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May 31, 2010

Sixtyfive Roses

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, so before the month ends we wanted to highlight an amazing book on the subject called Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir by Heather Summerhayes Cariou. If you've read any of our posts about attending the International Women's Writing Guild conference, Heather's name might be familiar to you. If not, just know that we've described her as a "force of nature", and she yelled "Evil Slutopia!" at us across Penn Station in the middle of the morning rush when we showed up for the train to last year's conference. Basically, she's awesome.

Heather's sister Pam had cystic fibrosis, and the book is about Pam's story, Heather's relationship with her sister, and their family's journey.
My sister Pam was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of four and given only a short time to live. I promised to die with her, but as Pam fought the limits of her prognosis, she instead taught me how to live. “Sixtyfive Roses” is the way Pam pronounced the disease that altered the lives of my siblings and parents, who in turn helped alter the community’s response to the disease by founding the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. With the help of the Foundation, research, and new treatments, the fight to save Pam lasted for years, ending with her death at the age of 26. We had to learn to survive the tragedy of my sister's illness, and her loss.

SIXTYFIVE ROSES offers an "unsparing" eyewitness account of the pain, hope and valor of a family in crisis as it falls apart and pulls itself together again and again, only to emerge stronger and more loving. At the heart of the story is the relationship between me and Pam as sisters. As we journey through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, each of us struggles for autonomy, yet helps the other learn where to find joy and meaning in a world of pain and uncertainty.

This is not just a story about a disease. SIXTYFIVE ROSES is about fighting for your life and never giving up. It’s about loving fearlessly and the choices we make in the name of love. It’s about the kind of faith, fortitude and forgiveness we tell ourselves we don’t possess, but which is present in all of us. Ultimately, SIXTYFIVE ROSES illuminates what we must all come to understand about the nature of life and death.

There is no happy ending. But there is the day. The sun, the rain. The chance to say I love you. The willingness to forgive. The courage to remember. The opportunity to be kind. The ability to laugh and to be generous. The fact that we can choose our joy in each moment, no matter what. This, in itself, is the miracle.” [SixtyfiveRosesTheBook.com]

This probably goes without saying, but have your tissues handy, especially towards the end. It's such a powerful book. There were times when I wanted to jump into the book and give young Heather a hug, but it helps to know that she got through it all and grew into the rock star that she is today. (Yeah, it totally sounds like we're kissing up right now, but if you know her you get it.)

One of the special things about Sixtyfive Roses is that it tells the story of coping with a serious illness from the perspective of a well sibling, whose needs and voices can often get overlooked in the moment, and an experience that's relevant to a lot of people even if they're not affected by cystic fibrosis specifically. The same goes for her insight into the experience of being a part of a family in crisis. She says at one point that "it's the small things that people in crisis need". It's a great lesson and reminder for everyone about how important and meaningful it is to try to put ignorance or fear or awkwardness aside and just be there for people, even if at first you're not sure exactly what to say or do.

So, this is definitely not just a "cystic fibrosis book". (Although it would still be great if it was.) It's about...well, everything. Life, death, love, family. But we'll let Heather tell you about it in her own words:

Just trust us and read it, you won't regret it. For more information and to get the book:

Sixtyfive Roses Official Website

Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir [Amazon]

Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir [Powells]

May 29, 2010

Miss USA: Why do we care so much about a beauty queen anyway?

It has taken us a long time to write about Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih. There's just so much wrong with the way the media have been handling her story that we didn't know where to start. Reading article after article full of slut-shaming and racism, we just really started to get frustrated and we almost gave it up. Many other blogs have already covered the basics and well, we don't particularly care for beauty pageants in the first place. So we decided not to bother...

...but then we realized that this still needs to be said.

Having recently posted a blog entry about people who are "outraged" over plans to build a mosque "near" Ground Zero and reading the heinous comments on the subject reminded us how rampant Islamophobia and xenophobia really are in the United States. (And of course, open up any issue of Cosmo and you'll see that slut-shaming isn't going away any day soon.)

So we wanted to make sure that our readers knew exactly why the "scandal" and "controversy" about Rima Fakih are so very wrong.

  • Slut Shaming and Hypocrisy
Apparently Fakih participated in a pole dancing event for the radio show Mojo in the Morning back in 2007 in which adult entertainers taught women some moves to "spice up their romance at home".  Only women were present and Fakih did not remove any clothing. Fakih has never been employed as a stripper or exotic danger or other form of adult entertainer. According to a statement she released she was present at the event as in a promotional capacity:
“I can’t deny the pictures. I just want to make it clear, it was not a stripper pole contest; it was actually a promotional event that my friend, who’s a DJ at that radio station, had — for women. [They] collected about 100, 115 women, and they teach them how to dance and be sexy. It actually involved doctors and lawyers, everyone in Detroit. And so I got up there to get the party started and say, ‘Hey, you know what? Hop on up here and show ’em what you learned today.’ ” [MSNBC]
However, if you read the news coverage you'd get a very different idea of what happened. Many of the articles that refer to Fakih's "stripping" (even though she removed no clothing) and some even refer to her as a "former stripper".
Miss USA Rima Fakih a former Stripper? [Arista News]

Miss USA Rima Fakih stripping contest photos emerge [Fox News]

Miss USA: Stripping Before the Crown [Extra]

Miss USA Has a Secret Stripper Past. Why Are We Not Surprised? [E Online]
Fakih has been called slutty and whorish but really, what did she do wrong? The defense that it was just a contest or a class doesn't make much of a difference to me. Even if she was an actual stripper (she wasn't) WHO CARES!? What is so wrong with being a stripper anyway? In my opinion, nothing. I'm so sick of this slut-shaming hypocrisy that only allows women to profit off of their bodies and/or sexiness when it's for someone else's benefit (like, say, the Miss USA Pageant). Which brings me to the photos themselves...

They've been called racysexy, and naughty. Um, really?

Doesn't look too bad to me. And it's downright boring compared to the official Miss USA pageant pics (not that there's anything wrong with these photos either, but there's definitely a lot more skin-and-sexiness in the pageant-sanctioned photos than in the so-called "scandalous" ones). Also, dude, they danced to Ke$ha's "TiK ToK".

What is interesting about this non-scandal, is the selective memory the media seems to be showing when referring to past pageant "scandals". Many of the articles about Fakih referred to former Miss California Carrie Prejean as having been fired over racy photos and an even racier video. However, Prejean was actually fired because of breach-of-contract issues. (Prejean on the other hand claimed she was fired because of religious discrimination.) The video hadn't even been revealed until after her firing; it came to light amidst a lawsuit and settlement negotiations.
Vanessa Williams wasn't actually fired as Miss America (1984) either because of the nude photographs that popped up in Penthouse. She was pressured by the pageant officials and sponsors to resign (not that it's much better, but still). She is still listed on the official website as 1984's Miss America (sharing the title with Miss America b, runner-up Suzette Charles).

Luckily the Miss Universe Organization has decided that Fakih will not lose her crown because of the photos and will compete for Miss Universe later this year.

  • Islamophobia and Xenophobia
In addition to the media obsession over her "secret stripping past" (eyeroll) are the news stories that focus Fakih's ethnicity and religion. Born in Lebanon (her family moved to the United States in 1993), Fakih is the first Arab-American and the first Muslim-American to win the title of Miss USA. This has people on both sides of the spectrum upset. Perhaps the dumbest arguments come from the right-wing/conservative racist/Islamophobic spectrum. 

The pageant organization has been accused of affirmative action and being overly P.C. and too liberal. Fakih has repeatedly been accused of being a terrorist supporter (having been called "Miss Hezbollah", so clever) based on some pretty flimsy evidence. A lot of people have been making the same ridiculous claims, but conservative Debbie Schlussel seems to be leading the pack in unfounded accusations (she refers to her "intelligence sources" often, but rarely cites them).  
Her devout Muslim family comes from the Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon.  Intelligence sources confirm that at least three of Fakih’s relatives are currently top officials in Hezbollah and that at least eight Fakih family members were Hezbollah terrorists killed by the Israelis in past Israel-Lebanese wars and interventions.  [May 12, 2010, emphasis mine] 
Fakih's family is not "devout" Muslim. Any strict, devout conservative Muslim woman would likely not enter a beauty pageant, which includes parading around in a bikini. Of course Schlussel just calls this "deception of the infidels to further the cause of Islam/jihad." (The best way to further to cause of Islam is to break the so-called rules of Islam? Okay.)

Fakih has stated in many interviews that her immediate family is more "spiritual" than religious. Her extended family has quite a diverse background - including Muslims, Christians, and even some Jews - and she describes her immediate family as "not strict" and herself as "liberal" and "not defined by religion". So where does Schlussel get "devout" from that?

But even if she was more Muslim... so what? It's annoying that so many of the interviews with Fakih must focus 95% on her religion/background, but even more annoying is how often she needs to drill home the point that she's not that Muslim. She celebrates Christmas! She went to Catholic school! Her cousin is a priest! I'm all for breaking down rumors with the truth, but the focus should be less on how she's not-that-Muslim and more about it how doesn't matter if she's Muslim or not.

As for her alleged Hezbollah relatives... Schlussel gives no source of this information (who are her "intelligence sources" and why should we believe them - or more importantly her) other than the fact that they share a surname. However, that doesn't mean they're close relatives or that they even know each other. Local officials said that the Fakih family is one of the largest in that area of Lebanon. Even if they are Hezbollah, it is not only possible, but likely - that Rima Fakih (who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 7) would have no ties to them.

To put it into perspective, here's an example for you, from my own far extended family... if you look deep into just one side of my family tree you will find Catholic nuns, low-ranking members of organized crime, and a very well-known baseball manager. I've never met any of them. (And not that it matters, but for those of you who might assume that if I defend a Muslim then I'm automatically an anti-Semite, my other side of the family is Jewish). Think of it in the context of your own family - do you know, support, and agree with the politics and religious beliefs of all of your distant relatives? Hell, many of don't even agree with the politics and religious beliefs of our close relatives either.

But the accusations go beyond being a terrorist sympathizer to actually being a spy for the terrorists. Fuck the White House and Pentagon.... what the terrorists really want is to infiltrate the Miss USA pageant.

The headlines (even those that defend Fakih from such accusations) have been pretty offensive:

New Miss USA: Islamic fundamentalism in a bikini? [Miami Herald]
Can Muslim women be hot? [ABC.net.au]
What a Muslim Miss USA Really Means NBC New York (This title doesn't sound that bad... but the URL reads "The sociological ramifications of Miss USA being a half Muslim former stripping contest entrant".)
Hezbollah-Supporting Rima Fakih, Sponsored by 9/11 Truther, Wins Miss USA [Jewish Internet Defense League]
Is Miss USA a Muslim Trailblazer? (This title doesn't sound bad, until you learn that the original teaser said "Miss USA: Muslim Trailerblazer? Or spy?" On CNN!) [CNN via Mediaite]
Rima Fakih: Miss Hezbollah is Now Miss USA [MichNews.com
Rima Fakih: Muslims Mock America With Naked Mascot [Bad Eagle]
Miss USA Rima Fakih: Hezbollah babe or just a girl in a bikini? [McClatchy]

And then on the other hand, are the people that feel that Fakih is not a good "Muslim role model"... that is, she isn't Muslim enough. Hena Zuberi wrote, in a guest post for Muslim Matters:
Making this about her religion, gives our girls the wrong role model to look up to. I am dreading the moment when one of my kids will get congratulated for a Muslim winning the pageant. That will stop my “Muslims don’t do that” line stone cold. When I tell my daughter that Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) may do certain things because she is a non- Muslim, what do I tell her now? Maybe I will tell her the same thing I told her when suicide bombers blew my uncle and nephew up while praying Jumu’ah in Rawalpindi, “that they are not following Islam.” It felt lame then and it feels lame now.

I know sex and all that is sexy sells and that’s what people are into but Muslim teens need stronger Muslim women highlighted in other fields, whose behavior they can emulate. [Muslim Matters via Opposing Views, emphasis mine]
I agree with her, that we don't necessarily want our children - of any religion - looking up to beauty pageant winners as role models. (That's not to say that Rima Fakih, or any other pageant contestant, can't be a good role model, but just that many of us would prefer our daughters have aspirations beyond winning a tiara based on how good they look in a swimsuit.) However, what I don't agree with is the idea that Muslim girls somehow need role models that live up to a higher standard than any other little girls.

What I mean, is that Miley Cyrus doesn't do "certain things" simply because she is a non-Muslim. She does certain things based on her personal belief system. There are plenty of Christians who would say that Cyrus is not a good Christian role model, just as there are plenty of Muslims who would say that Fakih is not a good Muslim role model. But if the 9/11 attacks prove anything about Islam, it is that not all Muslims are alike or interpret the religion in the same way. Fakih may not represent Zuberi's personal interpretation of Islam and that's legitimate, but she may very well represent other people's interpretation of Islam. It's not fair to say that she's not a "real" Muslim or not a "good" Muslim, just because her beliefs are more moderate than others.

I agree that Muslim children need more strong Muslim women to look up to, but that doesn't mean Fakih winning Miss USA is a bad thing. It's still good that she's broken down another barrier (even if it's a relatively superficial one, sort of like Tyra's Sports Illustrated cover) and she can be a role model to those who practice more moderate/liberal Islam.

From an interview with Fakih for Patheos:
It seems that you also have some educating to do in terms of explaining to fellow Arabs and Muslims that there are different ways to be Arab, to be Muslim; not all Arabs, not all Muslims have the same beliefs and practices and attitudes. Is that accurate?

It's very accurate, yes, in the sense that there's a stereotype. Every ethnicity has a stereotype, and I believe that Arabs have that as well, especially after 9/11. I never understood the whole speculation around 9/11. It involved someone who was not [Muslim]. They might have believed, in their wrong minds, that they were Muslim even though they were completely doing everything against the Muslim faith. They were Arabs, but Arabs felt fearful, they felt they were going to be pointed at. I'm hoping to take away that fear, to remind them that America is still built on freedom and opportunity.
It would be nice if Fakih's religion wasn't even an issue. Like we've said before, in this post-9/11 world our wounds are still raw and our defenses are still on high. But the terrorists were radical Islamic extremists - a very small percentage of the general Muslim population. They may have used Islam to justify the murder of many people, but Islam was not the cause of the 9/11 attack. Hatred was. And we should know by now that hatred only begets more hatred... Islam is not a religion of hatred and violence. It isn't. And Fakih is not a terrorist in a bikini. She's just a beauty queen.

  • And as a Bonus...
Let's not forget the whole "controlled substances" thing. Michelle Malkin was quick to point out Fakih's "gaffe" during the interview portion of the pageant in which she was asked a question about birth control.
During the interview portion, Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should because it’s costly.

“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” Fakih said.
Imagine if those words had come out of the mouth of Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin.

Between the NYTimes, MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and the late night talkers, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.

Does this woman know what a “controlled substance” is?

More importantly: Does she even comprehend the concept of insurance? The purpose of insurance isn’t to cover every last medical expense. It’s supposed to cover events that are beyond your control. Should auto insurers now cover oil changes and satellite radio installations? I mean, hey, they’re “expensive,” too! [Michelle Malkin]

Okay, here's the thing. A "controlled substance" is any drug or chemical whose general availability is restricted. When most people think of controlled substances they think of illegal narcotics and prescription drugs that are likely to be abused and while these are the types of drugs included in Substance Control laws, by the most basic general definition, a controlled substance is any drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, and use are regulated (or you know, controlled) by a government.

So yes, birth control pills would fit under that umbrella. It may not be what we think of when we think of controlled substance laws but even nail polish remover is technically a controlled substance. In fact, when you look at how much the government consistently tries to up its regulation of contraception, it's becoming more and more "controlled" every minute.

There were definitely better ways that Fakih could've phrased her answer - it's clear she misspoke - but let's not forget how nerve-wracking it must be to be put on the spot like that in front of so many viewers. (She still did a hell of a lot better than Caite Upton did!) I also think we need to acknowledge that these are beauty queens, not Rhodes scholars. An intelligent/educated response to an interview question is always preferable, but are we shocked when contestants say things that come out sounding a little dumb?

The other part of her answer isn't stupid at all. Maybe to a conservative like Malkin the idea of wanting birth control to be covered by insurance is ignorant and stupid, but most people would agree with Fakih on that one!

A lot of people felt that Miss Oklahoma, Elizabeth Woodard, was robbed, but really, it's all so subjective.  Some have argued that Woolard's answer - about Arizona's immigration law - was more intelligent and educated than Fakih's. That may be true but that doesn't mean she should automatically win. Frankly, I thought Miss Virginia was better than anyone up there. A lot of people (not just Latinos in Arizona) have big problems with the law. While Woolard claimed she is against racial profiling, she said that she was for the law - which at its core, is based on racial profiling, not that the white, blonde Woolard would know anything about that - so she "sees both sides of this issue" (way to try to avoid giving a real answer). She also stated that she was for states' rights.
"I'm a huge believer in states' rights. I think that's what's so wonderful about America."
Really? Is that what is so wonderful about America? I don't know. I can think of some better things about America that are more "wonderful" than states' rights. How about freedom of religion? How about basic civil rights?

But I guess Rima Fakin's critics wouldn't give a shit about that sort of thing anyway.

May 28, 2010

Would you buy a laptop for a 10 year old?

Remember when we were kids and the idea a phone in our bedroom was like a really big deal? Having our own line was almost unthinkable. Maybe the most expensive electronic gift we might have asked our parents for was a Gameboy or a walkman. If we were lucky, we may have had a clunky slow computer in our house, but we had to share it with the whole family and our gaming options were limited to stuff like Frogger.

Times have certainly changed.

Lil' Lilith (my 10-year-old) has a nicer iPod than I do, a DSi, and her own cell phone (for emergencies only, but still.) Now she wants a laptop and wants to start her own blog. I'm afraid we're going to have to wait on the latter (she'll have to settle for guest blogging on here for now) but I'm actually considering letting her have her own computer. The main reason is pure selfishness: I want her to quit borrowing mine! Doesn't she know I have important Facebooking blogging to do?

Some people think that it's crazy to let a kid that young have their own computer, but those arguments come mostly from the older generation - that didn't grow up with computers, etc. Lil' Lilith's generation has never known a world without the Internet. While many parents question whether or not it's safe to let our kids online (be it for play, schoolwork or "social networking") we can't ignore the fact that computer proficiency is a required skill nowadays, even for kids at the elementary school level. What do you think about letting kids use the Internet? How young is too young?

Honestly, I'm not that concerned about it. She's a really smart kid, she's incredibly responsible and has so far  proven herself to be very good about following online safety rules. Plus it's not as though I would allow her to The real problem is that computers are friggin expensive!! Even the "cheap" ones are way up there and it's hard to justify spending a lot of money on a computer for a fourth grader.

As always, I turned to Savings.com for online discounts and coupon codes... I found some great HP coupons and Dell coupon codes. So now my real question, is what kind of computer do you readers recommend? I'm looking for something that is not just cost-efficient, but also user-friendly and durable (she's smart and responsible, but she's still 10!!)

Advice is needed! (Although I don't need any lectures about spoiling my kid or exposing her to the horrors of the Internet, thanks.)

*Computer coupons and discount info brought to you by: Savings.com
*For more info on now to protect your kids from Internet risks: Online Safety Tips

May 24, 2010

Outraged People against a mosque at ground zero

I recently noticed that one of my Facebook friends had joined a group called Outraged People against a mosque at ground zero! Of course I was instantly annoyed and suspicious.

I looked into it a bit and apparently there are no plans to build a new mosque at Ground Zero. What there are plans to do is build a mosque and Islamic cultural center 2-3 blocks from the World Trade Center site in the old Burlington Coat Factory building at Park Place and Broadway. The proposed Cordoba House cultural center - which would be open to all New Yorkers - is intended to foster better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the community. Better relations between Muslims and non-Muslims? Sounds like a great idea. So why all the outrage?

Oh that's right... some people are too Islamophobic, xenophobic and racist to understand the difference between a few extreme Islamic terrorists and the majority of Muslim people.  Sorry, that was a knee-jerk response. I've been getting a lot of nasty Islamophobic email forwards lately so I'm a little on edge.

I do understand why 9/11 survivors and the families of 9/11 victims might not like the idea of a mosque near Ground Zero. I can even understand why they might be a little Islamophobic or biased at this point. What happened at the World Trade Center on September 11 was horrible. In fact, "horrible" doesn't even begin to describe it. Even after almost 10 years, wounds are still raw, defenses are still on high, and anger is justified. So I can understand why a mosque - any mosque - might feel like a symbol of the monsters who flew planes into the Twin Towers. I get it.

But the thing is, those terrorists were radical Islamic extremists. They may have used Islam to justify the murder of many people, but Islam was not the cause of the 9/11 attack. Hatred was. And we should know by now that hatred only begets more hatred... Islam is not a religion of hatred and violence. It isn't. At least not any more than Christianity is. Because I can list quite a few violent and terrorist actions done by Christians in and out of the U.S. And I doubt anyone would object to a Christian church being opened near any of the sites of Christian-related crimes. I doubt anyone would call Christianity a religion of violence. (And although I can think of a few people who might call it a religion of hatred, I think even they would admit that that is an unfair generalization.)

You can't judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a select few, no matter how horrible those actions are. Although there does exist a very small subgroup of radical Fundamentalist terrorists, by far the majority of Muslims are peaceful and moderate. But try telling that to the people on Facebook.

From the group's description:

This is an opportunity for people to voice their disagreement against the insult of a Mosque anywhere near ground zero. The news reports that no one has objected to the plan. Let them know how wrong they are!
Why is it an insult to have a mosque "anywhere near" Ground Zero? It's two or three blocks away... how near is too near? Many of the members of the group apparently seem to think that anywhere in the United States is too "near" so where exactly are we going to draw the lines of what is appropriate and what is an "insult"? And of course, we should pay no attention to what an insult it is to associate all Muslims with a few extremists?

It's funny that the group claims news reports say no one has objected, when the Daily News report the group's admin linked to himself clearly says that some 9/11 families found the proposal offensive:

"I realize it's not all of them, but I don't want to have to go down to a memorial where my son died on 9/11 and look at a mosque," said retired FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches - whose son Jim, a firefighter, was killed on 9/11.
"If you ask me, it's a religion of hate," said Riches [emphasis mine]
Maybe they should have written "no one has any reasonable, non-ignorant objections to the plan."

I completely understand why people who experienced the 9/11 attacks first hand (or who lost a family member) would be a little apprehensive about this project, but if they'd take a minute to actually look into they'd realize that Islam is not a religion of hate and this building would not be a symbol of hate. What the terrorists did on 9/11 was horrible, but promoting anti-Muslim hatred based on the actions of a few extremists isn't okay. The majority of Muslims living in America are not extremists, they do not advocate violence, they are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants, and they do not hate America. (Although who could really blame Muslims for hating America at this point? Look at how so many Americans treat them.)

The project is a collaboration between the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative , which represents moderate Muslims who want to reverse the trend of extremism and the kind of ideology that the extremists are spreading.

"For us, it's a symbol, a platform that will give voice to the silent majority of Muslims who suffer at the hands of extremists. A center will show that Muslims will be part of rebuilding lower Manhattan," - Daisy Khan, executive director of ASMA [ New York Post ]
Scrolling down the Facebook group's wall was extremely disturbing. So much ignorance and misguided racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia. (It's also worth noting that so many of the members don't even live in New York.) I hit "flag" and "report" so many times, my mouse finger started cramping up. Here is just a sampling of some of the worst ones we noticed, but we can only imagine how many more offensive posts have been added in the time it took us to throw this blog post together. We ask that you please report any hate speech you see there, especially those that advocate or incite violence.

Inciting Violence

if they reallyy build that building i will see to it that it has a explosive ending and i dont care if i go to jail for that id be proud [ Report ]

kill them ararab dont give them a place to plan more atacks [ Report

if a mosque is built at, or around ground zero, i promise to do everything in my power to kill every inhuman terrorist fuck that walks into or out of that building. this is islam spitting in our face. fuck them i swear to god ill kill them all. call me racist. like i give a fuck. if you dont agree with me, get the fuck out of america. [ Report ]

all mosque's should be burned to the ground and all muslims should be hung [ Report ]
(If you only have time to report a few of these comments, please at least report those five.)


If you're here in American, enjoying our way of life & our fruitful life & living off our system (aka food stamps, social services, then DON"T EVEN criticize it. If you don't like it then get on the next plane home. I'm sick & tired of paying for illegals & baby makers who don't put one dime back into our system yet have the money for booze, ciggies & lotto tickets. Get a job & use birth control. [ Report ]


When is immigration going to stop? We do not need anymore people from the Middle East here. Let it stop so true American's can get jobs! Remember our forefathers fought for freedom and where true to their new country, not like what they are letting in now. [ Report ]
Yeah, our forefathers who were... wait for it... immigrants. Unless you're Native American you're not a "true American" either.

Hold on a second here...BULL SHIT. In all my life I have never heard of or seen a Radical American going over to their country & strapping a bomb to their body & blowing up a truck in front of a building in the name of God? We need to do what Britain is doing, they have closed their doors to the colored people & stating "We have enough here now as it is" & not allowing any more. We need to stop work visas & paying everyone to come over her & start a new life & start paying the ones who are already here & focus on the AMERICANS 1st. [ Report ]
Wait, are they really suggesting that no Americans have ever gone to the Middle East and killed people? Really? Have they not heard of the U.S. military?


God help us. At least the president will have a place to pray in New York. [ Report ]

Obama and the rest of the muslims need to go back to the terrorist supporting countries where they can build all the mosques they want and blow each other up, GET THE HELL OUT OF AMERICA ![ Report ]

Of course they're going to build a mosque at ground zero, the American people elected a muslim president!! A liar and a non-citizen! America is divided and we're falling. Like the frog in the water that doesnt know its being boiled to death. May God help us! [ Report ]

.....and so the Islamification of America begins.....Actually, it begun by electing a Muslim president...Obama is a traitor from within..... [ Report ]
General Hatred and Ignorance
islam is a religion built on violence thats why most of them are animals it was spread through violence and they were told to kill all non believers of islam [ Report ]

the spreading of islam in this country is a big problem been saying for years [ Report ]

Islam: Every time you hear a bang the worlds a wanker short [ Report ]

I do not believe it is an insult to place a mosque near ground zero but an insult to place a mosque anywhere in the western world today. Islam is a foul, disgusting practice and should be shoned wherever it raises it's ugly head. If you want Islam then go where they have it already and do not push it on to civilised people. Thank you. [ Report ]

This is a slap in the face to every single person who perished that day and to the thousands (like me) who are now sick with respiratory ailments that have forever changed our lives...it's like Muslims dancing on the graves of our loved ones...and laughing as they do so....what bright light at the Dept of Buildings approved this? [ Report ]

a mosque at ground zero will only fuel the fire of anti-Americanism and probably serve as a covert training and recruiting facility for their next mission of murder that they will claim as fulfilling the will of Allah in pursuit of an Arab ruled world! The construction will serve as an extremists moral victory over the United States and the infidels. What bullsh!t! [ Report ]

the muslims are the reason we have a "ground zero". Their hatred for America, has been widely publicized across the world. Put their mosque in the middle of a landfill [ Report ]


The radical muslims have made a very bad name for their culture. We should have just turned their land into a parking lot years ago! Before they did it to us. We need to stop being a bunch of pushovers and show the world that America is a force that shouldn't be screwed with! [ Report ]

This is an outrage. A mosque at Ground Zero will tell the world that what happened on 9-11-01 is okay with Americans. I think I'll email Bill O'Reilly at FoxNews and see if he can do a segment on this. Also, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and every other real conservative talk show host needs to bring this ...out in the open. Political correctness is most likely a huge factor in this idea.[ Report ]
Sorry, but that last one literally made me laugh-out-loud. I'm gonna email Bill O'Reilly!!

its always the fucking same no matter where your from no matter what country ...all governments bend over backwards for these muzzie cunts ...its a total piss take that they are even thinking about building it in nyc itself never mind near ground zero ....god bless america ....from a very pissed off englishman [ Report ]

The announcement of the proposed plan to build this Mega-Mosque at Ground Zero, and the OKAY to do so, is actually a GOOD thing. It will FINALLY WAKE UP AMERICANS to the VERY REAL THREAT we face with the rapid Islamification of, first, Europe, now US !!!!! THIS IS OUR TIME TO TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!!! "NO" to pacifying ...the millions of Muslims in the U.S.A. I've never heard any outcry from "Moderate Muslims" over terror attacks or attempted ones. This is OUR TIME TO UNITE AND MOBILISE AS A WHOLE rather than sitting back in our individual states, bitching about our cities being taken over by this insideous menace. [ Report ]

It's their way to pay tribute to the terrorists who murdered innocent American's. It's the same as the Dome of the Rock....Mohamed, can I say his name?, never went anywhere close to Jerusalem, he only dreamnt that he was there...so in their minds reallity is what you make up and not what really happened. I think we need to start doing to the Islam Jaheedists what we did to the Japanese in WWII [ Report ]

Time to show the Muzzies that we've had enough of their "Religion of Peace". Time to show our elected "leaders" that it's our way or the highway. Time to take back OUR own damn country from all the foreign invaders who seek to conquer us by using our own Constitution against us! [ Report ]
(and apparent confusion about the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state)
This country was built on Christian values and would be succeeding in every aspect if we would just give the country back to God. Stand up for Him. Stand up for the country He gave us. Respect these people and their families. Do not build that mosque!! If they do it would be total disrespect on their graves.[ Report ]

I am sorry but you useless fuckers go to the site and spray pigs blood on it, plant pigs heads around it on pikes. If that does not work then sit on the fucking place and dont let them build fuck all! God save the Queen! [ Report ]

And... Miscellaneous WTF?

alllrightttt let me break this down fer everyone....i wasnt there, im not a surviovor, but my father was!!!! he was a housing detective thatt dissapeared cus some fucking carpetriding jingle-la-la's decided that it would please their god if they did some fucked up shit...soo yeah lets set up another one those religiou......s places and fuckkkin they can plot at one too...............ITS LIEK A ARAB STEALING A PIECE OF CAKE FROM YOU AND THAN EATING IT AS YOU WATCH!!!! fuck that fuck taliban fuck alqueda anddddd fuck a mosque at ground zerooo thats like putting a japanese hibachi grill in pearl harbour...FUCKKKKKK THATTTT
p.s i served in the military and saww friends leave on a ship never to return again...these islamic fucks are being scummy....if we tryed building a church on MECCA....theyd be bitching like a jappy school girl soooo fuckk that they started beef...were just fuucking ending it [ Report ]

Building a mosque near ground zero is just plain disrespectful. It´s sacred ground and I feel that the people in New York has suffered enough. All those who claim we should not blame the muslims, that is just crazy! I´m sorry to say, but coming from personal experience, all muslims think alike! Tried to be openminded and be friends with these people, but after a while, they all show their true colors! I strongly reccomend the movie "Where in the world is Usama bin Ladin" made by the Supersize me-guy (can´t remember his name). He is travelling to the middle east, interviewing some people. These are really clear about how they feel about America and the americans. And what about that asshole a couple of weeks ago, the one who tried to blow up an SUV in the middle of Times Square. He just became an american citizen, and instead of being happy and appreciate that, ha attempted to preform acts of terrorism. These ppl should be sent back to the deserts they came from! [ Report ]

I am sorry but you useless fuckers go to the site and spray pigs blood on it, plant pigs heads around it on pikes. If that does not work then sit on the fucking place and dont let them build fuck all! God save the Queen! [ Report ]
I'm not sure what's more upsetting.... how completely disgustingly hateful and racist most of these comments are... or how bad the spelling and grammar is.

PLEASE REPORT THESE USERS/COMMENTS and any others that contain racist/hate speech and/or incite violence if you agree that this type of blind hatred and hypocrisy is wrong.

There may be legitimate concerns about whether it is appropriate to have a building for religious worship close to the World Trade Center site, however there are less offensive ways to make that point and violence is never okay. We all need to stand up against racism, fear-mongering, and plain old ignorance. Radical terrorists may have used Islam to justify the murder of many people, but Islam was not the cause of the 9/11 attack and most Muslims are not terrorists do not support the terrorists and do not support violence. It's also worth nothing that many Muslims were victims of the 9/11 attacks as well and there have been a number of anti-Muslim acts of violence since 9/11. Of course, those incidents don't get as much coverage as fear-mongering "OMG! A Mosque! In New York City!"

Where are the Outraged people against anti-Islamic violence?

UPDATE: Apparently someone hacked the group (either that or the admin had a change of heart?) and changed the name to "People in favor of the mega mosque and eager to forget 9-11". However, the offensive comments - and calls for violence - keep coming so please keep reporting them. (There is also another related group 1,000,000+ people who disapprove of building a mosque at Ground Zero! which has an equal number of offensive, reportable content.)


May 21, 2010

Is it okay to airbrush models to be heavier?

By now you may have seen the story about the British magazine Healthy airbrushing its April cover model to be... less skinny:
Holland & Barrett has been plunged into a row over size-zero models after airbrushing a shockingly thin girl to make her appear curvier and healthier.
The health food giant altered the body of Polish model Kamilla Wladyka in an attempt to conceal how thin she was when she appeared on the April cover of its customer magazine - called Healthy.
Miss Druker claimed Miss Wladyka had appeared healthy during casting, but looked too thin to feature on the magazine's cover on the day of the photo shoot a week later.
The details on Miss Wladyka's modelling card claim that she is a size 6, with a 24 inch waist. 'There were plenty of clothes that we couldn't put on her because her bones stuck out too much,' Miss Druker said.
'She looked beautiful in the face, but really thin and unwell. That's not a reflection of what we do in our magazine, which is about good health.' [Daily Mail]

After years of magazines airbrushing models to be thinner, this story might have come as a refreshing change. However, I don't completely agree.

1. It's dishonest.

Maybe airbrushing models to be heavier instead of skinnier feels a little bit better, but that still doesn't make it right. It's ultimately the same thing - altering a model's actual, genuine body to meet some idealized version of what you think they should look like.

Kamilla Wladyka may not meet Holland & Barrett's ideal representation of healthy beauty - and that's okay - but she looks the way she looks. The body on the cover of the April 2010 Healthy magazine is not Wladyka's body. The woman on the cover of the April 2010 Healthy magazine does not actually exist. Wladyka is not perfect. No one is perfect. Magazines should show real women they way they really look. If they don't like they way they look, then fine, but then don't put them in your magazine.

Once you make the decision to put someone on the cover... you're not just printing their photograph, you're holding them up as a representative of the magazine. If they don't meet that desired image - you can choose to accept that or you can just not put them in the magazine. You can't just mold them to whatever image you desire if it's not true.

2. It sends a mixed message.

I'm not sure how famous Kamilla Wladyka is at this point in her career, but people can clearly see how skinny she actually is in any other photos. By viewing an airbrushed version of her on the cover, readers aren't going to necessarily realize that it is a "heavier" version of her. They're just going to see her on the cover of Healthy and associate her with "healthy". So they're essentially still sending the same message - that thin is healthy - but just sort of covering their asses about doing it.

(Plus did you catch the cover stories? "Carbs Don't Make You Fat" and "Lose 10 lbs No Need to Diet". Mixed messages indeed.)

I'm sure there were models with actual curves that they could have hired instead of airbrushing fake cures onto Wladyka. So basically the magazine is still only hiring the super skinny girls. Even if Wladyka arrived at the shoot thinner than she was at casting, she was still pretty thin to begin with. According to her modeling agency stats, she is a UK size 6 (the equivalent of a US size 4) . How much weight could she really have lost in a week to take her to what they called "shockingly thin" if she wasn't extremely thin to begin with? (Check out her portfolio.)

If Wladyka's body was not a reflection of good health (according to Holland & Barrett's standards) on the day of the shoot, are we supposed to believe that it was a week earlier at casting? Why not cast someone a little "healthier" to begin with?

Photos from the Healthy shoot that show Wladyka at her actual weight.

Older photos from Wladyka's portfolio from FashionModelDirectory.com

While I'm sure there are plenty of women that size who are naturally thin and totally healthy at size 4 or below, it seems contradictory for the magazine to hire a "size 4" model and at the same time claim that they don't want to portray bodies that are too thin as healthy. If that was truly the case, then why hire models at all and instead feature some prominent public figure known for their healthly lifestyle on the cover?

3. It reinforces an unfair generalization that it's bad to be thin.

Just hear me out on this one! I'm happy that magazine editors are more cautious about featuring super-skinny models because of the detrimental effect they can have on girls' (and women's) self-esteem and body image... and the unhealthy actions some might take to try to look like them. But thin doesn't always mean unhealthy. Bones sticking out doesn't necessarily mean you're malnourished. Some people are just naturally very thin and it's not fair to vilify them because of something they can't control.

In the same way that it would be wrong for anyone to feel pressured to be thinner... we shouldn't make anyone feel pressured to be heavier either.

For years overweight people were warned about the plethora of health problems they were likely to face - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, etc. - and while it's true that obesity has been linked to many health issues, weight is not the only factor. It is more about the reason for the obesity (poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, etc.) than the weight itself. Now people are finally realizing that being "fat" doesn't necessarily mean unhealthy. The same is true of being skinny. Someone who looks "malnourished" isn't necessarily unhealthy.

I've known many "overweight" (i.e., average-sized) girls who were completely healthy but longed to attain a weight that would've been inappropriate and unhealthy for their bodies. Some of them did achieve their goal weights, but messed up their health in the process of crash diets and purging. I've also known almost as many naturally "skinny" girls who were criticized as "anorexic" and "flat-chested" and "malnourished", who envied everyone else's curves but found themselves unable to put on weight. I know one girl in particular, who was constantly criticized so often for being anorexic and unhealthy, that she started eating the fattiest, greasiest foods in an attempt to finally put some meat on her bones. (She remained relatively thin but her health deteriorated, including a drastic spike in her cholesterol levels).

I definitely don't think that magazines should continue to reinforce the stupid (and dangerous) idea that a skinny body is the only kind of beautiful body. But at the same time, I'm uneasy about jumping straight from that to the stereotype that a skinny body is an unhealthy body. Either way we're ascribing to a one-body-fits-all ideal of beauty and health that will never, ever actually "fit all".

Now I'm not speaking about Wladyka specifically, because I have no idea if she's naturally thin or if she's healthy. My guess would be that if she really did lose a drastic amount of weight in a week, then it probably wasn't done in the most healthy of ways. Most models probably do not fall into the healthy/skinny category - which sucks for the ones who actually do - so it's quite possible that Wladyka wasn't the best example of health. But that wasn't really their argument. Their excuse was she looked "unwell". I'd really like to know what they meant by "unwell" because it's very arbitrary.

I think it's good that a health magazine doesn't want to put a superskinny model on their cover, but that should be because to be that thin would not be healthy for the typical woman... not because thin is unhealthy, period.

4. It was unnecessary.

I think the magazine has the right idea in not wanting to put an extremely thin model on their cover, but then don't hire an extremely thin model! Sometimes a little photoshopping or other digital altering of photo is necessary. The lighting was off, an unsightly shadow or glare, the color of a dress looks a little washed out... fine. But changing a model's weight? Easily avoidable. How? Hire a heavier model to begin with! The model you cast shows up to the shoot way too thin? Send her home.

She wasn't the size they cast? She didn't fit the clothes properly? She was skinnier than they expected or wanted? She doesn't meet their definition of "healthy"? Don't shoot her. Or at the very least, don't put her on the cover!

Eleni Renton, of Leni's Model Management, said: 'When magazines start changing body shape, it becomes unhealthy. 'That girl probably should have been sent home from the shoot.' [Daily Mail]

May 20, 2010

The Cosmo Boob Lovers Shopping List

It was rainy here earlier this week, so we decided to find ourselves a fun rainy day project to keep us entertained. Naturally, the first place we turned for inspiration was Cosmo, where we found "50 Great Things to Do With Your Breasts". Apparently "pampering your pair can cause extreme confidence, unrivaled sex appeal, and bigger, better orgasms", and how could we turn that down? Except, it turns out that pampering your pair requires a lot of stuff, so we have to go shopping first.

Here's our shopping list, along with some of our favorite tips from the article. But first, I have to give a shoutout to my mom - this article is from the May issue and we were getting ready to move on to June, but she was flipping through my copy and came across this article, and she insisted that we showcase the stupidity before starting on the new issue. What's better than making fun of Cosmo? Making fun of Cosmo with your mom.

So, according to Cosmo, here's what you need to have a great day with your breasts...

Petroleum Jelly, Self-Tanner

#4 - Score a perfect sunless boob tan: Shower and exfoliate, then put a dab of petroleum jelly on your nipples to make sure they keep their natural color. Evenly apply the self-tanning lotion or spray to your tatas, and lean forward for a few minutes to help them dry blotch-free.

We're wondering if we should put the tanner on the rest of our bodies too, or if this is a vajazzling/bikini line stencils sort of thing where we're making our boobs darker on purpose to draw more attention to them in a fun and fearless sort of way. With Cosmo you can never really be sure.

Double-Sided Tape

#5 - Master the art of using double-sided tape. The secret: Stick one-inch strips of tape a quarter inch away from the edge of your clothes. It keeps everything in place but still looks natural.

Yes, because if anything out there in this world is an "art" worth "mastering", it's definitely this. I can just picture the Cosmo editors going through roll after roll of double-sided tape to determine the correct positioning down to the quarter of an inch. They're artists!

And when you're hooking up with your guy later, he'll really enjoy the unexpected fun of getting those little fuzzy pieces of tape stuck to random places on his body.

Rose Petals

High angle view of rose petals on towels
#11 - Strategically place rose petals over your bare nipples just before he comes to bed.

Okay, sure, sounds like fun...and then what? Maybe I'm just not romantic enough to grasp this, but what exactly is he supposed to do when he sees you? "Oh hey, nice flower petals, honey." Also, I imagine that you'd probably have to lay pretty still to keep the "strategically placed" petals in place, and considering how oblivious some guys can be, you might be stuck in that position for quite awhile before he realizes that you're trying to be a sex goddess or whatever.

Nipple Concealers

#13 - Want to go braless to a party or bar? You can avoid the smuggling raisins effect by sticking on nipple concealers (try Low Beams, look for them on herlook.com).

I'll be honest, I mostly just included this one because I couldn't get over the fact that they really used the phrase "the smuggling raisins effect". Classy and mature as always, Cosmo.

Benefit Benetint

#15 - Score a sexy, rosy glow by dotting on a pinkish-red stain, like Benefit's BeneTint. Dab a small amount around your areolae and nipples, and blend well.

Again, I have to ask...why am I doing this? Are guys attracted to unnaturally pink nipples? This also seems like one of those tips that shows Cosmo's confusion about the fact that there's a wide variety of different skin tones out there. On some women this would probably be unnoticeable, and on others it would look really ridiculous. To me this just seems like a waste of expensive makeup.

Later on in the list there's another tip about giving your boobs a "glow", this time by "sprinkling a shimmer powder" over them. Maybe if you combine these two tips you can pull off a sexy clown/rejected Cirque du Soleil performer sort of thing.

Tomato Sauce

#17 - Cook dinner topless, apply a little tomato sauce to your nipple (make sure it's not too hot), and ask your man if it's spicy enough.

I guess we have to give Cosmo some credit for thinking outside the box on this one - I'm pretty sure I've never seen tomato sauce on a list of foods that would be good for sex play before. Whipped cream is so six issues ago.

But if I were going to cook dinner topless, I probably would pick something with less of a tendency to splatter, because there are no tips anywhere in the article for how to deal with boiling hot sauce-induced boob burns. Along those same lines, I do kinda love that they specify in the tip that you should make sure that the sauce isn't too hot before applying it to your nipple. Were they afraid that some of the Cosmo girls out there might get confused and dip their boobs directly into the pot of sauce?

"Miraculous" Push-Up Bra

#21 - When you want to go purse-free, stick your ID and credit card in your cleavage. Try Victoria's Secret Miraculous Push-Up - it adds up to two full cup sizes.

Where should I put my phone, keys, and lipstick, in my panties?

Okay, yeah, this tip isn't really that bad. I'm sure most of us have done something like this at one time or another. (Although the success rate does sometimes depend on how much cleavage you're working with.) But it also barely qualifies as a tip for the same reason - it's not like this is a brilliant new idea that Cosmo just came up with. Seems more like this one was included to a) fill out the list (gotta get to a nice round number!) and b) name-drop this specific bra.

Lettuce leaves in metal strainer

#24 - When you're feeling sore around your period, wrap a refrigerated raw lettuce leaf around each breast and hold it there until it wilts.

This is one of my favorite things that I've ever read in Cosmo. Every time I reread it I'm delighted all over again. It just really captures the essence of the absurd streak that runs through this magazine so perfectly. Wrap a refrigerated raw lettuce leaf around each breast. There are so many questions. Who came up with this tip, and were they really proud of themselves for their creativity? Can you imagine if someone walked in on you trying this? Does it work better if the lettuce is organic? And why lettuce anyway? I guess while we're wasting expensive makeup we might as well waste some food too, but what exactly is it about lettuce that makes it uniquely qualified to relieve breast soreness? My guess is that you'll be laughing so much over the fact that you're actually holding cold lettuce on your boobs that you'll be temporarily distracted from the pain.

Rhinestones, Body Glue

#32 - Draw an attention-grabbing circle around your nipples using rhinestones and body glue for a special night in.

What if he swallows one? I guess technically that would qualify as "attention-grabbing".

...okay, so after a few minutes of Cosmo-inspired research, I now know that there is a website called YourNippleCovers.com which sells nothing but aluminum siding nipple covers, including some with rhinestones like the ones pictured here. If you were going to try this tip, this seems like it would be a better approach than trying to do your own circle with individual rhinestones and glue. Maybe if YourNippleCovers.com plays their cards right, they can get a shoutout when Cosmo recycles this tip in a few months.

Temporary Tattoos

#40 - Put temporary tattoos of his name around your nipples, and give him a peek when you bend forward in an undone button-up.

Temporary tattoos...of his name? Where exactly am I supposed to find those, Cosmo tip writers? Also, you know, silly me, but here I thought that straight guys were excited enough about just getting to see and touch naked breasts on a regular basis. Now I know that it's just amateur hour unless rose petals, rhinestones, marinara sauce, and tattoos are involved.

...okay, so after a few minutes of Cosmo-inspired research, I now know that there is a website called TemporaryNameTattoo.com that sells nothing but espadrilles temporary name tattoos. Once again, Cosmo provides me with valuable information that is sure to improve the quality of my life.

Nipple Tassels

#42 - Stick on nipple tassels, and practice swinging them (hint: It's all in the knees). Use your newfound talent to put on a sexy show for your man.

Nipple tassels...it's all in the knees. What other magazine can you turn to when you need important tips like this? And apparently they're right about the knee thing, so if tassel-twirling is a skill that you want to acquire (it sometimes involves mastering the art of double-sided tape, so we've practically come full circle), this video from Polestars is a good place to start.

Eggs, Beer
Health Food Junk Food

Inset Box: Try This! For touchable tatas, use this DIY mask: Mix two egg yolks (a natural skin softener) with one cup of beer. Dab the mix on your breasts, and rinse after 20 minutes.

And you thought the lettuce tip was something special, right? You didn't know there was a homemade boob mask coming. I've had a lot of eggs and a lot of beer in my life, but not usually at the the same time, and I'm pretty sure I've never thought about combining them into a homemade beauty product.

It's not like I'm against the "DIY mask" idea in theory, and I guess
Bottles of beer in ice bucket
it's a good idea to take care of the skin in that area after you've tortured it with rhinestones, tassels, hot tomato sauce, and cold lettuce. But could they have come up with a more unappealing combination of ingredients? Couldn't it be honey and strawberries or some nonsense like that? Raw eggs and beer, Cosmo, really?

I also like the way that they specify that you're using egg yolks because they're "a natural skin softener", but offer no explanation for including the beer, as if it's a well known fact that beer is great for your breasts.

Okay, we've changed our minds. This is way too much work. We're just going to make pasta with the tomato sauce, drink the beer, and spend the day making fun of more Cosmo articles instead. I think our boobs will thank us.

May 19, 2010

How to Become a Vampire

Waiting still sucks. Until True Blood starts up again next month, we will continue with the ESC's Guide to Supernatural Creatures.

Apparently the five main causes of vampirism are:
  1. Evil curse and/or magic.
  2. Vampire bite.
  3. Blood drinking.
  4. Virus.
  5. Genetics.
Sometimes it takes a combination of two or three of the above (most commonly, being bitten by a vampire and then drinking vampire blood). Also, mythologies in which vampirism is genetically passed or "spread" by biting, still need some explanation for the origin of the first vampire and then it's bite-and-go from there on.

So here's the ESC's totally-not-complete guide to becoming a vampire based on some of our favorite (and least favorite) vampire movies, TV shows, and books...

How to Become a Vampire
(or... How to Avoid Becoming a Vampire)

Gardella Vampire Chronicles
(We predict that it's only a matter of time before this series become a movie or TV show.)
  • Evil curse and/or magic.
The first vampire was Judas who was seduced by Lucifer after he betrayed Jesus. God cursed him and his descendants to walk the earth forever and fearing that he would never be forgiven Judas hanged himself. So Lucifer used him to create a new half-man/half-demon race of blood-drinking creatures... a.k.a. vampires. [more]
  • Vampire bite + Blood drinking.
Regular vampires are turned by a combination of being bitten and ingesting vampire blood.
(And well, any number of the millions of versions of Dracula-stories out there.)
  • Evil Curse and/or Magic
Ol' Vlad returned from battle to find his wife dead (she killed herself because she thought he was dead, all very R+J). When he learned that she wouldn't get to Heaven because of the suicide, he renounced God and swore to rise from the grave to avenge her "with all the powers of darkness." And somehow that worked!
Another version (from the Topps Comics' Dracula: Vlad the Impaler mini series) explains it a bit differently... Vlad is beheaded by a Turkish assassin and his headless body is stored in a Monastery. One of his descendants has the head brought to the monastery and he tries to resurrect him through an incantation. However, he's killed before he can finish and his blood is spilled onto Vlad's corpse which resurrects him. Um... okay.[more]
  • Vampire bite + Blood drinking.
Dracula turns others into vampires with a blood exchange combination of him biting them and making them ingesting his blood.
  • Vampire bite.
You can become a vampire just by being bitten by a vampire. (Or by being otherwise "injected" with their "venom". Yummy.)
  • Genetics.
Apparently in the Twilight universe, vampires can have babies. Vampire Edward impregnates human Bella and they have a "half-vampire" daughter. Of course, she almost kills her mother from the inside out, but well, nobody said parenthood was easy. (My real question is why his venomous sperm didn't turn Bella into a vampire in the first place? Stephenie Meyer, you make no sense!)
  • Blood drinking
You drink blood to become a "half-vampire" and then you have to kill someone to become a "full-vampire".

(and also Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and well, a lot of others...)

  • Vampire bite + Blood drinking
Three easy steps to vampirism... A vampire bites you and drinks your blood. You drink the vampire's blood. You are buried and wake up as a vampire the next evening.

  • Vampire bite + Blood drinking + Blood drinking again!
One blogger referred to it as "musical blood chairs". First you're bitten by a vampire, then you drink the vampire's blood, then you die, and then when you wake up you have a day to decide if you're really really sure. If you are, you drink human blood to complete the transformation. If you're not, you die again, for real this time.
I Am Legend
  • Virus
A cancer-cure mutated into a lethal virus. Survivors who weren't killed and/or immune turned into vampires. That's what you get for trying to cure cancer.
(This one might be my favorite vampire origin story of all time. It's so ridiculous.)
  • Virus + Genetics + Vampire bite (well, sorta)
Imagine this: Your father gets a virus that mutates and makes him immortal. You inherit his immortality, but then you are bitten by a bat and your brother is bitten by a wolf creating the Vampire and Lycan (werewolf) lines.
  • Virus
A global pandemic of a blood-borne, highly infectious disease (hemoglophagia) kills the infected within twelve years, but before that, gives them super-human abilities... and fangs.
Lesbian Vampire Killers
(Also known as "Vampire Killers" because apparently "lesbian" is considered a dirty word in some places.)
  • Evil Curse and/or Magic
Vampire Queen Carmilla cursed this little village so that all the girls who were born there would turn into lesbian vampires on their 18th birthdays. (We're not sure who is giving birth to all these baby girls though, if every woman over 18 is a lesbian vampire killer. We suspect a teenage pregnancy pact.)
Recent turns... "Vicki" from The Vampire Diaries and "Jessica" from True Blood

We're thinking that in our best-selling book (you know, the one about the 2012 end of the world conspiracy about the sexy teenage vampires and Michelle Obama's fashion sense) and of course, the movie based on the book and then the TV show based on the movie and, if we're lucky, the spin-off TV show too... to become a vampire, you have to be bitten by a vampire while facing east within three days of the first full moon of the year. To complete the transition you have to drink blood from their right thumb and then do the dance from the Thriller video. Either that or you just have to score well enough on the Vampire Aptitude Test and write a personal essay about why you want to become a vampire and how you plan to make a positive impact on the vampire community and submit it to the Vampire Review Board.  Good luck!