• Health

    When PMSing takes an extreme turn

    If you’ve been menstruating for a while, you’ve probably experienced premenstrual syndrome (PMS) at some point.   PMS affects up to 75 per cent of menstruating individuals, according to a report published by UpToDate. It causes physical and behavioural symptoms, like fatigue and irritability, that will usually begin during the 14th day of a menstrual cycle and can last until seven days after the start of menstruation.  Usually the symptoms are mild or moderate, but for some these symptoms can be much more serious. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of PMS that causes symptoms and intervenes with daily functioning.  Here is some information to learn more about PMDD,…

  • Health

    Choosing the right birth control method

    Did you know that a common birth control method used in ancient Egypt involved crocodile poop?  Yes, you read that correctly.  Ancient Egyptians would mix crocodile poop together with some other ingredients to create a blocking device that was then inserted into the vagina as a way to prevent pregnancy. The jury is still out on whether or not this technique actually had any medical merit (maybe a lack of willing research participants?). Today we’re lucky to have a wide selection when it comes to birth control methods, none of which involve any type of animal poop.  Read ahead to learn about the available options and decide which one works…

  • Lifestyle

    Growing a green thumb 101

    Almost everyone picked up a new hobby during the pandemic. Some people started knitting, some took up soap carvings, some began jogging. There were hobbies that endured, like yoga, and some that flaked out (is anyone still making bread?) One hobby that became popular was gardening, as many flocked to grocery stores and plant nurseries to pick up a few leafy babies.  If you’re interested in getting into gardening, read ahead for some sure-fire tips that will keep your plants healthy and awaken your inner earth goddess.  Know your space While the pineapple plant might seem like a good idea, it’s a tropical plant and probably isn’t going to be…

  • Society

    Blurred lines

    Whenever long-time North York resident Cindy Luong passes by one of the many decorated graffiti pockets that can be found within Toronto-based neighbourhoods, she feels a sense of warmth.  “I see graffiti as a form of personal expression,” she says. “It brings me lots of happiness to see how someone can take a blank canvas, such as the side of a building, and create something that speaks to them and to others as well.” Luong’s opinions represent one half of the continuous debate surrounding graffiti and whether it should be classified as art or as vandalism. While some like Luong can appreciate the artistic merit within graffiti, others paint it…

  • Society

    Breaking down barriers with social media

    Behind every single one of Zeynab Mohamed’s carefully curated Instagram posts, there is an intense process and an intended purpose. “There’s so many behind the scenes stuff that people don’t realize,” the Toronto-based social media content creator says. “It’s not just taking photos.”  This process involves selecting shooting sites with eye-catching backdrops, incorporating trending colours with personal touches, coordinating and batching multiple outfits to capture as many looks as possible within one shoot and even changing in her car when public washrooms were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions.  Her growing devotion also encouraged her to become more self-reliant while conducting her shoots, as she couldn’t rely on…

  • School

    Choking on your words 

    I can still remember the last presentation I ever did in high school.  It was for grade 10 English. The assignment required an analysis followed by a 15-minute presentation in front of the class.  Up until that point, this was the longest presentation of my academic career. I rehearsed in front of my mirror until my lips were dry. I rewrote it several times to take out difficult words. I did breathing exercises. I did everything I could think of.  The presentation would’ve still followed the same trajectory even if I had rehearsed for a lifetime—my body shaking as I stood up in front of the class and sputtered the…

  • Lifestyle

    Becoming a pet parent

    Having a pet is great—they can be your best friend, a confidante and it never hurts to have someone who’s always happy to greet you at the door (and immediately alert your attention to their empty food dish).  Besides getting a new buddy, there are a lot of benefits associated with owning a pet. In a report published by Human Animal Bond Research Institute, it was found that 74 per cent of pet owners reported mental health improvements and 96 per cent said that their pet has had a positive impact on their lives.  It’s no wonder so many Canadians are pet parents. In November 2020, Narrative Research released a…

  • Society

    Communities versus condo land

    Sun, freezies and the park.  That’s the way Toronto exists in Subeda Sheekhnur’s memories of growing up in her childhood neighbourhood in the city’s west end. A place of endless sunshine, flavourful freezies and staying out until the street lights turned on.  “I remember it to be a happier place,” she says. “I’ve latched onto this idea that it was always sunny.”  Now when Sheekhnur pictures Toronto, she sees identical glass buildings that have infiltrated pockets of the city. She envisions the Rexall that replaced the iconic Brunswick house—affectionately referred to as the “Brunny”—a pub that served generations of Torontonians for 140 years. She pictures the gaping hole that used…

  • Health

    Reclaiming the narrative of mental health

    Nobody can know.  Alexandra Grifone still remembers her parents’ reaction when her middle school guidance counsellor suggested that she should attend therapy to deal with their divorce. They were adamant that nobody could find out, especially other family members.  “They viewed it as embarrassing,” Grifone says. “It was kind of seen as a weakness, as something you wouldn’t be proud of.” Growing up, her parents’ lack of understanding around mental illness left her without the tools or outlets to properly understand what she was going through.  She says that the media’s negative portrayal of mental illness strongly influenced her parents’ conceptualization of the topic, such as the ways in which…

  • Society

    Not the Gilmore Girls

    Until the age of six, my mother was my best friend. I wanted to spend all my time with her. I would cry when she went to work, trying to hide her apron and tip pouch so she wouldn’t be able to leave. Even as a baby I was always trying to find my way back to my mother, using my father and grandmother as human leap pads to land myself back into her arms. I remember us spending hours playing with my toys, crafting mythical worlds full of Barbies and Beanie Babies with storylines that could rival soap operas. She would let me run the show, taking the role…

  • Society

    Does loving Mean Girls make you a mean viewer?

    Like so many millennials, Jing Wang still remembers the first time she watched the movie Mean Girls.  She was in the seventh grade and hanging out with her god-sister. She ended up loving it so much that her god-sister lent Wang her copy—which she still has to this day.  “Watching it just brings me back to a previous period in my life,” she says. “I find comfort in the familiarity and nostalgia.”  Wang isn’t the only one. A study published by the Journal of Consumer Research found that re-consuming movies, TV shows and books can provide comfort and a boost of happiness. It’s the reason why movies like Mean Girls…

  • Lifestyle

    The breakup

    Alexandrea Fiorante glued a pair of feathery false eyelashes to her glittered eyelids as she chugged down a beer. She then slipped into a backless black dress before piling into an Uber with her friends.  Destination? Any club she could get a cute picture to post on Instagram, simultaneously making her ex jealous and proving that she’s “winning” the breakup. At least that’s how she imagined dealing with the heartbreak of ending her long-term relationship with her partner last November. But the continuous lockdowns in Toronto have restricted Fiorante from taking the rom-com suggested formula for getting over a breakup.  Instead, she had to sit alone in her bedroom with…

  • Health

    Steering friends through rough waters

    Earlier this year, high school student Sophia Ruselle noticed a shift in her close friend’s behaviour.  Her friend was withdrawn and distant. He had no motivation, his outlook on life had become hopeless, he was always sleeping and his moods were all over the place.  Ruselle recognized that her friend was suffering from depression. When he began to self-harm, she notified his family before the situation could escalate.  She knew all too well the seriousness of untreated depression. In November of last year, she attempted to take her own life. Her suicide attempt was a culmination of the stress invoked by the frequent lockdowns and school closures.  A study conducted…

  • Careers

    Disrupted dreams

    Pre-pandemic, Christiane Tarantino was busy. She was juggling grad school, working as a teaching assistant and holding down a part-time job as an administrative assistant at a community centre. Tarantino was commuting over an hour downtown six days a week and sometimes pulling 14-hour-long days. She was exhausted.  That’s why, last March when her university announced the transition to online classes and her supervisor informed her that she was being laid off, Tarantino was a little relieved. She thought of it as an unplanned break, one that would allow her to focus on finishing her master’s thesis and offering more support to her students. But then the pandemic continued. Tarantino’s…

  • Health

    Bubblegum cartridges and popcorn lungs

    Throughout her childhood, Adriana Bellisomo, 18, watched her mother struggle to quit smoking cigarettes. When her mother finally kicked the habit, she made Bellisomo promise to never smoke. And for a while that was an easy promise to keep. Most of her friends found cigarettes to be dirty, so the temptation never formulated.  Then her friends began to boast about their vibrant vaping devices and liquid cartridges full of delectable flavours like bubblegum and sour berry. Bellisomo was intrigued—these seemed so different from the smelly, cancer causing sticks she had watched her mother puff on. These didn’t feel dangerous or dirty, they felt cool. She wasn’t alone; a study conducted…