Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It's OK to be GAY | Video and Supplementary Text

Hello and welcome to the Design Life Blog! It's been a minute since I last posted and I guess it was because Hanco and I have been focused on video content in the last couple of weeks. I decided to write this blog, however, as an extension of the Design Life video that was posted today.

My videos are very conversational and therefore tend to get quite long! I realize that some people prefer to read a summarized text, rather than listen to me chat for X amount of time. This blog is for those who are interested in the topics that stemmed from my video, but would prefer to read about them.

A Little Background

Hanco and I posted a video to our main channel in which I gave him a drag makeover. We decided to record and post this video for the following reasons:

1. There was a challenge going around on YouTube in which many female YouTubers did a makeup look for their respective boyfriends. We thought their videos were hilarious and wanted to try it out too.

2. Many of our viewers had asked us to do this challenge.

3. We wanted to poke fun at stereotypical gender roles, which we believe is nothing but a social construct.

You see, there is so much hate crime going on in the world. Boys are being bullied, physically and emotionally, for wanting to wear a piece of material that is not cut and put together in a way that is "normal" to some parts of society. But it's fine for Scottish boys to wear kilts, right? In some parts of the world, girls are raised to believe that their only purpose is to bear children for her husband. This belief used to be apparent in many more parts of the world, but beliefs have changed and now women find themselves in high-ranking, high-paying positions, too. Still, it isn't the norm (yet).

Transgender people are being murdered for wanting to change a part of their body that makes them feel uncomfortable, and yet a trophy wife gets to alter more than just one part of her body, without anyone questioning her validity as a human being. Breast implants, a nose job, botox, a forehead lift, liposuction, laser hair removal, permanent makeup, brachioplasty and the list goes on! Believe me, I have no prejudice against any woman who chooses to get plastic surgery as much as she wants! I am merely trying to point out the double standards that some people have. Sure, they can argue that women who do all those things are bot changing their gender, but what is gender really other than a social construct? Who decided the sky was to be called blue? Who decided that cows were allowed to be eaten but not dogs? Who decided that you can surgically change your entire body as long as you still conform to the gender you were born into?

These occurrences, in our eyes, are absolutely ridiculous and there are so many "grey areas". In most cases, people don't even realise that they have drastic double standards when it comes to what people are allowed to and not allowed to do. And we're wondering, who on earth has the right to cast judgement onto another person and dictate who they are allowed to love, what they are allowed to wear and which gender they identify with. If it doesn't affect *you*, be quiet and go about your own life.

Saying that another person can't wear something that YOU are uncomfortable with, is like saying nobody is allowed to eat donuts, because YOU are on a diet. Really, queen?

People have used art, in the form of movies, series, paintings, blogs, books, dance and so much more, to question society's standards, rules and beliefs. It's very dangerous to accept, blindly, the rules and especially the beliefs of others, without judging for yourself whether it serves everyone equally, or only a specific group of people. This is (partly) why we love making videos reacting to drag and also why we didn't just make a makeover video, but a DRAG makeover video, because it raises awareness for something so inspiring and promotes it. The more people who do so, the more it will become part of everyone's norm. 

Drag Queens push boundaries and break stereotypes. They inspire body positivity and rising above the odds. Just as any culture took root and developed over time, Drag is a culture that has a beautiful, yet raw, history (you can watch Paris is Burning on Netflix to gain some understanding thereof). It's about expressing yourself, getting in touch with yourself and embarking on a journey to become more of who you were born to be! As opposed to how society tries to mould us into what it would like us to be.

"If you wanna join the revolution
Innovate, that's my solution
Wear a crown, fuck with gender
Bend the rules, don't surrender
A thinking queen speaks to the heart
She's stranger than fiction, better than art."
- Sasha Velour, Category Is

Just because someone is in a position of power, chooses to make rules and manipulate people into thinking those rules are "righteous" (e.g. Hitler), does not mean that their beliefs or way of doing things are right. Asking questions is important, not because we want to "rebel" for the sake of rebelling, but because things should not be accepted as "right" or "wrong", even if the majority of people believe it! At one point, most people believed the earth was flat. Anyone who believed differently was thought to be crazy. And yet, what do we believe about the earth today?

So when Hanco was scolded for doing the drag makeover video with me, since he was wearing makeup in the video, I immediately felt angry. Not (specifically) at those who looked down on him for "dishonouring his family name" and for "doing something gay", rather I felt angry at that ridiculous mentality.

First of all, Hanco and most guys in school have cross-dressed before as initiation (obviously meant to make them feel silly, but also because it's what builds a team, because doing it together is fun and builds character). So why was doing a makeup challenge any different?

I asked the person who confronted Hanco and his response was to try to tear down my confidence by calling me a dumbass, and justifying their reason for cross-dressing. Isn't that convenient? He is allowed to justify his way out of why it is "wrong" to cross-dress, but he would not accept our justification for doing a makeup challenge.

I could go on and on about how the rest of this conversation went, but let's just leave it at that.
Secondly, as far as "disgracing a family name" goes, let's dissect that claim a little more. Hanco and I are Afrikaans and we are white-skinned. The legacy our South-African forefathers left for us (that we apparently are expected to be proud of and live up to) is a legacy that essentially believe women belong in the kitchen and oh, they implemented a little something called Apartheid. Didn't our forefathers disgrace themselves by implementing such a ridiculous ideology?

Apartheid made laws that forced different racial groups to live separately and develop separately, and unequally. It tried to stop all inter-marriage and social integration between racial groups. More than this, apartheid was a social system which severely disadvantaged the majority of the population, simply because they did not share the skin colour of the rulers. Many were kept just above destitution because they were 'non-white'.

Does that sound familiar? Prejudice against a group of people based on their race, their gender, their gender identity or their sexuality is wrong. If you believe otherwise, please feel free to comment and I would like to hear your explanation. However, take into account that you cannot base your argument on religion, as religion is not factual - there are more than 2000 different Gods that people believe in. So you can't claim your "rightness" based on what your holy book says.

Of course, I didn't write this blog post to claim that I am free of all mistakes. I myself am learning and growing, which is why I create videos and write - to open discussion, learn from others and grow together. Truthfully, laws are arbitrary. 

We come to a consensus on them to create order and progress as a community. With the rise of the internet, we are not seperate communities anymore and cannot remain ignorant of the fact that in other countries there are laws different than ours. Who is right? Who is wrong? Is there really an ultimate right and wrong at all, or just what works best at that time and that place?

I want to leave you with the following quote and I hope that you grasp its meaning within this narrative.

"ADAPT or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative."
- H G Wells

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Haters Back Off! | Why I Love RuPaul's Drag Race | Kayla Rants

Hi everyone! Kayla here. Now, I know when you put yourself on the internet, you're going to receive a lot of love from people who resonate with who you are and you're going to receive a lot of hate from people who don't.

I have no problem with people trolling me in the comment section of our videos on the vlog channel, because I know that someone else's hate has nothing to do with me, even when it is directed toward me. It's actually about what's going on within themselves. As tweeted by Najwa Zebian, "Never wish them pain. That's not who you are. If they cause you pain, they must have pain inside. Wish them healing. That's what they need."

So negativity towards me does not bother me, BUT… Judgement, in general, bothers me a lot. As well as people who are hypocritical. I want to point out one specific comment, but I've gotten a few of them before:

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 9.18.59 PM.png

First of all, I want to say that one of the reasons why I love RuPaul's Drag Race so much is because yes, the queens are FIERCE and I love the lip syncs because they are entertaining, exciting and emotional (all at the same time!), but since I've started watching actual episodes of the series, I have seen how the queens have brought a lot of social issues to light. Issues that affect all people. Eating disorders has been discussed in some of the episodes in season 9, survivor's guilt has been touched on, as well as the acceptance, self-love and judgement that all people in the LGBT+ community have to face every day.

Therefore, I find it strange that some people in the LGBT+ community (of course not all!) are doing to others which the community as a whole has fought so hard to overcome. Here is another comment to illustrate my point:

If you're not sure what "cishet people" are, read the following from
"Cishet, used as both an adjective and a noun, describes a person who is both cisgender and heterosexual. A person is cishet if he or she is cisgender, meaning identifying with his or her assigned-at-birth gender, as well as heterosexual, or attracted exclusively to people of the opposite sex."
So... "Stop cishet people watching RuPaul's Drag Race", basically means, "People who identify with their assigned-at-birth gender and who loves someone of the opposite sex IS NOT ALLOWED TO WATCH RPDR". Are you for real? Imagine two gay dad's who have adopted a girl, who is "cishet", tell their daughter that she's not allowed to watch RPDR with them, because she identifies herself as the gender she was born with and because she likes boys.

"Sorry hun, but unless you start liking girls, you're not allowed to sit with us." That is the exact same thing as telling a boy he can't wear make-up, because he was born as a boy and not a girl. And it is the exact same thing as telling a girl she can't love another girl, because she is "supposed to" love boys. You fucking hypocrite. That is not very nice, now is it?

Telling ANYONE that they can or cannot do, have or wear something, based on what gender they were BORN AS or WHO THE F they love (or don't love), is wrong. Let me let y'all in on a little secret... Whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bi, asexual, pansexual, transexual, polysexual, asexual, male, female, genderfluid, agender, African, American, Asian, Caucasian,15, 35 or 100 years old you are allowed to watch RuPaul's Drag Race. In fact, you are allowed to watch whatever you feel comfortable watching. You are allowed to wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing. You are allowed to love whoever you want to love.

I fell in love with RuPaul's Drag Race, because I was never as aware of the hate that so many people have to go through, just because they are judged for who they love or what gender they identify with. In fact, for four years I lived in a student town, and I saw guys together, girls together, people of different races together. I saw girls dressed in boy clothes with short hair and boys dressed in girls clothes with long hair. In my mind it was natural and none of this even phase anyone (that I was aware of). I never realized that in so many parts of the world, there is so much HATE towards these people. So watching Drag made me feel like I had to be more open about my sexuality to show people that it's okay to love whoever you want and that you shouldn't allow anyone to make you feel wrong for loving a certain gender or whatever.

I've said multiple times in previous videos that I'm pansexual and I don't allow others to tell me what's wrong or right about who I am - I love myself and I allow myself to express my honest feelings. Which is why the comment from "Sophia Von Heaux" initially made me feel angry and judged, because based on ONE video that she probably didn't even watch all the way through, she called me straight (as if that's something to be ashamed of?) and gross. On other videos I've had comments like "straight people are so weird" and stuff like that and I just don't get it. What is it about people that makes them think it's okay to judge anyone?

People judging and hating on the LGBT+ community is WRONG.
But if someone in the LGBT+ community judges a straight person, that's not right either! Now that you know I'm actually part of the LGBT+ community, am I now allowed to react to LGBT+ performances? Why does that have to make a difference? Another reason why I fell in love with RPDR is because I feel it's so inclusive. There was love for others no matter what kind of drag they do, whether they are trans or not, whether they are gay or not. The queens on the show expressed acceptance and love (lots of drama in between, of course, but that's because it's a competition, not because they felt someone was morally wrong for being a certain way).

Personally, I don't believe Sophia Von Heaux represent the LGBT+ community, because to me, the LGBT+ community believes that love has no limits and is all-inclusive. Sophia Von Heaux seems to think like it's some exclusive club that you have to be "allowed" into. Any person that supports and celebrates love and self-expression (e.g. Drag) contributes to a more inclusive, loving and accepting world. So why am I being told that I am not allowed to react to or watch RuPaul's Drag Race? Smh.

Most comments from you all have been positive and inclusive and you've been suggesting tons of other lip syncs for us to watch and I'm so grateful for all of you. Thank you for being such a beautiful example of what all human beings should be like - loving and accepting of someone else and what they do - regardless of their sexuality, their gender, their race or their religion. We should strive to be kind, and tolerant, and loving.

RuPaul himself tweeted and said:

Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc. are essentially based on the judgment that your race, or your gender is better than someone else's, or your way of living is right and their way of living is wrong. This is wrong-thinking. But it's also wrong for a homosexual person to judge someone who is straight. I'm pansexual, I can't go around telling other girls that if they are just attracted to boys that they are weird and I'm the normal one - regardless of which side the judgement is coming from, it's wrong. I know it seems like I'm making a big deal about two or three comments, but I see this all over the internet and I think it should stop.

To me, Drag, and the LGBT+ community is about loving and accepting yourself and others for whoever they want to be and celebrating our differences and our similarities and it's about a whole lot of fucking LOVE. Love is the ultimate and that's the message I strive to express through all my videos, blogs and the way I live my life. Sure we're going to make mistakes, we're going to have bad days and lash out at random people for no good reason when we bottle up emotions etc. But at our core we all need to acknowledge and accept that no person is better than another. We are all equal and we all deserve happiness and love.

I would like to end this with another quote from RuPaul:

“The overall commentary on what I’m doing is saying, "Hey look! I get to create whatever persona I want to, and it’s all up to me. And the truth is, we are all basically the universe—pretending to be humans for a brief moment of time."

Monday, July 10, 2017

How To Set Achievable Goals | Begin With The End In Mind | Design Life

Hello and welcome to the Design Life blog, where we discuss Holistic Beauty, Personal Development and a little bit of magic.

'Begin with the end in mind' is a phrase that was made popular through Stephen R. Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I applied this phrase to my life once I could see, clearly in my mind, exactly what I wanted my life to look like. I told myself, if I can begin with the end (my vision) in mind, I will have a clear direction to guide my daily activities. What you choose to do every day, is creating your future. So if you know where you want to go, and you adjust your daily activities according to that, it is inevitable that you will eventually reach your desired destination. It is through this process that I feel like I have been able to take control of my life. I may not be able to control the wind, but with a clear destination, I can always adjust my sails, so that I am always moving towards where I want to be.

All things are created twice. When you begin with the end in mind, you are letting your inner vision guide you from your vision to it's physical manifestation. As Stephen Covey puts it, "The exercise of imagination is based on the principle that all things are created twice: first mentally and then the actual physical creation, with the physical following the mental in the same way a building follows a blueprint. By taking control of our own first creation, we can write or re-write our own scripts, thus taking some control and responsibility for the outcome." Taking control of your own first creation, means clarifying your vision, keeping it in mind and using it to guide your actions every day. If you do this, it's eventual manifestation is inevitable.

Let's say you are living in a small town and you want to go on a road trip with your friends to a big city, and there are lots of experiences you would like to have on the way. The best way to approach this journey is to choose an end destination and put it into your GPS. Even if you go off-course, your GPS will just recalculate and will always direct you towards your desired destination, regardless of how many places you stop to see along the way. You can plan, ahead of time, where the best places would be to sleep and stop for gas, which restaurants you'd want to try out along the way and whether you want to take longer or shorter routes (depending on whether you want to get there faster or do something on a specific route that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise).

In the same way, when you have a clear vision of what you want your life to be like (when you begin with the end in mind), it is much easier to plan how you will get there.

How To Set Goals

Once you have a clear vision in your mind, you are ready to start setting goals that will act as stepping stones to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

1. Begin with the end in mind: Set your long-term goals first. Be specific about what you want to do and by when you want to do it. Examples:

- I want to self-publish a book and sell 100 000 copies in 3 years.
- I want to start a Beauty Channel on YouTube and have one million subscribers in 5 years.
- I want to get my Bachelor's degree in English and go to Thailand to teach in 4 years.

Be sure to include things like how many (books you want to sell for example) and by when. You could even write an exact date! Then you are going to work backwards from there.

2. Set medium-term goals next. Ask yourself, what big steps will you need to take to achieve your long-term goal. Here are some examples of medium-term goals based on one of the long-term goals above:

- I am going to write my book and self-publish it within one year.
- I am going to create my own website as a means to represent myself and the book, and I will launch it two months before I publish the book.
- I am going to invest X amount every month, once the book is published, to advertise it so the people who would love to read it, can find it.

3. Set short-term goals last. Examples:

- I will create my own website within the next 6 months.
- I will plan the content of my book and begin writing in the next two weeks (you could even set out how many pages you need to write every week to be able to finish within a year).
- In six months I'll be done with more than half of my book. Even if it's just one page more.
- I will research the best ways to self-publish my book and decide which method I am going to use within three months.
- I will save X amount every month that will go towards the publishing of my book.

Important Things To Take Note Of

Nothing is set in stone. Maybe you finish your book three months early, maybe one month you aren't able to put some money away. Maybe setting up a website was more difficult than you thought. That's okay! Remain flexible. Change up your short-term and medium-term goals, but never change your destination. Remember, if your GPS is set to California, it doesn't matter how many wrong turns you make, or which way the wind is blowing, adjust your sails and KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

I know this blog is getting really long, but if you're serious  about setting and achieving your goals, keep on  reading. Another valuable tool to include in your goal-setting strategy is a daily to-do list. This is a list of  small, easy to do, action steps that will help you achieve you short-term goals. Keep this list with you at all times and make sure it has four or five things on it that you are able to do every day.

Example Of A Daily To-Do List

1. Take ten minutes to plan what I want to accomplish tomorrow to feel like it was a productive day (do in the evening)
2. Do 20 minutes of research about how to design my own website
3. Do 20 minutes of research about how to self-publish a book
4. Tell at least one person about the book I am publishing on (,insert exact date)
5. Read at least 3 pages of self-help/personal development book

These can be things to motivate you or move you closer to your short-term goals. As long as they are easy to do every day. Once short term goals are accomplished, these might develop and change.
The most important thing to remember in this whole adventure is just get started from wherever you are, with whatever you have and DON'T GIVE UP!