What if we met under the Glossier Sign?

Glossier, the Instagrammable direct-to-consumer makeup and skincare line originated with the blog Into the Gloss and was created by former CEO Emily Weiss. Labeling itself as a company whose mission is to “give voice through beauty,” the company works to accent features and a “clean” aesthetic, primarily for young women. Glossier markets itself as the makeup for people who simply want to enhance their own features. It’s not about adapting to become someone else, Glossier products are supposed to enhance who you are. 

From @glossier on Instagram

The brand, which labels itself with millennial pink (or as some call it, Glossier pink) and hyper-photogenic packaging, places young women who interact with the brand at the center of its marketing because, as Weiss says, “in the Glossier world, cosmetics are not just cosmetics: They’re content.” Glossier has successfully secured the Millenial and Generation Z markets by utilizing more organic social media posts through its direct-to-consumer marketing strategy. Glossier isn’t meant to be an elusive, unobtainable brand. Instead of being promoted by influencers, Glossier focuses on marketing itself with consumers that engage with the brand’s online presence.

Glossier holds fast to its two most important assets: the brand’s consumers and the marketability of a product. Glossier targets each individual by promoting minimalistic products that match consumer demands and are backed by the company’s mission. Glossier’s broadcasted mission is to help young women feel more like themselves and unite girls to come together and create a sort of fellowship. When these two elements are combined, Glossier’s distinct community comes to life.

From @glossier on Instagram

Today, Glossier is much more than an online brand. As the company focuses on its consumers for marketing and social content, it has become the foundation for a community of consumers who identify with and adapt to the Glossier aesthetic. Glossier has secured an avidly loyal fan base with marketing, and in return, consumers are able to reach out and identify with each other. People create a foundation and connection through the brand. Every product purchased online comes with (at least one) sticker that signals a connection and identification with the brand. Purchases bought in-store have the purchaser’s name hand-written on their bag. Glossier, now deemed by Harvard Business School to be a “cult brand,” has the avid following and admiration of many, including the 2.6 million who follow Glossier’s Instagram account. Whether it be connecting in a Glossier pop-up store (modeled for optimal photo ops) or conversing through online accounts that target Glossier consumers, Glossier works as a place or identity where consumers can gather.

Glossier’s website reminds consumers of its value “that beauty isn’t built in a boardroom—it happens when you’re a part of the process,” and Glossier’s reference to “you” is one of the most integral parts of its marketing campaign. Most of the posts on Glossier’s Instagram comment on “you” and contain pictures of young girls huddled together, bonded by their Glossier purchases. The foundation of Glossier is to give the consumer what they want, but the loyalty of the customer seems mostly to be attributed to the desire to be a part of Glossier’s community.

Identification with things as simple as these stickers or as (seemingly) consequential as posting on an Instagram account, Glossier is a platform people are happy to contribute to. Glossier is considered a cause for friendship.

The Sounds of Spirituality

I could never sit through Shabbat services as a kid. It wasn’t just that I was ADHD; I never much connected with what my Rabbi had to say. In his thick New York accent, he’d read and sing prayers and then deliver a sermon (usually some ramble on current events, football, and, somehow intertwined, Judaism). These experiences informed my pre-bar mitzvah relationship with religion. I was aware of spirituality, but in the traditional sense, I was not spiritual.

Music and the arts always made more sense to me, mediums that could translate feelings and emotions, bypass language and cultural barriers, and did not require the work and commitment of faith. Because I could never relate to the religiously obliged, I’ve spent most of my college experience trying to understand piety. For me, sound is a shortcut to spirituality. Sound, just vibrating molecules, can be fascinating, mesmerizing, and profoundly affecting, even without musicality. In studying religion, I’ve tried to use something I do understand, the physical and spiritual properties of sound, as a means to assess religious forces. 

While I once dreaded sitting through services at my local synagogue, I’ve found myself once again attending religious rituals; however, with different intent, newfound curiosity, and looking beyond Judaism across faiths. No longer twiddling my thumbs, I now focus on the sounds and acoustic environments of specific rituals, using my music composition and sound engineering background to understand various dimensions of religious force. 

My obsession with music frames the way I view the world. I’ve realized that when you study something so in depth (especially when it’s something you love) and all your effort is spent working on that thing, it starts informing how you interact with totally unrelated things and can be how you make sense of them. This can manifest on many levels and can be both technical and abstract. Me, I’ve noticed myself even employing music jargon when discussing non-musical subjects. As an analogy for music production – but also an example of my actual conception – here’s my framing of the writing process: sources are instruments, research is recording, outlining is arranging, theses are hooks, editing is mixing, proofreading is mastering, and the rough draft is the demo. 

In my attempt to understand religious rituals, sound has framed, explained, and made me appreciate different religions and cultures. Silence in a synagogue can work like negative space in a song, centering one’s focus or presenting an opportunity for independent thought. The flow of a church service can work like the rhythm of a song. In a Sufi Zikr [pictured below], one voice can be like a violinist soloing, while a congregation can have the authority of an entire orchestra.

Metaphorically, characteristics like size, volume, and speed can all inform different aspects of religion. However, the sonic aesthetics of religious rituals can also contribute to understanding spiritual forces. As sound (or silence) functions in all religious rituals, if one works to listen, this can inspire a spiritual experience. 

Where RuPaul Got His Start: Punk and Queer Liberation in Atlanta

When you think of RuPaul, easily the most famous drag queen in America, do you think of 1980s Atlanta punk? I didn’t either. But as it turns out, the reality TV show star got his start in the close-knit scenes of punk and queer life in Atlanta.

As part of my larger work studying the connections between punk, politics, and activism in Atlanta, I have interviewed multiple members of the 1980s and 90s Atlanta punk scene. They all have their similarities and differences, but one surprising fact remains the same among all of them: they all have a RuPaul story. Some were intimidated by the soon-to-be star, some remember RuPaul’s performance in the new wave band Wee Wee Pole, and one participant even ended up getting RuPaul’s apartment when he left Atlanta for New York. Others remember him walking the streets, posting flyers for his acts like any other punk.

Flyer from Plus One Atlanta by Henry Owings

RuPaul is just an individual example of the overlaps between the punk and queer worlds in Atlanta. The two scenes were closely tied, and shared locations, members, and ideology. For both groups, appearance became activism. One person I spoke to described appearing punk in Atlanta as being a “lightning rod for random physical abuse”. He explained to me how Atlanta was, despite its progressive reputation, incredibly unsafe for those who were different. Much like how coming out as gay can be an act of activism, claiming a punk identity was a radical act as well. Because of this experience, punks and queer people often found shared community and solidarity as the “freaks” of Atlanta. Part of punk’s activism was a kind of radical acceptance, explained to me by another participant who stated “It was that kind of thing of like, it’s okay to be gay. It’s okay to be black. It’s okay to be a woman. Those things didn’t matter, in the punk movement.”

RuPaul along with some members of The Now Explosion. Photograph by Joe White.

Bands that occupied the gray area between punk and queer subcultures also engaged in their own activism. For example, Opal Foxx Quartet and The Jody Grind played a show at the Georgia State Capitol to protest the state’s anti-sodomy law. They played with their own unique sense of humor, such as donning t-shirts with the phrase “lick the sodomy law” on them. This show also functioned as a benefit, and a few years later Georgia’s anti-sodomy law would be struck down. Benjamin Smoke, who fronted the Opal Foxx Quartet, would also challenge their own audience, making statements on stage like “for a faggot, do I have a rockin’ band or what?” (Sillen and Cohen 2000).

Both groups shared community and venues as well. Some punks found a second home in gay bars after venues would close. Randy Blazak, for example, would head over to the Backstreet gay bar after his venue of choice, 688, closed at two in the morning. Growing up in a homophobic environment, his views began to change as he realized  “the ‘queers’ were a part of my tribe of misfits. That was the beginning of the end of my homophobia” (2016). He explained to me how gay and straight punks alike were welcomed into the bar, and that gay bars became an important part of his life in Atlanta’s underground scene. As he describes in his blog post, Backstreet was “an oasis of sanity and disco lights” (Blazak 2016). Queer performers also found a home at punk clubs such as 688, including RuPaul and The Now Explosion, among others.

Atlanta in the 1980s and 90s was not safe for everyone. But through the danger, misfits found each other. They danced, drank, made music, and made some trouble too. Important links formed between the two scenes that inspired activism and personal change. While punk and queer culture has gone largely mainstream today, it is worthwhile to remember their radical roots and the community they built.

Works Cited

Randall Blazak, “Ode to a Gay Bar”. Watching the Wheels: Feminist Fatherhood, June 15, 2016.

Peter Sillen, Jem Cohen. Benjamin Smoke, directed by Peter Sillen and Jem Cohen (2000, New York). Documentary.

23/7: Life Down the Hole

Over 80,000 men, women and children currently sit behind bars in America, in extreme isolation. For 23 hours a day, seven days a week, they are confined to a cell that is smaller than the size of a bathroom in an average one bedroom apartment. Let that sink in for a moment. They are stripped of their privacy, ability to interact with other individuals, and even something as basic as their knowledge of what time it is. The world outside continues on without them. Technology is developed, governments collapse, and still they sit, in isolation, clinging onto whatever memories of freedom they have. 

A typical solitary confinement cell.

It is all too easy for us, and for our consciences, to rationalize that these individuals deserve such a punishment, because they have committed crimes and must pay the price. However, this system is doing nothing to rehabilitate the individuals it places within it. Those in solitary confinement are more likely to develop: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Decline in physical health

Now, we have to ask ourselves, are these symptoms in any way rehabilitating these incarcerated individuals? I would argue no. I would argue that in fact, solitary confinement is resulting in severe harm designed only to be punitive. The American criminal justice system historically developed around four main goals: 1. Rehabilitation, 2. Retribution, 3. Incapacitation, and 4. Deterrence. Solitary confinement used to be an opportunity for individuals to repent and hypothetically get closer to God in isolation. By being away from the temptations of a criminal life in the outside world, individuals were supposed to have an opportunity to see the wrongdoing of their actions. Instead, solitary confinement became a way for prison guards to maintain conformity. If an individual had one too many t-shirts, or pieces of paper in their cell, it was off to the hole. 

In a recent article published by the New York Times entitled, “‘Dying Inside’: Chaos and Cruelty in Louisiana Juvenile Detention,” by Megan Shutzer and Rachel Lauren Mueller, the horrors of solitary confinement and the impacts it could have on one’s psyche were exposed. At Ware Detention Center, in Louisiana, there were at least 64 suicide attempts in 2019 and 2020. These children were subject to the same “23 and 1” system in other federal penitentiaries, despite being children and it being against the law. Knowing the severe psychological impacts of solitary confinement, the state limited isolation to 72 hours in 2013. However, at most prisons, this rule is not followed. 

Even as early as 1865, prison administrators recognized the torment that solitary confinement was inflicting on its inhabitants. Yet, it still continues to exist, and is widely used. How many lives are we willing to risk for feigned safety? There is no evidence that solitary confinement results in positive behavioral changes. Instead, it seeks to break a person until they conform. When are we going to stand up and say enough is enough? Every day, people continue to wile away behind these bars, experiencing physical violence at unprecedented levels. We can no longer call this rehabilitative. It’s time to unlock the box. 

A President’s Dilemma: Horses, World Records, or the Public Good

Government leaders regularly face incredibly difficult choices, often emerging in various forms of moral dilemmas. Because of the power and responsibility afforded to these leaders, their actions have profound consequences. From this point, let’s turn our focus to the country of Turkmenistan. 

Autocratic leaders are known to have quite eccentric personalities. Vladimir Putin loves his long tables and rants against the West, Kim Jong-Un is obsessed with obtaining nuclear weapons, and the former president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has openly bragged about killing drug dealers. As I said, it’s a unique bunch. Yet none are more bizarre than Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. With an absolutely atrocious human rights record, Berdimuhamedov proudly obfuscates such glaringly poor statistic by showcasing his unique personality. As fans of the show Last Week Tonight might remember,[1] Berdimuhamedov has an odd obsession with horses, unique public buildings (like the world’s largest indoor Ferris wheel), and Guinness World Records. Combined, these charades amount to a remarkable, and perhaps unintentional, public relations campaign that serves to distract the international community from Turkmenistan’s gross human right’s violations. Moreover, such stunts detract considerable resources from a country with a startingly low GDP of $37.93 billion in 2021.[2]  But, such is the life under authoritarian rule—too few individuals have considerable amounts of power, affording them the ability to make poor decisions with profoundly negative consequences. 

These poor decisions highlight a much broader concern that faces all governments, not just authoritarian states. When populations grant access to considerable amounts of power, the general citizenry is placed at the whim of these leaders, and the limits of human decision-making. This is precisely the concern raised by the American Founding Fathers, a concern so great that it pushed them to pursue extensive checks and balances within their vision for American government. Even with these checks, the cult of individuals and populism may prove too alluring for members of the public. It is out of consideration of these characteristics that I suggest we critically examine our institutions and organizations to establish more robust policies that defend against the dangers of these personalities. It is precisely this point that I will attempt to prove in my thesis. The various idiosyncrasies unique to each individual leader may prove to be too dangerous for our institutions to defend against. 

Implementing change in these institutions, especially places like Turkmenistan, will prove extremely challenging—but necessary. Regardless, while Berdimuhamedov left the presidency in March 2022, fans of the Berdimuhamedov regime should not be concerned—his son promptly assumed the presidency. 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9QYu8LtH2E

[2] https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/

And, if you have time, please watch Berdimuhamedov’s rap with his grandson—

[1] https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/

Create a Healthy Future for Your Children: Congress Must Pass the Nutrition Education Act Bill

Do you want your children to have a healthy future?

Congress must pass the Nutrition Education Act.

Nutrition education is an essential part of health education programs that empowers children to make healthy food choices. According to psychological theoretical frameworks, schools are an important environmental influence on children’s dietary behaviors.[1] Family, peers, media, and environment influence children’s eating habits, where the habits developed during childhood carry into adulthood. Thus, childhood influences should optimally have positive effects on school-aged children, providing a basis for good nutrition habits to be followed up throughout one’s life.[2] If sound nutrition education programs are included in the school curriculum, children have the agency to expand their nutritional knowledge and learn to select healthy food choices at homes, schools, and restaurants.[3]

Not Enough Nutrition Education

However, students in the United States are not receiving enough nutrition education. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US students receive less than 8 hours of required nutrition education each school year, which is below the 40 to 50 hours recommended to affect behavioral change. In addition, the CDC indicated that the percentage of schools providing nutrition education decreased from 84.6% to 74.1% between 2000 and 2014.[4]

Concerns are increasing that students are receiving their nutrition knowledge from advertisements instead.[5] Food advertisements are the largest single category of children’s television, accounting for half of all the advertisements shown.[6] The food advertisements contain animation, humor, story, and suggest product consumption associated with fun and mood improvement; however, the content of the food advertised is unhealthy.[7] Given the important role of nutrition education in students’ health and future, and given that our students are receiving nutrition knowledge from food companies instead of an evidence-based nutrition education that promotes healthy eating, we should advocate for a mandate that requires nutrition education to be embedded into school’s curriculum.

What is in the Act?

Therefore, I am writing in support of the Nutrition Education Act.

The bill requires educational agencies participating in the national lunch program to include 50 hours of nutrition education each school year, the minimum of hours necessary to influence behavior. In addition, the bill adds that nutrition education should

  • teach a sequential, comprehensive, standards-based program, incorporated into classroom instruction in subjects such as math, science, language arts, social sciences, and elective subject
  • include enjoyable and participatory activities such as taste testing, farm visits, and school gardens
  • promote health-enhancing nutrition practices
  • emphasize caloric balance
  • teach media literacy with an emphasis on food marketing
  • provide training for teachers and staffs in nutrition education.

Since the bill was not enacted in a two-year Congress, the bill dies as the Congress adjourns. A bill must pass through the House and Senate and then be signed by the President to become a law.

Protect Our Kid’s and Our Nation’s Future

The nation’s kids should be healthy as it is our nation’s future, and we should equip them with the knowledge that guides them to a healthy life. Since it is the interest of the public to empower our children to make healthy food choices, I’m advocating for bipartisan support of the Nutrition Education Act (H.R. 5308). Now is the time to pass the Nutrition Education Act. It is up to us to fight for the future of this country and to ensure that our children are healthy and will make healthy choices.

Contact your legislators on this website today and advocate for this bill to pass:


[1] Rafiroiu, Anca Codruta, and Alexandra Evans. “Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices among Nutrition Educators in the South.” American Journal of Health Studies 20, no. 1 (March 2005): 29-38.

[2] Raby Powers, Alicia, Barbara J. Struempler, Anthony Guarino, and Sondra M. Parmer. “Effects of a Nutrition Education Program on the Dietary Behavior and Nutrition Knowledge of Second-Grade and Third-Grade Students.” Journal of School Health 75, no. 4 (April 2005): 129–133.

[3] Kandiah, Jay, and Charlotte Jones. “Nutrition Knowledge and Food Choices of Elementary School Children.” Early Child Development and Care 172, no. 3 (June, 2002): 269–73.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nutrition Education in US Schools. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021).

[5] Hill, Andrew J. “Developmental Issues in Attitudes to Food and Diet.” The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 61, no. 2 (May 2002): 259–266.

[6] Hill, 261.

[7] Hill, 261.

To Unite or To Divide: Man & Nature

In Braiding Sweetgrass the author, Robin Wall Kimmerer recounts the story of Skywoman. It is the Iroquois people’s story of creation. In this narrative, a pregnant woman falls from the sky carrying seeds. Before she can fall into the ocean, some birds work together to save her. A grand turtle rises from the ocean and the birds lay her on its back. All sorts of aquatic animals give their lives to retrieve soil from the bottom of the sea. The Skywoman uses the soil and seeds to sprout Earth as we know it and gives thanks to the animals who died for her. Kimmerer then contrasts this narrative to that of Adam and Eve. In the biblical story, Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden of Eden after eating the forbidden fruit. They are then thrown into the wilderness which is described as dangerous and unforgiving.

The Rebuke of Adam and Eve, Charles Joseph Natoire, 1740.

In addition, I bring attention to the reason Adam and Eve ate the apple. Eve was intrigued via natural curiosity. Then devilish serpent convinces her to take the forbidden fruit. I am no theologist, so I will not analyze the deeper meanings of the narrative but rather the implications.

Skywoman Falling, Honni David, 2018.

Adam and Eve is the dominant story of Earth’s creation because of Christian/catholic colonization and genocide of the people who held Skywoman as their creation story. The main narrative of Adam and Eve condemns exploration of the environment and listening to an animal. However, both of these are needed to have a relationship with the environment. If one does not interact with their surrounding environment there is no chance of learning its needs. Which prevents what is called Biosphere Stewardship. Environmentalist Carl Folke describes Biosphere Stewardship “requires management and governance of human actions as intertwined and embedded within the biosphere and the broader Earth system.” Biosphere Stewardship is important because it ensures that the entire planetary ecosystem is thriving. The Earth system is comprised of the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. If one is compromised the rest will follow. I hope readers understand the intrinsic value of our world.

The biggest question I want to answer is how greatly the story of world genesis influence human relation with Earth. Is the Christian genesis story that is dominant in America leading to the dangerous gluttony of Earth’s resources?

Why Design Your Own Major at Emory?

Never Take a Class You Don’t Love

Are you an independent thinker?  Are you passionate about something that goes beyond traditional majors? Are you looking for creativity in your major? 

The American Studies (AMST) and Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) majors enable students to take control over their educational journey.  Majors develop a topically focused, individualized course of study integrating multiple disciplinary perspectives. Core courses in the major provide a grounding in interdisciplinary thinking.  Students then select the courses they need to understand their chosen topic from across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Find your intellectual community

All AMST and IDS majors conduct independent research in close collaboration with faculty.  A strong community provides a nurturing environment in which students can grow.  In classes dedicated to developing their individual research projects, peers provide feedback on research ideas and support the writing process.   

Topics of recent senior theses include:

  • Political activism of the 1980s Atlanta punk scene
  • The social implications of the neuroscience of decision making
  • Muslim women’s storytelling
  • Psychological impact of horror films

If you can imagine it, the AMST and IDS majors can help you do it!

Prepare for a Career of the Future

By developing creative, flexible, and broad intellectual capacities, AMST and IDS majors are well prepared to grow into satisfying careers.  All fields, including those just emerging, are looking for partners who can:

  • Engage novel questions
  • Integrate multiple perspectives
  • Design holistic interventions
  • Communicate complex ideas

AMST and IDS majors have gone on to careers in law, medicine, advertising, journalism, city planning, business consulting, media, user experience/interface, education, and non-profits. Translate your passion for a broad, liberal arts education into your life story!

Is the Philosophy of Nursing an Interdisciplinary Field?

Dr. Mark Risjord

Last week, I attended the 25th annual Philosophy of Nursing Conference in Irvine California. It is always a little awkward when a restaurant server or hotel clerk asks “What conference are you attending?” “Philosophy of nursing” uses two words that they’ve heard before and combines them in a way that must be well-nigh unintelligible. I feel awkward because it is so difficult to describe how the two fields are related. After this conference, I began giving the matter some thought, and began to wonder: is philosophy of nursing a kind of philosophy? A kind of nursing? Or is it an interdisciplinary field? And why does this matter?

Questions about whether a field is disciplinary or interdisciplinary sometimes seem to matter only for the sake of academic politics. The relationship between philosophy and nursing is a bit different because, historically, the search for a “nursing philosophy” was begun by practicing nurses. As nursing solidified its professional status in the middle of the 20th century, nurses needed to explain how and why nursing was a distinct form of health care. This led to questions like “what is a nurse?” “what special knowledge or expertise do nurses have?” and “what should the responsibilities of a nurse be?” These feel like “philosophical questions,” and nurses treated them that way. The question of whether the philosophy of nursing is a kind of philosophy, kind of nursing, or interdisciplinary begins to matter when we ask: who should be answering these questions? Philosophers? Nurses? Philosophical nurses? Nursing philosophers?

Last edit: August 24, 2002