Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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the-love-affair-that-canadians-have-with-sugar-and-the-foods-that-contain-it-
Sugar was once called "white gold" by British colonists and used as currency. Now Canadian's eat average of 72 grams or 18 teaspoons a day. COURTESY WIKI COMMONS

At one point in history, this item was traded and highly sought after. It was the fuel that powered the engine of the slave trade that brought millions of Africans to the Caribbean’s, South and North America. British colonists called it “white gold” and some countries even used it as a form of currency. Today Canadian’s consume an average 72 grams or 18 teaspoons a day but what is the name of this substance that has held onto it’s popularity throughout the ages?

The answer: Sugar.

An item commonly found in the pantry of every Canadian, sugar has made a place in our hearts and is a part of our everyday lives. But unfortunately, it has also found a place around our waistlines as well. For years we have heard medical researchers preach the dangers of consuming too much fat or sodium, creating low fat diets in the 80s and 90s that were all the rage. But when we started counting calories and labeling our foods with words like “low fat”, doctors still saw that people continued to get sick and obesity rates grew out of control. Unknown to them was the fact that the ingredient sugar contributed more to the decline of a person’s health than they realized.

In Canada, it is estimated that citizens consume as much as 13% of their total calorie intake from added sugars. The problem has gotten so bad that the World Health Organization has issued new guidelines aiming to stem health problems associated with high sugar intake. With the new guideline, WHO advises people to cut their maximum intake to just 12 teaspoons per-day. It seems like a challenge to most considering that the average Canadian consumes just over 18 teaspoons a day, but when a 125ml can of Coke contains 65g or 13 teaspoons of sugar, the number seems a bit unrealistic.

Elizabeth Mayer is what you would call a quintessential sugar-holic. It isn’t unusual to find the 29 year old sipping on a can of Coca Cola or a munching on a pastry from the local Italian bakery. Her job as a receptionist at a local doctor ‘s office doesn’t make her addiction to the white stuff any better as she often finds herself packing away chocolates and gummy bears on her ten-hour work shift.
But when Elizabeth went to her doctor for what she thought was a routine checkup turned into a wakeup call that would stop any sugar-holic in their tracks.

“My doctor told me that my cholesterol levels were extremely high for someone of my weight and age,” she said.

“I was surprised cause I thought eating foods with high fat content are to blame for health issues like high cholesterol.”

High cholesterol isn’t the only health issue Elizabeth has to worry about when consuming sugar. Researchers at Harvard University have found that sugar has been linked to health many health issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even depression.

But according to the Canadian Sugar Institute in Toronto, research on sugar by the media and others is unfounded and often times misleading.

The Canadian Sugar Institute is a non-profit association representing the Canadian sugar industry and manufacturers. They also provide accurate nutritional information about sugar to the media, educators and professionals.

According to CSI, sugar should not be solely blamed for certain health issues, citing that a number of other factors including consuming too much carbohydrates and not exercising are to blame.

When Anib* felt little light-headed after a trip to the grocery store in the summer of 2013, she never thought it was due to a heart attack she had unknowingly experienced. After visiting and receiving care at the local hospital, a blood test confirmed that Anib not only had extremely high sugar levels, but that she was also pre-diabetic.

“I always had a sweet tooth even from when I was a young girl,” Anib said.

“I used to love to eat pastries and chocolate bars, but my biggest weakness was drinking tea with tons of white sugar. And in our community, a lots of us suffer from illness such as diabetes and obesity”

Now using an assortment of medication prescribed by her doctor, Anab is now trying to change her life around by watching what she puts in her body. But it’s harder than she thought.

“Foods you never expect contain added sugar,” she said.

“I have to constantly read the nuitrition labels on products beacause sugar can sometimes be hidden in plan sight.”

You would be surprised how much sugar lurks in foods that you never would have expected to be there. Often times, to compensate the loss of salt and fat in food, manufacturers add sugar to restore back some of the flavor. Some also use sugar to add texture and bulk to the product in place of using fat. Manufacturers also hide sugar in plain sight, opting to use different spelling formations such as Fructose, Glucose and corn syrup.

Sara Mohammed has taught herself to control the amount of sugar she eats. Before her lifestyle change, she use to consume a large amounts of sugar in the form of sugary drinks. Now she eats fruits and naturally sweetened foods to fix her sugar cravings.

“I think the problem with people eating too much sugar is that most of it is hidden in foods, and isn’t natural,” she said.

“I try to eat foods that are naturally sweet like apples and grapes. I also like eating sweet potatoes if I am craving something a little more savoury”.

But once in a while, Mohammed breaks her “no sugar” vow and indulges.

“One thing I cannot give up is chocolate cake. It may not be the healthiest for you, but eating it in moderation can be done!”.

*Name changed

Joyce Public School on a snowy day.
Joyce Public School is more than simply a school to many families in the neighbourhood, as it serves as a community hub. (PHOTO:Nakshi Pandit)

On a minus 30 degrees centigrade day in Toronto, the children of Rejoyce Childcare Centre are gathered in the school gym for their physical play time instead of being out in the playground after school waiting for their parents to come pick them up.

On about a dozen square scooters of rainbow colours, children roll each other around in the gym holding hands, sometimes forming chains.

“Can you pull me?,” Kyle Thomas, 6, asks a teacher after he is left out of one of the chains.

“Yes, of course,” the teacher replies as she rolls him across the gymnasium floor on his blue scooter, knowing he enjoys one on one attention from teachers.

Rejoyce Childcare Center is more than just a building to many families, as it serves essential additional purposes for the community like child care and after school programs. It is located inside Joyce Public School, which almost made it on the list of 60 TDSB schools that are to come under review by the provincial government to potentially close down or get boundary changes due to underutilization over the next 3 years.

The school escaped the list due to being 90% utilised to capacity, but the school’s principle Roula Skordakis believes more factors than simply the enrollment status of a school need to be considered when reviewing schools for closure or boundary changes.

“Joyce Public School is home to a childcare centre, the Ontario Early Years Program, a music room and an art room, specialty programs that not all schools have. We also have an international languages program, where once a week kids spend 2 to 3 hours learning Vietnamese, Spanish and other languages,” she said. “These are programs available not just to students, but other members of the community also.”

Jessica Guevara and Luis Obando are picking up their 2 kids that attend Rejoyce Childcare Center, but do not attend Joyce Public School. They attend Regina Mundi Catholic School.

“This is the closest childcare center to any school in my area, so they have to go here. When they think about closing the schools down, they have to consider that if for example, this one closed down, I don’t know what other daycare would bring them to school in the morning and pick them up after school,” says Guevara. “Then I don’t know what I would do.”

“Bye Estaban!,” Thomas yells as his friend is getting picked up.

“Two more minutes?,” Estaban Guevara-Obando, 3, asks his parents, anxious to keep rolling around on his scooter.

“Hurry up, it is so cold outside,” his father replies.

***

Principle Skordakis believes the geographic location of a school and whether the students in the community have means of transportation to and from school should be taken into consideration as well- because further distance from the school to a child can have a negative impact on parents living within or near the poverty line.

“When parents don’t drive, what does that mean? Do they have to be going on the bus? For parents, extra tickets for them. More time that they need to get to the school and what resources are at the school,” she said. “So I can tell you that Fairbank doesn’t have a daycare so if we suddenly shut down, everyone that is connected to the daycare, where would those children go? Where is the nearest daycare? It would mean some parents would not be able to work. That would be a huge financial pit for families that are already living close to the poverty line.”

With Joyce Public School ranked at 63 out of 474 elementary schools by the TDSB on the Learning Opportunity index, the TDSB’s own way of measuring the neediness of a school taking into account the income of families that attend it, parents feel the need for schools to remain open in their community for the support they provide.

Hermana Andrade is a single mother of one, Asian Andrade, 6, who goes to both the Rejoyce Childcare Center and the Joyce Public School.

“I walk here, it is five minutes. It is so close,” she says, still shivering from her walk to pick her son up. ”I can’t imagine taking him to a school far away. It would be difficult on him especially in the on a cold day like today.”

Now, with fewer children to get picked up, there is a single chain of 4 kids across the gym being pulled by one leader child.

Asian Andrade, still in the chain, is very attached to the staff in the school and his friends at both the childcare center and at school according to his mother.

“Kyle is my best friend here,” says Asian, finally having to detach from the chain to go home.

“Where is my mom?,” asks Thomas as his friend leaves for the day.

“She is on her way to pick you up,” his teacher tells him. “She should be here soon.”

***

Principle Skordakis has experienced the closure of one of her schools in the past and thinks it can be very emotionally difficult on a community to face a school closure.

She was the principle at Briar Hill Public School, which closed down due to under enrollment and the students were then divided to 2 different schools, Fairbank Public School and West Preparatory Junior Public School.

“I went through the painful experience of seeing children and parents that had grown up in that community, gone to school there, their parents had attended the school,” she said. “The school was part of their history, their family’s history. There were memories built in. I attended summer there, I attended this program there and it was extremely difficult. I had tears throughout that year.”

Principal Skordakis believes an important part of the process, if a school is going to close is to help with the building between the students from the closing school and those that are from the receiving school, something she did when Briar Hill closed down.

“Some kids, because of the division had to leave their friends. West Prep is a school of 550 so they went from a school of 150 to a school of 550, so from knowing everybody in the school to knowing no one,” she said. “This is a situation where they need help adjusting so as educators and member of the community we need to help make that transition easier because it can be hard for them.”

As Joyce Public School is not on the list of schools to be reviewed for closure or boundary changes, it is going to continue serving the North York Community, but the same thing cannot be said about 60 other schools, many of which are in the poorer neighbourhoods of Toronto according to the Toronto Star.

Thomas’s mother finally comes to pick him up.

“Has he been good today?,” she asks with a skeptical expression on her face as she hugs him.

“He had a good day today,” the teacher replies.

“See you tomorrow!,” Kyle says as he finally goes home for the day.

***

Picture of the fashion comes home logo.
At the Fashion Comes Home event, current fashion students were able to mingle with Humber fashion alumni and industry guests.

Humber’s fashion community came together for one night for the Fashion Come Home alumni event at the Lakeshore campus.

Students were able to mingle with each other as well with other Humber fashion graduates and industry guests.

The event, which is in its second year, was ran completely by current students from the Fashion Management and Promotions program at Humber College who were in charge of decorating , catering and organizing the raffle.

Participants were also able to tour 100 Years of Fashion exhibit located in the L Space Gallery. Owned by a private collector, the exhibition included vintage pieces and accessories that showed the progression of fashion during certain time periods.

Program Coordinator of Fashion Management and Promotions Susan Roberton stressed the importance of networking.

“The fashion sector is a small industry. It’s not six degrees of separation, its more like two,” she said.

“Chances are you are going to get a job from some one you went to school with or networked at a fashion event.”

Fashion Management and Promotions student, Malika Haque took advantage of the event and used the opportunity to meet fashion industry leaders.

“We are international students from India so it’s always important to create  and network with  individuals from different parts of the world,” she said.

Towards the end of the event, attendants were able to win prizes from a raffle including a chance to win a $300 tote bag. They could then end their night with a complementary photo at the makeshift red carpet, complete with costume props.

Rebecca Mcmahon said she hopes the event allow her to make connection that will help her start her career.

“I was nervous but it’s cool to know that someone I talked to tonight may be able to hire me in the future,’ Mcmahon said.

NDP MP Andrew Cash

A federal NDP member plans to introduce a private member’s bill to make internships paid positions.

“The cause is important to me because I find it outrageous that more and more young people are working for free and that in Canada we have a youth unemployment crisis,”
Cash says.

As a former musician and freelance journalist for NOW magazine, Cash understands the financial burden placed on workers who do not have a consistent full-time job. After years in an unsteady job market, Cash knew it was time to take action through politics.

He is trying to pass the Internship Protection Act (IPA) for a number of reasons.

“First of all, to bring unpaid interns into the Canada Labour Code, to have them protected like any other employee. The second thing is that it will, for the first time in federal law, set clear guidelines and rules as to when an internship is legal and when it is not,” Cash says.

Initiatives to shut down illegal internships are being put into action. In 2014, the Ministry of Labour cracked down on internship programs ran by The Walrus and Toronto Life. An article published by the Canadian Internship Association outlines illegalities the ministry inspector had found in both publications.

“Toronto Life will have to let go (or pay) five interns, who are not in school and thus, do not meet Ontario’s employment standards for unpaid work. Going forward, both publications will be expected to pay interns who are not receiving school credit for their work, or not have them around at all.”

Angelica Sydney, a fourth-year Journalism student at Humber College who has completed two internships at major media companies, also expresses her concerns from a student perspective.

“For a couple of years I was not on OSAP because the government believed my parents made too much money, meanwhile I was working 40 hours a week on top of attending full time courses,” Sydney says.

Sydney says her concern was that her savings would only be able to cover tuition, meaning she would have to continue working during her unpaid internships.

“What if you go into this internship and you do not like it? You’re spending money out of your own pocket and working, just to do things you do not enjoy,” Sydney says.

In Sydney’s case, the Internship Protection Act would ensure she is protected from working excessive hours, it would guarantee her the same rights given to paid employees and it would prevent employers from implementing full time work on an unpaid intern.

Going forward, Cash will continue his attempts to pass the IPA through the House of Commons though the progress has been limited because it is a private member’s bill.

Kyle Wyskiel reports on the company aiming to connect students and young professionals with people in their industry. Ten Thousand Coffees connects people to chat, network and meet others who can help them in the future or give to give a few pointers, all over a cup of coffee.

Fair Trade week is here at Humber College, but will it catch on with students?

Sponsored by the the Humber Public Interest Research Group (HumPIRG) the event aims to persuade the Humber administration through the student body to adopt a fair trade policy for businesses on campus.

Supporters of fair trade aim to build co-operative communities for the sustainable development of environmentally friendly products through humane working conditions of employees who are paid at a baseline salary.

If Humber were to fully adopt fair trade practices and only allow fair trade businesses to operate on its campuses, it would be the first college in Ontario to do so.

Essentially, fair trade calls for consumers to vote with their dollars, imploring them to support businesses that care about how their products are made and how their employees are treated, but will students care enough to pay higher premiums on their purchases, even if for a good cause?

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(Famoso Pizzeria’s chalkboard sign/photo: Deanna Grant)

Fourth-year University of Toronto student Karl Valdez is living in Keswick with his family but not because he loves the commute.

“The cost of rent is the only downside of the Annex,” says Valdez who shared a two bedroom apartment on Spadina Ave. with three friends up until last September.

Valdez traded in his rent money for a used Honda Civic and a 75 kilometer drive to and from school.

The drive can be taxing, especially for 8 a.m. classes says Valdez, but for him, living at home is worth it. “For me, it means a fridge full of food.”

Valdez spent more than 15 hours a week working a minimum-wage job to pay for groceries and rent. He says the freedom from work means he can study more.

Though if Valdez considers his commute as a form of work, then he still works at least ten hours a week if he doesn`t skip any classes. The difference between his part-time job and commitment to commuting is only five hours of time.

Valdez says he would love to live alone by U of T, “but living alone is hard, you need quite a bit of money.”

Fourth-year U of T student Matthew de Vries says living in the Annex is not affordable.

“I know a lot of people who live in residence or around campus. They make it work by budgeting and working a lot,” but de Vries says he will continue to commute from home for now.

De Vries lives in the junction with his family. His commute to school is 45 minutes by TTC.

“I know that finding $300-400 monthly rent is unrealistic, but it’s all that I can afford,” says de Vries, “if it was more affordable I would totally do it. It would be nice to have more time.”

Working about 15 hours a week and attending school full time, de Vries spends a lot of his free time in the the Annex with friends.

“I spent most of my life at Green Room last year,” says de Vries.

The entrance to the dive bar is through a back alley off of Bloor St. W. The only way to find out about it is by word of mouth.

“It’s cheap. The food is decent,” says de Vries of the bar with the green door.

Choosing hangout locations by beer and food prices, de Vries says, “it’s cheap. The food is decent, making it a really great gathering place for friends.”

Outfitted with mismatched chairs and tables, strings of white Christmas lights, and oddly placed wall art, the Green Room isn’t setting out to serve the suits of Bay Street.

The décor seems to decide its guests, says Dean Labreche, a restaurant owner in the neighbourhood.

“The streets don’t represent high end. The amount of people on bikes don’t represent high end,” says Labreche.

Labreche says he had students in mind when he chose the Annex for the location of Famoso Pizzeria.

“We reach out to students through different organizations whether it’s fraternities, sororities, or clubs. We build relationships with their leaders. We would definitely lose some business without students,” says Labreche.

Famoso Pizzeria is not the only restaurant to target students.

The sidewalks of Bloor St. West between Bathurst St. and Spadina Ave. are littered with chalkboard advertisements.

Walking and texting is a danger here. Signs are unpredictably placed on sidewalks and are frequently in the middle of the walkway.

If a restaurant has a chalkboard sign, it has a deal it wants students to know about.

Sushi comes as cheap as $7, burger and fries for $8, $10 large pizza, $2 bubble tea, $5 draft beer, and $5 martinis, $3 shots and $4 mixed drinks. The pricing is competitive.

Still, some restaurants like the new Greek fast food restaurant, It’s All GRK skip out on value pricing despite major competition in value, which “most students consider,” says de Vries.

Nathan Godin, co-owner of It’s All GRK says it is catering to students, but doesn’t offer any specials as of now. He says the prices are affordable with meal items from $6.

But even $6 can seem expensive when pit against El Furniture Warehouse, a chain resto-bar. The bar, nicknamed “The Furny” by its’ staff boasts $4.95 meals.

Before it was El Furniture Warehouse, it was the Pump, a local pub with a more expensive menu.

Open for six years before closing this summer, the Pump also had daily food specials, but didn’t cater to a young crowd. Former bartender, Stuart Hill says the bar wasn’t looking to serve students, “because you don’t make money off of them.”

The average beer at the Pump cost $8 and drinks were never on special. Hill says that the Pump was doing okay, but when the owner received an offer to purchase the bar, which wasn’t looking to be bought, he couldn’t say no.

“There’s many nights where it’s 1 a.m. and I’m there almost all alone, because no one is coming in,” says Hill.

Labreche says the Pump’s higher end prices did not suit the neighbourhood.

“I would be nervous to open a high end restaurant in a neighbourhood with chalk board deals. Although this area is very affluent, there’s still a lot of rentals,” says Labreche.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board, in 2012 average home prices in the Annex were nearly $1 million. Condos start at about $300 thousand to almost $2 million according to condo finding website, Redpoint.com. Rental companies like Briarlane and Hollyburn who have multiple properties in the Annex list their rentals at $1000 to $1300 for a bachelor, $1400-1600 for one bedrooms, and two bedrooms from $1600-2000.

 

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Suicide Info-graph
A info-graph of suicide by the numbers. According to the World Health Organization, a person dies every 40 seconds around the world due to suicide. – Info-graphic created by Sara Miller

In the time that it takes a person to change and upload their Facebook profile photo, another person has taken their life. According to the new report: Prevent Suicide – A Global Imperative, released by the World Health Organization, an estimated 800,000 people globally die by suicide.

“This report is a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.

In Canada, over 3,700 people die from suicide a year or about 10 suicides per day. Those who have First Nations and Inuit backgrounds have some of the highest suicide rates in the country, with First Nation youths five to six times more often to die by suicide than non-Aboriginal youth.

Currently, 28 countries including Australia, the United States and United Kingdom have reported to have a national strategy for suicide prevention. Canada however is one of the few industrialized countries without an official strategy despite hosting a 1993 United Nations international meeting of experts to develop and implement supported suicide prevention guidelines.

Penny Knapp, founder of “Survivors of Suicide Loss”, said that Canada has been too slow implementing a strategy, despite the many suicide related deaths happening in the country.

“Canada had been dragging themselves on the pavement for so many years,” Knapp said. “Other countries have had a national suicide prevention strategy for years”.

Recently, Canada has made efforts towards developing a suicide prevention strategy. In 2012, Governor General David Johnston signed Bill C-300, a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention into law. It means that the Government of Canada is now required to consulate with other members of government and interested non-governmental organizations to begin creating a framework.

But despite being a milestone for suicide prevention in Canada, Knapp who lost her son Nicholas, 20, to suicide in 2007 is not convinced.

“The Canadian government has been pumping money into research and organizations such as Canadian Mental Health and the Mental Health Commission,” she said. “They are getting paid to meet around the table but there is very little to show for the millions. Every life lost is priceless. Canadians need to know why suicide prevention is still not a priority in Canada.”

Penny and her family travelled to attend every conference and workshop they could but didn’t find any that met their needs. She created a memorial site Remembering Nicholas dedicated to her son, which evolved into the organization “Survivors of Suicide Loss”. Now with her husband and daughter(s), she acts as a facilitator and workshop organizer, talking and helping those who have lost someone to suicide or has thought of taking their own life.

In 2012, she also created a resource DVD for educators and for those dealing with the loss of a loved one from suicide. The DVD, which is segmented into four parts, also includes interviews from Knapp’s two daughters, Melanie and Marsha who talk about their experiences going through the grieving and healing process of their brothers’ suicide.

As a learning tool, Penny wanted survivors to take away more than just a story.

“I wanted it to be educational. There is no need to just go tell your story because everyone has one,” Knapp said. “It’s important for survivors to gain some knowledge and insight that they can take away to save lives.”


The World Health Organization report showed that suicide was also the second leading cause of death for persons in the 15 to 29-age range.

Humber North’s Student Wellness and Development Manager, Dr. Rummy Gill, said there are many misconceptions among the general public when it comes to the topic of suicide including the mental heath and seriousness of each case.

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Humber College currently offers students and community members a workshop that quickly identifies  and helps a person at risk for suicide.

“Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) is a two day training workshop that prepares participants (students and community members) to be ready, willing and able to provide assistance to a person-at-risk of suicide,”  said Bernadette Summers, ASIST trainer and Program Advisor for Continuing Education at Humber College.

“The goal of ASIST is to provide suicide first aid and keep a person-at-risk safe for now.”

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Event poster for the art show.
Photo courtesy of http://www.studentgallery.ocad.ca/current-exhibition

Selfie became the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013. Today on a campus full of art students and critics alike, the word is explored in an art show by OCAD U students.

Oxford defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam.” The infamous duck lips pose flooding your Instagram feeds or the close up shot of the face only, these are all selfies.

The OCAD U exhibit ‘All By Myselfie’ explores the obsessively narcissistic relationship  society has with taking selfies. The show delves into the deeper meaning behind the selfie. Organized by OCAD alum Jenna Crooks, the showcase portrays work by Crooks and fellow artists Camille Jodoin, Shelby Jane Miller, Kori Baum, Alexandra Pearlhaddad and Reenee Dykeman.

But if you think you will  find tons of portraits or rather selfies on the walls of the stark gallery, think again.

On one wall are three pillows hanging from silver chains, proudly sporting the faces of celebrities such as Beyonce and Demi Lovato. And then on top of those perfectly put together faces is smeared makeup that artist Reenee Dykeman put there herself by sleeping on the pillows.

Selfie of Beyonce with the headline Flawless.
Selfie of Beyonce with the headline Flawless.

On what could only be described as a little pillar similar to an altar is the MacBook with a looped lipstick application video. Then down from it a kaleidoscope of colorful quotes about the inner self. The Macbook held a riveting 20-minute long video that was looped showing a girl garishly applying bubble gum pink lip gloss.

“I find it so funny and so disgusting because its just this constant making up of herself…making herself up for this image of herself,”  Crooks says about the video.

photo1(1)
Twenty minute video of lip gloss application.

Jenna Crooks says, “initially with selfies I almost had like a wariness to them, I was like thinking oh this is just sort of expression of vanity or something.” The immediate rejection she felt towards the idea of selfies led to her exploration of them in the show.

Student gallery monitor Meaghan Hunter-Gauthier says, “there has been a pretty good student response to the show.”

Crooks hopes  everyone who comes to the show will leave questioning themselves about those front facing camera photos we work so hard to perfect called the selfie.  Crooks says, “one of my pieces in the show it very subtlety says validate me baby and that to me is what the selfie initially says, its just people wanting validation.”

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