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Refinery29

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    Update: October 18, 2018: MoviePass is now being investigated by the New York Attorney General's office on whether the company misled investors. CNBC reports that the company lost $100 million in the second quarter of 2018.

    This article was originally published on Aug 8, 2018.

    Imagine, if you will, the follow scenario: You decide to give a child an ice cream cone topped with three scoops of their favorite flavor, whipped cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, and a cherry on top. Then, you change your mind and, one by one, take away every topping and scoop until all they're left with is a plain sugar cone. How do you think they would react? Not well? Bingo.

    This is the dilemma facing MoviePass, the movie ticket subscription service that was too good to be true — until it just wasn't anymore. By now, you're probably familiar with the MoviePass woes, even if you aren't a subscriber who regularly receives one of the somber "letter to the MoviePass community" emails. Almost exactly a year ago, the company changed its $15-for-two-movies-a-month plan to an unbelievable "unlimited" plan that offered a movie a day for just $10 per month.

    It seemed like the steal of a lifetime — and it was — until April, when MoviePass slowly began chipping away at everything included in that $10 plan.

    First, MoviePass put the axe on repeat viewings. Then, it started "peak pricing", charging viewers more for popular, new movies. Then, it stopped offering tickets to popular movies on opening weekends. Couple all of this with unexpected outages amid financial woes, and you have the very messy situation that is MoviePass today.

    Now there's a twist in the MoviePass saga: Instead of upping its price to $14.95 per month, as it told users it would do last week, the service has changed its mind again, and will now remain at $10 per month. It will, however, limit members to three movies per month beginning August 15. According to a press release, these will include "many major studio first-run films" and monthly subscribers switching to the new plan will no longer need to pay peak pricing. Additional movie tickets can be purchased through the app for "up to a $5 discount." If you're an annual subscriber, consider yourself lucky: You'll stay on the old, movie-a-day plan until your subscription is due for renewal.

    MoviePass's new plan is now just barely better than its competitor, Sinemia, which offers three movie tickets per month for $15. Many users may wish to opt for AMC's Stubs A-List subscription service, which offers three movies each week for $19.95 perr month.

    Even though MoviePass is technically still a good deal, especially when you consider that the cost of a single movie ticket can near $15, it's hard to feel that way when the service has slowly stripped away its noteworthy perks and changes its policies on an almost weekly basis. Telling your consumers about the many challenges you face as a disruptor of an "unaffordable and broken " entertainment system just isn't going to cut it when you started by offering them a sundae, but now give them what feels like a near-empty bowl.

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    Party dressing in the wintertime can be a total buzzkill. Sure, your inner look may be rad, but on the outside, you're still a shapeless poof of marshmallow-y layers, trying to combat the chill.

    But, it is possible to find a piece of toasty outerwear that looks just as good are your outfit hiding underneath. This winter, ditch your down coat (seriously, just do it!), and instead opt for body-warming materials like shearling and faux fur, bright hues that challenge the darkness of winter wear, longline cuts that gussy up the silhouette, and luxe insulating fabrics like suede to block out the breeze. Not only will you feel totally comfortable in sub-zero temperatures, but your jacket game will have never looked so good.

    Ahead, find 15+ super-warm dressy coats guaranteed to convince you that bundling up in a stylish way is absolutely doable. Who knows? With solid outerwear options like these, you might just look forward to colder days.

    At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    Heartbreak doesn’t just hurt, it often feels impossible. So many questions come along with the pain: How can I move on? How do I get through this? Will it ever get better?

    It will, promise. Anyone who’s come out the other side of a breakup knows that. But if you’re currently in the trenches of a potent heartbreak, that’s not exactly comforting. We won’t sugarcoat it: The unfortunate truth is that having a broken heart sucks and it’s going to continue to suck — until it doesn’t.

    However, the good news is that there really are things you can do to speed the mending of your broken heart and make it a little less painful in the meantime. While science can certainly offer some insight into the best ways to recover from a breakup (and we will get into that), when it comes to mysteries of the heart, it can be useful to cast a wide net. In that vein, we spoke with every expert we could think of, from a neuroscientist to a meditation guru, to get actionable advice every heartbroken person needs to hear.

    Click through for healing ideas that help while you’re still waiting for that "until-it-doesn’t" moment.

    “Learning to provide comfort for yourself when you feel distressed is one of the most valuable tools we can have in our toolbox,” says Olubukonla Kolawole, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in New York City. But you can only do so much inside your own head, so consider recruiting two or three people you can reach out to when you need someone. “Every time you want to send a text to your partner or are reminded about your ex and want to reach for them, reach for one of your buddies instead,” she says. “It’s great to have multiple people so you don’t hold yourself back with worry about your friend being tired of having to hear the same things.” You can even take it a step further by stating upfront what you need from your friends, whether it’s reassurance, agreeance, or help looking forward.

    One way to process your emotions is to write them down. You can even take it a step further by writing an honest letter to your ex, says Kolawole. Include all the things you’re grateful for and the things you’re disappointed about.

    “The letter is an an opportunity to really say goodbye, as well as say all the things you never said or wished you had said,” she says. “Write it as if you won’t be sending it so you can just write freely and take your time. But more importantly, let yourself feel your feelings as you write the letter. Let yourself grieve the relationship and feel sadness, anger, gratitude and whatever else comes up.”

    After you’re done writing you can decide whether sending it is worth it to you — but Kolawole says to remember that the purpose of the letter is to use it for your own grief, not as a last attempt to get something from your ex.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    One of the worst parts of a breakup is feeling like it’s all your fault, says Jessica Zucker, PhD, a psychologist based in Los Angeles. “If we think we [had] a hand in it or that something’s wrong with us, we think we can change it for the next time.” While it’s totally normal to want to find out what happened, this often leads to an endless parade of counterproductive “what-ifs” in your mind.

    The first thing to do is to stop that line of thinking. The story of your relationship is over, so you can’t rewrite it. Instead, try to focus on the fact that you will grow from this experience. Just because it’s over for your relationship doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. “Grief does shape us in big ways," says Lodro Rinzler, a meditation instructor and author of the the new book Love Hurts: Buddhist Advice for the Heartbroken.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    As cheesy and obnoxious as they may seem as inspirational quotes, mantras really do work, because they are a quick way to keep your mind focused on moving forward, rather than spiraling into anxious thoughts.

    “My favorite mantra is ‘feelings are not facts,’" says Dr. Zucker. Repeat it whenever you find yourself in a spot where it’s easy to drift into negative thought territory and spiral out of control — like when you’re trying to sleep or are commuting and have nothing else to focus on. “Turn back into you, and say, okay, I’m feeling scared and insecure, and then try to remind yourself that feelings are not facts,” Dr. Zucker says.

    Other mantras you might try: “I love her, but I love myself more” or “No relationship is a waste of time.” As time goes on, and you get closer to a place of acceptance, the mantra that you find most helpful may change.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    When you’re dealing with the loss of an important relationship, there is a variety of competing emotions you might be feeling: shock, sadness, anger, fear, and more. All of these are not only totally normal, they’re also necessary for healing. The problem: “We live in a culture where we don’t really want to feel, we just want to make it better,” Dr. Zucker says.

    Instead of looking for answers to your emotions, Dr. Zucker suggests really leaning into them. This could mean blocking off time for devoted introspection (and let’s face it, lots of crying) or simply giving yourself permission in the moment to feel however it is that you feel.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    While it’s good to spend as much time as you need working through your emotions, it’s also wise to take a break from them. “We don’t need to feel all the time because we [can end up] paralyzed by emotion,” Dr. Zucker says.

    You can also use distraction as a salve, according to Dr. Brown. Oxytocin, also known as the feel-good "cuddle hormone," can be released when you feel close to someone, even if that someone isn't a romantic partner. Likewise, new experiences can be key. “Learn a new language, exercise a lot if you don’t already,” she says. “Go out and do new things. Hug friends. You need a jolt of oxytocin from someone else.”

    All this said, you want to be focused on sources of distraction that aren't bad for your mind and body in the long run, Zucker says. “If it’s getting wasted every night and acting out, that’s just a temporary distraction that’s ultimately self destructive.”

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    One way to dig deeper into your feelings is to work on making peace with your former partner (at least in your mind.) This can be helpful, because one of the things you have to do after a breakup is rebuild your identity without that person. Working through your feelings towards him or her can help you do that, says Rinzler.

    He suggests an exercise he calls Just Like Me. You can do this as a simple thought exercise or you can write it down.

    “You begin by bringing an image of this person and sitting without judgment for 30 seconds, if possible,” he says. “Then, list positive things that this person desires and add these words at the end: ‘Just like me.’” For example, James wants to feel desired...just like me. James longs for security...just like me.

    Once you get to the end of the “positives,” you can feel free to move into the messier areas: James was arrogant...just like me. James slept with someone he shouldn’t have...just like me.

    Throughout the exercise, these statements will probably bring up a lot of emotions, but instead of pushing them aside or arguing with yourself about who’s to blame, sit with them.

    In most relationships, both parties have made a fair share of mistakes. This is a way to help you come to terms with that, Rinzler says. “Then [you] can drop the contemplation and rest with whatever feelings have emerged from the exercise. It doesn’t negate that this person betrayed you, but ideally you move toward some form of understanding.”

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    After you've had enough of seeing your ex's side, remember to breathe. Meditation can be both a healthy distraction and a way to help you work through your feelings. “We fill the extra space with sex, booze, online shopping, overeating, Netflix bingeing, but at some point, we say, ‘oh, none of this is helping,” Rinzler says. “Meditation is a tool for us to just rest with what’s going on and it might be peaceful and joyful.” The technique comes down to a basic form of resting with the breath, he says, by taking three deep breaths through the nose and out through the mouth, which will calm down your nervous system.

    Our 30-day meditation challenge can you get into the groove.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    When you’re feeling rejected by someone you love, the pain you feel is literal, not figurative. In fact, studies have shown that the same area of the brain that is involved in the distress of physical pain — the insular cortex — is activated in response to social rejection, says Lucy Brown, PhD, a clinical professor of neuroscience at Yeshiva University whose research focuses on romantic love and the brain. While she confirms that time (ugh, yes) is one of the only ways to end your heartache, she adds that in the meantime, the common over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (sold as Tylenol) might help you feel a little better.

    In fact, for a 2015 study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers recruited 80 volunteers and separated them into two groups. Half of them got a placebo pill while the other half got a dose of acetaminophen. After waiting for the drugs to kick in, the researchers then showed the participants various images — some distressing and some not — and had them rate how the images made them feel. In the end, those who got a dose of the drug had much less intense reactions to photos that would normally elicit an extreme reaction, leading researchers to conclude that the drug has a “general blunting effect” on emotions.

    Another 2013 study reported that people taking acetaminophen daily for three weeks were less affected by the pain of social rejection.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    Exercise is just as medicinal for your “broken heart” as it is for your actual heart, because working up a sweat triggers the release of endogenous opiates — also known as endorphins — which are literally your body’s built-in painkillers. In addition to generally boosting your mood, endorphins help you feel better by soothing the pain response, Dr. Brown says.

    Going for a run, hitting up a SoulCycle class, or simply going for a walk can be helpful — just choose an activity you like doing. If an actual workout seems like too much, a few gentle stretches or restorative yoga poses are a great place to start, says New York-based life coach and yoga teacher Lauren Taus.

    One pose that can really help is supta baddha konasana (or reclined bound angle pose), Taus says. Start by laying face-up on the floor or on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and allow them to splay out to each side with the bottoms of your feet touching one another. Let your arms spread out to each side. (You can also use a cushion or bolster under your back if you’d like to feel more supported.)

    Another idea: “Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of insulation and lie back, placing another blanket over the pelvis to create a feeling of insulation,” Taus says. “This pose can leave us feeling exposed and vulnerable, but encourages openness in a safe, supported way.”

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    Another pose that never fails to relax you and release tension: Savasana or Corpse pose. To do it, all you have to do is lay down on the floor on your back, close your eyes, and breathe. Taus recommends either Savasana with a rolled blanket or bolster under your thigh bones to drop deeper into your pelvis with your arms by your side, palms facing down. “Your chin should be perpendicular to the floor, and your throat should feel open and tension free,” Taus says.

    Another version is Side-Lying Savasana, a twist that will feel really nice because it allows more space in your rib cage and stomach. Lay on your left side with your feet at a wall and your back against a bolster or cushion. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and support your right knee and shin with a bolster or folded blankets so that the right leg is as high as the right hip. Use a pillow or another folded blanket to support your head so you have a straight spine. Rest here for two to five minutes before moving into the twist.

    Roll your torso to the right over the bolster, keeping your right arm fully supported. You should not feel a stretch, but rather as though your chest is open and your breath is fluid. Stay for another two to five minutes.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    Another yoga pose you can try is the Supported Child’s Pose, Taus says. Place two yoga blocks underneath two ends of a pillow. Then kneel on the floor, sitting on your heels. Exhale as you lower your chest down to your pillow. “Slide your arms underneath the gap between the pillow and the floor, bringing each hand toward the opposite elbow,” Taus says. Then turn your head to one side, alternating sides halfway through the pose.

    Illustrated by: Ivy Liu.

    Part of what makes heartbreak so unbearable is that it feels like it will never end, which just causes more anxiety. It’s worth repeating: the pain will end, and it will probably be over sooner than you think. One study, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, suggests that for most people, it takes just three months.

    For the study, the researchers recruited 155 undergraduate students who had been through a breakup within the previous six months. Via interviews, the researchers found that 71% of study participants were able to begin to see their lost relationship in a positive light after 11 weeks. They also were more likely to agree with positive statements such as, “I have learned a lot about myself,” and, “I have grown as a person,” when asked about their breakup.

    The lesson: you’ll get there.

    Illustrated by Aimee Sy

    If you haven't read this monumental self-help book before, after a breakup is the perfect time because it focuses on living in the moment, not ruminating in the past. It's infused with wisdom about how to look at yourself with love and compassion, which is so important when you're reeling from a breakup.

    "Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. Exclusivity is not the love of God but the 'love' of ego. However, the intensity with which true love is felt can vary. There may be one person who reflects your love back to you more clearly and more intensely than others, and if that person feels the same toward you, it can be said that you are in a love relationship with him or her." – The Power Of Now

    You might not be ready to consider sex with a new partner, but when you are, this book is filled with smart advice about reclaiming your sexuality and asking for what you want in bed. A lot of the information is based in psychology, so if you're not into heady self-help books, this might seem more accessible.

    "Emotions are tunnels. You have to go all the way through the darkness to get to the light at the end." – Come As You Are

    This heartbreaking novel about four friends living and falling in love in New York City will gut you, but leave you feeling hopeful for the future after loss. It's long, but worth it if you're ready to lean in to your emotions.

    "...things get broken, and sometimes they get repaired, and in most cases, you realize that no matter what gets damaged, life rearranges itself to compensate for your loss, sometimes wonderfully." – A Little Life

    Practicing self-care is a crucial step in recovering from a breakup. This book of poems by Rupi Kaur is full of carefully-worded, sage advice that will help you remember who you are, and why you're worthy of love. You're going to want to Instagram every page of it.

    "i am a museum full of art
    but you had your eyes shut" – Milk and Honey

    This book is a compilation of advice columns from Cheryl Strayed, and chances are one of them has exactly what you need to hear.

    "You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else." – Tiny Beautiful Things

    It's hard to believe that this book of poems about loss and longing was written way back in 1924, because so much of the advice and observations could be applied to right now. Some of the poems are a bit heavy, so wait until you're really ready to reckon with your feelings before you dig in.

    "I am no longer in love with her, that's certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long." – Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

    You might roll your eyes at Nicholas Sparks, but sometimes you need a hokey, melodramatic love story to remind you that there's hope in the world. This one is heavy on the sap, and of course has an iconic film adaptation that's worth checking out as well.

    "There are moments when I wish I could roll back the clock and take all the sadness away, but I have the feeling that if I did, the joy would be gone as well." – A Walk To Remember

    If you need an introspective, not overly cheesy, novel about dating as a young adult in New York City, curl up with this one. It's a little cynical, but sometimes breakups can do that to you.

    "Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You're sizing people up to see if they're worth your time and attention, and they're doing the same to you. It's meritocracy applied to personal life, but there's no accountability." - The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

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    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    You know those people who, no matter what they do, just smell impeccable? They could be coming out of a SoulCycle class, yet smell like they just took a bath in a tub full of roses. Well, it's not just luck of the draw: There's a formula to this good (-smelling) fortune.

    While regular showers do play a part, those with aromas that cause double-takes (the good kind) don't go about life like the rest of us. They know where to spritz and how to make their scents last longer, they take their time picking out fragrances, and they think about what they put in their bodies, not just on them.

    Ahead, fragrance-industry insiders come clean about the secrets to smelling your best — now, you'll be the one turning heads with your scent trail.

    As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. And, apparently, you also emit what you eat (and drink). Julia Zangrilli, perfumer and founder of custom-fragrance company Nova, says that if you want to smell good, it's important to be thoughtful about what you put in your body.

    "A diet full of spice, onions, and garlic is good for you, but, boy, does it come out through your pores," she says. "Those three things can come through your skin and breath for up to 48 hours, depending [on] how crazy you went."

    Lurk natural fragrances founder Anne Sanford adds red meat to the list. She notes that food affects not only your own natural body odor, but also how perfume reacts with and develops on your skin. "Eating well — lots of fresh food, including fruits and vegetables and clean protein — really keeps the body fresh and running smoothly, thus providing the perfect substrate for fragrance," she says.

    She adds that alcohol can have an adverse effect on body odor. Ta-ta happy hour, hello green juice. "As our bodies process alcohol, the byproduct is sugar and that is processed through our pores," explains Sanford. "The result can be a sickly, sweet odor that is not pretty."

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    The main component of smelling good is — surprise — the fragrance. Finding the perfect one is hard work, but it's a job you should put some effort into because it'll make a world of difference. "Take some time to seek out scents that click — it's so game-changing, because wearing something that makes you feel on-point will bring serious pleasure to your everyday life," says Zangrilli.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    You’d be surprised by how many brands and stores offer samplers of popular scents. Sephora frequently refreshes its selection of "fragrance discovery" sets to include the latest and greatest in perfume, like this seven-scent sampler. (Try saying that three times fast.) Plus, you can redeem the included "scent certificate" for a full travel-size bottle or rollerball of your choice at no extra cost.



    Sephora Favorites Perfume Travel Sampler, $25, available at Sephora

    It may seem like a no-brainer, but basic clothing maintenance (i.e., regular washing) makes a major difference in the odors you emit. Your usual Tide, All, and Arm & Hammer all work in the cleansing department, but if you're feeling super-fancy, Zangrilli loves specialty detergents from The Laundress and Le Labo, which will leave your wardrobe — and you — smelling extra fresh.

    "So many detergents and fabric-softeners these days are actually mimicking what’s happening in the fine-fragrance market," notes Linda Song, perfumer at Givaudan. "[There are] even...some brands [with] higher-end fragrances that are doing laundry detergents or any of the ancillary-type products."

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    What’s more luxurious — and better-smelling — than a nontoxic, allergen-free laundry detergent that borrows its scent from a beloved boutique fragrance?

    The Laundress Le Labo Santal 33 Signature Detergent, $45, available at The Laundress.

    If $45 is a little more than you usually like to spend on something you use to wash your clothes (totally understandable), the brand responsible for your favorite aromatherapeutic hand soap also offers a full range of laundry supplies in the same familiar scents.

    Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lemon Verbena Laundry Set, $29.99, available at Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day.

    Song points out that when most people go shopping for clothes, they don't just look at a shirt, hold it up to their chest, and buy it. You have to try it on, and the same goes for fragrances. They smell differently on each person, so don't just take a whiff from a store blotter and call it a day; actually spray it on yourself. Also, keep in mind that smell will change throughout the day. The best way to know if you love a fragrance, if you have the patience, is to take a sample home, wear it for a bit, and then decide.

    "We always say that fragrances have their own life...because they have a life on the skin," says Song. "When people live with [them], they start to see what that life is really like and whether they want to live with [them]. It is a relationship...sometimes you really start to fall in love with it over time... but it’s not always going to be love at first sight.”

    Or, in this case, love at first sniff.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Glossier's You perfume is the perfect example of a fragrance that was designed to be unique to each wearer. The brand calls it more of a “skin smell enhancer” with a creamy, warm, clean base scent. It’s a simple equation with relatively few notes, honed over 38 weeks by some of the best noses in the business (Weiss worked with the team behind Le Labo Santal 33). Each note was chosen and balanced to allow the fragrance to be both long-lasting and true to how it smells at the beginning, without changing as it dries down.



    Glossier Glossier You, $60, available at Glossier

    Speaking of drinks, water should become your best friend. Staying hydrated is great not just for your overall health, but for keeping your skin moisturized, which helps scents stick around longer by giving them something to adhere to.

    "Staying well-hydrated is key, especially with natural fragrances that don’t contain synthetic fixatives," says Sanford. "When our skin gets dry, it tends to absorb and dissipate perfume much more quickly."

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Tip: Trade in your standard water bottle for one with a built-in infuser — adding some fruit flavor will make getting your recommended daily intake that much more exciting.

    Infusion Pro Premium Fruit Infused Water Bottle, $18.95, available at Amazon.

    People often don't realize that where you spritz fragrance on your body can make all the difference. "Fragrance rises from the bottom to the top, so if you spray at all your chakra points — ankle, behind the knees, pubic-hair area, chest, and behind your ears — you get the full benefit from a fragrance," says Aedes de Venustas co-owner Karl Bradl.

    Sanford echoes that you should spray specifically, and go beyond the wrists. She applies scents to "hot spots," or areas that are the warmest, like the small of the back, the stomach, the back of the neck, and the ankles.

    Sounds like a lot of perfume, right? In order not to overwhelm, Bradl sprays his fragrance about half an hour before he leaves the house and always at least one foot away from the body. This allows the scent to settle in, and not suffocate the person sitting next to you on the subway.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Nowadays perfumes, colognes, and fragrances of every and any type don't solely come in cute spray bottles — they're also available in the form of body lotions, shower gels, soap, and more. Most of the experts we spoke with like to layer these different iterations to build on the fragrance, which will leave you with a double-whammy, and sometimes triple-whammy, effect.

    Sanford suggests going for a scented body oil instead of your regular body cream, though. "Traditional body lotions can contain synthetic and chemical additives, as well as preservatives that can break down natural fragrances," she says.

    You can layer said body oil with a perfume that has the same scent or, if you're up for experimenting, try layering different scents. Zangrilli notes that adding a musk helps to prolong the wear. "The key is that musks are generally subtle enough that they don't conflict with many fragrances," she says. "As a bonus, musks lend a pheromonal effect, making any fragrances they're being layered with seem a bit more grounded, sexy, and worn-in — like hair that hasn't been washed for a few days."

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    This nourishing body oil leaves skin soft and silky with a faint, unobtrusive note of almond — perfect for improving lasting power without overpowering your fragrance of choice.

    L’Occitane Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Supple Skin Oil, $46, available at Sephora.

    The classic “love potion” pairs well with just about everything, and adds a new depth to any scent you layer over it.

    Kiehl’s Musk Essence Oil, $35, available at Kiehl’s.

    There are a few other tricks for making your scent last longer. Bradl says many of his customers spray Molecule 01 as a base. It's a fragrance made of one single ingredient, Iso E Super — "an aroma chemical" that is often found in colognes. It has an almost pheromone-like quality that, when it's worn on its own, mixes with a person's skin to create an individualized aroma. But when it's worn with other perfume, Bradl has found that it makes it last longer without interfering with the scent.

    Another great (and cheaper) tip to make fragrance last longer: Rub on a little vitamin E before you spritz your scent onto the skin (this especially helps with citrus notes), says Zangrilli.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Vitamin E oil has countless uses — making fragrance last longer is just one of them.

    Spring Valley Vitamin E Skin Oil, $6.88, available at Walmart.

    If long-lasting is your goal, know that not all scents are created equal. "Citrus-based scents and eau de colognes will dissipate quickly, so go for perfumes that are more concentrated and have heavier or more viscous base notes such as sandalwood (or other woods), oud, vanilla, tobacco, etc.," says Sanford.

    Regardless of your long-wearing efforts or choice of perfume, most of our experts say that simply reapplying fragrance throughout the day is your best bet. Zangrilli tells us: "Skin is a living, breathing, sweating, shedding, oil-replenishing organ, so it doesn't hold on to scent for as long."

    She says to apply one to three times per day, depending on the fragrance. And don't worry about carrying around your heavy glass bottles with you; that's what travel sizes and samples are for. Stick one in your purse, on your desk, or in your car for some refreshing throughout the day — just be sure not to overdo it (not everyone appreciates an office fragrance).

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    If your fragrance of choice isn’t available in a travel size, or if you’re just in search of a thriftier way to take it on-the-go, then this ridiculously easy DIY is going to be a game changer. Just decant your perfume into an empty roll-on bottle — you can usually find them for under $1. These ones, for example, look expensive, but you get a dozen for $18.

    Scentsational Shoppe 1/3 oz Deluxe Round Glass Roll-on Bottle with Heavy Base, $18 for 12, available at Scentsational Shoppe.

    Decant your favorite fragrances into this refillable atomizer. It stores 5ml of perfume and fits conveniently into any purse or clutch.

    Phlur The Wanderer, $28, available at Phlur.

    Smelling good goes way beyond just spraying your body — it's a way of life, people. A lot of our experts recommend spreading the love to your apartment, clothes (like, say, adding a couple of spritzes to your jacket in the colder months in-between dry-cleaning), and even hair.

    "I'll actually spray my sheets, or even my couch, if I want my apartment to smell a certain way — using it more like a Febreze than anything else," says Song. Of course, fragrances aren't cheap, so Song likes to pick up room sprays to do the job. "And that’s maybe in complement to a candle or to a diffuser, or even plug-ins," she says. "There are so many different ways to add a quick burst of freshness — or whatever that fragrance is — to something that has a continuous diffusion."

    Since a lot of perfumes contain alcohol, spraying your hair may not be the safest thing to do, especially if you have dry tresses. Worry not: Sanford has a workaround. "I love to create scented sprays for hair using my favorite essential oils," she says. "The oils can be mixed in a spray bottle with water, and used for a few days to freshen and fragrance our hair... [T]he essential oils really adhere well to hair, giving them longevity."

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    The moisturizing oils in this formula actually benefit hair rather than drying it out, so you get a veil of fragrance and a little extra shine.

    Tocca Hair Fragrance in Cleopatra, $28, available at Tocca.

    On the home fragrance side, it doesn’t get much more luxe than one of Byredo’s highly-coveted scents in room-spray form. You’ll probably want to spritz judiciously given the price tag — but considering how rich and long-lasting the fragrance is, that’s all you’ll really need anyway. (Plus, unlike bougie candles, it’s not a potential fire hazard.)

    Byredo Bibliothèque Room Spray, $120, available at Byredo.

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    Aging gracefully is the goal of hopeful, optimistic millennials everywhere, isn’t it? We’d like to look healthy, and damn good, as the decades go by. Well, as professionals (and capitalism!) tell us, the key to a beautiful complexion is daily care and smart prevention.

    We get it: You already knew that! But, don't you get confused about how exactly you should be “preventing” things? (Is Botox preventative?) How can we weave new products into our routines without prompting an onslaught of clogged pores and acne? And, more importantly, at what point do we need to get Olivia Pope levels of serious about fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation?

    To answer these very important questions (and help phase you into real adulthood), we consulted prominent dermatologists and aestheticians. Here, they take us through the early, middle, and late chapters of our 20s, and then give us a sneak peek at our 30s. But, before you start clicking, we want you to note: At no point is it too late to start taking good care of your skin.

    The Early 20s
    Adulthood is just beginning for you, children of the future! Unfortunately, while life speeds up, your body does the opposite. “Skin-repair replacement mechanisms begin to slow by age 20,” says celebrity dermatologist Harold Lancer, MD. “In women, there are hormonal shifts — estrogen declines, and testosterone increases.” This might come as a surprise for someone who’s just beginning to enjoy the best skin of their lives: “Your skin, right now, looks like it's in its prime,” says Caroline Hirons, a London-based aesthetician. “But, what you do right now will determine how it looks later on.”

    So, your early 20s are kind of like facial bootcamp: It's the time to build up the proper discipline and habits that will help you age gracefully — without going totally overboard and causing your face to become a red, irritated mess.



    Ren Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk, $28, available at NordstromPhoto: Via Ren.

    Swap the Acne Wash
    “Americans treat their skin like it’s the enemy," says Hirons. "It’s not! Get rid of any foaming acne cleansers, because they’re too stripping.” Unless you’re under specific instructions from your derm to use a medicated daily wash, choose a gentler alternative. “A cleansing milk or oil will balance the complexion and remove the day’s grime,” she says.



    Tatcha TATCHA 1-Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $62.99, available at Amazon

    Pick Up A Cleansing Oil
    And, of course, washing twice daily is absolutely necessary. “I always tell my clients that cleansing before bed is non-negotiable. Now is the time to be responsible,” says celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas. And don’t try to be sneaky after you’ve had a few too many cocktails at happy hour: “Cleansing wipes absolutely don’t count as washing your face!” Hirons says.

    Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil, $28, available at Sephora.

    A cleansing balm is another excellent choice. Many formulas, like this one, are loaded with oils that dissolve makeup in a matter of seconds. Unlike cleansing oils, balms are solid at room temperature, making them a great mess-free options for travel.

    Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, $29, available at Clinique.

    Start Exfoliating Three Times a Week
    “You have to stimulate your skin in order for it to repair itself,” explains Dr. Lancer. “It’s just like exercise — you have to get the muscles burning in order to promote cardiovascular muscular growth. Make sure to use a scrub at night, so your skin has time to recover.” Since you’re still young and beautiful (as Lana Del Rey sings), you’ll want something gentle with just the right amount of grit: You don't want to rub your face raw. This product should do the trick.

    Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub, $37, available at Ulta Beauty.

    Photo: Dermalogica

    Swap Your Toner
    That’s right: It doesn’t always have to sting! “I always recommend my younger clients stay away from astringent toning products [in favor of] something more balancing,” Vargas says. “Rose is incredibly hydrating and good for circulation — it works on any skin type.”



    Eminence Organics Rosehip Tonique, $38, available at Buy Natural SkincarePhoto: Via Éminence.

    Start Using an Eye Cream
    “The skin around the eyes is very thin and gentle, which means signs of aging are likely to start there,” says Vargas. You should apply a basic, hydrating eye cream both day and night to keep fine lines at bay. Just pat it in with your ring finger, and make sure you leave time for it to sink into the skin.

    Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream, $26.50, available at Sephora.

    Get Diligent About SPF
    The biggest no-brainer, though, is starting to use SPF, ASAP. “Daily sun protection will go a very long way in terms of preventing the signs of aging,” Hirons says. Dr. Lancer notes: “You should be using [SPF] 15 to 30, because much more than that is [just] marketing. Just make sure to apply it liberally — that’s the one mistake a lot of my patients make with sunscreens." We love this all-natural wonder from Canada.



    Consonant The Perfect Sunscreen, $45, available at ConsonantPhoto: Via Consonant.

    Get to Know Antioxidants
    “There’s a huge lifestyle component to skin care,” says Dr. Lancer. "At this age, you’re wolfing down your lunch, going to parties, imbibing too much alcohol, and being surrounded by tobacco products. That’s why antioxidants are key.” You can only counteract the damage done by living la vida Lohan with the proper cocktail of ingredients, which helps ward off environmental stressors. This daily cream does the trick without being too heavy.

    When you’re applying it, says Hirons, be sure to save some for the neck and décolletage. “Americans are the only people who think the face stops at the chin,” she says. Save yourself from a future of turtlenecks by spreading the love.

    Try a Facial Oil
    Oils are the true gold standard of skin care, mostly because they contain potent ingredients and optimum moisturizing properties. “The right oil can also help mend acne scars and breakouts,” Hirons says. Sunday Riley’s blends might put a dent in your savings account, but you can practically feel them transforming your skin as you smooth them on. (Or maybe it’s just the placebo effect that comes with applying something so rich and lovely — it works either way.)

    Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil, $90, available at Dermstore.

    Or Try...

    This blend of brown algae extract, camellia seed oil, and botanical extracts promises to give you a glow.

    Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil, $68, available at Sephora.

    The vitamin C and marula oil in this formula will keep your complexion bright and fresh.

    Nyakio Marula & Neroli Brightening Oil, $42, available at Ulta.

    Get to Know Glycolic Acid
    Renowned for both its resurfacing and purifying properties, glycolic acid helps regenerate the skin and treat pesky acne and blackheads. “It will also help with pore size and improve overall skin texture,” Vargas says. The best part? It comes from all sorts of delightful, naturally-sourced ingredients, so you can feel good about using it. (Yup, raspberries can help you battle wrinkles!) Start by using this product only on the nights you exfoliate, and then build your way up to once a night. You'll wake up with a glowing, polished visage.

    Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, $90, available at Sephora.

    The Mid-20s
    Okay, so you’ve built the foundation for good skin. Congratulations! Now, it’s time to start getting a little more serious. Twenty-five is, in the beauty world, a tipping point: “By age 25, the skin has decelerated its repair mechanisms, and that affects your entire body,” says Dr. Lancer. This is also when you can accurately evaluate what damage has been caused — and, with the help of a dermatologist, plan how to treat it. “Everybody should be seeing a board-certified dermatologist at least once a year by this point in their life,” says Vargas. Together, you and your derm can discuss concerns like hyperpigmentation or hormonal acne. At the quarter-century mark, you should allow for splurges now and then, which means one thing: “Monthly facials are essential for detoxing the pores and doing a mini-peel,” Vargas says. “You should also look for a service that provides oxygen for the skin, which promotes healing.” And, this is just the beginning.

    Keep Your Cleanser, But Upgrade Your Scrub
    “The ‘no pain, no gain’ rule also applies to skin,” insists Dr. Lancer, whose Polish exfoliant is beloved by Victoria Beckham. “By your mid-20s, your skin is more like a couch potato: It has potential, but it’s lazy. This will help get it up and running." Try using this three times a week before bed in order to super-charge the rest of your routine. (There’s a formula for blemish-prone skin, too.)

    As for the rest of your regimen? Make sure to maintain the nightly double-cleansing, the daily SPF, the eye cream, your oil, and your antioxidant moisturizer.



    Lancer Skincare The Method Polish Exfoliator, $75, available at NordstromPhoto: Via Lancer.

    Upgrade Your Serum
    If you've ever wondered what the difference is between moisturizer and serum — or if there is one at all — here's your answer. “Moisturizer is for skin type, but serum is for skin condition,” explains Hirons. That means it's time to target whatever's given you complexion trouble with pumped-up ingredients, both in the morning and at night. Her recommendation? “Alpha-hydroxy acids will help to dry up hormonal breakouts and lightly exfoliate."

    Kypris Clearing Serum, $67, available at Kypris.

    “Antioxidants, like vitamin C, will help to protect and brighten spots and acne scars," Hirons adds. We love Eminence Organics Citrus Kale Potent C+E Serum for brightening and helping to strengthen skin. Not stressing over anything in particular? Keep clicking.

    Éminence Organics Citrus Kale Potent C+E Serum, $110, available at Dermstore.

    Even if fading dark spots and fending off acne aren’t at the top of your to-do list, you’re still not off the hook. Skipping serum means missing out on a great opportunity to infuse your skin with potent active ingredients, like damage-repairing antioxidants, collagen-boosting vitamin C, and radiance-enhancing vitamin E in this does-it-all formulation.

    Caudalie Vine[Activ] Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum, $52, available at Sephora.

    This radiance-boosting cocktail of antioxidants and hyaluronic acid will perk up a stress, tired complexion (so... everyone's) in a pinch.

    Joanna Vargas Skincare Daily Serum, $85, available at Nordstrom.

    This vitamin C-packed serum gives such a good glow, you don't even need highlighter.

    DermHA* Acne Skin Brightening Serum, $48, available at dermHA*.

    Update Your Toner
    You let go of the alcohol-based acne toners for a few years, but now you need to get serious. “Acid toning is essential, because it gives you a gentle, mild exfoliation,” Hirons says. This product, known among beauty junkies simply as “P50,” is what Hirons calls “the Rolls-Royce of toners.” She says to use it nightly, but we suggest easing into it: For the first few times, it tingles and stings, and might leave you a little pink. (It gets better — promise!) The reason? It has a high AHA content, which regulates oil production and maintains the skin’s pH level for a balanced, even complexion.



    Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970, $57, available at Rescue SpaPhoto: Via Biologique Recherche.

    Update Your Masks
    Now’s the time to invest in an anti-aging treatment. But, is there one that can also help with pimples, just in case? “I’m a huge fan of lactic acid because it lightly exfoliates, but also minimizes the pores,” Vargas says. Her Exfoliating Mask (shown here) is a soon-to-be cult beauty product, beloved by her celebrity clients (and this writer). “It’s gentle enough that you can put it under your eyes for a quick pick-me-up,” she says. “Or, you can sleep with it on blemishes to treat them overnight.”

    Photo: Via Joanna Vargas.

    Add Night Cream
    The days of one moisturizer are over: You have officially joined the legions of women who use night cream. “Sleep is an important time for the skin,” Vargas says. This is especially true if you’re using products like Polish and P50 — you'll need a healthy dose of moisture before bed when active ingredients are at play. “You can use just your facial oil, or you can put on a night cream and then an oil, depending on your skin type,” Hirons suggests. “But, start with something light, and avoid anything with shea butter — this one is gentle enough for daily use.”



    Kate Somerville Nourish Daily Moisturizer, $20, available at Kate SomervillePhoto: Via Kate Somerville.

    This overnight mask tightens skin as you sleep and drenches it with moisture, so you'll wake up looking a little more contoured than usual, and feeling a whole lot softer.

    Fresh Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, $92, available at Sephora.

    The Late 20s
    “By 29, you really need to get serious about stuff,” says Vargas. “Your skin goes through a complete transformation between the ages of 22 and 29. Your body’s ability to produce new skin cells slows down completely.” Look at your late 20s as an opportunity to really crack the whip on your complexion before the big 3-0: You can start using retinol, embrace plumping products, and learn how to protect your skin barrier in a major way. All of this hard work will hopefully delay the need for more serious things, like Retin-A and chemical peels, until they’re absolutely necessary. You should, however, see a facialist once a month for a peel and an LED light treatment, which will help maintain your skin's texture.

    Update Your Cleanser (Again), Exfoliate Daily
    We know: It’s the millionth time you’ll have done this in a decade, but a cleansing balm is totally worth it. “They destroy makeup without being stripping, and they still leave the skin feeling soft and supple,” Hirons says. She loves this one for an ultra-nourishing feel. But, if you're combination, you might prefer Nude's Cleansing Jelly, which is safe for eyes and face.

    Unless you have sensitive skin, you should also try exfoliating every night. But, choose a cleanser-scrub hybrid, and save the Polish for the days in-between. Try Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser.



    Sarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse, $75, available at Bloomingdale'sPhoto: Via Sarah Chapman.

    Tone More, Hydrate Smarter
    Chances are, you’ve already interacted with hyaluronic acid during your skin journey. But, now it’s time to start using it regularly. The ingredient is well-known for its instant plumping effects. “It basically supercharges your moisturizer,” Hirons says. This is particularly important because you should, by now, be using acid toner both day and night to help regenerate your skin. “The hyaluronic acid will supercharge your moisturizer, protecting the skin’s barrier,” Hirons says. (It also makes applying makeup a total dream.)



    Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Booster, $36.99, available at AmazonPhoto: Via Indeed Labs.

    Start Using Retinol, Keep Your Serum
    “The king of all antioxidants is vitamin A, which is where prescription Retin-A comes from,” says Dr. Lancer. “It’s critically important, because products with retinoid acid reorganize the process known as keratinization, or the way the skin repairs and replaces itself.” But, as Vargas cautions, it can cause irritation among more sensitive types. So, try using this a few times a week before bed, and absolutely do not forget SPF the morning after. This is more of a precautionary method: Hirons says retinol isn’t really necessary until after age 30, but it can’t hurt to start a mild version (like this one) before then. To complement it, stick to your regular daily serum.



    Arcona Vitamin A Complex, $68, available at ArconaPhoto: Via Arcona.

    The Ordinary's retinol-packed formula fights early signs of early aging with less irritation. Plus, check out the price tag.

    The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid, $10.50, available at Asos.

    Update Your Eye Cream
    It’s also time to get serious about treating eye wrinkles to prevent crow’s feet. “Vitamin C is a massively important antioxidant that gives advanced environmental protection,” Hirons says. Caudalie’s lightweight formula is jam-packed with the stuff — plus, it's gentle enough to use day and night.



    Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream, $49, available at CaudaliePhoto: Via Caudalie.

    If you're tired of waking up to puffy eyes and dark circles, dab on a bit of this eye cream every night so your under-eyes look well-rested and bright.

    RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Eye Cream, $15.79, available at Target.

    Update Your Face Oil
    If your blackheads and acne are finally calming down, it’s wise to start experimenting with a different facial oil for twice-daily use. “Put it on over your night cream if you're dry,” Hirons suggests. This Rodin product is a rich — and fragrant — blend of 11 essential oils. (Bonus tip: Smooth one drop over your complexion before applying foundation, and you'll glow like a lightbulb.)

    Rodin Jasmine Neroli Face Oil, $170, available at Rodin.

    Photo: Via Rodin.

    Update Your Night Cream
    This liquid acts immediately, forming a cushion that protects the skin barrier from water loss. It'll serve as the ultimate soothing tool on your retinol days.

    Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid, $39, available at Birchbox.

    Photo: Via Ceramidin.

    If Urban Skin Rx's name looks familiar, it's because you've likely seen it on the Instagram accounts of Teyana Taylor, Fantasia, and more. The brand was founded by licensed aesthetician Rachel Roff and uses plenty of ingredients like kojic and azelaic acids, which help with hyperpigmentation. "When we get samples, my staffers of all ethnicities try the products," she tells us. "That’s how we see what works and what doesn’t work, rather than participating in some 50 patient case study [of predominantly white women]."

    Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Night Treatment, $68, available at Urban Skin Rx.

    The Early 30s
    You’ve made it. “By the time you’ve reached 30, your routine should really switch over to all anti-aging products,” Hirons says. “In this decade, things just slow down. I like to tell people that your body goes on a little holiday and then comes back! You laugh now, but by your 40s, it goes away — and you wonder if it’s ever returning!”

    But, a whole lot of this is skin sensationalism: Being 30 means your skin is still at its prime, especially if you’ve been vigilant about daily SPF and proper cleansing. Still, it’s time to consult your dermatologist about facials — or possibly even twice-yearly acid-based peeling. (Only if necessary!) “If hyperpigmentation is a concern, you may want to look into light-resurfacing procedures with low-energy lasers twice to three times a year,” Dr. Lancer suggests.

    If your skin’s in tip-top shape, all you need are a couple of upgrades to what you’re already doing. But, the pros caution, you should reconsider other things, like lifestyle choices: Think hard about forsaking cigarettes forever, limiting your alcohol intake, and curbing how much processed sugar you eat. “We look at women in Hollywood who have aged very well, [and] these people don’t have any caffeine or added salt, and their carb intake is low," Dr. Lancer says. "They’re proof that anti-aging really needs a multi-pronged approach."

    Upgrade Your Retinol
    This is a good age to start using Vitamin A daily, and you’ll want a more intense formula to get your glow going. “You should be using a product that contains 1% retinol,” Dr. Lancer says. “Anything more than that can be found in prescription Retin-A, which is more of a corrective treatment than a preventative one.” Use it before your bedtime moisturizer, so your skin has time to heal itself in case redness occurs. Consider daily polishing, too — morning and night, if your complexion can handle it.



    SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0, $63, available at SkinCeuticalsPhoto: Via Skinceuticals.

    Invest In a Serum
    Unfortunately, the more advanced skin care becomes, the more it costs. And, since serums deliver all the good stuff in the most essential, concentrated method, you might want to start considering formulas that are priced beyond what you’re used to spending. It boils down to this: If you splurge on one thing in your routine, let it be serum. Tata Harper’s range is spectacular, because it targets different concerns (lifting and firming, plumping, brightening) in formulas that are lightweight enough to use daily — even if you still get the occasional breakout. You should, however, still keep your hyaluronic-acid moisturizer and facial oils handy. (And, never forget SPF!)



    Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Serum, $185, available at Tata HarperPhoto: Via Tata Harper.

    Update Your Eye Cream
    Getting religious about eye cream will also go a long way: one for day and one for night is best. AmorePacific’s duo is genius: The day version has SPF, so you’re protecting while hydrating. Meanwhile, the night formula increases turnover and restores collagen.



    AMOREPACIFIC Future Response Age Defense Dual Eye Creme, $150, available at AmorepacificPhoto: Via AmorePacific.

    Update Your Night Cream
    Hirons says to avoid shea butters in your 20s. But, in your 30s: “You want something rich to sleep in.” If you massage a mask into your skin before bedtime, it'll go to work long after the label-suggested 10 minutes, which means you’ll wake up with refreshed and restored skin. Look for treatments labeled “healing,” since your routine now has a plethora of active ingredients at work. To put it simply: Serums and retinol deliver the good stuff, and moisturizer acts as a cushion. (Just consider this the most luxurious cushion ever.)



    Chantecaille Jasmine and Lily Healing Mask, $79, available at NordstromPhoto: Via Chantecaille.

    Invest In A Neck & Décolleté Cream
    At this point, you know the importance of potent creams, serums, and masks, but you likely haven't given much attention to your neck and chest. “Many women in their twenties and thirties are using expensive face creams and coming in regularly for face-focused tweaks, but very few think to take care of their necks before 40,” says Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.

    To keep the thin skin supple and youthful-looking, reach for a treatment targeted to the area and containing ingredients like glycolic acid, calcium, and amino acids.

    Dr. Brandt Do Not Age Firming Neck Cream, $67, available at Sephora.

    Update Your Masks
    Sheet masks are, essentially, thin paper cloths that have been soaked in serum. This one, which is doused in retinol, would be ideal to adapt into your routine on a weekly basis. Try it before bed, massage the excess into your skin and down the décolletage, and follow with a facial oil or your night cream.



    Shiseido Benefiance Pure Retinol Intensive Revitalizing Face Mask, $63, available at NordstromPhoto: Via Shiseido.

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    Photo: Snap Stills/REX/Shutterstock.

    WARNING: So many spoilers ahead! Plot twists unraveled. Endings revealed. Proceed at your own risk.

    March 16 marks the 15th anniversary of the release of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, one of the greatest mindfuck movies of all time. What makes something a quality mindfuck movie? Sometimes, it’s a twist ending that seems to come out of nowhere and truly shocks you, because the reveal means you have to go back and rethink everything that happened during the course of the entire movie.

    Take The Sixth Sense, for example. After you found out that Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) was dead the entire time, you had to recall every scene in which you thought Dr. Crowe interacted with characters besides Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Nope; it turns out he only interacts with Cole after he gets shot in the beginning of the movie. He really has been dead the whole time. M. Night Shyamalan, you trickster, you.

    Other times, a movie fucks with your head from beginning to end. It leads you one way, then swerves sharply to the left. The plot isn't remotely linear, although it appeared to be (ahem, Triangle). Or you can’t even figure out what’s going on at all. Think Christopher Nolan’s Inception, or Shane Carruth's Primer.

    And then there are psychological thrillers like Black Swan and The Machinist, which trap the viewer inside a character’s breakdown without providing a complete picture of what’s happening. In the words of U2, “Now you're stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it.” Also in the words of U2: "Don't say that later will be better," because you'll be obsessing about what happened in that goddamn movie you just watched. (Sidenote: Is Bono a mindfuck movie prophet? Please discuss.)

    But when it comes to this magical mindfuckery that makes you wonder what you just watched for hours on end, why would you ever want to want to get out of these moments?

    And one more reminder that there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD — so major you may as well call them majorettes and stick 'em in front of a marching band twirling batons.

    Predestination(2015)
    Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook
    Directed by: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig
    Written by: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig, Robert A. Heinlein

    You guys, this time-travel movie is so confusing that one very devoted blogger made a chart to decipher the characters' interlocking timelines, and we actually got a headache looking at it. Ethan Hawke technically plays the movie's hero — a temporal agent who's trying to prevent an attack that will kill thousands of people. He runs up against the fact that he can't change the event. Everything he does only contributes to it.

    Ex Machina(2015)
    Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Oscaar Isaac, Alicia Vikander
    Directed By: Alex Garland
    Written By: Alex Garland

    Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) wins the dream trip of every programmer at his search engine company. He's invited to the remote house of the Blue Book's eccentric founder, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Nathan is weird, sure — but also seems relatively friendly. He shows him Blue Book's newest revolutionary technology: Robots that look real. Caleb is supposed to test the robot, Ava, for consciousness. Nathan and Caleb have faith in the fact that they are more dominant than Ava. But Ex Machina goes off the rails when Ava begins to assert her dominance, and potentially outsmart them.

    Arrival(2016)
    Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner
    Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
    Written by: Eric Heisserer

    Arrival begins with the appearance of 12 gigantic spaceships in far-flung locations around the world. After some time, it becomes clear that these spacecrafts aren't bearing weapons — but why are they there? Louise (Amy Adams) is a renowned linguist, and is recruited to try and communicate with these aliens. She leaves behind her lonely life, populated only by the memories of her young daughter's illness and subsequent death. Louise and her partner, played by Renner, make breakthroughs in the intentions of these mysterious, looming creatures, that somehow connect back to Louise's daughter.

    Alias Grace(2017)
    Starring: Sarah Gadon, Edward Holcroft
    Directed By: Mary Herron
    Written By: Sarah Polley

    If you're in the mood for a mind-bending work of pop culture, then Alias Grace is a great slow-burning, long-running option. Over the course of six episodes, Alias Grace brings the notorious double-murder that captivated Canada's attention in 1843 to life. Mainly, the show fixates on the figure of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), who may have orchestrated the crime, or may have been completely innocent, depending on what you think a 16-year-old girl is capable of. Gadon's performance will have you reeling.

    Frailty
    Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey
    Directed by: Bill Paxton
    Written by: Brent Hanley

    Fenton Meeks (Matthew McConaughey) goes to the F.B.I. with a story of two boys look up to their father. They live with him. They trust him. And then, he becomes convinced that he's a messenger of God, a conduit through which his plan will be enacted. Somehow, this story relates to the Bureau's investigation for a serial killer who goes by the name of "God's Hands."

    Gerald's Game(2017)
    Starring: Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood
    Directed by: Mike Flanagan
    Written by: Mike Flanagan

    Gerald and his wife, Jessie, take a romantic retreat to try to inject some life back into their marriage. He convinces her to try out handcuffs. Then, wen she's strapped to the bed, Gerald goes into cardiac arrest...and dies. After hours chained up, Jessie begins to hallucinate. The shadowy man that comes to her bed, though – he is no vision.

    Gone Girl(2014)
    Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
    Directed By: David Fincher
    Written By: Gillian Flynn

    On the surface, Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) have the perfect marriage. But all's not well in the kingdom of Denmark — or, in this case, we should say Carthage, Missouri. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing inexplicably, and leaves Nick as the prime suspect. As with the novel, the film shifts between perspectives of the two people in the marriage. Things are not as they seem in the disappearance or in the marriage.

    Asylum Seekers(2009)
    Starring: Pepper Binkley, Bill Dawes, Judith Hawking
    Directed By: Rania Ajami
    Written By:Rania Ajami, Jake Pilikian

    In this weird little indie, six people try to escape from the mundanity of their daily lives by checking into a mental asylum. The problem? There's only room for one of them. They'll have to compete to prove which is the most mentally unstable, and thus worthy of entering the psychiatric hospital.

    The Illusionist(2006)
    Starring: Ed Norton, Jessica Biel
    Directed by: Neil Burger
    Written by: Neil Burger, Steven Millhauser

    This movie is often lumped with Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, since they're both period piece magician films. But The Illusionist has a twist of its own. Edward Norton plays Eisenheim the Illusionist in Vienna in the year 1889. He was locked in a love triangle with the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary (casual) and a woman named Sophie (Jessica Biel), as he tells the Vienna's Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), who's inspecting Eiseinheim's role in Sophie's death. Uhl thinks he has figured out what happened between Sophie, Leopold, and Eisenheim, but he forgets that he's dealing with an illusionist. There are things Eisenheim will continue to reveal over the course of his retelling, twists that he designed long ago.

    Split(2017)
    Starring: James MacAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy
    Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
    Written by: M. Night Shyamalan

    Kevin (James McAvoy) is a handful to deal with, perhaps because he has 23 personalities. He kidnaps three teenagers, subjecting them to the full gamut of his mental state. "Dennis" is Kevin's dominant personality, but there's one who has yet to emerge. And that personality wants control.

    Of course, since it's a Shyamalan movie, lots of violent and fascinating twists follow that set Split up for a sequel.

    Sliding Doors
    Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah
    Directed by: Peter Howitt
    Written by: Peter Howitt

    Sliding Doors is the most philosophical rom-com around. Depending on whether Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) manages to board a London tube train, her life branches off into wildly different directions. In one reality, Helen gets on the train, and catches her boyfriend with another woman. In another, she misses the train, and continues to be betrayed by him. Eventually, these two realities intertwine in a bittersweet way. Sliding Doors is a reminder that our life paths are shaped by insignificant decisions, which eventually have massive repercussions. Think of that next time you get on a subway.

    Mother!(2017)
    Starring: Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence
    Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
    Written by: Darren Aronofsky

    This is a two-hour long mind bend. Aronofsky didn't make Mother! to give audiences an enjoyable movie experience. Instead, Mother!, the story of a woman married to an older artist in an old house, is designed to make you uncomfortable. As you watch Jennifer Lawrence's character unspool house's that's changing in wild ways, you might lose your grip, too.

    Coherence(2014)
    Starring: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
    Written By: James Ward Byrkit
    Directed By: James Ward Byrkit

    A comet flies overhead while a group of friends are at a dinner party. This cosmic phenomenon has big effects on the neighborhood. The comet actually rearranges different realities, so that people can quickly cross from one dimension to another. When the eight party members explore the neighborhood after the power goes out, they don't realize that they're actually crossing over into multiple realities, and meeting other version of them selves. Eventually, this intertwining will cease. Which reality will they get stuck in?

    Equally astounding is how the film was made. Each day, the actors received a notecard with some rudimentary direction and motivation for their characters. And then, everyone just acted. No script. No special effects. Just real people, acting, and blowing your mind.

    A Tale of Two Sisters
    Starring: Yum Jung-Ah, Soo-jung Lim
    Written By: Kim Jee-woon
    Directed By: Kim Jee-woon

    This Korean thriller has everything you could want in a mind f*** movie. A beautifully decorated house with skeletons in every closet. A family with secrets. Many, many questions of identity.

    The story starts when teenager Su-mi (Yeom Jeong-ah) is released from a mental institution, and moves back home with her sister, Su-yeon (Su-jeong Lim) and their father. Their father has recently remarried the former nurse of their biological mother. The surreal events that follow are based loosely on a traditional Korean folktale.

    Altered States
    Starring: William Hurt
    Directed by: Ken Russell
    Written by: Paddy Chayefsky

    This Harvard professor is extremely devoted to his studies. Perhaps too devoted, considering Eddie Jessup's (William Hurt) studies are the effects of hallucinogenic drugs in curing psychological conditions, like schizophrenia. As he continues to flip-flop between sensory deprivation and hallucinations, the real world literally starts to become a palette upon which he casts his imagination. With its visual pyrotechnics and sound effects, this experimental film pulls viewers into Eddie's reality, or lack thereof.

    The Shining(1980)
    Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall
    Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
    Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson

    While a staple of the horror movie genre, The Shining is, at its core, a mind-blowing movie of the psychological thriller genre — plus some ghosts. After getting the bright idea to move his family to a Colorado resort in winter, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) descends into madness. As he stalks the hallways creepily, his young son begins to have psychic premonitions indicating that the Overlook Hotel itself is preying on its new, unwanted inhabitants.

    The Skin I Live In(2011)
    Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya
    Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
    Written by: Pedro Almodóvar

    When you see an Almodóvar film, you know to expect a certain level of weirdness — typically in uncommon relationship pairings and deep, twisted histories between people. In his take on a psychological thriller, Almodóvar keeps those elements (especially the deep, twisted histories) and cranks them up to terrifying heights. In the film, Banderas plays a plastic surgeon, Robert Legard, intent on developing a synthetic skin able to save the lives of burned victims, since his own wife had died of burns. With the help of his faithful servant, Legard takes a woman named Vera captive to function as his in-house lab rat. As the movie proceeds, you see that Vera's relationship to Legard is far more complicated than just prisoner and captive. Unweaving The Skin I Live In 's many plot twists would require a thesis. Better to watch and bite your nails yourself.

    Sound Of My Voice (2012)
    Starring: Brit Marling, Christopher Denham, Nicole Vicious
    Directed by: Zal Batmanglij
    Written by: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij

    This 2012 thriller starring Brit Marling will send you reeling. The film also stars Christopher Denham and Nicole Vicious as two journalists Peter and Lorna who attempt to infiltrate an insular cult in order to take it down. Marling plays Maggie, the leader of the cult. Maggie is from the year 2054, and she's here to collect a group of people to save the future world. Her followers wear all white and perform a super-secret special handshake. She's also wanted for several felonies.

    The mind fuckery in this movie never allows you to decide if Maggie is lying or not. First, you're with Peter and Lorna, doubting this snake oil-peddler. But when Peter starts to buy into Maggie's narrative, you begin to doubt your own conviction. Maybe Maggie is from the future.

    The moment of decision occurs when Maggie instructs Peter to kidnap a little girl — the girl is allegedly Maggie's mother. Will he comply? Yes. And then the big shocker happens: the little girl knows the cult's secret handshake. Ostensibly, the girl taught it to Maggie at some point in the future.

    But before you can say, "gee, that was a whammy," Maggie is arrested, courtesy of Lorna. And you, the viewer, still don't know who was lying and who was crazy.

    Primal Fear(1996)

    Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney
    Directed by: Gregory Hoblit

    A meek, young altar boy with a stutter is charged with the murder of an archbishop. Martin Vail, a Chicago defense attorney who likes a challenge, agrees to take Aaron Stampler's case — though the evidence is racked up against Stampler. As the case proceeds, Vail uncovers that Stampler was part of a sex ring the Archbishop was running. After years of abuse, Stampler developed a violent alter ego named Roy, who carries out the murder.

    After the judge finds Stampler not guilty by reason of insanity, Stampler reveals that Roy isn't his alter ego. Aaron is. The stutter and the meekness was all a front.

    Blade Runner (1982)

    Starring: Harrison Ford

    Directed by: Ridley Scott

    Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, based on a novel by Phillip K. Dick

    In this distant future, androids, called replicants, are physically indistinguishable from humans. They can only be rooted out through the Voight-Kampff interrogation system, a series of questions replicants are incapable of answering.

    Replicants aren't allowed on earth, but sometimes they escape their off-world colonies and seek refuge amongst humans. People like Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) are blade-runners, and it's their job to sniff out replicants. While he's on his biggest mission yet, Deckard falls for a highly advanced replicant — so human he begins to doubt his entire society's system.

    The ambiguous ending implies that Deckard may be an android himself.

    The Lobster(2016)

    Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz

    Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos

    Written by: Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou

    In this dystopian future, all individuals unable to find a long-term relationship are turned into animals. Single stragglers are sent to the Hotel, where they're supposed to find a partner within 45 days, or be sent into the Woods in their new beastly state. Colin Farrell plays David, a man at the Hotel who decides to join the loners, people who drop out of society and abstain from sex. How you read the film's ambiguous ending determines how you feel about love, relationships, and sacrifice.

    Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

    Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez

    Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro

    Written by: Guillermo Del Toro

    Five years after the Spanish Civil War, a girl named Ofelia becomes pulled into a fantasy world outside her doorstep. In a twist straight out of Narnia, she's led to a labyrinth, where she meets a wily faun and lots of other unforgettable creatures. The faun swears that Ofelia is actually a princess, but in order to unlock her status, she has to complete a series of tasks.

    Meanwhile, Ofelia's pregnant mother becomes sicker and sicker. Her sadistic army captain of a step-father becomes meaner and meaner. And the fantasy world becomes incredibly dark.

    The Truman Show (2013)

    Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Ed Harris

    Directed by: Peter Weir

    Written by: Andrew Nicchol

    Truman Burbank has lived his entire life in the quintessence of small-town America. His community is tight-knit and supportive, and everyone plays their roles. That's because, of course, they're all playing roles. Truman is the only non-actor in the reality TV show about his life. Slowly, he begins to put the pieces together — and then he'll do anything to get out, and trod a world that's much better than he ever could've imagined.

    Even more mind-blowing than The Truman Show 's plot are its implications. What if everyone you know is in on the joke?

    Synecdoche, New York (2008)

    Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman

    Directed by: Charlie Kaufman

    Written by: Charlie Kaufman

    This is an indie film with the mantra, "art imitates life imitates art, and repeat." In Synecdoche, New York, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Caden Conrad, a troubled theater director who throws himself into a strangely realistic theater piece. In a warehouse in Manhattan, a group of actors live out their fictionalized, constructed lives. Soon, the warehouse takes on the realism of the bustling city outside. The years pass. The plot grows convoluted. Caden hires doppelgangers for the actors to make the endeavor even more hectic. As Caden loses his mind, who will be there to give the play direction?

    A Scanner Darkly(2006)

    Starring: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder

    Directed by: Richard Linklater

    Written by: Richard Linklater

    Based on the mind-bending novel by William S. Gibson, this movie uses an uncanny animation technique to capture the interplay between reality and unstable mental states. A Scanner Darkly is set in a totalitarian state in the future, after America has lost the war on drugs. Over 20% of the population is hooked on a drug called Substance D. In response, the government has developed an underground network of informants to try to infiltrate the drug supply chain.

    Detective Bob Arctor is a cog in this machine, assigned to immerse himself in the shady underworld. But once he's in with the addicts, it's impossible to stop becoming hooked himself. At the New Path recovery center, Bob begins to lose his identity and experience schizophrenic behavior.

    Spider(2002)

    Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gabriel Byrne

    Directed by: David Cronenberg

    Written by: Patrick McGrath

    After years in a sanitarium, Denis Cleg moves to a halfway house for the mentally disturbed. And for an hour and a half, we enter into the suffering, shifty mindset of a man trying to piece together a formative memory from this childhood. In flashbacks, Denis sees his father, his mother, the prostitute with whom his father is involved, and a younger version of himself. Within Denis's mind, the four characters go through a choreography of remembrance. What are the events that led to his mother's murder? You'll find out the answer to that question in this psychological thriller, but it's not the twist that'll stay with you. Denis's twisted perspective will haunt you.

    The Matrix(2013)

    Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fisburne

    Directed by: Lana and Lily Wachowski

    Written by: Lana and Lily Wachowski

    Neo lives through every 1990s kid's nightmare: finding out that he's living, essentially, in The Sims. Our trusty protagonist discovers that everything he thinks of as "reality" is actually a video game-esque simulation. Once he realizes that nothing is real, then everything (including dodging bullets) is possible.

    But The Matrix recognizes the burden of such knowledge. In one of cinema's most iconic scenes, Neo is offered the red pill to proceed on his journey, or the blue pill to forget and go back to the way he was. Neo chooses the red pill; the rest is movie history.

    The Fountain (2006)

    Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz

    Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

    Written by: Darren Aronofsky

    We can tell you what happens in The Fountain, but we can’t confirm what actually happens.

    This intricate magical romantic drama interweaves three storylines separated by centuries and miles. In the first, Hugh Jackman plays Tom Creo, a 21st century doctor losing his wife, Izzi (Rachel Weisz), to cancer. Tom’s consumed with finding a cure using samples from “The Tree of Life,” a species found in South America, and forgoes quality time with Izzi for time in his lab.

    While he’s in the lab, Izzi takes to the pen and writes a story about a conquistador, Tomas Verde, searching for the Tree of Life for Queen Isabella. But Izzi doesn’t have time to finish the story — she asks him to finish it. While they stare at the stars, Izzi imagines they’ll meet, once again, the stars. Appropriately, the final narrative is set in deep space, with an astronaut named Tommy.

    But we’ve laid things out in an easy way. In truth, nothing is told in chronological order, not even the storylines themselves. The three storylines are confusingly connected and difficult to unweave.

    Acknowledging the infinite interpretative possibilities of the movie, Aronofsky said, “[The film is] very much like a Rubik's Cube, where you can solve it in several different ways, but ultimately there's only one solution at the end.” He believes the film is about coming to terms with your own death. It’s a beautiful film, if a grim message.

    Timer(2009)

    Starring: Emma Caulfield, Michelle Borth

    Directed by: Jac Schaffer

    Written by: Jac Schaffer

    What if you could count down to the exact moment you’d meet your soulmate? People in this alternate reality can opt into just that. When a TiMER device is implanted, a countdown begins to establish just that. Oona O’Leary, Timer ’s protagonist, faces an uncommon quandary: her TiMER is blank, which means her soulmate — whoever he is — has yet to get his TiMER implanted.

    Steph, her roommate and sister, has a TiMER that indicates she won’t meet her soulmate until she’s 43. She’s been seeing Dan, a widower who doesn’t have a TiMER so not to cheapen his marriage.

    Instead of twiddling her thumbs until Mr. Right comes around, Oona dates off the TiMER. She falls for Mikey, a supermarket clerk with a countdown of four months.

    After a while, Oona and Steph decide to get their TiMERs removed irrevocably. At that precise moment, though, Oona's countdown suddenly starts, meaning that her soul mate has finally gotten his TiMER. It’s the night of Oona and Steph’s birthday, and Dan, the widower, is there. As soon as she sees Dan, her own TiMER goes off. Feelings will be stepped on — what’s a girl to do?

    While

    Mr. Nobody (2004)
    Starring: Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Rhys Ifans
    Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael
    Written by: Jaco Van Dormael

    In this sci-fi-meets-coming of age movie, we see the three different paths that Jared Leto’s character’s life could have taken. A nine-year-old boy stands on a platform facing an impossible choice. He chooses to go with his mother; he chooses to go with his father; he chooses to run away. What happens next? Each path has its glories and its difficulties, and Nemo explores them all.

    The film is narrated by Nemo Nobody, the man the little boy becomes, on his 118th birthday. In a sexless, ageless world, Nemo is the last living relic of the world as it was, and he’s able to track the permutations of his life. A journalist attempts to get to the truth of his story: which life did Nemo truly live? The answer will surprise you.

    Mr. Nobody is an astounding, visually stunning movie that doesn’t shy away from toying with our existential quandaries, and the infinite paths of "what if."

    Shutter Island (2010)
    Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer
    Directed By: Martin Scorsese
    Written By: Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane

    Listen, put a few characters in a hospital for the criminally insane, and some mind-fuckery will occur. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshall (well) in this Martin Scorsese flick. He and his new partner Chuck (played by Mark Ruffalo) investigate an escapee named Rachel Solando, who once killed her three children.

    The plot twist in this series is pretty predictable: the detective is actually the patient. Surprise! Leonardo DiCaprio's stubborn Boston boss is imprisoned in the mental hospital because he killed his manic depressive wife. Cheery, no? The "investigation" was just an exercise concocted by the doctors at the asylum to help the patient escape his paranoia. The final scene of the movie implies that DiCaprio's character will soon have a lobotomy, so at the very least, there's a happy ending.

    Triangle (2009)
    Starring: Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor, Liam Hemsworth
    Directed By: Christopher Smith
    Written By: Christopher Smith

    Ah, the best mind-fuckery relies on weird time jumps, and Triangle has time jumps a-plenty. The story opens like any other horror film. A few friends go yachting and end up in dangerous territory. They jump ship — literally — and head to a different ship, which ain't so friendly.

    The big reveal: the "abandoned" ship forces everyone into a time loop. Events keep repeating themselves, and each time they do, a new incarnation of the person appears. As in, by the end of the film, the main character Jess (Melissa George) has at least 10 other Jesses to reckon with.

    If you're still confused after viewing the movie, you're not alone. There's a 15-minute explainer on YouTube if you have the quarter hour to spare.

    The Prestige (2006)
    Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Christian Bale, Rebecca Hall
    Directed by: Christopher Nolan
    Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan

    Before there was Westworld, there was The Prestige, the movie that made absolutely no sense until it all made sense. Borne from the bananas brain of the Nolan brothers, the film focuses on two magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale.) After coming up together as young magicians, the two engage in a violent rivalry.

    The big "huh?" of the film lies in Borden's "transported man" trick. Borden falls under the stage, and appears somewhere else in the theater entirely. Wow! Magic! Angier seeks to duplicate this trick, and he ultimately does by enlisting the help of Nikola Tesla. (Fun fact: David Bowie plays Tesla.)

    Tesla invents a machine that clones Angier. Here's how it works: the magician clones himself. The original Angier drops beneath the stage into a water tank, where he drowns. The clone appears somewhere else in the theater, wowing the audience. Okay, cool trick, but the cost is high. Every time Angier completes the trick, he kills himself, or a version of himself. The eye-opening visual of the film occurs when Borden chances upon all the water tanks that contain versions of Angier's dead body. Damn.

    Oh, but there's another twist. Want to know how Angier completed the trick? You may have seen this coming — I certainly didn't, but my father did. Angier had a twin the whole time, which is the oldest mind-fuck trick in the book. Nolan elevates that particular trick, which can seem a little cheap, by involving two separate women, both in love with Angier. The end of the movie reveals that the two women were actually in love with separate men, not the same man. (Mind. Blown.)

    After Hours (1985)
    Starring: Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin
    Directed by: Martin Scorsese
    Written by: Joseph Minion

    Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) just really, really wants to go home. But this is New York City after hours, and only the weirdest and wackiest things happen.

    Hackett is a word processor (back in the 1980s, when jobs like that actually existed). He's bored by the corporate drudgery and the uptown apartment that bookend his days. When he meets a Marcy, a woman at a diner who seems to like the same books as him, he's intrigued. Later that night, he calls Marcy up and takes a cab downtown to meet her in Soho. That's when the fun begins.

    Everything goes from bad to worse for Hackett. First his cash flies out of the cab window, then he's freaked out by Marcy's weirdly intense roommate, Kiki. When he finally gets Marcy alone, she's busy rubbing some weird burn ointment on her body (but he can't really tell why). Soon enough he gets fed up and leaves. When he feels bad and returns a few hours later, Marcy has killed herself. So now he's broke, tired, and kind of on the lam, eventually taking refuge in a dive bar. Just as the Tim, the barkeep, agrees to lend Paul some money, it turns out the bartender's girlfriend killed herself in apartment in Soho. Yep, that's right: Marcy.

    But Tim is a nice guy, and says that Hackett can have some cash if he runs around the corner to Tim's apartment to grab his keys to the bar's register. Twist: there's been a series of robberies in the building, so when Tim's neighbors see Paul, they assume he's the burglar, fresh from a robbery. Paul narrowly escapes their clutches, but the neighbors organize into a witch hunt, putting up posters all around the neighborhood. He then tries to hide out at a Soho nightclub, where Kiki told Marcy she'd head later.

    From there, things only get weirder. One woman hits on Paul, another screams at him. When Paul asks a random guy on the street if he can crash at his apartment, the bespectacled man thinks Paul is trying to seduce him.

    Finally — finally! — Paul escapes the mob and ends up in the backseat of the van of the real robbers. He's embalmed in a papier-mâché statue (that's how he escaped the mob), and falls out of the truck bed. Where does he end up? At the golden gates of his midtown office building.

    Se7en(1996)
    Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Gwyneth Paltrow
    Directed by: David Fincher
    Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker

    William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is a careful, wise detective who is just a few days away from retiring. He's assigned to take a young rookie under his wing and show him the ropes of the gritty metropolis that's their turf. The young investigator, David Mills (Brad Pitt), is short-tempered and impatient, but eager to learn and get his hands dirty.

    The pair slowly stumble upon a series of murders all bound by one familiar thread: the seven deadly sins. An obese man was forced to eat himself to death (gluttony); a defense attorney has his insides taken out (greed). Soon enough, Somerset and Mills find a good lead. A man named John Doe (Kevin Spacey) has been checking out library books about serial murders. They settle on him as their prime suspect and try to track him down as the murders continue.

    After the fifth murder, a bloodied man meets Mills and Somerset at the police station, identifying himself as John Doe. He's been peeling off the skin on his fingertips all along, so it's impossible to perfectly ID his prints, but the men are convinced it's him. He promises to lead both detectives to the final two victims, but under very specific terms or he'll plead insanity.

    Per Doe's instructions, the two detectives accompany their captive to a remote desert location. A delivery truck meets them, handing Somerset a box. Inside is the head of Mills' wife (Gwyneth Paltrow). When Doe brags about killing her and says that she was secretly pregnant, and he killed her out of his own envy. Mills weeps and hold Doe at gunpoint. Somerset protests, but he shoots him six times. Doe is the final death of the seven, because he forced Mills to give into his own wrath.

    Hard Candy (2005)
    Starring: Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson, Sandra Oh
    Directed by: David Slade
    Written by: Brian Nelson

    Patrick Wilson plays Jeff, a photographer with a thing for teenage girls. He's charming and good looking, but the set up is as creepy as it sounds. Jeff preys on young girls, messaging them online and cultivating fake relationships that he seems to hope will end with real sexual favors.

    Hayley is the latest girl talked into meeting him in person. But Hayley, who wears a notable red sweatshirt, has a plan of her own. She knows of Jeff's past transgressions with his victims, and she's decided to put a stop to it.

    Jeff, it turns out, doesn't just flirt with underage girls. He also rapes and kills them, according to Hayley's spying. When he lures her back to his apartment, she drugs and tortures him to get information about a dead teenage girl whose death she suspects he had a hand in.

    The tension in Hard Candy mounts with an eerie quickness, mostly because of the shifting power dynamic between Jeff and Hayley (the former thinks he's in control, the latter always is).

    The Invitation (2016)
    Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Michiel Huisman, Tammy Blanchard, Emayatzy Corinealdi
    Directed by: Karyn Kusama
    Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi

    It's been two years since a tragic accident killed Will (Marshall Green) and Eden's (Blanchard) young son in their Hollywood Hills home. Their marriage soon dissolved and, in an effort to move on, lost touch with one another. The movie begins with Will driving to his old house with his new girlfriend Kira (Corinealdi) — they've been invited to a dinner party, even though he hasn't heard from his ex-wife or her new husband in months.

    Things start out warm enough, even as the stylishly modern house manages to dig up pained memories for Will. Then, out of the corner of his eye Will notices Eden's new husband David (Huisman) casually lock doors and cabinets. There are other couples there (old friends of Will and Eden's when they were married), good food, ritzy wine... it's a nice enough evening, albeit a bit awkward. Suddenly, the tone shifts. This isn't a reunion, it's a recruiting session for a cult.

    A new, unfamiliar guest arrives. Everyone nestles into the living room and David asks them to keep an open mind as they watch a documentary of sorts. In the movie, a creepy pastor talks a dying woman through the end of her life. The couples all recoil, until the unfamiliar guest gives a kind of testimonial about loving his dead wife so much, and how this quasi-spirituality helped him overcome her death. The twist? He was the one who went to prison for killing her.

    From there, Kusama perfectly manipulates the tension. Doors lock and unlock, and Will confronts Eden about blocking out their son's death between flashbacks of their former life together. In the thrilling climax they sit down to dinner. Eden serves a special drink. Will can't take it anymore — he demands everyone throw it out, and begs his girlfriend to leave with him. Just as he seems crazy, someone takes a sip and dies instantly. Will was right, the drink was poison.

    The "invitation" was really an entry into a murder-suicide pact. Will and his girlfriend run frantically through his old house to escape Eden and David's wrath.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
    Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis
    Directed by: Mike Nichols
    Written by: Ernest Lehman

    Married couple George (Burton) and Martha (Taylor) arrive home from a party. Martha informs George that she’s invited a younger couple that she met there — Nick (Segal) and Honey (Dennis) — over for more drinks. Everyone is already quite drunk, but George and Martha get increasingly more drunk and verbally abusive towards one another.

    Honey says that Martha told her about she and George’s son upcoming 16th birthday. This angers George. Honey runs to the bathroom to throw up from drinking too much. The night goes on and on with more upsetting moments.

    George and Martha engage in a series of increasingly escalating games of psychological manipulation that makes their guests feel more and more uneasy. Finally, it becomes clear to Nick and Honey that the overarching game is for George and Martha to invent more and more details about their imaginary son, but to never mention his existence to anyone else. It seems that Martha lost this round, because she answers the title question, saying "I am."

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
    Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
    Written by: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clark

    As one Reddit commenter summarizing the movie very succinctly describes it, “Black box gives superpowers. Black box plus monkey equals human. Human plus black box equals star baby. Star baby is awesome.” To expand on that a little, watch the four videos on the website Kubrick 2001, which delve into how it’s not just the monolith (black box) that speeds along evolution, it’s actually the discovery and improved development of functional tools that advances first apes, and then the human race.

    The question is, though, what are the three monoliths that appear in the film — one one Earth, one on the Moon, and one on Jupiter? Since they have right angles, they aren’t naturally occurring in nature. As Roger Ebert wrote in 1968, “Who put [the monolith] there? Intelligent beings since it has right angles and nature doesn't make right angles on its own.” The monoliths are merely a device Kubrick uses to advance the plot, Ebert argues.

    It’s not just the monoliths’ possible meaning that throws viewers into a quandary. The ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey usually confuses viewers the most. After Dr. David Bowman (Keir Dulles) defeats HAL 9000, the supercomputer that conspired to take over the humans’ spaceship, he receives a signal from the monolith on Jupiter. Bowman travels toward the monolith only to be captured by a vortex of light.

    Rather than finding himself in a sort of Gravity situation, which viewers could much more easily understand (we all know that a human left adrift in space would just perish among the glowing stars and big, black holes of nothingness), Bowman winds up in a bedroom. He watches his older self eat his final meal and die in the bed. Bowman becomes one with this older version of himself. After he dies, another monolith appears by his bed. He reaches for it and becomes the “starchild,” a glowing fetus that is transported by float beside planet Earth.

    “Now where did the bedroom come from? My intuition is that it came out of Kubrick's imagination; that he understood the familiar bedroom would be the most alien, inexplicable, disturbing scene he could possibly end the film with. He was right. The bedroom is more otherworldly and eerie than any number of exploding stars, etc.,” Ebert writes by way of explanation.

    It’s quite the trip.

    Soylent Green (1973)
    Starring: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young
    Directed by: Richard Fleischer
    Written by: Stanley R. Greenberg

    Soylent Green is PEOPLE.

    Altered States (1980)
    Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown
    Directed by: Ken Russell
    Written by: Sidney Aaron, Paddy Chayefsky

    Edward Jessup (Hurt) is a Harvard scientist who starts experimenting with sensory deprivation tanks. He wants to take his work further, though, so he starts working with psychedelic mushrooms — only the type he uses makes everyone who takes them have the exact same trip.

    One night while tripping balls in his tank, Jessup reverts back to the state of a Simian man. He climbs out of the tank and wreaks havoc on the lab and the campus security guards. A pack of wild dogs chases him to a local zoo, where he eats a sheep for his dinner. Jessup then returns to his human form.

    His experiments transform him into increasingly troubling altered states. In one instance, he’s basically primordial soup; in another, he’s a vortex of light similar to the ones in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The only thing that can bring Jessup back from these states is his wife, Emily (Brown). She starts going through these altered states with him; sort of like the ying to his yang, or the fire to his brimstone.

    In Jessup’s final experiment, he becomes a sort of pre-life protoplasm. His wife is the flesh into which the protoplasm fuses, and together, they form human life. It’s through this melding that they emerge whole, and Jessup learns to value his own humanity as well as his wife (they had been on the brink of divorcing).

    Videodrome (1983)
    Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky
    Directed by: David Cronenberg
    Written by: David Cronenberg

    Max Renn (Woods) runs a Toronto TV station that airs sleazy shows (softcore porn; hardcore violence), but he’s always looking for the next sensational phenomenon. His coworker Harlan (Dvorsky) is responsible for pirating signals from other broadcast stations, and he picks up a show called Videodrome that he thinks is coming from Malaysia. On Videodrome, anonymous victims are brutally tortured before they’re murdered in a chamber. Then, Randy Jackson says, “A little pitchy, dawg.” (That last part isn’t true.)

    Max thinks Videodrome is the future of TV and orders Halan to start pirating it for their station. He also gets Nicki Brand (Harry), a radio host, to sleep with him after she admits she’s turned on by the events depicted on Videodrome. Around the same time, a pop-culture analyst named Professor Brian O'Blivion (Jack Creley), who only appears on TV but is never seen in real life, predicts that television will one day supplant human life.

    Harlan tells Max that the signal had actually been scrambled, and Videodrome ’s broadcast is really coming from Pittsburgh. Nicki goes there to audition to be on the show, which Max actually believes is fake. When Nicki doesn’t come back to Toronto, Max gets in touch with a feminist pornographer (Lynne Gorman), who tells him that Videodrome isn’t fake. It’s not just a TV show, either, it’s a political movement that Professor O’Blivion is behind.

    Max finds O’Blivion’s office, The Cathode Ray Mission, and discovers that it provides homeless people with shelter, food, and water as long as they watch television, which was part of O’Blivion’s vision for the future. He’s actually been dead for over a year, though, and what people have been watching are hours of video he pre-taped in the event of his demise. O’Blivion’s socio-political movement, the Videodrome, is a war for the minds of North Americans.

    The means of mind control is, of course, television; namely, viewing the Videodrome TV program. The show carries a signal that gives viewers malignant brain tumors. Max, who viewed Videodrome, also starts having hallucinations during which he thinks there’s a VCR in his stomach. O’Blivion didn’t want it to be used this way, though, but when he tried to stop his partners from doing so, they killed him.

    Harlan actually showed Max Videodrome in order to get him to put it on the air as part of a government conspiracy to eradicate North America of homeless people. They insert a tape into the VCR in Max’s stomach (which has become real) that makes Max murder his coworkers. When he’s about to kill Professor O’Blivion’s daughter (Sonja Smits), who’s trying to stop the government’s plan to eliminate the poor, she’s able to reprogram him to instead kill Harlan, who’d been part of the government conspiracy to put Videodrome on the air.

    Max shoots Harlan, then runs to an abandoned harbor. Nicki shows up on a television, saying that in order to completely defeat Videodrome, he has to "leave the old flesh behind." On the same television, we see Max shooting himself in the head. The set explodes, but when it does, it leaves behind bloody, human intestines. We then see Max, who watched the version of himself on TV shoot himself, do the same thing.

    Jacob’s Ladder(1990)
    Starring: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello
    Directed by: Adrian Lyne
    Written by: Bruce Joel Robbin

    The movie starts during the Vietnam War, where an American soldier named Jacob (Robbins), loses most of his unit during an attack. He runs into the jungle and gets stabbed by a bayonet.

    When he wakes up four years later, he’s on the subway in New York City reading Albert Camus' The Stranger. Jacob is living with his girlfriend Jezzie (Peña) in Brooklyn, but he remembers having a wife and three sons, the youngest of which died before the war.

    Jacob keeps having disturbing experiences and seeing demons everywhere, until he’s contacted by a comrade from his old unit who went catatonic during the attack in Vietnam. The comrade recovered and is now living in NYC, but he's killed when his car explodes. At his funeral, the surviving members of Jacob’s platoon say that they’ve all been having horrible experiences.

    They hire a lawyer to investigate what happened to them, but after he reads their military files that say the platoon was never actually in combat, and that the soldiers had been discharged due to psychological reasons, he backs out of the case.

    All of Jacob’s comrades stop pursuing the case, but he continues his search for the truth. This gets him thrown in a car and taken to a hospital, where doctors tell him that he’s already dead.

    When Jacob leaves the hospital, Michael Newman (Matt Craven), the man who treated him back in Vietnam, confesses that he was a chemist who had designed “the Ladder,” a drug that triggered aggression. A large dose had been given to Jacob’s unit, and they had actually attacked one another. Jacob recalls being bayoneted in the jungle, only this time he can see an American soldier wielding the bayonet.

    Now that he knows what truly happened, Jacob feels at peace. He returns to his family’s apartment, where he sees his dead son Gabe at the bottom of the stairs. Gabe takes his hand and leads him up the stairs towards a bright light. In the final scene, Jacob is in a triage tent, where military doctors declare him dead.

    The Usual Suspects(1995)
    Starring: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri
    Directed by: Bryan Singer
    Written by: Christopher McQuarrie

    While being questioned about his role in a gun battle and drug bust gone wrong, Roger “Verbal” Kint manages to convince police that he should be let off scot-free. After he leaves the station and drops his limp, his interrogators look around the room and realize that the story Verbal concocted was based entirely on objects and names he glimpsed around the room.

    Kint is actually Keyser Söze, the mastermind behind the whole scheme that led to the firefight on the ship. As he says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”

    Cube (1997)
    Starring: Maurice Dean Wint, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller
    Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
    Written by: André Bijelic, Graeme Manson, Vincenzo Natali

    Imagine five prisoners being stuck inside a constantly shifting, intricately booby-trapped, complexly mathematical Rubik’s Cube. They have no idea how they got there. They think they need to somehow escape in order to survive.

    That’s what Cube is about, except in the end, the sole survivor ascends into a bright light. So, is the cube purgatory? A classic prisoner’s dilemma? Cube will give you a lot to think about.

    The Sixth Sense(1999)
    Starring: Bruce Willis, Hayley Joel Osment
    Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
    Written by: M. Night Shyamalan

    A child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe (Willis) and his wife (Olivia Williams) return home from an event where he was being honored. A former patient of Crowe’s is waiting in their bathroom. He shoots Crowe and then kills himself.

    The movie cuts to the following autumn, when Dr. Crowe starts working with 9-year-old Cole Sear (Osment), who claims he can see dead people and also has trouble in social situations. Malcolm works with Cole to develop his gift for communicating with the dead, but the doctor grows increasingly distant from his wife. They never talk anymore.

    Eventually, Malcolm realizes what happened. He was actually killed the night he was shot. He hasn’t been able to leave the land of the living because he wants to let his wife know that she never came second to his work, and that he also can’t forgive himself for failing to help the patient who killed both Malcolm and himself. Cole really does see dead people.

    Fight Club (1999)
    Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter
    Directed by: David Fincher
    Written by: Jim Uhls

    The first rule of fight club is, of course, that you don’t talk about fight club. The second rule is that you disregard that one for the purposes of this roundup, with apologies to David Fincher and Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the novel upon which the film is based.

    In this nihilistic tale, an unnamed insomniac office drone (Norton) meets a rebellious soap-maker named Tyler Durden (Pitt) on a plane. The two move into a dilapidated house on the edge of town and start an underground fight club that turns into a nation-wide organization called Project Mayhem, which protests capitalism and corporate organizations.

    Eventually, the narrator realizes that Tyler Durden is merely a dissociation of his own personality. He discovers that as Tyler, he’s been plotting to destroy credit card companies by blowing up their office buildings. The narrator finally shoots himself in the cheek, killing his projection of Tyler. The film ends with the narrator and his sort-of girlfriend Marla (Bonham Carter) watching the city fall to the Pixies' “Where Is My Mind.”

    Memento (2000)
    Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano
    Directed by: Christopher Nolan
    Written by: Christopher Nola, Jonathan Nolan

    Leonard Shelby (Pearce) suffers from anterograde amnesia, which means he can’t create or store new memories. This is making it difficult to track down the man he’s certain raped and murdered his wife (Jorja Fox). To make things even more confusing, the film is told through black-and-white and color sequences, and it’s not clear to the audience which come first chronologically. It’s also unclear which characters Shelby can trust — or if he’s even trustworthy himself.

    Session 9 (2001)
    Starring: David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Stephen Gevedon, Josh Lucas
    Directed by: Brad Anderson
    Written by: Brad Anderson, Stephen Gevedon

    This movie was filmed in a real mental hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, which just adds to the authentic, chilling vibe you’ll have while watching. An asbestos removal crew (Caruso, Mullan, Gevedon, Lucas, Brendan Sexton III) is tasked with cleaning an abandoned mental hospital. While on the job, they discover a box that contains tapes of nine interview sessions with a patient named Mary Hobbes.

    Hobbes has dissociative identity disorder, and she has three personalities besides her own. Of these, she only displays two of them — “the Princess,” who is childlike and innocent, and Billy, who is protective and childlike. Hobbes’ third personality, Simon, is so hidden that the Princess doesn’t know anything about her, and Billy is afraid of him.

    Everything starts to unravel when one of the men goes missing, and the ninth session tape is cut short, so they don’t know what happened with Mary, the Princess, Billy, and Simon. Eventually, it’s revealed that there might not be a Mary, and that Simon actually lives inside one of the men tasked with cleaning the asylum, and some members of the cleaning crew aren’t even real — they’re projections of his imagination. He murders some of the real men, though, because of course this movie is terrifying.

    Mulholland Drive (2001)
    Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring
    Directed by: David Lynch
    Written by: David Lynch

    This one’s kind of tough to explain in a simple plot synopsis, especially since there’s been so much debate about whether or not the first half of the film is actually a dream sequence. This October 2001 Salon article provides a thorough analysis of not only the film’s plot, but also what the fuck it all means. Or at least what the writers think it means, because they’re still unable to explain things like the mysterious box.

    Lynch originally wrote Mulholland Drive as a television pilot for ABC. Therefore, there might actually be some storylines in the film that leave questions left unanswered, since Lynch would have been able to get to them in the longer time that a TV series allots for storytelling.

    In this January 2002 article from The Guardian, however, five top film critics couldn’t come to a consensus as to whether or not the film was divided into two halves, with one being a dream and one grounded in the reality of what actually happened when Diane (Watts) put a hit on her girlfriend Camilla (Harring). Diane’s actions drive her to commit suicide.

    Still, the film might be intended as a larger commentary on how Hollywood places women in boxes, only allowing ingénues to look one way, while women become disposable and easily replaceable when they reach a certain age. That might just be the most important mindfuck Mulholland Drive gives to viewers.

    Donnie Darko (2001)
    Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore
    Directed by: Richard Kelly
    Written by: Richard Kelly

    A high school student named Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is woken up by a monstrous rabbit who calls himself Frank. The rabbit leads Donnie outside and says the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. When Donnie returns home, he discovers that a jet engine crashed into his bedroom while he was out with Frank.

    When Donnie describes Frank to his therapist (Katharine Ross), she tells his parents that he’s suffering from daylight hallucinations, which can be symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Donnie confesses to flooding his school and burning down a motivational speaker’s (Patrick Swayze) house.

    Finally, it’s the day Frank prophesied the world would end. A vortex forms above the Darko house while Donnie is driving in the nearby hills. He watches an airplane fall from the sky. The events from the last 28 days start to replay in reverse chronological order. When they reach day 1, Donnie is back in his bed, laughing maniacally as a jet engine crashes into his room. Donnie dies instantly.

    When he dies, all of the people with whom Donnie Darko interacted during the last 28 days start to wake up with disturbed looks on their faces. Characters who met and interacted during the course of the movie revert to being strangers, although they feel as though they know each other. They just can’t remember where or when they might have met.

    Vanilla Sky(2001)
    Starring: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz
    Directed by: Cameron Crowe
    Written by: Cameron Crowe

    Roger Ebert described Vanilla Sky perfectly in December 2001, “ Vanilla Sky, like the 2001 pictures Memento and Mulholland Drive before it, requires the audience to do some heavy lifting. It has one of those plots that doubles back on itself like an Escher staircase. You get along splendidly one step at a time, but when you get to the top floor you find yourself on the bottom landing. If it's any consolation, its hero is as baffled as we are; it's not that he has memory loss, like the hero of Memento, but that in a certain sense he may have no real memory at all.”

    Vanilla Sky plays not only with linear structure, but with mixing dreams and reality, forcing viewers to question what’s real, what’s not, and whether or not reality is entirely subjective and surreal. It’s best to watch it rather than read a plot summary, really, but know that Tom Cruise jumps off a building at one point, and not in his usual badass Mission: Impossible type of way.

    Oldboy (2003)
    Starring: Choi Min-sik, Kang Hye-jung
    Directed by: Park Chan-wook
    Written by: Hwang Jo-yoon, Im Joon-hyeong, Park Chan-wook

    Business man Oh Dae-su (Min-sik) is arrested for drunken and disorderly behavior in 1988. He misses his daughter’s 4th birthday because he is in jail. While his friend who picks him up from the police station is talking to Dae-su’s wife, he is kidnapped.

    Dae-su is imprisoned with no human contact for 15 years in a hotel-like prison. He’s sometimes gassed with a mind-altering drug. Dae-su shadowboxes to pass the time. He has no contact with his captors, nor does he ever learn the reason for his kidnapping.

    Fifteen years later, Dae-su is released onto a rooftop. His captor gives him a suit and some money, but he also calls and taunts him. Dae-su then befriends a young chef named Mi-do (Hye-jung), who takes him to her apartment after he collapses at her sushi restaurant.

    Dae-su wants to track down his daughter, but all he can find out is that she was adopted by a Swedish couple. He turns his attention to his captor’s identity. He finally learns that his name is Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae). Woo-jin gives Dae-su an ultimatum: If Dae-su can figure out why Woo-jin kept him captive in the next five days, Woo-jin will kill himself. If Dae-su doesn’t succeed in finding out, Woo-jin will have Mi-do — with whom Dae-su has begun an emotional and sexual relationship — killed.

    Dae-su remembers that he and Woo-jin went to the same high school, and that he saw an incestutous encounter between Woo-jin and his sister Soo-ah. Dae-su spread the rumor about their relationship around the school, not knowing they were related. Soo-ah committed suicide after the rumor made the rounds.

    Dae-su admits to Woo-jin that he drove his sister to commit suicide. Woo-jin tells Dae-su that his revenge has been meticulous and carefully plotted. First, he captured Dae-su and kept him in prison for 15 years, periodically administering hypnotic drugs. Then, he planted the false evidence that Dae-su’s daughter had been kidnapped by a Swedish couple. In reality, Dae-su’s daughter is none other than Mi-do. Woo-jin drove Dae-su to commit incest with his own daughter, and he plans to tell Mi-do what has happened as well.

    Dae-su begs Woo-jin to spare Mi-do from learning this information. Dae-su cuts out his tongue to show that he will never convey this information, or any other secrets, himself. Woo-jin says he will heed this request, leaves, and shoots himself.

    Dae-su goes to a hypnotist to have the memories of committing incest with his daughter erased, but afterward, Mi-do finds him and tells him she loves him. He smiles when he hears this, but then his smile is replaced by a pained expression, as if he’s remembering what he went to the hypnotist to forget.

    The Machinist (2004)
    Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh
    Directed by: Brad Anderson
    Written by: Scott Kosar

    A machinist named Trevor Reznik (Bale) is suffering from severe insomnia and has become extremely emaciated. Trevor is also troubled by mysterious Post-It notes that appear on his fridge, which have a game of Hangman on them. It starts to affect his work to the point where one of his coworkers (Michael Ironside) loses his arm in a machine accident. His coworkers blame Trevor for the accident, but he blames a mysterious new machinist named Ivan (John Sharian) that only Trevor seems to know about.

    Trevor does have some brief moments of relief. He spends time with Stevie (Leigh), a prostitute, who enjoys his company. He meets a waitress named Maria (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón) at the airport diner he frequents and takes Maria and her son Nicholas (Matthew Romero) to a carnival. At the carnival, though, Nicholas has a seizure in a funhouse.

    Trevor thinks all of these mysterious events are part of an elaborate plot to drive him insane. His life begins to fall apart even more: He explodes at a coworker and gets fired. He doesn’t pay his utility bill, and the electricity in his apartment is turned off. He thinks blood is seeping out of his freezer.

    Trevor thinks that Ivan is the source of his problems, so he goes to the DMV to track him down using his license plate number. They refuse to give it to him, so he goes to the police, saying that he was a victim of a hit and run, and that Ivan was the perpetrator. When Trevor gives the police Ivan’s license plate number, they tell him that the car to which that plate matches is registered to Trevor, not the mysterious Ivan.

    Eventually, Trevor pieces together the details of what happened. There is no Maria, nor is there a Nicholas. He was the one who hit a boy who looked identical to Nicholas a year ago — which his mother (who looked exactly like Maria) witnessed — and then drove away. At the time, Trevor looked much healthier. The guilt over the hit and run is what led him to his current emaciated, insomniac state. The mysterious Post-It notes have actually been coming from him (he’s been dissociating), and the hangman game spells out “KILLER.”

    The movie ends with Trevor going to the police to confess his crime. They lead him to a cell, and he falls asleep for the first time since the accident.

    Primer (2004)
    Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden
    Directed by: Shane Carruth
    Written by: Shane Carruth

    Primer is considered one of the most confusing movies of all time. People have even mapped out the various timelines in an attempt to explain the plot. Writer/director/star Shane Carruth has a degree in mathematics and is a former engineer, so the film delves into complex temporal anomalies.

    Two engineers named Aaron (Carruth) and Abe (Sullivan) create a person-sized box in which a human can travel through time. They try to carefully map out rules for their time traveling to avoid meeting their past or future selves and messing up the past, present, or future.

    Abe and Aaron’s different personalities lead to confrontations over how they should use the box and the way in which their collaboration in the experiment should play out. They try to use their time traveling ability to make profitable stock trades, but their future selves keep appearing in their present timelines, causing increasingly escalating problems in their lives. They also cause trouble in other people’s lives; for example, Abe’s girlfriend Rachel (Samantha Thomson) almost gets shot.

    During an epilogue, it’s revealed that multiple versions of Aaron still exist, and at least one future version is colluding with the original one. Abe, on the other hand, wants to keep his present self in the dark about what Future Abe knows. In the final scene, Aaron is directing the construction of a warehouse-sized box.

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind(2004)
    Starring: Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey
    Directed by: Michel Gondry
    Written by: Charlie Kaufman

    Joel (Carrey) and Clementine (Winslet) meet on a train from Montauk to Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York. What they don’t know is that they’ve met before. They were even in a relationship before, but Clementine hired a firm called Lacuna, Inc., to erase her memories of their relationship after a fight, and when Joel heard about this, he decided to do the same.

    Joel doesn’t want Clementine to be erased from his memory, though, and he struggles to preserve the moments they had together by hiding them deep in his subconscious. The last thing he can remember her saying is to meet him in Montauk.

    After they meet again on the train, they discover their Lacuna records. Even though they know they dated, broke up, and had their relationship erased from their minds before, they decide to give it another chance.

    Atonement (2007)
    Starring: Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan
    Directed by: Joe Wright
    Written by: Christopher Hampton

    This adaptation of Iwan McEwan’s novel of the same name earns a spot on the mindfuck movies list simply because of how it completely rips the rug out from under you at the end. There you are, thinking Briony (played by Ronan at 13, Romola Garai at 18, and Redgrave as an older woman) is writing this story to atone for her huge lie, and there's going to be a romantic, happy ending. That lie being how she falsely accused Robbie Turner (McAvoy) of raping Briony’s visiting cousin Lola (Juno Temple), which completely ruined not only his life, but that of her sister Cecilia (Knightley).

    The incident tears Briony and Cecilia’s family apart, because Cecilia stands by Robbie; knowing he’s been falsely accused. Years later, Briony describes visiting Robbie and Cecilia, who are now married, to apologize. Cecilia says she can never forgive her, while Robbie demands Briony tell both her family and the authorities what really happened. Even if Briony were to tell the authorities; however, nothing could be done, because Lola actually married her rapist (Benedict Cumberbatch).

    Decades pass, and Briony is now an author. Her final novel (she is dying of vascular dementia) is called Atonement. She gives an interview about the book in which she reveals that it’s only semi-autobiographical. While most of the beginning is true to life, the part where she visits Cecilia and Robbie is fabricated. Briony was never able to visit them to ask for forgiveness because they never met again after Robbie left to fight in World War II. He died at Dunkirk, and Cecilia died shortly after during The Blitz. Oh cruel, cruel fate.

    Triangle (2009)
    Starring: Melissa George, Michael Dorman
    Directed by: Christopher Smith
    Written by: Christopher Smith

    Jess (Melissa George) goes on a boat trip with a group of friends. The boat capsizes in a storm, and the group survives by climbing on the upturned vessel. They spot an ocean liner and board it, only to find it deserted. Jess experiences a flash of déjà vu once on board the ship, and she also gets the feeling that there’s someone else there.

    One by one, the members of the group begin to die. Some of them are shot by a mysterious masked shooter, who then chases Jess, but she’s able to push the shooter overboard.

    After everyone in her group dies, and Jess is left alone, she hears yelling. She sees herself and the others alive again. They’re standing on the capsized boat in the same position they were in before they boarded the ocean liner. Jess realizes that she’s stuck in a time loop, and she’s actually the figure on the ship who killed her friends.

    Inception (2010)
    Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    Directed by: Christopher Nolan
    Written by: Christopher Nolan

    Dominick Cobb (DiCaprio) and his team enter the dreams of executives to steal corporate secrets. In the big heist depicted in the movie, the team has a new type of challenge: plant an idea into a CEO’s (Cillian Murphy) subconscious, which the businessman (Ken Watanabe) tasking them with the job calls inception.

    Cobb is also struggling with guilt over the death of his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who committed suicide after the two spent 50 years in a shared dreamscape and couldn’t distinguish between dreams and reality when they woke up. Cobb’s guilt causes problems with his team’s current mission, because he keeps projecting Mal into dreamscapes.

    As the team travels into deeper and deeper levels of the dream labyrinth architected by Ariadne (Page), there’s more room for error, which obviously occurs. After Inception came out, people spent hours trying to map out the various levels of the dream landscapes into which the team traveled. Finally, Christopher Nolan released his hand-drawn version of the map to help viewers understand.

    Audiences were also confused by the film’s ending. The movie’s last shot is of Cobb’s totem — an object the dream-invaders use to determine if they’re still in a dream or back in reality — a spinning top. If the top keeps spinning, he’s probably stuck in someone else’s dream. If it stops, he’s back in reality. Inception ends before we can see what happens to the top. Does it keep spinning, or does it fall?

    Nolan finally explained the ambiguous ending during the commencement speech he delivered to Princeton’s class of 2015. He said it didn’t matter if Cobb was awake or dreaming, because he’d been reunited with his children, which is all he really wanted. “He was in his own subjective reality. He didn’t really care any more, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid,” Nolan said.

    Black Swan(2010)
    Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel
    Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
    Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin

    Nina Sayers (Portman) has spent her entire life striving to be a perfect ballerina. It’s an obsession fueled by her stage mother (Hershey). When Sayers is cast as the White Swan in her company’s upcoming production of Swan Lake opposite a more easygoing newcomer (Mila Kunis) as the Black Swan, she begins to have a complete mental, emotional, and physical breakdown.

    Holy Motors(2012)
    Starring: Denis Lavant, Édith Scob, Élise L'Homea
    Directed by: Leos Carax
    Written by: Leos Carax

    Monsieur Oscar (Lavant) appears to be a regular businessman until he enters a limo in the morning after having breakfast with his wife and children. Once in the car, he receives a dossier from his driver, Madame Céline (Scob), and takes off his banker disguise. He puts on a different costume; now, Oscar is an elderly beggar who walks the streets of Paris, asking for money.

    Oscar is actually an actor, but his roles exist in the real world. Throughout the day, he returns to the limousine for more assignments from Céline. These take him everywhere from a motion-capture studio to a high-fashion photoshoot with a top model (played by Eva Mendes).

    Even when Oscar gets physically injured while in character, he’s unscathed when he returns to the limo. At times, he interacts with characters that look identical to ones he played earlier in the day. Towards the end of the day, he meets a woman named Léa (L'Homea), who calls him “uncle.” Oscar pretends to die, and Léa cries.

    At this next appointment, Céline pulls the car up next to an identical limo. Inside is a woman named Eva (Kylie Minogue), with whom it’s implied Oscar actually has a child. However, Eva appears to be an actress like Oscar, and she tells him that she has an appointment. She’ll be stepping into the role of a flight attendant who spends her final night in an empty building with a man. Oscar leaves the building so that Eva can meet up with the man, but he then sees the two jump to their deaths. Oscar cries as he runs past their bodies and gets in the limo.

    At his last appointment, Céline hands Oscar a dossier saying that he’ll be going to “your house” to meet up with “your wife” and “your daughter.” When he goes inside; however, his wife and child are actually chimpanzees.

    Now that the day is over, Céline takes the limo to the Holy Motors garage, which is filled with many limousines of the same make and model. She leaves for the night after covering her face with a mask. After Céline is gone, the cars start talking to each other, worrying about becoming obsolete.

    Upstream Color (2013)
    Starring: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Thiago Martins
    Directed by: Shane Carruth
    Written by: Shane Carruth

    Yup, it’s another Shane Carruth mindfuck masterpiece. In this one, a man called the Thief (Martins) kidnaps Kris (Seimetz) at a nightclub and drugs her. He keeps her in a hypnotic state of distraction, using techniques like getting her to transcribe Henry David Thoreau’s Walden on a paper chain. The Thief starves Kris so that he can infect her with a type of live larva that he harvests from blue orchids. He also manipulates her into liquidating her home equity and giving him the money.

    When the Thief drops Kris off at her home, she wakes up ravenous with roundworms crawling under her skin, which she tries to remove with a kitchen knife. She fails at this.

    A man called the Sampler (Andrew Sensenig) lures Kris to his farm so he can transfer the roundworms from her body a young pig’s. Again, Kris wakes up with no memory of what has happened to her. When she gets home, she sees the blood on her sheets from when she tried to remove the worms. Scared, she calls the police, but she hangs up because she’s not sure what she would tell them happened. Kris tries to return to work, but she gets fired after her unexcused absence. She tries to buy food at the grocery store, but the Thief has stolen all of her money.

    One year later, Kris encounters a man named Jeff (Carruth) on a train, and the two have an almost telepathic connection. When they spend the night together, they realize they have identical scars — they were both infected by the larva and then had the roundworms removed, but they also have no memory of this happening. Like Kris, Jeff also had his personal funds stolen by the Thief. He then lost his job after trying to embezzle money from his brokerage firm to cover his tracks.

    Kris and Jeff also have a telepathic connection with the pigs that received their worm transfusions, although they don’t know this. That’s another part of the worm-pig-orchid cycle, as Shane Carruth calls it. The Sampler is able to check in on people who are telepathically connected with the pig’s lives, and he writes songs about them. He sells these songs through a company called the Quinoa Valley Rec. Co.

    When one of the pigs gets pregnant, Kris thinks she's pregnant. The doctor tells her she isn’t; she actually had endometrial cancer, which was removed, and is now infertile. When the pig gives birth, the Sampler throws her piglets into a sack, which he tosses into the river.

    This sends Kris and Jeff into a deep depression. They turn against everyone else in their lives and hunker down in Kris’ house, expecting the worst. While this is happening, we see the sack with the piglet’s corpses, from which a blue substance — the same blue as the orchids the Thief extracted the larva from in the beginning — is traveling upstream into the surrounding waters. Orchids are growing out of the water, and farmers are collecting the blue flowers to sell.

    Kris, Jeff, and the Sampler slowly start to remember the things that have happened to them. Kris starts mumbling Walden. In a dream, the three of them sit down together and discuss being aware of each other before the Sampler has a heart attack. Back in reality, Kris and Jeff are on the pig farm. She shoots the Sampler, and he dies.

    Kris and Jeff find records of everyone who has been drugged the way they were and get them to come to the farm by sending them copies of Walden. They remodel the farm and start providing a better life for the pigs. No more pigs are drowned, so the Thief has no more blue orchids from which to get larva and start the worm-pig-orchid cycle again.

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    Growing up is hard to do. Before "adulting" — that is, clumsily impersonating our role models and pretending we have our lives together — became a buzzword, we "came of age." The action is still the same: staying out too late and trying to "find ourselves," or building a new life in a strange city.

    The best thing about coming-of-age movies is that you can watch them and get a better understanding of yourself today. The awkwardness of getting older is more than acne and puberty, and more than the milestones of academic life. Growing up is about looking around and piecing together what you want and don't want, who is and isn't worth listening to, where you do and don't feel safe. Whether you're working through these internal dilemmas in someone else's house — in a family home or with a band on tour — or in your first apartment, it's all tough.

    These are the best coming-of-age movies we can think of. And while many such stories are about love, we've culled a list of films that have a little more to offer than a traditional romance, because you don't have to fall in love to find yourself. "Coming of age" isn't about meeting the person you're supposed to spend the rest of your life with, but deciding what you want to spend the rest of your life as.

    Keep checking back before your next movie night. We'll be adding new movies to this list regularly.

    Pariah(2011)

    Alike (Adepero Oduye) is a teenager with a not-so-secret secret. She's a lesbian. Her parents suspect this, but are doing their best to ignore the reality of the situation. Over the course of the movie, Alike grows to become a woman who can assert herself, even if it makes other people uncomfortable. She's brave enough to be herself.

    Eighth Grade(2018)

    Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is probably too young to come of age. She's at the tail end of eighth grade. Rather, she's just starting the process. You know eventually she'll come out of middle school and make friends who accept and understand her, because we all did (hopefully). Watching her inch through the social bog of middle school is wrenching and bittersweet.

    The Florida Project(2017)

    Six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her single mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite), in a run-down motel outside of Disney World. As she goes on adventures with other motel kid, Halley struggles to make ends meet. After all, Halley is practically a kid herself. But given her circumstances, Halley has to grow up. And by the movie's end, Moonee is almost definitely forced to grow up more quickly than most six-year-olds.

    The Royal Tenenbaums(2001)

    As kids, Chas (Ben Stiller), Richie (Luke Wilson), and Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) Tenenbaum were all geniuses in their respective fields. But their prodigal abilities wore off as they reached adulthood. Now dysfunctional adults, the three Tenenbaum children are forced to grapple with their parents' strangeness, their childhood, and the way that their dreams didn't seem to pan out. Their droll, melancholy story is told with the kind of brilliant specificity only Wes Anderson can pull off.

    Boyz n the Hood(1991)

    After getting into a violent fight at school, ten-year-old Tre is sent to live with his father in Los Angeles. Tre's father (Lawrence Fishburne) tries to lay out the rules of the rough neighborhood to prepare Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) for incidents that he's confident Tre will encounter. In their hood, violence is a fact of life. Boyz in the Hood is based on director and screenwriter John Singleton's childhood in L.A.

    My Friend Dahmer(2017)

    This isn't quite a coming-of-age story — it's a coming-of- serial killer story. Derf Backderf happened to go to school with a young Jeffrey Dahmer, who would go on to murder legion young men beginning shortly after graduation. In a graphic novel, Backderf recalled his impressions of Dahmer. This movie, starring Ross Lynch as Dahmer, will seriously unsettle you.

    Call Me By Your Name(2017)

    Each year, Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and his parents spend the summer at their Italian villa, along with a visiting scholar his father has chosen. The summer Elio is 17, David (Armie Hammer), an American, comes to stay. What happens next will twist your heart until it drips...peach juice? Elio experiences a longing so pure, so aching that you'll be 17 again just by staring at it.

    Lady Bird(2017)

    Lady Bird's looking for reinvention — that's why she's switched from her given name, Christine, to the kookier Lady Bird. She's in her final year at Catholic high school in Sacramento. But before she can leave it all behind, Lady Bird has to get through a year in high school. This movie takes all the staples of a coming-of-age movie, like relationships and friendships and mothers and awkward time in-between life phases, and makes them truer.

    Okja(2017)

    Ten-year-old Mija grew up in the idyllic South Korean countryside caring for Okja, a massive, pig-like creature. Then, she discovers that Okja's actually the prototype for a (nutritious) product thought up by a massive meat company, the Mirando Corporation. Mija is willing to square off against corporate America to save her friend. Outside of her town, Mija learns about how the "real" world, aka the capitalist system, works — and won't accept it.

    It(2017)

    Granted, It is one terrifying movie. But when you're not jumping out of your seat with terror at Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård), you'll be laughing at the hilarious, earnest interactions of the kids in the Losers Club. It is like a mash-up of Stranger Things, Stand By Me, and your worst nightmares.

    Riding around town on their bikes, the kids in the Losers Club experience the summer of our imaginations. No rules, no adults, just boundless possibility, with the stormclouds of growing up gathering in the distance.

    Stand By Me(1986)

    The group of friends in Stand By Me are still kids by their end of their trek to find the supposed dead body in the woods. But like the kids in Stranger Things, they emerge altered from their brush with the adult world of death and strangeness. Childhood will never be the same after realizing its permanence.

    Stand By Me does its magic best when viewed by an adult. Instead of a coming-of-age tale, Stand By Me is a becoming-a-kid-again tale. You'll remember, briefly, the world as you once saw it.

    Mustang(2016)

    After neighbors catch them playing a harmless game with boys, five orphaned sisters in Turkey face outsized punishment. Their conservative grandmother keeps them on house arrest, and mounts a plan to get her granddaughters in marrying shape. But the sisters won't submit to their family's oppressive plan for them without scheming first.

    Narrated by the youngest sister, Mustang shows five young women on the cusp of a great and terrible change. This is the story of childhood's forced end.

    Little Women(1994)

    There's no more iconic coming-of-age story than Little Women, which tracks the lives of the four March sisters. Plus, it features a very, very young Christian Bale.

    Sing Street(2016)

    The year is 1985. The place, Dublin. Conor's (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) parents are fighting. His new school is run by a strict madman. Bullies chase him into bathrooms. So, he does what any boy with a lot of feelings and a musical ear would: start a band. Coming of age was never so catchy.

    The Spectacular Now(2013)

    Young love's the topic of so many films, but rarely is it handled with this earnest, authentic grace. While The Spectacular Now plays into the trope of a bookish girl dating a bad boy, Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller bring a three-dimensional intensity to their young passion that'll make you ache for your own high school loves.

    Mr. Nobody

    This mind-bending movie is unlike any other coming-of-age film ever made.

    Nemo Nobody is 118 years old, and the last mortal member of the human race. In honor of his birthday, he tells a reporter of his childhood and looks back at the pivotal moment in their childhood. A boy is on a train tracks. He can choose to go with his mother on the train, his father on the tracks, or run away. From there, Mr. Nobody sees the infinite trajectories of his life.

    The Way Way Back (2013)

    14-year-old Duncan’s summer down the Jersey shore with his mom and her skeevy boyfriend is not shaping up to be any fun at all. Desperate to get out of the house, Duncan takes a job at Water Wizz water park and finds a friend in the park’s overly friendly manager. The trials and tribulations of young teenage-dom have never been so endearing. Plus, seeing Steve Carrell play a villain is worth the watch.

    Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

    Alfonso Cuarón directed what is now considered a seminal classic coming-of-age film. The title roughly translates to "and your mother, too," a version of an insult tagline. (Think: "your mom ____.") The film follows Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael García Bernal), two teenage boys, as they take their life on the road. The friendship gets knotty when they invite Luisa, a beautiful mysterious woman — there's always one of those — to join them, sowing discord in their friendship.

    Elvis Mitchell, writing in The New York Times, called the movie, "fast, funny, unafraid of sexuality and finally devastating."

    Whale Rider (2002)

    Keisha Castle-Hughes received an Academy Award nomination for her role as the plucky Paikea, a young Maori girl struggling to come to terms with her patrilineal tribe.

    Paikea, called Pai, is a direct descendant of the current chieftain. The only problem: she's a girl. To make matters worse, Pai had a twin stillborn brother. By tradition, her late brother should be chief. Pai's grandfather won't acknowledge her — until she rides the whale, that is.

    Whale Rider succeeds by taking the harrowing process of growing up and transposing it onto the strict rules of tradition. In order to grow, Pai must subvert tradition. Breaking the boundaries of her tightly-wound society is Pai's coming-of-age ordeal, and every moment of this New Zealand film will have you on edge.

    Boyhood(2014)

    Boyhood is the coming-of-age film that literally came of age. Filmed over 12 years, the movie follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he traipses through adolescence. At the conclusion, Mason leaves for college, his "boyhood" coming to a close as the credits roll.

    Richard Linklater's film is remarkable because it danced between fiction and reality. We are watching a fiction, but the actors — including Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater — are subject to the very real effects of time.

    Nothing truly remarkable happens in the film, which lasts a generous 3 hours, but that's exactly the point. This bildungsroman is about the slow churn of self-discovery and the patience that it requires.

    Almost Famous (2000)

    Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) said it best: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.”

    William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is very, very uncool. So when the precocious teen gets a chance to profile an up and coming rock band for Rolling Stone, he jumps at it. There’s the obvious career boost, of course, but also the thrill of the road paired with the rock’s outlaw fantasy.

    Cross crossing the country, director Cameron Crowe’s protagonist gets a lesson in reporting — no one is ever a reliable source on their own life — but also in friendship. He’s quickly smitten with Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a young blonde fangirl who is low key sleeping with the band’s lead singer. Penny is troubled and flighty, and William is the only one who really cares about her. But even he tries to consume her free spirit. "I always tell the girls, never take it seriously," Penny explains once. "If you never take it seriously, you never get hurt, if you never get hurt, you always have fun. And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends. "

    The Fits (2016)

    Toni (Royalty Hightower) is an 11-year-old tomboy that doesn't know how to be a teenage girls. As girls her age have their first awkward crushes, she hangs out with her brother, watching him flirt with girls, laugh with his friends, and train to be a boxer. She's modeled her life after his, until now: Toni is transfixed by the cool girls, ones who seem unbothered by insecurities like her own.

    So Toni skips her brother's boxing lessons, and instead tries out for the local rec center's dance team. She watches them, and mimics their femininity. When an eerie sickness starts to spread other girls on the team, she hopes she's not affected by the same convulsions.

    There's a certain amount of suspense to this movie — what disease causes these girls to shake and shiver without warning? Where did it start, and how is it being transmitted? But its heart is in Toni's coming of age story as she begins to understand gender performance, and her place as a young woman in her community.

    Brooklyn (2015)

    Brooklyn is a 1950s immigrant story that starts out simple enough: Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) has just moved from Ireland to the borough (against her mother’s better judgement) for a better life. She leaves the ship that brought her to America’s shores, ready to find the American promise she’s heard so much about. In a strange city with rowdy Americans, she’s lonely enough to sob into her own sheets. She might not have left a full life beyond, but it was a satisfying one.

    Soon enough, she meets Tony (Emory Cohen), a boyishly handsome Italian guy at a Catholic mixer. For a while, Brooklyn masquerades as a love story: The pair sweetly fall in love and plan a life together. Then a tragedy at home in Ireland requires Eilis to return to her sleepy hometown.

    And this is when Brooklyn gets really great: It takes meeting a boy at home (Domhnall Gleeson) to put in perspective how much Eilis has accomplished. She’s built herself a life in Brooklyn, through long days and lonely nights. The crux of the movie is the crossroads of coming of age: Looking in the mirror and deciding between the self you’ve grown out of and the self you’ve grown into.

    Splendor In The Grass (1961)

    This classic, directed by Elia Kazan, is most famous for being the first American movie to feature French kissing onscreen. Outside of the Natalie Wood-Warren Beatty lip action, though, it’s a touching story of desire, resistance, and how jarring it is to realize your parents are imperfect — and maybe even deeply flawed.

    The story is set in 1920s Kansas, and Bud Stamper (Beatty) and Deanie Loomis (Wood) are in love. He’s the football hero, heir to an oil fortune; she’s a good girl, dutiful daughter to a humble grocery-owning family. There’s no way (or reason) to put it delicately: Kissing isn’t enough anymore. These high school seniors are ready to do the thing they’re taught good girls aren’t supposed to want and good boys aren’t supposed to ask for: have sex.

    The central conflict is that Deanie and Bud are trapped within puritanical conventions about sexuality and womanhood that no one can explain, but that are rigidly abided by. Some of what the movie has to say about sex isn’t as potent so many decades later. But the larger questions about parents who love you but can’t listen or raise or relate to you — and how we’re tasked with loving them through it — remain.

    An Education (2009)

    When Jenny (Carey Mulligan) meets David, she’s a small-town girl with dreams of Oxford. She’s clever, accomplished, and bored. He’s older, curiously smooth, and fun. The pair doesn’t have a lot of natural chemistry, but the idea of the relationship is alluring, and David brings her into a world of luxury, teasing her with a trip to Paris. Jenny trades her textbooks for kitten heels. “My choice is to do something hard and boring for the rest of my life,” Jenny tells her teacher, choosing to set aside her studies, “or to go to Paris. And have fun!”

    But the adult relationship requires Jenny to grow up in ways she didn’t expect. Loving David might not come saddled with Proust or Saussure, but their life together still has strings attached. As the girlish cello-playing student, Jenny saw past them. As the woman Jenny grows into, she sees through them.

    Girlfight (2000)

    Diana Guzman (Michelle Rodriguez) is a troubled teen climbing her way out of the disorder of her high school life. She has a problem with fighting. In school and at home, her temper is always dragging her into trouble. After spending a few moments in the boxing ring by chance, she’s hooked. The aggression is exciting, and the discipline of the sport anchors her in the midst of the chaos of her life.

    It’s important that boxing is what wins Guzman’s interest. The sport is ruled by testosterone and physicality. To the men and boys who surround her, Guzman's entrance into the boxing gym upsets their masculine power. “This is a story about a girl growing up in a macho society and, far from being threatened by its values, discovering she has a nature probably more macho than the men around her,” wrote Roger Ebert at the time of the film’s release. “Since the movie (written, directed, and produced by women) is deeply aware of that theme, it's always about more than boxing.”

    The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (2015)

    Minnie Goetze just had sex for the first time in her life. That’s not a secret — it’s one of the first lines in the movie. Her excitement is infectious as we watch her life play out and listen as she confides to her tape-recorder diary. Her commentary details the smallest, most intimate moments with a boy she likes.

    The boy in question, however, is a man: Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) is the boyfriend of Minnie’s lonely, wayward mother (Kristen Wiig). Their love isn’t pure, but Skarsgård strikes a balance between creepy and coyish. We don’t realize he’s a bum until Minnie does. The movie ultimately belongs to Minnie, because every scene is anchored by Bel Powley’s performance. The camera watches her explore her sexuality without exploiting her teenage lust.

    The Kids Are All Right (2010)

    By the time we meet parents Nic and Jules (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore), the fractures in their family have bubbled to the surface. Only on the surface is this a movie about a family with two moms, or about what happens when an “unconventional” family opens their doors to their sperm donor. A coming-of-age story is at the root of the plot: Nic and Jules's kids, two California teens in most respects — one headed to college, the other trying to define his life outside of “jock” and “kid brother" — are piecing together their origin story, and their entire family is growing past it.

    The Edge Of Seventeen (2016)

    Hailee Steinfeld is hilarious and spot-on in this performance of awkward teen and high school junior, Nadine.

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    Raise your hand if you often feel like you're drowning in mental to-do lists, and then just when you feel like you're finally coming up for air, more tasks gets piled on. Anyone?

    This overwhelming feeling, coupled with the fact that our phones are practically appendages these days, can make it more than a little challenging to get work done efficiently. Sometimes we all need a little bit of outside help with organization, productivity, and focusing, so ahead, we rounded up the best time management apps for whether you're a student, a freelancer juggling multiple gigs, or just a 9-to-5er without enough hours in the day.

    Be Focused

    This app helps you manage your time by segmenting your workflow into timed intervals with allotted breaks. You can opt for the standard 25-minute intervals with five-minute breaks — referred to as the Pomodoro Technique, which centers around the idea that we're most productive when we work in 25-minute interruption-free spurts — or you can customize your intervals.

    Price: $1.99

    Todoist

    Todoist is a handy, no-frills task manager that lets you dump all the random thoughts in your brain with an easy-to-use Quick Add feature and then organizes them into tasks for you. You can color coordinate tasks to better keep track of your daily priorities, assign tasks to other collaborators, and sync your lists with other apps you use. Plus, the app has a clean interface and lets you look at the day at hand or opt for a macro overview of the week.

    Price: Free

    Forest

    Our winner for the cutest time management app, Forest lets you plant a tree when you want to focus, which then grows as you stay on task (or withers when you get distracted and inevitably go down an Instagram rabbit hole). The more trees you grow, the lusher your forest becomes. If you want to "see" the animated fruits of your labor, this is the app for you. Also, the app partners with Trees for the Future and plants real-life trees, too.

    Price: $1.99

    Flipd

    This app emphasizes mindfulness as the key to productivity. It nudges you to be present and get back on track when you veer off, motivates you by tracking your "time well spent," and allows you to lock distracting apps so that you can better unplug. Also, the pastel graphics and illustrations are low-key very soothing.

    Price: Free

    Doo - Get Things Done

    If big picture stuff feels overwhelming, and you need help breaking things down into manageable steps, Doo will be your new best friend. It shows you one task at a time in the form of a card in a stack (à la Tinder) rather than listing all of your to-dos together, and it's super satisfying to hit Complete once you've finished the task at hand.

    Price: $4.99

    Remember The Milk

    This app is great for the extreme multitasker. You can create tags, subtasks, and smart lists, easily search through your past tasks, set due dates and reminders, and sort everything to your liking, so that you don't lose track of even the smallest task.

    Price: Free

    Class Timetable

    This time management app is great for students — use it like a planner and check out your week at a glance, or opt for the daily view to check on what's next in your schedule. The interface is streamlined and simple, and also keeps track of what you have left to do for each class. Plus, it doubles as a calendar and reminds you when you have class for the day and when assignments are due.

    Price: Free

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    For as long as I can remember, I've had a soft spot for shoes that most people would call "not beautiful." In the sixth grade, I was the proud wearer of Buffalo platforms (the six-inch kind) and camouflage Dunlop sneakers; in high school I shuffled around in Adidas slides. When it comes to the visual assessment and aesthetic classification of my wardrobe, I almost have a meter-thick protective armor. My sharpest critic is myself, and it probably always will be.

    But back to "ugly" sneakers. When I look at Balenciaga's new Triple S', I immediately think of the scene from Crazy, Stupid, Love where Ryan Gosling throws Steve Carell's New Balance 407 over the railing at the mall. Still, I think they would look great with a cool pair of jeans and an oversized sweater. So why do so many people find "ugly" sneakers, well, ugly? Is it the color combinations? The thick, naked soles? The shoe laces or the many seams? I can only guess that it's a healthy combination of all of the above. "Ugly" sneakers are unbalanced, like an oblique image in a perfectly stylized room. They interfere with the overall picture.

    Man Repeller went as far as to assert in the analysis of 'Dad Sneakers,' as they are also called, help ground us in times of unrest — and that might just be the reason for their sudden rise. I, however, feel like we are surrounded by so much false perfection that it's time to go back to the basics. I'm at a point now where I prefer something real to all of the selfies, avocados, and minimalist apartments on Instagram. And perhaps that's why these shoes are so appealing.

    The pieces from Acne Studios, Stella McCartney, and Balenciaga, among others, remind me of the avant-garde and interrogative movement of Cubism, or the designs of Deconstructivism. I find it exciting when you divide things into their individual parts and think about new forms. And while society may not accept them just yet, I have a feeling we'll get there — eventually. But to help kick things off, here's a few of — in my opinion — the most beautiful presumably "ugly" sneakers of the season — with love from me, to you.

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    Without a doubt, dating in 2017 is an art form. If you’re single and looking for love, you know where the scene is. It’s online. (Unless you’ve made it onto The Bachelor, in which case, bravo.) But whether you’ve been on 100 Tinder dates or zero, it’s a tricky little business. There's such a grand variety of dating apps to choose from — where do you even begin?

    While there is no official handbook or rule guide, most dating apps operate more or less the same way. You download the app, create a profile, add some of your favorite pictures, and write a short bio. If you make a match, you can commence Instagram- or Facebook-stalking to learn more — at least that’s what we do.

    We're here to help you with that first step: Figuring out which dating app is worth your homescreen space in the first place. There's no reason you should have to do all that leg work when we can do it for you. So, each month we'll test drive the latest dating apps and report back on what's worth your time.

    Ready to find your match? Read on to check out the latest.

    The App: Dig

    The Pitch: "The dog person's dating app"

    What we think: If you're a dog person only looking to date other dog people (which is fair), this is the dating app for you. You don't have to be a dog owner to use the app, but if you are, you can make a profile for you and your dog, and then filter your potential matches based on whether they have a dog, as well as the size of their dog. Each day, the app presents you with five prospective matches, and you can then decide if you “dig,” “really dig,” or want to pass on them. And if you want to meet up IRL with a match, Dig can help you plan a dog-related first date. Plus, the app gives its users daily dog-related deals and tips. It's definitely one of the most wholesome dating apps out there, which is refreshing, to say the least.

    If, as the saying goes, your potential partner "Must Love Dogs," this is a sure-fire way to make that happen.

    The App:Wingman

    The Pitch: "Friends know you best."

    What we think: We've all let our friends play matchmaker on our Tinders before. It's scary, and they might swipe right on profiles we wouldn't ordinarily look twice at, but sometimes letting a friend take the wheel can yield better results than when we're the ones in the driver's seat.

    Enter Wingman, the first-ever matchmaking app. In theory, it's great. Your friends make a profile for you and then do all the work — the point being for them to "do something good" for and live vicariously through you (their single friend). But this setup, though certainly unique and full of potential for matches, is slightly off-putting.

    The app specifies that it's for non-single people to help their single friends — implying those in relationships have done something right that their single friends have not and need their help with. If the app's language were more general — perhaps designated as a place for any kind of person to help their friend find a match — that might be more palatable.

    Using the app, it feels like it was created more with the helper friends in mind than those actually seeking matches. But if you have a friend you'd trust with this task, why not let them have a go at it?

    The App:Bumble

    The Pitch: "We're changing the rules of the game."

    What we think: Bumble is the Sadie Hawkins dance of the dating-app world; if a match happens, the only way to chat is if the girl makes the first move. Conversations begin on her terms and hers alone. If the female doesn't say anything within 24 hours of connecting with someone, that person disappears and the connection is lost. If a connection with someone of the same sex is made, each has one day to spark a conversation before the connection is deleted. If the 24-hour mark is approaching without a message, matches can request another 24 hours.

    It's definitely an ego boost thinking, Ha, he is waiting by his phone for me to text him and there's nothing he can do about it! (We watch a lot of He's Just Not That Into You rom-coms around here, so it's nice to envision the tables turned.)

    Another fun Bumble feature is backtracking. Say you by mistake swiped left or right too soon — no worries! Just shake your phone and it'll take you to the previous profile.

    Note: If you are a Bumble user, make sure you're swiping in the right mode. There's the traditional Bumble, but also Bumble BFF, for making new friends, and Bumble Bizz, for networking.

    Photo: Courtesy Bumble.

    The App:Taffy

    The Pitch: "The chat-first way to meet new people"

    What we think: The more you get to know someone, the more you see the real them, right? This is the premise behind dating app Taffy. Your photo and all other users' photos on the app remain blurry until a series of messages are exchanged. Instead of swiping based on looks, you'll see "catchy headlines" and short bios that will hopefully pique your interest and lead you to kick off a chat. The app is a refreshing change from the norm.

    The App: Cuddli

    The Pitch: "Find That Geeky Special Someone"

    What We Think: Cuddli targets Marvel fan communities and those who prefer to spend their weekends playing Magic. However, beyond some gaming icons that people can use to express themselves there doesn't seem to be anything that makes this app specifically for "geeks", beyond the fact that it calls itself the "dating app for geeks."

    Nevertheless, it helps weed out ghosting by requiring users to respond to matches who message and want to meet you. Plus, an embedded tool for picking a local meet-up spot makes it easier to plan an in person rendezvous.

    Photo: Cuddli.

    The App: Badoo

    The Pitch: “Meet New People, Chat, Socialize”

    What we think: If you want your celeb crush to become a reality, Badoo might be the app for you. While you won't really end up with Chris Evans, Jake Gyllenhaal, or Chris Pratt, you could get pretty close.

    The app's latest update includes a new "Lookalikes" section where you can narrow down the profiles you see based on which users share a celeb doppelgänger. It's a fun idea and one that works relatively well, give or take some facial hair. If you want to see which celebs the app's algorithm thinks you look like, you can head here.

    Photo: Courtesy of Badoo.

    The App: First

    The Pitch: "The First Real Dating App"

    What We Think: Anyone who has spent time on a dating app knows that many messages go unanswered and, even for those that are answered, an in-person meet-up doesn't always happen. First aims to eliminate both concerns. You post a date you're interested in going on and other users express interest. You can also specify ahead of time who will pay or whether you will split the date.

    Other users will express interest and you can sort through the profiles to pick the lucky winner. Or, find a date in your feed that you'd like to go on. This is essentially a (nearly) blind dating app for the 21st century.

    The one downside with First is the very thing that sets it apart: A lack of any communication before the date. You can't get a sense of what the person is really like until you exchange words during your first meeting. So, if there are red flags that you can identify ahead of time through messaging in other apps, you won't get that here. Still, the concept is an interesting one and a nice change from the exhausting back-and-forth of arranging a date.

    Photo: First.

    The App: Huggle

    The Pitch: "Discover people who go to the places you do."

    What we think: The more places you visit, the better your chances of meeting someone on Huggle. After you go somewhere, the app will ask you to confirm that you did, in fact, visit that location (the geolocation was off a few times, but you can easily correct it). Then, you'll see other users who also visited that spot.

    It's an easy conversation starter (hey, which pastries do you usually get at Ceci Cela?), but few people on the app actually started or responded to conversations, which was frustrating. Plus, there weren't very many users for each location.

    The App:Klique

    The Pitch: "Meet New People, With Friends By Your Side."

    What we think: Like almost every other dating app out there, Klique lets you create a profile and swipe for nearby matches. Where it differs is its social component. After you start a chat with a match you can both invite friends to join the chat and make plans as a group.

    While this is nice in theory, it feels like a waste of time and a bit odd. Why not just make plans with your match to go out and agree that you'll both invite friends to come along? That way, you can save time messaging online and get to what matters: an in-person interaction.

    The App: Vouch Dating

    The Pitch: "Friends Swipe For You"

    What we think: We were excited about Vouch from the minute former Bachelor star Sean Lowe announced it. Why? It takes all the endless swiping out of your hands and lets your friends — who know what you like and can be more objective — do all the leg work. On the flip side, it's fun to match friends with people you think are the right fit.

    Both ends of the process worked seamlessly. Of course, after you've matched your friends, or they've matched you, the conversation is in the dater's hands. But it's so much easier to pick up there, with the swiping already done. So go on — match or be matched.

    Photo: Vouch Dating.

    The App: Coffee Meets Bagel

    The Pitch: "Meet Your Everything Bagel Today"

    What we think: If you want to be on a dating app that has lots of users but you don't feel like swiping, Coffee Meets Bagel is the app for you. Every day you're presented with one "bagel." Take a look at his or her interests and photos, and choose to pass or connect. It's that simple. Some days you may get more than one person, but never the infinite number that you'll find on other apps.

    In a perfect world, fewer overall matches would mean that the matches you do get lead to deep, meaningful connections and wonderful dates. But, as with any other modern dating app, Coffee Meets Bagel has its fair share of unanswered messages and dead-end conversations. If you're over swiping left and swipe right, though, it's worth a try.

    Photo: Courtesy of Coffee Meets Bagel.

    The App:Mingle

    The Pitch: "They say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is at least a thousand pictures!"

    What we think: Mingle gives you more options than your traditional swiping app. To chat with someone directly, you'll need to match with them, but you can also choose to go into a "chat room" and talk with anyone else there. However, it will cost you, which is one of the main deterrents of the app. To send messages to users and enter chat rooms you'll need to buy coins. The lowest number of coins, 100, will cost you $1.99. This isn't unlike Bumble Boost, but it is annoying to have so many hidden fees.

    The one advantage that Mingle has over many other dating apps is the video profile option. While it might take you at least a few tries to take a video that you like and think feels like you, it's nice to hear how someone else sounds — and really see them — before meeting.

    Photo: Mingle.com.

    The App: Hater

    The Pitch: "Meet someone who hates the same stuff."

    What we think: Hater is similar to other dating apps in that you create a basic profile with photos and enter preferences for age. What's different is that instead of swiping on photos, you swipe on issues, indicating how much you like or dislike a show ( The Bachelor), Person (Tom Brady), or other part of life, such as "butt selfies." You match with people who dislike the same things as you do.

    Hater just launched as a beta version on the App Store, so not many people seem to be on it yet. Aside from that, optimists might find it somewhat sad that you're meeting someone based on what you both hate. Then again, maybe true love can form over a shared dislike of cilantro.

    Photo: Hater.

    The App:Her

    The Pitch: “Your Lesbian, Bisexual & Queer Community In One Place”

    What we think: Her caters to gay and bisexual women, and nonbinary and trans people. However, it is so much more than just a dating app. The first thing I saw on my feed was posted by the Her team and invited users to join a live Q&A with actress and comedian, Brittani Nichols.

    As I continued to scroll down, I noticed people uploading selfies, sharing thoughts, and posing questions to the larger community about how to come out to their parents. The Her team also posts a question each day, including, for example, “How did your family and friends react when you came out to them?” Users can Like, comment, or share these posts, in addition to uploading their own.

    The more time I spent on the app, the more I realized what a safe space it was. All the profiles are verified, and in order to chat with someone, you must add her as a friend first. Whether you’re looking for a date, a new buddy, a serious relationship, or all the above, everyone on the app is friendly and welcoming. You’ll find news, events, and women who you can connect with regardless of your sexual orientation.

    Overall, the app feels like a hybrid of Pinterest (each profile has a board you can update and add to), Instagram, and Facebook, but with a dating component, too.

    Photo: Her.

    The App:BeLinked

    The Pitch: “Be True. Be Selective. BeLinked.”

    What we think: BeLinked is a dating app that connects to your LinkedIn account, catering to young, career-driven professionals. I’m used to dating apps that connect to my Facebook account, so this was a nice change of pace.

    BeLinked operates more or less like any other dating app, but there are some notable benefits. I hate looking someone up on LinkedIn,
    especially a potential date, knowing that they got a notification saying I viewed their profile. On BeLinked, I can view their profile without them getting a notice about it. So, for example, I immediately see what they do, where they went to school, and what year they graduated. Having all this information gives me more conversation starters than Bumble or Tinder, which don't require as much background.

    One downside: Because the app is so new, I came across many BeLinked tester profiles.

    Photo: BeLinked.

    The App:Loveflutter

    The Pitch: “Discover People & Places To Meet Nearby”

    What we think: When I downloaded the app, a screen very reminiscent of Twitter popped up. I had 140 characters to write anything I wanted about myself. If you don't know what to write, you've got to think of something — it's not optional. I used that space to say, “I’m voting for Hillary Clinton!”

    Aside from the Twitter-like bio, Loveflutter stands out from other apps because it puts personality first, and appearance second. Let me explain.

    Under the “People” section, I was shown one profile at a time. I saw their short bios, which were superimposed on very blurred profile pictures, along with their ages, names, and whether we had any similar interests. But, if you then tapped on the image, the text would disappear and you could see that person's photo. Instead of quickly swiping based on someone’s main image, I found myself swiping left and right solely based on their text, often not even looking at the picture at all. (Certainly a change from Tinder!) If the match is mutual, you can chat with the person.

    The app also has a nice “Date Ideas” section that suggests restaurants and bars nearby, taking out the awkward guesswork of choosing a first date location.

    And if you really want to get straight to the point, you can press “Suggest-a-Date,” which will notify someone you’ve matched with, essentially asking them out for you. What’s the point in mindless small talk anyways, right?

    Photo: LoveFlutter.

    The App:Whisper

    The Pitch: “Share, Express, Meet”

    What we think: Technically, Whisper isn’t a dating app, but many a wedding has come out of it. The app is an anonymous social network, and aims to provide users a safe online space to share thoughts, secrets, feelings, and opinions, and to trade advice.

    After enabling push notifications, watching a short video introduction, and turning on my location settings, I was shown a feed of "whispers" (images and videos with text superimposed). No profile creation here.

    Under the "Popular" section of the app were whispers that read, "Please don’t call me 'exotic.' I’m not a plant,” and, “I think the saddest thing I’ve ever seen to date was my dad spending 5 min trying to take off his wedding ring after my mom left him,” among others. I lost myself in a sea of thoughts. I liked the fact that I was connecting with people on an incredibly intimate level, while remaining anonymous. But plenty of people are also using it to hook up.

    “25 Male 6ft-3 Italian…message me.”

    “To the blond girl walking down Eddy st in hull, message me if you see this. I had the long red hair and beard.”

    “Will you be my dirty little secret?”

    While you can see whispers from all over, sticking to the "Nearby" section will limit posts to people in your general vicinity — which does make it a reasonable option for finding a date. When you post a whisper, other users can reply and heart it. You can also chat with other people directly on the app, but if you accept a chat request, both parties must provide their age, gender, and location.

    If you're tired of traditional dating apps, checking out the personalities on Whisper could be an interesting — and even inspiring — way to go. And you might have fun sharing some of your own thoughts in the process.

    Read on for the dating apps we've tested previously.

    Photo: Whisper.

    The App: Feeld

    The Pitch: Dating for couples and singles

    What we think: Feeld used to be a dating app for threesomes, but now caters to both singles and couples. While I wasn't necessarily into the idea of a threesome, I wanted to explore the app and see what all the fuss was about.

    The app opens with a pleasant greeting: “Date awesome people around you who are kinky, curious, and open-minded.”

    Profile creation was different than with your typical dating app. First, I had to specify whether this account was for a single person or for a couple. Then, I was asked to create an imaginary name. (That’s a first.) Another first: Adding a passcode and touch verification for security! But then again, I feel like the app is all about firsts.

    When I was going through the “looking for” part of the process, I realized why the app had changed its name. It’s not exclusively for threesomes. I had the option of checking off female, male, male and female couple, male and male couple, female and female couple, and TS/TG/TV.

    Then I had a look around. At first I was confused because I was shown a profile picture, and had to swipe left in order to find out details — counterintuitive for a dating app, if you ask me. Other than that, I was amazed by who I came across. Feeld has mastered fostering an online space where anonymity, exploration, and personal freedom come together seamlessly. This is rare in the world of dating.

    After browsing through a few profiles, I instantly felt that I was part of a community where everyone was genuine and open.

    Photo: Feeld.

    The App: Lively

    The Pitch: Meet People in Motion

    What we think: Lively, built by Zoosk, uses videos to help you get to know other people around you faster.

    In making my profile, the app quickly gathered all my videos from my phone and Facebook so that I could choose which media I wanted to include in my profile. The four videos I selected were then transformed into a collage, showing off my personality and interests.

    So, the app Lively really is quite lively: My profile felt like a short film in which I starred. The videos I chose included one dubsmash, while the others were of me and my friends goofing off. I felt it was an accurate representation of me.

    Unfortunately, the app is brand-new, so there aren’t a ton of people on it yet. But I enjoyed the idea of skipping the “about me” section in lieu of videos. In a world where video dominates social media — just look at Snapchat and Instagram stories — the visually stimulating factor at play is a serious plus. Instead of looking at a picture, I could decide whether or not I liked someone from watching 15 seconds of video footage, which feels a lot less judgmental than making a swipe based on a photo or two.

    Photo: Lively.

    The App: Once

    The Pitch: Handpicked matches every day

    What we think: True to its name, Once is a dating app that handpicks one match for you each day. Instead of swiping, Once has matchmakers who do that for you.

    After I downloaded the app and filled in my profile, I was ready to start browsing — except that I couldn’t. It was an unexpected surprise. I could just sit back, relax, and wait for the app to alert me when they found my match of the day. Both parties get notified of their match at the same time.

    After you get your match, you can message one another — and you can enjoy 24 hours of their undivided attention. But, if you don’t like your match, you can request someone else.

    I am a fan of any online dating app that focuses on quality over quantity when it comes to matches. And when I got a push notification about my first match, I’m not going to lie, I definitely got excited.

    Photo: Once.

    The App: Siren

    The Pitch: Dating apps make you sell yourself. Siren lets you be yourself.

    What we think: Siren “fights the swipe,” focusing on values such as comfort, respect, and privacy. And it’s unlike other dating app I’ve encountered. For starters, the gender selection gave “non-binary” as an option. And then, since the app is all about not objectifying its users, it focuses on your thoughts and opinions instead.

    Each day, a new question is posted to the app and users are invited to respond. You can scroll down and see other people’s responses, and “heart” them based on their answers. When you like someone’s answer, only that user can see it.

    After first downloading the app, the question of the day was: “You are given unlimited resources and tasked with creating a lifesaving device. What do you create?” The responses were plentiful and diverse. One user answered: “A non-dangerous car. Can’t be harmed in it, can’t be harmed by it.”

    I hearted a user who responded: “nanobots that kill cancer.” Then, I pressed the connect icon below that, letting the person know I was interested. If that person reciprocates the connection, then the messaging feature will be unlocked. You have two privacy options in the app: keeping your profile private until a connection is approved, or making it visible to all (I went with the latter).

    I liked that, right away, you have a conversation starter with someone you’ve matched with. It’s unlike any other dating app, and feels refreshing. It puts people’s personalities on display rather than just their profile pictures.

    Photo: Courtesy Siren.

    The App: MiCrush

    The Pitch: The Latino dating app.

    What we think: MiCrush is designed to help you find single Latin Americans. It is the only dating app on the market that is offered fully in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Spanish is my first language (my mom’s side of the family has its roots in Colombia), so I was intrigued.

    After connecting via Facebook, MiCrush asked me about my roots, presenting a multitude of Spanish-speaking countries I could choose from. I selected Colombia, but you can also select “bicultural,” "other," or leave out this detail.

    After viewing and silently approving my new profile, I noticed I had the option of connecting with Instagram, too. I like this feature (and I’ve only seen it on one other dating app, Raya).

    Next, I began filtering my matches by age, gender, and distance. But I could also filter by roots here. I decided to filter by choosing “Colombia,” seeing as my mother would like nothing more than for me to end up with a Colombian. Okay, done. I’m ready to get swiping.

    As I scrolled through profiles, I was pleasantly surprised by how many people showed up. I thought I would get through all the profiles of people who had roots in Colombia quickly, but, as it turns out, there are quite a lot.

    While the app itself is free, you can, “say hola,” to one of your crushes without waiting to see if they swipe right back by purchasing messages. Otherwise, messaging is free with people you match with. I liked the optional in-app purchase because it will get you noticed ASAP, but I wasn’t ready to splurge on five “holas” for $4.99. And being able to select the language of the app made the app feel really special — it was also a great way to practice my Spanish.

    Photo: Courtesy MiCrush.

    The App:The League

    The Pitch: Meet. Intelligently.

    What we think: The League doesn’t just let you connect to Facebook automatically, like most other dating apps. It’s all about connecting you with people who share your same education level, are successful, and driven — it’s dating for ambitious young professionals. Before I started swiping, I had to give access to my LinkedIn profile, then wait to get vetted and approved. After sitting on the wait-list for a tense couple of hours, I received a push notification saying, “You’ve been officially drafted into The League!”

    Okay, I know — it sounds a little obnoxious. But why not give it a try?

    Here's how it works: Each day at 5 p.m. you receive a new batch of bachelors. If you “heart” someone, don’t be surprised if it’s not an instant match (not everyone receives the same daily batches of people). And you can join groups and group chats when you heart them in your feed. If users are inactive or unresponsive, they’ll get kicked off the app.

    In my feed, I came across two surprising profiles: Soho House and Burning Man. If I were to heart Burning Man, I would be added to a group messaging chatroom where I could talk to other people who were going. Same goes for Soho House — except you already have to be a member (and send proof!) to the app in order to be added to this private chat group.

    As for matches, I liked that I was only presented with a small manageable number of profiles (five, to be exact) each day. Instead of judging a person quickly, I delved into their profile before swiping so I could make an informed decision. I definitely felt like the quality of my matches were better here than on most other dating apps.

    And while I initially thought the whole idea of connecting to your LinkedIn account to match you with someone with “drive and motivation,” was snobbish, I did like its core values: Keep your standards high and don’t settle.

    Photo: Courtesy The League.

    The App:Adventurely

    The Pitch: “This Dating App Gets You Out Of The House”

    What we think: Adventurely aims to help you have adventures. The app serves locals and travelers alike who want to discover a foreign city or their own — and are looking for some company along the way.

    After downloading the app, I quickly composed my profile and pressed the “adventures” icon. I was prompted to choose from a selection of restaurants, museums, parks, landmarks, cafés, music venues, bars, and even bike paths that I was interested in and could add to my “itinerary.” I also had the option of entering in dates I was free to go.

    If someone else had added the same adventures to their itinerary, I received a match notification. Thus, Adventurely connects like-minded people who want to do the similar things, allowing you to chat and make plans to get out there. (At last, no more pointless swipes or conversations that go nowhere!)

    There is also a live feed where I explored other users’ adventure itineraries and had the option of joining. Even if you’re not using it in search of romance, the app is a great tool for seeing sights with a new friend.

    The app is new and currently only available in New York City.

    Photo: Courtesy Adventurely.

    The App: Cheers

    The Pitch: “Drink with friends”

    What we think: Let me begin by saying that the first round of drinks is on Cheers. +1. Once downloaded and connected with Facebook, I saw if any of my friends were already on the app, so I could form a group with them and get my free drink.

    I was initially attracted the app because instead of going on a blind one-on-one date (which can be incredibly awkward), the app is all about connecting two groups of friends and going out for drinks. Hopefully, a match comes out of it.

    So, you can invite friends on the app to join your group and form a collective profile that others on the app can see. You can’t form groups larger than three people, though. When swiping through potential groups to go out with, you’re presented with either a duo or trio, their respective information, any mutual friends that might be shared, and a nice variety of group pictures.

    If the match is mutual, you are immediately prompted to press the “pick a place” icon. The bar or restaurant you select will have a round of complimentary drinks under your name. We love the idea behind this app, because it takes any awkwardness out of the date (" Who pays for what? "), takes out meaningless in-app conversations, and, of course, free drinks.

    However, I had a bit of bad luck. The only friend I had on the app was a girl I barely knew who lived in a different city from me. I invited a few of my friends to join, but even after joining and creating a profile, the app did not register them as my friends. I was never actually able to form a group, making the app virtually useless, since the only way to meet other people and go out for drinks is when two groups show mutual interest.

    Hopefully, it's just a bug and I'll get to take advantage of the app's free drink soon.

    Photo: Courtesy Cheers.

    The App:Tastebuds

    The Pitch: “Meet People through Music”

    What we think: Tastebuds matches you up with someone who shares your taste in music. It's basically the Tinder for music lovers.

    With Tastebuds, the major component in setting up your profile is choosing artists who you like. It gathers information from your music “likes” on Facebook and your iTunes library, automatically inserts them into your profile, and then prompts you to add more. Obviously, you can tailor it — you might not want potential suitors to see you as a die-hard Taylor Swift fan from the get-go.

    Personally, I kept Taylor Swift in the mix for the sake of online authenticity, and then curated my list so it best represented me, a task that took me no more than three minutes. You can also round out your profile by answering questions such as what your dream concert would be, and what your favorite band was when you were 13.

    Then, you're presented with profiles of people whose music taste most closely matches yours. In lieu of sending a message, you can flirt by sending someone a song. Pretty great icebreaker, in my opinion.

    What I like most about this app is that while browsing other people’s profiles you might discover a new song you like, and then you can easily save it to your Spotify account without even having to exit the app. Also, because it’s centered around music, there’s a larger incentive to meet up (i.e., go to a concert together). That’s always a great first date idea, and in the case of this app, a very appropriate one.

    Photo: Courtesy Tastebuds.

    The App:helloTruly

    The Pitch: “Know When To Say Hello”

    What we think: helloTruly is unlike any dating app I’ve yet to encounter — in a good way.

    When first opening the app, the screen shows a mission statement of sorts: “helloTruly helps you make real, personal connections at the places you go.” And the app means that in the most literal way possible. If you’re one of those people who typically opts out of push notifications, think twice, because on this app, you’re going to want them.

    The app functions as a digital icebreaker, designed for people who would rather meet someone IRL than first chatting on an app. In lieu of all the standard dating app algorithms and questionnaires, helloTruly is simple: It's centered around a location based checking-in feature. You open the app and check in somewhere, whether you’re at a bookstore, café, bar, lounge, club, restaurant, or wherever, and if someone else (who meets your set preferences) checks in at the same spot, you’ll receive a push notification. Off the bat, you know you have things in common with this person because you’re both in the same spot at the same time.

    Once you check in, you can press the “get found” button if you're interested in meeting someone new. You then share what you’re wearing, drinking, or doing, so you're identifiable to other app users. If you see someone you like that has checked into the same spot, you can send them a “wave” to let them know you’re interested. You don't have to check in to see who else is around you, but when you do check in, it shares your full profile with those in the same spot.

    If you're not sure where to go to meet a potential date, the “Hot Spot” screen shows you the most popular places people have checked in near you, which is convenient.

    Unfortunately, since the app is so new (it just launched in June), I haven’t seen other people who have checked in at the same spot as me — dating app fail. Hopefully it will pick up some steam, though, because we like the idea.

    Photo: Courtesy HelloTruly.

    The App: Sweatt

    The Pitch: “A Dating App for the Fitness Community”

    What we think: Sweatt is a dating app for people who love to work out. Naturally then, after I created an account via Facebook, the app asked me a series of workout-related questions, such as what my favorite time to work out was (I selected the “post work” option) and how many times a week I worked out (three to four). The next screen asks you to tap your true loves — icons representing activities such as lifting, Spinning, biking, running, yoga, and dance come up. You can only choose two, though! I tapped on the Spinning bike (because yes, I belong to SoulCycle) and yoga icons.

    From there, you can fill out a short bio, and you can also list your preferred "fuel" (your preferred diet or dietary restrictions). I eat pretty much everything, so I chose the hamburger icon.

    Once that's done, you're presented with five profiles each day. While I enjoy working out, I quickly realized I didn’t quite belong on the app. I am not an obsessive exerciser, nor would I even consider going on a Paleo diet. Many of the people I came across were trainers, hardcore gym fanatics, and people who wrote in their bios that they were looking for a workout buddy. But, the app itself is easy to use and has an attractive design scheme. However, it is truly geared towards fitness buffs. If you’re a fitness connoisseur, it's definitely worth a try.

    Photo: Courtesy Sweatt.

    The App:Platinum Poire

    The Pitch: "The nation's premiere invitation-only matchmaking service."

    What we think: Technically, it's not an app, but it’s a unique, invite-only dating service that aims to do the same thing as an app like Tinder does. Founders of the site, Rori Sassoon, professional matchmaker and style consultant, and Errol Gluck, PhD, an expert in forensic profiling, work to assist you when you find the online dating scene scary or hard to navigate.

    Platinum Poire caters to NYC singles only, for now. If you’re interested, the first step is to send along a short biography and a photo of yourself. Then, a consultation is arranged with Sassoon, followed by a one-hour profiling session with Dr. Gluck, where you talk about your relationship history.

    Then, you complete a 10-page questionnaire about yourself. With all of this information, the Platinum Poire team builds your profile and presents you with suggested matches. Every introduction is confidential.

    If two parties agree that they would like to meet, Platinum Poire then discloses contact information and allows you to take it from there to arrange a date.

    The duo behind this service does more than just play matchmaker, though. They help you with everything, from what to wear and what to say, to how to handle your nerves. If you need more than just an app, you should give it a shot.

    Photo: Courtesy Platinum Poire.

    The App: The Grade

    The Pitch: “Make the Grade or Be Expelled”

    What we think: If you don't like being judged, this is not the app for you. The Grade is, naturally, all about grades, as in, the app uses a grading system for you to judge and be judged by other people on the app.

    But the app is very user friendly and easy to navigate. Once you grant it Facebook access, it loads up your profile with information, and gives you a “Grade Pending” next to your name until you've entered enough data to be assigned a number.

    So, how do you get a good grade? The letters are assigned based on how many people "like" you (how many swipe right), how responsive you are to messages, the quality of your messages, and the anonymous feedback you receive from other users. The higher your grade, the better your chances are of meeting someone you like.

    Why have this grading system in the first place? The goal of this app is simple: #NoMoreCreeps. The app tries to eliminate things such as X-rated messages and pictures, matches with people who don't respond, and matches with people who are already in relationships. The Grade holds users accountable for this type of behavior — and if you get an "F," you get kicked off the app. However, if its algorithm does expel you unjustly, you can go on its website and appeal.

    Other than that, the app is kind of like Lulu, which lets users anonymously comment on guys, so other ladies can see from the comments whether a guy is worth their time. You can review your friends who are on The Grade by clicking on the “review your friends” icon, and pressing "yes" or "no" when asked if they are a “quality person.” You also have the option of adding or editing a full review.

    Photo: Courtesy The Grade.

    The App:Score

    The Pitch: “The Ultimate Matchmaker”

    What we think: Score has an interesting premise: It keeps your image blurred out until someone else "scores" with you. Half of the personal information that you fill out in the app — your profile image, and up to three additional images — is hidden to casual browsers unless you match up.

    Here's how it actually works. After setting up my profile, I was presented with bachelors nearby. Their faces were blurred, and I could only see their usernames, location, age, height, gender, and something they like (i.e., humor). Then, I pressed a red, “Let’s Score” icon, which led me to a list of categories to choose from, as shown in the image here, and I answered five questions in whichever category I chose. From there, the app matched us based on the compatibility from our answers.

    The questions are generally light and fun, which makes it seem more like a game of compatibility rather than a dating app. The questions are quirky, like, “You just got to Moscow. First thing you do is: (and here you choose one) Free Pussy Riot. Photograph the Kremlin. Find the dude from Borat.”

    If you have two or more of the same five answers in common, you unlock each other's profiles.

    Photo: Courtesy Score.

    The App:Sochat

    The Pitch: “Chat with Everyone”

    What we think: Sochat is an app that’s all about chatting with those who you know, along with some you don’t know. It's a messaging service first, and a dating app second.

    After requesting access to your phone contacts and Facebook friends, it automatically adds them as your friends on Sochat. Chatting via Sochat is different than, say, iMessage because of its in-depth GIF integration. “Magic Words” (specific keywords) let you send videos or songs, and you can create events and polls within different groups. You can also see who is currently online, and see who is nearby, which is where the dating aspect comes into play.

    If you see someone nearby who you think is cute, tap on their profile — and then you can tap a heart emoji-emblazened button that says “like,” or the blue hand waving button next to it to say, “hi.”

    If you press “hi,” that person will automatically get a chat request, which they can ignore or reply to. You also have the option to “swipe chat,” which transforms the app into an iteration of Tinder, where you see one picture and a short bio of an individual, which you can then swipe right or left on. If the person likes you back, you get notified that you’ve matched.

    Overall, my favorite feature on this app is its GIF integration. You can access a wider variety of GIFs organized by category, search GIFs, and see which ones you have recently sent, along with ones that you like and can collect for later use.

    Whether you’re looking for a fun, new messaging service, or to meet new people and potential dates, Sochat does a pretty good job of combining them all into one easy app.

    Photo: Courtesy SoChat.

    The App:Zoosk

    The Pitch: “More Singles Who Are More Your Style”

    What we think: Zoosk is your standard dating app, but it does have some interesting features. After setting things up and answering questions about my body type, if I have children, and my education preferences, I created a password, a display name, and answered a bunch of other optional questions to complete my profile. Then came security: I had to verify my phone number, as well as my pictures, which the app did by opening the camera and asking me to stare ahead, then turn my head to the right and then to the left. Extra points for countering fakes and scam accounts!

    There are three sections at the top of the app: "Carousel," "Browse," and "SmartPick." I pressed "SmartPick" first, which shows you people with similar interests. The "Carousel" shows you profiles picked at random — you can then select “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” based on their profile pictures and age. The "Browse" section shows full profiles, including how far away they are from you, plus the last time they logged in.

    To boost your profile (and — the app claims — get an average of three times more views), you can pony up 100 coins of Zoosk's in-app currency system. You get coins by paying to become a member: a one- month subscription is $29.99, a three-month subscription for $59.99, and a six month subscription for $74.99. Kind of steep!

    The benefits of subscribing include being able to chat with other members and connect with singles who have been chosen for you using their "SmartPick" algorithm. Personally, these perks do not seem worth the price of the membership.

    The main perk of the app is being alerted when someone has viewed your profile. But you can get that for free on so many other apps, why pay if you don't have to?

    Photo: Courtesy Zoosk.

    The App: Dine

    The Pitch: “More dates, not swipes.”

    What we think: Dine is all about matching you up — with a focus on getting you out on that first dinner date. It's perfect for foodies looking for a partner with similar taste buds.

    After your typical set-up process, you are asked to select from a list of restaurants that you like or would like to try out and your favorite cuisines. The app uses that information to pair you up accordingly. Having similar taste in food is a major plus (and obviously the cornerstone of any healthy relationship?).

    Typically, if someone were to suggest a dinner first date, I’d be taken aback. I’d rather get drinks — a date option with less pressure on both parties. But Dine will have you rethinking that mentality. The first date venue is already chosen, which takes out some of the pressure and adds an element of safety, as well.

    Dine is very much about keeping the old-fashioned idea of chivalry alive and well, which is where a “my treat” feature comes into play. If one party is willing to pick up the tab, the "my treat" icon is highlighted, so there's no post-meal payment confusion. If you see someone you like, you can send him a wink so they know you’re interested, but it's up to him to ask you out. Once he does, you can freely message one another.

    The app also has a fun “dine with friends” feature, which basically sets up a double date. And to keep things fresh, every day, the app's restaurant options change and new picks are presented, so you’re not left choosing from the same Japanese joint over and over.

    Photo: Courtesy Dine.

    The App:Align

    The Pitch: “Injecting soul into mobile dating.”

    What we think:Align is all about astrology dating, showing you profiles whose signs are compatible with your own. The L.A.-based app, which launched in May of 2015, is now also available in NYC and the Bay Area.

    Here’s how it works: Connect to Facebook and put in your birthday. Based on your sign, you are presented with a list of characteristics to choose from. You have to choose six that you identify the most — I chose silly, food, drink, stubborn, goal-oriented, and warm.

    Instead of having to sift through endless matches that miss the mark, Align gives you a neat-and-tidy roundup of just five matches per day. You also get a detailed report explaining how you two galactic lovebirds would get along. If both people choose to align, you'll be able to exchange messages.

    The app presents your matches in a unique way — they appear in the form of circles, varying in size, orbiting around your profile. The larger the circle, the more astrologically compatible you two are.

    If you don’t like any of the matches for that day, don’t worry, they refresh at midnight.

    Photo: Courtesy Align.

    The App:Sniffr

    The Pitch: “It’s a dog-meet-dog world.”

    What we think: If you are a dog owner (or a dog lover), Sniffr is for you. The app targets those who truly know the value of the statement made famous by Frederick II, King of Prussia, “Dog is a man’s best friend.”

    A major deal-breaker for me personally is meeting someone who hates dogs. On Sniffr, you automatically know you have a shared love with everyone on the app right away (and that's one less potentially awkward question-and-answer section of your date).

    When you open the app, you have to make two profiles: one for you, and one for your pup. Then, once you give the app to access your location, you can find bachelors, bachelorettes, and pooches nearby. If you see a furry friend you like, you can "sniff" their profile to show your interest — you and your pet could find a new playdate or a new real date.

    Photo: Courtesy Sniffr.

    The App: Clover

    The Pitch: "Swipe less, date more."

    What we think: After connecting with Facebook, the app asks for some basic information such as your age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. It feels a little like filling out doctor’s office paperwork, but most of it is optional, so there’s no pressure to answer. From there, Clover lets you filter people by their relationship intentions (friendship, a hookup, or a serious relationship.)

    The app doesn’t waste any time. Right away a bachelor appeared, taking up my entire screen. He was online, and lived in the same borough as me. “Javi, 26/male/straight. Brooklyn, NY.” Before I even looked through his pictures, I had a short bio in front of me, which was convenient.

    I’m not going to lie, this app has a lot of unique capabilities, such as an on-demand dating option that chooses the place and time for a date with your in-app match. But what really got me excited was the “20 Questions” game, which lured me in to find compatible matches based on my answers. If you’re browsing someone’s profile, you can see their answers to these questions, and see how many you answered the same. (My match Javi and I answered 13 questions identically.) 13 out of 20 sounded pretty good to me, so I proceeded to swipe left to see more pictures of him. You can upload up to 100 pictures in the app. From there, you can “heart” or “X” a match, or send him a message. Anyone can message anyone, whether you’re a match or not, which could be good or annoying, depending on your personal preference. In the app's chat feature, you have the option to share videos, images, and audio clips, and control who can see if you’re online, and your location.

    You can manage your busy new dating life within an hour of downloading Clover with its Prospects feature. This lets you manage and track your matches, people you’ve liked, people that have liked you, and those you passed.

    This app, surprisingly, made me excited. You can’t say that about most dating apps.

    Photo: Courtesy Clover.

    The App: Quickflirt

    The Pitch: "Speedy online dating for the restless."

    What we think: Quickflirt is a hookup app. It connects to your Facebook, and then asks you to upload your main photo. After a brief tutorial, I pressed the app’s little funnel icon to filter my feed to specify what gender and age group I was interested in, and location.

    I liked that the app offered a ‘Safe mode’ to keep things from getting creepy (or unsafe). There are three safe mode options: off, basic, and full. When set to off, you can be contacted by all members; when set to basic, you can be contacted be everyone except people who've been flagged as suspicious by the app's safety team; and in full, only trusted members can get in touch with you. I want to feel like I’m in a safe space when online dating, so I set it to full.

    Below that, you can customize advanced parameters. Here, you can choose to see who is near you, who is online now, and new members. The app also gives you the choice to choose between three different interfaces. You can see potential matches on a grid, scroll through them one by one, or tap the map and see where people are in relation to your location — handy if you don't want to end up across town.

    Personally, Quickflirt was not for me. It’s advertised as the Fast and Furious of dating apps, and that’s exactly what it feels like. Within minutes, I had received a few flirty messages so, uh, "flirty" that I was slightly taken aback. If you’re looking to step up your sexting game, or want a fun fling, this might be the right place for you (but it's definitely not for me).

    Photo: Courtesy Quickflirt.

    The App:Match

    The Pitch: #1 in dates, relationships, and marriages.

    What we think: When we think of Match, we typically think of our high school gym teacher on an old iMac (the one with the see-through, colored back) scrolling for potential matches. When it launched in 1995, Match.com pioneered the online dating world. Now in 2016, it's dropped the ".com" and is trying to prove it’s still a hip place to find a date.

    But it’s still old school, in a way. When you download the app, instead of connecting to Facebook or Instagram, you're prompted to answer a series of 29 questions to fill out your profile. The nitty gritty queries range from “How often do you drink?” to “Tell us about your ideal date.”

    After that, it’s standard procedure. You tap on Discover, and the app uses your location to show a stream of bachelors or bachelorettes that match your preferences and location. You can ‘like’ them by pressing the thumbs up icon, or send a message right then and there. This is different from most dating apps now — you don’t have to wait until there’s a match to strike up a conversation. Downside: All the annoying unsolicited messages. The app does show you your daily matches, and lists what you both have in common.

    Overall, I didn’t feel like I would find someone on here — it felt like an older community to me (but if you prefer an older partner, this is definitely where you should hang). It's still worth a try, though.

    Photo: Courtesy Match.

    The App: Just Say Hi

    The Pitch: "Chat, date, connect, and mingle with people around you now."

    What we think: Just Say Hi is interesting because your profile is a video. It’s basically video chatting strangers (potential matches) instead of browsing a typical online profile. The idea is that while a picture is worth a thousand words, a video can communicate way more about you and your personality. It sounds silly, but I like the idea of knowing what someone’s voice sounds like before meeting them.

    After filling out some basics, you then upload a video (bet you didn't see that one coming). Instead of filming one on the spot, I decided to upload an old video of me singing along to some of my favorite T-Swift songs, along with a random video of me and my goonsquad friends.

    After completing my profile, I browsed other peoples’ video profiles nearby, and around the world. The profiles were fun to watch. Usually, it would be a guy saying something like, “Hey my name is Logan, I’m 26 and from New York. Come say hi!” If you see someone you like, it’s standard procedure: like, heart, etc. If they like you back, then you can chat with one another. There is also another way to meet people: through the app's group chat feature. Here, you can browse a variety of chat rooms AIM-style circa 2005. Since it is a video based app, you feel like you're really meeting people from all over the world. There is a USA chat, a variety of international rooms, one for new users, locals, and…a roast room? Intrigued, I immediately tapped it. The chat room is true to its name, with a message that pops up saying, “Warning: Do Not Enter." This room is for people who like to be insulted and laughed at. It’s fighting room with rude people. Enter at your own risk!” I like to think I have thick skin, so I went in anyways. After browsing through though, none of the messages were that malicious.

    While the app itself is free, you have to pay to see your fans. For $2 you can unlock fans for seven days, and for $6 you can unlock fans for 30 days.

    Photo: Courtesy Just Say Hi.

    The App:DivorceForce

    The Pitch: Learn from others. Ask questions. Share your experiences. Meet new friends.

    What we think: This app is for those thinking about getting back into the dating game following a divorce (that, for better or worse, could be a lot of us at some point, considering the divorce rate in the U.S.). The app is an empowering and resourceful place, featuring educational articles, current divorce news, forum discussions, lawyer ratings, and much more — just what you'd need if you'd come to the conclusion your high school sweetheart wasn’t such a catch after all.

    If you don't want to create an account at first, you can 'go incognito' to view content anonymously, which is cool and welcoming. I tried this out first. It took me to the ‘Discussions’ page, where I was presented with a pleasantly laid out list covering topics such as advice on choosing a lawyer, mediation, child support, and getting back in the dating game. Cool, right? A little blue box labeled, ‘What to do first’ can guide you if you don't really know where to begin. If I were going through a divorce, I would have to say that this page was incredibly informative, educational, and helpful, filled with discussions and articles. Most of all, it felt like a really safe space.

    When you make an account, the experience is more customized. You choose topics to follow (parenting, custody, new relationships), selecting your gender, your location, and your name. For those currently going through a divorce (or contemplating the idea), the app suggests creating a new email account to protect your identity. This app cares about you! 10 points for DivorceForce!

    With an account, the app had much more to offer. You can connect with people and filter by all sorts of granular topics ranging from gender and age to topics followed. Overall, the experience seems pretty great. You can meet people who are going through or have gone through a similar situation, and also connect with people on a romantic level, without any stigma about having been previously married.

    Photo: Courtesy DivorceForce.

    The App:Raya

    The Pitch: "An exclusive dating and networking platform for people in creative industries."

    What we think: Unlike most dating apps, Raya screens applicants through their Instagram account before rejecting or accepting them into the app. Based on their Instagram presence (and referrals from existing users) an anonymous committee votes on whether to let you in or not. Sounds kind of brutal, huh? So, why all this screening you might ask? The goal is to create a niche where like-minded people can connect.

    Raya is serious about this vetting process — which makes the app quite exclusive. Since launching in March, it has been known as the dating app for celebs. According to Page Six, spotted Raya users include Joe Jonas, Kelly Osbourne, Moby, and that new SNL cast member...So if you get in, always swipe right! (PSA: Be careful. If you’re caught leaking pictures or screen grabs of app users, they’ll kick you right off!) But(there's always a but), Raya doesn't come cheap. Accepted users have to pay $8 a month. In my opinion — totally worth it.

    Raya's premise and design differs a bit from most other dating apps. To kick-start your profile, you have to choose a song and then curate a slideshow to go along with it. When making my profile, I chose Carly Simon's classic, "You're So Vain." Conversation starter, right? They also show you who your mutual Instagram friends are. But since the app is known for its exclusivity, there aren't that many people on it. Running into my brother as I was swiping felt kind of funny, until I saw his bio: "I'm a guy with a big, throbbing vocabulary. I like girls with tight, neat grammar." When I confronted him about it, demanding that he change it immediately, he responded with, "What! It was a really popular Whisper post!"

    Overall, I love Raya. You never know who's going to be on there! But if you don't make the app's rigorous selection process, no stress — there are plenty of other options for meeting boys and girls with your phone.

    Photo: Courtesy Raya.

    The App:Happn

    The Pitch: "Find the people you've crossed paths with."

    What we think: See someone you like on the street? Are you always on the same train as him or her, but never had a chance (er, the bravery) to chat them up? Let Happn help you out.

    Like Tinder, Happn connects to Facebook for your basic information, pictures, and to be able to tell you if you have mutual friends with someone you've liked. From there, it works like this: You scroll through the app and if you see someone you like, you can heart them. If they heart you back, voila. It's a match and you're both notified.

    However, you also have the option to "charm" them. This is a feature most dating apps do not have and allows you to let someone know that you like them, even if they haven't liked you back...yet. You receive a "charm sent" notification and if the receiver does not send a charm back within 24 hours, you get your charm back. For females, the app is completely free. But, for men, sending charms is going to cost you.

    Where the app gets its namesake is its location awareness. A profile will have "now" written up at the top when you are crossing paths with that person within 250 meters (see train cutie above). I am a fan of the proximity factor, because chances are you'll have more in common with the stranger that frequents the coffee shop by your apartment than the guy who lives two hours away. From what I can tell, it's got a decently wide pool of users (here in New York, at least), so even if you've seen that passerby a dozen times, you won't be stumbling on their profile every time you open the app.

    Photo: Courtesy Happn.

    The App: Double

    The Pitch: "Don't date alone. Take a friend!"

    What we think: This app is brand-spanking-new, making its New York launch just before Valentine's Day. As its name would suggest, Double is an app for double dating. You can double up with a friend and your profiles will appear side by side. Then, instead of browsing for one potential match, you're looking at two. You and your wingwoman choose a couple together, using the same swipe left or swipe right navigation we are all too familiar with. If your pairs make a match, then you enter a group chat. From there, you all can decide whether or not a double date is in the cards.

    Double aims to take out the awkwardness and stress that seems to be synonymous with first dates, because this way, you go with the support of your friend. Going on a date with a pal makes the whole situation much more comfortable — and safer — and much more likely to actually happen. And despite being brand-new, when I signed up, I already had four friends using the app in NYC.

    One thing that was slightly confusing was the matching process. When scrolling through prospective bachelors, the app shows you two side-by-side. (In the same way as it shows my profile next to my friend Zara's.) If I click to X one, both are technically swiped left, and vice versa. What if I like one of the guys, but not the other? Then what? And if I only liked one of the two guys paired together, chances are my friend will, too. So, then what? Do I convince my friend to take one for the team and go on a double date with me even if she doesn't like her match? And then there's the general issue of who gets who once you do actually meet your matching pair. (As it turns out, it only takes one person from each pair to like the other for a match to be made.)

    Since the app is still so new, I haven't quite figured it out yet. But my "doubler" and I were just matched with another duo, so we'll update you on how it goes.

    Photo: Courtesy Double.

    The App:Tinder

    The Pitch: "Friends, dates, relationships, and everything in-between."

    What we think: With Tinder, you create a profile that is connected to your Facebook account. Tinder will never post anything on your behalf, but it lets you know if you have any mutual friends with the bachelor or bachelorette on your screen. You can make the pool of applicants more manageable to sift through by filtering age, gender, and location. The trademark feature of Tinder is how you go through matches by swiping right or left to like or pass (but you can also Super Like with the blue star on the far right).

    The thing with Tinder is this: It feels like a game and matches come in quick. Once you match, if you decide to utilize the messaging feature (which everyone does), it turns into an exercise in creative writing. Due to the nature of online dating, my experience and the experiences of my friends has led me to believe that "Hey, what's up?" isn't going to get a response. You need something catchy from the get-go, a conversation starter. Openers that work: "Does your onesie come in other colors?" "Do you have any free time this weekend to babysit my poodle?" "What a funny group of mutual friends we have!"

    If all goes smoothly, you might get to level two, which I call "exchanging numbers." Now the conversation has moved from a carefree flirtation in your Tinder inbox to an actual name and number in your address book. After that, it's pretty standard procedure. You aggressively stalk his or her social media accounts and then decide if level three, meeting IRL, is worth it.

    There's a reason that Tinder is the dating app du jour; it's tried-and-true. The app boasts ten million matches to date and a high school friend of mine counts herself as one of the successes in that bunch. (She met her fiancé on Tinder about three years ago, one thing led to another, and their wedding is in April. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!) If you're a Facebook user and haven't tried it yet, it's worth some experimental swipes.

    Photo: Courtesy Tinder.

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    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Sex. Strangers. Intimacy. Awkwardness. Ecstasy. These are just a few of the sometimes-disparate ideas that come into play when we talk about one-night stands. Because the truth is, this is an experience that a lot of women share, but experience entirely differently. It's personal. Even when it's not.

    Some women swear it's the purest type of sexual encounter (most famously, Erica Jong). Others find themselves feeling deflated afterward, whether or not they had level-set expectations beforehand. And others still see it as just one half of the coin of sexual experience — where physical, carnal pleasure and emotional intimacy can't co-exist.

    And, while we all share the sexy, thrilling parts of these stories with our friends, we so rarely talk about the emotional ramifications (both good and bad) and the less entertaining details that add up to reality. All of which is completely worth discussing. So, we collected stories from people to get just that. Ahead, their takes their very different experiences — orgasms, disappointments, and all.

    (*Some names changed at the request of the women interviewed.)

    "He wouldn’t wake up, no matter how much I tried. I was starving but had no food in the house. I didn’t want to leave a stranger in my apartment to fetch food, so I waited until a pizza place opened and ordered delivery. He woke up at noon and proceeded to eat most of my pizza and complain about the show I was watching on TV. Finally got him to leave around 4 p.m."

    -themagicalpig on Reddit

    "Found the love of my freaking life. He calls it our 'lifetime stand.' But also it's the best sex I've ever had, so there's another plus."

    -lindseyweaver on Reddit

    "He brought over his laptop and when we realized he was too drunk to get it up, we spent the night watching Netflix.

    "I think we watched several episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender and half of Avengers before he conked out.

    "10/10 would Netflix + chill again."

    -daitoshi on Reddit

    "I bled on a girl. I had my period so I couldn't do much, but things were getting hot and heavy. I was grinding up on her, and I bled all over her poor, bare thigh.

    "Luckily she was super nice about it and laughed it off. I wanted to make a run for it."

    -MlleWeirdo on Reddit

    "[He] piggy-backed me home after singing 'Call Me Maybe' to some very aggressive looking guys at the bar. We had fun sex and he walked around my house naked the next morning to the horror of my flatmates. He let me know when he was in town next, so it was more of a two-night stand but like eight months apart."

    -TripleTownNinjaBear on Reddit

    "I met a guy at an a cappella party in college. His pick-up line was, ‘I can hit a high C.’ We fucked outside a shed in the backyard. It was about 40 degrees out. He was really, really good, plus I had never had sex outside. Since it was so cold, we both had to partially keep our clothes on. My knees were so covered in dirt, a friend thought they were bruises."

    -goldeee on Reddit

    "Took a guy home one night. Woke up to a wet spot right where he was lying. He peed himself. On my brand. New. Mattress. I had literally received the day before."

    -theycallmeslayre on Reddit

    "Early the next morning, her huge Burmese python slithered into bed with us to cuddle. I noped right the fuck out. Yes, I like reptiles, but when you wake up with a 12-foot snake between you and a sleeping stranger, it's time to go home. "

    -justanotheraddiction on Reddit

    "I had sex with a guy dressed as a pumpkin at a Halloween party. Unbeknownst to me, while we made out, his orange face paint smeared all over my face and totally ruined my Glinda The Good Witch makeup and dress that I had spent weeks sewing. I don't know if he used orange shoe polish on his face or what, but that stuff would not come off, no matter how much soap I used."

    -CanadianDrawl on Reddit

    "So I go home with this random girl. Wake up at her place in the morning, bed empty. So I get dressed, and get ready to go home. When I get the into the kitchen, her mother is sitting at the table with a kid. Greets me with, 'Hey, Emma had to go to work. She told me you were still asleep. Want breakfast?' I kinda panicked and got out, just to find out I had no idea were I was. Mother comes after and asks if I need a lift somewhere. I gave up and had a really, really strange ride back to the tram."

    -skrnlsn on Reddit

    "I had just broken up with my boyfriend and went to the bar with some friends to cheer me up (despite it being a Wednesday and I had an exam at 8 a.m. the next morning — I don't think we intended to get shitfaced). Anyway, I end up going home with some guy, I vaguely remember mediocre sex — with a condom, thank god. But the next morning, I wake up in his bed; he's facedown on the pillow so I can't see him. I'm naked, my mouth tastes like windex or something. I frantically try to find all of my clothes, my purse, my car keys, and get out without waking him or any roommates he had.

    "I ended up running up Main Street to where I parked my car the night before only to realize two things: I forgot my keys at his apartment, and my fucking car got towed. Oh, and I only had half an hour to get to campus for my test. Ended up hungover jog-of-shaming to class just in time. I got a C. Luckily, I had a spare car key at my place and got my car back ($150, I might add). And that weekend, some guy I swear I never saw before slyly came up to me and handed me my keys and said 'I think these are yours, and I think you peed in our kitchen.'"

    -redbirdsandwords on Reddit

    "When I got to his room, there was a big chalkboard on the wall covered in names and I didn't think anything of it. When I was leaving, he asked me to sign it. Pay attention to your surroundings, folks."

    -IWishIWasMoreClever1 on Reddit

    "Met a hot guy in a club. Had drinks, danced, had fun. He asks if we can 'have a sleepover.' I say sure. We go home. We fuck. I fall asleep.

    "In the morning, I wake up and all of my food in the kitchen is gone. Literally, all of it. From the fridge, from pantries, from cabinets, etc.

    "I don't know what he put it in or where he went with it. I sleep like a log. It's a good thing I wasn't a poor college student or something. Even my condiments. It was weird. He even took dog food and milkbones."

    -Slummish on Reddit

    "So, we go to his bedroom and it is decorated entirely with cheap stuffed animals that you get at the fair. Bears, unicorns, horses, pigs...everything. He has so many that he built shelves all the way around the walls with the smallest animals on the bottom shelf and the biggest ones on the top. No lie, there were probably 1,000 of them. I had to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Thank god he didn't smoke, because I had to collect my thoughts.

    "The thing was, everything about this guy was normal. He had a nice house, we sort of knew the same people in his work field, and he wasn't married. He just seemed like a decent person who was totally unashamed of his stuffed animal collection. The more I thought about it, the more I admired it because I knew he had to catch shit from his friends, so I started to find it attractive. I hate to say it, but I started thinking about a relationship.

    "So, I come back inside and we ended up having pretty decent sex for being sort of drunk and having a one-night-stand. We finished up and I put my head on his shoulder and asked him what he thought about it.

    "'Go ahead and take a prize off the bottom shelf,' he says.

    "Worst. One night stand. Ever."

    -sloots_and_hoors on Reddit

    "Woke up wondering where I was, figured out it was a car... it's lightly snowing. Whose car? Where am I? Don't recognize person next to me. We're both naked. There are blankets. Realize we are between some large buildings. Wake up rather attractive stranger as the night starts to de-fuzz.

    "'Hey, wake up.'

    "'Unngghh.'

    "[We] make out a bit.

    "'Where are we?'

    "'I dunno...'

    "'Isn't this your car?'

    "'... I thought it was yours?'

    "[We] look blankly at each other

    "'Let's leave.'

    "Get out of what turned out to be an Astro van...with blankets in it...in an alley...in a small town.

    "St. Paddy's in Butte is a terrible thing."

    -Raezak_Am on Reddit

    "I had just gotten out of a super-intense relationship, the kind where you really don't have anything in common but they're amazing in bed, so all of your activities revolve around sex. Two weeks after breaking it off, the only thing I could think about was getting laid. So I convince my friends to go to a bar with me with my only intention getting smashed and picking someone up. Find someone, get to his house have great sex. Wake up the next morning he rolls over and says 'I love you so much.' At this moment I was like, 'Shit no, can't deal with this.' Start finding all my clothes and wallet. Then he starts talking about how he's going to pick up a puppy today and I come with him if he wants... The puppy was so fucking cute. Three years later and the dog is still freaking adorable, and I don't panic so much when he says he loves me."

    -kmuelle6 on Reddit

    "At the end of the night, my guy wanted to cuddle. I told him it was probably not a good idea since it was really late and I wanted to go home for work the next morning. So as I'm leaving, he leans in to kiss me and I interrupt him. I said 'Whoa, friends right?' and then fist bump him. Fist bump. Worst thing I've ever done."

    -Lotech on Reddit

    "The guy was a complete dick to me in the morning, as if it was entirely my fault he fucked a complete stranger. He called me later that afternoon freaking out because he had a 'sore' on his wiener that he was sure was a result of our liaison. He berated me about not revealing that I had an STD (I didn't) and calling me all sorts of horrible names and telling me I ruined his life. I told him I didn't have any diseases and I'm pretty sure even if I did, he wouldn't suddenly sprout sores that same afternoon, so, if anything, he had probably put me at risk, not the other way around. Logic was not effective. I finally got his hysterical ass off the phone but he apparently called his mother (what?) and got himself all worked up again because he called back an hour or two later to scream at me and call me a whore. He went to the emergency room to have his dick checked out. It was just an ingrown hair. I did get a courtesy call with this information but no apology. After what I assume he thought was a proper waiting period of a few weeks, he tried to call me again for sex. I said 'no.'"

    -sweaty_yeti on Reddit

    "I went back to this girl’s place, hammered. I remember it kind of looking like a church. Turns out, it was. This girl interned at my local campus church, where she lived in a kind of hidden second floor apartment. Basically, I had to ramble through a walk of shame the next morning (Sunday morning) past a bunch of people attending morning Mass."

    -IAMCANADIAN_sorry on Reddit

    "I wake up to her dad standing over me as I lie next to her, the morning after. He asks, extremely friendly-like, if I had a nice evening. I stammer that I did, thanks for asking, while wondering how long I have to live.

    "He asks if I'd like a bacon sandwich. Terrified, I say I would.

    "He gives a big wink to his daughter, and makes me a bacon sandwich. It is very nice. I leave afterwards, slightly confused. The shotgun never appears."

    -Tromance on Reddit

    "She told me to get up because she had to babysit her granddaughter. First I thought she was joking. She was not.

    -rrolllie on Reddit

    "I wake up to him saying 'Shit! My dad wasn't supposed to come home so early!' (I had just thought he lived with roommates.) He tells me to jump in his closet (I'm fully nude and my clothes are in the living room). I start to argue, but he insists, so I get in there and hear them having small talk for almost an hour. I realize I really have to pee, and they just drag on and I'm dancing around. And then the guy I slept with left for work! I can hear the dad making breakfast and just settling in. I panic, how am I gonna get my clothes.... Fuck my clothes, I'll use his clothes, so I take the stuff in the closet all I found were shirts. I fucking ran for my life, full speed through the house with sex hair and a long shirt to my car. The dad yelled, 'What the damn hell who are you?!'"

    -jennyalena on Reddit

    "So about two years ago I was newly single and out with a few friends at a bar. I ended up hitting it off with a friend of a friend who was just in town on vacation. Now, my last relationship had left me feeling really sexually frustrated. I wasn't interested in any commitment so this seemed like a perfect arrangement. I could release my pent up sexual energy on him and not have to worry about attachments because he would be gone before too long.

    After a long night of flirting, we go back to his hotel and have another couple drinks in his hotel room. Everything is going pretty well and we have sex. Job done.

    At this point in the story, you should know that I have a very minor seizure disorder and that I can feel one coming on several minutes before it happens.

    I go out for a smoke, make it up two flights of stairs before I give up trying to make it back to the room, lay down on a landing, and have a seizure.

    After the seizure is done, I drag myself back to the bed and instantly pass out.When I wake up, I notice that it feels damp and sticky between my legs. My first thought is that I must have had my period all over the hotel sheets. Oh, if only. I lift up the sheet to see that I had, in actuality, shit myself.

    The seizure must have loosened my bowels.I'm just laying there and silently panicking. The guy I had slept with is still fast asleep next to me. I want to hurry the sheets downstairs to housekeeping but I can't do that without waking him.

    I scooped all the sheets up in a bundle and rushed them downstairs to be cleaned. I gave them a $100 tip and apologized profusely. I got away with it. The guy never found out. That was my worst ever one night stand."

    — no_objections_here on Reddit.

    "I went to a university on a small campus on the east coast of Canada. It was a very small and tight knit community, and had a great party scene.

    So one night I was at the campus bar, and I ended up hooking up with this hot guy from one of my philosophy classes. I was extremely drunk at this point, and so was he. So we hooked up, and then immediately passed out.

    In the middle of the night he woke up me and said 'I'm going to throw up, where should I throw up?' I was still drunk, and half asleep, so I pointed at a pillow on the floor and said 'there.' So he threw up on my pillow, and then he asked me what he should do with it. I told him to throw it out the window and went back to sleep. Unfortunately the pillow fell on top of a smaller building behind the campus residences. So everyone on campus saw the "puke pillow" and word spread pretty quickly about what happened. So embarrassing."

    stone_opera on Reddit.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I had sex with a girl at her bed and breakfast place while there was an ongoing party.

    Her parents were there. I think because I had recently broken up with my girlfriend, I didn't want anyone to know. My friends were knocking on the door and trying to bust in.

    Without even looking how far down it was I jumped out of the second story window, slid down the metal awning and landed right next to who I think was her dad, or at least her dad's friends. I looked over at them, smiled, and then started running. Ran around the building to the front door and came up behind my friends who were still banging on the door. Fooled them all. Felt like Jason Bourne." — cantankerouspuss on Reddit.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "I was visiting a friend who was studying abroad in Barcelona. I was young, dumb, and ready to get some foreign strange. We were at a small gathering and ended up eating way too many special brownies, naturally followed by a trip to a bar with some of my girlfriend's new acquaintances.

    I naturally zeroed in on the tall, strong, Germanic boy in the bunch. I think/hope he was with someone we knew. From there, things got fuzzy. I recall making out in the bar — classy. Somehow, I decided that it would be OK to go back to this man's apartment with him. I don't remember much, except that it was a loft bed and I kept knocking my head against the ceiling during our gymnastic love session.

    After falling asleep — either from the brownies, the love-making, or the mild concussions — I awoke to harsh daylight and had to climb down a ladder, naked. As I exited the apartment, I noticed he and his roommate both had computer desks in the same room with World of WarCraft up and ready to go on their desktops. He was a gentleman and walked me to the train station. I got a lot of looks, as it was a Monday morning.

    The next night he picked me up at my friends dormitory and took me for a walk around the Arc de Triomphe. We made out one more time on a park bench. While we have never spoken again, we remain Facebook friends to this day."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "We met at a friends birthday outing. I'd heard from the grapevines this guy has been asking around about me so I knew something might go down that night since we were both going to be in the same place.

    The night was long but things progressed pretty fast after loads of drinks. A few bars and one club later the sun came out and I was ready to go home, at that point it was obvious he was coming with me for one reason.

    [And] h oly shit was the sex so awkward it really made me question lots of things about life. I mean not only everything he was doing was wrong even though I tried to help him, but he also stayed for way too long after and had weird personal life chats until I had to kick him out. Why, God, why?"

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "When I first moved to NY, at age 20, I researched, googled and explored the lesbian scene as much as I could.

    It's non-existent where I come from, so this was a complete revelation. I found one of the very few, if not the only cool gay bar in the city called The Cubbyhole, located at the heart of the West Village.

    At first, I was really afraid of going in by myself but eventually, got the courage to go in and order a drink. It's a really small space but it was packed with beautiful women (and cute boys too!).

    After an hour wondering around and failed attempts of any interaction, a gorgeous, beautiful, boho-chic girl in her mid 30s came and sat next to me. We started talking, drinking, flirting, kissing, drinking some more, making out and eventually (a couple of hours later) made it out of the bar and into a taxi to her place. I don't remember all of it, but I have flashes of sex in the floor, in the bed, in the kitchen, in the sofa, in the bathroom... we woke up in the living room the next day, had breakfast together and spent most of the day around the city until we eventually parted ways.

    We never really spoke again but I've seen her twice at the Zara in Soho. I unconsciously still look around in case I see her."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "I was 19, and it was my best friend's dads 50th birthday party. They're a cool family and we're from the same town, so she ended up inviting a bunch of our friends.

    "It was summer and an open bar in Manhattan, so none of us were going to turn that down. Anyway, we all got pretty rowdy and I ended up making out with her hot older cousin on the dance floor. We went back to his place to continue the steamy evening. It was actually great.

    "After I had left in the morning, my friend (whose dad's party it was) invited me over to lay by her pool. When I arrived, I realized half of her family was there — including her cousin's mom! They're a tight-knit Greek family, so everyone basically knew I slept with him and kept asking me all kinds of questions. It was pretty humiliating."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "I tore my ACL a few years ago and was dreading getting surgery. As an active, sexual person, I went out on a mission the weekend before my surgery: Have the hottest sex possible.

    "Now, I still was pretty immobile, and the options at the bar I went to that night weren't all that great. I guess you can say I 'settled' but it worked out for the best because I really couldn't get on top, so I just made him do all the work, and I never saw him again."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "I've had so many crazy weekends in Montauk, but having sex with a hot guy on his share house's porch when everyone went to sleep takes the cake.

    "I hadn't intended on going that far with him, but as soon as he sexily untied my wrap dress from the front, I readily took it off. When we went back inside, there STILL wasn't room for us to sleep, so he brought me to my house in a cab. I never heard from him again but that porch sex was damn hot."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "In college, my sorority had a mixer with a fraternity I'd never met before. I know, I know, cliché. But while I was at that party, learning the finer points of Beirut (ping pong balls are for wusses), I started to eye the cute guy playing against me. Competition brings out my flirty side, so I started talking shit. Then, I promptly lost. By a lot. I walked away with my head held in shame.

    "Fast-forward a few hours later, and I find myself sitting on the couch on my sorority porch (we were classy like that) huddled together with said guy. I ended up leaving the party with him, mildly tipsy and annoying his neighbors with my vocal aerobics. I woke up in the wee hours and snuck out, paranoid his roommate was going to come back. After crashing and sleeping off my hangover, my roommate and I wandered to the dining hall. On the way back, I noticed a guy in a hoodie kept turning around to stare at me. I mentioned something to my roommate about a total creeper giving me the eye. To which she responded, 'Um, you hooked up with him last night.' Whoops.

    "Two hours later, he called me on our dorm-room phone (shut up, I'm old) and we went on a date to the on-campus smoothie place. Ten years later, I married him."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Anonymous

    "To be honest, I don't remember much about how we met or where we were. All I remember is waking up from a dream about my ex-boyfriend to find myself in a strange place with a cute, albeit relatively unknown, guy.

    "It took me a minute to realize where I was, but I was so emotional from this revelatory dream that I shook him awake and said, 'I have to go, I think I love someone' — totally without thinking.

    "He was pissed, obviously. I gathered my things and realized I couldn't find my jacket from the night before. He was no help. 'That was a shitty thing to say,' he replied when I asked.

    "So I left and hailed a cab, without a jacket, and called my ex-boyfriend several hours later."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Tracy Bloom, author of No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday

    "Our eyes met across a dusty dance floor. I'd last seen him over 15 years ago. He had been my first love and our relationship consisted mainly of awkward teenage fumblings in awkward locations. We skirted each other like matador and bull until alcohol and slow music led us to stumble against each other in a clumsy reunion.

    "So, we went back to his place — where I discovered he'd grown into a rebel rejecting a conventional bed for a sleeping bag on nylon carpet. We lay there and reminisced about those awkward teenage fumblings until we partook of some very awkward 30-something fumblings.

    "He said he'd phone. I knew he never would. Nights spent stalking the phone as a 15-year-old had at least taught me he wasn't the type to phone. But, it didn't matter. I didn't care. This one-night stand had given me closure. My first love was no longer the boy who made my heart race like no other man had, ever since. He was just a man who slept way too close to the floor, surrounded by nylon. Heart vacated, it was now available for new occupier."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Nicole*

    "I met a guy on OkCupid. We went on one date, didn't have sex, but continued to text when we were both drunk.

    "One night, I was especially wasted and right around the corner from his apartment in Brooklyn. So, obviously, I gave him a call, and he told me to meet him at a bar nearby. We had a few drinks, and then decided to go back to his apartment to smoke a joint on his roof.

    "So there we are at 2 a.m. on the roof of this HUGE loft-style apartment building in Brooklyn, totally stoned, and he goes in for the kiss. Things progressed pretty rapidly from there, and before I knew it, we were both naked from the waist down, and he was pulling a condom out of his pants. We had sex in the middle of the roof, in the middle of the night, in clear view of anyone and everyone who was in the apartment buildings around us.

    "I spent the night (in his bed — not on the roof), and in the morning we split a huge stack of pancakes. I haven't seen him again. Not coincidentally, I also haven't fucked on a roof since."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Gabrielle

    "I put an ad on Craigslist Missed Connections for a girl I met for one second at a riot grrrl show in someone's loft. We'd been looking at each other all night and then she introduced herself to me before getting swept up by a crowd of moshing people who smelled like they didn't believe in deodorant. I thought it was really cool that she didn't mind being tossed around like that. She was wearing a red bandana low on her forehead and lots of black eyeliner. She looked like an andro Natalie Portman and she'd been staring at me as though she already knew we were going to sleep together. But, she left without saying anything more and so I found myself posting about it on CL the next morning. Not because of any sort of Cinderella fantasy; I thought she was hot and seemed really cool — way cooler than me, at least, which is always appealing. I figured she was the kind of girl who had been dating girls since she was 12, who would be assertive in her interest, who could read a map, and who could maybe fix my sink.

    "She answered the ad about an hour after I posted it. She said she thought it was romantic. We were both under 21, so we met at a cafe and had tea. She talked the whole time, which was fine because I was too nervous, and then she followed me back to my apartment. When she saw the explosion of beauty products strewn across my dresser, she exclaimed, "You're such a girl!" She sounded disappointed. To be fair, at the time, I had a nearly-shaved head and mainly wore ripped jeans and tank tops. I was still my fairy-princess femme self on the inside, but was enjoying the experience of being visible to other queer women, through pretty standard visual signifiers. So, the fact that she didn't realize I would turn out to be 'such a girl' wasn't exactly her fault. Plus, I had said so little during our date — while I knew the basic outline of her life story, all she knew was that I was a good listener.

    "We then proceeded to have what turned out to be super-awkward sex. It seemed that we each expected the other person to take charge. It also came to light that, despite her initial swagger, this was actually her first time. I found this to be extremely disappointing — but also feeling guilty about it. But it felt too late to turn back. When I woke up alone the next morning, she had left a note in careful script on a crumpled receipt that read, 'It was beautiful. You are beautiful.

    '"I felt very confused. What had been beautiful about our anxious fumbling? If anything, it seemed to me that maybe she had gone into it expecting to have a beautiful experience from the moment she declared my CL ad romantic, and was determined to name it that regardless of what happened. We had both projected different things onto each other, and somehow our night together hadn't ruined her vision of me. I guess she was more committed to the fantasy of me than I was to the fantasy of her. She called me a few times and I didn't pick up, because I was young and didn't know how to politely turn someone down. It's been over five years, but I still see her every now and then at queer parties. We usually nod at each other, but that's it. We've both grown our hair out and are dating butches."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    SunHee*

    "I was moving out of New York in a week. I had never had a one-night stand. I was out with a few guy friends that I barely knew. The club was full of overeager young financial types, but I was lucky to be around a few 'nice' guys. My friend introduced me to a colleague of his. Apparently, we knew some of the same people from back home. Having mutual friends made us way too comfortable... we took way too many shots and danced way too close in public.

    "I decided that this was my chance, that I could have that one-night stand with a nice guy, so I asked him if he lived alone and if he wanted to go to his place. His eyes opened wide. He grabbed my hands and we were in a cab in what felt like 30 seconds. He lived in a barely furnished apartment on the UES. We started fooling around and it was okay, but a little bit awkward. Something felt off that I couldn't quite pinpoint.

    "And then, he asked me, 'Want to do it against the wall?!' I looked at him in disbelief. In a wave of panic, I realized that I was probably his first one-night stand as well, and that he probably had pretty limited sexual experience. When I wasn't going down on him before sex, he was genuinely surprised and said, 'You're not going to go down on me?!' That threw me off. I really couldn't see how anyone could just expect another person to give them head. He wanted to try all these things he'd heard about somewhere.... He spit out different poses and tried to position my legs all crazy. And, I remember thinking that if I was actually in a relationship with this guy, it would have been okay for him to ask me to try new things with him. But, I didn't trust him and I felt like his weird science experiment, which is what turned me off. Looking back, he was kind of my own experiment as well, so maybe we're even?

    "Going in, I didn't think much about it. It was just something I wanted to experience, and I knew NYC was the place where it needed to happen. Afterward, I felt pretty stupid. I literally told people this was the stupidest thing I had ever done. Plus, having sex with someone I didn't actually like was boring. I haven't had a one-stand stand since."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Brittany

    "I lost my virginity at a young age to the older boy across the street in the back seat of a car. It was in the park, in the middle of the day, in a planned meet-up during a run. He wanted it. I had a crush. And so I gave it to him. And it never happened again.

    "The experience somewhat cheapened sex, which felt nonchalant to me after that. In some ways, that day set the precedent for my many sexual flings that have since ensued.

    "The moment I go home with someone, I judge whether or not I truly think I can see something further developing with them. Do I really like this guy? Can I see myself telling him my deepest secrets? Putting my heart, body, mind, and soul in their hands? I genuinely believe that after a good first date or night out with someone, I know what my intention is for them.

    "If my body wants it, but my heart and head say otherwise, then I know...I'm in for a one night stand. I manage my expectations for that person on the spot. It's okay if I never see him again, or if he doesn't call. I only sleep with someone on the first night if I don't particularly care whether or not I see them again. I know he won't be my forever prince, and therefore, will make him my knight for a night.

    "Like last month, when an adorable guy showed me an apartment. We spoke for 30 minutes after the showing — it was flirty, fun. We met a week later for drinks in a charming, dimly lit corner bar. We talked about life, our families, and aspirations. There was a strong commonality and connection. We went back to his place. In the moment that we were moving from the couch to the bed, I judged the situation —whether or not I would go all the way with him. As charming as he was, my gut told me: He is not the one. And not because there was anything wrong with him. He was just missing something intangible that would reserve a place for him in my future. So, we had a one-night stand. The weirdest thing about it, though, was that throughout the entire sexual experience, his face kept changing. Every time I looked at him, he looked like someone different. Like he was wearing a camouflage image-changing suit, to hide his true identity. It was trippy and distracting. I figure it's because I didn't really know him. I wasn't used to his face. And movement.

    "Since then, I've decided one nights stand are an impersonal affair encased in an intimate moment. They are an easy way to satisfy my desire for interpersonal connection. A way to protect myself from being vulnerable and susceptible to someone else's influence and power. A way to keep my emotions separate from my experience.

    "I'm in my mid 20s with 50-plus sexual partners — from one night stands to long term relationships to week-long whirlwind flings. I've taken v-cards and stolen hearts. Mine has only been broken once. And since then, I see that how you give yourself to someone is just as important as who you give it to. Sex has two different roles — hedonist pleasure or intimate love. Don't expect longterm intimate love from a one-night stand if you want to avoid disappointment. And hold back if you want to hold on."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Mena

    "I was apprehensive about sex as a teenager. I didn't feel ready, and I definitely harbored fairy-tale fantasies about my first time being with someone who felt like a soul mate. In college, I carried that with me, so I hooked up and went almost all the way, but never quite there. And by my early 20s, the weight of my inexperience held me back in relationships — out of fear of being discovered for this thing I was missing, this knowledge that I didn't have.

    "Eventually, I slept with a guy about five dates in, and stopped seeing him a few dates after that. So, when I started seeing my next boyfriend, my experience was pretty limited. When that relationship, which had consisted of a lot of missionary sex and limited orgasms, ended six months later, I still didn't feel like I was where I was supposed to be, as an adult in charge of her own sexuality. I didn't really know how to ask for what I wanted, or really, how to figure out what I wanted, when I wasn't on my own.

    "Essentially, I had lost my virginity at 26, so this moment of singledom felt like my opportunity to do something a little reckless. I joined OkCupid. I laid low for a while, emailing guys and going on some dates, but never feeling comfortable enough to go home with any of those men. And then I heard from a professor who was a few years older than me, and emailed him back just once before asking if he wanted to meet for a drink. He did. We went out on a Sunday night and hit it off. I didn't feel a real connection — or in all honesty, real chemistry — but I did feel pretty comfortable with him, having easy conversation and laughing a lot. Three drinks later, we left, made out in the street, and headed in the general direction of both our (conveniently neighboring) places. When he offhandedly was like, 'I don't supposed you want to come up, just for a drink,' I surprised him with a yes. We went up to his place, started making out, and things easily escalated. And for the first time, maybe because I didn't feel any real pressure or expectations, I was able to be more vocal about what I did and didn't like. I put his hands where I wanted them. I stopped worrying about whether the jiggle around my middle was going to be unattractive if I got on top. And ultimately, I still didn't orgasm that night, but I did change some of my own ideas and inhibitions around sex and intimacy.

    "But still, the next morning, I woke up before 6 a.m. and felt really uncomfortable. I didn't want to be there. So, I lied about an early meeting, left, and never called him again. And he didn't call me, either. The only problem: Despite the fact that I didn't want to see this guy again, the fact that he clearly felt the same, and was on the same page as me, felt like tacit rejection. Which was hard. That's why I never did it again, but in a weird way, it's one of the most important things I've ever done for myself."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Katherine

    "It was her first time. As in body shakes, hesitant hands, and overall timidity. But, let me back up and give a little back story.

    "Rebecca and I were set up by mutual friends and we decided to meet up at old town bar on 18th street. I've found with lesbians (at least the ones I hang around) that the 'typical' one-night stand where two drunk strangers meet at a bar and go home together at 3 a.m. rarely happens. I guess reasonably sober conversation is needed first? I knew right off the bat that we had a connection. We had many mutual interests — art history, weird families, and a distrust of social norms, to start. So, I decided to do what a recently single girl does after three Heinekens — invite her back to my place. She rode on the back of my bike and we made it to my apartment around 2:30 a.m. I knew she was inexperienced, so I opted to take things slow. Instead of ripping off her clothes the moment we got in the door, I made her a drink and showed her around the apartment until we got to the bedroom. After some light making out, I noticed she was shaking and a bit unsure with her hands. I said to her, 'I don't want to pressure you, we can absolutely just go to bed if you want.' Her response was a simple 'No, I want to.' So, I kept going. It. Was. Terrible.

    "The strange thing, though, was that I liked this girl. She was funny, intelligent, attractive, reasonably sane. All the things I'm usually a sucker for. But, from the very moment she reached to undo my bra, I knew it was doomed to fail."The next day, she texted me and said 'Last night was wonderful. We should hang out some time this week.' I never texted her back. I know what you're thinking; I am a complete douche. And no, it was not one of my finer moments but I have also never been good with disappointment. I just had no idea how to tell her that we were not ever going to see each other again because she was horrible in bed. My friends all said, 'But you could teach her right?' Let me tell you: Ain't nobody got time for that.

    "We were all virgins at one point (I was significantly younger than 24, but still) and I think we all remember what those first touches felt like. But what happens when something you think is a one night stand, is someone else losing their v-card? (To clarify, I only found out much after the fact that she was in fact a virgin.) Is it your responsibility to let them down gently? Because chances are they are not going to be orgasm-inducing in bed. But then again, isn't that counter to the purpose of one-night stands? I have never had an orgasm from a one-night stand, yet I still continually have them. Why? I'd like to think its because I can. I'm young, single, reasonably attractive, and live in NYC, which means I could essentially have someone new every night of the week if I wanted to. Why would I? It's exciting. It's distracting. It is a good story to tell over brunch. Do they ever amount to much? In my experience, no. But do I regret any of them? Absolutely not. Not even with the virgin."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Miriam*

    "In my varied and rather random sexual history, I have had only one legitimate one-night stand. And, I’m pretty sure as far as those types of encounters go, I nailed it (pun intended). I met Jeremy* at a downtown bar I frequent on weekends when plans are lacking. This particular evening I was drinking with a friend and my sister, who were both visiting from out of town. We started talking to Jeremy and his friend about the basketball game and proceeded to verbally spar for the remainder of the evening. I wasn’t so much attracted to Jeremy physically — he was cute enough, but not really my type. He was about my height, which as shallow as it may seem, is usually a deal breaker.

    "But, it was his personality that assured that my going home with him would be a good time, at the very least. I’m very cerebral and he had the ability to talk intelligently about an impressive range of topics. There was a certain ease to conversing with him. And, at around 1:30 a.m., he asked if I was going to go home with him (albeit, a little more crudely than that).

    "This may have offended some girls, but I found his honesty and brazenness to be fun. There was no mistaking what this was and I was surprisingly more okay with that than I thought I would be. When we got back to his place, we shared a joint, which coupled with the amount of drinks we had had meant that I remember very little of the main event. Oops. But, when I woke in the morning, Jeremy was just as jovial as he had been the night before. We laid in bed for two hours and talked about our lives before I got dressed to leave. There was no exchange of numbers, although that wasn't the last time I saw him. We live in a small city and we have bumped into each other and sort of smiled but never spoken. And I am okay with that, too."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

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    Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs is still missing, four days after she disappeared, and the FBI is asking for the public's help in finding her.

    Closs, 13, went missing from her Barron County home early Monday morning, after a cryptic 911 call in which dispatchers could here a "disturbance" in the background but no contact was made with the caller. It isn't known at this time who made the call.

    Neighbors reported hearing two gunshots at around 12:30 a.m. Law enforcement arrived on the scene within four minutes of the call and found Closs' parents, James and Denise, dead from gunshot wounds. The Barron County's Sheriff's Office has confirmed their deaths were the result of homicide, though the murder weapons has not yet been located.

    Investigators have received more than 400 tips related to the murders and to Closs' disappearance. They encourage anyone with information to call the tip line at 1-855-744-3879. The Barron County Sheriff's Department is currently working in tandem with the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation in their effort to locate Closs.

    USA Today reports that law enforcement has used drones and infrared equipment in the search.

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    With Brett Kavanaugh — a judge who once said Roe v. Wade is not settled law — recently sworn-in as the ninth justice in the U.S. Supreme Court, President Donald Trump and Republicans have all the votes they need to make abortion illegal again in the United States.

    The nomination is a long-time triumph for anti-abortion advocates. Trump was called "the most pro-life president in American history" by Vice President Mike Pence before the March for Life , an annual anti-abortion rally that started in 1974. Soon after that pronouncement, Trump became the first sitting president to appear at the march, committing to his promise “to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished" — in other words, to make America a place where a woman's right to choose no longer exists.

    Although critics will argue Trump's pivot to being pro-life was purely opportunistic, he has in fact been keeping his word: He expanded the global gag rule, which blocks federal aid to foreign organizations that provide abortions; nominated two anti-choice justices to the U.S. Supreme Court; and has continued Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

    Last year, we wrote about how the pro-life movement is slowly winning the war to overturn Roe v. Wade, and although reproductive rights face constant assault at the federal level, it is the war being waged against abortion at the state level that should give pro-choice advocates pause. Since our report last year on abortion laws in each state, so much has already changed. In the first three months of 2018, 347 measures to restrict abortion or birth control had been introduced in 37 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Ten new restrictions on abortion were adopted in five states. Several states have put extreme restrictions in place since Trump's election: Iowa tried to ban abortion at six weeks, well before many women even know they are pregnant; Mississippi also tried to ban the procedure at 15 weeks; Arizona now requires women to explain why they are seeking an abortion.

    So this is actually how abortion ends in America — the slow chiseling away of rights until we are left with a country where women have to go to dangerous means to end a pregnancy.

    Ahead, we have compiled the laws and restrictions around abortion in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We will continue to update as necessary.

    ALABAMA

    Mandatory counseling and 48-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials in person or by mail, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 48 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s life is in danger or her physical health is severely compromised.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Parental consent: The parents of women under the age 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Public funding and Obamacare restrictions: Health plans under Alabama’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The same goes for public funds.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    ALASKA

    Mandatory counseling: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure.

    Parental consent: Unmarried women below the age of 17 must have parental consent.

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can receive public funds for an abortion if their health is in danger.

    ARIZONA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, parts of which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women need to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Obamacare, Medicaid, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Arizona’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. In the case of women who are in the health insurance plan offered to public employees, abortion is only covered when their life is endangered or their health is severely compromised. Women on Medicaid won’t receive any coverage, even when the procedure is considered medically necessary.

    “Born alive” provision: The provision requires doctors to see "all available means and medical skills are used” to save a fetus in the case an abortion results on a live birth, even if it has no chance of surviving outside of the womb. (There’s already a federal law that allows medical professionals to evaluate whether to do this on a case-by-case basis.)

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    Mandatory questionnaire: Women will be asked if they were seeking an abortion because of sexual assault, sex trafficking, or they are victims of domestic violence. The information would then be reported to the state without using the woman’s name.

    ARKANSAS

    Mandatory counseling and 48-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials in person or by mail, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. (Some of the materials include things such as a list of adoption agencies or the gestational age of what the state calls the “unborn child.”) Afterwards, they must wait 48 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Public funding and Obamacare restrictions: Health plans under Alabama’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The same goes for public funds.

    D&E procedure ban: A common second-trimester procedure known as dilatation and evacuation has been banned.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    CALIFORNIA

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    Public funding and health insurance: All private health insurance plans in California are required to provide abortion coverage.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must provide written consent to the procedure.

    COLORADO

    Public funding and health insurance restrictions: Abortion is not covered by the health insurance of public employees. Public funds are available for abortion in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest.

    Parental consent: Two parents, with exceptions, of a young woman under the age of 18 must be given notice before the procedure. If the young woman is living with other adult relatives, they may be notified instead.

    CONNECTICUT

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    DELAWARE

    Public funding: Public funds are available for abortion in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest.

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 16 must be notified about the procedure at least 48 hours before it takes place. Providers can waive this requirement in certain circumstances.

    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

    Public funding: Public funds are available for abortion in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest.

    FLORIDA

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure at least 24 hours before it takes place. Providers can waive this requirement in certain circumstances, such as she is or has been married, has been emancipated, or if she already has a child. However, the notification can’t be waived in cases of rape or incest.

    Public funding and Obamacare restrictions: Health plans under Florida’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The same goes for public funds.

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    GEORGIA

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of a pregnancy that is not viable, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Georgia’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life or health. In the case of women who are in the health insurance plan offered to public employees, abortion is only covered when their life is endangered. Public funding is available only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    HAWAII

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    IDAHO

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure. Doctors are also required to report how many times a patient has terminated a pregnancy.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Public funding, Obamacare, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Idaho’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. Private insurers only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life. In the case of women who are in the health insurance plan offered to public employees, abortion is only covered when their life is endangered. Public funding is available only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    ILLINOIS

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    Medicaid, and health insurance restrictions: In the case of women who are in the health insurance plan offered to public employees, abortion is only covered when their life is endangered or their health is severely compromised. Women on Medicaid won’t receive any coverage, even when the procedure is considered medically necessary.

    INDIANA

    Mandatory counseling and 18-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person. Some of the materials are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 18 hours after being counseled before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s life is in danger or her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Indiana’s Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is also only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    IOWA

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    Public funding and Medicaid: Public funds are available in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The use of Medicaid funds for an abortion must be approved by the governor.

    6-week-ban: Abortion procedures are banned after six weeks, except in case of rape, incest, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    KANSAS

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Kansas’ Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s life is in danger or her physical health is severely compromised.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    KENTUCKY

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Kentucky’s Obamacare stipulations and private insurers cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Abortion is not covered under the health insurance plans for public employees. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s life is in danger or her physical health is severely compromised.

    LOUISIANA

    Roe v. Wade: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in the state.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of a pregnancy that is not viable, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare and public funding: Health plans under Louisiana’s Obamacare stipulations may not cover abortion. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    D&E procedure ban: A common second-trimester procedure known as dilatation and evacuation has been banned.

    MAINE

    Public funding: Public funds are available in cases of danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest.

    MARYLAND

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    MASSACHUSETTS

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    MICHIGAN

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Michigan’s Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Viability: An abortion may be performed at or after viability only in cases where the woman's life or health is endangered.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    MINNESOTA

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, some of which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    MISSISSIPPI

    Roe v. Wade: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in the state.

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    15-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 15 weeks, except in case of severe fetal impairment, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Mississippi’s Obamacare stipulations cover abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The health insurance plans for public employees and public funding can cover abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest, or fetal impairment.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    MISSOURI

    Mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 72 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Missouri’s Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Viability: An abortion may be performed at or after viability only in cases where the woman's life or health is endangered.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    MONTANA

    Viability: An abortion may be performed at or after viability only in cases where the woman's life or health is endangered.

    NEBRASKA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Nebraska’s Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    NEVADA

    Public funding: Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Parental consent: Unmarried, unemancipated women below the age of 18 must have consent of one parent.

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    NEW HAMPSHIRE

    Public funding: Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    NEW JERSEY

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    NEW MEXICO

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    NEW YORK

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    NORTH CAROLINA

    Mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 72 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under North Carolina’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The same applies to public funding.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    NORTH DAKOTA

    Roe v. Wade: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in the state.

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under North Dakota’s’ Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    FDA restriction: Abortion medication must be administered following FDA protocol.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    OHIO

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    FDA restriction: Abortion medication must be administered following FDA protocol.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure, since the provider must test for a fetal heartbeat. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Ohio’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    OKLAHOMA

    Mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling materials, which are designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 72 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Oklahoma’s Obamacare stipulations, private insurers, and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    OREGON

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    PENNSYLVANIA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Pennsylvania’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    RHODE ISLAND

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Public funding and health insurance restrictions: Health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    SOUTH CAROLINA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 17 must consent to the procedure. Providers can waive that requirement in some circumstances.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in cases where the pregnancy is considered “medically futile” or there’s danger to the mother’s life or health.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under South Carolina’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    SOUTH DAKOTA

    Roe v. Wade: If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would automatically become illegal in the state

    Mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 72 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure.

    24-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 24 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Public funding and Obamacare restrictions: Health plans under South Dakota’s Obamacare conditions can only cover abortions in cases of danger to the mother’s life or health. The same goes for public funds.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    TENNESSEE

    Mandatory counseling and 48-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 48 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Public funding and Obamacare restrictions: Health plans under Tennessee’s Obamacare conditions are not allowed to cover abortions. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    Post-viability ban: Abortion procedures are banned after viability, except when the mother’s life or physical health is severely compromised.

    TEXAS

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    FDA restriction: Abortion medication must be administered following FDA protocol.

    Public funding: Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women need to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    D&E procedure ban: A common second-trimester procedure known as dilatation and evacuation has been banned.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    UTAH

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Mandatory counseling and 72-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 72 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Viability: An abortion may be performed at or after viability only in cases of incest, rape, fetal anomaly, or when the woman's life or health is endangered.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Utah’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, fetal impairment, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, fetal anomaly, rape, or incest.

    VERMONT

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    VIRGINIA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents or “authorized persons” related to women under the age of 18 must be given notice and consent to the procedure.

    Third trimester ban: An abortion may be performed after the third trimester only in cases where the woman's life or health is endangered.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women need to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Virginia’s Obamacare stipulations cover abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. Health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases danger to the mother’s life, fetal impairment, rape, or incest. Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, fetal anomaly, rape, or incest.


    WASHINGTON

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for an abortion. Unlike other states, there’s no restrictions such as a medical justification.

    WEST VIRGINIA

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental notification: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must be notified about the procedure. Providers can waive this requirement in certain circumstances.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case the pregnancy is not viable, danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    Public funding: Women who qualify for state medical assistance can obtain public funds for abortions in cases of medical necessity, danger to the mother’s life, rape, or incest.

    WISCONSIN

    Mandatory counseling and 24-hour waiting period: Women must receive counseling in person, which is designed to discourage them from going through with the procedure. Afterwards, they must wait 24 hours after receiving the materials before undergoing the procedure.

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure. Providers can waive this requirement in certain circumstances.

    Ultrasound requirement: Women must have an ultrasound before being able to undergo the procedure. The abortion provider must offer them the option of looking at the image.

    20-week ban: Abortion procedures are banned after 20 weeks, except in case of danger to the mother’s life or when her physical health is severely compromised.

    Obamacare, public funding, and health insurance restrictions: Health plans under Wisconsin’s Obamacare stipulations and health insurance plans for public employees cover abortion only in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. The same goes for public funds.

    Telemedicine restriction: The state bans the use of telemedicine to obtain abortion medication, which is used to end the pregnancy in the first trimester.

    WYOMING

    Parental consent: One of the parents of women under the age of 18 must consent to the procedure.

    Public funding: Public funding is only available in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

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    Who am I? is a question Ceval Omar asks herself more than you. For the Somalian-Norwegian, curvy, transgender model, defining herself isn't easy. She's in a state of constant evolution; she ticks all of the boxes and none of them. Her open-ended identity makes her a recipe for stardom in the fashion industry, but in the real world, it's a different story.

    It's not often someone like Ceval comes along, partly because the modeling business doesn't reserve spaces for people like her, but also because she's an anomaly in multiple ways. She's dark-skinned, she self-identifies as plus-size, and she's transgender — three categories that are underrepresented in the fashion industry. In this sense, she's a triple threat, but her personality, easily discernible from her poses, her street style, and her Instagram captions, gives her even more of an advantage. At age 24, Ceval has overcome a fair share of hardship and then some, tales of which will eventually come out when she's ready.

    But, for now, after signing to three international agencies within a week's span, we sat down with Ceval to talk the usual: her modeling hopes, her inspirations, her notions on the fashion industry, and why she'll never stop saying yes when others say no. We'd tell you to watch this space, but we have a feeling you're about to see Ceval everywhere.

    Tell us about yourself. Who is Ceval?
    Ceval Omar: " Who am I? I've asked myself this question so many times growing up, and I still haven't found a full answer. I'm made up by so many different things and experiences, people in my life who've taught me, and my family who has raised me in their own way. I'm a girl, a son, a brother, a friend, a dancer, a performer, a model, a cook...

    "How I really am and how people perceive me are quite different things. With my close friends, I'm someone who has gone through a lot but is still always goofy and funny; I'm a shady bitch, but also a very loving and supportive friend. To the rest of the world, they see a beautiful young girl who seems very confident, outspoken, has her shit together, and is somewhat detached from her emotions, which I’ve used as a defense mechanism to keep people away — to not let them see my pain or my weakness, to not be hurt or disappointed by anyone."

    At what point did you realize that modeling was what you wanted to do? Or is it just a part of a bigger picture or your evolution?
    "As a young child, I would look at Naomi Campbell, Iman, or Christy Turlington, and so many others. Their lives seemed completely out of this world to me, so at night, I would look at their videos or magazine covers and go to sleep and dream myself into their worlds. Beautiful, strong, smart, and kind — to me — is the epitome of a goddess, and these women are goddesses. Now, that little child inside of me is crying happy tears that, in a world like ours, someone like me is considered beautiful, strong, smart, and kind.

    "Modeling is something I’ve dreamt about but understood to not be a place for plus-size, Black, trans women. I kind of check off everything that isn't 'normal' in the fashion world, and I hardly see anyone like me to identify or feel at home with. My dream is as much a part of the fashion world's evolution as it is my own."

    In terms of joining a modeling board — development, women, image, plus, curve, influencer — where do you see yourself fitting in? And what are your opinions on labels, inside and out of the industry?
    "In the past week and a half, I've signed with three international agencies — Heartbreak, MiLK, and MUSE — so I'm still wrapping my head around that. But because I'm so different and there's not a place for models like me, I'm going to have to carve my own path within the structure of where models belong in regards to labels. I want to be the rare case to do it all.

    "I think people use labels to make it easier for them, so they don’t have to think outside of the box or broaden their minds. God forbid we challenge our own thoughts and opinions regarding people who are different! At the end of the day, no one is a label, and no one is just one single thing. We are all made up of so many different things; as different as our fingerprints. Instead of nurturing our individuality, the system feels it's easier to categorize us and give us labels. And we buy into it."

    Talk to me about your heritage and where you're from. How does it inform who you are, your personal style, and your worldview?
    "I'm a mix of many things, but mostly Somalian and Norwegian. I’ve been lucky with having so many cultures to identify with. I’ve had the privilege of being constantly surrounded by people from many different places around the world, and that has taught me so much. And they all saw me; humans take for granted the gift of seeing someone and being seen.

    "Apart from my own family, who has given me the strength and defense mechanisms to be able to go out into the world, I've also been nurtured by families I’ve chosen. They are made up by people from different walks of life, colors, and nationalities, and yet they've loved me and I've loved them."

    What are some current issues in fashion that you have feelings about? Politics, the clothes themselves, Instagram, race, culture, etc. — whatever you're most moved by, good and bad.
    "I'm so proud of where fashion is headed in regards to diversity. I’ve seen so many different types of beautiful Black models, from the darkest shade to the lightest shade, and that's beyond exciting for a girl like me who grew up in Norway and almost never saw anyone I could identify with. Because of that, I'd look to fashion, TV, and music to find myself; it was so important to have those representations. Now, the fact that I have a place here and someone out there can see themselves in me is just beautiful.

    "What I don’t like about the industry is the disconnect in sizing. 67% of American women wear a size 14 or above. The industry needs to be better at representing all women around the world because they are consumers, too."

    What do you want most out of your career(s)?
    "I plan to give this my all. If my modeling inspires even just one person, then I'm doing this for all the right reasons. Hopefully, I'll embody anyone who came before me who made it that much easier for me to exist in a world where Euro-centric beauty reigns supreme. I also love working with charities and helping broaden people’s minds regarding trans people and our safety. We just want to exist, be treated normally, and left alone to live our lives like anyone else wishes to."

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    Photographed by Danny Kim.

    Don’t be embarrassed. It’s not just you. It’s been documented in a Reddit thread. Tide has picked up on it, creating an ad that is even more oblique than tampon commercials, promising that its Odor Defense Collection will deal with your "yoga aroma."

    It’s that crotch smell, which for some reason seems to be amplified by stretchy yoga pants and leggings. And because we wear stretchy pants everywhere (thanks, athleisure), it’s becoming somewhat of an urgent problem. "In focus-group interviews, women have said that’s a place where smell in clothing is particularly bad," says professor Rachel McQueen of the University of Alberta, who studies how textiles develop and retain smell.

    Yes, sometimes it could be caused by a yeast infection or something else funky going on with your nether region. If it’s particularly fishy in nature, go visit your OB/GYN. But more likely, you’re completely healthy and normal — it’s just the pants that are the problem.

    "There is so little known about the science of it," says McQueen. "The mechanism of odor from humans is so complex. There might be research going on in-house [at textile manufacturers), but it’s all quite confidential." (Male textile researchers wouldn’t return my emails on the topic of vagina odor in textiles. Can’t imagine why.)

    Professor McQueen focuses mainly on underarm odor, and she says research is scant, but she did have some hypotheses and tips to share.

    Avoid the stretchy, sweat-wicking, synthetic stuff.

    Allow me to get science-y on you for a moment. Most odors are composed of chemical compounds, each with its own unique chemical structure. And a lot of our body’s odor compounds — though not all — tend to be polar, like water. Because cotton is also polar, it absorbs sweat and underarm odors and traps the chemical compounds, leading to much less intense odor. (That’s also why cotton gets really heavy when it’s wet; it’s carrying around all that liquid inside the fibers.) Then, when you wash it, the water gets inside the fibers and cleanses away all those odorous compounds. Bam, clean clothing.

    But polyester, which is required to make clothing stretchy, is non-polar and non-absorbent. This is what makes it so famously “sweat-wicking.” On top of that, because it repels water, polyester is harder to clean in the washing machine, which might be why, even after you wash your workout clothes, the odor sometimes doesn’t go away.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Keep cotton away from your crotch.

    But wait, there’s another thing to consider. Cotton tends to get a musty smell when it’s in humid environments where it doesn’t dry out quickly. Professor McQueen notices this when trying to line-dry clothes in humid climates versus dry ones. Could our crotch qualify as a perpetually humid environment? I asked her. “I don’t think that’s a stretch at all,” she said.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Reject rayon.

    McQueen can verify the types of clothing that get permanently stinky. “My experience has been that some of my smelly tops have been rayon. There’s a buildup where, after many wears of it, you put it on and it starts to stink immediately.” Anecdotally, she noticed it with her husband’s rayon workout top. “I thought, Ugh, I think he accidentally put this top in the clean laundry pile, because it stunk. I washed it again, and it still stunk. It was disgusting.”

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Ban black.

    McQueen has also heard from survey respondents that black textiles are a problem. “We’ve had at least two or three people that have mentioned black clothing. Maybe it’s something in the dye,” she says. “Or maybe it’s just people wear a lot of black yoga pants.”

    It could be it’s a coincidence, but I heard this from another quarter as well: a Facebook group of women. “It's mostly tight-fitting pants with stretch to them,” one commented. “And generally black colored.” Hmm, maybe there is something there.

    (All these hypotheses seem to jive with my personal experience. The worst pants I ever owned that I finally trashed were black cotton/polyester/rayon stretch pants, a potently fragrant combination.)

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Pick wool for less wafting.

    So what exactly does that leave? It might sound weird to wear wool for workouts, but fine merino wool (a.k.a. performance wool) in leggings, tops, and even sneakers is having a moment. Wool is Professor McQueen’s personal fiber of choice for performance gear, even though its oft-touted antimicrobial properties are a complete myth. “Because people have experienced that it doesn’t smell badly of body odor, they have made that leap,” she says.

    In truth, wool is even better than cotton in terms of odor control, because it’s a lot more absorbent. Plus, it’s sweat-wicking, releasing moisture and — McQueen posits — odor easily and quickly. So by the time you’re walking out of the gym, sweat dried, you’re fit to walk into the coffee shop. (Meanwhile, odors cling to polyester’s surface and waft away slowly over time, leading to a continuous stink all day.)

    “But that is very much a hypothesis,” McQueen cautions. “I haven’t had sufficient amounts of funding to explore these research questions.” Somebody please give this woman a grant.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Manage it with an antimicrobial.

    Sweat itself isn’t stinky. It’s the bacteria in it that causes B.O. If you can kill the bacteria, then you might kill the stink.

    “Putting an antimicrobial treatment on a textile wouldn’t be a complete solution, but it might be part of the solution,” McQueen says. But not all antimicrobial gear is created equal. In fact, her team has found that antimicrobial treatments, including silver, work much better in the lab than on our skin. If you’re gung-ho about it, she suggests finding an antimicrobial product that seems to actually work and sticking with it.

    “One product that I think sounds quite promising is copper,” she says. It’s been studied extensively, not for odor but for antimicrobial properties, and has been given EPA approval for health claims, though not in a textile form.

    Strangely enough, copper-infused clothing exists, though this brand combines it with polyester and spandex, which we’ve established gets stinky.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Clean them consciously.

    Another way to manage odor might be to clean your pants the right way. Credit goes to the Reddit board for this tip: Don’t just toss your pants in with detergent. Give them a spray of vinegar, vodka, or tea tree oil, all mild bacteria killers. Or try an enzyme cleaner, built to deal with stains caused by bodily fluids like sweat or…you know.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

    Let it go.

    Or you could just not worry about it. According to the internet and the women I asked on Facebook, even though everyone seems to have smelled their own crotch, it’s exceedingly rare to pick up on someone else’s musty yoga aroma. Unless you are putting your face near their crotch, of course.

    Acroyoginis and cheerleaders, take note.

    illustrated by Paola Delucca.

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    Much like Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's characters in 500 Days of Summer, we too could blissfully play house in Ikea. The Swedish superstore is filled with every single home good we could imagine — and even a few we can't. Aside from the better-known furniture, décor, and meatball offerings, the affordable shopping destination also boasts a surprising section that shells out living organisms: The green kind.

    Ikea's plant section has our inner succulent-fiends screaming. Containing all apartment garden essentials from chic planters to sleek tools and, most importantly, live green friends, it's a plant lady's dream come true: trendy and budget-friendly. Scroll ahead to immerse yourself in Ikea's garden oasis — fiddle leaf figs, bonsai trees, and millennial pink pots included.

    At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

    This simple cloud-gray planter is ready to amp up your apartment's stylish hygge vibes.



    Ikea NYPON Plant pot, $3.99, available at Ikea

    Pick up an Ethiopian snake plant succulent in varying leaf styles with assorted colorful pots.



    Ikea SANSEVIERIA Plant With Pot, $9.99, available at Ikea

    These little bonsai trees come complete with black and white ceramic planters and serious zen vibes.



    Ikea FICUS MICROCARPA GINSENG Plant With Pot, $29.99, available at Ikea

    Leave it to Ikea to create a trendy plant stand that you can flip on either end for dual-purpose styling.



    Ikea KANELSTNG Plant Stand, Rattan, $14.99, available at Ikea

    Two major home trends combine forces with this free-standing ladder meets multi planter that's perfect for small spaces.



    Ikea SATSUMAS Plant Stand, $39.99, available at Ikea

    Our affordable fiddle-leaf fig prayers have been answered.



    Ikea FICUS LYRATA BAMBINO Potted Plant, $12.99, available at Ikea

    This sleek watering can with a birch wood handle will keep our green friends hydrated in style.



    Ikea BITTERGURKA Watering Can, $12.99, available at Ikea

    Forget statement furniture or art, our apartments need a statement cactus.



    Ikea EUPHORBIA Potted Plant, $29.99, available at Ikea

    Pop your succulent into this simple terra cotta planter.



    Ikea BRYTRT Plant Pot, $3.99, available at Ikea

    Here's hoping this money tree succulent brings life and positive financial juju into our living spaces.



    Ikea CRASSULA Potted Plant, $7.99, available at Ikea

    No extra room for plants? Use these smooth hanging planters to build a vertical garden in your small space.



    Ikea BITTERGURKA Hanging Planter, $12.99, available at Ikea

    Give your apartment some tropical pep with a breezy dracaena shrub.



    Ikea DRACAENA Potted Plant, $12.99, available at Ikea

    What's more millennial than this millennial pink planter?



    Ikea GRADVIS Plant Pot, $4.99, available at Ikea

    This tree is called an elephant's foot — and now we can't un-see that.



    Ikea BEAUCARNEA RECURVATA Potted Plant, $9.99, available at Ikea

    These woven planters are handmade and waterproof for safely hanging your favorite green friends in style.



    Ikea DRUVFLDER Hanging Planter, $7.99, available at Ikea

    This Norfolk island pine is fall home décor fire.



    Ikea ARAUCARIA Potted plant, Norfolk Island Pine, $12.99, available at Ikea

    Ikea even has a stock of chic faux plants for good measure — and general lack of green thumbs.



    Ikea FEJKA Artificial potted plant with pot, $1.99, available at Ikea

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    After a long summer, we're welcoming boots season with open arms. Summertime and, by default, summer-friendly sandals, have our toes ample time to enjoy some vitamin D. But their exposed status has also meant three-to-four months of dirty feet and frequent and expensive pedicures. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and our depleted nail salon funds have us anxiously awaiting a season where we can cover everything up.

    Of course, we aren't planning on completely giving up our open-toe shoes until the deep, cold temperatures of winter pry them from our frosty feet. But we are willing to let ourselves readopt the full-coverage shoe trend. To make the idea more bearable, we've rounded up 24 must-have boots all under $200. Tell your toes that it's not them, it's you, and prepare to bundle them up in any one of the picks ahead.

    There is a lot of product out there — some would say too much. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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    Over the course of our lifetimes, we’ve seen sweeping civil rights victories for the LGBTQ+ community. In June of 2015, a Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage a right throughout the nation. And just this week for the very first time, a U.S. appeals court ruled that federal civil rights laws protect LGBTQ+ employees from workplace discrimination.

    Although there's obviously more work to be done, these milestones of progress are cause for celebration. Fortunately for the lethargic of us, we can celebrate right from our couch. Enter the LGBTQ+-themed movie marathon.

    While news headlines lump a huge, diverse population into a single acronym, the films on this list unravel that broad categorization by telling the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. They depict aging lovers who’ve weathered decades together; activists fighting for change in their communities; kids on the cusp of self-discovery; men trapped in unhappy marriages; and long-time partners getting hitched at last.

    Each of these movies is merely a drop in the bucket of stories worth sharing and celebrating.

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    Pariah(2011)

    Alike (Adepero Oduye) knows that she's a lesbian. But she's not ready to assert her identity amid the dynamics of her family. Her parents, police officer Arthur (Charles Parnell) and pious stay-at-home-mom Audrey (Kim Wayans), have suspected their daughter was queer, but choose to let the subject fester, unacknowledged. Alike is tired of hiding — especially since she met a girl she likes. "I am not broken. I am free," she reads in a poem, summing up the spirit of this coming of age story.

    My Own Private Idaho(1991)

    In this Gus Van Sant movie, not a cult classic, River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves play teenage prostitutes who bond with each other on a trip from Idaho to Italy. Phoenix's Mike Waters is poor and narcoleptic, whereas Reeves's Scott Favor is more privileged — he turns to hustling in an act of rebellion from his rich Portland family. No matter what feelings brew between then, Scott insists he only sleeps with men for the money. The movie is brimming with desire that can't, or won't, be acted on.

    A Fantastic Woman(2017)

    Marina (Daniela Vega) and Orlando (Francisco Reyes), Marina's senior by 30 years, are very happy together. Tragically, Orlando falls ill and passes away suddenly. When Marina meets Orlando's family, they're fixated on her identity as a trans woman. She's shut out from mourning her lover alongside his family. After her tremendous performance, you will not be forgetting Daniela Vega anytime soon.

    Call Me By Your Name(2017)

    There's a reason why everyone is talking incessantly about Call Me By Your Name. It's a transportive, moving story about the kind of pure and profound relationship we spend our lives hoping we experience at some point. You will be hoping Elio (Timothée Chalemet) and Oliver's (Armie Hammer) summer in Northern Italy lasts forever, for their sake.

    Priscilla, Queen of the Desert(1994)

    When drag-queen Anthony (Hugo Weaving) is offered to take his show to Alice Springs, a town in the middle of the Outback, he persuades his two best friends and fellow performers to come along. Together, the three set forth on their journey in a bus they call "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." What Adam (Guy Pearce) and Bernadette (Terence Stamp) don't know is that Anthony was offered the role by his estranged ex-wife. Once the tour bus gets to Alice Springs, Anthony will be faced with the family he left behind.

    Paris is Burning(1990)

    Rarely does a documentary provide such a fascinating, holistic lens into a counterculture. Filmmaker Jennie Livingston followed the queer people of color and trans people who formed the back bone of New York's drag balls in the '80s and '90s. While the scenes of voguing are great, so are the documentary's ruthless critique of class, gender, and capitalism, that still hold up almost three decades later.

    My Beautiful Laundrette(1985)

    In a rough neighborhood of London, Omar (Gordon Warnecke) inherits a laundromat from his uncle. Then, a gang of racist punks assault Omar. One gang happens to be Omar's ex-lover, Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis), whose life had gone awry after their breakup. They rekindle their relationship and get the laundromat fixed up — it's Johnny and Omar against the world. This gem of a film also features the best ear lick in cinematic history.

    Pride (2014)

    You may not think that gay rights activists and coal miners go hand-in-hand, especially considering today’s political climate.

    But in 1984, a group of English gays and lesbians realized they shared a common enemy with striking coal miners: Thatcher, the conservative press, and the police. So, a group of LGBT Londoners travels to Whales and lends their aid to the miners — who, at first, are reluctant to have them. Uplifting, heartwarming, and bursting with your favorite British actors, Pride depicts the initial founding of a movement that would go on to have real political reverberations in the U.K.

    The Kids Are Alright(2010)

    After 20 years as a couple, Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) have one of those quirky, wonderful households bursting with warmth. But when their two teenage kids get the bright idea to contact their birth donor and invite him over, their family will be tested and redefined.

    Brokeback Mountain(2006)

    In 1963, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) learn that a lot can happen between two cowboys during the long, cold months on the range. Their love for each other runs deep — deep enough to endure 20 years of unhappy marriages, sporadic encounters, and constant longing. Meet the most tear-jerking, epic love story since Titanic.

    Carol(2015)

    Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) finds her little life greatly expanded when, one day, rich housewife Carol (Cate Blanchett) bursts into the department store where Therese works. Amidst 1950s rigid notions of conventionality, Carol and Therese act upon their instant chemistry. And though you came for the love story, you'll stay for the exquisite sets and artistry of the film itself.

    Orlando (1992)

    Welcome to a world where the rules don’t apply. It’s the year 1600, and nobleman Orlando (Tilda Swinton) struts about, asserting his power and masculinity through affairs and adventures. But one fine day in the 1700s, Orlando wakes up transformed into a woman. When Lady Orlando returns home, she’ll struggle to hold onto her ancestral land, just because she's a woman.

    Orlando may sound gimmicky, but before you judge, remember it's based on a Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. You may be surprised to learn the progressive source material was written in 1928, since both the novel and film playfully explore gender identity with nuance and humor.

    Weekend(2011)

    One-night stands aren't supposed to get serious. But what happens when they do? Maybe if Russell had gone home, instead of going to a gay club and meeting Glen, he wouldn't have to find out. As it is, Russell has to contend with the fact that something is growing between the two, whether or not they take it seriously.

    Milk(2008)

    Most Americans probably hadn't heard of Harvey Milk before the acclaimed biopic shook up awards season in 2008. Based on a true story, Milk tracks the journey of the first openly gay American elected to public office. At the age of 40, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) move from New York to San Francisco, where he and his lover open a small camera store. With the support of his new activist friends, Milk plunges into the world of politics, where his career (and destiny) will become intertwined with another San Francisco supervisor, Dan White.

    Tangerine(2015)

    Tangerine initially generated buzz because it was shot entirely on iPhone 5 cameras, but that’s not what garnered the gritty indie amazing reviews. After a 28-day stint in prison, Sin-Dee Rella, a transgender sex worker, discovers that her boyfriend (and pimp) Chester has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman. When Sin-Dee and her friend Alexandra hit the streets of L.A. to find Chester, drama is close behind.

    Love Is Strange(2014)

    After 40 years together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) decide to take advantage of the recently passed New York state law legalizing same-sex marriage. Soon after their wedding, the Catholic school where George teaches music fire him, disapproving of his marriage. Without George’s income, the couple is unable to pay for their brand-new apartment, and must split up to live in two different friends’ houses.

    Yossi & Jagger(2002)

    In a remote station on the Lebanese border, Yossi, a commanding officer, begins an affair with Jagger, one of his soldiers. The lovers don't just have the watchful, suspicious eyes of other soldiers to contend with: When a colonel announces a forthcoming attack, Yossi and Jagger's bond will be tested by war, too.

    Cloudburst(2011)

    For 31 years, Stella and Dot were a rip-roaring, fun-loving couple. Now, well into their 70s, Stella is almost deaf and Dot is legally blind. After Dot's granddaughter decides to put her in a nursing home, the couple escapes from the home and runs off to Canada to get married so they can stay together. Their trip goes astray when they pick up a hitchhiking drifter running away from problems of his own.

    Like this post? There's more. Get tons of celebrity news, fun takes on pop culture, and trending stories on the Refinery29 Entertainment Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

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    As great as self-help books can be, they sometimes have a reputation for being cheesy, overly earnest, or unrealistically optimistic.

    While they may not contain the "key to happiness " or fulfill any particularly lofty promises, they can, at the very least, help to normalize what you're feeling or experiencing, says Marcia Norman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in Winter Park, FL. In the same way that you might listen to a sad song or watch a tearjerker movie when you're feeling down, reading a self-help book that relates to what you're going through can help you feel less alone.

    "It can be very validating to see that other people have experienced the same thoughts or emotions you have, and self-help books also help you see yourself more clearly," Dr. Norman says. "[They] provide a path that others have already gone down to make your experience less daunting or scary."

    Whether you're trying to get over a breakup, working on being more confident, or simply trying to understand your emotions, there's something out there for you.

    Ahead, you'll find a few of our favorite books to read when you need a little guidance or inspiration.

    Heather Havrilesky's collection of essays will make you want to embrace who you are and what you have — because that really is enough.



    Penguin What If This Were Enough?: Essays, $16.92, available at Amazon

    As the Karamo Brown once said in an episode of Queer Eye, "failure is not the opposite of success — it's part of it." Megan McArdle's book, The Up Side of Down shows you exactly why failure doesn't always have to be a setback.



    Penguin The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, $13.49, available at Amazon

    Who says being awkward is a bad thing? Melissa Dahl's Cringeworthy puts a new spin on embarrassing situations and looks at them as opportunities to grow. By the end of it, you'll be embracing the next weird thing you do in public instead of cowering in shame.



    Portfolio Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, $17.94, available at Amazon

    Whether you've just gone through a break-up, lost a loved one, or you're feeling a little stuck in life, this is the book for you.



    Vintage Books Tiny Beautiful Things, $10.28, available at Amazon

    Finding out what it means to be happy is a huge topic to tackle, and it's something that's different for everyone. That being said, Gretchen Rubin's book on her one-year journey to find true happiness is an enlightening and funny read that will motivate you to find your own sense of the often-elusive state of mind that is happiness.



    HarperCollins The Happiness Project, $9, available at Amazon

    At one point or another, we've all been guilty of getting too in-our-heads about something. Gary John Bishop's book guides you through getting out of negative self-talk and into your best self.



    HarperOne Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, $11.54, available at Amazon

    Because sometimes, you just need a reminder that you are definitely a badass — and you already have everything you need to live the awesome life you deserve.



    Running Press Adult You Are a Badass, $9.59, available at Amazon

    This 10-chapter book breaks down Oprah's spiritual journey, and features selections from her conversations with inspiring people, like Shonda Rhimes, Thich Nhat Hahn, and Marianne Williamson. If it's good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for you.



    Flatiron Books The Wisdom of Sundays, $16.79, available at Amazon

    While most self-help books are all about getting in tune with your emotions, F*ck Feelings adopts a more Frank Ocean attitude: feelings come, feelings go. And because of that, the authors argue, you shouldn't act only on your emotions. More than that, the book delves into how you can keep your feelings from making you act impulsively (to your detriment).



    Simon & Schuster F*ck Feelings, $13.85, available at Barnes & Noble

    A recommended read for introverts and extroverts alike, Quiet shuts down myths and biases about those of us who prefer to listen rather than talk, and who may come off as anti-social lone wolves. But beyond validating the introvert experience, author Susan Cain breaks down how extroverts can more easily understand and support the quieter people around them.



    Crown Archetype Quiet: The Power of Introverts, $11.71, available at Barnes & Noble

    Matt Haig's memoir is at once a painfully honest look at depression and anxiety, as well as a hopeful, evocative exploration of what it means to live with mental illness.



    Penguin Reasons to Stay Alive, $10.39, available at Barnes & Noble

    Take self-help into your own hands — literally. If sitting down and writing a whole diary entry every night is a little daunting, don't worry. Start Where You Are is a step outside of your typical journal, with exercises and questions designed to help you really get in touch with how you feel, where you are, and where you want to be.



    Penguin Start Where You Are, $10.11, available at Barnes & Noble

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    Whenever we need makeup inspiration before date night or brunch, we turn to our favorite celebs. Maybe we can pull off green eyeshadow like Lucy Hale? Or dark lipstick like Olivia Munn? We scroll through their Instagram accounts, screenshotting their latest cuts and colors to take to our hairstylists before appointments. And now, prior to hitting up the piercing shop, we’ll be turning to them, too.

    Turns out, some of your favorite stars are major piercing enthusiasts. We’re talking belly button, nipples, and — of course — ears. Some celebs have taken lead on the trends sweeping New York and L.A by rocking multiple jewels in their ears. Because why have one, when you can have a ton? If you’ve considered dabbling with another ear piercing, we’ve rounded up the stars with the coolest jewelry that'll convince you to bite the bullet, ahead.

    Lucy Hale has three holes along her lobe.

    Shay Mitchell's solo helix piercing is classic, but still makes a statement.

    Gigi Hadid has three piercings that travel to her upper lobe.

    So does Halsey, who took a bold approach by adoring her lobes with mutli-sized hoops.

    If you're feeling experimental, copy Zoë Kravitz's ear designs. The actress has an upper lobe and conch piercing in one ear and her tragus pierced on the other.

    RiRi has some bad-gal piercings that are totally on trend. The singer rocks multiple lobe piercings along with a tragus hook.

    Why house one earring when you can have five like Nicole Richie?

    Ashley Graham's ear is like one fun jewelry party. The model has her standard and upper ear lobes pierced, along with her double helix and inner conch.

    If six piercings in one ear is good enough for Beyoncé then...

    Kehlani rocks gauges and two dainty diamonds on her upper lobe.

    You may have missed Dakota Fanning's outer-conch bling because it's so tiny.

    Emma Roberts' upper ear lobe piercing makes a simple, yet stylish, statement.

    Vanessa Hudgens' double lobe jewelry is slightly spaced out for a modern feel.

    Ayesha Curry sports an industrial piercing, along with three tiny earrings along her upper lobe.

    Teyana Taylor's triple cartilage piercing is the perfect amount of edge.

    Kelly Rowland's tragus and cartilage jewelry is so tiny, you've probably never noticed it — but we love it for that exact reason.

    Cassie's piercings climb from her standard lobe to her helix.

    Blake Lively has a total of five lobe piercings between both ears.

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