHCHR, gender stereotyping is “a generalized view or preconception about attributes or characteristics, or the roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed by women and men.” Stereotyping is seen through every aspect of our identity, especially in gender.
We learn from a very young age what distinguishes girls from boys: pink is for girls, and blue is for boys; girls play with dolls, and boys play with toy trucks. Children learn these gender roles as young as ten years old. Unfortunately, these stereotypes have not died down and continue to negatively impact society today. In fact, they are causing women to experience more depression and causing men to have higher rates of completed suicide.
You can think of gender constraints as boxes. There are two boxes, one labeled “boy,” and the other labeled “girl.” The boxes are sealed up--nothing can come in, and nothing is able to come out. No one in these boxes can escape its confines and become their own person. This is the invisible power that gender constraints hold.
Women bodybuilders are judged very harshly. With bodybuilding being a male-dominated competition, it is, as might be expected, categorized in the “boy” box. Women that perform in this sport are criticized for not being girly enough, being unattractive, and not being good at bodybuilding. Because of the nature of female bodies, women are not judged on the same scale as men--yet another excuse used to justify why women should not compete in bodybuilding.
Today, our youth are breaking out of those boxes, in hopes of normalizing the difference between gender identity and gender expression. We follow through the path forged by those that came before us. It’s not an easy task--there is plenty of hate and backlash. Sure, times are different, but there are still vital steps to take before we get to the place we want to be. That place being one where there are no more boxes, stereotypes, or criticism because of “gender.” And with these efforts, we are getting closer and closer to our goal of normalizing expressing ourselves, regardless of identity.
Artwork by Danielle Yeboah, YPIE Scholar 2027
Demanding Protection and Support for Black Trans Women
By Julia Azulay, YPIE Scholar 2027
While we come together to commemorate all of the outstanding women during Women’s History Month, it is important to assess what “all women” truly means. Celebrating all women means celebrating those of every race, sexuality, religion, etc. Unfortunately, female figures of color and those who are marginalized are commonly excluded from feminism as a whole, which is a major issue within itself.
However, one group remains immensely unprotected from intersectional prejudice and violence: Black trans women.
Recently, cruelty against Black trans women has been accurately categorized as a “pandemic within a pandemic.” Summer 2020 gave rise to the deaths of six transgender women, all of whom were under the age of 32. Brayla Stone, Merci Mack, Shakiie Peters, Draya McCary, Tatiana Hall, and Bree Black were all murdered in cold blood within a nine-day span. The hate crimes these women faced are in tune with the horrifying pattern of encouraged violence against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals--an issue that has been on the rise for several years.
Organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign have released reports detailing potential sources of this brutality. They discussed one underlying cause, the “intersections of racism, sexism, transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia.” Kerith Conron, from the Williams Institute at UCLA, stated that the best explanation for these unfortunate events is that “they're black, they’re transgender, and they’re women. Each of those distinct identities means that they face… inequities on multiple fronts.”
The deep-rooted discrimination against Black trans women does not just manifest itself in outright violence. A study conducted by the LGBTQ Task Force indicates that Black trans people have a 26% unemployment rate, which is four times higher than the average national unemployment rate of the United States. Their study discovered other shocking disparities as well: 41% of Black trans people have been homeless, 34% have household incomes less than $10,000, and nearly half of the Black trans population has attempted suicide.
To summarize, being a Black trans woman in America means you are far more likely than most other individuals to experience serious roadblocks and detriments, whether it be extreme poverty, ruthless murder, or a plethora of other issues.
The way in which American society treats this group should not be shocking; in many ways, it originates from and reflects the nation’s legal system.
For instance, former President Trump’s administration exemplified a series of thorough and blatant attacks against both racial/ethnic minorities and transgender people. Although this change in policy is now outdated under the Biden administration, Trump allowed for the removal of protections for transgender people in the realm of healthcare and health insurance. The administration also implemented a highly controversial ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The intersection of racial minorities and transgender people ultimately leaves Black trans women subject to abuse at the hands of the law and further defiles them.
State laws also increase the vulnerability of Black trans women. As of September 2020, 28 states had dangerous hate crime laws that did not include protections for trans people. Several states also recognize the “trans panic defense,” a claim that a defendant was driven to lash out due to their volatile emotional state after discovering that someone is transgender, as a valid legal defense.
If the government portrays an atmosphere of little or no regard for Black trans women, then citizens of the United States are led to believe that they do not have to care either. That being said, for effective reforms to be put into action, individuals in support of Black LGBTQ+ lives must fight to demand changes in law and society.
One prospective way to increase the quality of life for Black trans women is to extend legal protections to safeguard them and alter the way they are treated under the law. By taking these steps, lawmakers would not only enforce legal protection of this group, but they would also signal to society that Black trans women’s lives are valued and therefore should be celebrated.
Unfortunately, these institutional changes do not arrive with the wave of a hand or the lifting of a finger and require insistence to be put into place.
Thus, the prioritization of amplifying Black trans women’s forcibly silenced voices and embracing their valuable lives is absolutely necessary at all times. This piece is intended to serve as a reminder that Black trans women are women and that they deserve to be accounted for during an extraordinary Women’s History Month observance. In fact, it is imperative to recognize their excellence and our need to protect them all year round.
Remember, Black trans women are not statistics or tragedies waiting to happen. They are daughters, students, best friends, artists, entrepreneurs, hairdressers, construction workers, innovators, and so much more. Most importantly, they’re human beings.
Empowering Female Directors
By Natalie Flores, YPIE Scholar 2028
Women have been directing films since the creative medium was first introduced! Now, more than ever, women are breaking the gender norms in Hollywood and making the entertainment industry less male-dominated. There are many notable female directors beyond this list that you can check out, but here are some female directors making headlines as well as creating many more opportunities for future young women in the film industry.
1. Alice Guy-Blaché
Alice Guy-Blaché is considered to be the world’s first female director. A French native, Guy started her leap into the film industry as a secretary at Gaumont-Paris in 1896. The following year, Guy changed her position from manufacturing cameras to producing movies, which opened doors leading her to become one of the company’s first film directors.
Guy is credited with making one of the first narrative films, an 1896 short called The Cabbage Fairy. Her work was so progressive that the film company made her the production director, putting her in a position of power over other directors, whom she supervised. From there, she went on to direct hundreds of more shorts for Gaumont.
After successfully creating a career at Gaumont, in 1910, Guy and her then-husband Herbert Blaché formed their own studio in the U.S. However, after a period of critical acclaim and financial success, her film company’s revenue started to decline and she, unfortunately, had to shut down the studio.
Although she was able to continue securing directorial work at several major Hollywood studios throughout her career, she returned to France in 1922 after her split with Blaché. This jarring event, however, didn’t stop her from directing her last film, Early Women Filmmakers, in 1919.
The history books forgot Guy’s impact, and she remained disregarded by the media until Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, the 2018 documentary by Pamela B. Green, narrated by Jodie Foster, was released. Her reputation was finally restored and she was given her rightful spot in the history books.
2. Julie Ethel Dash
Julie Ethel Dash is an American film director, writer, and producer. She received her MFA in 1985 at UCLA Film School. After graduating, she joined a group of filmmakers known as the L.A. Rebellion.
The L.A. Rebellion film movement, also known as the “Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers,” or the UCLA Rebellion, refers to the youngest alumni of UCLA Film School who are of African/African-American descent. They created Black cinema, delivering an alternative to the archaic Hollywood cinema.
After Dash wrote and directed several shorts, she dove into an exciting new project, Daughters of the Dust (1991); the film became the first full-length film directed by an African-American woman to achieve a theatrical release in the United States! Daughters of the Dust (1991) displays generations of slave descendants living on an island off the Georgia coast. It won a cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival and earned critical acclaim. However, it was a commercial flop. After this juncture, Dash struggled to gain traction in Hollywood.
Yet, Daughters of the Dust (1991) was a significant film that even inspired Beyoncé’s Lemonade album. It received a 25th-anniversary theatrical re-release, and since then, Dash has directed episodes for the drama, Queen Sugar.
At the recent 2019 Sundance Film Festival, it was announced that Dash’s next film project will be a biopic of civil rights icon Angela Davis, to be produced by Lionsgate.
3. Céline Sciamma
Céline Sciamma is a French screenwriter and film director. As she is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, Céline Sciamma’s sexuality plays a vital role in her movies. Her films are known for exploring gender roles, gender fluidity, and same-sex romance through young female characters. Despite only having directed four films, with a modicum of screenwriting credits, Sciamma’s work has been met with critical acclaim from critics both domestically and overseas.
Her style is simple, utilizing the unrestrained power of the image, which is what makes Sciamma’s stories so engrossing to watch. Sciamma uses her platform to speak about the constraints and misogyny of the male gaze and presents films that elevate the feminine gaze.
The feminine gaze is a genre of feminist films shown in a way that represents the point of view of the female viewer or audience member.
Sciamma made her debut with her 2007 feature film Water Lilies, which is about a love triangle between three girls in a French suburb.
The French writer and director went on to direct Tomboy and Girlhood before striking gold by earning international acclaim with Portrait of a Lady on Fire in 2019.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is about the forbidden romance between a painter and a wealthy soon-to-be-married woman. It won awards for best screenplay, as well as the Queer Palm at Cannes, received ten nominations for Cesar Awards, and was also nominated for a Golden Globe, an Indie Spirit, and BAFTA awards for best non-English language film.
4. Sofia Coppola
Sofia Coppola is an American screenwriter, director, producer, and actress. She comes from a family famous in show business; her parents, Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola are famous Hollywood filmmakers, whom you may know as the director of The Godfather trilogy.
She made her film debut as an infant in her father’s iconic aforementioned crime drama trilogy, The Godfather (1972). Coppola later appeared in a supporting role in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) and portrayed Mary Corleone, the daughter of the famous mob boss Michael Corleone, in The Godfather Part III (1990). Her performance in that film was so critically panned that she was named “Worst Supporting Actress” and “Worst New Star'' at the 1990 Golden Raspberry Awards, a satirical award show dedicated to celebrating the worst of cinematic performances. Not long after, Coppola ended her acting career.
She then turned her attention to filmmaking instead. She started making shorts, which led her first full-length film debut The Virgin Suicides (1999). She took a creative leap forward with Lost in Translation (2003), a film about a young woman who bonds with a burnt-out movie star in Tokyo. The film starred Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray; it received four Oscar nominations, including best directing, best picture, and one for Bill Murray’s dazzling performance.
She successfully pitched another movie, currently on Apple TV, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, On the Rocks (2020), which made its debut at the New York Film Festival.
Sofia Coppola is an amazing director; her films are thoughtful, subtle, and nuanced, while still managing to be powerfully mysterious and wildly perplexing. Each film carefully crafts a cinematic world that beguiles audiences with its unique and personal artistry.
Her experience working in fashion and visual arts is conceivably what makes her a great visual storyteller. Her deep understanding of what it takes to transform an image into a story, as well as her immense attention to detail, is what makes Coppola's work truly stand out.
After six features and a handful of commercials and music videos, Coppola has developed a style evident through the clear and elegant worlds she creates.
5. Greta Gerwig
Greta Gerwig is an American actress and filmmaker. She started gaining traction after working on and appearing in several mumblecore films, which is a subgenre of independent films defined by realistic acting and dialogue with low-budget film production, an emphasis on dialogue over plot, and a focus on the personal relationships of people in their 20s and 30s.
Gerwig originally aspired to become a playwright but turned to acting when she was not accepted into any playwriting MFA programs.
She has appeared in an abundance of films by Joe Swanberg, some of which she co-wrote or co-directed, including Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) and Nights and Weekends (2008).
Since the early 2010s, Gerwig has collaborated with her spouse, famous filmmaker Noah Baumbach, on several films, including Greenberg (2010), Mistress America (2015), and Frances Ha (2012), for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination.
Throughout her acting career, she worked together with many iconic directors on films such as Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress (2011), Rebecca Miller's Maggie's Plan (2015), Pablo Larraín's Jackie (2016), Mike Mills' 20th Century Women (2016), and Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs (2018).
Gerwig had two individual directorial endeavors, the coming-of-age films Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), both of which acquired nominations for the Academy Award for Best Picture. She also received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for her work on Lady Bird, and for Little Women, she was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Gerwig's films tend to be based on her own experiences. She also encourages her actors to incorporate their personalities into their performances, which pairs well with her style of writing and directing. Additionally, she permits line improvisation. Lastly, she was included in Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
6. Chloe Zhao
Chloe Zhao was born in Beijing and spent most of her childhood there. She attended high school in London and went on to get a degree in political science at Mount Holyoke College in the United States. After graduating, she decided to study the art of filmmaking at New York University’s Graduate Film Program.
Her first-ever feature-length movie, Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015), received an Indie Spirit nomination for the best first feature and was nominated for the Golden Camera Award at Cannes, the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and an Independent Spirit Award.
She went on to direct The Rider (2017), which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and won many accolades, including a Gotham Award for best feature, an Art Cinema Award, as well as several Indie Spirit nominations.
Zhao wrote, directed, and edited the film, Nomadland (2020), which placed her on the map. The film breaks down barriers between narrative and fiction storytelling, combining both elements to produce a cinematic masterpiece.
The critically acclaimed Nomadland, with a whopping 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, is about a widow in her 60s who embraces a nomadic lifestyle. The next project Zhao is currently working on is The Eternals for Marvel.
WandaVision by Benjamin Rodriguez, YPIE Scholar 2028
Overlooked Romance Tropes in Film that Harm Women
By Julia Azulay, YPIE Scholar 2027
In everyday society, stalking and abduction are viewed as criminal offenses. However, in Hollywood, these offenses are typically encouraged and romanticized at the expense of a female victim.
As film and television evolves with passing time, we see commonly utilized romance tropes in different forms, whether they are blatant and outright or watered down. I took notice of the manipulation and endangerment of women for the sake of supposed love after dipping into movie/show review content on a YouTube channel called Pop Culture Detective.
Despite only having occasional uploads, Pop Culture Detective delivers insightful, visionary discussions regarding anything directly tied to media. When I stumbled across this channel in my free time, I immediately became immersed in the genre of dissecting themes that had barely crossed my mind when watching my favorite films and T.V. shows.
Here are some romance tropes that are typically portrayed as harmless, but actually validate continual mistreatment of women in relationships:
Stalking for Love
Stalking for love is a popular concept in media where pervasive, stalker-esque behavior is represented as an endearing element of romantic courtship. In these scenarios, a character, often male, is painted as an underdog who has to go to extraordinary lengths to “sweep the girl of his dreams off her feet.” What is ignored and often masked by idealistic outcomes is the cold, hard truth: these behaviors of coercion, trickery, and manipulation are, in many cases, illegal. Most importantly, stalking for love encourages men to believe that they can “win over any woman” if he tries hard enough, while completely disregarding her boundaries, her personal space, and her emotions.
Abduction as Romance
The slightly similar media trope of abduction as romance depicts a man kidnapping or imprisoning a woman and her eventually falling in love with him. This cliche is one of many that justifies violence against women and presents abusive male behavior as necessary, exciting, or affectionate. Most cases of abduction as romance portray a woman being kidnapped for reasons other than her abductor seeking reciprocation of love, and a “bond” only blossoms when she is forced to spend more time with the person holding her captive. All in all, the trope is a lazy and damaging plot device that perpetuates the notion that two such characters could rightfully be together.
Despite certain distinctions between the two, stalking for love and abduction as romance are connected to each other with one recurrent characteristic: they ultimately oppress and violate women in the long run.
If men submerge themselves into fictional worlds where these unhealthy behaviors are normalized, they will likely carry these behaviors into their romantic lives and evoke pain for any women in their path.
Even an average viewer like myself can be tricked into believing these plot structures are normal, as I recognized various films and T.V. shows I enjoyed in these video essays.
I find it absolutely necessary to recognize these highlighted romance tropes as the hazards that they are. It is especially significant during a month in which individuals are reminded of women’s notability, strength, and their fundamental right to be respected.
By Amber Morales, YPIE Scholar 2028
*Disclaimer: This piece of writing includes the subject of sexual harassment. If this theme is triggering, please do not continue to read. Reader discretion is advised.
As a young woman, I have noticed and personally experienced the weight of the societal pressures applied to women. We are expected to conform to unrealistic beauty standards that oftentimes are heavily influenced by the desires of men. When women decide to dress provocatively, they are told that they do not respect themselves nor their bodies. When women attempt to dress more conservatively, they may be seen as “shy,” “introverted,” and in need of “loosening up.”
In society, women are consistently objectified and judged by men who seem to hold strong opinions in regards to the decisions women make.
Although it is common for men to be the perpetrators of these harassments and women to fall victim to these crimes, it is important to acknowledge that sexual harassment can happen to anyone and be perpetrated by anyone.
The following poem describes a fictional woman who has been harassed at a bus stop. As she matures, she formulates a plan on how to help others who are victims of harassment and assault and begins to work towards it:
The powerful word, “No.”
It is often misunderstood, but shouldn’t be.
It is used to protect a person’s adequate decision in regards to a specific situation.
They should be understood.
As uncomfortable as it can be to say “No”, we must use it to express our decisions of refusal.
As the wind blows the snow,
I sit and wait for my bus.
A figure I don’t recognize, walks up to me with a peculiar vibe.
An eminent, strange vibe that they didn’t seem to hide.
As I sit and wait, they ask me personal questions.
Questions not even the closest people to me would ask.
The bus came shortly after.
To which I paid for my ride and sat in my seat.
This odd figure keeps their eyes on me and whistles to get my attention.
They asked for my phone number.
And I responded with, “No.”
They wouldn’t listen to me.
The shadowy figure insisted I give them my number.
Uncomfortably, I got off the bus at the next stop, and walked home.
I used to ponder upon...
Why I’m always targeted by these shadowy figures
I used to ponder upon...
Why I am constantly left feeling uncomfortable, because of the inappropriate actions of another individual.
As I have gotten older,
I started to think about
Ways to make women like me blossom through their pain.
So I came up with a plan to begin an organization that will create a safe environment for women to share their stories, and console one another.
And here I am now
With a huge team that loves and supports one another...
It started off with humble beginnings when I was the victim.
However, I am grateful that I have learned and grown from the darkness.
I am grateful that I stopped blaming myself...
For the shadowy figures’ unfortunate, common occurrences.
“No” is a word used to indicate a person's refusal regarding a certain situation...
“No” is the word that the shadowy figures continued to overlook.
“No” is a word that should be respected.
When someone disrespects the word, “No.”
Then we know.
Their actions aren't reasonable.
Women Representatives in the U.S. Government
By Paola Baizan, YPIE Scholar 2027
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) shows how many women in the United States hold an elective office as of 2021. Among this list is Kamala Harris, the United States’ first female, African American, and South Asian Vice President. Currently, 143 women representatives possess a place in Congress, with 24 occupying a position in the Senate and 119 occupying a position in the House of Representatives. Out of these 143 female representatives, 105 are Democrats and 38 are Republicans.
Source: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
At this time, out of the 310 positions available in statewide elective executive offices, 94 of these are held by women. The female portion of the statewide elective executive offices is made up of 51 female Democrat representatives, 41 Republican representatives, and 2 non-partisan representatives.
Source: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
There are eight female governors, and they can be found in the states of Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, and South Dakota. Three of the female governors are Republican while the remaining five are Democrats.
As for female lieutenant governors, there are 18 women, and they can be found in the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, Utah, and Vermont. Seven of the female lieutenant governors are Republican while the remaining eleven are Democrats.
Women are also present in other important elective offices, such as attorney generals, secretaries of state, state treasurers, public service commissioners, and agricultural commissioners.
There are 68 female representatives in elective offices (such as the ones previously mentioned), consisting of 35 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and 2 non-partisan.
Currently, there are 2,279 women occupying a position in the state legislature. Out of the present 7,383 positions, 1,510 are Democrats, 748 are Republican, 13 are non-partisan, six are independent, and two are progressive.
Source: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
Lastly, in June of 2020, it was recorded that 27 out of the 100 largest cities in the United States had female mayors which included LaToya Cantrell ( New Orleans), Regina Romero (Tucson), and Karen K. Goh (Bakersfield).
Source: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
As seen in the chart above, women make up not even half of the representatives in the U.S government. However, the percentage of female representatives in the government has grown gradually throughout the years. Although not that many women are in the U.S government, it is still inspiring to see the percentage of female participation increase, especially now that we have a female Vice President in the United States.
Dazzling by Shemar Forbes, YPIE Scholar 2025
Beauty Standards Across the Globe
By Annabelle Bradley, YPIE Scholar 2027 and Alyssa Lee, YPIE Scholar 2026
From a young age, women are taught the ways in which they should conduct themselves in public:
How to behave: trading in defiance for docility.
How to speak: with the perfect amount of passion, yet refraining from ever becoming too assertive.
How to dress: modest in all the places where it is needed, while provocatively elsewhere; showing enough skin to avoid being called a prude and not enough to be ostracized by onlookers.
The list is never-ending.
At first, we do not care to pay too much attention to the rules in this “Guide to be a Woman.” Instead, we choose to express ourselves in the way we see fit. As we grow older and mature, it becomes more clear--the immense pressure that society puts on people to act in a way that is “socially acceptable.” Women experience the brunt of this force, especially when it comes to the standards of beauty.
The Western Take On Beauty
Western culture seems to find itself teetering between two contradictory traits in women: tall, slender, and delicate versus busty and shapely. Billboards, magazines, and social media all simultaneously push these opposing features that they claim make up the “ideal woman.”
As these two unrealistic standards battle to see which will prevail, women are trapped in the crossfire, receiving backlash for not fitting into the mold created for them and struggling to express themselves under the watchful eye of society.
The Padaung Women of Myanmar
The women of the Padaung tribe wear a coil of brass rings around their neck, known as the Wang, a centuries-old custom that once neared the verge of extinction. Originally, the practice was created to combat the stealing of women by men from other tribes. By stretching their necks, only the men within the Padaung tribe would find their women attractive, thus protecting them from the menacing hands of outsiders.
The women, originally hailing from Burma, now called Myanmar, largely relocated to a Taiwanese refugee camp in order to escape persecution. In 1962, the military conquered Burma and began to oppress tribes which they claimed were “too primitive.” Many customs, including the practice of neck stretching, were quickly outlawed.
The Padaung women do not view neck stretching as a restriction imposed on their lives, but as an embracement of a long-lasting tradition and a way to signify freedom from an oppressive force.
India’s Shift to the Western Standard
200 years of British colonialism and a period of globalization left India with beauty standards that directly reflect a Western perspective.
The idea that white equates to beauty runs rampant in this subcontinent. Markets push skin whitening creams, the media portrays darker-skinned women as inferior, and the young, impressionable minds of children are left to sop up these beliefs.
It must be noted that these beauty standards in India have not always been like this. The recent shift in what constitutes as “beautiful” can be attributed to colonization. Indian women throughout history were often depicted with hourglass bodies, showing the preference of the time and were described as having “skin like gold.”
In this day and age, darker-skinned Indians are discriminated against. They are reduced to a lower class and deemed “dirty,” “ugly,” and “cheap.” Fair-skinned Indians enjoy positions higher in the caste system and are viewed as educated and beautiful, a notion that was instilled in the core of Indian society since the arrival of British colonists.
The desire for these hourglass body shapes has flatlined, and the want for a slimmer frame has seen a sharp increase. Advertisements often depict slimmer models and actresses, further pushing this ideal onto the members of Indian society, primarily women.
Many women in this region enjoy long, luxurious, black hair; a standard that has not wavered in the 21st century, and it seems to be the only one of its kind to remain consistent over the ages.
The idea of white superiority has left its mark on India. The concept that "white is good" has influenced all facets of Indian life from entertainment and media to marital customs and one’s view of themself and the individuals in their community. The Western beauty standard has traveled across the globe, from sea to shining sea, inciting chaos amongst yet another republic.
Behind Beauty in South Korea
South Korea is known to be an empire in the beauty world, with a multibillion-dollar cosmetic industry fueling the beauty standards of the country. With the recent phenomenon of K-Pop, South Korean beauty standards have been rising in popularity.
The main look that Korean beauty is trying to achieve is “youthful, healthy and hydrated skin.” They follow the skin first philosophy, which is figuring out the root condition instead of covering it up with make-up. In other words, they care for the skin before a problem even surfaces. This makes skincare just as important in Korea as brushing your teeth or showering. We can even see the importance of skincare reaching the U.S. through Korean skincare brands, such as Skinceuticals and Missha.
Besides the importance of skincare, Korean beauty involves a very specific facial structure that many wish to achieve, including fair skin to the point that it is glass-like, a sharp jawline, and big, round doll eyes. Although these are the most notable features people in Korea look for when defining a woman as beautiful, the standards can be even more specific. For example, a small head and round face; you want to show off the completeness of a face; therefore, a wide forehead is considered better. Specifically, a forehead that shows off a pronounced brow bone. This is just talking about facial structure, every other part of the body has a description just as detailed as this one.
Trends are another aspect of Korean culture that is very important. There is little to no individualism, for the beauty standards remain too one-dimensional and homogenous. Everyone wants to appear as high power and upper class as possible, which is why they invest in high-quality items. This includes investments in expensive beauty, whether it be cosmetic surgery or facial care. Luxury, money, and class are what true beauty is in Korean society.
The Meaning of Beauty in Chile
Quite recently, Chile has had a major alteration in the country regarding beauty standards. Most Latin American beauty standards originate from and match those of European origin: light complexion, thin, slender, and tall. In recent years, however, there has been a rise in Afro Latin models and entertainers and they have been introducing a new side of beauty to Chile.
Chile is a country that rose from colonization; therefore, Chileans have a lot of mixed blood from around the world: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Haiti, Germany, Polynesia, and more. With the new recognition of Afro Latins, the women of Haiti are beginning to accept who they are and the body they have been given.
In the past, the women of Chile were focused on being skinny and unique. If you were thin you were seen as beautiful. Many families would wish for their children to have green/blue eyes or have blonde hair. These standards are clearly more European influenced and stand much closer to those of the Western World.
Now, beauty is seen in a whole new light. It is about being healthy and treating your body well. You are staying happy and sticking out in a way that is unique to you. Beauty in Chile is being true to yourself, because “taking care of yourself is part of taking care of the world.”
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