How your so-called “quarantine weight” is really a damaging idea

Graphic by Esra Rakab/Production Coordinator

cw: discussions of eating disorders, food and body image

As spring and summer roll around, the rhetoric we grew up hearing about the “perfect summer body” also comes around. Despite the dialogues about body positivity and eating disorders that are increasingly creeping up in our social dialogue, the societal norms of what is an attractive body still dominate our narrative.

Many people have always experienced a certain level of pressure to have a certain physical appearance and if one does not have what we can now call “pretty privilege,” they may be discriminated against.

Studies have shown that a bias against people who are not conventionally attractive is a very real phenomenon associated with how you are perceived on dating apps and even more surprisingly, one’s ability to gain promotions at work.

Studies have shown that a bias against people who are not conventionally attractive is a very real phenomenon associated with how you are perceived on dating apps and even more surprisingly, one’s ability to gain promotions at work.

So how have the demands of beauty standards changed in our current time of the pandemic? With gyms closed and no need to dress well (albeit just a nice shirt for a Zoom meeting over your pyjama pants), how is it that we continue to be so self-conscious about our bodies, that we dread the moment our baggy winter sweaters leave us when warmer weather comes along?

Many online influencers on YouTube, TikTok and other popular social media platforms constantly preach about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through rigorous exercise and an impeccably “healthy” diet. “Quarantine workout routines” dominate the algorithms of all social media we consume, but I believe this trend to be of poor taste. 

Saying that you need to maintain a rigorous exercise routine when all of us are isolated and locked in our house stems from a place of immense economical privilege, misinformation about the human body and a disregard for how our mental health is looking currently.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating a reasonable exercise regimen and a nutritious meal plan in lockdown, for many of us, it is incredibly difficult to build a picture-perfect lifestyle as we’ve seen rich influencers do online.

With gyms being closed or inaccessible, not everybody has the means to buy workout equipment, the space in their living area to do exercises or the mental energy to be able to do the latest Chloe Ting challenge

Many individuals are unable to afford nutritious food and are eating what they can to feel satisfied and have enough motivation to fight through another day.

The idea of the dreaded “quarantine weight” is unnecessarily punishing a whole generation of young people who were already greatly impacted by unrealistic expectations from photoshopped social media pictures prior to 2020.

It may be difficult to accept, but your body has allowed you to survive in the middle of a pandemic and it is enduring unbelievable amounts of stress on your behalf.

It is tempting to beat yourself about not having a perfect sleep schedule, a perfect work schedule, or a perfect diet and / exercise schedule like you see many thin online influencers claim to have in their “Get Ready with Me, Morning Routine Edition” videos.

But it’s okay to not have a perfectly aesthetic bedroom to sleep in and most importantly, it’s okay for you to enjoy food and not feel guilty about it.

But it’s okay to not have a perfectly aesthetic bedroom to sleep in and most importantly, it’s okay for you to enjoy food and not feel guilty about it.

Organizations such as McMaster’s own Women and Gender Equity Network even took the time to host virtual initiatives such as “Bodies are Dope” which addressed many of these issues and even provided spaces for racialized bodies to talk about some of their experiences.

If you are feeling alone during quarantine, WGEN provides weekly spaces for Mac students to drop by and talk about anything they feel is weighing on them. WGEN is also able to connect you with a variety of appropriate resources, should you need them.

Please be gentle with yourself and understand that even if you are unsatisfied with your body and wish to change it later on down the line, there is absolutely no rush to do so and you are allowed to take care of yourself at a pace that is right for you.

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In an era that has witnessed the steady rise of YouTube and its own brand of celebrities, it seemed only natural that literary web series adaptations would find their way into the vlogging sphere at some point.

Well known for their reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice into 2012’s Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Pemberley Digital has led this up and coming genre, lining up the ranks with the Emma adaptation Emma Approved, and Frankenstein MD. There is no shortage of alternatives outside Pemberley Digital, either. Some adaptations are definitely better than others, but there is nonetheless a series for almost every area of the literary spectrum. If Jane Austen isn’t quite your cup of tea, Anne Shirley is a seventeen-year-old vlogger in Green Gables Fables, and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre comes to vlogging life in The Autobiography of Jane Eyre. Whether you’re up for Edgar Allan Poe retold in A Tell Tale Vlog, or Peter Pan reimagined in The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy, YouTube has something for you.

Particularly popular for these web series adaptations, however, is the world of Shakespeare.

As someone who has at one point become too weary of Romeo and Juliet retellings and didn’t quite enjoy the web series Jules and Monty as much as I’d like to, I wasn’t too excited about discovering The Candle Wasters. The Candle Wasters is a team of four young women that produced a New Zealand-based adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing roughly a year ago, and if anything, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t find them sooner.

Their adaptation, Nothing Much To Do, is a reimagining told through three different YouTube channels — one for the modern Beatrice, one for the modern Benedick, and a third, more neutral vlog, to show parts of the story not present in Beatrice and Benedick’s stories. Beatrice (Harriett Stella) and Benedick (Jake McGregor) are high school students caught, to the dismay of their group of shared friends, in a heated rivalry that often gets in the way of the gang’s daily shenanigans. The bitter air between the two, however, makes way for a romantic storyline as the drama in the core of the story unfolds and they are forced to re-evaluate the dynamics of their peer group.

There’s more characters featured in this series than most adaptations, but instead of being scattered and overwhelming, Nothing Much To Do thankfully does not allow any characters, major or minor, to fall flat. The actors are convincing and lovable in each of their roles, and the chemistry between the two main characters rounds out a charming, well-developed cast. The larger number also allows the series to branch out from the typical bedroom-restricted monologues, and most episodes feature different filming locations and interactions with secondary characters.

The plot does take a while to pick up, but the modernized adaptation of the same storyline and at times even the exact same scenes from the original Shakespeare is refreshing and realistic enough that you can’t begrudge the slow pace of the first few episodes. Multiple elements of the original Shakespeare play are brilliantly present in the narrative, smoothly transitioned into the world of teenage woes and impressively far from being anachronistic. It’s obvious that The Candle Wasters have closely studied the material they’re working with, from clever allusions to specific lines in Much Ado About Nothing to cheeky references to other Shakespeare plays passed off as offhand remarks. Combined with an amazing cast and extremely well written dialogue, this easily makes Nothing Much To Do my new favourite literary adaptation on YouTube.

The Candle Wasters are currently working on Lovely Little Losers, an adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost serving as a sequel to Nothing Much To Do. They have recently launched a Kickstarter for Bright Summer Night, an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and with what I’ve seen so far, I can vouch for the fact that this production crew is brilliant at what they do, and deserves all the support they can get.

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By: Imaiya Ravichandran 

I, and I’m sure many of you as well (at least, I hope), visit Youtube at least once a day. Whether it is to watch the latest viral video, or to indulge in the obligatory daily dose of cute kitten videos, over one billion unique users fall victim to the endless abyss of funny, intriguing, and flat out weird content conveniently catalogued on this website. Standing alongside giant television and movie conglomerates, it is somewhat surprising that this start-up, rooted in humble beginnings above a Japanese restaurant in California, managed to become one of the world’s primary sources of entertainment.  Of course, this incredible feat can be attributed to the accessibility and flexibility of the Internet, which most people prefer to the rigidity of TV and movie schedules. However, now that TV and movies are becoming increasingly available online, what else can explain Youtube’s continued success? Perhaps the answer lies in the modern “Youtube celebrity” whose content provides an inimitable degree of intimacy with its viewers.

There are several reasons why one would favour the approachable, flawed Youtuber instead of the inhumanly attractive celebrity. Though I shamelessly admire George Clooney in all his pepper-hair glory on screen, or hysterically shriek at the TV whenever Queen Bey performs, I am aware that these personalities are performing for legions of devoted fans. There is no true sense of connection between them and myself, although I often trick myself into believing otherwise (in a superficial sense…I’m not a stalker, guys). However, when interacting with a Youtube celebrity, this buffer is all but completely eradicated. Their content is so personal and genuine that you lose sight of the other hundreds of thousands of subscribers who are also closely bonding with the Youtuber in question. The reverence once felt towards the distant celebrity is now replaced with a new type of admiration, one that is summed up by the phrase: “they’re just like us!”

But they’re not just like us. In addition to surprisingly hefty salaries, Youtube celebrities possess a type of clout that many would argue is more powerful than that of their Hollywood celebrity counterparts. It stems from their uniquely close relationship with their viewers. While their following may not be as large as a traditional celebrity’s, the reach that they do have is much more influential. We put Youtubers on a pedestal, trusting them as we would a dear friend.

And so, it was understandably appalling for many Youtube audiences when news broke in March 2014 that two beloved British Youtubers, Tom Milsom and Alex Day, had been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple viewers.

In Milsom’s case, Tumblr user Olga accused him of emotionally and sexually abusing her throughout the course of their relationship; at the time of their courtship, she was only 15 and he was 21. Day’s accusers, eight in total, provided various accounts of sordid experiences with the popular vlogger, with the two most harrowing being of him coercing women to sleep with him – by definition, him engaging in rape. Milsom and Day were the second and third artists signed to the Youtube-centric record label DFTBA to be accused of some sort of sexual misconduct. Only a month earlier, former label-mate Mike Lombardo was sentenced to five years in jail for possession of child pornography.

I had been subscribed to Alex Day, or “nerimon” as he is known on Youtube, since I was 13 years old.  As a staunch feminist, to hear of him and his friend’s atrocious behavior was certainly infuriating and disgusting, but first and foremost it was disappointing. It was profoundly different than if an elusive, unattainable celebrity had committed a crime. Here was a figure that I had looked up to, who I had laughed with, whose struggles and triumphs it felt like I had shared in. I was not alone in my attachment to Alex, nor in the blow that followed when my trust in him was breached. The allegations against Alex originated as blog posts on Tumblr. The diary-esque nature of the posts lent themselves to a cathartic release of his victims’   frustrations and disturbing tales of how they too had once admired Alex, only to have him use his position of power in an unmistakably inappropriate fashion.

The scandal elicited an impassioned response from the Youtube community. Response videos spread like wildfire, DFTBA swiftly dropped Day and Milsom from their roster, and a general call was made for increased discourse about the rampant presence of sexual abuse, sexism, and abuses of power in the Youtube community. The trope of an authoritative figure manipulating a less powerful victim is deeply embedded within the mores of the entertainment industry. However, it is especially pernicious in the Youtube context because it is a space in which large masses of potential victims feel safe with and close to their potential manipulators.

A small number of critics suggest that audience members guard themselves more warily against famous Youtubers. To always remember that there is a computer screen separating you and that charming British vlogger, and that you can never know anything more than what is depicted in a mere three minute long video. But I resent this suggestion. It goes without saying that it is important to be safe on the internet. It is equally important (and obvious) that one should not blindly trust a celebrity. However, to encourage barriers and distance between viewers and Youtubers would be to erode the very essence of openness upon which the Youtube community is built. If we teach viewers to not grow attached to a Youtuber, should they also not wear short skirts when walking along a street? Or have a drink before going out? Hopefully, you can understand the preposterous nature of these recommendations. They unjustly shift the onus from the Youtubers, who should be cognizant of their powerful positions and not exploit them, to the audience.

I bring all this up because recently, another Youtuber named Sam Pepper has come under fire for sexual misconduct, which he brazenly displays in multiple of his videos.  Moreover, after a seven-month hiatus, Alex Day returned to Youtube with a video entitled “The Past”, in which he embarks on a half-hour tangent detailing a slew of feeble excuses “defending” his past conduct.  I’m comforted that a sizeable portion of comments express contempt towards both Sam and Alex’s actions, adjudicating that sexual abuse and its perpetrators have no place in the Youtube community. However, the remaining reactions form a considerably large group who claim solidarity with the ostracized Youtubers. They suggest that “Youtube give them a second chance.” I wonder why these people feel this way. Most do not dispute the accuracy of the allegations against the Youtubers, nor do they challenge the severity of their crimes. Rather, they harken back to videos of the past, ones that depict their fallen heroes in all their charming, charismatic glory.  And then, I realize that they too are victims, in some sense, of the intoxicating Youtube celebrity.

Welcome to ANDY's picks, a weekly must-hear playlist curated by our esteemed ANDY editors Tomi Milos and Michael Gallagher. This week's theme features artists who performed at the Supercrawl festival which took place this past weekend. You can listen below, or follow this link to playlist on Spotify.

 

Shane Madill
The Silhouette

In October 2011, the YouTube Original Channel Initiative was created and resulted in a substantial number of celebrities and regular people alike seeking a piece of the $100 million investment pie.

Designed to kick start Google TV, these channels either created entirely new brands, or allowed established content creators to expand outwards in an effort to gain more viewers and advertising revenue. YouTube doubled down on their gamble a year later and offered another $200 million stimulus to the program by giving chosen channels an additional investment.

However, a few things went wrong. The initiative was a relative failure, as the vast majority of channels were unable to recuperate the initial investment.

This concept of large-scale investing also began to alienate the more amateur core that made up the vast majority of YouTube video-makers, and demonstrated a polarizing focus on a television-like format, as opposed to than the conventional viral video approach.

The second round of investment was more intensely focused, and cut the initial 160 channels down to around 60, leaving many content creators behind. The ones that did manage to break through and add a respectable amount of viewers tended to be established brands rather than new channles. Examples of these well-known brands include the WWE, Red Bull, Mondo Media, The Onion, ESPN’s Grantland and Pitchfork.

Larger name celebrities that joined the initial wave, including Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Madonna and Amy Poehler, have mostly moved on from the experment. These people either returned to their respective media careers, receive a small amount of views relative to their public status, or no longer release many videos.

YouTube has since switched over to smaller grants to those who already have experience in online videos, demonstrating that they have learned from their mistakes. The site has tended to work best when channel content is not forced, but order viagra develops and grows over a period of time (with the occasional phenomenon here and there).

If content creators show consistency in their craft, they can always apply for the YouTube Partner Program, which offers programs to help uploaders monetize their work and expand their audience.

What has changed for the common viewer over the past two years as a result of the Original Channel Initiative? Not a lot. Besides the influx of videos around the time of the initiatives, and the lingering presence of established brands, only some original content emerged.

Yet, the lessons learned from this Initiative, an often overlooked aspect of the Internet’s short history, show how truly unique modern media is and how carefully it must be managed in order to satisfy its users.

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There’s nothing quite like winning Roll Up the Rim. But when you win in the student centre, Terri Marshall makes your win even more memorable.

Marshall has become an overnight celebrity for serenading students with cheers and a “Winner-Style” dance.

A student customer first filmed Teri during her cheer and posted the clip on YouTube. The YouTube video clip is entitled, “Tim Horton’s Employee of the Year?”. When the video first went up, Marshall was unaware of it. Within the first two days the clip received 77, 000 views.

As of Friday morning, the video had close to 600,000 views.

Terri is well known for being a friendly face in the Student Centre.

“Terri is the nicest person. A lot of students don’t know her personally but she goes out of her way to say the sweetest things and exponentially brightens all of our days,“ said YouTube user Whitneh23 in a comment on the video.

When asked what her secret was to being so cheery, she said simply, “it’s just in my nature.”

“I love doing things to shock and catch students' eye.”

Marshall explained how she came up with “Winner Style” this year, after students kept coming up to her asking when Roll Up the Rim season was beginning. Students were so accustomed to her dancing and cheering last year that she came up with “Winner Style” as something new for this year.

The story has grown exponentially, and reached news outlets all over Canada, including CHCH, CBC, Huffington Post Canada, Yahoo Canada and Canoe.ca.

“As a regular Tim’s customer, going every day, Terri is always over-the-top friendly to everyone. Campus is lucky to have her," said Mac student Andrew Terefenko.

By: Yara Farran

 

Dear YouTube Tutorials,

I’ve figured you out. It didn’t take much effort, just a few sleepless nights and a half empty lasagna tray.

I discovered your inner workings and the construction of your soul (that is, if you even have one). You may market yourselves as something for all people to enjoy, what with your deceiving screen caps and alluring blurbs. However, dear YouTube tutorials, you are not beneficial to my growth as an individual. You do not truly nourish the side of my spirit that likes to indulge in back to school fashion or experimental hairstyles. Instead, you force me to sit at my computer, dedicate time that I do not have, give out love that I cannot spare, just so that I can watch you explain bobby-pin tricks. Well guess what? I’ve had enough of you and your fickle nature (don’t whisper sweet nothings into my ear—you have 15 thousand other subscribers to woo).

Remember that time when I had an assignment and you told me it would be okay if we spent 15 minutes together? I complied, popped some popcorn and intently listened as you explained the differences between a kabuki brush and a powder brush. You took advantage of my naïveté. Maybe it was your smoldering HD gaze and that moving, sharp sound that made me forget that I don’t even own such brushes. Do you recall that winter evening when the snow fell violently outside? The house smelled like freshly baked goods (thanks Costco!) and was warmed by the crackling fire. I was about to do some leisurely reading, but you decided to interrupt with your know-it-all attitude. As you beckoned me, a sense of excitement coursed through my veins. I rationalized that watching one video would be nice before I delved into my novel. I was wrong again. We spent the entire night sharing skincare tips and Christmas makeup advice. The fire soon died out and my novel lay untouched on the table.

If that wasn’t enough, you’ve impeded on my social life as well. Instead of discussing our lives, or divulging in the latest personal discoveries, my friends and I talk about you.

“You can make a vest out of a scarf!” A friend once said.

“You can put mayo/flour/the tears of virgins in your hair.” Another friend revealed over the phone.

“You can repurpose your hair elastics into small scale weaponry,” another whispered excitedly, “really cute weaponry.”

You know what the worst part about this whole thing is? It’s the fact that you don’t even care. I may hand over my precious time and dispel my inner secrets and insecurities to you, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a number—just another subscriber and believer to your quick-fix gospel. And so, while you gain more fame and fortune (did you just get a MAC Cosmetics contract?), I will learn to rid myself of your materialistic clutches.

I will free myself from home remedies and chunky cable knit sweater ensembles.

Yours no longer,

Kabuki Brush-Less Viewer

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