BURLESQUE: Magic. Power. Taboo.

Burlesque isn't just rhinestones and feathers.

Its history, its core, its entirety is rooted in strength,
sexual liberation and gender expression.

Burlesque isn’t just beauty queens and stilettos.

It’s a revolution.

It’s loud.

It’s enticing, seductive and transformative.

It’s all an illusion.
Continue reading “BURLESQUE: Magic. Power. Taboo.”

The Act: Gypsy Rose’s life behind rose-colored bars

“You protect me and I protect you.”

This is what Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette) says to her daughter Gypsy Rose (Joey King) in Hulu’s new series The ActThe show centers on the unusual mother-daughter relationship between Gypsy and Dee Dee that ended with the murder of her mother. This wasn’t just something that happened out the blue; for years Dee Dee’s scammed, lied to and exploited her daughter Gypsy at the expense of others. For this story, we find out what really went on behind their rosy colored life.

As the show transpires, we learn that Dee Dee and Gypsy moved to Springfield, Missouri to start a new life after their home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Their new house, painted a pretty pastel pink with luscious green grass, was built for them by housing non-profit Habitat for Humanity. Aside from the house, the Blanchards also get numerous donations and benefits from charities, organizations and regular people. The story of a loving single mother who is unconditionally and courageously raising a child with numerous chronic illnesses after having lost it all in the hurricane captured the hearts of many.

But it was all a lie.

Dee Dee knew it. Eventually, Gypsy catches on, and she’s angry.

We’ve all been there. Our parents do something that jeopardizes our independence, we yell at them, threaten to leave the house and start Googling, “How to Become an Emancipated Minor,” on Incognito Mode. Maybe it’s just my Aquarius sun and Sag rising combo, but bumping heads with your parents is a common trope of the teenage years. In the show, however, Gypsy Rose is depicted as having leukemia, asthma, muscular dystrophy, brain damage and other chronic illnesses. Even if this was all a lie, in the eyes of others she’s too vulnerabletoo fragile for her independence.

Appearances are what keep the Blanchard family secret. In the show, Gypsy Rose exclusively wears pastel colors, oversized glasses and comfy clothes you would see in a seven-year-old. On top of that, her high pitched little girl voice, the stuffed animals she always carries and meek personality added to the illusion of innocence akin to a child’s. Similarly, her shaved hair, lack of teeth and wheelchair brought everyone to believe that Gypsy was bound to a life dependent on her mother. The combinations of these factors convinced their neighbors, doctors and the entire world that Gypsy was in fact chronically ill. Not one doctor ever fully verified Gypsy’s medical records; when Dee Dee told them all their medical records were lost in the hurricane, they believed her without a hint of skepticism. In reality, aside from a lazy eye, Gypsy Rose was a perfectly healthy woman. She didn’t need her feeding tube or breathing machine, she didn’t have the mind of a child, she didn’t need her wheelchair and she didn’t actually have leukemia. In reality, Gypsy Rose was an adult that deserved to have her own thoughts, wishes and needs individual of her mother’s.

This brings the question, what would you do for independence? Do we need it or is ignorance truly bliss?

What makes this unlikely story so sinister is perhaps the stark contrast between what appears to be true and what actually transpired. The show’s costume and set design are delicate, soft and modest. In a way, it distracts you from the eerie relationship between Gypsy Rose and her mother Dee Dee. Gypsy’s appearance and demeanor make me empathize with her and perhaps even forgive her violent, cold-blooded outburst because why shouldn’t we? In the blink of an eye, her age, her illnesses, her disabilities, her entire existence was suddenly a lie. Dee Dee Blanchard didn’t just fool Gypsy Rose, she fooled the entire world. She willfully deprived her daughter of those magical moments in our childhood that shape who we are: our first love, the friends whom we so tremendously confide in, our embarrassing fashion trends. Even things we take for granted, such as our ability to walk, to run, to make memes on Facebook, to eat solid and sugary foods. It’s hard to see ourselves in that scenario, much less anticipate what we would’ve done in the end.

“You protect me and I protect you.”


Originally published in Spark Magazine

Written by Divina Ceniceros Dominguez

Graphics by Vivienne Leow

Divina Ceniceros Dominguez is a sophomore Journalism major. She’s written over fifteen issues in several Texas-based magazines focusing on lifestyle and culture. She’s very passionate about her plants, breakfast and making statements through fashion.

Three things I wish I knew before I started taking photos

So my photography journey has definitely been a wild one. From oversaturated photos with bad lighting to photos with NO CONTRAST AT ALL – rest assured the world has seen it all sis. While I definitely think that practice is key to nailing that perfect photo, it’s not the only part of this story. To me, the most important things are:

  1. Read the manual
  2. Shoot with meaning
  3. Save yourself time

If you want to start taking killer photos starting today, keep on reading!

Continue reading “Three things I wish I knew before I started taking photos”

New York Fashion Week

Y’all … February is here, aka the fashion holy grail. First up we have New York Fashion Week, which took place from the 4th to the 13th (just right before Valentine’s Day) and featured almost one hundred designers from around the globe. If you didn’t have a boo this year, wipe your tears away kings and queens. I’ll be giving you the NYFW highlights so you can check out trends, gather inspiration and look fly as hell as we head towards fall.

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Paris Fashion Week

With February coming to an end, what better way to start the month of March than with the hottest fashion trends? World-renowned designers from all over the world got together from Feb 25 to Mar 5 to showcase their unyielding talent and creativity for one of France’s busiest time of the year: Paris Fashion Week. With that said, while not all of us can afford a front row seat next to Kate Moss and Zendaya, I bring you the most iconic trends to watch out for in the markets this upcoming fall.

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Gatekeeping Beauty: Vermeer’s Mystery

The oil painting Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is considered one of Baroque art’s greatest masterpiece. It was pivotal to the Dutch Golden Age, dating back to around 1665. Still, it is largely a mystery. What, about her, captivated a painter like Vermeer? What lurks behind her shoulder that needed to remain obscure? Who is she? It seems to be that these questions will remain unanswered — asecret Vermeer has taken to the grave. 

Continue reading “Gatekeeping Beauty: Vermeer’s Mystery”