The Grill: A blast to the past

Features, Opinion

By Anna Hicks

The Classic City is not only known for its openness to new musicians, trends and great food, but also its timeless traditions. The Grill, a 50’s diner themed restaurant, is a place where it all comes together.

Located in the heart of downtown Athens, The Grill is one of the most nostalgic and recognizable restaurants near UGA’s campus. It’s one of the few places in Athens that is open 24/7, making it the perfect place for students and locals alike to snag a midnight snack. Opened in 1981 by Bob Russo, it is the second oldest restaurant in the city and is a place of wistful nostalgia for many alumni.

“I have many special memories at The Grill, from going with my parents before a football game as a child, to taking my own children there when we come to visit Athens,” Jennifer Wolford, a UGA alumni says. “It’s become a three generational tradition for us.”

Russo, a native New Yorker, moved to Athens to open a steakhouse, but soon began to open other international restaurants as well, including Gyro Wrap and Chow Goldstein. Russo’s introduction of international cuisine helped expand the food scene in Athens for years to come.

Although traditions and memories can make a place feel special, delicious food is often what brings people together and The Grill does not disappoint. As a diner-themed restaurant, a good burger with fries and a milkshake is often what people go there for. They offer a wide selection of burgers from bacon cheeseburgers to veggie burgers to burgers with onions and mushrooms, in addition to their hand cut fries with feta dressing. The feta cheese dressing is a one-of-a-kind homemade recipe you can’t find anywhere else in Athens.

“The feta dressing was really good, the chunks of feta made it amazing,” says rising senior Jayla Brown, after trying it for the first time. “It isn’t like sauces you find anywhere else, it’s different. I would definitely choose that over ketchup or honey mustard with my fries.”

Another trademark recipe of The Grill is their classic, malt milkshake. The shakes come in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, and each one is made with fresh milk and a scoop of their powered malt. These creamy milkshakes make for the perfect late night snack to get with friends.

As a vintage, 50s diner themed restaurant, many would not think of The Grill as a place to find healthier and dietary friendly meals, but like much of Athens, The Grill has adapted to many of its customers needs and now offers vegan and vegetarian options, such as salads and veggie burgers.

“It was a surprise for me to learn they offered vegetarian and vegan options,” rising senior Scarlett Reicher says. “It can be hard for people with dietary restrictions to find places to eat and The Grill wouldn’t have been the first place I’d have thought to look.”

The Grill is an Athens staple filled with great food and memories for low prices. Although the older building could be cleaner and use updating, the authentic feel is what many customers like. Located right across from The Arch, it’s central location is ideal for UGA students and visitors. It’s definitely an experience worth trying on the next visit to Athens.

“When I think of Athens and The Arch, The Grill immediately comes to mind,” Wolford says. It’s one of the few places in downtown that has stayed and has really become a staple of the community. I couldn’t imagine Athens without it.”

Should the Hornets Re-sign Kemba Walker?

Opinion, Sports

By Noah Monroe

Kemba Walker, a three-time All-Star who was a third-team All-NBA selection in 2019, averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game (PPG) this year and is the Hornets all-time points leader. Unfortunately, he is now a free agent, and the Hornets have to decide whether to spend a lot of money to re-sign him or let him go elsewhere.

The Hornets have not made it past the first round of the playoffs since the 2001-02 season and have put themselves in contract purgatory. However, Walker is by far the best player the Hornets have had since Glen Rice was on the team more than 20 years ago. Charlotte and its fans NEED the Hornets to do everything they possibly can to keep Walker for numerous reasons.

Here is a snapshot of the Hornets roster for next year:

(snapshot taken from

No player who is under contract for the 2019-2020 season will be able to fill Walker’s shoes if he leaves. Tony Parker might’ve been able to fill the leadership role, but he retired on June 10. Also, no one on the roster can be the dynamic player that Walker is unless a player like Malik Monk or Miles Bridges can significantly improve from last year.

In this year’s draft, the Hornets picked P.J Washington, a power forward from Kentucky. Washington’s potential has been described as a player who can stick around with team and come off the bench and start a few games here and there. This pick followed the trend of how the team has drafted in recent years, Washington won’t make an immediate impact, he might not even make an impact within the coming years. Nevertheless, the team will continue to be abysmal for seasons to come, making fans continue to wait for the team to be average again, if they can even achieve that. Having Walker on the team next year will not only provide a mentor for the younger players but will also provide a spark to the Hornets in their games.

Some believe that “But Walker deserves better” or “the city of Charlotte doesn’t appreciate him.”

Walker has been stuck on a team that has only produced two winning seasons in his eight years with the team, and he deserves to play for a playoff contender. However, the city of Charlotte does appreciate Walker. They are part of the reason he’s been selected to three consecutive All-Star games. The fans have loaded the ballot box with Walker’s name, and they have filled the arena consistently even when the team is underperforming. Yes, they may not appreciate Walker at all times, but you have to remember these are the same fans who criticized Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during his MVP-winning season in 2015. They just want Walker and the Hornets to be the best they can be.

Reports have linked Walker to the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers, two of the most prolific teams in the history of the NBA. However, the fan bases of these two teams are some of the most critical people in the history of sports. Notably, the fans of New York have failed to support players like Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis in recent years and have run them out of town. In Anthony’s case, wasted their prime years, which Walker is still very much in as evidenced by his career-high in PPG last year.

The Lakers have one of the greatest players in NBA history, LeBron James. Albeit that James has carried teams to NBA Championships, he has also ruined the point guards that have played around him, most notably Kyrie Irving. Does Walker really want to risk his career for the slim chance that the Lakers have at winning an NBA Championship?

Instead of going to a city like New York or Los Angeles, he could stay in Charlotte where he is adored by the fans and will be the focal point of a team with aspirations of the playoffs. Walker could play his whole career for one team, a feat that is rare in today’s NBA and most important of all, he will surely have his number retired by the team, which would be just the second number retired by the Hornets.

Walker has said on multiple occasions that Charlotte is the place he wants to play. A few weeks ago at a youth basketball camp, Walker was asked if he would take less money to stay with Hornets. “Yeah, why not? I would take less, for sure,” he said. Will the Hornets offer Walker the max contract, will they offer Walker a little less than the max to give themselves a little more cap space or will they move on from Walker and go in a new direction for the future? Only time will tell as free agency starts June 30.

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Song to End All Songs


By Sarah Clifton

The recent biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has catapulted Queen into the spotlight once more. The oscar-winning movie, about the band’s history, places a spotlight on frontman Freddie Mercury, who wrote the song that shares the namesake of the movie. Queen’s most famous song “Bohemian Rhapsody” has earned the title of timeless classic in the 44 years since its release. Originally almost rejected by Queen’s label, people today still blare the nearly six-minute long epic in cars and at parties. However, it’s not every day that a legendary piece of art is produced—the amount of work, talent and care put into the piece has cemented it as Queen’s magnum opus.

Experimentation was a big staple of Queen’s music—from the lyrical conceptualization to the sounds of the instruments and production methods, the band was no stranger to attempting to venture into uncharted waters. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a peak of experimentation for Queen. Certain elements of music production were new and budding when A Night at the Opera was recorded in 1975, such as reduction mixing, which condenses a plethora of audio layers into one track. The nature of the recording technique required a solid vision for the end product, because recording was a physical process, and it would be very hard, if not impossible, to just “edit” one layer. In addition, the audio is bounced around the listener. Some layers of sound are in the right speaker, some in the left, some in both, some in very nuanced positions. This was a tactic Queen often used, with examples in songs such as “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Death on Two Legs (Dedicated To…),” “Keep Yourself Alive,” and “Killer Queen.” The experimentation gave the piece a unique sound, which continues to enrapture people to this day.

The complexity doesn’t end at the technical production level. “Bohemian Rhapsody” also shines in its ability to traverse multiple genres in one song. It begins with an overture, much like an opera does. The chords echo progressions that come in later parts of the song, and some lyrical, musical and thematic motifs are established. The intro ends, and progresses through ballad, operatic, and rock sections, with the motifs appearing throughout. It ends much like it began—a wistful outro that echoes the intro. There are few other songs that can attest to such varied structure and sound. Beyond that, Mercury wrote many strange, obscure chords into the piece that aren’t often used: diminished and augmented chords, six and seven chords, minor chords, and chords with a different bass note than the root for example. The piece is rather complicated to learn and master given that it is comprised of complex musical elements. In addition, Mercury wrote the piece’s lyrics and instrumental without collaborating with the rest of the band. The complexity and attention to detail show Mercury’s immense talent and creativity as a musician.

The lyrics add another layer of beauty and intricacy. Epic poetry is a form of literature that has effectively died out; the last true epic being Milton’s Paradise Lost. However, this piece exemplified and popularized a new breed of epic poem: a musical epic. Songs like Rush’s “2112” and Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” also utilize this style—using music to tell a long, poetic story. Upon inspecting the lyrics, one can see the story of “Bohemian Rhapsody” unfold. The beginning is a wistful, borderline existential reflection on life, death, and the meaning of it all. As the ballad section begins, a young man relays his tale: in a letter to his mother, he reveals he has killed someone and has been sentenced to death. Once executed, in the afterlife, he encounters characters from real life and fiction—Scaramouche, Galileo, and Beelzebub, and a chorus of voices (which are in reality just the members of Queen, but in terms of the story are a council of sorts in the after life, or potentially two sides of an internal conflict). After deliberating on what will become of his soul, he decides to transcend this fate he is condemned to, and comes full circle to once again contemplate the meaning—or lack thereof —of life. The piece attempts to come to a conclusion on the meaning of life, whilst relaying the whimsical story of the protagonist. Beyond what the piece explicitly does or doesn’t mention, the story is very human at its core—it traverses many emotions: fear, anxiety, excitement, desolate hopelessness, hope, and triumph, and sometimes a mix of many. The sound of the accompaniment and Mercury’s delivery of the lyrics creates a nuanced emotional experience.

In the creative world, finding something so masterful and unique is rare. This was Queen’s masterpiece: intricate production, lyrical excellence, and musical authenticity have made it shine above the rest. The song transcends most labels, because nothing like it existed in such an intense caliber before it. It resonates with me on a deep level, because it does what we all want to do in life—to break free from our constraints, to be outside of our respective boxes, to be a wild and beautiful human mess that makes no excuses or apologies for its existence. For that, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been, and will forever be, one of the best pieces of art to ever exist.

Brutality Has No Place in Law Enforcement


By Bridget Frame

America has a police problem.

Or rather, the police seem to have a problem with their fellow Americans.

In 2017, the police killed 1,147 people.( 1,147 lives lost. This is at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve the people of the United States.

Why is this normalized? There seems to be a rather skewed version of “protect,” and less of an emphasis on “serve.” Police must be the ones protecting us from danger, and not be a part of it.

Obviously, not all police are bad, or murderers. Most officers devote themselves to protecting and serving their community. But the rate of police using excessive force is disturbing.

In 2005, a study by the Guardian showed that minorities made up 62.7 percent of unarmed police killings. During this point, minorities also only made up 37.4 percent of the population.

Additionally,individuals dealing with various states of mental illness are being killed as well. Those with an untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than those without one, according to

The most vulnerable—the ones in our society who need protection the most—are those being targeted.

These instances of force used on minorities and those who suffer from a mental illness is often attributed to a concept known as “implicit bias.” According to BBC News, this is where a person is more aggressive towards another because they view them as being aggressive or unsafe due to a negative stereotype perpetuated in society. Even those who are unarmed can be seen as threatening through this negative veil. Race does not determine intentions,thus implicit bias is not a logical excuse for violence.

Being a police officer in today’s society often gives them a disproportionate amount of power and influence. “Since 2005,research shows that only 35 officers have been convicted of a crime related to an on-duty fatal shooting,” said NBC News. It is rare that an officer is convicted of a killing, even if the victim was unarmed, or suffering from mental illness. Officer’s often state that they felt threatened. But there is little consideration of whether or not the victim may have felt threatened by the looming power of the police officer. Rather than just  taking the word of the living, we must also work to defend the dead.

The issue of excessive force and police killings needs to be corrected. Whether or not an individual is committing a crime, there needs to be great effort taken to avoid a fatality. Using excessive force or killing who unarmed, vulnerable, or ill is immoral and wrong. Wearing a badge doesn’t not excuse your morality. It just makes you an officer. Your job is to save lives, not take them.

Inequality Of Acceptance Of The LGBTQ Community


By Nikkia Bell

“That’s for girls” and “man up” are just two of the phrases that young men hear from society. These phrases manipulate young boys into thinking that they have to act or dress a certain way to be boys, which is one of the reasons why gay men aren’t as accepted as gay women.

A prime example is the sports industry. In the WNBA, at least three players have come out: Brittney Griner, Glory Johnson and Diana Taurasi. But in the NBA, no players are openly gay.

From experience I know of people who will accept a gay woman but not a gay man. I have friends who love me for who I am. They have no problem with my sexuality but when they see a gay man they talk about how they don’t understand why or how he could be gay.  From an early age, men are told to “be a man” and are forced by society to act according to stereotypes of men. Women have also been forced to act according to stereotypes, but they’ve been successful at transcending many of those stereotypes and boundaries.

Men put expectations on other men as much as women do. If a man doesn’t dress or “act like a man,” people assume that they’re gay. This is toxic and can lead to men being insecure about themselves.

Nathan Walker, who is attending UGA’s Media And Leadership camp, is openly gay and dealt with opression from his parents after he was outed at the age of 12.

Not a lot of LGBT people live in Walker’s hometown, Fitzgerald, Georgia. “Living in the south and coming out as gay, especially as a gay man is kinda frowned upon and hush hushed. I wasn’t allowed to expressed myself at school. I wasn’t allowed to be myself. I had to hide it and be oppressed.”

Walker believes that gay men aren’t as accepted as gay women because gay women are seen as fantasies for heterosexuls and some straight men get uncomfortable around gay men.

If people realized that you don’t have to be super masuline to be a man, then some men would feel more comfortable in their own skin. Gay men aren’t attracted to every man they lay their eyes on and they aren’t out to get straight men.

According to the UCLA School Of Law Williams Institute There are more gay women than men in every state in the U.S besides South and North Dakota. These assumptions are the reason why people of the LGBTQ community, especially men, have trouble coming out. They worry most about what others would think and say about them.

The Trevor Project states that LGBTQ youth are almost five times as likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth.

Next time you have the urge to tell a boy to “man up,” consider the consequences. It could be a matter of life and death.

Stress for Success


By Jenna Lo

I’m tired.

There’s homework to be completed, tests to be studied, class ranking to maintain, clubs to participate in, college to always have in the back of my mind, and an unbearable number of other things I must stay on top of constantly. My school praises my hard work with awards and an uncomfortable amount of recognition of my achievements. I’ve worked my way to second in class.

But I’m tired…of all of this.

Schools use grades and class rankings to compare and measure every student in the grade. Students receive awards based on how high their grades are, and the two students who are at the top of the class get the special title of valedictorian and salutatorian. The competition among students is supposed to encourage students to work hard and maintain their grades.

But at what cost?

According to a 2015 study conducted by the New York University College of Nursing, 80% of all high school students reported feeling stressed to some extent, 26% of which reported symptoms of clinical depression. This staggering number is due to the school system’s push for competition among peers. The Pew Research Center found 61% of teens feel pressured to get good grades, which is significantly higher than the pressure students feel to use drugs (4%) or consume alcohol (6%).

For Nathan Walker, a rising junior at Fitzgerald High School located in Fitzgerald, Georgia, the weight of all his honor and AP classes, extracurricular activities, and his job has taken a toll on his mental health.

“I’m extremely stressed to a point where it’s unbelievable,” said Walker. “I’m not comfortable with my situation at all, but if I want to get out of high school and go to college I have to put grades first.”

Additionally, Sarah Clifton, a rising senior at Saint Scholastica Academy in Covington, Louisiana, revealed she has felt stressed about her grades since fifth grade. Now, she suffers from anxiety due to the competition of valedictorian and salutatorian at her school.

“I feel like I have to be on the same level as the rest of the super smart kids in my grade,” said Clifton. “There are these other girls at my school who are freaked out and constantly stressing about being valedictorian. I can see where the class ranking is a realistic and logical way to see where you are in comparison to other people, but it’s really not good for my mental health sometimes.”

With grades the only way schools measure their student’s intelligence and ranking, grades become a student’s top priority. Students often drop extracurricular activities and sports they enjoy to maintain their grades. However, while grades are important and the primary way to represent a student’s academic intelligence, they fail most of the time to accurately represent a student’s true intelligence. Every student is complex and learns and performs differently, and it seems absurd to limit a student’s intellect to a finite number. The stress over this unfair representation of intelligence is a problem, and the school system is the reason for this.

“Grades are important, and for the longest time I felt like I had to get A’s on everything,” said Clifton. “But grades aren’t that representative of who you are as a person.”

All the stressing over grades and ranking is ultimately for students to be accepted into a good college, however, Michelle McFalls, Academic Advisor for Advertising Majors at the University of Georgia, has witnessed college students still affected by the toxic competition faced in high school. The same students who overextended themselves in high school do the same in college by double majoring, minoring, maintaining a job, participating in sororities and fraternities, and interning which all leads to stress and eventually burnout.

“I definitely have noticed in the last decade more students with mental or emotional issues coming in, and UGA has a reputation of its admissions getting harder and harder each year,” said McFalls. “It’s very easy for a college student to overcommit. The reality is, that’s not life. No one can keep up with a pace of overcommitting indefinitely. Sometimes they think more is best, but that’s almost never the case.”

Studies have shown the percentage of anxiety and depression in young adults has increased over the years. Schools have continued to foster unhealthy competition in students, and the comparison has worsened even more with social media nowadays.

“It’s so hard for my students to not compare themselves to other students they think have everything perfect in their lives. No one has it perfect, but no one is going to share the crappy stuff on their social media,” said McFalls. “They all want to be the best. I can’t imagine what kind of toll that takes on a young person’s psyche.”

Instead of schools responding to this new wave of social media by dialing back on promoting competition, they double down. A school’s Facebook and Instagram page post student accomplishments for everyone to see, and the standards and pressures for academic achievement have consequently risen. High schoolers are already feeling pressured by social media in their social lives, but now they also feel pressured in their academic lives with this constant comparison and competition with others.

“Students nowadays care a lot more of what people think about them, and they value themselves less unfortunately,” said McFalls.

Our society is constantly progressing. We have abandoned old technology and techniques and have replaced them with new and high functioning alternatives. We have updated almost every part of our lives, and yet, the school system has remained the same. The dangerously growing number of kids suffering from anxiety and stress from school is a clear sign these techniques our schools are using are not working and need to be fixed. We can not sweep this under the rug. Something needs to be done before this problem is irreversible.

“There is an all time race for the top GPA, and I’m tired of running it,” said Walker.

LM5: Little Mix’s Powerfully Feminist Album is a Call for Unity and Love


By Mira Eashwaran

Feminism: the seemingly perpetual battle for women to reach complete gender equality. It is omnipresent in aspects of our everyday lives, from women experiencing the gender pay gap at work, or girls in elementary school shoved into a box of wearing pink and skirts, to even the sexual harassment women experience all the time. Catcalls, wolf-whistles, and violating stares now suffocate feminists and women, and continuously try to impede the process of equality.

The music and fame business is infamous for mistreating women, from powerful men like Harvey Weinstein or the body-shaming Kesha experienced as a teen. However, the industry features plenty of strong-willed, intelligent women who stand their ground and are not afraid of making waves. The UK girl group Little Mix stands as a conspicuous example of such bravery. The girls met on the X Factor in 2011 and went on to be the first group to win the talent competition. The group has had four UK number one singles, the most Platinum certifications for a UK girl group, breaking the previous Spice Girls record. The four girls (Jade Thirwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, and Perrie Edwards) have had a successful career in the music industry.

The National Manthem

This album speaks to a mature feminist awakening. The first song on the album, The National Manthem, is a thirty second piece that describes a “goddess” as a “bad b*tch”, with the girls ending by singing that “thou shall be faithful and honest.” This song effectively sets the scene for a power charged album.

Woman Like Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)

“Woman Like Me” is a quintessential track for Mixers around the world. It details the older ideals of what a woman should be (quiet, polite and knowing her place) and debunks that with confidence and distinct personality traits of the girls. The track is an uptempo piece, with slivers of reggae and modern pop slipped in. The lyrics detail how the girls wonder how someone could “fall for a woman like me”: four business savvy, talented women who wear their sexualities on their sleeves and promote love and peace. The track features the iconic rap queen Nicki Minaj on the third verse, proud and confident in her feminism.


“Strip” is a song filled with body positivity and self love, the music video featuring the four girls with no makeup and showing off their bodies for who they are. The track embraces female sexuality and encourages women to love their bodies, race and femininity. The video features an emotionally charged shot of all four girls nearly naked on camera, their bodies covered with demeaning words that they have been called during their time in the industry. “Strip” is an anthem for people everywhere to love themselves and feel beautiful in their own skin.

Fierce in Fashion

(from left to right) Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirwall, and Perrie Edwards pose for their new album LM5’s cover.

Joan of Arc

“Joan of Arc” is a track that goes back to hip-hop roots, featuring an uptempo drum beat that embellishes the girl’s confidence in their sexuality and their comfort with beauty and men. They allude to Joan of Arc, a famous French heroine during the 100 years war. The song includes a distorted male voice saying, “Oh, you’re the feminist type?” and a sassy response of “Hell yeah, I am!”

The group refer to themselves as goddesses, and features difficult soprano vocals by Edwards. They own their right to love, rapping that if they’re loving someone, it “’cause they can” and they “put my own rock on my hand.”

Woman’s World

In this emotionally charged song, the girls detail the work and pay gap between men and women. They point out the insanity of women being paid differently because of “the way her body’s made.” Thirwall takes over at the pre-chorus and debunks the man’s world, singing that they should “try living in a woman’s world.” The girls bring light to the fact that they always have “shouted to be heard,” and powerfully address the disparity between the genders. They reassure listeners that they will keep fighting for women’s rights in a passionate ode. They reaffirm that women are more than their bodies; we have brains and we will keep fighting.

With this new album, Little Mix has simply reaffirmed what the music industry already knew: these girls are four insanely talented, confident women who aren’t afraid to love themselves and love others. These ladies have executive produced a musically riveting, lyrically inspiring album that will stand to be the symbol of an iconic musical era in women’s activism.

Becoming Naturally Me

Features, Opinion

By Jordan Owens

Originally posted on

Finding identity through hair

For a while, I have been struggling with my identity.

It is hard living in a community that is majority white while having friends and family from a mostly black community. When I visit them I am always questioned on if I am black enough. When I come back home, I feel  like I am being judged because I am too black. Sometimes it feels like I can never just be me.

As a consequence of this, over the past couple of years, I have had to figure out what kind of person I am, whether it is sometimes playing into some of those black stereotypes or embracing what it means to live in Peachtree City.

As part of my journey with my identity, I decided to learn more about my hair. Not the hair that gets straightened every two to three weeks, but the one that is naturally a thick, curly afro. I researched why so many black women get their hair permed, known as relaxed, and straightened, known as pressed, since I have always gotten it that way like all of the other black women I have grown up around.

I learned that getting a relaxer in your hair or getting it pressed was and still is being used as a form of oppression to get black women to fit into more of a European society.

With this new realization and the fascination with my natural hair, I decided to set off on a year-long challenge of not straightening or putting any kind of chemically straightening products in my hair.

This challenge for me started on April 3, 2018, just after Easter, and at first, it was not much of a challenge. Since every summer I get my hair braided, that year was no different. Then when school started up, I had crochet weave for about two weeks, and after that, it was back to braids for marching band season.

Considering I used braids as somewhat of a shortcut to this challenge for most of the first semester of school, my first experience with my natural hair was amazing. After I took out the braids, washed my hair, and styled it the way I wanted, I thought my hair looked incredible.

Though that did not stop the fears of how I thought my peers would react. From reactions I had read online with other women doing the same thing, I thought many would say my hair just looked like a nappy mess. However, when I went to school that day, I heard the most compliments I’ve ever received for my hair.

Things did not end up getting harsh until the second semester when I did not have as many extracurriculars. At that point, I had to actually care for my hair myself.

Since no one in my family handles their natural hair daily, I could not ask them for help. There were so many days where I had to keep my hair in a ponytail and so many days where I wanted to quit because I was just so overwhelmed.

Eventually, I was able to manage my hair, thanks to a natural hair salon in Atlanta. They told me more about my hair texture and what type of products I could and could not put in it. They also said that because of my hair being pressed all my life, and the heat damage it caused, I was not going to be able to get it as natural as it was when I was born.

Hearing this deeply hurt me. Trying to get most of my natural curl pattern back became the major reason to why I was doing this one year challenge.

In those last two weeks, I got into a routine of washing and twisting my hair the night before, then untwisting and letting it fall the day of school. No comb, no brush, some oil to make it look shiny, and that was it.

When the year was up, I scheduled a hair appointment to get my hair straightened to see how long it had gotten. As the days got closer I became scared at the thought of losing my curls again and causing even more heat damage.

After I had gotten my hair pressed I felt weird, and the person I was looking at in the mirror did not feel like me anymore. It felt like a stranger, and I did not like it. That was when I promised myself I would not straighten my hair again unless I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

I would highly recommend trying this one year challenge. It not only gives you a chance to truly see your natural hair but with the experience, you can learn so much about yourself.

Prepare and get to know your hair. Do some research, or go to someone who has experience with natural hair, because jumping right into it is not a good idea. Without preparing, you will not know what kind of products to use, and that could cause further damage.

Also, keep in mind that just because you want to go natural does not mean it is easier to handle — in some ways it is actually kind of harder. Do not give up just because people tell you they don’t like it or because it seems too difficult. If this is something you truly want to do, then do it.

Straightening your hair one time to see how long it has gotten does not mean it will go back to being completely damaged. Just keep your hair natural and do not press it repeatedly for an excessive amount of time, then your curl pattern will get better over time.

Even though my goal with this challenge was to see if I would like having natural hair, I have ended up learning a lot about myself and the kind of person I am. I have learned that only I can identify myself.

Oppression by straightening hair has already started to change, so there is no need to be afraid anymore.

Calling Out Catcalling


By Maya Cornish

ODYSSEY Newsmagazine News Editor Maya Cornish shares her experience about catcalling, and how it has the opposite effect of enticing women by making them feel objectified.

I was at my internship one day, and one of the tasks I had to do was clean the front glass doors. I was wearing a t-shirt and jean shorts, and to reach the lower half of the doors I squatted down. I thought nothing of it.

Behind me there were two guys walking by. They were young, late twenties to early thirties in casual clothes. In the reflection of the glass, I saw them take a small notice of me and continued walking, but then both stopped in their tracks.

It was almost like a cartoon, the two of them walking backwards and craning their necks to get a better look at me. One said to me, “Nice a**!” before he and his friend continued walking away.

I have been catcalled, touched and critiqued for what I wore and how I acted many times before and after that event. And I am not the only one. Girls and women alike share in this experience, being objectified with unnecessary comments in inappropriate situations.

This should not be considered normal in our society.

According to a study by anti-harassment group iHollaback and Cornell University, “85 percent of U.S. women have reported experiencing street harassment for the first time before age 17.”

There are some women who enjoy the attention. As New York Post writer Doree Lewak says, “For me, it’s nothing short of exhilarating yielding an unmatched level of euphoria.”

For most women, though, the unsolicited attention does not provide them a feeling of “euphoria” and instead one of discomfort.

In an email, 23-year-old Sophie Sandberg, who runs Instagram account @catcallsofnyc and has experienced catcalling herself since age 15, says “[women who use catcalling as a form of empowerment] may have internalized certain misogynistic ideas that their worth is tied up with their physical appearance, their body and their sexuality.”

Catcalling certainly won’t stop if women continue to stay silent when it happens. And fighting back (like insulting the aggressor) will only create tension, potentially escalating the situation. What needs to happen is a dialogue between people to educate how street harassment is inappropriate in any circumstance.

Women are not objects for male pleasure. And until men understand this, young girls will continue to equate their body with crude descriptions from strangers on the street.

How Words Shape Self-Image


By Charlotte Luke

“I look so bad in that picture.”

“I wish my eyelashes were as long as yours.”

“I shouldn’t have this ice cream.”

I hear people, particularly women, disparage their appearances constantly, or compare themselves unfavorably to others. In fact, I cannot remember the last time someone admitted to me that they looked good in a photograph, while nearly everyone I encounter swears they have no photogenic qualities.

I’ve heard friends complain about the length of their faces, the shape of their fingernails, the speed of their metabolism—virtually every aspect of their faces and bodies, inside and out. Interestingly, I often get the sense that people self-deprecate in order to fit in, as if they are afraid that confidence will be perceived as arrogance. In this case, self-deprecation becomes a “funny” competition among friends:

Who is the ugliest?

Who is the fattest?

Who has the worst skin coloring?

But when people point out so-called flaws in themselves, I can’t help but think they begin to believe their appearances are truly flawed, so they use concealer, Photoshop and weight loss programs in order to feel good.

I use “they” as opposed to “we” because about a year ago, I decided to stop playing the self-deprecation game. Before I consciously made this change, I wore powder to cover up acne scars, I dreaded school picture day, I used special shampoo to combat my frizzy hair; when friends commented on themselves, I jumped in with, “No, at least you look better than me.” But to be honest, my habit of pointing out flaws grew tiresome; I wanted to feel good in the person I naturally am, so I learned to hold my tongue when I saw photos of myself or looked in the mirror with my friends.

The effect was not immediate, but I found that when I stopped vocalizing my negative remarks, I stopped seeing as many “flaws” in my appearance. I feel comfortable going without makeup, I feel comfortable telling others I like photographs of my face and body, and for the most part I’ve stopped comparing myself to others in ways that degrade myself.

I just wish it weren’t so uncommon to find people who also understand that our words can become our true perceptions of ourselves, even if we claim to celebrate our appearances.

Because you look good in that picture.

Because your eyelashes are beautiful.

Because you can have this ice cream.