From beach breaks to country escapes, the UK has it all.Read More »
Travellers are opting to take their cars through the Channel Tunnel rather than fly. The latest figures show a much smaller slump for the vehicle-carrying shuttles than for air.In July, passenger traffic between Folkestone and Calais on Eurotunnel was down barely one-fifth on the same month in the previous year.
On Tuesday, a colossal explosion shook the Lebanese capital of Beirut severely damaging and demolishing the city’s port. For up to six miles away from the blast, parts of the city saw a jarring and overwhelming impact from the blast. By the next morning, more than 100 people were declared dead, over 4,000 people injured, and hundreds reported missing. Videos began circulating the internet shortly after the explosion which happened in the evening local time. Footage of the mushroom cloud, a second explosion, and resulting shock wave went viral and have been viewed by millions worldwide. Meanwhile, officials are still searching for answers about what happened. Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanese general security, said the blast might have been caused by confiscated explosive materials that were stored at the port, reports the Associated Press. Ibrahim dismissed the talk of fireworks as a possible cause, calling it “ridiculous” given the impact. The extent of the damage is still being calculated and comes at a time when the country is already facing economic collapse separate from the coronavirus pandemic. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud told AFP Beirut that the explosion has left approximately 300,000 people homeless with damage extending to over half of the city. It is estimated that it will cost up to $5 billion (£3.8b) to fund repairs. As a result of the extensive damage, a two-week state of emergency was declared. Lebanon’s High Defense Council described Beirut as a “devastated city.”Hospitals, already at capacity due to COVID-19, are now full of injured people. Some of the hospitals were damaged by the blast leaving them unable to treat people or calling for spare generators to keep the electricity running in their buildings. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, officially declared it a day of mourning.As the world watches Beirut try to literally piece the city back together, many are looking for ways to help contribute to those who are suffering from damages. Ahead, we’ve compiled a list of organisations providing aid and funding to those affected by the explosion in Beirut. Beit el BarakaThe Beirut-based non-profit offers help to families and older people in Lebanon who are struggling to afford living expenses. Since the explosion, the organisation shared that it will focus on repairing homes of families that were damaged by the blast and they are currently accepting any kind of assistance. Humanity & InclusionHumanity & Inclusion provides rehabilitation services and post-surgical physical therapy. In response to the explosion, it launched a campaign to help deliver vital rehabilitation and psychosocial care to people who were injured. Lebanese Red CrossWith more than 300 ambulances and 3,000 emergency medical technicians, the Lebanese Red Cross is the country’s main provider of ambulances. You can donate to their organisation here. Impact LebanonThe non-profit organisation set up a fundraising page on JustGiving to collect money for disaster relief, specifically partnering with non-governmental organisations. Currently, the fundraising goal is set to £5 million. Donner Sang CompterFounded a decade ago, Donner Sang Compter helps set up blood drives in Lebanon. The organisation is now focusing its efforts on collecting blood for hospitals in Beirut. Islamic Relief Lebanon Emergency AppealUnder the umbrella of Islamic Relief, a charity that offers international aid and development, the relief appeal aims to provide food, water, and other basic supplies to those in need following the explosion. It is also helping clear the streets of debris and paying people currently out of work to help out. Donate or find more information to get involved at this link. Lebanese Food BankBased in Beirut, the food bank is working to provide people and families with food, provisions, and access to safe spaces. They are accepting monetary or other donations now. Save The ChildrenThis organisation has been working with children and young people across Lebanon for over 60 years. It covers a wide range of needs from education to health to food assistance. Since the explosion, Save The Children announced that they are committed to providing assistance to children and families as well as physical and emotional protection to those affected by the disaster.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Beirut Officials Investigate Massive ExplosionExplosion In Beirut Kills At Least 70How To Help Combat Domestic Violence Right Now
Alicia Keys’ naturally glowy complexion has always made us wonder what beauty products the singer-songwriter has in rotation, even before she first committed to going without makeup in 2016. Now, Keys’ dedication to the beauty revolution is going one step further with the upcoming launch of a lifestyle beauty brand, announced today in conjunction with e.l.f. Beauty.Not to be mistaken for a collaboration, Keys will be launching her very own brand under the e.l.f. Beauty portfolio, which acquired W3LL People earlier this year. The company dropped the news today, revealing that the line is expected to launch in 2021. “We are beyond thrilled to leverage our strengths to help realise Alicia’s vision, as it not only aligns with our mission to make the best of beauty accessible but infuses it with an even deeper dimension,” said Tarang Amin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, e.l.f. Beauty, in a press statement. While we don’t know the specific categories Keys will be entering or the name of the brand just yet, we do know that the formulations will be dermatologist-developed and cruelty-free, according to the company. The fact that it’s operating under the e.l.f. umbrella might also suggest that the prices will be wallet-friendly, like the company’s two other brands.Keys’ new venture will also have a lifestyle component, as the press release explains: “A culmination of Keys’ personal skincare journey and her passion for bringing light into the world, this new lifestyle beauty brand will enable Alicia to further explore conversations about inner beauty, wellness and connection…. The brand aims to bring new meaning to beauty by honouring ritual in our daily life and practicing intention in every action.” Keys hasn’t officially spoken out about the announcement, but we’re eagerly awaiting product specifics — and following the news closely for more updates in the future.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?
Venus, the planet of love, social awareness, and money, is finally exiting its extended four-month stay in Gemini. Its next stop is emotional Cancer on August 7, where it will stay until September 5, says Narayana Montúfar, senior astrologer at Astrology.com. “During the time Venus was retrograde in intellectual Gemini, we experienced an overload of information regarding our society’s overall value system, as well as many of the injustices that have been taking place for way too long,” Montúfar reminds Refinery29. And she’s right — for the past few months, the U.S. has been reckoning with our history of racial oppression and injustice, police brutality, and disparities in healthcare made apparent by the coronavirus pandemic. Now it’s time for a change, as Venus enters the sign of the Crab.“As the goddess of love and pleasure enters Cancer, we will approach the subject of social justice from another perspective,” Montúfar says. “As Venus moves from air to water, we will be able to really feel the injustices we see around us at a much deeper level.” This may be painful, she warns, due to Cancer being one of the most emotional and sensitive signs. “However, from this emotional depth that only a water sign can provide, we are also able to pull the strength to keep on fighting for justice and equality, a theme that is highlighted by the astrology of 2020,” she says.While we have the power to harness our strengths and move forward in our fight for justice while Venus is in Cancer, there will also be a few setbacks we should be ready for.“During this time, we can expect to have emotional meltdowns and breakdowns, as the watery sign will bring on the tears amidst our emotional frustrations,” astrologer Lisa Stardust tells Refinery29. But that doesn’t mean you won’t achieve your goals now. “The good news is that we will be able to move on, as water signs like to go with the flow and embrace new creative ventures openly,” Stardust continues. “We will of course remember the past with an open heart and kindness.”There are a few dates to look at while Venus is in Cancer, too. On August 25, Venus and Jupiter, one of the most positive planets in astrology, will oppose each other — which Stardust says will expand our hearts and generosity. “Don’t expect to have a lot of drive on this day, which is the nature of the transit,” Leslie Hale, psychic astrologer at Keen.com, tells Refinery29. “It is generally considered positive but can in fact be indicative of laziness and sloppiness, and some things can become blown out of proportion or confused.”Another date to look out for, according to Stardust, is August 27. Our emotions will be heightened that day, when Neptune aspects Venus. Hale calls this, “a whimsical day indicative of fantasy, creativity and compassion on many different levels.”Finally, Venus and Pluto’s opposition on August 30 will bring along some power struggles — especially in money. “Look out for a story about the next stimulus check or loans at this time,” Stardust says. “This news will pop on September 2 when Saturn (the government) opposes Venus.”As the planetary ruler of Libra, Venus is the goddess of fairness and justice. Entering into resilient Cancer might be just what 2020 needs. “Like its animal symbol, Cancer has a soft interior, but also a very hard shell that ultimately is there to fiercely protect,” Montúfar says. When necessary, she says, this sign is not afraid to use its claws to protect its home and its people.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?How Uranus, Planet Of Rebels, Rules A GenerationI Used Tarot & Astrology To Catch My Ex CheatingShould You Get A Virtual Psychic Reading?
The first time I was introduced to tea leaf readings was through Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban at the ripe age of 8. And I’ll be honest — Professor Trelawney’s reaction to finding out that Harry had “the grim” in his teacup (an omen of death) was a pretty scary scene for me at the time. But reading tea leaves isn’t just a spooky part of your favourite fantasy franchise — it’s a real practice, and a divination tool that’s not just used by fictional wizards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.Sandra Mariah Wright and Leanne Marrama, two Salem-based witches and authors of Reading the Leaves: An Intuitive Guide to the Ancient Art and Modern Magic of Tea Leaf Divination, believe that anyone who wants to can use this divination tool — in fact, it’s perfect for beginners.“It’s a great way to get started with divination because nobody really expects anybody to memorise what every symbol means,” Wright tells Refinery29. “It’s very open to interpretation.”“I feel that tea leaf readings are for anyone,” Marrama tells Refinery29. “It is a great tool to empower people and help people take control of the future that beholds them.” Marrama points out that tea leaf readings — also called tasseography — can help people make peace with their past. More specifically, she says that “it opens up the soul.” So if you’re ready to dive in to the world of divination, reading your own tea leaves is a great place to start. Here, both Wright and Marrama give us a run-down of everything you’ll need to know. The equipmentFirst thing’s first — the cup. “You’ve got to choose a tea cup, it can’t be a straight up-and-down coffee mug,” Wright explains. “You want those sides to flare out at an angle because you want the leaves to be able to cling to the them.” You should also make sure that your tea cup comes with a saucer of some kind — you’ll see why when we get more into the process.There’s also no need for a specially designed mug, either — you can choose a plain tea cup that you already own, or purchase one that jumps out to you. Just make sure it’s a lighter colour, so the leaves are easier to see.Now for the tea. The best kind to use for a successful reading is loose leaf tea with a broad leaf, and in particular Wright says that oolong or gun powder teas are the best options. Both Wright and Marrama recommend this gunpowder tea that you can purchase from Amazon.“[These teas] with the long leaves are the ones that make great designs,” Wright says. “You don’t really want to use a tea-bag tea. The kind of tea that’s in tea bags has been processed into tiny little pieces and it won’t make the shapes the way a nice oolong or gunpowder loose tea will.” It’s all about the atmosphereOnce you’ve got your tea leaf reading gear all settled, it’s time to mentally prepare for your reading. Do some deep breathing or a meditation beforehand to get in the right, chilled-out mindset. Wright and Marrama recommend something called “grounding” — their book describes it as feeling “fully present in your body, and connected to the strong, stable energy of the Earth.” It’s all about being calm and at peace, whatever that means for you.Think about what you’ll be feeling, hearing, and smelling during this experience. Do you want music? Maybe you want to light a candle or some kind of incense. Set the tone for how your session will go through your senses and set some intentions for your reading.“Let yourself open up while you’re sitting there. Let it come naturally,” Marrama says. “Meditation, a peaceful atmosphere, those are the things that really make that ability grow.” Both of the Salem-based witches emphasise not feeling nervous during your first time reading the leaves. “You don’t have to be perfect in this,” Marrama says. “People make mistakes.”Setting up your atmosphere to be calm after your reading is also an important thing to remember. “Realise that some things may come up that are emotional or leave you with a lot to think about, so you want to have a space to do that,” Wright says. “Giving some thought for after the reading is very important to think about.” Drinking the teaYou’ll want to put about half of a teaspoon of your loose leaf tea in the tea cup. Once your water is boiling, you’ll pour it to fill the cup around 3/4 of the way. Don’t add any milk, cream, honey, or sugar — nothing. And let it steep for three minutes before drinking.During those few minutes, think of the questions you want answered or what things in your life you need guidance on right now. Then, you’ll begin to drink the tea until only a teaspoon or two of water remains. Flipping your cupOnce you’ve reached the end of your tea, you’ll want to swirl the cup in the air in front of you three times. According to Wright and Marrama’s book, “Three is a magic number, and this sets the leaves in motion. It’s another way for you to add your energy to the reading.”After you’ve swirled your tea, you’ll place the saucer upside down on top of your cup and flip it over, allowing the remaining water to drain into the saucer. Wait another minute or two, focusing once again on your questions and intentions for the reading.When you pick up your tea cup, make sure that the handle is closest to your body once it’s flipped right side up. Then, you’ll be able to look at the leaves that are leftover both inside your cup and on your saucer. Interpreting your leavesNow for the fun part — but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional tea leaf reader to interpret what’s in your cup. As you look into your leaves, see what shapes and symbols jump out to you first. For example, a clump of tea leaves may look like a heart to you, or a specific letter, or a number, or even an animal. Take a few moments to study what’s inside — more images may become clearer as you continue to look.As you gather these symbols, see how they fit into your life and how they relate to you personally.“The personal imagery is first, what connects to you and what it means to you,” Marrama explains. “A horseshoe could mean luck to someone, but different to somebody who recently lost their beloved horse. A rose could mean love, but it could mean a message from somebody who’s crossed over. You should apply what you feel within your own soul and heart first.”Wright agrees. “We love people to realise that what they connect with when they first look in the cup is oftentimes the most powerful messages,” she says. “They’re the messages where the symbol means something to you personally even if, in the history of tea leaf reading, that symbol may have other meanings. It will have a layer of meaning for you that goes beyond just what is already there.”In Reading the Leaves, Wright and Marrama have provided an enormous glossary you can refer back to if you want to check in on the traditional meaning of the symbols you’re seeing. For example, if you see a boat, Wright and Marrama’s book says it means, “a meaningful friend or lover will arrive in your life.” If you see a bird, that could mean good luck is on its way. We won’t go into every symbol here, but there are tons of meanings for the little things you’ll notice during your reading.If you end up pulling a Harry Potter and find a frightening omen in your cup, don’t panic. “Remember that you have the power to change the future,” Wright and Marrama write in Reading the Leaves. “Your reaction to the information you receive, your decisions, and your actions all have an impact of how things turn out.”The most important thing to remember, both witches say, is to have fun with it. “Try not to take it so deeply serious,” Wright says. “It’s a beautiful, light way to start getting involved with building your own intuitive skills. Being able to trust yourself and trust your gut is much more important than being right.”Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?How Uranus, Planet Of Rebels, Rules A Generation6 Crystals That'll Uplift Your Bad MoodShould You Get A Virtual Psychic Reading?
There's something wonderfully satisfying about seeing how some of our most beloved music is made. Even if the process is messy or fraught with drama — as these things often go in the music world — it can be fascinating to see the seed of an idea or a burst creative inspiration grow into to a beautifully packaged product that stands the test of time. One of the newest peeks behind the curtain comes in the form of the Showtime documentary The Go-Go's. The film, directed by Alison Ellwood, shows the meteoric rise to fame of the legendary '80s all-female band and their eventual dissolution, all the way to the present, in which they're making new music together for the first time in almost two decades. The Go-Go's joins a pantheon of a what is considered as something of a golden age of music documentaries. And now, even more are spotlighting the women that have made up the music industry but whose stories have often gone untold — or rather, not told on their own terms. From Madonna to Taylor Swift to Beyoncé, ahead are some of the best music documentaries about women.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Don't Worry, The Go-Go's Still Got The Beat13 Documentaries Women Need To SeeEvery Taylor Swift Song From The New Netflix Doc
There have been many ways we’ve had to adapt to a new way of living through the coronavirus pandemic, from social distancing to not seeing friends and family for months on end.But one of the biggest adjustments is wearing a face covering. As of 24 July, face coverings are now mandatory in all shops and supermarkets in England. These rules will also extend to indoor shopping centres, banks, travel hubs and post offices. People who don't will face a fine of up to £100, apart from people with medical conditions and children under 11.
Recipes shared in home kitchens and passed between generations inform the way we eat just as much as the recipes we follow online. To celebrate this, we’re interviewing the chefs, home cooks and food writers we love, where we’ll be talking about how the food we make intermingles with ideas of tradition and cultural heritage.This week, we speak with MiMi Aye, the food writer behind Noodle! 100 Amazing Authentic Recipes and Mandalay: Recipes & Tales From A Burmese Kitchen.I’m not someone to whom writing recipes comes very naturally. I am in the great tradition of people that don’t like measuring things and find it quite arduous. When I was writing both my books, having to sit down and weigh things was genuinely quite painful. But I like being able to give people tools to be able to make something themselves and I like telling stories about food. In both my books, I try to set the scene in a way that makes people realise that there is more to a dish than just a set of ingredients and instructions.I am Burmese and was born here about three months after my parents moved to this country. My parents are the type of diaspora that has always thought that they would eventually return and were very worried that we would lose our heritage. I’m a relative rarity because I speak Burmese. If you speak to anyone of my particular generation (I’m in my 40s) you will find that their parents were told by headteachers at school, by health workers, that it’s not a good idea to speak your native language at home because [your children] won’t pick up the local language – which is obviously nuts but that was the policy at the time. But my parents were incredibly stubborn and they tried to make sure that I spoke Burmese.The focus was always around Burmese food at home because we had very English food at school and my mum wanted me to have a rounded palate. Initially that was quite difficult because the ingredients really weren’t around, but my mum found ways to adapt. For example, rice noodles were completely unavailable for a very long time and so she’d use spaghetti but she treated it in a slightly different way so that it would be a bit more like the original dish. She would cook spaghetti and leave it so it was relatively firmed up, then she would rinse it a billion times after it was cooked so that the starch, which is appreciated and valued in Italian cuisine, was gone. The starch changed the palate and the texture profile of the Burmese dish, so by washing away the starch it tasted a bit more like a rice noodle.> The idea with Burmese cooking is that life’s too short to be sitting and watching a pot.There’s a certain type of Burmese person (and my mum definitely falls in that category) where they’re quite precious about their kitchen. I didn’t actually get to cook properly for myself until I went to university because my mum was very much of the belief that ‘this is my kitchen, I will do the cooking and through osmosis you can watch and learn’. So I would squirrel away what she was doing, I’d make notes. In terms of measurements, because my mum was winging it every single time that would just never happen. But I knew what went into things.One of the most significant dishes for me, which is probably a familial thing, is a rice noodle dish called Mogok Meeshay. When my mum’s family moved from Mogok because it was too cold, the thing they brought with them was this dish and a love of pork. This is the dish that actually means home to me. It’s the one that when I visit my mum I request. It’s the one that I’ve been cooking a lot since we’ve been on lockdown as I haven’t been able to see my parents until recently. It’s one that whenever we go to Burma, we get off the plane and we go to my auntie’s house and it’s on the table – it’s what they cook for us. It’s nostalgia for this lovely little wooden house that we had back in Mogok and all of the memories that they left there. My children like it as well, and it’s one that I intend to pass on. Plus it’s incredibly easy to make. Which is very important!> View this post on Instagram> > A post shared by MiMi Aye (@meemalee) on Apr 5, 2020 at 11:44am PDTThe thing that a lot of people find quite surprising about Burmese food is that it doesn’t necessarily use that many ingredients. Of the ingredients we do use, a lot of it is stock cupboard. Even if you’re in the UK or even if you’re on lockdown and you can’t get a lot of ingredients… If you can get hold of a particular protein, you can make most of the dishes. So for the most famous pork curry or the most famous chicken curry, the seasonings are all ground seasonings. You’re talking about ground ginger and turmeric and paprika. You’re not talking about anything that’s arcane enough that you’d have to go to a specialist supermarket to purchase it.The dishes that we make can actually be made relatively quickly but if it does have to be done for a while it can be left to its own devices. The idea is that life’s too short to be sitting and watching a pot. One of my favourite dishes just in terms of ease is a fried fish curry. I made it in a cookalong on Instagram Live and it was done in 20 minutes. You just need the basic protein, a couple of vegetables, a very hot pan and you’re done. I don’t have the patience to sit and watch something, and (this is painting with a broad brush) I don’t think the Burmese character is known for being particularly patient either!MiMi Aye was in conversation with Sadhbh O’Sullivan. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?My Mum's Pilau Rice Dish Is The Best Comfort FoodStorytelling & Tradition In West African Cooking5 Delicious Recipes From The Diaspora You Must Try
When most people think of TikTok, they imagine a bunch of Gen Zs posting dance routines, making whipped coffee tutorials and doing silly viral challenges but for many queer Muslims across the world, the digital platform has become a unique space where they can express themselves wholly and embrace all aspects of their identity.As you scroll through this corner of the internet, you’ll find one video which shows a young Muslim woman lip-synching “mama said that it was okay” to a caption that reads “being hijabi lesbian”. Another, watched by over a million people, depicts the male to female transition of a popular trans Muslim on the platform. A third video shows a young Muslim man crying because he feels forced to choose between his family and living his truth as a gay man.TikTok videos posted under hashtags QueerMuslims and LGBTMuslim offer a range of lived queer Muslim experiences. Some of the content from these Gen Z users is funny and made relatable in the form of internet memes but most of it is serious, aiming to be educational and expressive. The comment sections are a mixed bag. There are uplifting and encouraging messages such as “I love you so much keep your head up and remember you’re loved” and “My jaw dropped, how stunning and powerful.” Yet many are upsetting, with users writing triggering things like “Astaghfirullah [I seek forgiveness from God] may Allah guide you” and “Day of judgement needs to hurry up.”Yet despite the backlash, queer Muslim TikTokers continue to post and claim their space online. I wanted to find out what their experiences have been like on the platform. Are they worried about the larger Muslim community and do they have fears of being outed? Is TikTok a safe space which allows them to embrace every aspect of their identities or does it only intensify the feeling of duality?> I know it’s risky for me to publicly share my experience of being a gay Muslim but if it affects one person’s life, it makes it worth it.> > Shaz, @mrspotatoqueen> @mrspotatoqueen> > POV:an angel welcomes you to heaven after your life was taken away as an act of honour k*lling after being outed to your family gaypridelgbtmuslim> > ♬ Welcome to Wonderland – Anson Seabra“I get a lot of DMs every day from closeted queer Muslims saying things like, ‘I’m 14 years old and I thought this side of me was bad and I was ignoring it, but you made me feel safe about it and like it was okay,'” says Shaz, a 21-year-old from London who has been posting on TikTok for a year under the username @mrspotatoqueen. For her, the TikTok experience has mainly been positive and she doesn’t worry about filtering herself. “I know it’s risky for me to publicly share my experience of being a gay Muslim but if it affects one person’s life, it makes it worth it.” When I ask her what she thinks of the hate comments, she reassures me that most of them come from little kids. “I don’t block those people because if anything, they’re the ones who need to see my content.”Aliyah, who goes by the name @thetranshijabi, has over 9,000 followers and posts about being a trans Muslim. “At first I was making these beauty TikToks and didn’t think of my identity becoming a central part of my account but once I posted the video about my transition and it went viral, that’s when things started to change for me,” she says. After receiving dozens of thankful messages and paragraphs on a daily basis, Aliyah began posting educational TikToks about the trans Muslim experience.> @thetranshijabi> > quarantine day 17: made a lil halal(ish) fashion show let me know if y’all want a part 2 minifashionshow fashionshow fyp foryoupage> > ♬ ily (i love you baby) – Surf MesaHowever she’s currently having to take a short break from the platform because she’s received death threats. This doesn’t seem to faze her too much as she tells me the long-term plan is to continue TikTok. “I may get a bunch of hate comments but in real life there are queer Muslims getting stoned, hanged and thrown off buildings. In hindsight, it’s a blessing that these comments are all I got.”Queer Muslim communities have existed for a long time yet there are no statistics to indicate how many Muslims identify as queer today. Research shows that in the UK, 32% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people of faith aren’t open about their sexual orientation, while 25% of trans people of faith aren’t open about their gender identity. Being out as a queer Muslim is often dangerous and can end in ostracisation as well as violence. Although queer Muslim videos have garnered a lot of attention on TikTok, there are also deep fears of being outed (when someone reveals the sexual or gender identity of a person). Hannah*, a 16-year-old from New Zealand, recently had to delete her popular TikTok account after her family discovered her online presence. “I’ve always been worried about family finding out and now they have. I can’t say much else on the matter as it’s only been a day since they’ve known, but in the end it may be useful being less hidden.”Aliyah is currently in foster care, trying to re-establish a relationship with her family after coming out as a transgender woman. Like Hannah, she acknowledges that being out in the public eye can be very dangerous if you don’t have strong familial support. “Queer Muslims don’t have the privilege to be out online and many are private, it’s important to talk about that,” she says. Even though Aliyah recognises the wrath of the comment section and online bullying, she wants to use her platform to create a space where other people can benefit from her visibility. > At first I was making these beauty TikToks and didn’t think of my identity becoming a central part of my account but once I posted the video about my transition and it went viral, that’s when things started to change for me.> > Aliyah, @thetranshijabiShaz, who’s had a slightly more positive experience, came out to her mum aged 15. That alone was traumatising. “My mum called in some imams to pray on me. They were saying I was possessed and shouting things at me, screaming things at me and even spitting on me. Trying to get rid of the jinn [spirit or demon].” She wants to make sure that other young Muslims don’t have a similar experience and it’s what keeps her posting.It’s evident that in 2020, conversations about being queer and Muslim are still largely taboo within many cultures and regions worldwide. So does a digital space like TikTok offer a place for marginalised identities to express themselves?“By its very nature, being a minority can often mean growing up feeling alone or out of place in society,” says Areeq Chowdhury, director of WebRoots Democracy, a think tank focused on inclusive technology policy. “One of the beautiful things about the internet is that it has transformed this entirely. By enabling people to have a platform to speak, under a pseudonym if necessary, it has created a space for individuals to share experiences, make friends and gain role models.”> @dajaj13> > I cried so hard when I came out but my mom said she loved me no matter what and calls me her beautiful son 🥺 fyp trans foryou lgbt muslim ftm> > ♬ And it was all a dream – mrspotatoqueenAreeq believes that search functions, hashtags and algorithms have empowered people to seek out information as well as each other. “In the pre-internet world, it was impossible to simply search the global population for others who are like you but on platforms like TikTok this can be done easily. This is the true story of free speech in the modern age. For good and ill, it has eliminated the barriers for anyone and everyone to speak, connect and organise.”However the ability to remain anonymous has its downsides and can make people feel unsafe. Dr Bernie Hogan, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s sociology department explains: “We often hear people complain about these very same features. They say, ‘Without real names how can we police trolls?’ People do not need a real name to care about their identity but they need a persistent account of value. And also it’s worth noting that people say terrible things with their real names all the time. What people really mean is that they want accountability.” He believes that a safer TikTok is possible with a “hybrid of algorithmic curation and community moderation,” and cites Tumblr as a good example.> By its very nature, being a minority can often mean growing up feeling alone or out of place in society. One of the beautiful things about the internet is that it has transformed this entirely.> > Areeq Chowdhury, WebRoots DemocracyHannah agrees that TikTok may not necessarily be a safe space but says it’s crucial for establishing bonds, organising and seeking out like-minded people. “There will always be people who want to bring you down but I’ve formed a group full of so many LGBTQ+ Muslims, many of whom are also popular TikTok creators. We talk to each other every day, rely on each other for support and help each other through our hardships,” she says. Shaz has done the same. Whenever she gets messages from other queer Muslims she adds them to a group chat formed by queer Muslims all over the world. “Growing up, I didn’t even know there was another queer Muslim in the whole world but there’s so many of us, it’s crazy. We’ve made a really good little community.”Group support is crucial when the responsibility of being a spokesperson for an oppressed community gets too much. Aliyah fears she’s becoming desensitised to the constant flow of people’s depressing personal experiences. Instead, she’s trying to focus on the power of her platform. “It’s crazy knowing that somehow, from making TikToks, I’ve gained the ability to help people to this extent. Someone will tell me they’re getting kicked out in three days and I’ll raise $2,000 for them through Twitter.” The 16-year-old is hoping to start a nonprofit organisation off the back of her platform to establish a more permanent resource and recruit external help.This type of content is a step in the right direction, paving the way for difficult conversations within the larger Muslim community and increasing queer Muslim visibility. Despite the swarms of hateful comments, this digital representation is allowing underground communities to find each other and form connections offline and beyond the app. The queer Muslim TikTokers may feel safer digitally than IRL but they’re still regularly risking their safety as platforms don’t protect them from being outed in real life. Yet one thing is clear: what they’re doing is radical.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?The Worst Social Media App For Sleep Is TikTokWhat Is Shadow Banning? Tiktok Block ExplainedHow Kellyanne Conway's Daughter Is Trolling Trump
In the wake of 2020’s Black Lives Matter movement, many fashion brands expressed solidarity with the Black community, posting vague BLM-adjacent sentiments, blacked out squares and regurgitated hashtags on their social media platforms. Yet these are the same brands which have exploited BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of colour) while expecting the very same communities to buy their products. These empty displays of support are particularly deceptive in the sustainable fashion sector, which projects an image of harmony and equality when the story is in fact far more complex. By now it is no secret that the fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, is built on the oppression of Black and brown bodies. From damaging labour practices to lack of fair pay for garment workers – 80% of whom are women – via influencers building their brands on ‘blackfishing’, the fashion industry certainly doesn’t have a clean record when it comes to race. So often do young Black designers have their work copied without compensation that it’s become a grim running joke that they shouldn’t share their creations online. When morals are low and profits are high, stealing skills, ideas and identities is par for the course in an industry that has continually shown itself to be a bad ally to people of colour. For too long, the sustainable sector of the fashion industry has been getting away with exploitation under the guise of saving the world. Eco-conscious brands present ethereal visual identities, creating the illusion that their garments are made by fair hands. Yet the LA-based sustainable brand Reformation recently came under fire when a former employee accused the brand of a racist corporate culture. Everlane, meanwhile, a company which prides itself on its ethically sourced materials and transparent pricing, has been exposed as perpetuating a racist culture, with employees of colour being paid less than their white counterparts and claiming to have their ideas easily dismissed. The failures of these brands shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sustainable designer Tara Efobi shared her experience as a Black woman navigating ethical fashion spaces, telling me: “From my time studying and working in fashion, without a doubt the largest group represented in this industry is upper middle-class to upper-class white cisgender women.” Rosette Ale, founder of Revival London, a sustainable fashion reconstruction brand, echoed this sentiment: “I was never supported in the roles I worked in and had to work much harder than my white counterparts who would frequently get away with silly mistakes whereas I’d be scolded.” When there is so little representation in these workplaces – and a lack of support for those who do make it there – diverse voices are bound to be ignored or silenced, making the predominant perspective in fashion a white one. And so the cycle continues. The white saviour trope is practically a parody in environmentalism. In suggesting that white people can fix the problems of struggling people of colour, often without a great understanding of the issues – a real concern in environmentalist academia – we’re simultaneously valuing objectivity while ignoring the lived experiences of BIPOC. We have continually seen that people of colour are disproportionately affected by climate change, whether it’s through their heightened experience of natural disasters, being exposed to unsafe drinking water or even when the media erases them (like the time various outlets cropped Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate out of a picture with other young, white activists including Greta Thunberg). We can no longer pretend that environmentalism exists in a post-racial world. In fact, sustainable fashion has always been defined by its relationship to whiteness. Brands like Reformation and Everlane market themselves somewhat exclusively to white audiences. Perhaps they believe that people of colour can’t afford their products or – more pessimistically – perhaps they do not want Blackness associated with their carefully crafted branding. In June, a former Reformation employee claimed that, when shown a photograph of a Black model for casting, the brand’s founder Yael Aflalo said: “We’re not ready for that yet.” (Aflalo has since stepped down from the company.) Since the beginning of the year, Reformation has posted 174 photos on its Instagram feed, 26 of which feature Black models. In the six posts since its BLM blackout post, meanwhile, it has featured three Black models. This begs the question: if it were that simple, why were they not doing it all along?Dayna Atkinson, the owner of Fyre Vintage, believes there is a dichotomy between the diversity of these brands’ consumers and who they decide to highlight on their feeds. She says that ethical brands which “market themselves to wealthy white women may only truly care about the white customer. They’ll take our money but they won’t repost us or use Black models.” The sustainable fashion industry has cultivated an aspirational but rigid image centred around slender white women in flowing, delicate dresses. Now it is struggling to come to terms with the nuances of the real world. Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are a powerful and often underestimated force in the UK economy, said to be worth £300 billion in spending power. Yet they do not see themselves in marketing and advertising, implying that companies do not think they are worth it. This failure of representation – and the damage it may be doing to the economy – is beginning to be noticed. Monique Bircham, designer and founder of Hotmamas Clothing, states: “Many fashion brands have believed that many people of colour, especially Black people, do not have the disposable income and investing in them is not marketable.” Ale agrees: “Black people have so much economic power in this country and we sometimes don’t even realise it ourselves.”There is now a concerted effort to highlight Black-owned businesses in the UK with initiatives such as Black Pound Day. In the US, Aurora James, the founder of NYC-based footwear label Brother Vellies, has created the Fifteen Percent Pledge which asks retailers to devote 15% of their offering to Black-owned businesses in order to reflect the percentage of Black communities across America. Let’s hope commitments like these are taken up by brands and retailers across the world. To see real change within sustainable fashion, though, reform needs to come from the top, from “the people who make the decisions and the recruitment policies of the brand,” as Bircham suggests. Atkinson agrees and says that the way forward essentially means “hiring more Black talent at fashion brands.” Without real structural change, actions like posting a few more pictures of Black models on your social media feed simply read as performative. By hiring inclusion officers, for instance, companies can become more representative as well as creating better working environments to attract and retain diverse talent. Steps are slowly being made: H&M, Gucci and Prada have all hired diversity officers after much-publicised racial missteps. H&M’s new global leader for diversity and inclusiveness, Annie Wu, has set a number of goals for improvement, telling Refinery29 last year: “By 2025, 100% of our employees will feel that they have the same opportunity as the person sitting next to them.” Many consumers are willing to change their habits for the sake of the planet yet the sustainable fashion industry has continually proved itself to be a hostile place for non-white people. But there is hope. Leaders like Brittany Sierra, founder of The Sustainable Fashion Forum, Aja Barber, Mikaela Loach, Leah Thomas and Dominique Drakeford of MelaninASS are all pushing for change and finally being heard. Brands like Sika Designs, We Are Kin and Kiwi and Yam are making a difference, too. Like everything in life, if you care about something, you should be able to critique it and demand better. So to the sustainable fashion industry: we demand better. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Fixing Fast Fashion Isn't A Plus-Size ResponsibityIs Fast Fashion A Class Issue?Brands Lay Out Plans To Help The Black Community
There’s no denying the transformative power of moisturiser. Without it, skin can often appear dull and dry or feel uncomfortably tight and rough to the touch. Staple ingredients in lots of moisturisers on the market almost always include hyaluronic acid for deep hydration, vitamin C for brightening skin and protecting against pollution, and sunscreen for shielding skin from UV rays. But there’s one skincare ingredient everyone’s googling right now, and it’s a little more under the radar than the aforementioned beauty buzzwords. Enter: glycerin. What are the skincare benefits of glycerin?Okay, glycerin doesn’t exactly sound sexy, especially if you know it as an old remedy for coughs and sore throats. But in skincare, it has the ability to make skin gleam and solve a handful of other bugbears in the process. “Glycerin is a colourless and odourless liquid which comes from plant sources,” explains Dr Jaskaren Midha, skin specialist and founder of Dr Jaskaren. “It’s a humectant, which means it has the property of attracting water to itself.” In other words, it’s incredibly hydrating and moisturising and can give skin that covetable glowy, supple and healthy look and feel. In addition to absorbing water, glycerin keeps moisture under lock and key in the skin, says Dr Mahsa Saleki, skin doctor and founder of sas Aesthetics. “As well as its potent hydrating benefits, glycerin is mildly antimicrobial and is commonly used to treat skin injuries such as burns and some inflammatory skin conditions,” making it one to know for those who are prone to irritation and redness. It’s why you might spot the ingredient in retinol creams or serums (which can cause red, flaky skin) because it soothes, hydrates and restores skin. Which skin types will benefit from glycerin?“Glycerin’s moisturising properties will benefit all skin types but in particular dry, sensitive skin will benefit the most,” says Dr Midha. “Regularly using a moisturiser containing the ingredient will make skin feel moisturised and smooth.”Dr Saleki also notes that glycerin is especially good for oily skin. “Glycerin draws water from the air into your skin to moisturise it without making it greasy. This is actually why glycerin is present in a lot of oil-free moisturisers.” You might also spot glycerin on the ingredients list in non-comedogenic skincare products, which are less likely to clog pores and lead to breakouts. The best skincare products with glycerinUnlike acids, which are best used at night or vitamin C, recommended for morning application, glycerin can be used at any point in your skincare routine. Dr Saleki recommends Cetaphil Daily Defence Moisturiser SPF50+, £12.99, as a daily moisturiser. It contains SPF 50, which protects skin against both UVA rays (which cause things like fine lines and pigmentation) and UVB rays (responsible for sunburn and skin cancer). It is also fragrance-free, so is less likely to irritate sensitive or reactive skin. Dr Saleki also rates The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, £11, for cleansing skin without stripping it of moisture and Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Nourishing Moisturiser, £59, which quenches dry, tight skin and gives it a glow boost. R29 recommends Aesop Lucent Facial Concentrate, £85. Glycerin is the second ingredient in this fast-absorbing serum, joined by oil-reducing niacinamide and brightening vitamin C. It is best layered under SPF in the morning and makes skin gleam. If your skin is oily or acne-prone, try Garnier Skin Active 3 in 1 Hydrating Aloe Water Jelly, £12.99. A team of glycerin, salicylic acid and aloe vera moisturises, soothes and exfoliates skin in one. And if you’re on the lookout for a gentle retinol cream that will target fine lines and hyperpigmentation but won’t completely ravage your skin in the process, try glycerin-packed Medik8 Crystal Retinal, £39. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?The New Skin Ingredient Rivalling Hyaluronic AcidMy Skincare Routine Costs £30 & My Skin Is Glowing7 Buzzy New Ingredients Transforming Lockdown Skin