The News You Need To Read This Morning

Let's talk about midterms and abortion access, holographic avatars in gaming, and the return of nudity on Tumblr.

This is an excerpt from Incoming, BuzzFeed News’ morning newsletter dedicated to making sense of this chaotic world we live in. Join the club here.

Holographic avatars can offer women gamers protection. But it hasn’t stopped men from fetishizing them.

an illustration of an anime girl overlayed with glitchy fragments of a black and white photo of a woman

Vtubing, or virtual YouTubing, has become a widespread phenomenon in the world of anonymous streaming. Creators film using a holographic avatar rigged to their movements using motion capture trackers and suits. The content format originated in Japan but has since been adopted worldwide. As it’s expanded, there’s also a rising wave of independent, homegrown vtubers — many of whom are women using their avatars to maintain anonymity.

Women in gaming have long been subjected to harassment on the internet. And since vtubing tends to have visuals reminiscent of anime, a form of illustration that has long been for the male gaze, characters quickly become sexualized. But many women vtubers told BuzzFeed News that they’ve been able to use the format to protect themselves from sexual harassment by redirecting it onto their characters instead.

Before vtubing, streamer Aruu would get constant criticism for her looks — either being told she was only famous “because you’re a pretty girl on the internet” or that she was desperate for wanting views. At times, her physical safety was compromised. “I’ve had to call the police to an event because it was a dangerous situation for me,” she said. “With men, I feel like everything is critiqued about me.” Vtubing offered another way.

But while anime vtube characters offer protection for women streamers, they also fuel artistic representations of Asian women’s bodies for consumption by a predominantly white, predominantly male gaze. “[Sexualization] is gonna exist in any form of anything,” said Uguubear, an independent vtuber. “That’s just how it is.”

North Korea is supplying Russian weapons, the White House says.

  • North Korea has been covertly fueling Russia's artillery shell supply, according to the White House. “I would guess that North Korea’s doing this to get Russia to give them some help they had previously refused them,” defense researcher Bruce W. Bennett told the Washington Post.

  • This news arrives as tensions between North and South Korea have been escalating for months, with North Korea firing over 20 missiles into Ulleung island on Wednesday.

SNAPSHOTS

This midterm election, pay attention to abortion access in these six states. What's on the ballot could change the future of abortion for millions of people.

Kit Connor, the 18-year-old Heartstopper star, came out as bisexual this week, but he shouldn’t have had to. "For many people, sexuality can be a deeply private journey, and it makes sense in the era of rampant social media that a celebrity grappling with their own identity might not be ready to make an announcement about it," David Mack writes. "Nobody ever knows what is happening in another person’s life, and we can’t make assumptions about it either."

The Pomuch bone-cleaning culture in Mexico offers a way to reconnect with relatives who have died. The ritual is done in preparation for Hanal Pixán, which translates to “food for the souls,” also known as the Mayan Day of the Dead.

We did it, Joe: Boobs are back on Tumblr. After banning adult content in 2018, Tumblr announced that it will allow nudity back on its platform — just not “explicit sex.”

Some people prefer to see a Black therapist, but it can be challenging to find one.

an illustration of a black person with blue braids sitting on a couch and a person with a mirrored reflection of a black person sitting on the right

While having a therapist that matches your identity is not a guarantee you’ll make real progress, many Black people prefer working with a Black therapist. For Grace Johnson of Queens, New York, having a Black woman as her therapist means she doesn’t have to explain herself as much, especially when it comes to cultural references.

When Johnson's depression interfered with her ability to maintain her hair, she felt guilty about seeing her hair as a chore before her therapist suggested getting more low-maintenance braids. "I would have never even thought about that,” Johnson said. “That would have never happened if my therapist wasn’t a Black woman.”

Unfortunately, significant barriers limit therapy access for many Black Americans, including a dire shortage of providers that match their identity. Black people are significantly underrepresented in the field of mental health in America, comprising about 4% of the psychology workforce, according to the American Psychological Association.

In addition, “a lot of people still think that folks who get mental healthcare are weak,” said Rheeda Walker, a psychologist who specializes in mental health accessibility for Black communities. “Unfortunately, I don't think that we've moved the needle a lot as a society in the US on asking for help. That is still moving at a glacial pace.”

If you’ve been looking to start therapy, or are maybe just curious about what those first steps would look like, here are some options to help find a good therapist fit for you.

Hot girl summer is over. Enter the sleepytime girlfriend era.

an illustration of a scenic cottagey house overlayed with a reply to a social media comment that says "go sleep, housekeep, girl quit"

In the past year, we’ve seen stories about the “Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting” attempt to explain how rising inflation and the agony of nearly three pandemic years have bred a desire to escape work as we know it. It’s a Sisyphean task, going to work every day knowing wages can’t keep up with the cost of living.

As hot girl summer grays into sleepy girl winter, a yearning for rest — and, more specifically, sleep — has reared its head in memes. We need more than to be just stay-at-home girlfriends. We’d rather be “snug as a bug” or making the “honk shoo mimimi” noise or emulating the well-rested Celestial Sleepytime Tea bear mascot than working. We’ve entered the era of the sleepytime girlfriend.

LinkedIn’s broetry posters and deplatformed misogynist Andrew Tate say you’re dissatisfied with life because you’re not working hard enough. But rest is necessary and inevitable; it can and will come for us all. When has working hard ever provided someone with the same gentle vibes as a warm drink and a good night’s sleep?

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