Across the globe, people observed and celebrated the World AIDS Day on December 1 to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, decrease stigma of being HIV-positive or living with AIDS, and to encourage testing.

Rihanna and Prince Harry were both HIV tested on camera during a visit to her birth island Barbados. Seeing the RED episode of Jimmy Kimmel or seeing a completely RED iTunes might have prompted one to investigate into this moniker. RED is defined as a licensed conglomeration of brands that “seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.”

Raising funds and awareness has encouraged progress in HIV/AIDS research in 2016 which Huffington Post noted as “a banner year for HIV/AIDS Research.” Highlights include the exoneration of “Patient Zero, a National Institute of Health (NIH) discovery that could lead to an HIV vaccine, and a drug on the market for unrelated diseases may work as an HIV suppressant.

Hollywood also sought to emphasize that there needs to be stories that speak to the continuing epidemic of HIV/AIDS that disproportionately affect African-Americans today. When people living with HIV or AIDS tell their stories, the disease and the virus become less stigmatized. Aljazeera posted an article entitled “Living with HIV: ‘There is nothing to fear” and Upworthy posted a poignant comic with 10 people explaining what it is like to live with HIV.

In Georgia Tech’s backyard, Atlanta has infection rates that rival developing countries who struggle to control HIV/AIDS epidemics with Emory University Center for AIDS Research co-director Dr. Carlos del Rio stating that Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban. For more information about Atlanta statistics regarding HIV/AIDS, visit AIDSVu.

For more information on receiving HIV testing, please visit www.aidatlanta.org. There are free rapid HIV tests offered on site. Georgia Tech also offers free rapid testing every semester.

-Kristin Liu

Challenging conventional beauty standards one music video at a time

This summer, “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE was inescapable. You know the “Ai yah yah yah, I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean” song? If you did some digging into what the lyrics really meant or watched the video, you may have noticed that it was a Jonas Brother fronting the band. Other than that, the video plays into the usual music video tropes including hypersexualization of the women’s body parts with lingering shots of their breasts, butts, and bodies.

DNCE’s next video “Toothbrush” created headlines but not for the usual reasons of misogyny or male gaze, but rather, due to the leading lady, Ashley Graham. Graham is an up-and-coming model who has appeared on the cover of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue” and in the pages of “Vogue,” “Glamour,” and “Elle.”

But the most surprising thing is that she is a plus-size model.

Yes, a Jonas Brothers-fronted band made a video normalizing a relationship with a man and woman who is a size 14/16. Pop culture will never stop being surprising.


Graham’s leading role in the video allowed her a platform to talk about her experience as a plus-size model and challenging “conventional” beauty norms. She is quoted in “Billboard, “[The typical video girl] doesn’t accurately portray what our world looks like, especially because the average size woman is a size 14.”

In addition to Graham speaking out, bloggers and journalists used this as an opportunity to write their own thoughts. On MTV News, a writer noted, “Because romantic, sensual images of plus-size women in this form of pop culture are rare, Graham’s low-key performance sends an even stronger message: Full-figured women exist, and there is no reason to hide or for the public to shame them.”

Showing female body types that are not tall, thin, and white send an overt and subconscious message to the viewer that beauty is not limited to one type of body. Hopefully, this stirs up an internal and external debate with the viewer on what is attractive and normal and healthy. What a great message to send to the 48 million viewers who have already seen this video.