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Do some soul-searching with Ina Garten.


DISCLAIMER: That was not a typo that caught your eye! Your beloved music critic has spread his wings and undertaken a much more serious role for this issue of The Talon. Bear with me here as I attempt to flex my literary muscle in a different venue.

A new year is fresh upon us, readers. That means a lot of things. It means week-long diets. It means gym memberships. It means a charge of motivation until you realize you can’t suddenly do things you couldn’t do before. Honestly, for most of us, it means nothing. But one thing did cross my mind. As I sat at my desk, the clock ticking away toward my deadline, Editor-in-Chief Sam “The Needle” Needleman watching through my window, I realized that maybe there existed an issue greater than my opinion of a mediocre hip-hop album.

You see, every year that goes by is a year in which we could have lived with more class. Sophistication can escape us as we live our hectic lives; we forget how important it is to slow down every once in awhile, enjoy the scenery, and smell the flowers. After this epiphany, I thought to myself, how can I express to my readers what real grace is? What (or who) is a good foil to demonstrate how fabulous life can be when we try our best to live it that way?

It suddenly dawned on me, clear as day. Anyone who knows me well knows that I enjoy the Food Network immensely. Food is good, and so is networking. Those art forms merge beautifully into entertainment that keeps me satisfied. I’ll pose but one question to you, reader. Who is the queen of the Food Network? Some may say Paula Deen, an understandable answer. But anyone who keeps up with Food Network news knows she got fired in 2013 for a racism scandal (which is a story for another time; I miss her and will fight to the grave for her to come back.) The inarguable queen of the Food Network, then, is and always will be the Barefoot Contessa—Ina Garten.  

With her timeless look—a tasteful bob and a denim frock—Ina exemplifies the luxurious life that everyone wants to live. That being said, there’s so much more than meets the eye with our Ina. At her core, she is a teacher: from her we can learn how to indulge ourselves—how to live with class. So I compiled, in no particular order, a list of the ten most inspiring facts about her—my Ina GarTEN, if you will:

  1. She was born in Brooklyn, New York. She could very well be Bernie Sanders’ mother. But this is just a speculation, and we will likely never know for sure.

  2. She had an original instrumental ballad composed to serve as the theme song for her award-winning (see #8) television program Barefoot Contessa. When asked to give it a title, she said, “Call it ‘Barefoot Contessa Theme Song.’”

  3. She has a net worth of forty million dollars. That’s more money than you will ever make in your entire life.

  4. Before she discovered that she wanted to own a specialty food store, Ina worked in the White House as a budget analyst. She wrote the nuclear energy budget for Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and probably saved America from multiple nuclear wars.

  5. She acquired a piloting license “to pass the time” while waiting for her husband, Jeffrey, to return from his military tour in Vietnam.

  6. Though she doesn’t often expect guests, Ina has never been caught without a fresh lasagna on hand for whoever stops by.

  7. She has written nine cookbooks. Nine of their titles contain the phrase “Barefoot Contessa.”

  8. Ina has won two Daytime Emmy Awards for Barefoot Contessa. When asked why she didn’t showcase the trophies in her personal display case, Ina chuckled and said, “That’s for real awards.”

  9. In Ina’s house, Friday night is Roast Chicken Night. Nobody asks questions. It’s Roast Chicken Night.

  10. Ina’s favorite phrase is “How easy was that?” Whether she has just whipped up a batch of mashed potatoes or summited Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, she can always be counted on to let everyone know how effortless her most recent endeavor was.

When sophistication and class escape us, we tend to overlook life’s beautiful qualities. It’s important to stay true to our roots and keep ourselves grounded. With Ina’s help, we can all live meaningful lives. In this new year, embrace the finer things in life. Be like Ina.


Why do we degrade girls and young women by using the word?


Almost every girl has either heard, spoken, read, typed, or been called the word “slut.” Maybe it was an accident, a slip of the tongue—but it’s just a word, right?

Slut-shaming is the act of criticising a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity. As early as elementary and middle school, the word “slut” becomes part of a kid’s vocabulary, influencing their perceptions of women. Even though the word itself may seem harmless, it can cause a lot damage: it teaches girls from a young age that their sexuality is something to be ashamed of.

Although the word “slut” has a negative connotation, its definition alone is nothing to be ashamed of. Women should embrace their sexual exploration; however, slut shaming causes many women to feel guilty about casual sex. In middle school, you are either the girl who plays Truth or Dare and is not afraid to choose dare, or you are the one who sits on the outside, uninterested or afraid of what people might think. No matter what, it is common for girls to be categorized as sluts or prudes and be judged accordingly. This causes girls to feel confused and insecure, instead of comfortable and confident, about their sexuality.

The modern definition of a slut is a woman who has many casual sex partners; nowhere in the definition does it describe how a woman dresses. However, the word is commonly used to demean a girl’s appearance. Girls are called sluts based on their outfits and body types, causing young women to believe that their image defines them. By telling females that they should not wear certain clothes because they “might attract the wrong kind of attention,” we are allowing men to think that they can treat a woman a certain way based on the length of her skirt and the tightness of her shirt. When we call girls sluts based on what they wear, we lower their self-confidence and discourage self-expression.

You would think that girls would understand how hurtful and degrading the word slut is and refrain from using it toward one another. But the exact opposite is true. A common topic of gossip is the sexual behavior of those around us. When conflicts among girls arise, the easiest way for one to hurt or insult the other is to comment on her sexual behavior—judging them for their sexual history or lack thereof—and make them feel like they’re doing something wrong. Studies have shown that this boosts the confidence of the perpetrator. By making herself look better, she in turn makes the other girl look bad. This can easily ruin a girl’s social status, because, in our society, a woman is looked down upon for having any sort of sexual confidence.

The word “slut” has to be eliminated from our vocabulary in order to put an end to double-standards. Every time we use it, we promote the idea that men should express their sexuality freely, while women should be subjected to shaming for theirs. What a girl wears has absolutely nothing to do with her sexuality, and it is better to keep those two choices separate. At a young age, girls develop insecurities easily, and, by using the word slut, others overshadow any chance for them to become confident young women. Slut shaming does not represent the common goal of equality that men and women should share and strive to achieve.