Pledging Allegiance to One Flag Only

NPR and the local radios have been taking callers expressing their opinions about the Charleston tragedy, which has sparked larger controversy over the Confederate flag. Working for my high school newspaper in northern Virginia, I contemplated the topic during a piece dealing with race, in which I interviewed a diversity of students. Not one of the students whom I spoke with believed that the Confederate flag was an acceptable motif or symbol. One of my peers even explained his misconception about the flag’s history, seeing it only as a way of displaying Southern pride (until he came to understand its associations and context). 

Erected as a symbol of the South, its declared President and the values it fought for, the Confederate flag brings to mind the Civil War era: the most divisive time period in American history. The Civil War, inspired by and fought for for more reasons than one, is undeniably marked by the brutality of slavery. While listening to the radio, many claimed that the Confederate flag stands for southern pride or for their ancestors who were veterans of the Confederation. Obviously the Confederate lost to the Union and thankfully, all fifty states are under one United States of America, one president and one flag. Pride in one’s ancestors or home is understandable and should go without need for justification, regardless of disagreement to fundamental principles they may have believed in. However, the flag is a widespread symbol tainted by the very principles the Confederacy stood for. 

The Confederate flag may not stand to instigate, but the context from which it was born should not be forgotten or replaced. The Confederate flag should not fly in fronts of government buildings (or at all, in my opinion). This is not an encroachment of privacy or upon individual rights — this is a decision founded upon a consensus that the larger connotations of the flag — slavery, divisiveness, secession — overshadow personal meaning and should not stand at the forefront of American foundations or values, but inside of a museum where its meaning will be preserved with other memories of the past.  

As is the choice to fly the flag and believe in its continuity, the choice for companies, such as Amazon and Walmart, to discontinue its sale is completely within their rights. Reddit, an online news/social media forum, has taken steps to shut down communities deemed to encourage hatred or condemning of certain groups of people. In response to an idea heard on the radio: their choice to discontinue Confederate flag merchandise is completely unlike discontinuing the sale of LGBTQ merchandise. The LGBTQ flag symbolizes peoples’ pride and encourages their own self and societal acceptance. Fundamentally, it promotes love, not hatred. If there were a flag symbolizing hatred toward the LGBTQ community, that one would be unacceptable in accordance with Amazon’s policies. The Confederate flag is like its opposition; while it may promote unity amongst people of the American South, it also draws a division between America and within a community that once stood as a force against the other half. 

To address fears over encroachment on rights and freedoms of speech, worries over whether other motifs, such as the cross, should not be had. The Confederate flag is more than a symbol of unity: it is a symbol of hatred and a statement of one side against the other. To compare a flag of racial supremacy can be compared only to the Nazi flag (not churches, or anything else). 

The swastika, originally a Sanskrit motif meaning “well-being" (which has since been tarnished), was taken and used by the Nazis, who conducted one of the largest genocides in history, targeting multiple groups of peoples they superficially perceived as beneath them: most famously, people of Jewish faith. Nazi Germany and the Confederate States of America existed as vastly different bodies in their actions, intentions and contexts. Yet the Nazi flag is now banned in Germany, France (with the exception of historical purpose) and Hungary. This opinion is not unpopular; actress Whoopi Goldberg stated, “It would be like having the swastika flag flying on your next-door neighbor. If it continues to fly, the statement that’s being made is that ‘We miss this really crappy part of history.'” 

The fact that church shooter Dylan Roof used the Confederate flag to declare his twisted belief in white supremacy and in some eyes, to reignite a race war, is not illogical. The flag stands for exactly this, despite additional meanings it may take on by individuals. The weight of history is not one that can be replaced.

On the topic of the race war, I would like to highlight another point on the radio concerning race and whether it matters: one caller stated that if racism existed, then Rachel Dolezal could never have gained power. Thankfully, the radio host proceeded to almost immediately thank and dismiss her. This does not prove that racism does not exist because an African American person can gain political influence; it has proved a widespread agreement that one’s race and ethnic background is not a choice, but an unchangeable part of oneself that is fundamental to being and pertinent to perspective and consequently, societal perception and experience. 

Racism will not simply cease to exist with the banning of the flag and the events of the Civil War will not fade to fiction. For those who fight that the flag is not racist, is it as easy to deny the fact that the Confederacy existed to divide and separate? Honor of individuals should not be stuck to a flag, but should exist in memories of people who should be able to place meaning in people as they are instead of causes they stand for. Was Roof’s usage of the Confederate flag so far manipulated that its meaning was indecipherable? Was it so far off from its roots that his donning was illogical? 

Southern society may be decorated with Confederate-themed paraphernalia and a single flag’s removal may seem insignificant in terms of its extensiveness, but the larger statement that its removal will make will echo hope for the future of America. Just because change may be hard to make or peoples’ ways of thinking may be ingrained or unchangeable, it should not discourage a belief in change. South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright stated, “These are honorable men who fought for their homes, their home state; to disgrace them in the name of political correctness is just wrong. They’re not here to defend themselves.” 

The removal of the flag is not a disgrace to their honor and the sacrifices they made will be forever remembered; but the flag has been a longtime symbol of Confederate values, which are outdated and no longer have a place in American society. The honor of the soldiers will remain, but alone, and without need for support by the flag. At the cornerstone of the flag are beliefs in separation, resistance and supremacy. By removing the flag, we are not removing the existence of these soldiers or their individual lives; we are removing the side for which they fought: one that exists no longer, losing to a unification that is the strength at the core of the United States of America. 

While memories and honor of Confederate soldiers are not up to us to judge to remain, the flag as a symbolic cause should not. By removing the flag, we are taking a step to remove a way of thinking. We are not working backwards; we are working for a stronger future based upon unity and acceptance and without any semblances of separation or hints of supremacy. 

The unforgiving history that flies with the Confederate flag is one that cannot be buried or denied — it is one that will ring with reminders of slavery, divisiveness and a history of hatred and discrimination, and should be lowered from its staff and laid to rest. 


Movie: Jurassic World

(*no spoilers alert!)

The first dinosaur theme park may have been shut down (with good reason), but the movies just keep on coming. Breaking a world record with a $511.8 million debut in the box office, the fascination with dinosaurs doesn't stop. An inevitable looming presage contrasts the wildly successful attraction, Jurassic World, on Isla Neblar, where everything is running smoothly at the park with a predictable set of main character prototypes.

Trouble starts brewing in paradise with small mishaps, thanks to brothers Gray (Ty Simpkins) and Zach (Nick Robinson), and the climax starts to develop when the park's newest attraction (soon to be unveiled), the Indominus Rex (the foreshadowing of the name!), causes fatal confusion and everything turns from tranquil and peace to full-out chaos in only a few scenes.

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A hugely devoted follower of Parks and Rec, I was unsure of what to expect from hilarious comic/actor, Chris Pratt, playing Owen (apparently he already proved his leading man acting chops in Guardians of the Galaxy). Without him, what would his leading lady, Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) be? Probably dead. Actually, everyone would have probably died right away.

Not only was Owen impressive as the animal-whispering, ex-military man bada** who sticks to his good guy morals, Pratt's delivery of strength and acting saved the mostly unknown main cast from oblivion (and subsequent death as a not-so-important supporting character). For New Girl fans, you get your dose of Nick Miller-ish dorkiness (Jake Johnson).

(One of my favorite lines was when Claire, Gray, Zach and Owen are driving the car away from just barely escaping death and the boys ask:

"Can you stay with us forever?" [in a non-cheesy way]

"Of course, I'll always be here," says Aunt Claire who's now trying really hard to be a good aunt (probably because it feels like they're all going to die soon).

Then the boys look at her and say, "We meant Owen." ... "Yeah, definitely him." -- What a BA, right?! The guys just met him. But I guess he did just save their lives with his insane survival skills.)

One of the subplots leaves enough opening for a sequel (science never stops, does it?), but with an amount of investment that's forgettable and irrelevant enough. After watching the movie, I would most likely return to theatres to watch the next installment of Jurassic, but I wouldn't mind if there was an entirely new cast (with the exception of Pratt -- you can leave out the girl, though... their mini romance wasn't all that great). The movie also paid homage to the original Park in a few scenes (R.I.P. Ray Arnold)

With a predictably sky-high death count and a theme park that, despite the fact that it's inevitably doomed, Jurassic World was just as good as you would expect (from a sequel). With all the hype over the chaos that ensues and the problem that seems unfixable (thanks, science), the ending seems to fall a little flat and might leave viewers saying "that's it?!" (well, I did). However, the movie itself was entertaining, the plot was somewhat predictable but suspenseful nonetheless, and the CGI and set was visually flawless and enviable. Jurassic World is like the theme park itself: a fun ride that entertains, but leaves you wishing for just a little more.

Review: Eyeliners

(from left to right)

  1. Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner*
  2. stila stay all day liquid eye liner*
  3. LORAC Front of the Line Pro Liquid Eyeliner (waterproof)
  4. e.l.f. Liquid Eyeliner 
1.  My everyday liner: I'm the most familiar with this tip and I don't need waterproof for daily makeup. I like this tip because it's stiff and sharp, and the liquid goes on smoothly. 

2. During a beach trip with friends, I noticed their eyeliner was still perfectly on-point even after they came from swimming in the water. This liner came highly recommended (and well-tested) as one that applies easily and stays really well. This is the first waterproof liner I've used, and, like mascaras, waterproof ones tend to be drier and last longer. 

3. I use this one the least, but it's still pretty good. The tip is stiffer than the stila, which I like, but I do like the stila formula liner better. 

4. When I first started with liquid liner, I started with this $1.00 one from Target. I used to really like this one, but after switching to Revlon, it was hard for me to revert back to the long, flimsy tip. While it's easy to apply, it's hard to control and doesn't do a great job of lasting. 

As a not-so-longtime fan of liquid eyeliner, I'm still experimenting with different brands to find one that does the job -- the "job" meaning that it doesn't smear or rub off and it's easily controllable and applicable.

When I first started wearing eyeliner, I went with pencil, but found it rubbed off far too easily (#monolidproblems), though it was easy to apply and control. Another drawback was that some pencils/crayons would either dull quickly or be the type that you can't sharpen. My favorite pencil was one by Maybelline.

For awhile, I used gel liner after a friend persuaded me it was extremely effective and revolutionary in eyeliners. I still like gel liner, but it's more time-consuming than both pencil and liquid. While it stays better than pencil, I've found that the most effective and persistent eyeliner combo is to first draw with gel then outline and sharpen with liquid.

I'm currently a devoted liquid liner user and will be for awhile. I like the sharpness of the tip for extending eyeliner up or down, how long it lasts, the control of the tip and the darkness of the application.


Tech Fundamentals: Academic apps to keep you on track

Originally published by the Collegiate Times as Lifestyles.

Students studying computer science, multimedia journalism or anything in between (including university studies), should be familiar with common online tools and resources that are crucial to succeed as a Hokie. Here are some resources every new student should be familiar with, including some new ones.

Hokie Spa is where students applied for admission to Virginia Tech. It is also where students update personal information (phone number, address, etc.), register for classes (timetable, drop/add, course request), access academic records, set up housing and dining and allow others to access information (such as parental access to finances).

Scholar is an online resource center for professors and students to share information, including syllabi, assignments and grades. Depending on the course and the professor, students may also take quizzes, submit assignments and participate in virtual class discussions in designated class sections. Each class is given a section with information the professor may or may not choose to post. Most teachers utilize these resources (especially online classes), but some choose to stick to pencil and paper or to use their own website.

In the library, Virginia Tech offers Rosetta Stone as a free online resource to all students using their Virginia Tech login. There are over 20 available languages, from Mandarin and Dutch to Hindi and Turkish. This is found on the second floor of Newman Library, in the Language Lab classroom. It’s located near the elevators for use as a quiet spot for Rosetta Stone, equipped with personal tables and chairs.

An essential app for those enrolled in a Math Empo class is BT4U; this app is available on the computer and mobile devices. Blacksburg Transit might seem a tricky at first, but familiarizing oneself with the bus system and schedules eases travel in the long run. Search by route name and stop code to find the bus nearest you to get where you need to go. You can also view the LiveMap to find routes and stops.

There are several mobile apps with bus schedules, but this site has been the most reliable and accurate from personal experience.

For those looking to plan their schedule visually, myEdu helps you to choose classes and view them on a weekly schedule by day and time. Sign up for free and input university information to access automatic searches by class and time information.

Hokie Mobile is an iPhone app that features campus maps, directories and university news. Its best feature is “My Courses,” which allows users to input their class schedule into the iPhone calendar, so alerts can be set up.

Free on iPhones and Macs, iProcrastinate can be set up to match both devices and has a simple interface to set up subjects, assignments and alerts in a list format and calendar view. Assignments can be rated by importance with added details and organized by subject. This electronic planner is especially helpful in classes where professors announce homework quickly (and sometimes after students are halfway out the door).

As an overly ambitious aspiring morning person, Sleep Cycle alarm clock has been a lifesaver in helping me to not miss early classes and train myself to have a consistent and healthy sleep schedule. Worth the $1.99 on Apple or $1.69 on Android, this app analyzes movement during sleep and sets a 10 to 90 minute range for wakeup time with a customizable alarm and vibration. It also has other smart features, including a sleep aid to assist in falling asleep and sleep notes to aid in statistics it takes on rest.

Multitasking may be a great skill, but not when a 20-page essay is due in two hours. Free on Mac, SelfControl will ensure productivity no matter what — even if it’s deleted. Set a timer to block a list of sites and access is denied if the computer is restarted or if the app is deleted.

If SelfControl isn’t enough to stop the distractions, Isolator blocks out all other applications except for one. View is customizable to help the user concentrate on a single application, whether it’s finishing a lab report or submitting a test.

Perfect for group projects, Join.Me allows connection and productivity without the hassle of scheduling a time and place to meet. Users can share screens and communicate through audio. This app is popular for business professionals, as well.

A completely student-run website, Course Pickle is a simple and free notification service that sends email or text message alerts when a class opens in Drop/Add. Email notifications are free and texts are $1.00. Simply search and select courses, input email and wait for the alerts to arrive and grab the class. No spam or tricks here.

For many classes, the professor can make or break the subject. Before selecting a class, try to do research on the professor on Koofers, a site featuring student reviews of teachers, with comments, GPA average, teaching style, level of difficulty and more. For those unsure of what professor to enroll with, Koofers allows users to search by not only name, but also best, worst, difficulty or class.

With these tools and apps, you’ll be ahead of the curve when August rolls around.


Movie: "Pitch Perfect 2"

(*no spoilers alert!)

After loving Pitch Perfect more every time I watched it and rewatched it again, I had high expectations for Pitch Perfect 2. Back with the original cast (plus major addition Hailee Steinfield as Emily), the sequel delivered a hilariously entertaining musical show. The second (like most sequels) wasn't quite as "aca-awesome" as the first, but was worth a watch all the same.

The major problem for the "Barden Bellas" (fast-forward three years) is that they've just gotten kicked off their championship rounds after a little-more-than-slightly disastrous wardrobe malfunction by Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson). Introduce super intimidating German acapella group, "Das Sound Machine," headed by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Flula Borg. The Barden Bellas go on a quest to save the future of their team by winning it at the Worlds acapella competition.

Featuring successful YouTube-famous group, Pentatonix, along with Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, Christina Aguilera and others, the cast was plenty with musical talent and star-studded performances and cameos.

There were multiple subplots, including Fat Amy's love affair, Beca's (Anna Kendrick) new gig and the rekindling of confidence and sisterhood; but, the performance overall was essentially a show more than a movie. Lacking clear direction and focus, the musical performances were more packed, yet still impressive. But a new song, "Flashlight," sung by Hailee Steinfield (written by Sia and Sam Smith!) destined to be the breakout hit in an attempt to echo the wildly (and humbly) successful single, "Cups" (but, no surprise, fell short). Also, kudos to you, OPs of the song — not everyone forgot you existed (at least they knew at some point, right?).

The returning characters were classic, needless to say, but new member Emily lacked appeal and delivered little to the plot or to the humor. Like her original song, my guess is that she was also destined to be the perfectly (but actually humbly) planned likeable, girl-next-door-ish Taylor Swift gal pal character. I didn't feel it.

The musical numbers were more than plentiful. But, with so many choices, no one stood out as particularly memorable. The humor wasn't quite able to compensate for the lack of plot, but the cameos (sorry, no spoilers for you) were enough to distract us.

Of course, there were lots of jokes and jabs (don't worry, insults were fairly distributed — mostly) and genuine in-character lines and moments. Without subjecting the movie to comparison against its more successful original, it was a funny movie worth a watch. But it's impossible not to compare: I admit that I did have high hopes for the second (always hoping for that equally promising sequel, right?) and this pitch fell just a little flat.

Pitch Perfect 3 has gotten the go from Universal Pictures after the impressive box office successes of the series. Though no one's officially signed on yet, Rebel Wilson has expressed strong interest in returning (how could they have the movie without her, honestly?) and what would the third movie be without Anna Kendrick (more debatable than Wilson)? Hailee Steinfield will most likely return after her "character development" (you can't make us like her!) and Elizabeth Banks, director of both Pitch Perfects, has not confirmed her return.

Most of the cast is technically graduating, but it didn't stop three-time super senior Chloe (Brittany Snow) from returning for the second (who's actually ready to graduate and leave college, amirite?). With the possibility of Taylor Swift joining the cast in the third (she's friends with Hailee, Skyler Astin and Anna Van Camp, of course), there's no doubt the third will continue to be anything but successful.


Movie: "Everything Before Us"

I am a long-time, loyal fan of Wong Fu Productions, an independent film production company started by Wesley Chan, Ted Fu, and Philip Wang, three University of California (San Diego) grads. Their YouTube has garnered more than two million followers through short films (my favorites), music videos and vlogs. What I appreciate most about their videos are the very typical yet thought-provoking moments that shine through in planning, dialogue, videography and plots of each short. Their stories are playful and serious, and each portrayal of emotion is deep and meaningful. (One of my favorites is "The Last," starring Kinna Grannis and Harry Shum, Jr. -- confession: I cried.)

This past semester, I enrolled in Asian American Experience (a sociology/religion and culture class). This class was unique: for the first time, I was talking openly about culture in both an academic and personal way. It opened a forum for discussion of race and culture in various contexts, one of them being media. As a Multimedia Journalism major and Asian American student, WongFu was of great interest to me and I decided to include it in my studies concerning media and Asian Americans (some broad points of study included "yellowface," "whitewashing," underrepresentation and misrepresentation). 

"We’re committed to portraying Asian Americans in a positive light," Chan said. "It’s important to represent the community as best as we can."

Wang adds, "It's important to show that we're going to build up our star power on our own so that Hollywood can't ignore that we have millions of followers."

In an industry with space for diversity (The Last Airbender, Pitch Perfect's Kimmy Jin and Lily, How I Met Your Mother and most recently, Aloha), WongFu's commitment to portraying Asian Americans fairly and accurately (and portraying them at all) is refreshing and encouraging for the future of Hollywood.

So when the WongFu team announced their plans to produce their very first full-length movie, Everything Before Us (2015), I was pretty excited. The movie's leads include Brittany IshibashiKi Hong LeeChris RiedellJoanna SotomuraRandall ParkVictoria ParkBrandon Soo Hoo and Aaron Yoo. The casting, which is almost entirely comprised of Asian American actors and actresses, was a conscious decision.

(Please take five minutes to watch this! It is honest, direct and refreshing.)

A product of their two and a half year journey, Wang explains that the team originally tried to produce a movie in 2008, but was denied by the movie industry because casting Asian actors was "not a good business choice" and "there was no market for it." When WongFu first started, Wang says they weren't trying to be "pioneers" for Asian Americans; they just wanted to tell good stories and happened to be Asian.

They addressed the question of casting perfectly on social media:

So as both a fan and supporter of the team and their beliefs, I watched the film on Vimeo for $4.99. Like always, their videography was stellar. Their plot dealt with emotions and how our lives revolve around them -- nothing is truly black and white. It was realistic, relatable and entertaining while existing as a purely fictional story. Throughout the film, there were thought-provoking moments and scenarios I reminded myself to reflect upon later and quotes that inspired me to think more deeply about my perspective.

As always, WongFu delivered a wonderfully entertaining, inspiring and moving film that was rich with quality and depth. Their art is a product that speaks for itself -- both in creative expression and in everything that they stand for.

Their film portrays an undeniable reality: that the human experience is one that transcends race.

(Watch the trailer below.)


Journalism Ethics: Photo/Video Rights

This past semester, I learned a little about journalism ethics in my Media Institutions (COMM 2084) class, including First Amendment rights. As our generation learns and grows with social media and technology, it becomes increasingly vital that we understand its impacts, potential and sphere of influence. Social media has given rise to many citizen journalists and continues to globalize our increasingly interconnected global society. We are not only citizens of a country, but citizens of the world. 

Here is a short video by the Washington Post on ethics and rights when it comes to civilian rights photography and videography involving law enforcement. Information is from a collaboration between the International Union of Police Associations and the National Press Photographers Association.

(I summarized the points below) 
  1. You have the right to record and photograph police unless you’re physically interfering with them performing their duties.
  2. You must be on public property, your own property or if you’re on private property, you must have permission from the owner.
  3. Police can tell you to step back, but they cannot tell you to stop recording. They cannot order you to leave the area if other members of the public (without cameras) are allowed to stay.
  4. If you’re going to record police, do it in an open and obvious manner. 
  5. Police say you should avoid interfering and warn not all bystanders know and understand proper use of force. 
  6. (acc. to the U.S. Department of Justice) Under the First Amendment, there are no circumstances under which the contents of a camera or recording device should be deleted or destroyed. 

The McKinney, Texas Pool Party

The debate over police brutality has been constantly making headlines with a new incident over the past months. Without context, stories are easily manipulated or twisted to favor the speaker's opinion (but what goes without bias?). In the most recent episode, the McKinney, Texas pool party, on June 16, 2015, Brandon Brooks, a 15-year-old teenager, posted a seven-minute video showing a police officer using force on a teenage girl to establish order and control when a pool party got out of hand.

Being aware of context when absorbing information from the news is imperative to understanding. That being said, here is a list of facts concerning this particular incident: 
  •  According to a 2015 estimate, the population of McKinney, Texas is at 155,142 people. It was number one on TIME Money's list, Best Places to Live in 2014. According to 2010 census data, 75 percent of the town residents are white and 10 percent are black. 
  • The pool party was hosted by Tatyana Rhodes at Craig Ranch North Community Pool. According to the McKinney police department, they were answering residents' concerns about "multiple juveniles at the location, who do not live in the area or have permission to be there, refusing to leave." The Homeowner's Association rules prohibit more than two guests at the pool. Officers arrived at 7:15 p.m. local time on Friday.
  • According to Rhodes, a racially-charged fight started after two white women told a group of African-American teenagers they should "leave and go back to their Section 8 homes." Brooks said he was one of the "only white people in the area when it was happening." He explained that the fight was between a mom and a girl, and that Becton was "running her mouth," but freedom of speech did not warrant Casebolt's actions. 
  • Cpl. Eric Casebolt, the officer who is seen briefly pulling a gun and putting his knees on the back of Dajerria Becton, 15, (in addition to shouting profanities) was put on leave and later resigned after meeting with the department's internal affairs uint to review possible charges. He was a 10-year veteran of the McKinney police department. His lawyer, Jane Bishkin, explained he was under the stress of the day and "allowed his emotions to get the better of him." 
    • "I'm happy that he's resigning," Rhodes said. "I feel that everyone in McKinney will feel better that he's resigning... it's the first step.
  • According to Michael Quattrin, a community resident whose Facebook post has been shared more than 100,000 shares, explained the situation: 
    • "The teenagers (both black and white) were being brought into our neighborhood by the carload because the DJ was tweeting out invites to a “pool party” for $15 (obviously unauthorized by our neighborhood). The teens began fighting with each other and pushing their way into our private pool. Some were jumping our fence. The security guard was accosted when he tried to stop the beginnings of this mob scene."
  • "The actions of Eric Casebolt are indefensible." Greg Conley, police chief, said. "I had 12 officers on the scene, and 11 of them performed according to their training."
Headlines demanding racial equality are frequent, but Benet Embry, a 43-year-old African American and eight-year resident of McKinney, said,

"Let me reiterate, the neighbors or the neighborhood did not call the police because this was an African-American party or whatever the situation is," he said. "This was not a racially motivated event -- at all. This whole thing is being blown completely out of proportion." I may or may not agree with everything that the police officer did, but I do believe he was trying to establish order."


Review: Mascaras

Pretty lashes top my makeup wishlist -- if I'm feeling a no-makeup day, I might just swipe a little mascara on to look more awake and ready for the day. I have short, straight lashes, so I've experimented with my fair share of mascaras to see which ones lengthen, curl and make my lashes as visible as possible. Here is a review on some mascaras I've tried and some I've worn on the daily.

*starred ones are my go-to's and favorites! I would definitely recommend these (and buy them again!)

Set 1: Drugstore

(from left to right)
  1. Maybelline The Falsies Volum' Express Black Drama*
  2. Maybelline The Falsies Volum' Express Flared
  3. Maybelline Mega Plush Volum' Express
  4. Maybelline Great Lash
  5. CoverGirl LashBlast Volume/Fusion
  6. Maybelline Pulse Perfection Vibrating Mascara
1 & 2:  These two are pretty similar, but I found enough of a difference in more dramatically flared brush. It really eased application, allowing the coat to go on darker and stay longer. The formula was a little wetter than what works best for my lashes, but drier than other drugstore mascaras. It does a good job of thickening lashes.
    3:  The formula wetness is pretty similar to The Falsies, but I wasn't crazy about the bigger, wider brush. The special part of this mascara is that the brush is flexible, but I didn't find that feature helpful.

    4:  I tried a few variations of this mascara because it was so popular and highly rated among magazines, so my expectations were a little too high. The brush and formula were both okay -- and the mascara itself? Also okay.

    5:  It's hard to tell whether the formula runs out really quickly or if it's just dry. The bristles on the brush are much wider than other mascaras (so it went on a little lighter) which was nice to separate lashes -- but only after using a different mascara before it. 

    6:  When this came out, I was pretty excited about the vibrating brush. I think the concept is still really cool, but it doesn't work wonders for me. The bristles on the brush are very wide, like LashBlash/Fusion, and they're also shorter and harder than most brushes.  This product has since been discontinued

    Set 2: Department Store

    (from left to right)
    1. Clinique Lash Doubling
    2. Benefit They're Real!
    3. Laura Geller GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing
    4. Ulta Amped Lashes
    5. Mally Volumizing*
    6. Urban Decay Cannonball Ultra Waterproof*
    7. bareMinerals Lash Domination Volumizing* 
    1:  Overall, I found department store mascaras to have better, drier formulas. I like the formula for this one, but the brush makes it a little tricky to apply. 

    2:  The short, hard bristles help separate lashes after mascara has already been applied (like LashBlast/Fusion). The formula was nice, but I wasn't as crazy about the brush. 

    3:  I really like the brush and the formula for this one! It's on the drier side, goes on smoothly and lengthens lashes. I wish the brush were a little shorter, but the bristles are stiff enough to make for easy application. Because it dries quickly, I like to put one or two coats on.

    4:  I'm not a huge fan of harder, sparser bristles on brushes, but the thickness of the brush was nice. The formula didn't work well for me and didn't coat my lashes smoothly or lengthen/thicken very well. This one's on the cheaper side out of this section.

    5:  I'm not sure if it's the swirly bristles or the formula, but this mascara coated my lashes well and was dry enough to lengthen them. Nothing to change! 

    6:  After reading reviews from some of my favorite beauty bloggers and recommendations from friends, I was excited to try this super-waterproof mascara. It holds true to the waterproof and really helps to hold curl and lengthen. (tip! waterproof mascaras stay forever, hold curl better and won't smudge if you apply to your lower lashes) I really liked this one! 

    7:  Along with Cannonball, my other current favorite. I hadn't heard of this one until I received it as a gift from a friend, but I love this one! It's only a little bit wetter than some of the other department store mascaras, but it applies and dries really smoothly and lengthens and thickens. It's not waterproof, but it holds curl so well it seems to curl lashes. The brush is unique but helps application. 

    My favorites in order: 

    What's your take? Did I miss your favorites? 

    Photography by Lauren Pak


    Studio Art Promotional Flyer

    Mock flyer for Visual Media class (COMM 2034) at Virginia Tech to promote Studio Art major. Created using Adobe InDesign.

    Study Abroad Promotional Flyer

    Mock flyer for the Global Education Office at Virginia Tech. Created using Adobe InDesign.