zero is the new six

28 Oct 2013

American Apparel, that hipster clothing/disco neon hotpants empire, has always been of dubious moral grounds. Despite its loud proclamations of “made in America”, the company is in fact run by a Canadian charged of sexual harassment lawsuits at least five times in the last decade. Not to mention the softcore-porn style ads, that is, only when the model is female. Even if all of this weren’t true, when’s the last time you need a gold metallic pleather thong leotard for upwards of fifty dollars? (Please don’t answer that.)

The store is, however, very convenient for basic cuts in solid colors (v-necks, A-line skirts, etc.), which is why I stopped by one this weekend, to hopefully find a white crop-top at an okay price. The answer unsurprisingly turned out to be no.

In a moment of desperation, I flipped through the childrens’ tees to hopefully find a size large or extra large. (Don’t even ask why a company that features topless women in their ads makes childrens’ clothing; there is a time and a place for sexuality and it shouldn’t be at a store frequented by preteens and young children).

Lo and behold, I made the discovery that a women’s extra small crop top at American apparel is equivalent in size to a child’s size six tshirt. That’s six years old! Sure, some liberties might be taken for the cropping part, but basically American Apparel expects that a small woman should have the same chest girth as a kindergartener.

I’m a pretty petite person, but I’m not sure on what nation or even planet you might expect women to be the size of a tiny six-year old. That’s some f-ed up idea of body image.

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This semester I have the pleasure of being involved with a pretty cool research project on Government secrecy at Columbia University.

The Declassification Engine, which bills itself as “Computational Analysis of Official Secrecy”, is a joint project between the History, Statistics, and Computer Science (specifically Natural Language Processing) departments at CU (among a slew of other things) to provide tools and better analysis of just what the government has and has not (and will and will not) be withholding from the public throughout the years.

I myself found a research position on this project by following my favorite TA in my favorite class on Natural Language Processing into his research life, which is how one often finds interesting things.

The project is still quite young and less rigidly defined, so it’s fun to be involved early.

I’ll be working on image processing and language processing, among other things I really enjoy doing.

Needless to say, I’m a huge proponent of free speech, free press, and transparency, and quite excited. Plus it never hurts to feel like a real badass hacker, ripping through hundreds of thousands of federal censored papers in the terminal.

Check out a recent interview on the Declassification on NPR!

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