Aberrance Quarterly Atlanta Issue I

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Welcome to Aberrance Quarterly

AQ’s research shows this generation may be one of the first to acknowledge successful women




Dr. Dianne Harper, a leading researcher of the HPV vaccine,


A IS FOR ATHLETE MALLORY HURST Allysa White fights eating disorders and domestic violence by becoming an MMA fighter

Gardasil says the vaccine advertising may be misleading


WE ARE NOT FOR SALE LEL A JOHNSON Wellspring, a home for sex-trafficked girls, tackles Atlanta’s rampant sex trade industry with education and hope






Special Thanks to: Danielle Elms Jianna Justice Rwanda Musaddiq Alexa Pence Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School Nancy Crosswell

Lela Johnson Editor in Chief

JD Capelouto Fashion Director

I’ve lived in Atlanta for every second of my seventeen years and looking around, I feel like I’ve barely made it out the front door. Ten-year-old me was completely oblivious to the four million people I shared a city with. Fifteen-year-old me could barely find the way to the local Publix, let alone Turner Field. Now, seventeen-year-old me hasn’t made much progress. I have Alexa Pence to thank for the incredible opportunity to make up for any wasted time in my hometown. I can honestly say that students with Alexa’s dedication and intellect should make everyone proud for our future generations. What started out as a small Louisville high school publication became national in the blink of an eye. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still run by high schoolers. Yes, it’s possible to create a feminist magazine headquartered in four different states before graduating. Say hello to the future world of journalism.

Rian Archer Fashion Photographer

Nathan Blansett Managing Editor

Jianna Justice Stylist

Rian Archer Fashion Editorial Photographer

Kira Donaldson Social Correspondent

Maria Crosswell Social Correspondent

What’s even more amazing is that the motivation behind all the blood, sweat, tears and time invested in AQ stems from one concept alone: a shared love for all things feminism. Every member of our wonderful staff believes in


this foundation to AQ’s philosophy. Not only do we believe in it, but we are proud of it too. And now we’d like to share a dream with you. The dream to bring our beloved feminism to Atlanta, which will be all the more powerful of a message coming from the pens of your future generation. The very people you see on our staff page will one day be responsible for what you see, hear and read. After working with them, I can promise that you will be in safe, capable hands. I’d like to think that this very first issue of AQ Atlanta represents youthful ambition, the power of young people stepping to the plate to share how they see our world. Hopefully this is as inspiring to you as it is to me. I’m hungry for a behind-the-scenes tour of my hometown. Lucky for me, my wonderful fashion editorial team shared my appetite. Atlanta is a story, or really, a collection of stories just waiting to be told. I know now that they’ve been waiting on me to tell them for seventeen years. I can’t wait to explore our Atlanta a little more with you.




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Research suggests this generation may be one of the first to acknowledge successful women. | Story by Nadia Almahsaki | Design by Josh Svoboda

Diplomas behind a sheet of glass casing catches the f lorescent light of a coveted corner office. At the desk sits the yuppie. They donn a slim fitting suit made of sheen tonic fibers and don’t pack their lunch. Who do you see within the suit? Is it a darkhaired man from a well-off family? Is it an Asian woman who has worked her way up the socioeconomic ladder? To determine what type of person was the millennial generation’s model of accomplishment, I conducted a study to reveal the race and gender today’s young people most closely relate to success. AQ sur veyed 159 fourteen- to nineteen-year-olds about their idea of what a successful person looks like. Subjects in the study were given a short passage describing the life of a generic, successful person: high school valedictorian, graduate of a top-thirty college and a professional school, and then promoted twice in the first five years of employment. The subjects then answered a few questions about the person in the story, including the person’s gender and race. The answers we received were telling, and give us hope for the future. 65% of women and 35% of men labeled the successful person a woman. 60 years ago, when the vast majority of the population believed that a woman’s place was at home and only 20% of women had college degrees, very few people would have associated being professionally successful with being female. However, the figure of 49.8% of young men and women associating success with being a woman is yet in line with reality. In the passage provided, inter viewees were told that the successful person has a bachelor degree and a postgraduate degree. According to the U.S. Department of Education, as of 2010, the majority of those receiving bachelor degrees are female, 62.6% of those receiving masters degrees are female, and 53.3% of those earning doctorates are female as well.

If expectations of the identity of the degree holder were proportional to how many women are actually granted higher level degrees, the figure of those identifying the character as a woman would be well over 50%. A 1974 study conducted by Kay Deaux and Tim Emswiller showed that both men and women, by a significant margin, attributed men’s success to the men being skilled, while they attributed women’s success to the women being lucky. In short, the male and female youth of 40 years ago could not rationalize a woman being skilled or successful on her own merits. Given that information, the fact that half of the millennials sur veyed identified the successful, hardworking individual as female is certainly a step forward. Our younger generation isn’t just progressive, it’s confident. A common remark I heard from our female inter viewees in particular was, “I’m imagining myself as this person. Is that okay?” The gender associated with success was correlated more closely to the inter viewees’ genders than anything else, ref lecting that gender roles aren’t inf luencing their views as much as their own aspirations are. Unfortunately, even with this mindset, the prevalent reply of all genders and races was that the successful character was also white. 67% of non-white subjects and 76% of white subjects indicated “white” as the race of the successful character. The rise in the association of womanhood with success and the stagnation of the association of minority groups with success inform us on the values, beliefs, and expectations held by today’s teens. While it seems to be customary to minimize the opinions of teenagers, today’s teens will be tomorrow’s politicians, CEOs, and parents. Their values will be the prevalent societal values sooner than most realize.




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Dr. Dianne Harper, a leading researcher of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, says the drug may be misleading. | Story by Nadia Almasalkhi | Design by Sarah Rohleder Dr. Diane Harper is a leader in her field. She has earned a medical doctorate, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical engineering, and a master’s degree in public health. Dr. Harper had a motivation to spend over ten years in post-secondary education to pursue women’s health: her mother died of breast cancer when Dr. Harper was not yet a doctor. Later in life, she led the team that analyzed the data regarding the efficacy of Gardasil Phase II and Phase III vaccines. Gardasil is a vaccine designed to protect men and women against human papillomavirus, also known as the HPV virus. HPV vaccines with vigorous marketing campaigns, such as Gardasil, are even commonly known among young women as “the cancer vaccine.” In reality, Gardasil protects against four

strains of the HPV virus, which can cause cer vical cancer, though 95% of HPV infections do not lead to cer vical cancer. Gardasil does not protect against cer vical

“WOMEN NEED TO KNOW THAT THE VACCINE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH.” cancer itself, nor is it proven to last an entire lifetime. Dr. Harper has cautioned women against the misinformation surrounding pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Pharmaceuticals. “Women need to know that the vaccine alone is not

enough. Regular pap screening is the best way to prevent cer vical cancer,” she said, noting that regular pap screenings have a 100% efficacy rate in preventing the disease that kills nearly 4,000 U.S. women yearly. Most warnings concerning Gardasil have been related to its adverse effects, such as mild paralysis—sometimes even death—but Dr. Harper clarifies that because those effects are so rare, it is impossible to prove whether or not the administration of the vaccine was the cause in those cases. Most dangerous regarding the vaccine, she says, is the confidence people have in it. “We have data from Australia showing that women who received HPV vaccines would just stop coming in for pap screenings . . . We’re sure Gardasil lasts for five years, but we won’t know if it lasts longer than that for another twelve years.”



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“I’m not speaking out against Gardasil,” she asserted. “I’m speaking out to correct misconceptions.” However, that is not how all people have interpreted her statements. In regards to the reactions of Merck & Co. Pharmaceuticals and the scientific community to her statements, Dr. Harper let out a slow sigh and said, “It has been very, very painful.” As an example of the sort of events that have become increasingly common in her career, she recounted the story of when a university invited her to give grand rounds. Grand rounds is the traditional teaching ritual of treating inpatients while presenting the patients’ medical cases to an audience of interns, residents, and physicians. The invitation to give grand rounds at a hospital is an honor. However, according to Harper, the invitation was revoked because of purported

Merck’s television advertisements are pathos-filled and include scenes like a mother cradling her preteen child, vowing she will do “everything [she] can” to “protect her [daughter]” while the Gardasil logo fades in. Another particularly bold, and in Dr. Harper’s opinion, particularly misleading advertisement calls Gardasil “the only cer vical cancer vaccine.” The validity of the latter statement is patently untrue, given that Gardasil only protects against four strains of HPV, while at least twelve strains of HPV are known to be causative of cer vical cancer.

“The only cer vical cancer vaccine,” the 2006 commercial stated. The word only may have been an honest use then, but today, there are other options for HPV vaccination. The problem is, few people know that. “There’s Gardasil and Cer varix, and Cer varix is the better of the two. Merck’s marketing campaign of Gardasil covers up Cer varix, but that’s the politics of medicine.” Gardasil requires three shots administered at inter vals, while Cer varix requires only two, making it the preferable choice of the many needle-fearing recipients. However, the real advantage, according to Dr. Harper,

is that it is “highly likely” that Cer varix lasts longer than Gardasil. With current recommendations to vaccinate girls as young as 9 years old, the efficacy of the practice would be “a matter of whether or not [the vaccines will] last long enough to prevent cancer.” Gardasil may or may not protect against HPV for more than five years. If it does not, many pre-teen girls will have gone through the series of vaccinations and will not realize when they are no longer protected against infection once they become sexually active. If women in the future are in situations where their HPV

vaccines have expired, but their undue confidence in that vaccine has led them to become negligent concerning their infection screenings, the rates of HPVrelated disease may skyrocket. In 2006, Dr. Harper became the fifth woman to ever be promoted to full professor at the Dartmouth Giesel School of Medicine, but she is still best known as a supposed challenger to Gardasil. “I’m not speaking out against Gardasil,” she asserted. “I’m speaking out to correct misconceptions.” However, that is not how all people have interpreted her statements.

statements by Dr. Harper in the media that they didn’t want associated with the university. Within the scientific community, responses are equally unfavorable. Dr. Harper began to support Cer varix as the superior vaccine after her research into Gardasil’s efficacy. In lieu of explaining why she believes colleagues and other scientists have remained ardent advocates of Gardasil, Dr. Harper said that Merck, one of the largest and most profitable pharmaceutical companies in the world, collected a group of scientists who remain loyal only to Merck. Politics and loyalty, she says, are not factors in her interpretations of research. “I would be fine if, in five years, it turns out my data is incorrect, though I doubt it will.” She stressed to future scientists, “Always be open minded and open to new data. Objectivity is necessary.” And, “Stick to your guns.”



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Allysa White fights eating disorders and domestic violence by becoming an MMA fighter. Story by Mallory Hayhurst | Photos by Zi Yang Lai | Design by Greer Schenider ‘Why would you be friends with Alyssa White now? she’s so fat and disgusting.’ ‘Just leave this school. No one would even notice if you disappeared.’ She heard these words in the halls of her high school every day before going home to cry and feel worthless. She sat in the shower, curled up in a ball to avoid looking down at her body; her gaunt body lay restless over the toilet seat, weak and withered. Dark circles shadowed around her eye, bones bulging through her thin, frail skin. She was convinced that she was fat and disgusting. That is what people called her, after all. She was the living and breathing proof that words do hurt. Over one-half of teenage girls use unhealthy weightcontrol methods according to the National Association of Anorexia Ner vosa and Associated Disorders. These quick fixes include skipping meals, smoking cigarettes, purging, and abusing laxatives. 19-year-old Alyssa White fell victim to bulimia and anorexia her sophomore year of high school. Stepping foot on campus was intimidating, as she was bombarded with nasty comments that echoed down the halls. High school, crawling with sadistic comments and beliefs that a girl must appear a certain way and operate according to society’s standards to possess a content life, proved to be an unhealthy place for her. “When I was a sophomore in high school, I threw up for the first time. I walked into the bathroom in tears, kneeled down, grabbed the cold porcelain toilet seat and forced my fingers down my throat. After that, I was hooked,” White says.



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Eventually, White suffered both bulimia and anorexia. She had developed a routine of waking up, eating an apple, throwing up, swimming 60-70 laps and then going through the rest of her day, trying not to eat anything. “I wanted to be so tiny that I would disappear, just like the mean kids told me I should, ” she said.

the training class during one-on-one sparring. “When I would get paired up with one of the guys, I could tell they would get pissed off,” she said. “If someone said ‘Alyssa, you’re partners with such and such’ . . . they would purposely look away from me and avoid me, because they didn’t want to be partners with a girl.”

Her junior year of high school, White’s boyfriend attacked her in her own home. He came into her house in the middle of the night and stood over her bed yelling. When she begged him to stop, pleading that he was scaring her, he said ‘I’ll give you something to be scared about,’ before ripping her pillow apart and landing on top of her. He wrapped his hands around her neck and began to tighten his grip.

To prove herself, White would timidly stand in the back of the gym each week during the professional UFC class, mimicking every move, until she mastered the difficult technique and skill of various martial arts. Focusing so much on technique, White never thought about how many calories she was burning, and that allowed her to progress in the sport, instead of worrying about her body image.

She tried to yell for help, but he used his strength to keep her quiet. She desperately tried to get away, yelling at him to get out of her house and threatening to call the police in the toughest voice she could manage.

Her ultimate goal was to be personally invited to train with the professional class, where UFC fighters trained. She reached that goal in December, 2013.

Over 1 million women each year are victims of domestic violence and assault by someone they personally know, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Hours of dedication paid off for White when she sparred with a male. A crowd of people gathered around her and her opponent, cheering her on, offering the encouragement she longed for as she delivered vigorous jabs at him.

17 years old at the time, White didn’t consider herself aggressive, even if she had a strong will to protect herself.

“They treat me equally now. Some even choose me as their partner,” she said. “I picture my opponent to be him [her ex-boyfriend] and let all of my anger go”

Months after graduating, White yearned for something that would get her out of a rut, a way to prove society’s stereotypes wrong. For years after the attack, she couldn’t sleep in her own bed, scarred from that night. She searched for a way to strengthen her mind and body and for a sport that would not make her feel bad about her shape. After researching local athletic classes, she enrolled in boxing classes that she believed would supply her with self defense skills and restore her self confidence.

Letting that anger go was one step in kicking old habits, like the eating disorder, permanently. White visited a counselor and nutritionist to restore her mental and nutritional health, along with the physical health that came with constant training. “My disorder has gotten better; I’m good now,” she said. “Even when I have tough times and I wanna go back to it, I’ll go to the gym and I’ll train.”

“I was driving to my first class and I almost turned around. I thought, this is stupid, why would I do this? I was so ner vous, especially going in by myself,” she said. The intimidation White felt continued for the first year of boxing and mixed martial arts classes. White faced the intense vulnerability as a woman in a male-dominated fighting gym, pursuing a traditionally male-only sport. The male fighters at the gym treated her as an insignificant addition to their team and doubted her ability as a beginner, and as a woman. White was one of only five women in a gym of 30, often the only woman at

White’s teammates took a stand against her eating disorder, vowing not to train her anymore if she returned to her old habits. In the gym environment, that was very personal support. It was important, too, because White’s main goal became a desire to be recruited into a fighting league and possibly into the Ultimate Fighting Championship. White often thought back to the night her ex-boyfriend abused her, replaying it in her head. MMA couldn’t defend her then, but it ended up defending her from herself. “Now I know, if someone tries to hurt me, I can protect myself,” White said. “When people ask what MMA did for me, I say that it truly saved my life.”



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FOR S LE Wellspring, a home for sex-trafficked girls, tackles Atlanta’s rampant sex trade with education and hope.

Story by Lela Johnson Photos by Alexa Pence Design by Kyla Drozt



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Tonight, 100 teenage girls in Atlanta will be cornered into the sex trade industry to suffer trauma and humiliation. Tonight, 100 girls will have their lives and innocence robbed from them. Tonight, 100 girls will be lucky to survive more than seven years in the industry. Ashley, 17, recalled the foreign sensation of feeling cared for after meeting a charismatic man at a bus stop. He promised her a place to stay, but when they got to his apartment, he immediately locked her in a tiny closet with five other girls. He had the other girls lay down the ground rules: They had a quota to meet - $2,000 a night to give to “Daddy”. Man after man came in, not even bothering to look Ashley in the eyes . “I remember him stroking my hair,” she said. “‘You did it for Daddy,’ he’d say. ‘I’m so proud.’ We were nothing more than cash to him.” Ashley survived her horror story thanks to outreach organization Wellspring Living, dedicated to restoring lives of victimized young women. Despite charitable efforts, 99 girls may not be saved. Notorious for being a hub of the human trafficking industry, Atlanta has been dubbed “Sex City”, shocking locals with the truth of one of their hometown’s most hidden horrors. Sex trafficking in Atlanta is the top underground industry only subsequent to drug trade. Children, often under the age of 12, are flown to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where pimps meet them before they are reunited with their families that same night, almost as though nothing out of the ordinary occurred. Some girls’ own family member or boyfriend lured them into the industry.

“Most simply, there is a demand,” Nia Baker, executive assistant at Wellspring Living said. “Atlanta is a hub, a place where people often come and go. It makes it much easier for this kind of thing to happen and for people not to notice.” Mothers and fathers of victimized girls occasionally sold their own child for sex to pay the bills in poor economic circumstances. Many young women’s sole exposure to this abomination stemmed from unrealistic thrillers such as Taken, kindling the impression that as long as women don’t hop a plane to Europe solo, they’re good to go. Unfortunately, the plot of Taken could have taken place in Atlanta’s own backyard. Some girls needed protection from their own home life, when a family member was the source of abuse. Organizations such as Wellspring Living sheltered its residents for this reason. 13 years ago, founder Mary Francis connected with a women working to help victims of the sex trafficking industry in a time where few organizations were working with women in prostitution or sexual exploitation on the streets of Atlanta. She decided to create a safe place for victims to get back on their feet and find a job. According to Baker, Wellspring started learning from scratch what it means to have a residential home and what kinds of facilities these girls needed, such as access to therapy and assistance with life skills and relationship development. Wellspring has made 27 beds available to girls seeking help. Each girl stays roughly a year to receive individualized attention and an education. While there is a level of comfort these victims find in



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interacting with others who have gone through similar experiences, this supportive system is not always easy to build. “There is a sense of collaboration and [these girls] are able to relate to one another, but it’s also really hard as there are a lot of things they are dealing with personally,” Baker said. “These girls become convinced that this person cares for them even if they abuse them [and] struggle with this dialogue internally [while living] with lots of others girls dealing with that as well . . . The question is whether these girls will be able to live the lives they want to


live even though they have experienced what they have experienced. We definitely believe that if these girls get the love they deserve, this can happen, but the healing process is a long one.” Although a mentor always checked in on them after graduating, this issn’t always enough to prevent some girls from falling back into the sex trafficking industry. It takes some girls up to five revolutions of the cycle to make a clean break, especially those who live in a level of economic poverty where sex trafficking feels normal.

Even with an understanding of the cycle, Wellspring offers hope for graduates. “If these girls return to an unhealthy relationship, they know they can call us,” Baker said. “Girls have called and said ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. I need help, help me get out of this.’ We always believe the story can be redeemed and that the girls are strong enough to make that choice for their life when they are ready.” Despite the horrors these young girls and women endure, survivors prove they possess the strength and opportunity to break free. A noted graduate and survivor

even entered college as a 16-year-old, with dreams to become an accountant. While Wellspring can’t remove victims’ pasts, they can inspire their futures.

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