7 Essays To Read This Week: "Bad Blood," Pop Music Stardom, And Counterculture

This week, BuzzFeed Ideas Editor Bim Adewunmi wrote a piece on the strange conformity of YouTube's beauty tutorials. Read that and other essays from The Atlantic, The Fader, Grantland, and more.

1. "How to Be Spiritual" — The Awl


Jaimie Lauren Keiles wrote a guide to being spiritual, for those of us who are not. The essay, hilarious and strangely comforting, teaches us how to pray and find spiritual moments in our everyday lives. An excerpt: "When you were younger, you probably experienced words and music in a far more transcendent and affecting way than you do as an adult. Seek prayer that nurtures this relationship. Jenny Holzer truisms, advertising slogans, and exceptional tweets can all make for great prayers, as can great works of literature and hackneyed self-help." Read it at The Awl.

2. "The Curious Conformity of YouTube’s Beauty Tutorials" — BuzzFeed

Sian Butcher / BuzzFeed

YouTube beauty videos are all variations on a predictable formula. "Whether a lookbook, a contouring and highlighting tutorial, a haul or even just a chat between a woman, a camera and her public," they all follow a set of unspoken rules. Bim Adewunmi investigated the common tropes found in makeup Youtube and reflected on her findings and what they say about viewers. Read her essay at BuzzFeed.

3. "A Girl Without a Country" — Rookie

Caitlin H.

Having spent her childhood in both the United States and India, Upasna Barath never felt like she belonged in either of her homelands. In India, the other kids made fun of her Hindi pronunciation and American lunches. But things were still hard for Barath when she moved back to the States. This week, she wrote an essay about cultural assimilation, race, and fitting in. Read it at Rookie.

4. "Truly Outrageous: What the New ‘Jem and the Holograms’ Film Gets Wrong About Modern Pop Stardom" — Grantland

A week after the Jem and the Holograms trailer debuted, Hazel Cills wrote an essay on why the film's preview caused such an uproar. "...The idea that pop stars don’t have teams behind them, that they’re the sole authors of their music, that nobody is styling them — those are sort of antiquated notions in 2015," Cills writes. Her essay touches on Hatsune Miku, PC Music, and the state of pop music and stardom today. Read it at Grantland.

5. "Taylor Swift's 'Bad Blood' Video Is the Anti-Avengers" — The Atlantic

Vevo / Via theatlantic.com

While Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" music video isn't the greatest piece of cinematic work, it crushes conventions around gender and action films. Spencer Kornhaber analyzed the video and wrote about Swift's attempt to combat stereotypes about women. "But if the 'Bad Blood' video sounds like exactly the message-first, entertainment-second mentality decried by folks who talk dismissively of 'social justice warriors,' well: Who cares?," he writes. Read it at The Atlantic.

6. "How I Gave Myself Permission to Be Gluten-Free" — BuzzFeed Life

Alice Monkongllite / BuzzFeed Life

When Martha Stortz found out she had celiac disease, she was more concerned about how her sickness would seem to other people rather than what it meant for her. Instead of thinking of her own health, she worried about being That Girl, the one who wears Uggs and Lululemon and considers Sex and the City as an instructional guide for life. Read it at BuzzFeed Life.

7. "Whatever Happened To Counterculture?" — The Fader

AMC / Via thefader.com

Does counterculture still exist? Following Mad Men's epic finale, Alex Frank dove into Don Draper's Coke ad and analyzed how the creative director managed to turn a moment of spirituality into a commercial. In many ways, that scene is a good representation of modern culture, in which a recent FKA twigs concert was sponsored entirely by Red Bull. But is that such a bad thing? "Maybe these days, the point is that you never really are wholly counterculture or wholly bourgeois," Frank writes. Read it at The Fader.

Want to read more? Here are some other essays BuzzFeed published this week.

BuzzFeed reporter Declan Cashin wrote about what the marriage equality referendum in Ireland means for him. BuzzFeed features writer Anne Helen Petersen explained how Hollywood taught Rebel Wilson to lie about her age. And finally, BuzzFeed Ideas launched its first essay collection, the Inheritance Issue, featuring eight writers on money, the body, and parents.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.