The Best Of Bustle: Our Favorite 50 Stories From 2017

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Just a few days ago, Merriam-Webster chose “feminism” as its Word of the Year for 2017. But here at Bustle, gender equality has always been central to our DNA. So, as we proudly watched women rise up to fight a political system attempting to work against them, we fought to raise the volume of their voices. This year, women needed to be heard more than ever. And as 2017's chapter closes, we're taking the opportunity to spotlight some of the best and most important stories contributing to this purpose. (You can see the 2016 Best of Bustle roundup here.)

Important doesn't always mean happy or positive, of course. It's impossible to examine the last year without also remembering the tragedy and destruction wrought by hurricanes; the lives lost in mass shootings; the hate on display in Charlottesville. And that's not even all of it.

But this has also been a year of light — and action. #MeToo forced into the national conversation the disturbing way that power can keep people — usually men — safe from the consequences of their actions, even sexual assault and harassment, at least for some time. But simultaneously, it showed that even the most powerful can and will be found out — and that the universal experiences all of us have been harboring quietly for all our lives are not only valid, but worth demanding action over.

We saw political response occurring in real-time, with women making major gains in statewide elections in November and history being made when it came to all kinds of representation in government. We even saw Danica Roem, who is transgender, run — and win — against the author of the anti-trans bathroom bill in Virginia.

If there's anything that was made clear this year, it's that there's true value in re-evaluating what we thought we knew. We've learned that we need to check our own blindspots and privilege, challenge the status quo, and use our anger and resilience as fuel to actually call things out and do something when action needs to be taken.

That's the spirit of Bustle, and what we aimed to channel with the stories we told over the last year. Ahead, check out 50 of our favorite stories from 2017 that amplified women's voices — and expect us to only get louder in 2018.

Bustle's "A Body Project"

Courtesy Paddy McClave/Bustle

"With award-winning photographer Substantia Jones of The Adipositivity Project and Manchester-based photographer Paddy McClave, Bustle is launching A Body Project. A Body Project aims to shed light on the reality that "body positivity" is not a button that, once pressed, will free an individual from being influenced or judged by toxic societal beauty standards. Even the most confident of humans has at least one body part that they struggle with. By bringing together self-identified body positive advocates, all of whom have experienced marginalization for their weight, race, gender identity, disability, sexuality, or otherwise, we hope to remind folks that it's OK to not feel confident 100 percent of the time, about 100 percent of your body. But that's no reason to stop trying."

Read the full series here.

"Janet Mock Is Writing Herself Into Existence, One Memoir At A Time," by Cristina Arreola, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Mock has created a space to tell her story and the stories that are important to her. But this isn't the end of the journey. '[I want] more voices,' she says. 'Just more complicated, nuanced, complex voices so that transness doesn’t become this thing where everyone is like 'Oh, I know what transness is' just because they saw one person.'"

Read it here.

"Checking In One Year Later With The Women Who Almost Got Hillary Clinton Elected," by Jill Filipovic

Art: Victoria Warnken/Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

"For those who had worked for the Clinton campaign, or volunteered their time, or had fully expected her to win (which most of us were guilty of), the days that followed were dark and full of denial and cognitive dissonance. 'It definitely didn’t feel real,' McIntosh says. 'It was terrifying. It’s one of the worst feelings. Having experienced death and divorce, that’s up there.' Much of time, Sow says, 'It still doesn’t feel real… It’s been a year and it has not set in.'"

Read it here.

"Stockpiles, Self-Reliance, & Survival Skills — How Some Women Are Preparing For Our Uncertain Future," by Kristina Marusic

Victoria Warnken

"Kristen Tyler, a 36-year-old Portland resident who works as the director of recruiting for a software company, has spent the last decade learning how to be an effective prepper. If a major disaster happens — in her city, her country, or the world — Tyler wants to have everything she’d need to survive on her own. Contrary to popular belief, not all preppers are religious folks preparing for an apocalyptic doomsday. In actuality, they are worshipers of organization and intense planning, who, instead of trusting in a higher power (including the higher power of government), put their faith in self-reliance, survival skills, and stockpiles — and many of them are women."

Read it here.

"How Eyeliner Defines My Womanhood," by Gabriel Squailia, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Somebody once asked me, 'What does wearing eyeliner have to do with being a woman?' It wasn’t meant as a challenge — she seemed genuinely curious about what it means that I identify as a trans woman, and what that has to do with beauty products.

I still experienced it as a challenge, though. This is partly because people like me are often accused of cherry-picking the fun parts of womanhood while continuing to enjoy male privilege. And it’s partly because I’m expected to answer questions like this daily."

Read it here.

"I Live On A Reservation 3 Hours From Standing Rock. This Is What My 'Thanksgiving' Looks Like," by Andreanne Catt

Courtesy of Andreanne Catt

"My family does not celebrate Thanksgiving, as we do not celebrate our colonizers’ holidays. I live in the one of the poorest places in the country, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, which is a three hours’ drive away from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. My family does not have enough money to have a feast for Thanksgiving, and neither do most families on reservations.Thanksgiving is not a holiday to us — it is a day of mourning. If this seems radical or overdramatic, look back at everything I just told you. You might see why we feel this way."

Read it here.

"What Writing About My Abusive Relationship With J.D. Salinger Taught Me About Silencing Women's Voices," by Joyce Maynard

Courtesy of Joyce Maynard

"I was never a hopeful starlet looking to make a career in Hollywood. But I have been a young woman sought out by a powerful older man. And though the circumstances of my story differ greatly from those we’ve been reading over recent days involving the behavior of Harvey Weinstein, my story shares this with those of Weinstein’s victims: The man who pursued me enjoyed a position of apparent immunity from scrutiny. He was important and respected. I was…. not.

The event that launched my education in this topic occurred when I was 18 years old, the man in question, 53. I was a freshman at Yale who had published an article in the New York Times with my photograph on the cover of the magazine. He wrote me a letter to tell me I was a real writer, and that he would be my friend. The author of this letter, and the many irresistible missives that followed, was J.D. Salinger."

Read it here.

"Senator Kamala Harris Has A Strategy To End The Pay Gap For Black Women," by Kamala Harris

Courtesy of Kamala Harris

"Black women make only 63 cents on average for every dollar a white man is paid. This may not seem like a significant difference, but 37 cents on each dollar earned adds up to a devastating economic disadvantage for Black women and their families. And, it's a larger disparity than the average American woman faces — 80 cents on the dollar.

Think of it like this. Imagine you were running a race. If you're a Black woman, you would start days​ behind many others. That's not fair."

Read it here.

"How To Help Stop Libya's Slave Trade & Fight Slavery Around The World," by Sarah Friedmann

David Ramos/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"Libya has a substantial migrant population, as tens of thousands of people fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries cross into Libya every year as they try to immigrate to Europe. But often these migrants never make it there, instead finding themselves "indebted" to smugglers who initially agreed to help them secure passage to Europe, CNN reported. They potentially face slave auctions as smugglers seek to recoup money.

The Libyan slave trade, as well as the global slave trade, are certainly complex issues which will require a worldwide effort to eradicate. However, there are steps you can take to help end slavery in Libya and beyond."

Read it here.

"How YA Twitter Is Trying To Dismantle White Supremacy, One Book At A Time," by Sona Charaipotra and Zoraida Córdova

PJ Accetturo/Unsplash

"'The problem in the YA community isn't criticism, whether vitriolic or benign. It's the systemic exclusion of the stories of marginalized groups as told by marginalized creators,' Justina Ireland, author of the upcoming Dread Nation, says. 'Any article that aims to tell the full truth of the YA community and doesn't address the hefty price creators of color, especially women of color, pay in just existing in such a space is missing what truly makes YA toxic. It isn't vocal criticism. It's the same racism we've seen continually rear its ugly head since forever.'

The challenges that the YA community is experiencing are deeply connected to — and reflective of — the challenges Americans face as a nation. Questions of class, culture, and race erupt in the news and on our streets every day, and the white supremacist terrorism on display in Charlottesville is just one small battle in a war that’s sure to claim many casualties."

Read it here.

"This Is What It Feels Like To Sell A Weapon To A Mass Murderer," by Marie Solis

David Becker/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"This past Monday, Chris Michel, the owner of Utah’s Dixie GunWorx, received a message from a stranger. Actually, he received messages from several strangers — hundreds of emails, Facebook messages, and voicemails from names he didn’t recognize. Once news broke that he’d sold Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock a firearm, Michel tells Bustle that 'plenty of haters' contacted him to blame him for the mass killing. But one man’s message stood out. A South Carolina gun shop owner reached out to Michel to tell him he knew what he was going through — that he, too, had once sold a firearm to someone who then committed a crime.

'Because we’re in firearms, we’re manly men — tough muscle types,' Michel tells Bustle. 'But, you know, it’s a shoulder to lean on. It’s someone else to say, ‘It’s not your fault.''"

Read it here.

"'Speak' By Laurie Halse Anderson Is Still Painfully Relevant In The Age Of #MeToo," by Cristina Arreola

Joyce Tenneson

"Laurie Halse Anderson is afraid too little has changed in the 18 years since Speak's release. 'The victims of sexual violence are still held responsible for their attacks,' she says. 'Parents are still afraid to have ongoing, sensible conversations about human sexuality with their children. Too many schools hesitate to foster conversations about these issues, and too many police and judicial systems — largely run by men — ignore or belittle victims demanding justice. Until America’s adults really start talking about the sexual violence, rape culture, and consent, nothing will change. But I think that the #MeToo movement might be the beginning of that conversation.'"

Read it here.

"'Full House' Fans Have Been Wrong About Kimmy Gibbler For 30 Years," by Martha Sorren, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Barber says she sees now how valuable it was for young women and girls to see themselves in Kimmy and her wacky outfits and quirky, but carefree behavior. 'A fan recently said to me, 'Thank you for teaching me that it’s OK to be weird,'' she says, her eyes lighting up. 'That’s what teenagers need. I wish that somebody had said that to me when I was growing up and had braces and was super awkward with my gangly limbs. It’s OK to be different. It’s OK to be weird.'"

Read it here.

"What I Learned About Grief When My Husband Passed Away," by Amanda Chatel

Amanda Chatel

"I got the call on July 7 that Olivier, my husband, just 50 years old, had passed away from a heart attack. It was, according to his daughter, quick and painless, as one would hope a death will be, and she commented on how peaceful he looked, lifeless in the hospital bed.

My initial response was to laugh; this has been my response to the few other death announcements in my life. It wasn’t that I was happy or delighting in what I’d been told, but it was incomprehensible, and the disbelief could only come out as laughter. But I held in that initial response that day and accused her of lying instead."

Read it here.

"Whenever I Interview Famous People They Always Ask Me About My Magic Tattoo," by Caitlin Abber, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"I knew I wanted the tattoo for a while before I got it —I thought the sentiment in her letter was beautiful, and particularly meaningful to me as a writer — but I never had the cash. But on that morning, over three years after she had died, I woke up with the most intense urge to just splurge and do it. I walked down to a local tattoo shop with the original letter in my hand, paid the tattoo artist $175 and that was that. Afterwards, I called my dad to tell him. 'Did you know it was her birthday?' he asked. I swore up and down I didn’t. I have always been bad at remembering birthdays, especially birthdays we are no longer actively celebrating.

'She hated tattoos,' my Dad said, 'But I guess she wanted you to have one.'"

Read it here.

"12 Women Of Color And Native Authors Open Up About Why They Write About Mental Illness," by Patrice Caldwell

Courtesy of Brandy Colbert

“I often write about mental health in my work because mental illness was never talked about when I was young. I was raised in the Midwest by two Southern black parents who grew up in farming families, and all I knew was a 'we’re too tough for that' attitude. The idea being that Black Americans have been through so much as a people that we can’t let something 'little' like mental health distract us — an attitude that’s all too prevalent in the Black community as a whole. After I moved to Los Angeles, I slowly realized how damaging that mindset is, and began to seek out books and movies and TV that openly dealt with mental illness. And when I was twenty-eight, I finally went to therapy myself. It’s important for kids — especially kids of color — to know that discussing mental health is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Read it here.

"To Guys Who Think It's 'Hard To Be A Man' Right Now, I’ve Got Some News For You," by JR Thorpe

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"The atmosphere is indeed a peculiar one. (Though if one more person calls it a 'witch hunt' I will scream, because co-opting a historical occurrence that disproportionately, gruesomely punished single women with death as a metaphor for uncovering abuses by powerful men is not acceptable.) The air seems to vibrate with powerful (and abusive) men's fear as more allegations are brought into the public eye, and that's essentially unprecedented. And as new stories come out again and again, I fully encourage men to re-examine themselves and their past behavior. Just like not being racist in a deeply racist world takes work, not being sexist in an environment that normalizes sexist attitudes requires conscious commitment and awareness.

But what you don't get to do is complain about it — because, congratulations, you are now getting a free sample of how women have to act around men all the time."

Read it here.

"5 People Get Made Into Their Teenage Fashion Icons & The Results Will Make You Want To Teleport Back To High School," by Olivia Muenter

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"While there are still a lot of silly fashion 'rules' prevalent in society today, for myself and many other women, there is also much more freedom when it comes to how we feel about dressing our bodies. More and more people are realizing that these rules about what's appropriate versus inappropriate to wear are bogus, and that there's no one way to 'dress for your body.'

With the help of makeup artist Elisa Flowers and hair stylist Jinn, we transformed five real women into their high school fashion icons, styling them in all the outfits they never thought they could pull off — from sky high heels to a curve-hugging dress to a Juicy Couture tracksuit. The results are women full of confidence and joy, and are all the proof you'll ever need that every fashion trend is for every person who wants to rock it, no matter what."

Read it here.

"Alyssa Milano Plans To Run For Office. Until Then, She's Running On Fire," by Alicia Menendez

Randy Shropshire/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"In 2034, don't be surprised if Alyssa Milano runs for U.S. Senate. But right now, the actor and activist is fending off attacks from the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

How does a celebrity tick off the head of a massive government regulatory agency? Although Milano is best known for her roles on the television shows Who's the Boss?, Melrose Place, and Charmed, she is also a social media powerhouse. Her Twitter bio warns her more than three million followers 'I get political/personal here,' and encourages those who only want career updates to go elsewhere."

Read it here.

"The Lucy Hale You Think You Know Is Gone," by Rachel Simon, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"On June 14, Lucy Hale will turn 28. Less than a week after that, on June 20, her TV show, Pretty Little Liars, will air its series finale. For the actor, these events are irrevocably intertwined. She's spent the entirety of her 20s — all of her adulthood so far, really — on the series, playing Aria Montgomery, the kindest, most stylish of the titular Liars. Her growth as a person, her achievements and mistakes, hell, even the name that gets written on her Starbucks cups (Aria, of course) is connected to her time on PLL. For nearly eight years, Lucy and Aria have been one and the same — but in just a handful of weeks, that connection will suddenly fade.

'It's typically around this time when we’ll go back to filming, and so now that I’m working on different projects and not seeing everyone...' Hale tells me, trailing off. 'It’s just now hitting me that once all the episodes are out, it’s the end of a huge chapter in my life.'"

Read it here.

"Stop Pretending Student Debt Is An Economic Issue — It's Really A Women's Crisis," by Karine Jean-Pierre

Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

"By now you’ve probably heard that America is facing a student debt crisis. Young people in this country owe more than $1.4 trillion, which is more thanboth credit card and car debt combined. The average college grad leaves school $30,000 in the hole and 42 million Americans have some kind of student debt. And I should know: I’m one of those 42 million.

While politicians and pundits have finally started talking about student debt, there’s one thing they’re still not talking about: how student debt disproportionately affects women. Student debt isn’t just an economic issue —it’s a women’s rights issue."

Read it here.

"Ilana Glazer Is Not Your Best Friend (But Don't Worry, She Still Loves You)," by Kelsea Stahler, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“'Correct representation or better representation of women starts at representing female friendship ... Women are just so often portrayed as, like, reductive characters,' says Glazer, adding that the depiction can be successful 'if you can represent female friendships as more than complaining about the way they look or fighting about a guy.'"

Glazer has clearly thought about this a lot (she’s also spoken about it on panels and in interview after interview). And seeing her helping to lead this charge, with her series and her role in this new film, is exciting for women who are clamoring for more friendships to relate to (see: most women). It adds another layer of perceived sisterhood for those who adore her work — not only does this woman 'get it' when it comes to delivering #relatable jokes, but she gets why it matters that she’s bringing those jokes to her female viewers."

Read it here.

"Bustle's 'What's Up, Boo?' Visits Matilda Joslyn Gage's Home To Communicate With Her Ghost," by the Bustle Video Team, Produced by Rachel Roderman

Alexa Carroll

"Attention, fellow ghost hunters, paranormal enthusiasts, and spooky feminists: Bustle's new web series 'What's Up, Boo?' is about to light up your life like the radiation off a proton pack. OK, so you're not exactly going to find scenes straight out of Ghostbusters, but this series will give you incredible insight on some extremely underrated female ghosts from history. Follow intrepid host Alex Dickson as she sets out to places that claim to house female ghosts, and uses the help of mediums, historians, and psychics to tap into the afterlife and answer not only your burning questions about the past, but help put the present in perspective, as well.

The first stop on the 'What's Up, Boo?' tour? None other than the historic home of Matilda Joslyn Gage in Fayetteville, New York."

Read it here.

"Why Makeup Is A Crucial Tool For Women With Chronic Illnesses," by Allie Cashel

Ashley Batz/Brit Phillips/Bustle

"I wore makeup for the first time when I was 15 years old. It was August of 2006 and I was getting dressed in a Washington D.C. hotel room before dinner at my family reunion. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I insisted on wearing a long-sleeved dress that night. Just a few weeks before, I had a PICC line inserted into my left arm to facilitate aggressive treatment for multiple tick-borne diseases, and I was did not want anyone see it. Even when covered by a thin white sleeve, the catheter running from my arm to my heart still prompted stares and questions."

Read it here.

"This Trans Woman Is Tired of Talking About Bathrooms, Too," by Mari Brighe

Mark Makela/Getty Images News/Getty Images

"Since Obergefell v. Hodges decided the issue of marriage equality once and for all, no other LGBTQ rights issue seems to have occupied so much of the political zeitgeist as where transgender people void their bladders and change their clothes. For the last two years, battles have raged in state legislatures, school boards, court rooms, and the media regarding where someone like me ought to go pee. This fight has forced trans folks to pour emotional labor into reassuring the wider cisgender public that we have no puerile interest behind our interest in bathroom access — by writing think-pieces, posting on social media, and appearing on cable news shows to defend our rights to simply relieve ourselves in peace in the restrooms appropriate to our gender expression. Quite frankly, I'm really effing tired about talking to the public about my basic biological need to excrete waste."

Read it here.

"What If Guns Were As Hard To Get As Abortions?" by Marie Solis

Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

"When it comes to the debates surrounding gun control, many conservatives rely on an age-old argument: Regulating guns, or even banning them, won't stop people from finding a way to own one. This argument not only ignores the very purpose of laws, but refuses to acknowledge the ways they're at work in our everyday lives. Case in point? Because the GOP has put so many legal barriers in the way of women's access to abortion, it has become increasingly difficult for a woman to receive one. And so, it only logically follows: If guns were as hard to get as abortions, then, well, a lot fewer people would have guns."

Read it here.

"Why 'Beauty And The Beast's "Exclusively Gay Moment" Does More Harm Than Good," by Martha Sorren

Disney

"Disney fans had a lot to say when director Bill Condon told Attitude magazine that the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast would have an 'exclusively gay moment.' Some denounced the film as a result, such as the Alabama drive-in theater that pulled the movie in protest. Others heaped praise upon the movie for being 'groundbreaking' before it had even come out. In reality, the scene is neither groundbreaking nor really even 'exclusively gay.' It's disappointing to think that Beauty and the Beast will be applauded for its representation when the majority of the movie still showed a gay character being manipulated by the (straight) person he loved."

Read it here.

"I Went To Miss USA 2017 & My Feminism Kind Of Lost Its Sh*t," by Amanda Richards

Amanda Richards

"It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment I knew I'd really arrived at Miss USA 2017 in Las Vegas. Technically, my plane landed at McCarran International on May 11, first thing in the morning — but the reality of what I'd come to do didn't set in until a bit later.

It may have been when I was backstage that afternoon, watching the beauty queens get ready for the preliminary competition, contented smiles plastered on their faces as CHI stylists barrel curled and straightened and teased their flowing locks. It may have been when I saw dozens of Little Miss USAs casually strolling through the casino in full makeup and gowns, their roughly 8-year-old presences looking more glamorous than I ever have in my adult life. Or, it may have been the moment that I was sitting in a room with what felt like a higher concentration of beautiful women than there was oxygen to fill all of our hairspray-coated lungs.

Whenever that moment was, it was accompanied by one thought and one thought only: I'm a feminist at a beauty pageant, and sh*t is about to get complicated."

Read it here.

"This Is What Happened When We Styled People In The One Thing They "Never Wear," by Olivia Muenter, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"I'm notorious for holding onto clothing I never wear for long periods of time. I'll keep a dress because it seems perfect for a future event that is not yet even planned, or a shirt because I spent so much money on it that I can't just give it away. Being attached to clothing that you don't know how to wear can sometimes be overwhelming, though. The item hangs in your closet, reminding you every now and then that you still haven't worn it. At best it can be a little annoying, and at worse it can even you feel somewhat guilty.

No matter how it affects you in particular, almost everyone has been there at one time or another. So we asked four regular people to bring in the one item of clothing in their closet they never wear, and then styled each item three ways. Bustle's Senior Fashion Market Editor Gabrielle Prescod created 12 unique outfits by pairing the statement pieces these women brought in with everyday items that most of us probably have laying around. Even if your one item is something different, these 12 looks pretty much prove that everything in your closet can be made into an outfit — or three."

Read it here.

"Movies With ‘American’ Titles Have A Sneaky Pattern Of Discounting Women & People Of Color," by Olivia Truffaut-Wong

CBS Films

"What makes a movie 'American'? Besides being made in America or financed by American money, it seems the 'American' moniker can just be slapped onto any movie about an American man achieving his dreams — however questionable they may be. This fall, audiences will get two movies, American Assassin and American Made, which follow the journeys of white, American men who work with and for the U.S. government in various grey areas of the law. Following in the footsteps of other 'American' films (American Pie, American Beauty, American Graffiti, American Hustle, The American President, Wet Hot American Summer, American Psycho, and American Sniper, to name a few) these new movies use the title as a way to classify the stories of their white male protagonists. As a result, it often seems like the only stories worthy of being described as' 'American' are those of white men chasing after some version of the American dream — whether it's losing your virginity or killing terrorists."

Read it here.

"Kate Lost Her Baby On ‘This Is Us,’ But Plus Size Women Like Me Do Have Healthy Pregnancies," by Marie Southard Ospina

Courtesy of NBC

"In the Nov. 21 episode of This Is Us, Kate experiences what I can only imagine is one of the sharpest heartbreaks a human soul can withstand. She loses her baby after only just allowing herself to feel any joy or excitement over the pregnancy.

Although the reason behind the miscarriage is not revealed, I cannot help but wonder how many viewers will walk away blaming Kate's weight. After all, clinically-defined obesity is believed to increase the chances of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and miscarriage, and the character herself expressed concerns about her weight and age in relation to conceiving.

In light of this, I believe it's crucial to remember that while it's true that these conditions can affect expectant plus size mothers, as they do mothers of any size, experiencing a healthy pregnancy when you're plus size is also possible. So is having a healthy baby. I lived it, and I know plenty of other fat mamas who have, too."

Read it here.

"How 6 Asian Women Have Grown To Embrace Their Beauty In A World Influenced By Western Ideals," by Sara Tan, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"For years, I would pinch my nose every night before bed, in hopes it would result in a pointier tip. I'd try to avoid outdoor activities, so I wouldn't end up 'too dark' (I still got tan — with my Filipino skin, it was inevitable). I'd practice smiling without squinting (which was also impossible). And as soon as my mom let me, I got thick, streaky blonde highlights to cover as much of my black hair as I could.

I'd be lying if I said that I was no longer insecure about a lot of these physical traits. You can still find me scrolling through Instagram, comparing myself to one long-legged blonde beauty after the next — it's hard to shed these insecurities when society is constantly telling us that's what it means to be beautiful. But I've made progress on the road to self-acceptance and self-love. As I've gotten older, I've come to genuinely embrace and love the way I look. I'm done with trying to avoid looking 'too Asian.' I'm proud of my small eyes, my tan skin, and my natural dark locks. It's a reflection of my parents and my ancestors. It's not boring or basic, and it doesn't define who I am as a person — a lesson that many of my Asian-American friends and peers have also told me they've learned over the years."

Read it here.

"Even Good Husbands Are Sexist. Here's What I Did About Mine," by Caitlin Abber

Hannah Burton/Bustle

"The women in the group steel ourselves for this scenario every August. We are millennial women with our own careers and identities, who were raised to believe we could do anything. We married our husbands for love and partnership, not for financial security or because we felt like we had to, and we chose our other male friends because they’re good people. As a group we hail from a wide spectrum of races, religions, cultures, genders, and sexualities, and share very liberal values. We are are not a bunch of sexist, old-fashioned monsters. But, every summer, it's like we all drop acid and take time machine back to 1955. None of us know how we got into this mess, and sometimes it feels like it's too late to turn this wacky ship around."

Read it here.

"Why Is The Sex Robot Revolution Leaving Women Behind?" by Gabrielle Moss

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Though we live in an era of self-driving cars and iPhones, it often feels like the kind of inventions promised by science fiction — teleportation decks! Hologram communication! Some kind of laser that can instantly cure UTIs! — are still a long way off. But by the end of 2017, one long-time sci-fi fantasy will become real: Abyss Creations (the company behind the Real Doll sex dolls) will release what is widely being referred to as the world's first sex robot. Called Harmony, she's not quite a fully-mobile sex robot — she has a moving face, speech capabilities, and a personality the user can create via an app, but she can't, say, hump you wildly until dawn or join you in a post-coital plate of Pad Thai. Yet. And frankly, I'm jealous. While she represents a breakthrough in the field of sexual robotics, it's impossible to miss the fact that Harmony is designed for heterosexual cis men. I'm a heterosexual cis woman — when the hell do I get a sex robot?"

Read it here.

"500 Bustle Readers Reveal What They're Most Embarrassed To Talk About When It Comes To Sex," by Kathryn Kattalia

Bustle

"The biggest thing we're not talking enough about? According to 22 percent of Bustle respondents, that would be anorgasmia, or inability to orgasm. It makes sense, too, that this is one issue so many women are eager to discuss; research shows anorgasmia affects between 10 to 15 percent of women, and other data reveals between 10 and 20 percent of women have never experienced an orgasm, ever. And when we talk about orgasms as if they are the ultimate goal of sex, we're often silencing women who physically aren't able to orgasm or orgasm easily by making them feel like the problem is them — and not the way we talk about sex in the first place.

But that's not the only thing women want to discuss. Almost 20 percent of respondents believe talking about masturbation 'still feels way too taboo,' and more than 30 percent would like to see more conversation take place around female sex drive.

Clearly, there are things we need to talk about — but unfortunately, that's where stuff starts to get complicated."

Read it here.

"Goosebumps Author R.L. Stine Plans To Keep Scaring Kids Until He "Drops Dead On His Keyboard," by Cristina Arreola

David Livingston/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"'There's something missing my brain,' author R.L. Stine tells Bustle. 'I don't get scared from books or movies.'

Whatever is missing from his brain certainly isn't missing from the minds of the millions of readers who have been spooked senseless over the last two and a half decades by his children's horror series, Goosebumps, which turns 25 years old this year. Giving children nightmares is a task he performs with honor (his Twitter bio proudly proclaims: "My job: to terrify kids"), but Stine, 73, actually got his start writing comedy, first as editor-in-chief of Ohio State University's humor magazine, The Sundial, then as the author of joke books. He says he knew he wanted to be a writer from about the age of nine, but he learned quickly not to be picky about the jobs that came his way. At one point, he was even writing the jokes for Bazooka Joe bubblegum wrappers for $25 a pop. It all paid off — as anyone who's read Goosebumps knows, Stine didn't leave behind his flair for the comedic when he began writing children's horror. The series is just as funny, zany, and quirky as it is spooky — and that's intentional."

Read it here.

"The Money Tip Every Feminist Needs To Know," By Sallie Krawcheck

AMC

"Investing is the most feminist thing you can do.

Wait, what? A feminist is defined as someone who believes in the 'political, economic and social equality of women.' Sounds good, but I don’t see anything about investing here, do you?

But in a capitalist society, money is power. And men have more money — and therefore more power — than we do. There are plenty of reasons for this (I’m looking at you gender pay gap and gender unpaid labor gap); but one of them is that women don’t invest to the same extent that men do. This 'gender investing gap' can cost us hundreds of thousands — for some of us, millions — of dollars over the course of our lives."

Read it here.

"Tarriona 'Tank' Ball Lost Her Wardrobe After Hurricane Katrina, But What She Found Changed Her Style For Life," by Nora Whelan, Photos by Ashley Batz

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, killing upwards of 1,200 people and causing $108 billion in damage to over 80 percent of the city. Though Ball and her family did end up evacuating ahead of the storm’s landing, her older sister’s boyfriend, a police officer, stayed behind to help. Later, he would text them about pulling children’s bodies out of the floodwaters.

'It was horrible,' says Ball. 'That’s when we knew it was never going to be the same.'

In total, an estimated million people were displaced across the central Gulf coast. Ball and her family took up residence in Indianapolis, Indiana at an apartment complex set up specifically for those fleeing Katrina’s devastation. The 800-mile move was a major adjustment for Ball; the self-described “short, quiet nerd” found herself crying on a daily basis, terrified of assimilating to an entirely different group of peers at her new school — not least because of how she looked."

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"I Have Herpes & This Usher Story Is Making The Stigma So Much Worse," by Martha Sorren

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"This isn’t the herpes essay I thought I would write. After getting diagnosed two years ago, I’ve composed a hundred different essays. The woe-is-me one, the look-I'm-stronger-now one, the stigma-is-the-hardest-part one. I didn’t expect that when I unveiled to the Internet that I had herpes it would be in a story about Usher. But, in the wake of the allegations and lawsuit against him for allegedly failing to disclose to three sexual partners that he allegedly has herpes, I had to say something. Both Usher's alleged behavior and the media frenzy surrounding it make the stigma worse for people with herpes, and the whole story is so upsetting that I’m going to go public with my own status. Because having herpes isn’t the end of the world, and I’m tired of people acting like it is."

Read it here.

"Elizabeth Warren Gets Real About Running: 'You Don't Get What You Don't Fight For,'" by Elizabeth Warren

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"My path had plenty of twists and turns, but here’s what I learned: You’ve got to stand up and fight for what you believe in, even when everyone says it can’t be done. Sure, you might lose some battles along the way. But you don’t get what you don’t fight for."

Read it here.

"Women Who Can't Orgasm Reveal What Their Sex Lives Are Really Like ," by Lea Rose Emery

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"Even though she's a sexually active woman in her 30s who has had a healthy, fun sex life with multiple partners, Nancy, 30, has never had an orgasm. Ever. And it's not that she hasn't tried. In fact, she's tried everything.

'Growing up, I never had any interest in sex, and I didn't really understand what people were talking about when they spoke about being attracted to someone,' Nancy tells Bustle. 'I felt like there was something wrong with me, and eventually I tried masturbating, watching porn, etc. to try to make myself aroused. Nothing worked.'"

Read it here.

"How App-less April, A Month Without Dating Apps, Is Changing The Way I Date," by Natalia Lusinski

Courtesy of Natalia Lusinski

"I thought I was social when I had my dating apps, but without them, it turns out I'm even more so. After all, any time I'd previously devoted to my dating apps is now more time to go out IRL, whether it's alone to a used bookstore or to meet friends. By doing more me-centric activities, I've been meeting more potential dates who naturally have things in common with me — such as the aforementioned used bookstore. So if you stick to hobbies and activities you like to do, you're bound to meet like-minded people while doing them.

'The biggest advantage to meeting potential dates in real life is getting to experience their vibe right away, which is something no online dating platform can deliver,' Thomas Edwards, founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. 'This increases your odds of making good choices on who to go on a date with. There's no better way to gauge attraction and chemistry than to be physically present with someone.'"

Read it here.

"Vi Lyles Says Being Charlotte's First Black Woman Mayor Is About Much More Than Making History," by Clarissa-Jan Lim

Courtesy of Vi Lyles Campaign

"Among a dazzling field of victories in Democrats' historic sweep in the 2017 elections, the mayor's race in Charlotte, North Carolina stands out as one of the brightest spots. Not two hours after the polls closed on Nov. 7, the Republican candidate conceded defeat and Charlotte, for the first time in its history, celebrated the election of its first black woman mayor, Vi Lyles. And she'll be sworn in on Monday.

Over the phone, Lyles affirms her groundbreaking victory. 'It is historic,' Lyles says. 'I accept and acknowledge that.'"

Read it here.

"Inside Asahd Khaled's Luxurious and Love-Filled First Birthday Party," by Lia Beck

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"Asahd Khaled showed up to his birthday party two hours late. Being a celebrity, this was to be expected. Being a 1-year-old, not so much. Most babies are at their first birthday parties on time, because their first birthday parties are likely at their homes. But if you're Asahd Khaled, your birthday party is held at LIV nightclub in Miami and you make an entrance once your guests have already arrived and settled in, eagerly looking around for the first sighting of your tiny platinum album-producing face."

Read it here.

"Bustle's 'Race 2 Face' Is The Ultimate Competition Show For Beauty Lovers," by the Bustle Video Team, Produced by Abbey Adkison

Bustle

"If you want a bit of background before you watch, here's how the show goes down: Two contestants compete against one another in challenges like beauty trivia, a beauty-themed obstacle course, and a makeup challenge where they can put their skills to the test. The competing pair are guided throughout the episode by prolific New York City drag queen Ruby Roo, and each episode culminates in an ultimate beauty face-off, wherein contestants use products that they scored in challenges throughout the episode."

Read it here.

"Why We Can't Wallow In 2017 & That's A Good Thing, According To Wendy Davis," by Wendy Davis

Courtesy of Wendy Davis

"Like many of you, I thought this was going to be a year of 'finally's.' Finally, watching a woman raise her right hand and swear duty to her country and constitution as she prepared to assume the oval office and, by so doing, shattering that most elusive and highest of glass ceilings. Finally, a re-balance of the Supreme Court that would turn its attention back to the promise of equality embedded in our Constitution – whether through criminal justice reforms, rebuilding voting rights or, once and for all, firmly stomping out the idea that a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body could be taken from her. Finally, living in a country where women were paid equally. Finally, realizing the promise of quality affordable child-care for women wanting to rise from poverty. Finally, lifting a minimum wage that so disproportionately impacts women, particularly women of color. Finally, creating needed protections from sexual assault and appropriate civil and criminal justice responses when it does occur. Finally, in other words, the much needed march toward full equality that has remained elusive for women since the founding of this country.

Turns out, this is not likely to be the year for any of those 'finally’s. So …… What to do?"

Read it here.

"Hollywood's Biggest Male Directors Share A Pathetic History Of Ignoring Female Stories," by Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Vince Bucci/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"Earlier this summer, Elizabeth Banks made headlines for calling out Steven Spielberg's lack of female-driven films. But Spielberg isn't the only esteemed Hollywood director who has built his career on telling male-led stories. In fact, looking at the filmographies of the most successful directors working today — all of whom are white men — it's clear they share a nasty habit of ignoring female narratives.

Based on Oscar nominations, critical acclaim, and box office results, the most prominent directors working in Hollywood today are Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, George Lucas, JJ Abrams, and Michael Bay. And by breaking down the number of female protagonists created by this Hollywood boys' club, as well as looking at how the directors have responded to the call for more women working in Hollywood both behind and in front of the camera, it's evident that there's a major problem with how these men tell their stories."

Read it here.

"Roxane Gay's 'Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body' Is A Different Kind Of Success Story," by Marie Southard Opsina

Jay Grabiec

"'I try not to be prescriptive in how readers approach my work,' author and scholar Roxane Gay tells Bustle in an interview. 'But I do hope people walk away from this book with a greater understanding that we all live in the world, and in our bodies, differently. Those differences should be understood with empathy and treated with respect.' Gay is referencing her recently released book, Hunger: A Memoir Of (My) Body. In 304 pages, this hardcover chronicles much of the author's personal history, with particular emphasis on the cultivation and evolution of her fatness. It is, all at once, a raw, personal journey and a relatable piece of literature for those othered because of the shape and size of their figures alone."

Read it here.

"The Politics (And Profits) Of Letting Trump Supporters Lie On Television," by Clarissa-Jan Lim

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"CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash — whom Trump once scolded for asking a 'rude' question about his campaign days before the election— insists that journalists must allow space on cable news for the people who represent Trump, even if they're hostile or don't have the full picture. 'I think it’s important to put them on,' Bash tells Bustle, stressing fairness to the president. 'If we didn’t, it really wouldn’t be fair to the person who was elected by the people of this country.'

Bash insists that the network does it best to challenge Trump's surrogates, and is sure not to give them free airtime. 'We don’t just put them on the air and let them spew,' she tells Bustle. 'We put them on the air with anchors and reporters who challenge them, with counterparts, either Republican or Democrats, who challenge them.'"

Read it here.

"How Therapists Are Failing LGBTQ Millennials," by Casey Quinlan

Courtey of Chanach

"Nicole, 25, originally sought out a therapist because she thought she was in a toxic relationship. But during her initial appointment, the therapist only wanted to focus on one thing — whether or not she was actually bisexual, or if it was 'just a phase.'

'She thought that because I was bisexual, I was in an experimentation phase and was I gay or was I not,' she tells Bustle. 'I was and am perfectly comfortable with being bisexual. So that was difficult — the idea that the only problem I could be dealing with was self-discovery.'"

Read it here.