Miss Fa'afafine: Behind Samoa's 'third gender' beauty pageant – BBC News

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Fa’afafine, a term unique to Samoan culture, refers to biological males who are raised and identify as females

Bright lights, glittering dresses and dazzling smiles are a feature of every beauty pageant, but Samoa’s Miss Fa’afafine is a pageant with a difference – an annual celebration of the island nation’s third gender tradition.

“I believe I was born a fa’afafine. Though originally I was born male, my feminine side is much stronger”, says Velda Collins.

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Velda Collins

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Velda, who won the pageant in 2007, describes growing up as a fa’afafine as “hard”

“A woman trapped in a man’s body”, is how she describes herself. “We are unique from the lesbian and gay community around the world, we have our own identity.”

Despite the fa’afafine being an accepted part of Samoan culture for generations, she says life was hard growing up, as her parents never quite accepted her. They were afraid her identity would close doors for her in life.

So taking part in Miss Fa’afafine 2007 was one of the “most liberating experiences” of her life.

She went on to win that pageant, and is now one of the contest organisers.


The fa’afafine tradition

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Steve Auina of New Zealand took the Miss Samoa Fa’afafine crown in 2015

  • Dating back to the early 20th Century, the term means “in the way of a woman”.
  • It encompasses those who do not fit within the gender binary models of male and female.
  • Some fa’afafines live their lives out as women, whereas others may choose to live as men with particular feminine attributes.
  • Being fa’afafine does not necessarily mean a person is gay, they consider themselves instead to be a third gender.
  • About 1-5% of Samoa’s 190,000-strong population identifies as fa’afafine.

This year, Miss Fa’afafine celebrates its 10th anniversary, and will see nine contestants from various countries and across all ages gather in front of a thousand-strong crowd on Friday.

The Samoa Fa’afafine Association (SFA), which organises the pageant, uses it to generate funds for their community work, but also to raise awareness of various human rights issues, especially their push for Samoan laws banning homosexuality to be repealed.

Ymania Brown, 53 and an SFA founder, says she has identified as a girl “since about the age of three”, and remembers “having a crush on this particular boy in kindergarten”.

But she says being fa’afafine is not the same as being gay.

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The pageant celebrates its 10th anniversary this year

“When you try to fit cultural idioms into Western boxes, what you end up doing is trying to find the nearest fit,” she says.

“It’s a very painful life to lead because of all the stigma and negative connotations,” she said.

Her mother was accepting of her identity, though her father resisted.

“No parent would wish it upon their child, but once they see it’s a losing battle they usually embrace it.”

There is added weight to the contest this year, as the community feels their identity, traditionally accepted or tolerated in society, is coming under increasing pressure from religious conservatism in strongly Christian Samoa.

In June, a national newspaper caused outrage by publishing an uncensored image of the body of Jeanine Tuivaiki on its front page, a fa’afafine who was found dead, possibly by suicide, inside a church.

The prime minister said he was “appalled” by the front page, while the SFA said it had “robbed what last dignity and humanity Ms Tuivaiki had”.

The newspaper apologised, but the SFA said it was a sign that fa’afafine “can never be fully functional free and equal citizens of Samoa” while anti-gay laws exist.

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Fa’afafines were represented during Air New Zealand Fashion Week in 2005

But Ymania says she sees a positive “change in the way acceptance is flowing”.

“You see kids in primary school acting and talking as fa’afafines publicly,” she added.

Many people attending conservative churches “are growing up and having children, who sometimes end up being fa’afafine so how can they go and discriminate against them?” she asks.

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Ymania hopes for her children to be able to grow up in a world without bias

Ymania herself is a mother to two adopted boys.

“The first time I saw my name on my children’s birth certificate listing me as their mother, I broke down,” she said.

“Even growing up, all I ever wanted to be was somebody’s mum. And the fact that my country has deemed me to be listed as the mother of my children on their birth certificate, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Children are also one of the reasons why Ymania, and the SFA are fighting for greater LGBT rights in Samoa.

“If one of my kids turn out to be fa’afafine or have fa’afafine children – not only them but so many children across Samoa – I want them to grow up in a world that is tolerant,” she said.

“It’s probably not going to happen in my lifetime but I have to try to leave this world a better place than when I found it – for every citizen, including fa’afafines.”

Utah fashion designer invited to participate in New York Fashion Week – KSL.com

SALT LAKE CITY— Aleksandra Salo had a dilemma: She couldn’t find anything to wear.

Salo, originally from a small town in Russia, had a very specific style in her mind, and none of the clothing stores in Utah, or anywhere else, fit that style. She decided to ask a seamstress friend of hers to make a dress for her.

When Salo described the type of dress she wanted, her friend suggested she take a pattern-making class at Brigham Young University, where Salo was a student, so she could bring her ideas to life.

After taking that one class at BYU, Salo would never need to ask a friend to make her clothing again.

Salo was recently invited to participate in New York Fashion Week this September, which takes place in February and September of each year and features international fashion collections.

Salo has previously participated in Utah Fashion Week, as well as a show in Florida.

“It comes naturally, and I think that’s the beauty of it,” said Salo of her love for fashion design. “I love it.”

Besides the pattern-making class at BYU, Salo said she has no educational background in fashion design and received her bachelor’s degree in finance, seeking a career in banking.

“I didn’t realize what had always attracted me to banking was actually the fact that you can dress up and look nice,” she said.

Salo said that since she was unfamiliar with the fashion industry when she started designing, she has made her own success by taking risks.

She said she decided in 2015 to try to participate in Utah Fashion Week, although she had no prior show experience, and created a look book with about 15 sketches. She became one of 11 designers at the show.

After her experience in Utah, Salo was invited to participate in another show in Florida, for which she created a new collection of designs.

In May 2016, she received an email from New York Fashion Week inviting her to participate in the event.

Salo will present her collection of about 20 pieces in a show featuring multiple designers on Sept. 10. She said she wants to use this opportunity not only for exposure, but to network with other designers and to find a mentor.

Another opportunity available for designers at New York Fashion Week is to meet with buyers to potentially sell their clothing to.

Salo makes clothing for herself and for clients by request on an individual basis, but she hopes to soon sell her clothing to boutiques and online stores. Salo described her style as classic, elegant and modest.

“The biggest compliment I get is, whenever ladies model or wear the dresses, ‘I feel like a president’s wife,’ or ‘I feel so confident,’ or ‘I feel so beautiful,’” she said. “Those kinds of compliments are what make me keep going.”

Model Laura Dennis wears one of Aleksander Salo’s original designs (Emma Fernelius)

Salo said she gets inspiration from many outlets, ranging from classic Dior and Chanel designs to the many facets of nature.

Her piece of advice to people who want to get involved in fashion design is to take advantage of every opportunity.

“Don’t wait for opportunities to knock on your door,” she said. “Look for them.”

She said that it is also important to find a mentor, to strive for perfection, to support other designers and to give back to a cause.

Ten percent of all the sales on Salo’s website goes to a nonprofit organization called Choice Humanitarian, an organization that works with developing nations to provide plumbing, education and other basic necessities.

“Hard work is the key,” she said. “Some days you may sleep only a few hours, or none at all if you are working tight deadlines. It all comes down to your passion and knowing why you are in the business.”

Photos

Lindsey Johnson

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The Darkroom coming next door to the new DCity Smokehouse on Florida Ave

The Darkroom coming next door to the new DCity Smokehouse on Florida Ave


207 Florida Avenue, NW

The placard posted out front says The Darkroom will be:

“A new retailer class ‘C’ Tavern with 90 seats and a Total Occupancy Load of 144. Applicant has also requested an Entertainment Endorsement to include dancing.”

This is the former Aida sales and service store:

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Right next door to the new DCity Smokehouse space coming soon. Updates on both fronts as they get closer to opening.

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2nd and Florida Ave, NW

What Facebook and WhatsApp's Data Sharing Plans Really Mean for User Privacy – EFF

WhatsApp is establishing data-sharing practices that signal a significant shift in its attitude toward privacy—though you wouldn’t know it from the privacy policy update that popped up on users’ screens last week. The new policy lays the groundwork for alarming data sharing between WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook. The update screen that users see, however, mentions only benign new features like WhatsApp calling, and requires a user to click a “Read more” link to see any mention of how the data sharing arrangement will work for users. Where WhatsApp could have offered users up-front information and choices, the UI as it stands buries critical details and options. If WhatsApp wants to merge user data with Facebook, it should give users opportunities to make choices about their privacy—starting with a clearer, more informative UI.

Broader data sharing

While WhatsApp previously passed no user information to its parent company Facebook or vice versa, the new privacy policy allows WhatsApp to directly integrate some user data with the social network. WhatsApp’s update describes this as “improving your Facebook ads and products experiences.” The impact on users and their privacy, however, goes much further.

If you use both WhatsApp and Facebook, this change will give Facebook access to several pieces of your WhatsApp information, including your WhatsApp phone number, contact list, and usage data (e.g. when you last used WhatsApp, what device you used it on, and what OS you ran it on). With confusing wording, the update correctly points out that your phone number and messages will not be shared onto Facebook. This means that your data will not be shared publicly on your Facebook page or anywhere else on Facebook’s platform. Instead, it will be shared with Facebook—that is, Facebook systems and the “Facebook family of companies.” While WhatsApp’s privacy-friendly end-to-end encryption remains, and the company ensures users it will not share their data directly with advertisers, this nevertheless presents a clear threat to users’ control of how their WhatsApp data is shared and used.

In its first privacy policy change since 2012, WhatsApp offers some motivations behind the shift, including detecting fraud and spam, getting a better count of unique users between the two platforms, and enabling “business-to-consumer” communication in the form of appointment reminders, flight updates, receipts, and other commercial notifications typically sent via SMS or email.

Most critically for user privacy, however, sharing this kind of metadata also gives Facebook an enhanced view of users’ online communication activities, affiliations, and habits, and runs the risk of making private WhatsApp contacts into more public Facebook connections. With this new data, for example, Facebook will be able to suggest WhatsApp contacts as Facebook friends. Facebook can also use the data to show “more relevant” ads. In an announcement accompanying the privacy policy update, WhatsApp offers the example of “an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of”—a frightening prospect considering the data coordination and sharing required for Facebook to know the companies with whom you do business.

Law enforcement policy lags behind

Despite these expanded uses for WhatsApp data, WhatsApp’s law enforcement policies have not changed along with its privacy policy. In particular, WhatsApp has still not committed to providing advance notice to users about law enforcement and government requests for user data. Providing notice is an industry-wide best practice, and we have noted WhatsApp’s failure to meet it in the past.

With tech companies often acting as the sole gatekeepers between user data and law enforcement, transparency from tech companies regarding data requests is often the only way to give users a chance to get a lawyer, fight overly broad subpoenas, and understand when and why their data is being accessed. Knowing that a certain company is committed to giving users notice could even make law enforcement stop and think twice about unnecessarily broad requests. If WhatsApp is going to move forward with more direct data sharing with private companies, it also needs to make this long overdue commitment regarding public authorities.

Permanent changes and bigger questions

Until September 25, existing WhatsApp users can change their settings to prevent Facebook from suggesting friends or serving ads based on WhatsApp data. We offer a step-by-step guide here.

After that however, new accounts will not have the option to refuse these expanded uses of their data. Instead, the only option available to new users will be whether to join WhatsApp at all under the new privacy policy and all of the data sharing it entails.

Artist of the month focuses on photography – WHIZ

ZANESVILLE, Ohio – At the end of each month a local artist is selected as the Artist of the Month for the first Friday Art Walk in downtown Zanesville.

This month honors Jana Pryor, and her photography. Pryor said that she has been working with cameras for as long as she can remember. This is Pryor’s second time winning the award and said it was a nervous experience to accept the award, but was also a huge honor.

“It’s about my thesis work I did in the late 90s and it is all done in the dark room with film. I printed everything. I’ve developed everything. And they are large environmental portraits,” said Pryor.

Pryor said she still prefers to work with film as opposed to a digital camera. She also said that she like to use black and white photography instead of color photos.

“To do it print wise, you can tell when you look at the two which is the better quality print but I will say that the digital kind opens the world of creativity,” said Pryor.

Pryor’s artwork is on display now in the Michael Seiler’s Studio and Gallery.


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“We have 42 bands on 5 stages, good food, beer, wine – and community”

“We have 42 bands on 5 stages, good food, beer, wine – and community”

From an email:

“Appaloosa is DC’s (only) Roots Music Festival – now going in to our second year.

We host our festival in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Front Royal, VA on Labor Day Weekend (September 3-4), and have 42 bands on 5 stages, good food, beer, wine – and community. The adults have fun (our headliners include Scythian, The Black Lillies, Mipso, Humming House, Penny & Sparrow, and Socks in the Frying Pan) as do the kids, with children under 13 coming free, and workshops by headliners, camping, and horseback riding. Also – we have late-night jams, discounts for active duty military and veterans, and 10% goes to charity. As for sponsors – we have The Hamilton Live sponsoring our main stage, as well as Starr Hill Brewery, Bold Rock Hard Cider, and WAMU Bluegrass Country, among others. We like to consider the community we’re building, as “Music Among Friends.”

Bookworms Explores "Standards of Beauty" on Hypnotic New Track – THUMP

Photo courtesy of the label

L.I.E.S. and Confused House-affiliated producer, Bookworms, has shared the blissfully grating title track off his forthcoming Standards of Beauty EP on Barcelona-based imprint Anòmia. Composed outward from a hypnotizing loop that alternately sounds like dulled synthetic bells and oddly EQ’d hand drums (or both at once), Nik Dawson sets things moving at an obstinately plodding pace, eventually orbiting the central motif with a nasty pair of clacking and oscillating buzzes in the higher frequency range.

“‘Standards of Beauty’ refers to the restrictiveness of Western/European standards of beauty and the alternative realities and narratives that exist either indifferent to or defiant of them,” the artist said in the press release for the EP. “It refers to the feedback loops that occur between those standards and their counterpoints, where the standard’s inverse is fetishized. I’m thinking of existence in a weird universe within all of that—being told I wasn’t black or white enough pretty much my whole life. Where is the standard there? This record is my alternative reality.”

Earlier this year, Dawson told THUMP that this EP works as a companion piece to his debut album Xenophobe: “It’s all about various perspectives in the struggle for self worth. Ways of trying to deal with the bullshit.

Standards of Beauty will be released on September 23 on 12″ and digital formats.

Follow Alexander on Twitter.

Real Housewives of NYC Reunion Fashion Preview – Observer

 

 

They all look so happy to be here.

Tonight is the Real Housewife of New York City reunion, and fans couldn’t be more excited. The clothing these women choose to wear tonight should represent how their individual fashion sense has evolved over the year. Let’s be honest: none of these women are remotely fashion-forward. They are the women who will never get photographed by street style photographers during fashion week. But, for the sake of fashion, I am willing to wade through all this style muck and polish up the gems.

Carole giving us pollyanna chic.

Carole: This ain’t your grandma’s bedspread – this is your Victorian-era great-great grandma’s bedspread. Sure, it’s got a kind of Edwardian charm; you can easily imagine said great-great grandma rocking this to play a savage game of croquet, twirling her parasol seductively to attract potential suitors. But in this modern-era of crop-tops and booty-shorts, this dress has as much sex appeal as a tepid glass of fluoride-laced water. Especially when you’re forced to sit next to a bustier-clad, I-wanna-be- sexy-cat like Ramona.

In the last few episodes, Carole began experimenting with ‘70s-era boheme, what with her lacy Alessandra Rich frocks. And the reunion is no exception. This is, ironically, the most fashion-forward we’ve seen her, as if she finally grew up from the leather fringe of teenage angst-ridden rock and roll, and walked right into granny-town. And, embarrassingly enough, I kind of, sort of, love it.

The hair doesn’t help. It’s a rather severe look, softened by a half-crown braid that is looped into a ponytail. It kind of makes her off-beat dress seem almost cartoonish, like she was making some sort of meta statement on the reality of reality television by dressing up as Anne of Green Gables. And her long, heavy 1920s-chic neck chains just seem to drag the whole dress down. Her nude ruffled heels definitely do not help. But her makeup is kind of perfect for Cool Cat Carole: relaxed, easy going, and simple.

Dress: D+

Hair and makeup: B+

Shoes: C-

Jewelry: C

Overall Look: C

Bethenny keeping it real.

Bethenny: Bethenny’s style game has been on point all season. From the cropped hair (allegedly copied from Lu) to her use of the sharpest, sleekest jumpsuits in Bravo TV history, Bethenny has never looked better. Therefore, I’m deeply disappointed that she chose to wear, like nearly everyone else, a gown.

In any case, although the minimalist vibe of her v-neck gown is a good look on her (as is the party-in-the-back chiffon cascading down her back), it’s a bit too virginal for a person known for her saucy mouth. Her hair, with its mussed and tousled side-part, works well with the simplicity of the gown. Makeup is ok, although her over-tweezed brows are a bit too reminiscent of Christina Aguilera in the early aughts.

Her jewelry is a bit much. Sure, it’s simple, but overly abundant. Her arm party paired with the multi-level necklaces, plus earrings, just makes me want to rip off something, anything. And her shoe-game is equally disappointing, with strappy silver heels that are only minimally less tacky than Sonja’s.

Dress: B

Hair and makeup: A

Shoes: C

Jewelry: C

Overall Look: B

Luann attempts a smile in her unflattering jumpsuit.

Luann: Luann has always looked the same, like she’s been stuck in a season one time-warp of gaudy, gilded 1980s Euro-trash looks – all padded shoulders and big belts. And this reunion is no different. Luann’s abomination of a jumpsuit looks cheap, probably because it’s from her very cheap and very un-Countess-like HSN collection that she uses nearly every opportunity to promote. It has no lining (compare it to Bethenny’s properly lined white dress) and has the subtle shimmer of cut-rate, plasticized pailettes. The jumpsuit is beyond unflattering to her figure, emphasizing every lump and bulge. Is she even wearing shapewear? Lu has a great body, and this jumpsuit is doing her no favors.

Unlike Bethenny’s supposedly stolen ‘do, Luann’s hair is curled and hairsprayed within an inch of it’s life, and that side-swept, face-framing shaggy bob hasn’t been in style since the 90s (incidentally, that’s when Lu first cut her hair that way).

To match her sparkly jumpsuit are strappy heels with sparkly, see-through panels. They aren’t terrible, but definitely not great. Noticeably missing is a variation of her trademark, hub-cap necklace, and the minimal jewelry is the lone light of beauty in a dark sea of garbage.

Dress: F

Hair and makeup: B-

Shoes: C

Jewelry: B

Overall Look: C-

Dorinda panicking that her dress is three sizes too small.

Dorinda: Dorinda’s dress looks like a fairy threw-up bedazzled stardust all over a polyester sheath. This is what your really-dowdy-but-thinks-she’s-hot-shit mother-in-law would choose to wear to your wedding. I believe the intent was to emphasize Dorinda’s Old-Money, socialite side. But it just makes her look like a Long Island middle class mom, who favors too-tight, too-short dresses and is obsessed with the word, “bling.” Plus, her nude lace-up heeled sandals, while pretty (but basic), do not match her dress, at all.

Her hair, though, makes it all ok. It’s sleek and perfect, with a frosty blonde hue that any Madison Avenue Blonde would covet. Her makeup is subtle – a simple pink lip and smoky eye. And her jewels are sparse enough to allow her to barely squeak by getting hit with a fashion felony charge.

Dress: D+

Hair and makeup: A-

Shoes: C

Jewelry: B

Overall Look: C

Sonja’s dress is as sexy and relaxed as she is

Sonja: Sure, Sonja’s sobriety is a great look on her, turning her into one of the best characters of the season. But some things don’t change, namely her style, which, like Luann, has pretty much remained the same since her first appearance on this show. Here, her hair is ok, but boring and tired. Her makeup is subtle and refined. And her dress may be simple (read: boring), but it looks expensive, evidenced by the way the silk’s sheen luxuriously dapples across her body. But the sexpot Sonja is never far away, and her thigh-high slit says, “I’m an expensive one-night-stand.” The tacky silver heeled-sandals are a bit of a disappointment, but not a surprising choice for someone who would win, “Most Likely to Be a Vegas Showgirl.”

Dress: C+

Hair and makeup: B

Shoes: D+

Jewelry: B

Overall Look: C

Ramona hyperventilating in her too tight bustier.

Ramona: Single Ramona is the best kind of Ramona. And Ramona’s corset-waisted black gown is the clothing equivalent to a middle age crisis. It’s sexy, it’s got her boobs out on full-blast, and it’s so tight I wonder if she can breathe (and yell at her intended targets). The asymmetrical swaths of black chiffon are redolent of a “Sexy Witch” costume on Halloween. All that’s missing is the conical hat. Luckily for her, Ramona doesn’t need the pointy headpiece to prove where she’s coming from supernaturally, we all know. Her hair and makeup is trying to be modern, subtle and, overall, relaxed but the hair-sprayed mermaid curls are so over that they are almost getting up and walking off the set. Her “True Faith” jewelry doesn’t quite meld with the look, but at least they are kept to a minimum. And her strappy, cage heels work well here.

Dress: D+

Hair and makeup: C+

Shoes: B-

Jewelry: C+

Overall Look: C

Jules looking like a boss.

Jules: After a very public and very embarrassing divorce, Jules looks fantastic. She seems to have put on weight, she chopped off her Morticia Adams hair, and her skin is glowing. This season, Jules had some knock-out fashion moments, but it was overshadowed by her poor attempts at being a housewife in jeans and a ratty t-shirt. But her reunion look is so sexy, so fashion-forward, I will happily chalk up her previous lack of style to an unhappy marriage.

Her velvet v-neck, mini black dress, embroidered in striped gold sequins, looks like it could have been worn by some Pretty Young Thing or a Kardashian. It oozes sex appeal – declaring to the world, “I am back on the market bitches!” Her gold strappy sandals feel safe, maybe even boring, but they go well with her dress so I can’t hate it too much (although I would have LOVED to have seen this dress with some lace-up, over-the-knee gladiator pumps.)

Dress: A+

Hair and makeup: A

Shoes: B-

Jewelry: B

Overall Look: A-

After tallying up the, ok, my votes, the winner is… Jules. Who, incidentally, also won Best Hair and Makeup and Best Dress. As for Best Shoes and Best Jewelry, no one won because they were all pretty terrible.

The Real Housewives of New York City reunion will air tonight at 9:00 pm on Bravo.