Dangerous Cultures and Warm Communities: a Sampler of Op-Eds Published in June in Conjunction with the OEP

In “‘Breaking Pionte’ and the Price of Perfection,” Chloe Angyal and Courtney E. Martin comment on the universality of themes shown in the CW network’s “Breaking Pointe.” This Los Angeles Times piece expresses that one’s desire to achieve ultimate perfection while maintaining an aura of effortlessness exists not only in the world of ballet but also in the lives of many high-achieving women. While the show explores the rare lives of ballerinas, it asserts that these dancers are just like us; Angyal and Martin challenge us to re-examine ourselves for signs of a ballerina’s dangerous struggle for effortless perfection. The piece carps on the show’s glamorization of the pursuit of perfection, and instead encourages women to find fulfillment by taking pride in the hard work required for success.

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Ellen Magnis also wrote recently about dangerous cultural trends. The piece, “The Jerry Sandusky Trial and Child Sexual Abuse’s Walking-wounded,” which appeared in The Guardian, exposes the horrible silence to which many victims of assault, including Magnis, have turned. Magnis challenges readers to listen to stories of abuse, no matter how difficult it is to do so, creating open forums in which our most vulnerable members of society can seek help. She writes about the shame, confusion, and self-blame experienced by child victims, utilizing the Sandusky trial as a way to encourage the public to look for changes in child behavior and never shy from painful truths. Magnis’s piece opens a discussion greater than the Penn State scandal, making readers understand just why it’s so difficult for children to come forward with stories of abuse, despite new advocacy centers, urging us not to wait for another scandal to be proactive and sensitive to issues of child abuse.

On a different note, Cassandra Jackson wrote about the positive culture surrounding hair straightening within the black community. Her piece, “Is Natural Hair the End of Black Beauty Culture?,” which appeared in The Huffington Post explores the trade-off faced by black women who choose to participate in today’s natural hair revolution. While doing so may have political implications, wearing one’s hair naturally can yield greater self-acceptance, health, and feelings of freedom. Jackson, who wears her hair naturally, acknowledges that doing so excludes her from black beauty culture and salons. She writes that hair treatments unify women, who share stories and time while tending to one another’s locks. She highlights the trust, love, conversation, and laughter that abound from such salons, showing readers that there is power both in wearing one’s hair naturally and in partaking in a culture that celebrates women’s lives while straightening hair.

Thank you and congratulations to Chloe, Courtney, Ellen, Cassandra, and everyone else who was recently published! Your unique insights and ideas are invaluable.

Anna Meixler

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