The Best of Bustle: Our 55 Favorite Stories from 2014

Sitting down to compile the best 50 articles published on Bustle in 2014 was no easy task. After all, over the past 12 months, we've been #blessed with being able to feature the work of some of the most talented young writers working today. Luckily, though, since I'm the author of this slideshow and, thus, I make the rules of this slideshow, I decided to highlight instead the 55 best articles written on Bustle in 2014. Considering I nearly have a panic attack trying to determine what to make for dinner every night, my indecisiveness really was inevitable here.

But, in this case, I'm thrilled to be faced with such a conundrum. Because we have been so proud, inspired, and tickled by our writers' and editors' work this year, that it seems a shame to leave any exceptional piece of work off this list merely for numbers' sake. We've seen our editors and readers alike connect to personal views and informed news pieces surrounding some of this year's biggest stories, ranging from Ferguson and the allegations against UVA to Kim Kardashian's insanely addictive iPhone game. There's no shortage of news stories that interest our editors and writers, and there's no shortage of Bustle stories that have added a necessary perspective to the conversation.

So read on to see excerpts from — and links to — the best Bustle had to offer in 2014. Seriously, do it quickly before I increase this post to 155 stories. It can quite easily be done.

“How Do People React to Different Levels of Makeup? I Decided to Find Out,” by Brinton Parker

“[This experiment] did inspire me to feel confident regardless of which face I have on. My peers’ opinions are just that:opinions. What people think about my face is irrelevant, because my beauty regimen is what makes me feel good about myself. People like their voices to be heard, so they will comment on my face, hair, and outfits, but ultimately their statements are just words.”

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Image: Brinton Parker

“Why Is Objectification Bad? The Sneaky Way Women’s Bodies are Cropped to Pieces,” by Deanna Michalopoulos

“A few weeks ago … I scrolled through Facebook and clicked on a nutrition headline. But instead of digesting the usual fare of surprising tips, I had a visceral reaction to the grotesque bouquet of body parts selected for the story: Torso behind hands holding a salad. Legs crossed over a couch. Row of rumps in cut-offs. Two torsos tanning on pool chaises. Lips lacquered like a cherry red pick-up truck. Torso flanked by a spandex bra and shorts.

Feeling overwhelmed, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I imagined that Dexter himself had created that page, I caught myself in front of the medicine cabinet, unwittingly lifting my sweatshirt to check out — you guessed it — my torso.”

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Image: Skullcandy

“Has Orange Is the New Black Changed the Way We Think of Prisoners? Former Inmates Say No, But There’s Progress Ahead,” by Rachel Simon

“The series’ nuanced, fair portrayal of female inmates has been hailed as its greatest strength, and as the series gains in popularity, more and more people are beginning to understand that, more often than not, a person’s crime is not their defining characteristic. Though this doesn’t mean that former inmates can now easily find work or avoid discrimination, it does mean that the public’s greater understanding could begin to set progress in motion. ‘There’s a little more curiosity, a little more compassion [since the show aired],’ says Summer, one of the only two Ohio women ever exonerated through The Innocence Project, who says Orange Is the New Black has given curious friends an educational tour of ‘what it was like to me be on a daily basis.’”

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Image: Netflix

“I Tried Beezin and Lived to Tell the Tale, But Not Before Washing My Eyes Out,” by Lark Turner

I did it because all the cool teens were doing it. And you guys, I regret it. Yes, that’s right: I’m talking about beezin, the peppermint oil sensation that’s (not really) sweeping teen nation. I’m here to be a cautionary tale, a tale of a lip balm misused and two eyelids spurned. On Wednesday, I beezed, and I’ll never beez again.”

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Image: marie b./Flickr.

“On the Virginia Tech Shooting Anniversary, Remembering the Day I Almost Lost My Brother,” by Emma Goddard

“My family was escorted to a room where my brother lay hooked up to monitors, bandaged but still bleeding, pale but composed. Both my parents took a moment to hold him, gently hovering over him so as not to cause any pain. I simply held his hand, watching everything happen, still in a state of shock. It wasn’t until he looked over at me, squeezing my hand and making his best attempt to smile, that the tears started streaming down my face. There was my brother, helpless, smiling at me.”

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Image: Christina Rizk

“What I Instagrammed vs. What Was Really Happening, Or My Entire Life Is a Lie,” by Olivia Muenter

“Instagram, like all social media, is about presenting the ideal version of yourself. It’s not notyourself per se. … It’s more like, all the best parts of you displayed to the world and ignoring all the worst parts. Because as attractive as I am while I watch Real Housewives of Orange County and eat random food I find in the pantry (BTW, is eating uncooked pasta bad for you?), I feel like I should spare the world of that Olivia.”

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Image: oliviamuenter/Instagram

“Does the Grapefruit Blowjob Technique Work? I Tried It, and the Verdict Is…,” by Gabrielle Moss

“‘Hey,’ I said to my boyfriend. “So I need to do something weird to your dick later.” I thought for a second and then added, ‘It’s for work,’ as if that somehow made it better. My boyfriend nodded curiously. ‘It’s a grapefruit. I need to put a grapefruit on your dick. I’m sorry.’”

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How I Met Your Mother Could Still End with Ted and Robin Together — If More People Die,” by Samantha Rullo

Oh yes, Samantha Rullo did predict HIMYM’s ending (and the angry reaction to the ending, thanks to the titular Mother’s death) months before the finale:

“Of course, there’s one problem: This would be an awful ending that would render most of the series pointless. (And what sitcom would be cruel enough to give its main character such a sad life?) But it’s also an ending that would make sense on HIMYM, a show fueled by Ted and Robin’s will-they-won’t-they relationship. As much as I hope I’m completely wrong, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a certain colorful instrument found its way into the series finale.”

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Image: CBS

“I Talked to People on Tinder About Serial and This Is What Happened,” by Jessica Blankenship

“I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m just going to venture a confident guess that, at this point, the two most distracting, obsessed over, time-consuming things on the average American’s phone are Tinder and Serial. Between these two six-letter time-killers, American productivity has slowed to almost an entire halt; we’re all officially too busy trying to find someone with whom to stay warm in bed for the next few months, ideally where we will spend endless hours alternating between making out and debating whether or not Adnan actually killed Hae. This is The American Dream: Winter 2014 Edition.”

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Image: Jessica Blankenship

“Which Wine Pairs Best With Your Chipotle Order? This Infographic Tells You Everything You Need to Know,” by Michelle Regalado

“It’s a common truth that the only thing in this world better than Chipotle is Chipotle paired with a glass of wine. After a long, rough day at work, sometimes all you really want is a delicious chicken burrito bowl with all the fixings and some vino — and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have both. The problem? Those two things don’t exactly mix… or at least they don’t always seem to. The good news is they can go together — but it’s all about picking the right wine to go with your preferred meal.”

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Image: Chipotle

“The ‘All* Above All’ Bus Went Cross-Country For the Abortion rights You Haven’t Heard About,” by Lauren Barbato

“If it weren’t for the dry-erase boards lining its sides, the All* Above All bus wouldn’t look so out of place rolling through Boston’s Copley Square in early September. By noon, the tiny two-door truck with flashes of lime green was covered with scrawled slogans and pleas: “Because all women and families deserve equal access to health care — keep up the fight!” Free-hand drawings of Massachusetts filled the spaces in-between, along with sketches of the states that came before: Illinois, Minnesota, California. This was a well-traveled truck, and it still had about more six states to go.”

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Images: All* Above All

“I Stand With Jada — And Her Lipstick: Why Jada’s Lip Color Matters to Me As a Black Woman,” by Evette Dionne

“Jada could’ve opted to remain silent. Instead, she put on some lipstick, and decided to take a stand. She posted a #IStandwithJada photo that quickly went viral, and effectively took back the discussion of her rape. She appeared on national television shows, and continues to fight against a rape culture intent upon devaluing her over and over again. Every step of the way, she’s refused to be anyone less than herself. Of course, it is especially revolutionary for Jada to don colorful lipstick while discussing her rape — especially as a black woman.”

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Image: ABC

“7 ‘Fat Girls Can’t Wear That’ Rules Totally and Completely Disproven,” by Marie Southard Ospina

“As a size-18 woman with 50-inch hips, I’m definitely plus-size. While I’ve received some criticism for calling myself ‘fat’ in the past, I think it’s important to note that I don’t consider it a bad word. ‘Fat’ is a descriptor, no different than ‘thin’ or ‘slender’ or ‘tall’ or ‘short.’ But because it’s been coated in criticism and negativity, we’ve ended up fearing it. At the end of the day, I and most people I know have fat on our bodies! Some of us just have a little more. And for those of us that do, well, learning to embrace the bodies we have and allowing ourselves to wear all those clothes we’ve been told will only highlight our cellulite or jiggly bits, is an exciting and empowering exercise in confidence. Plus, it’ll make shopping a hell of a lot more fun.”

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Image: Marie Southard Ospina

“UVA Student Hannah Graham Didn’t Disappear Because She Was Drunk,” by Elizabeth Ballou

“This should be one of the safest places in the world, but it isn’t. And as the search for Hannah continues, we should all continue to circulate the latest information available on the case — but only if it’s relevant. Focusing on the efforts to #bringHannahhome is the most constructive way to respond to her disappearance without placing blame on not only Hannah, but every other woman who has vanished under mysterious circumstances. In an ideal world, none of us would have to worry about abduction, rape, or murder. But since we don’t live in that world, the best we can do is work toward it — if not for all of us, then for Hannah herself.”

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Images: Hannah Graham/Facebook

“How to Make Rachel’s Thanksgiving Trifle From Friends & How to Survive Serving It,” by Rachel Semigran

“When it comes to my diet, I am what you might call a Joey Tribbianist — I will pretty much eat everything and if it comes in sandwich form, you can almost see the cartoon hearts form inside my eyes. That is until this past weekend, when I was challenged to make Rachel Green’s infamous Thanksgiving trifle from the Friends episode, ‘The One Where Ross Got High.’ … Going into this challenge, I felt a lot like Joey — unfazed. I thought to myself, ‘I mean, what’s not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, gooooood.’ However, the closer I got to consuming the, shall we say, ‘acquired taste’ dish, the more I lost faith in my gastrointestinal abilities. Somehow, I managed to convince a handful of my friends to try the concoction, even though I was not even remotely capable of making it taste good. ‘Guys,’ I said to my brave comrades. ‘This is probably going to be disgusting, and you don’t have to try it if you don’t want to.’

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Image: NBC

“6 Totally Normal Things Young Girls Do When They’re Discovering Their Sexuality that No One Ever Talks About,” by Kat George

This week it came to light that when Lena Dunham was 7 years old, she looked at her little sister’s vagina, and an alarming number of people have dubbed her a “child molester.” She also did other things critics find offensive, like masturbate next to her sleeping sister and bribe her sister for affection (although the latter doesn’t seem to be as much of a point of contention). I’m shaking my head in disbelief as I write because I can’t believe that such innocuous things have become the subject of so much vitriol. If I had a penny for all of the sexual organs I looked at as a child, I’d be rich … I did a lot of weird things when I was trying to figure out what my vagina was, and what the strange tickle feeling that began happening between my legs meant. I went through puberty at 10 years old, and it’s important to remember that for a lot of girls, puberty happens before you’re ready for it, and before anyone has even bothered to tell them anything about the way their body works. And when it’s happening to you, you want to know about it, and you’re well within your rights to seek ANSWERS, damn it. There’s nothing malicious, creepy, or predatory about sexual discovery. So here are 6 things little girls do when they’re discovering their sexuality that no one talks about (but probably should).”

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“Arcade Fire’s Video for ‘We Exist’ Stars Andrew Garfield, Yet Another Cisgender White Man,” by Kat Haché

“For trans people, our life is not a performance. We don’t gain awards or recognition for being ourselves and enduring the struggles we face. And the attention that we get for saying that we exist is usually not positive. I have an entire blog dedicated to hateful things people have said about me for daring to be visible as a transgender advocate. I’m not going to dance that away, or wake up reborn in a world where I’m suddenly accepted by everyone around me. I have to fight every day to better not only my standing, but the standing of my entire community, to those who dehumanize us.”

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“Not All Millennials Are Close to Their Parents, No Matter What Trend Pieces Tell You,” by Gabrielle Moss

“These bad childhoods — and the strained family relationships that they go on to create — aren’t on display in cutesy trend pieces about how Millennial helicopter parents continue to coddle their offspring in the working world. They’re not in trend pieces, like the NPR special on Millennials that devoted one brief paragraph to the idea that ”not all young adultshave this kind of [close] relationship with their parents,” but two full segments to old embarrassing screen names.

I have friends who’ve told me they didn’t consider themselves Millennials because their mom was cold, or their dad emotionally removed, or their parents had rejected them for being queer and they didn’t feel like they had any place in our parent-mad generation. But we exist. Except in articles about Millennials.”

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Images: New Regency Pictures

“How to Fake an MFA Degree Without Ever Setting Foot Inside Academia,” by Tori Telfer

“Me? I’m ambivalent. When I found out in college that you could go to graduate school for creative writing, I thought an MFA sounded like the dreamiest thing in the world and I set my sights on getting that degree. But once I arrived at an actual MFA program, I realized that it wasn’t for me. See, there’s a distinction between getting an MFA and being a writer, and I think a lot of people confuse the two; you can be a writer without an MFA, but an MFA does not automatically make you a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I think MFAs can do wonderful things for the right people — nurture their talent, protect them from outside distractions, guide them toward the right books and people — but I also think they can be a distraction from the very thing they’re supposed to promote, which is writing.”

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“How 8 Women of Color Viewed Barbie When They Were Little Girls,” by Paige Tutt

“I watched the films where Barbie was a princess, a detective, or whatever she happened to be that time, and I didn’t recognize a path I could follow. Barbie didn’t look like me. I didn’t see any of the black Barbies winning the contest, solving the crimes, or saving the day. I recognized myself as inherently different and other compared to this beautiful, tall, blond doll. I would look at my kinky hair in the mirror, rub my ashy elbows, pull at my mocha-colored cheeks, and wonder why I didn’t look like my Barbie doll. ”

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Image: Mattel

“Feminists Play Cards Against Humanity, and Let’s Just Say the ‘Consensual Sex’ Card is Deployed Often,” by Julie Alvin

“We all know what happens when assholes play Cards Against Humanity, everyone’s favorite offensive party game — The (now discontinued, thankfully) “passable transvestite” card gets trotted out far too often, the “Virginia Tech Massacre” card becomes the punchline of some gross joke, and people lament the absence of the “date rape” card in updated editions … I wondered what would happen if we turned the game on its head and used it to express some of our feminist dreams and desires rather than our most abhorrent (if funny) inner thoughts. Basically, what would happen if liberal, independent, sex-positive, feminist chicks were to play a round? Which is basically to say, what if Bustle editors were to play a round? The results would look something like this.”

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Image: Julie Alvin

“7 Problematic Lessons Disney Movies Teach Boys About Masculinity,” by Alex Kritselis

“I was aware of my attraction to men from a pretty young age, though I would not come out as gay until my late teenage years. I didn’t see any positive, realistic gay relationships in the movies I watched growing up. It was confusing. At times, I felt very alone. ‘Where are the boys who like other boys?’ I thought. ‘I can’t be the only one.’ But that is exactly the message young gay men (and women) have received from Disney for years.”

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Image: Disney

“6 Things You Might Not Think Are Harassment But Definitely Are (Because Apparently We Need To Clear A Few Things Up),” By Kat George

“I never cease to be astounded by the way that some people react to stories of harassment in the street. Just yesterday, we shared a story about a woman who taped herself walking around New York for 10 hours and the unsolicited harassment she was subjected to as she strolled around, minding her own business. I retweeted the post from my personal account, and while many sane people expressed support for the article, some responded with questions like, ‘But don’t you think some of those guys were just trying to be nice?’ No. No I don’t think that. Not for one second. This was not a surprising response; you can’t share an account of a woman being harassed without a million men (and, to be fair, some women) chiming in, questioning whether or not what happened could accurately be described as ‘harassment.’ In those moments, much like this moment we’re experiencing in the wake of this video, it becomes crystal clear: So many people have no idea what does and does not constitute harassment.”

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Image: Getty

“I Watched 24 Hours Of A Christmas Story: A Timeline of One Human’s Slow Descent Into Madness,” by Shawn Binder

“I’m becoming increasingly convinced that A Christmas Story is just a thinly veiled meditation on gun control in the United States. Ralphie plays the role of a Republican hell bent on getting a gun ‘for reasons,’ and his parents, teacher, and any other adult play the role of a Democrat who is like, ‘LOL, why?’ Ralphie’s mom is like, ‘You’ll shoot your eye out!’ But Ralphie is like, ‘Mericuh, bitch.’”

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Image: MGM

“After ‘Rolling Stone’s ‘A Rape On Campus’ Article, This Is What It’s Like To Be at Student At University Of Virginia,” by Elizabeth Ballou

“On Monday morning, as I was walking to University of Virginia’s Alderman Library for a cup of coffee before my 10:00 a.m. class, I saw Dean Groves, the beloved student leader who was dragged through the journalistic mud in Rolling Stone’s ‘A Rape On Campus’ article, published last week about a student named Jackie’s alleged gang rape at UVa. He didn’t see me. He didn’t see anyone. He was walking fast towards Peabody Hall. Though, as always, his shock of white hair was perfectly coiffed and his sweater was neatly preppy, his eyes looked exhausted, and his mouth was set in a hard line. I wanted to run up, tap his shoulder, and say, I trust you. Say the words that will make this all make sense. But I no longer trusted him or any member of the administration, and there were no words that could suddenly make everything right again.”

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Image: Alliance for Social Change at UVA/Facebook

“#100DepressedDays: What My Personal Blog Taught Me About Accepting My Depression,” by Maria Yagoda

“I started my blog project, 100 Depressed Days, on August 16th of this year because I was exhausted by hiding my depression amid a social media climate that demands and expects we present our best selves. I was sick of pretending to be #happy, and I was even sicker of explaining my illness to those who think depression equals sadness, when that’s only part of the equation. A depressed person does not have to be perpetually moping, crying, or breaking down to be a legitimate depressed person. I, for one, smile a lot — at little things, too, like dogs in sweaters and promos for Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons. I also mope, cry, and breakdown with relative frequency. Both of these statements can be true at once.”

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Images: 100 Depressed Days

“Why Do Guys Spread Their Legs When Sitting on The Subway? My Weekend of Sitting Like a Man,” by Gabrielle Moss

“As my weekend wore on, a funny thing happened: I registered the fear and displeasure of strangers less and less. I went from faking being absorbed in my book as I maintained a nervously wide stance, to actually being absorbed in my book, forgetting that my legs were splayed out like I was holding a beach ball between my knees.

In other words, I became unconscious of my own manufactured privilege. As people viewed my leg spread as an act of aggression and possible instability and steered clear of me, I slowly began to stop even noticing them.”

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Image: Gabrielle Moss

“Kim Kardashian’s iPhone Game: Get Naked, Win Points!” by Martha Sorren

“But there’s more about Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to enjoy than just its brainlessness. I’ve been eager to tell friends just how progressive it is. Yes! Progressive! During the dating portion of the game, I had the option of choosing a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend. “Look at Kim, she’s so forward-thinking,” I said as I chose between a sporty or an artistic girlfriend (both of whom looked exactly the same, by the way, but, hey, it’s a start). But then, my praise for Kardashian dwindled when I was suddenly asked to do a nude photo shoot. Technically, she didn’t ask me, but this is her game, after all. Someone behind Kim Kardashian: Hollywood decided it would be a good idea to have me meet a fancy-schmancy photographer… and then strip down for him.

Let me reiterate: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood asks that you strip down in front of a male photographer.”

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Image: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood

“Is Israel Wrong In Attacking Gaza? To Me, Being Jewish Means Thinking Critically,” by Seth Millstein

“My Jewishness is a big part of my identity, and actions or words against Jews around the world trigger a sort of defensiveness in me. But getting from that defensive feeling to full-fledged, unqualified support for Israel is a very slippery intellectual and emotional slope. It’s been difficult for me not to slide down it. But whenever I read about Israeli military action in Gaza or any of other abuses perpetrated by the Israeli government, I’m reminded of how important it is that I not stop thinking critically about a country I have an emotional attachment to.”

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Image: Seth Millstein

“Disney Princesses Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge & “Frozen”s Elsa Was Born For This,” by Kadeen Griffiths and Caroline Wurtzel

“Eventually, however, we are going to run out of celebrities to take the challenge. We’re still waiting for the likes of President Obama and Prince Harry to do it, but what about fictional celebrities? All we need is one person to challenge a Disney princess to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and we could have a host of Disney animators working together to create clips of the princesses from the official line up taking the challenge and nominating others.

Or, you know, we here at Bustle can imagine it for you.”

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Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle

“I Am A Plus-Size Woman Who Wore a Low-Rise Bikini to the Beach and This is What Happened,” by Marie Southard Ospina

“I’ve never worn a low-rise bikini, not even when I was at my slimmest in high school or as a child. I’ve feared how vulnerable it would make me, much like I’ve feared purchasing plus-size lingerie for the same reason. But when I visited Mallorca, Spain, last week for my summer holiday, I decided to do something different. I purchased a plus-size, low-rise bikini (or “chunkini” as I like to call them) — one that would show off my belly, my back boobs, my cellulite and stretch marks and other such presumed idiosyncrasies. And I took to Formentor, one of the beaches with the best balance of locals and tourists. And I walked. I just walked, up and down the beach, trying to look my most confident and gaging people’s reactions along the way. I encountered several types of people, with both positive and negative reactions. And amongst them were these.”

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Image: Marie Southard Ospina

“‘Sh*t Mean Girls Fans Say’ by Daniel Franzese Sums Up Your Entire Existence — VIDEO,” by Samantha Rullo

Mean Girls isn’t the only thing Daniel Franzese has been a part of that delivered instantly quotable lines. In 2012, he posted three “Sh*t Italian Moms Say” videos to his YouTube channel, the first of which currently has over 3.7 million views. Since, obviously, no one can get enough of Mean Girls and the “Sh*t Italian Moms Say” videos are so popular, why not combine them? I asked Franzese if he’d be interested in making a new video to chronicle some of the interactions he tends to have with fans. He happily obliged.”

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“We Respond To ‘Women Against Feminism,’ Because This Is What Feminists Look Like,” by Rachel Krantz

“In the flood of responses I received, I was interested to see that some of us chose to write signs that spoke for only ourselves (“I need feminism because… ), while others spoke in terms of why ”We need feminism.” Perhaps that was just the result of an unclear prompt on my part, but I like to think it represents something more: Feminism is both collective andhighly personal. There are many reasons I need it, and many reasons we all need it — and in the end, they are all true. Because contrary to Women Against Feminism’s assertions, feminism is not a strict ideology: We write and rewrite our own definitions of what it means to each of us everyday.”

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Image: Anna Klassen

“Recovering From Rape After My Second Sexual Assault Has Been The Hardest Fight of My Life,” by Kristin Collins Jackson

“The real fear came when I shut my eyes. Because I had been blacked out during my previous attack in London, I never felt safe asleep. I would try to wait out the night, finding that sleep only brought night terrors. The paranoia of being attacked again disguised my sadness, but it would eventually leave me open and exposed to the very thing I feared the most — being raped again.”

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Image: Kristin Collins Jackson

“I Tried to Film American Beauty’s ‘Dancing Plastic Bag,’ and This Is What Happened” by Anneliese Cooper

“Basically, I have a constant, simmering pool of Haterade dedicated to this movie, just waiting to spill over — so when it was suggested to me that, to commemorate American Beauty ’s 15th anniversary for the site, someone ought to reenact the infamous scene of the filmed plastic bag (you know, the one that proves “there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in”), I jumped at the opportunity, full force. I imagined all the disparaging things I could say about so patently doofy a premise, the music I’d underscore it with — some Enya, maybe a power ballad, definitely that song from Flashdance. Humor, accomplished. I made a mental note to high-five myself upon completion.”

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Image: Charles Henry/Flickr

“If the Sex and the City Ladies Tried OkCupid: I Set Up Profiles for Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte,” by Gabrielle Moss

“I had to wonder: Did men simply hate Sex and the City because of the cultural baggage it held? They thought they hated the Bradshaw Bunch, because they blamed them for unleashing an army of shallow, Manolo-clad zom-Bradshaws all over the streets, bars, and cupcake bakeries of our great American cities — but what would they think of the show’s women, divorced from the burden of the culture that the show helped create? Could Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte get a date in real life? And how would they have fared in today’s online dating market, now that OkCupid and Tinder and the like how a third of married couples meet?”

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Image: HBO

“Too Many Gay Men and Their Straight Female Friends Are Following An Old Script, and I’ve Had It,” by Shawn Binder

“I noticed that I had become a token addition to these women’s friend groups, assigned a very specific role. I was expected to be sassy and quirky on wine nights. I was called upon to go shopping with them before a big night out, and I was always the one who was pulled into the corner to be sobbed at during house parties. The friendships I was fostering were mere caricatures of the typical gay/girl relationship. They saw my sexuality as my whole identity, and they behaved as though their gender — a hyper-feminine version of it — was theirs. Both parties involved knew their lines, their cues, and when to compliment each other’s asses. We’re so progressive! we would think to ourselves, applying makeup and peeing in a shared bathroom at a dive bar.”

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Image: HBO

“Jennifer Weiner on Women in Publishing: ‘There is a real quantifiable inequity,’” by Meredith Turits

“It’s always, always, always been the case that women’s fiction has been seen as less important, less relevant, less canonical, less lasting than the books that men write. I think that’s just been the case as long as women have been writing — as long as women have been writing, men just denigrate their work, and talk about the damned mob of scribbling women and their silly books, and how they’re not writing anything lasting. So, this is a problem that’s always been with us, I think.”

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Image: Andrea Cipriani Mecchi

“27 Moments From Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey’s ‘Where You Are’ Music Video You Totally Forgot About,” by Kristie Rohwedder

“‘Where You Are’ appears on Simpson’s debut album Sweet Kisses and the Here on Earthsound track. Oof, that sentence was like a nostalgia riptide that dragged me out into the middle of Memory Ocean. Rather than try to get back to shore, I’ve decided to dive right in and revisit the music video. I’m giving in. The nostalgia riptide has won.”

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Image: jessicasimpsonVEVO/YouTube

“If Jane Austen’s Heroines Lived In Modern Times, Here’s What They’d Be Like,” by Caroline Goldstein

“This is what makes Jane Austen’s heroines so renowned — and perhaps even more famous in their own rights than Austen’s novels themselves: Although each leading lady represents a Regency-era archetype, their complexity, their realness, has kept them all relevant throughout the rapidly changing times. So in honor of Jane Austen Day, I’ve imagined how each of Austen’s six heroines may have fared in 2014. You don’t need to be a die-hard Janeite to recognize each of these six women — if not from between the pages, then maybe from your own life.”

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Image: Steve Weaver/Flickr

“I Tried Living Like Shailene Woodley For 5 Days & The Results Were, Uh, Messy,” by Sara Spruch-Feiner

“The clay arrives, which means one thing. It’s time to make toothpaste. Shailene told David Letterman all about how she eats clay, and ”gets her clay” through brushing her teeth. A teaspoon of clay, more drops of peppermint essential oil than called for, and some water create my abbreviated concoction (a longer version of the recipe can be found here). I get a spare toothbrush and brace myself. As soon as I start to brush, I nearly gag. Fifty points to Shailene just for the fact that she puts that stuff in her mouth. The texture makes me queasy and the whole endeavor is over in 30 seconds.”

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“On Gillian Flynn’s ‘Cool Girl’: She Does Exist In Reality, and to Suggest Otherwise Is Sexist and Infuriating,” by Gabrielle Moss

“In their hearts, all these pieces critiquing the ‘cool girl’ are actually critiquing a very real problem: a cruel, sexist society that encourages women to lie about who they are, what they like, and what they want in order to seem more sexually appealing, rather than be honest and risk not ‘landing a man.’ Lying about who you are is a psychological horror that women are expected to endure as just part of the dating process, and we’re right to finally be devoting some ink to talking about how pernicious it is. But why do we assume that these “cool girls” are lying? How the hell do we know if Jennifer Lawrence takes men’s sh*t? For that matter, how the hell do we know that any ‘cool girl’ we see slamming picklebacks at the bar takes men’s sh*t? Isn’t part of hanging with the guys the ability to give them shit right back when they tease you as they might their male friends? The ‘cool girls’ I know are anything but doormats and pushovers.”

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Image: Universal Pictures

“Are Skinny Mirrors Being Used In Popular Retailers’ Dressing Rooms? I Decided To Find Out,” by Miki Hayes

“So apparently, some retailers are using “Skinny Mirrors” to boost sales. These mirrors are supposed to maintain a person’s realistic figure while making it appear slightly slimmer. At first this might seem like a scam, and frankly, a little sad. I wanted to see if any popular retailers are attempting to manipulate their customers, so I performed a little dressing-room experiment. But afterwards, I realized whether these mirrors are being implemented doesn’t matter. One’s reflection isn’t so much about the mirror being used as it is about attitude. Comfort and confidence (and a little lighting) are what change an appearance. Here’s how I found that out.”

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Image: Miki Hayes

“Do You Feel Safe in NYC after Eric Garner’s Death? We Asked New Yorkers How They Feel About Police,” by Aja Edwards

“In the time I’ve spent in New York City, I’ve always thought that I was safe and felt safe as well. I’ve never been threatened by another person — cop or otherwise. I’ve never felt like my skin color was a problem for others — cop or otherwise. But as black man after black man — Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner — has been shot in our country by the very people supposed to protect us, I’ve realized that my safety in America and New York City may be nothing but a figment of my imagination.”

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Image: Aja Edwards

“How To Argue Sexism Still Exists: 7 Common Arguments, Debunked,” by Abby Johnston

Common Argument #5: My mom was such a ball buster, though. She had my dad in check.

Your Response: I’m very glad that your mother felt comfortable asserting herself in her relationship with your father. As all women should. But the very fact that you feel the need to refer to her as a ball buster, implying that a woman who takes a dominant role in a heterosexual relationship is somehow crushing a man’s testicles, shows that sexism is still a thing.”

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“The Worry And The Wait For Justice: What It Feels Like To Be A Black Mother Right Now,” by Mikki Kendall

“It’s not easy to describe what it has been like to be a Black mother during the months between when Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown and now, just after a grand jury decided not to indict him. There’s a certain horrible routine you go through after you hear that a police officer has shot a Black youth. You check on your kids first. Even if the shooting wasn’t in your city, there’s still a moment where you need to be sure that they are okay. Then, the waiting starts: Who was the child? Do you know his/her family? These days, news like this most likely came your way via social media, so you might see pictures from the scene taken by locals. You…don’t really want to look at those, because even if it isn’t your baby, it is someone’s baby bleeding, or worse yet, already gone.”

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“#GamerGate Trolls Harassed Zoe Quinn For Weeks, But She Says She Won’t Stop Fighting,” by Chris Tognotti

“’There’s no room for discussing this, there’s no room for explaining anything, because it’s never been about truth, or evidence,’ Quinn says. ‘Any time I post anything debunking, anytime I honestly engage with people, all I ever get is screamed at. Nobody ever goes, “Oh, OK. Oh, maybe I was wrong.” It’s just more screaming and accusing you of faking things. How can you have a conversation when that’s all that happens?’”

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Image: Zoe Quinn/Facebook

“Actual Boyfriends Try on Boyfriend Jeans, Learn to Appreciate the Luxury of Their Normal-Sized Pockets,” by Kara McGrath

“While lots of ladies embraced the boyfriend jean, it is one of those trends that tends to get a man repelling reputation. Personally, I think they exude the same, laid-back sexiness that can come from how gorgeous a girl can look relaxing in sweats and a tee shirt, but the distressed details and loose fit had some guys longing for the particularly, ehrm, assetenhancing features of the skinny jean. (Yes, you have full permission to commence eye-rolling.)

So, in an attempt to get our SOs to understand our obsession with this new style of denim (and see how close they really were to actual men’s pants), I bullied eight guys I know into putting on some boyfriend jeans. You’re welcome, everyone.”

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Shawshank Redemption or Pinterest Quote? Can You Tell the Difference?” by Allison Piwowarski

“This film that revolves around men in prison has such beautiful quotes, that if you close your eyes and listen to the movie, you could think someone is reciting their Pinterest quote board to you. So can you tell the difference between a Shawshank Redemption quote and a classic Pinterest quote (you know the kind, the sunset background, the Comic Sans font)?”

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Image: Columbia Pictures

“89 Reasons To Vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections,” by Clarissa-Jan Lim

” 23. If you want diversity in politics, instead of old stuffy men deciding things about your reproductive rights.

24. Political apathy is so 16th century.

25. Because Wonder Woman owes it to women’s suffrage, and so do you.

26. Because Lena Dunham has a list of reasons too.”

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Image: Theresa Thompson/Flickr

“Beyonce’s Photoshopped Instagram Pic Broke the Unspoken Agreement of Celebs on Social Media,” by Ashley Adams

“I’ll admit, the Internet’s rage is a little lost on me here. We know Photoshop’s a thing, guys. We know that, much like personal trainers, dietitians, and stylists, it’s something celebrities have access to in order to make them more beautiful that those of us living outside of celebritydom (most of us) don’t. This isn’t new information. Ostensibly, we’re all in on the joke here.

So why does it make us so mad? Why do we feel like our trust in Beyoncé and what she stands for has been betrayed by images like this, but we shrug at magazine photos that have been altered in almost the exact same way — that we know have been altered in almost the exact same way?”

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“Las Vegas Shooters Prove Columbine Continues To Influence, 15 Years Later. But Why?” by Lulu Chang

“It seems we can expect the mythology of Columbine to persist so long as we’re still talking about it — and, thanks to tragedies like the Las Vegas shootings, we’re certainly still talking about it. But we can alter how we talk about it. In order to rid the world of the Columbine myth, we have to firmly stick to the facts that refute the bullying narrative, that could perhaps make ‘risk-impulsive’ would-be shooters less likely to romanticize the events of April 1999. Perhaps then, there won’t be a ‘next Columbine.’”

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“E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars Is the “It” Book of 2014. We’re Calling it Right Now,” by Caitlin White

“I’m not here to take down Doerr, Moriarty, or Kidd because I think they’re all wonderfully talented. All The Light We Cannot See is mesmerizing and it has a good chance of taking home the National Book Award for fiction next month. I’m a big fan of my YA girl Rowell and of Moriarty, whose Big Little Lies is both insightful and hilarious. And look, Kidd has Oprah on her side.

Still, We Were Liars deserves the designation, despite (and probably because) it’s a young adult book, and it’s because of the three things that make an ItBook an It Book.”

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Image: We Were Liars Book Tumblr

“Every Single 2014 TV Pilot, Ranked From Worst To Best,” by Jefferson Grubbs

“Pirates, professors, aliens, astronauts, witches, vampires, superheroes, spies, surgeons, boxers, dictators, detectives, computer programmers, insurance salesman, CIA analysts, time traveling British nurses — television played host to all of these in 2014. It was an exciting year: more actors (like Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), more directors (like Alfonso Cuarón and Steven Soderbergh), and more outlets (like Amazon and WGN America) got into the television business than ever before. Who came out on top? Who fell short of the mark? Find out with my ranking of all 85 TV pilots that aired from January through December of 2014, from worst to best.”

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Image: FOX

Serial Episode 12: What We Know, Written Out In Cereal, Obviously,” by Rosanne Salvatore

“To immediately ease the pain of losing something we’ve all become so attached to, I’m going to kick it old school and call in some trusted friends to make us all feel better. You probably know them too. They’re Alphabits, Lucky Charms, and Fruit Loops. After all, having someone tell you a story while you close your eyes and just listen is the most old school of all things.

Anyway, let’s get into the whole grains and toasted marshmallows of the case (see what I did there?) by examining the final episode of Serial with cereal. I can’t promise this recap will be magically delicious, but it will be a good source of your daily fiber. Here’s what happened on the last episode…”

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Image: Rosanne Salvatore