VOL. 61, ISSUE 1
TRIXIES SALON trixiessalon.com southside dsm | uptown center
HOW A CRYSTAL ALMOST CHANGED MY LIFE The rock taking the internet by storm.
SKIN CARE MYTHS BUSTED Esthetician Rachel Johnson’s do’s and don’t of skin care.
THE TRUTH ABOUT ANAL SEX There are many ways to please your partner—anal sex is one of them.
WANT MORE? VISIT DRAKEMAGAZINE.COM
M A G A Z I N E
D R A K E
O N L I N E
BACK TO THE OFFICE
A holiday gift guide
Party for eight?
Fashion for the non-binary
Bits + Pieces
Food + Drink
Fashion + Beauty
BEATING THE HEAT
EARLY BREAST REDUCTIONS
WHERE MUSIC MEETS WHISKEY
A weight off your chest
Meet Marquas Ashworth
Wellness + Sex
nd just like that, we made a magazine. This issue of Drake Mag is a special one. It marks a reunion. A reunion of artistic minds, hungry writers, and passionate creatives, working in-person together, again. It also marks change. To those who know and love the magazine, I’m sure you noticed what’s missing. The bolded DRAKE MAG title, the catchy cover blurbs. But here’s the beauty of creating a mag. Each new team has the power to switch things up—make it their own. Ours features a dramatic cover in black and white, a new hand-written font, and a volume number to track how far we’ve come as a publication. Then there are the words. An open query for a personal experience essay resulted in a writer sharing their survival story after sexual assault (page 52). Another calls on the need for more therapists who understand intersectionality (page 50). And if you’re into fashion, we styled seven non-binary models in looks that defy gendered business wear (page 22). We talk science too. One writer spoke with environmentalists and city planners about the effects of rising climates and migration to the Midwest (page 32). And if you’re wondering what’s on our cover, read “Laughing Over a Casket” (page 40). As much as we’re motivated to story-tell, we’re empowered to listen. Connect with us at email@example.com and read on at DrakeMagazine.com
Kaili JiMei, Editor-in-Chief
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Kaili JiMei ART DIRECTOR Brynn Yoshinaga PHOTO EDITOR Michael Cummings MANAGING EDITOR Annie Peterson ASSOCIATE EDITOR Emily Postlethwait ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sam Rothbardt ASSISTANT EDITOR Nate Eisenmann EXECUTIVE ONLINE EDITOR Megan Bohall ASSISTANT EDITOR
Morgan Erwin Miles Fritz Charleigh Reinardy Rihards Sergis
ADVERTISING + SOCIAL DIRECTOR Sydney Skemp
DESIGN Payton Blahut Princess Hart Eve Kelly Rihards Sergis
WORDS Michaela Breed Emma Brustkern Madeline Cisneros Maggie Collum
Jessica Comstock Ella Field Rachel Hartley Wiley Hunt Carrie Lawal
Chloe McFarlane Molly Rothman Sydney Sampson Victoria Soliz Kennedy Stone
Special thanks to: Catherine Staub, Jeff Inman, Sarah McCoy, Kathleen Richardson, Denise Ganpat, Cheyann Neades, Drake SJMC, Christian Edwards Printing, all of our models, and those supporting behind the scenes. Copyright 2021 by Drake Mag and Drake Magazine. Drake Mag is published with the support of the Board of Student Communications. Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of Drake University. Letters to the Editor are encouraged and may be published online at www.drakemagazine.com. Please direct any questions, comments, or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
design PRINCESS HART words VICTORIA SOLIZ
10 CLASSICS OF THE 2000s WORTH READING.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer: A girl meets a sparkly vampire, and the rest is history. These novels should be read for the cultural significance they have on pop culture. How else will anyone know where the line “it’s the fluorescents” came from? The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Trigger warning: police brutality. Following the shooting of a Black man, a high schooler leads protests against his death. This book hits home, reflects real-world trauma, and shows how artists paint today’s society. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: This novel recounts the famous warrior from Greek mythology, Achilles. Prepare yourself for a brutally heart-breaking read, which has the power to leave anybody sobbing by the end.
The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins: 12 districts, one victor. A fight to the death for the rich’s amusement. The Hunger Games series is what started the rise of YA dystopian fiction.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy: Trigger warning: suicide and murder. The Road is a 2006 dystopian novel following a man and his son as they navigate America after an apocalypse sweeps through the world.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Amy Dunn goes missing, and her husband is framed for it. While the femme fatale stereotype has been around since the 90s, Amy drives home what it means to be one.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Hazel Grace’s terminal cancer is all but over when Augustus Waters waltzes in and completely changes her life. Their irrefutable connection captured America’s hearts in 2012 and will still leave you tingling today. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: A follow-up to her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood continues the story of the dystopian, patriarchal society of Gilead, where women are forced to serve as childbearers for society. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Trigger warning: self-harm, rape, and drug use. Written in 2015, this novel follows the brotherly love of four friends in their early twenties as they navigate new lives in New York.
Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang: Small Beauty follows the coming home of Mei, a bi-racial transgender woman who must deal with the recent death of her cousin. She navigates racism, transphobia, and the queer community.
E D I T I N G SKIP THE LENGTHY YOUTUBE TUTORIALS. WE GATHERED THE BEST APPS FOR EDITING VIDEO CONTENT ON-THE-GO.
words MEGAN BOHALL design RIHARDS SERGIS
Ready to dip your toes into video editing? Vimeo is the place to start. Use one of their pre-made templates or create your own. Select your video clips, add a background song, and voilà. From there, you can adjust the edits to your liking and save. Available on Apple and Android.
FILMORAGO FilmoraGo is for the multitaskers. FilmoraGo lets you easily place multiple clips on top of each other—a great feature for anyone making demo or cooking videos. Cutting out repetition and adding shortcuts, FilmoraGo makes for the quickest video productions. Available on Apple and Android.
M A D E
E A S Y
Used by over 30 million creatives, Videoshop gives you bang for your buck with easy-to-understand tutorials to let you jump right in. Browse through hundreds of licensed songs, add stickers, and record voiceovers. Available on Apple and Android.
monstera delicious Medium to bright indirect light. Water every one to two weeks. Nicknamed “The Swiss Cheese Plant,” this tropical beauty develops “holes” with proper care, grows up to six feet tall, and can thrive in most light conditions.
so you want to be a plant parent TRY FOUR PLANTS THAT ARE BOTH BEAUTIFUL AND NOT TOTAL DRAMA QUEENS TO CARE FOR. words RACHEL HARTLEY photo CHARLEIGH REINARDY design PRINCESS HART
Medium to bright indirect light. Water every one to two weeks.
Medium to bright indirect light. Water every one to two weeks.
Low to bright indirect light. Water every one to two weeks.
Peperomia is pet-friendly and compact, ideal for plant parents with busy schedules or those who prefer to invest little attention in maintenance.
The Money Tree, recognizable for its braided trunk and canopy leaves, is known to bring good luck and fortune to its owner. It’s pet-friendly, adaptable, and compact, growing up to six feet tall.
Air purifying and low maintenance. Snake Plants fit well in both tight studio apartments and large homes, growing an average of two feet tall.
queer creators SHOW SOME PRIDE AND SHOP THESE QUEER MIDWEST MAKERS.
ST. CROIX CHOCOLATE CO.
LAVENDERPOP GREETING CARDS
KC TINY GREENHOUSE
BIG GAY CANDLE CO.
St. Croix, MN
Kansas City, MO
Des Moines, IA
Bite your teeth into Robyn Dochterman and Deidre Pope’s mouth-watering 16-piece box of chocolates. Artistically designed and rich in flavors, friends and family (or you) will love ‘em. $44.
Otis Richardson sells cards that celebrate relationships, friendships, love, and pride. A best-seller titled “Community Diversity,” features an array of people of different ethnicities over the backdrop of a rainbow. From $3.
Founder Elizabeth Cronin sells floral arrangements, home goods, and magical curiosities. The Asrai Jewelry Collection features one-of-a-kind pieces from rings to hand necklaces.
A lush, green plant can do wonders to spruce up your living space. Visit Austin Moiser and Tristan Carlson’s greenhouse in KC to browse shelves of greenery and local goods.
James Walters doesn’t sell ordinary candles. His are inspired by foods and moments, like “Creampie” and “Coming Out on Thanksgiving.” One customer fave, “Their Hoodie,” smells like cologne, making you wish you were wrapped up in your lover’s arms. $5.
From $3. asraigarden.com.
From $18. kctinygreenhouse.com.
words MADELINE CISNEROS photo ST. CROIX CHOCOLATE CO. ASRAI GARDEN BIG GAY CANDLE CO. design PRINCESS HART
wine guide words MAGGIE COLLUM
design RIHARDS SERGIS
STARTER Do you crave sweet or savory snacks?
SWEET Caught online shopping again! Are you
‘ss Saturday night. Are you going ItÕ
buying self-care essentials or new shoes?
clubbing with friends or staying in?
SELF-CARE ESSENTIALS NEW SHOES You just won an all-paid vacay. Are you going to the European countryside or a coastal beach?
If you appreciate the finer, sweeter things in life and know how to treat yourself, Moscato’s sweet taste will match your energy. OUR PICK: Cupcake Vineyards Moscato D’Asti White Wine. $13.99. Target. PAIRS WELL WITH: vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate, or cheesecake.
BINGING NETFLIX SERIES CURLED UP WITH A BOOK
This This sparkling sparklingwine winewith with sweet fruity aromas sweet fruity aromas is is paired best with paired bestwho withissomeone someone always who always readyisto have ready a goodto time and enjoys special have a good time and moments to the fullest. enjoys special moments OUR PICK: La Marca to theProsecco fullest. OUR PICK: La Sparkling Wine. $15.99. Target. Marca Prosecco Sparkling PAIRS WELL WITH: mild Wine. $15.99. Target. cheeses, salads, fresh PAIRS WITH: mild fruit,WELL and popcorn. cheeses, salads, fresh fruit, and popcorn.
BUSTING IT ON THE DANCE FLOOR
If youÕr e a romantic at heart If you’re a romantic at love is andheart your and loveyour language language is quality time, time, a colorful aquality colorful glass of rosé glass rosŽ hints with of hints ofwith spice andof citrus be your new spice andwill citrus will be your best friend. new best friend. OUR PICK: OUR PICK: Black Girl Black Girl Magic RosŽ. Magic Rosé. $17.99. Target. $17.99. Target. PAIRS WELL WITH: PAIRS WELL WITH: pretzels, seasonal pretzels, seasonal fruit, spicy dishes, fruit, and seafood. spicy dishes, and seafood.
FLIRTING WITH BARTENDER
Known Knownfor for being being aa tried-and-true tried-and-truewine winewith with notes of blackberry, notes of blackberry, Cabernet is for those Cabernet is for those who who know what they wantwhat and they stick want with it. know and OUR PICK: Joel Gott 815 stick with it. OUR PICK: Cabernet Sauvignon.Joel Gott 815 Cabernet $14.99. Target.SauviPAIRS WELL WITH: gnon. $14.99. Target. burgers, steak, carne PAIRS WELL WITH: asada, red sauce-based burgers, steak, pasta dishes, andcarne pizza. asada, red sauce-based pasta dishes, and pizza.
D I N N E R
words ELLA FIELD
photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS design KAILI JIMEI
P A R T Y
A CURATED IN-SEASON MENU THAT WILL TAKE YOUR GUESTS THROUGH AN ADVENTURE OF FLAVORS LIKE NO DINNER PARTY THEY’VE ATTENDED BEFORE.
POMEGRANATE + GINGER PALOMA THIS COCKTAIL IS FRESH, PUNCHY, AND A LITTLE TOO EASY TO PUT DOWN.
D R I N K
Ingredients 1 large chunk of fresh ginger 1 c. water 1 c. sugar 1 c. fresh pomegranate seeds 1 c. pomegranate juice 4 c. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice 1 c. fresh lime juice 2 c. Tequila Blanco 2 c. club soda Grapefruit slices, pomegranate seeds, and fresh rosemary to garnish Steps 1. For the ginger syrup, combine ginger, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes and remove the chunk of ginger. 2. Add ice to a large punch bowl or pitcher. Pour in the cooled ginger syrup, fresh pomegranate seeds, pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and Tequila. Stir to combine. Add club soda. 3. Garnish with thin, circular grapefruit slices and sprigs of rosemary.
ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLE SALAD WE’RE DIGGING DEEP FOR THIS ONE. ROASTED ROOT VEGGIES ARE THE SECRET TO ADDING WARMTH AND COLOR TO YOUR PLATE.
4 beets 8 rainbow carrots 3 red onions 2 yellow potatoes 2 large sweet potatoes 1 package of fresh thyme 8 cloves garlic, minced 1 ½ logs or 6 oz. of goat cheese 1 ½ c. walnuts, roughly chopped 1 c. plus 4 tbsp olive oil 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 1 orange 1 tsp. dijon mustard ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Place two baking sheets in the cold oven. 2. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave beets and carrots into thin ribbons. Set aside in a medium bowl. 3. Chop onions into thin, circular slices. Chop yellow and sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Add to a large bowl. 4. Chop ½ package of fresh thyme and divide among the two bowls. 5. Pour 2 tbsp. of olive oil, a dash of salt, and a few good cracks of pepper into each of the bowls. Toss to coat the vegetables. 6. Carefully take baking sheets out of the oven. Lightly grease each pan with olive oil. Add carrot and beet mix to one baking sheet and onion and potato mix to the other. 7. Place in oven to let roast for 40 minutes, or until slightly charred, flipping halfway through. 8. While vegetables are in the oven, prepare toppings and dressing. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts to skillet. Stir 3-4 minutes until toasted. 9. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. 10. Crumble goat cheese into small and medium pieces. 11. Once vegetables are done, let them cool for 5 minutes. To plate, add vegetables from the onion and potato pan, then top with vegetables from the carrot and beet pan. Drizzle with dressing, top with walnuts, goat cheese, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
I Z E R
A P P E T
E N T R E E
WINTER KABOBS DITCH THE SILVERWARE FOR THIS EASY ENTREE ON A STICK. Ingredients Marinade 2 ¼ c. soy sauce 2 ¼ c. pineapple juice ¼ c. hoisin sauce 8 cloves garlic, minced 4 tsp. freshly grated ginger 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes 1 tbsp. salt Kabobs 16 oz. homemade or store-bought seitan 3 bell peppers 1 large squash 1 pineapple ½ lb. brussels sprouts Aioli 3 cloves of garlic 2 tsp. lemon juice ½ tsp. fine sea salt 2 large egg yolks 1 c. extra virgin olive oil Other items Wooden or metal skewers
Steps 1. For marinade, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. 2. Chop seitan, bell peppers, squash, and pineapple into approximately 1-inch cubes. Trim ends of brussels sprouts. 3. Place vegetables and seitan in the bowl of marinade. Let sit for 30 minutes. 4. While seitan and vegetables are marinating, place wooden skewers in water to soak. Preheat oven to 400℉ and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 5. For aioli, combine garlic, lemon juice, salt, and egg yolks in a
blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle on olive oil until aioli is thick, creamy, and light in color. Place in fridge until ready to serve. 6. Once the vegetables and seitan finish marinating, place on skewers, alternating between vegetables and seitan. Lay skewers on the baking sheet and pour remaining marinade over kabobs. 7. Bake kabobs for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway. Vegetables should be soft and slightly charred around the edges. Let cool and serve with aioli on the side.
THE DAYS OF ASKING FOR A SMALL SLICE OF CAKE ARE OVER.
Ingredients 4 large eggs ¾ c. granulated sugar ⅔ c. extra virgin olive oil ⅓ c. plain Greek yogurt Dessert wine or Pear juice 1 lemon 1 ½ c. all-purpose flour 1 tbsp. baking powder ¾ tsp. fine sea salt 1 heaping tbsp. of chopped fresh thyme leaves 1 c. pure icing sugar 3 red pears, thinly sliced ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil Fresh thyme, almonds, berries, and additional pear to garnish Steps 1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease mini bundt cake pan with oil and dust with flour. Tap off excess flour. 2. In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 3. Add olive oil, dessert wine, and Greek yogurt. Mix until combined. 4. Fold in lemon zest and squeeze ½ the lemon for juice, set aside other half for later. 5. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and thyme. 6. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and stir. 7. Pour batter into mini bundt cake pan, wiping away any spills on the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 8. For the pear glaze, whisk the icing sugar, pear, remaining olive oil, and remaining juice from the lemon in a bowl. Set aside. 9. Once cakes finish baking, remove from oven. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Using a toothpick or fork, poke small holes in the tops of each cake. 10. Slowly pour pear glaze over the bundt cakes. Top with a sprig of fresh thyme, almonds, and berries.
D E S S E R T
MINI OLIVE OIL + PEAR BUNDT CAKES
IT’S TIME TO DISCOVER WHETHER YOU’RE A VODKA SUN OR TEQUILA MOON.
words JESSICA COMSTOCK photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS design PRINCESS HART
TAURUS Mulish Matcha Shot
Taurus, you’re grounded and dependable. Unearth your social nature with this earthy drink. 1/2 oz. matcha syrup 1 oz. gin Splash lemon lime soda
ARIES Hot Shot
GEMINI Sweet + Sour Shot
Spontaneous and fearless, Aries lives life on the edge with a spicy shot other signs couldn’t handle.
A lemon drop shot is the perfect tangy compromise for the outgoing yet indecisive Gemini.
2 oz. tequila 2 dashes Tabasco
Sugar rim 1 oz. vodka 1/2 oz. lemon juice (or ½ tsp. sugar) Splash simple syrup
CANCER Fruit Punch Shot
Cancer, embrace your homebody spirit and love of the past with an adult version of a childhood favorite. 1/2 oz. vodka 1/2 oz. amaretto liquor 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
LIBRA Paloma Shot
Extroverted and charming, Libras can enjoy this refreshing shot that’s as balanced as their personality. 1 oz. tequila 1/4 oz. simple syrup 1/4 oz. lime juice 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
SCORPIO Bloody Mary Shot
Popular yet complex, Scorpios know how to play it cool. Show off your effortless personality with this shot-version of a brunch favorite. Tajin & lemon rim 2/3 oz. vodka 2 oz. tomato juice Drop Worcestershire
LEO Cannonball Shot
SAGITTARIUS Autumn Fire Shot
CAPRICORN Old-Fashioned Shot
Bold and warm, this shot reflects Leo’s greatest strength: a fiery yet popular personality.
Sag, you’re the life of the party. Embrace your wild side with this potent shot.
1 oz. cola 1/2 oz. Fireball
1/2 oz. Jägermeister 1/2 oz. cinnamon Schnapps 1/2 oz. peppermint Schnapps
Capricorn, you’re classy and mature. On your night out, enjoy a twist on the classic Old-Fashioned.
VIRGO Straight Tequila Shot
AQUARIUS Late Night Shot
Sugared rim 1 oz. whiskey 1 dash bitters Orange slice
PISCES Love Potion Shot
Virgo, you’re not here to waste time. Get right to the point with a straight shot of tequila. Go classic with salt and lime or chase with tonic water.
Aquarius, stay up late fostering your creative side with this shot to mysteriously stand out from the crowd.
Pisces, you’re a hopeless romantic. Fall in love for the 1000th time with a love potion shot that’ll have your head in the sky.
1 oz. tequila
⅓ oz. Bailey’s ⅓ oz. Kahula 1 oz. rum
Sugared rim 1 oz. grapefruit juice ¼ oz. peach Schnapps ⅓ oz. vodka
behind the ear Hiding in plain sight, a behind-the-ear tattoo makes for a sweet surprise. This placement can enhance the intimacy of a neck kiss that continues down your body if you so choose. down the spine You’re guaranteed to feel sexy when you find your partner running their hands down the ink on your back. An ideal place for vertical tattoos, the spine is a hot topic. hip Hip tattoos are incredibly versatile. You decide when to show it and who gets to see it. There are lots of opportunities to be creative with the design, size, and where it leads the wandering eye. on the chest Shirtless or revealed in your favorite low-cut top, chest tattoos are a way to show off your confidence and dominance (inside and outside of the bedroom). around the collarbones This location is perfect for anyone who likes to experiment with style and symmetry. From simple, dainty tattoos to intricate florals, these tattoos accentuate the collarbone curves beautifully.
get intimate with your ink THE SEXIEST TATTOO PLACEMENTS ARE HERE— AND NO, THE TRAMP STAMP IS NOT ON THE LIST. words SYDNEY SAMPSON photo MORGAN ERWIN design PRINCESS HART
watch and learn THERE’S A TIME AND PLACE FOR EVERYTHING, EVEN THE GADGET ON YOUR WRIST. words WILEY HUNT
photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS
design RIHARDS SERGIS
BLACK TIE AFFAIR
RIGHT ON TIME
BUSINESS MEETING FLARE
Citizen Quartz Watch, Model BI5000-01A Citizen excels in making excellently priced watches. With classic white faces and contrasting black leather bands, they’re designed to be paired with any suit.
Bulova Precisionist Watch, Model 96B158 Precisionist has the internals of a Rolex without the hefty price tag. Bulova’s in-house movement loses mere seconds per year of continuous use.
Seiko Stainless Two-Tone Watch, Model SGF204 If you want to lowkey flex on your coworkers, Seiko’s diver’s watch with gold accents is the one to do it with. This model passes as a luxury watch for a fraction of the price.
NO NUMBER, NO PROBLEM
ARTISTRY IN MOTION
DURABILITY IN ACTION
AARK Prism Silver Utilizing a numberless display, this sleek design and watch band is fitting for the minimalist millennial— as long as you don’t care about knowing the exact time.
Projects Ode to Delaunay This futuristic and dynamic watch face will set you apart from any artist. Instead of downloading art on a smartwatch, express your style with the real thing.
Casio G-Shock Quartz Sport Watch, Model GA-100A-7ACU Taking a different approach to durability, The G-Shock is coated almost entirely by a thick resin. Casio tests its G-Shocks to ensure they can handle anything thrown their way.
TOSS EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT CONFORMITY OUT THE WINDOW. THESE MODELS ARE PROVING FASHION HAS NO GENDER.
words MARA FENDRICH KAILI JIMEI photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS design BRYNN YOSHINAGA
ON LEE (THEY/THEM) dress MODEL’S OWN skirt PACSUN cape HANDMADE ON EMMA (SHE/THEY) vest STUDIO WORKS shirt MODEL’S OWN pants MODEL’S OWN ON SAM (ALL PRONOUNS) SWEATER polo ralph lauren SHIRT ropez PANTS caslon
ON EMMA (SHE/THEY) sweater POLO RALPH LAUREN shirt JC PENNEY skirt MARISA CANVAS
ON JACOB (HE/THEY) coat HANDMADE shirt ELEMENTZ pants HANDMADE
ON VICTORIA (SHE/THEY) coat ROAMAN’S shirt TARGET skirt TOPDRESS
ON CHARLIE (THEY/THEM/ELLE) blazer STUDIO WORKS shirt ASOS pants WORTHINGTON shoes DR. MARTENS ON MYLO (HE/THEY) blazer dress PRETTY LITTLE THING belt TARGET
ON SAM (ALL PRONOUNS) jacket + shirt MONTGOMERY WORKS shirt JC PENNEY shoes DR. MARTENS
3-STEP BEAUTY ROUTINES THAT HIT ALL THE RIGHT PLACES.
EASY ON THE EYES
BLACK-OWNED HAIR BAR
FROM HEAVEN SCENT
The Fenty Skin Travel-Size Start’r Set is perfect for testing without investing.
Avoid strained and irritated eyes with OPTASE’s Dry Eye Kit.
Remedy dry hair with Hollywood Hair Bar’s Honey Moisturize Me 3-Step Moisture Kit.
Blocking sweat from all angles, Duradry’s 3-Step System will prevent your unwanted underarm odors.
1. Remove any dirt and oils with Total Cleans’r. It’s rich in Vitamin C to leave your skin soft and refreshed. 2. Tone and treat with Fat Water, a toner serum that targets pores and lightens dark spots. 3. Apply the lightweight moisturizer, Hydra Vizor. The oil-free finish fights discoloration and dehydration.
1. Start with the OPTASE Eye Mask. Designed with HydroBead Technology, you’ll feel a natural heat rush over your eyelids and under-eye areas. Microwave for 25 seconds and wear for 10 minutes. 2. Take OPTASE’s Lid Wipes to your eyelids to hydrate and improve eyelid elasticity. Their builtin Tea Tree Oils contain key anti-inflammatory properties. 3. Spray the OPTASE Eye Spray on closed lids. The Sea Seed Oil and Hyaluronic Acid add lasting moisture to soothe the eyes.
1. Massage the MoistureInfused Shampoo into wet hair, leave in for 5-10 minutes, and rinse. Bonus: It’s vegan-friendly! 2. Lather the DeepMoisturizing Conditioner throughout. This lightweight conditioner acts as a detangler and will leave your hair feeling shiny and voluminous. 3. Apply the Healthy Hair Oil to the scalp to prevent long-term damage and stimulate growth through the hair follicles.
1. Use the Durardry Wash to prep your skin for Durardry PM and AM. The infused vitamins and minerals will seal moisture for glowing skin. 2. Let the Duradry PM Gel do all the work in your sleep. Apply to the underarm area. Aluminum Chlorate Hexahydrate and Salicylic Acid help combat excessive sweating. 3. Swipe the Duradry AM Deodorant Stick on in the morning for 360 degrees of lasting protection. Choose scents from Barça, Clear Sky, End Game, and Limitless.
words KAILI JIMEI
photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS design PRINCESS HART
B E A T I N G
T H E
IN 50 YEARS, NEARLY A FIFTH OF THE PLANET WILL BE TOO HOT FOR HUMANS. MIDWEST CITIES, LIKE DES MOINES, WILL LIKELY BECOME A PRIME DESTINATION FOR CLIMATE REFUGEES. WILL THE CITY BE READY?
H E A T
words NATE EISENMANN photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS + RIHARDS SERGIS design KAILI JIMEI
More wildfires. More hurricanes. More floods. More days where the sun bakes the Earth to a crisp. And more money required for repairs. We know it’s coming. In some ways, it’s already here. This is what climate change looks like. We’ve ignored the warnings and failed to step up to the challenge. And now we’re starting to feel its effects—some of us more than others. This is concerning for a lot of people, especially city planners like Clayton Ender. Why? Because when Californians are coughing because of thick smoke from another wildfire, or Floridians are rolling up their pants after another flood, or Arizonians have yet another record-breaking temperature, they’re going to realize something: there are places not dealing with this, like Johnston, Iowa, where Ender works. He knows scientists are already predicting that over the next 30 years there will be a great wave of people trying to move to more temperate climates. “They might be suffering from some emotional distress. They might be scared,” Ender said. “We just gotta do our best to protect everyone.” That won’t be easy. A rush of people north could be bad for newcomers and current residents alike. “If growth happens too fast, quality could suffer and we could end up with unintended consequences,” Ender said. Schools will be overcrowded. First
responders could be spread too thin. Hospitals risk being stretched to the breaking point. Cities that aren’t planning for dramatic population growth are in danger of not being able to support their citizens. Except the Des Moines metro is already growing quickly. The city of Johnston grew by 30% between 2010 and 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearby suburbs like Waukee and Grimes are growing rapidly. Ankeny is one of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the country. This rapid growth will only continue as people begin to face the growing problem that is climate change, and people like Ender need to step up to the challenge. WHERE WE’RE HEADED Climate change is old news. In the words of the late ecologist David M. Gates, “The climate is changing, the climate has always changed, the climate will always change. The real question is: how much, how fast, and how come.” He said that back in the 1960s. Gates was famous for being one of the earliest to warn of the dangers fossil fuels, pesticides and fertilizers pose because of how they dramatically accelerate climate change. And while changes to the Earth’s climate take effect through a variety of mechanisms, scientists agree increases in the severity and frequency of events like wildfires,
hurricanes, and floods are a result of global warming. Sea level rise is just another one of these effects. Water expands by about four percent when heated, which means sea levels around the globe will rise due to heating alone. This doesn’t even account for the fact that glaciers will melt, leading to even more water in the oceans. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sea levels rose about 0.14 inches per year between 2006 and 2015. That was 2.5 times the average increase of the previous century. It’s only going to get worse; in 2017, the NOAA predicted sea levels could rise by as little as 12 inches or as much as eight feet by the year 2100. Eight feet means a significant portion of places like Florida’s coast will be underwater. That’s just one state. Right now, about 40% of the U.S. population lives in what is called a “shoreline coastal county.” The NOAA defines a shoreline county as one that is directly adjacent to the open ocean, large estuaries, or the Great Lakes and therefore is subject to any coastal hazards. Dr. Mark Welford, professor of geography at the University of Northern Iowa, explained why the Gulf and Atlantic coasts will feel a more drastic change in sea level rise than the Pacific coast. “When you look at the south coast of Texas all the way up to New York City, the coastline itself is very flat. If you go to California, [...] there are steep mountains right down to the
coast, so if you get a tiny bit of sea-level change, it doesn’t really do much,” Welford said. But, he added, where the coast is flat, it can mean miles of dry land lost due to a rise in sea level. “You don’t need to increase the sea level by much—six inches means the surge when you get hurricanes is now amplified.” All that flooding will eventually force people to flee inland. Where they move is another question in the already complicated situation. Large populations will migrate within a short amount of time and with less available space geographically, they could flock to the same areas. Dr. Robert McLeman, Professor of Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ottawa, Canada, said it’s not always clear where people will end up. “In the case of Miami, people are going to have to move inland. Whether they stay in Florida or move to other states remains to be seen,” McLeman said. WILL ANYWHERE BE SAFE? One place they might end up: here. While the Midwest won’t be immune to the impacts of climate change—there will be major flooding events, droughts, and long periods of extreme temperatures—cities like Des Moines will be less at risk than those on the coast. Despite the tornados, hot summers, and the occasional derecho, Des Moines won’t be flooding anytime soon, making it a likely place for people to resettle.
Travis Kraus thinks city leaders should start planning for climate migration now. An associate professor of practice at the University of Iowa School of Planning and Public Affairs, Kraus explained that when a city is facing fast periods of population growth, one of the big things to work against is urban sprawl— the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Basically, if a city is growing, more housing is needed. When there isn’t planning ahead of time, the city begins to spread in the form of low-density housing. “Density is generally considered to be favorable,” Kraus said. “It gives the city the most bang for your buck.” A higher density is mutually beneficial for the city and the taxpayer because the city will receive more money and in turn, can spend that money on social services which benefit the new and old residents alike. That’s only part of the equation. People also need jobs. “We want to make sure there are employment opportunities for people locating in the Midwest,” Kraus said. “In Iowa, that might be a benefit.” There’s currently a labor shortage in the state—over 66,000 fewer workers now than in February 2020, according to The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Besides adding to the workforce, Kraus said the population growth will likely be seen in groups other than the current, mainly white, population. “In the long run, these types of changes are going to have some positive impacts in terms of entrepreneurship and small business growth and things that help create vibrant communities,” Kraus said. But ensuring any city can handle the predicted flood of people requires planning now. According to McLeman, some are already working on it. “The cities of Portland and Seattle have already started to plan for what may happen in the coming years as more and more Californians and Arizonans start to move northward as it becomes more and more difficult to live in the southwest,” McLeman said. They’re making plans to build out infrastructure, things like affordable housing, schools, water treatment plants, sewage systems, and roads, all of which take time to put in place. A water treatment plant can take a decade from start to finish. Many climate predictions suggest that within the next two or three decades, we will begin to see major effects. “2050 from an urban planner’s perspective is not that far down the road,” McLeman said. WORST CASE SCENARIO Climate change has a domino effect on nearly every aspect of the world. Things like the border crisis can be traced back to climate change. Places like Guatemala face hurricanes and in turn, Guatemalans leave and try to resettle in the United States. They’re hoping to get away from waist-high floods, crop destruction, and food shortages. The World Bank estimates
there will be 143 million climate migrants by 2050. Most of them will come from Central and South America, southern Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Some of this population will be considered trapped because they won’t have the means to migrate and will end up stuck in their current situation. Who stays and who goes is still yet to be seen. In 2020 alone, the U.S. government spent 99 billion dollars on repairs due to extreme weather. This year, we’re already on track to beat that number. Taxpayers will see more of their money spent on restoration rather than on social services, which will already be under strain due to population increases. Police will have less funding and crime rates will increase. As Kraus explained earlier, Iowa could face loss of farmland to low-density housing. More people need to be fed and less land is available to grow crops. It doesn’t take a genius to see the issue here. IT STARTS HERE Josh Mandelbaum, Des Moines city council member and environmental attorney, understands the Midwest will be appealing for climate migrants. “Des Moines is certainly an attractive city,” Mandelbaum said. “I think that would be a natural consequence.” Mandelbaum is working to draft the first comprehensive plan of action against climate change. “Des Moines has never had one,” Mandelbaum said. This includes things like a 45% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 100% by 2050. One way the city is doing this is by gradually swapping diesel-run city buses with electric ones. Each electric bus means 230,000 pounds of carbon dioxide aren’t released every year. “Looking at the largest buildings and getting them to take action can make a significant difference,” Mandelbaum said. Holding bigger corporations accountable is a step that must be taken. In 2016, The Des Moines Register reported Iowa was in the top 20 for states with the worst air quality. They also said of the top 100 polluters nationally, three are in Iowa. Some change is happening now. MidAmerican Energy, one of Iowa’s biggest energy providers, has a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. But this doesn’t even include a deadline. Setting lofty goals with no target date is almost as bad as not having a goal to begin with. There needs to be accountability. Across the board, big businesses need to cut down on their emissions to slow global warming. Regardless, there will be climate migrants, many of which are at the border right now. But we can be accepting of them, and we can also improve our existing communities. “The number one thing we can do to react to climate change or mass migration is to be proactive,” Ender said. “People need to be engaged. Know what’s happening in your community.”
Laughing Over a Casket words EMMA BRUSTKERN photo MILES FRITZ design EVE KELLY
ec. 29, 2020 started as a day like any other. Phyllis Roth remembers puttering around the kitchen of her Altoona home, one she shared with her husband of 62 years, Jerry. “There was no indication that anything was wrong,” Phyllis says. But moments later, there was a knock at the door. Jerry had called the EMTs, and Phyllis watched in confusion as an ambulance carted away her husband. They hadn’t even kissed goodbye. Jerry was hospitalized with COVID-19. He stayed in the hospital for ten days, receiving antibodies. Things were going well. He was released to a rehabilitation facility, where he’d stay for two days, coming home on the third. Phyllis recalls talking and laughing with her husband on the phone.
But their relief was short-lived. On the third day, Jerry stood up to go to the bathroom and immediately went into cardiac arrest. “They said he never knew what hit him,” Phyllis says. “The cardiac arrest went to his brain and to his heart. He was dead before he even hit the floor.” Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 700,000 Americans have lost their lives to the deadly disease. These losses have forced thousands of individuals across the country to reckon with their own grief, often while separated from their support networks. While society grieves for not only lost lives but for lost time, our culture is simultaneously reshaping what grief looks like and how we can approach it with patience and grace.
THE AFTERMATH Laura Swessinger is no stranger to grief. In February 2017, she lost her husband, Jim, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. Following her husband’s passing, she met her partner, Ron, in a support group. The two were together until his sudden death in December 2020. “[Ron] went to rehabilitation supposedly for two weeks, and we couldn’t see him because of COVID,” Laura says. “On the fourth day, I just get a text: ‘He’s dead.’ I never had any chance to say goodbye.” The suddenness of the loss made the grieving process all the worse for Laura. The same went for Phyllis after Jerry’s death – she found herself in a state of shock. “I went into a mode that really wasn’t accepting anything of what was going on around me,” Phyllis says. “People were coming and going. It’s like life is going on all around you, but you aren’t part of it.” Feelings of isolation are a common theme among the bereaved. Not only are many grieving individuals left physically alone, but there is also a sense that no one in the world understands what you are feeling. “Here’s what’s brutally unfair about grief,” says Anne Alesch, a bereavement coordinator and counselor for UnityPoint Hospice in Des Moines. “When someone dies, people are there for two weeks. They come to the funeral, they bring the casserole, they say ‘let’s do lunch.’ They have good intentions, but here’s the thing: their life did not drastically change. They go back to normal and that’s just to be expected, but then the griever is left very alone.” Additionally, it’s important to recognize how people who lose a loved one are grieving the loss of that person and the loss of other things as a result of the death. These losses are referred to as secondary losses, and they look different to everyone. Some may be tangible, such as the loss of an income. Others are felt more internally, such as the loss of a shared future together or loss of purpose. One example of a secondary loss that doesn’t relate to the loss of a loved one is the loss of freedom due to COVID-19. “I think about this summer,” Anne says. “We had all these visions that it would be a ‘hot vaxxed summer’ and everything would be normal. Then delta came, and we’re low on vaccinations. And so that future dream was shattered.” Despite the depth of research regarding grief, it’s difficult for one to understand how grief operates until you’ve felt it yourself.
“There’s the happy world, and there’s the world of grieving,” Phyllis says. “Nobody wants to be in the world of grieving, but until you’re there, you don’t recognize what it is.” “JUST GET OVER IT.” Anne had always wanted to do something meaningful with her life. That’s what pushed her to pursue her Master’s in Divinity. But even then, she knew she didn’t want to be a pastor. “I swear too much for that,” she says with a laugh. It wasn’t until her last year of grad school where Anne experienced a loss that would change her life, and the course of her career, forever. “It was so isolating and painful,” Anne recalls. “It led me to be more passionate about grief as a field and as a career. And so when I saw this job opening as a grief counselor, it was just perfect.” One of the most common misconceptions Anne sees in her role as a bereavement counselor is the idea that it’s something we can easily overcome or ‘get over.’ “A lot of educated people realize that that’s not true, and a lot of people that have gone through loss realize that,” Anne says. “But I think that pressure still comes in a lot of implicit ways. People might not say ‘get over it’ directly, but they might say, ‘haven’t you held on long enough?’ Or, ‘isn’t it time to move on?’” But in reality, grief isn’t someThing most can simply ‘get over.’ It comes in waves. Some waves are just stronger than others. “People think [grief is] linear, that you do this, this, this, this, and you’re done,” Laura says. “I don’t think you ever get completely over it. You have to learn to live with it.” So if we can’t escape it, we have to learn how to live with it. Western culture, particularly in the United States, often forgets to recognize the importance of remembering our loved ones. In Hispanic culture, Anne references, the Day of the Dead serves as an opportunity for families to actively honor their ancestors. “We could do a better job in our culture, whether or not we’ve experienced a loss or not, by having ways of honoring the people that have come before us, and the way that they continue to impact our lives,” Anne says.
ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL When Maria Savaidis lost her mom in March, she was at a crossroads. Her brother was ready to sell all her things, but Maria was still processing. The last thing on her mind was having a garage sale. “He said he had moved on and really was focused on having a garage sale and getting my mom’s things out of the house,” Maria says. “It felt to me like a really, really big hurry ... and I was not ready. I was nowhere close to being ready to do something like that.” Maria and her brother aren’t the only ones to experience dissonance when it comes to different grieving styles. Despite what popular media might show you, not everyone grieves by sobbing uncontrollably on their bathroom floor. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re alone if you do find yourself sitting on the tiles in tears. “In a lot of ways people grieve differently, and in a lot of ways people grieve very similarly,” Anne says. It’s true of most of the human experience. We’ll always have things in common with one another, just as much as we’ll always have things that make us unique. Among multiple grieving theories, Anne’s favorite is the concept of instrumental vs. intuitive grievers, popularized by Dr. Kenneth Doka. Instrumental grievers are those who grieve by completing tangible tasks, such as making lists, calling the funeral home, and generally getting things done. Intuitive grievers are the ones who express grief by crying or telling stories about the deceased. “I really like this theory because [Doka] says that everyone occurs on a spectrum,” Anne says. “I like it for its flexibility.” Anne says an individual might grieve the loss of different loved ones differently because every relationship is unique unto itself. “I’ve had people tell me . . . that [with] different losses, They react completely differently,” Anne says. “One loss, they might have been bawling hysterically. And then the next loss, they might have not cried at all, but instead, they found themselves going 100 miles an hour.” In going through two major losses, Laura understands how grief can widely vary. She notes that with her husband, she was prepared for the loss, and had a lot of support from her family and friends. His passing meant he was no longer in pain and Laura could move past being a caregiver. In contrast, the unexpected loss of her partner left her off-kilter. “We had hoped we had some time together. We had plans,” Laura says, “Whereas there was almost a relief with my husband, this was just totally unexpected and sudden.”
SEEKING SUPPORT After her partner’s death, Laura found herself isolated—not only emotionally, but physically, as COVID lockdowns hit their peak. “The winter was horrible,” Laura says. “I was pretty much stuck here by myself. The only people I really saw were my immediate family. I had no outlet.” To make matters worse, Laura lost all connection to her partner when he passed. Ron’s sons didn’t include her, and the couple didn’t have many shared friends. Laura believes that if they had been married, it would have been a different story. “There were no cards, there were no flowers,” Laura says. “It was just done.” Laura isn’t the only one who had a hard time finding support throughout the pandemic. “This whole idea of social distancing and not contacting others has been catastrophic for the bereaved population because people need human touch, and they need in-person community,” Anne said. Anne recalls instances where her clients have essentially disregarded COVID precautions for the sake of getting an in-person connection. She also remembers a time when a client called her in tears because he was so devastated by loss and couldn’t access virtual support groups. “Grief is hard, and COVID has made it unbearable,” Anne says. By February, Laura had enough of grieving alone, so she found a grief counselor. Throughout both the loss of her husband and the loss of her partner, Laura has relied primarily on counselors and grief support groups for emotional support. She met people who were going through the same things she was, and even credits her Alzheimer’s Caretakers Support group for helping her through her grief. “As I’ve told one support group, I mean, this has been terrible and horrible and all that, but I consider it a blessing that I’ve been able to get to know all of you and to be your friends,” Laura says. Friends and family can also be a great support. “I just have some really, really good close friends that are there for the dark moments and they’re there for the light moments,” Maria says. “I’m really lucky that way.” Reaching out to loved ones for support when dealing with loss helps combat common feelings of isolation. “Ask for help,” Maria says. “I think that’s a really hard thing to do for a lot of people, but I worry that people who have experienced grief are going through it alone.”
THE MYTH OF CLOSURE The casket may be closed, but grief doesn’t have a clear beginning and an end. “Closure is not real,” Anne says. “What we talk about in the grief community is transforming and transitioning. That’s really what we focus on.” Closure’s hard to get, but it’s something we can work towards. Consider, for example, the five stages of grief described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This ideology is widely used and referenced, yet has been debunked time and time again by psychologists and sociologists alike. In reality, grief is rarely experienced in such a linear fashion. “They say it takes about a year to get to acceptance,” Phyllis says. “I don’t think I’m at acceptance yet. And I don’t really know what acceptance is. Acceptance of the death? Acceptance that this is the way that you’re going to have to live? Acceptance that I will never be held in the way that he held me?” Instead of necessarily seeking closure or acceptance, Anne recommends finding a way to continue bonds with the deceased. While a loved one may be gone, the relationship can live on, albeit in a different form. “It’s this whole idea of transitioning the relationship,” Anne says. To continue the bond with her partner, Laura wrote letters to him. “That was really useful for me, I did it for about four months,” she says. “I just told him everything I would have told him if he were alive, about two pages a day.” Phyllis listens to the last voicemail left from her husband. “I play it occasionally. I used to play it every night, but I felt like it was pulling me down to play it every night and hear his voice and hear how happy and robust he was with no indication whatsoever that that was going to be our last phone call.” Such is the nature of grief. It’s complex. It’s painful. It’s the price we pay for love. More than anything, it’s a process of growth, one of learning how to live without the person while still keeping room for them in your life. “I’ve gotten much better, but I still have a very difficult time speaking Jerry’s name without getting teary-eyed,” Phyllis says. “I will miss him until the day I die.”
a place for us words EMILY POSTLETHWAIT
photo CHARLEIGH REINARDY design PAYTON BLAHUT
HOW THE SYSTEM OF PROFESSIONALISM WAS NOT BUILT FOR WOMEN, QUEER PEOPLE, AND PEOPLE OF COLOR.
or Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, it’s more than familiar. She grew up in Iowa. She knows what it’s like here. So to her, being the only person of color in a room isn’t a surprise. The same can’t be said for her colleagues who came from more diverse communities to work in Iowa with Miller-Bailey, the assistant director at the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success at Iowa State University. That sensation of being out of place –– it’s not familiar to them. “That alone speaks volumes to me, personally,” she says. “Just because I’m familiar with being the only person of color in a professional setting doesn’t mean that it has ever felt good.” Miller-Bailey isn’t alone—by a long shot. In fact, according to Coqual, a global nonprofit that researches issues around marginalized communities in the workplace, 32% of Black employees say they have felt out of place at work because of their race or ethnicity. For Asians, it’s 23%. For Latinx employees: 15%. This isn’t surprising when you start to break down who works in “professional” settings. Bloomberg News recently conducted a study of the diversity of 76 of the Standard & Poor’s 100 companies, which includes names like Target, McDonald’s, Salesforce, Oracle, Pfizer, and more. While most companies have increased diversity at the corporate level in the last several years, Black and Latinx employees are still significantly underrepresented in both management and professional positions. And no company has equal representation between men and women in those jobs. This means there are a lot of Miller-Baileys out there.
THE ORIGINS OF WHITE PROFESSIONALISM The question we tiptoe around remains. Who belongs in professional spaces? The obvious answer: white people, particularly white men. This isn’t surprising. This notion of “whiteness” dominating the workplace – in leadership roles, advancement, and inclusion – isn’t anything new. It’s as old as America itself. The premise of professionalism is based upon removing individuality to conform to the ideals of a company. White professionalism goes a step further –– it limits diverse employees’ belonging. The option of showing up authentically is taken away, and individuals are expected to adhere to whitedominant norms. According to the founder of AMO Enterprise, which focuses on the ties between leadership development and equity and diversity, Dr. Abdul Omari, white professionalism stems back to systemic racism and the white supremacist ideals that were built into our culture. Systemic racism describes how discriminatory actions show up in institutions like the education system, the economic system, the health care system, etc. –– and this flows into occupational systems just the same. The reality is: Western, white people are seen as more professional and competent than marginalized communities. And this perception holds people back from receiving equitable treatment in their workplace community. “The foundation of professionalism is built upon white men and what they have said and determined is and isn’t professional,” says Omari. “There’s a certain way we are supposed to talk, there are times that we abide by, and we are expected to wear what we are told what to wear.” Omari says the hard truth, whether or not by design, is that professionalism is rooted in the idea that it will continue to be predominantly white men who are deemed professional and go to the office. As for women, people of color, and others within marginalized communities, they’re left outside the office doors. Omari spends his days working with professionals in different business models: corporate, nonprofit, academic, and more. “My belief is that if you are doing leadership and you don’t do it from a lens that embodies equity and inclusion, accessibility, diversity, racial, and social justice, then you are not doing it right,” Omari says. He notes that some organizations are making changes in their workplace to be more inclusive. Nevertheless, the subtle signals of otherness and not belonging are still alive and well. Even as an independent contractor, Omari has faced these sentiments himself. “In my sessions, I show up and try to be as authentic as possible, through my speech, what I wear, and the way that I interact with the organizations I present to,” Omari says. “I received some feedback from a presentation that my style was very relaxed. To me, that’s coded language for ‘unprofessional.’ Those words make me go through this long internal process about what went wrong.” Essentially, any other identities that deviate from the white, male, Christian, middle-class ideals are seen as unproductive in the workplace.
LOOKING THROUGH AN INTERSECTIONAL LENS White professionalism goes beyond just race. You have to look at it from an intersectional lens. “Nobody is just one thing. Even for me, as someone that has experienced the negative impacts of socialized professionalism standards in the workplace, I recognize the different ways I identify as an individual,” Miller-Bailey said. “Yes, I’m Black, but I’m also a woman. I’m also queer. I’m also larger-bodied. I also was raised in a low-income household. And, and, and. Even just as a human, I will never be just one thing. Even if it is just race, it will always impact those other identities.” And for her, it isn’t just race that sneaks into her professional life. Her queer identity tends to bring discomfort in her professional life, even more than her discomfort resulting from her race. Where she feels that rift the most? Dress code. For a femalepresenting individual, the business casual dress code may look like an outfit consisting of slacks, a blouse, and flats with curled or done-up hair and a face of makeup. “Every element of queerness is eliminated from my appearance,” Miller-Bailey says. “There is not a specific way to look queer or not queer and as individuals. We should all be capable of communicating parts of ourselves through our dress or expression the way that feels good for us.” Professional clothing dilutes Miller-Bailey’s queerness. And when she shared that she was queer with coworkers or partners, people stumbled and looked up and down questioning her queerness based on her “business casual apparel.” “I feel pissed that what I have had to wear in professional settings constitutes my identity in any way,” she says. Roberta Chevrette understands Miller-Bailey’s frustrations too. She’s an assistant professor of Communication Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. She’s also a part of the queer community. At times, the two haven’t mixed well together. “When I first started teaching, I didn’t present in a very gender-normative way,” she says. “My hair was short and dyed, I wore a lot of black combat boots, and my fashion choices were influenced by ‘90s riot grrrl bands. And not only did my selfpresentation show up on student evaluations of my teaching that criticized my clothing as unprofessional, but at the same time I received relatively frequent comments describing me as a ‘feminist man hater’ or as ‘biased’ about the subject matter.” As expected, her male colleagues that taught the same content didn’t receive the same criticism. And neither did Chevrette—at least after she grew out her hair and started wearing some lipstick. All choices to express her identity were taken away. “They distinguish mind from body, reason from emotion, masculinity from femininity, heterosexuality from queerness, whiteness from people of color, and so forth, and in doing so the binary terms become aligned such that body-emotionfemininity-queerness-people of color-non-Western societies all become associated with one another.” Chevrette brings up an interesting point. Oftentimes, when we think of the term white supremacy, we think it only deals
with the problem of race. White supremacy, however, is so pervasive. So many people, even white people, can still be affected by white supremacist frameworks because of the way that it embodies heteronormative, sexist, cisgender, Western Christian practices. Take students or professionals who practice Ramadan, for example. Ramadan is a holiday observed by Muslims worldwide where individuals spend a month in fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. “Imagine you are starting Ramadan, and your body is adjusting to fasting. What does it mean to be included in projects and to be successful?” Omari says. “I’ve seen people pray in the middle of the hallway because there is no designated space for them to do otherwise. No one wants to pray with people walking by on the phone.” Whatever the issue may be, the workplace is built upon religionist, ableist, sexist, racist, ageist principles. And the list could go on, and on, and on. WHAT NEXT? Sure, growing out her hair and putting on a little blush relieved the negative feedback Chevrette received about her performance as a professor. Not everyone can relate to that luxury. “[While this] may have toned down my feminist appearance enough for it not to feel threatening to students, colleagues, or managers, BIPOC persons don’t have the option of simply changing clothes if their race itself makes people more likely to perceive them as unfriendly, overly emotional, angry, threatening, or ‘biased’ about the subject matter they are
presenting,” Chevrette says. So what? How do we fix this problem for people who shouldn’t need to change their identity? Long story short, socialized professionalism being completely eradicated is not realistic. The likelihood of us achieving the goal of fixing these issues will not happen in our lifetime. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. “Instead of trying to take the whole system down, for me, it’s important to educate folks on how they can start to impact the spaces that they occupy,” Miller-Bailey says. “That looks different for everyone. For some, it may be about getting critical with their policies. For others, it may be educating their bosses and coworkers on what equity looks like.” Even when you can’t change a policy verbatim, you still have a say in affecting a policy that doesn’t serve you. Tell someone. Talk about it. And if it is serving you, does it serve every other person in your work environment? Or does it serve you because you are in a place of privilege? “Spend some time thinking and considering if you’re okay benefiting when other people are being disenfranchised,” MillerBailey says. “That’s the big question here. If we continue to operate organizations with these sorts of frameworks in mind, people will still succeed, good things will still happen, people will achieve great things. But we will do it while limiting other people’s capabilities at reaching the same success” Change is possible. Organizations changing policies and understanding the immense value that diversity has on their workplace is possible. People have to be willing to do those things and have those conversations.
the rise in
early breast reductions
words ANNIE PETERSON photo MICHAEL CUMMINGS design EVE KELLY
Alexis McCrory sat shirtless in a doctor’s office while a plastic surgeon examined her breasts. The first thing he said was, “Oh yeah, those will definitely be covered by insurance.” In 2020, at 19-years-old, McCrory underwent a breast reduction. Some people pay thousands of dollars for the boobs she hated. But that didn’t matter to McCrory. She just wanted to get rid of the constant pain and self-consciousness that came with having DDD breasts. “Really, truly, no one knows what it feels like unless you have them,” McCrory says. “Having something so heavy on your chest that you have to carry around literally all day, especially when you’re in sports and very active, working out, and dancing, was just so hard.” According to the 2020 Plastic Surgery Statistic Report, there were 97,320 breast reductions for aesthetic and reconstructive purposes. That year women 13 to 29-years-old had 7,394 aesthetic breast reductions. However, the number of reconstructive surgeries for this age group is unknown, so the overall number could be higher. Dr. Brian Labow, the director of the Adolescent Breast Clinic at the Boston Children’s Hospital, published a study in Pediatrics that found adolescents with macromastia, or large boobs, experience lower selfesteem, eating issues, physical pain, and a lessened quality of life. McCrory dealt with constant back pain that required monthly visits to a chiropractor while struggling with her self-esteem. “I felt like a slut sometimes with my boobs showing, and it’s not like I was trying to show them, but I would wear certain clothes, and they would happen to pop out more because they were there,” McCrory says. She wasn’t alone in her feelings. Labow’s study found evidence that women younger than 30 are negatively affected by the societal consequences of macromastia, which include unwanted attention and poor self-image. McCrory thought about waiting until her mid-30s and after having kids before getting surgery. But she became motivated to move it up after her mom got a reduction when McCrory was a freshman in high school. “It happened so early because my mom understood my pain. She understood what I was going through,” McCrory says. “And on the other side of that, she knew how great it was to get a breast reduction and to have those gone.” McCrory felt like a brand-new person after her surgery. Her clothes fit her the way they were meant to, her back pain vanished, and her self-esteem blossomed. “The pain that the surgery relieves just outweighs everything in regard to why I even got it done in the first place,” McCrory says. A recent trend on TikTok includes women showing the before and afters of their breast reduction and how it has impacted their lives. There are over 648 million videos under #breastreduction. This overwhelming number of people who have experienced the same emotions and symptoms as McCrory helps her feel less isolated in her journey. “It definitely normalizes the idea of not always having big boobs and that not always being the ultimate goal,” McCrory says. “It makes me feel great, and I’m able to relate to people in a sense that we’re going through the same thing.”
design EVE KELLY words CHLOE MCFARLANE
THE COUNTER MOVEMENT PUTTING YOUR HEALTH FIRST.
Social media is often touted as the root of modern-day self-hatred. Users are constantly bombarded by images of highly-edited bodies and ever-changing trends like the infamous thigh gap. It’s no wonder that even internal Facebook documents say images on platforms like Instagram worsen the body images of girls. Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal found that thirty-two percent of teen girls said that Instagram made them feel worse about their negative body image. But at the same time, social media has also fostered communities that are stirring up the body image conversation. Like body acceptance. It rejects diet culture and other potentially harmful ideas surrounding body image. Body acceptance can benefit everyone, including people who are non-binary, disabled, queer, POC, or those who don’t identify as women. The body positivity, or body acceptance, and body neutrality movements are two ideologies used to promote healthier relationships with our bodies. The most prominent movement is body positivity. Body positivity is a social movement focused on the acceptance and celebration of all bodies regardless of appearance. #Bodypositivity has over eight million posts on Instagram and has been credited with increasing representation for bodies outside of the typical thin, white mold. Beauty is a central and often criticized aspect of the body positivity movement. To be body positive, you must believe that your body is beautiful including the parts that society considers flaws. This idea of enduring aestheticism in the body positive movement feels too focused on appearance. This movement, for many, has become commercialized and “thin-washed” despite the fact it was created for marginalized bodies. The somewhat controversial nature of the body positivity movement has given way to a counter-movement called body neutrality. “[Body neutrality] allows people to reckon with their internalized (and externalized) fatphobia and come to peace with their bodies as a vessel for existence rather than a means for judgment,” body neutrality advocate, Maggie Regier says. Body neutrality was born as a direct result of the criticism garnered by the body positivity movement. The goal of body neutrality is to dismantle the connection between self-worth and physical appearance. Body neutrality is concerned with gratitude for the actions our bodies can perform rather than their outward appearance. While body positivity says, ‘I love my body, imperfections and all,’ body neutrality counters with, ‘my body is great because it allows me to do all my favorite activities.’ Body neutrality employs a completely neutral mindset; no negative or positive language is used to describe the body. “[The body neutrality movement] acknowledges the reality of negative selftalk and pushes the idea of my body just being unimportant. My size shouldn’t mean
anything, and this movement captures that,” Regier says. This lack of any feeling, good or bad, towards the body allows for body-neutral thinkers to have ‘off days.’ The body neutrality movement acknowledges that it’s a challenge for many to love their body every day because self-esteem can fluctuate dramatically depending on a myriad of factors. Dissatisfaction with your appearance is extremely common but if the appreciation is shifted to what a body can do, poor body image is taken out of the equation. “I have always found the body positivity movement to be very unattainable,” body neutrality influencer, Sophie Kapner, says. “I feel like it emphasizes loving yourself and loving your body and that has always felt unrealistic for me personally. I like the body neutrality movement because I don’t have to love my stretch marks or cellulite, but I don’t have to hate those things either.” The idea of completely ignoring the body can result in a potential loss of the journey to acceptance. The physical form can
“My size shouldn’t mean anything, and this movement captures that.” play a huge part in a person's identity, and some do not feel it’s productive to shun the experiences surrounding bodies that shaped them. “I think [body neutrality and body positivity] both have benefits and obviously, I love anything that promotes self-love, selfacceptance, self-care, etc,” Kapner says. “It’s more about figuring out which movement is better for you personally.” Body positivity and neutrality have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to find an ideology that works for you. Accepting your body is an extremely personal and ongoing process but having a circle of support online may help. Make the commitment to stop hating your body and find what works best for you—there are many other people who learned to accept themselves and you can too.
finding a therapist who “gets it” THE NEED FOR THERAPISTS WHO UNDERSTAND INTERSECTIONALITY.
Peace of mind is a privilege that those seeking therapists who specialize in intersectionality— the intersection of race, sex, and class—in small metropolitan areas are often not afforded. Although going to therapy does not guarantee well-being, it can be a great start to a self-healing journey. This luxury, unfortunately, is not accessible for everyone. As a Black, gay person it is important for me to have a therapist who shares those same identities. When communicating my struggles with navigating intersectionality to my first therapist, she compared my fear of disappointing others when embracing identity to the judgment she received from her unplanned pregnancy. She decided that the momentary side eyes she gained from family members was an excellent way to bridge the overt gap between our situations. As this white, cis, straight woman gazed at me for reassurance, I realized that whether it be intentional or unconscious, she solidified that session would be our last. In 2018, the racial demographics of therapists showed that 77% of therapists are White, 10% are Asian, 7% are Hispanic or Latino, and 4% are Black. Unknown, however, is the number of therapists who identify as queer and understand how to help patients tackle issues stemming from homophobia and transphobia. “As our society’s finally acknowledging the existence of intersectionality, we need therapists who
words CARRIE LAWAL photo MILES FRITZ design BRYNN YOSHINAGA
are competent in comprehending and validating those narrative experiences,” Pre-Licensed Therapist Myah Knight says. Although coined in 1989, the concept of intersectionality is not new. New, however, is the decentering of mental health practices and teachings from those accredited to cis, white men in order to better reflect the experiences of minority groups. “It’s a larger systemic issue in that training programs do not require an understanding of intersectionality,” therapist, Dr. Nick Alder says. “What they do require in terms of multicultural counseling is extremely basic and perpetuates systematic oppression.” I talked to three Chicago-based Black, queer therapists who specialize in racial and gender issues. Each conversation created a safe space where I did not constantly feel like I had to explain the validity of my identity and experiences. Seeing successful queer therapists Knight, Alder, and N. Anurag Ansari-Lahiri embrace themselves and being overtly passionate about intersectionality was necessary. It made me realize the importance of continuing these conversations to not only better myself but others. “A lot of the time I find myself talking to clients about how to cope with things they shouldn’t have to cope with,” Ansari-Lahiri says. “That’s just what therapy is; learning how to cope with the things you shouldn’t have to cope with.”
How I Became Comfortable With Intimacy, A SURVIVOR’S STORY AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT.
words ANONYMOUS design EVE KELLY
It was my sophomore year of high school, and I had barely talked to a boy before, let alone had a boyfriend. This unknown vulnerability ended up putting me into many compromising positions I never fathomed were abnormal. I was young, naive. I let people play with my feelings, and worse, my body. I never set boundaries. I said no, but not with the confidence I deserved. I didn’t realize the effects these decisions would have on my life. Advocating for your own experience, or even someone else’s can be difficult. It stays with victims forever. It is not about how long until someone forgets or forgives but how long until they can divide their body from the experience. Everyone heals differently— some people may be more comfortable in their identity and worth, and the experience may not change their perception of themselves. For me, I lost myself entirely. I had no idea who I was outside of the sexually abusive relationship I was in. I saw myself as an object that catered to someone else’s needs, entirely degrading the confidence I thought I’d gained. I dismissed these feelings, telling myself it was normal. Normal is a subjective word, but I quickly realized this was not normal. It was not healthy, and not at all what a survivor should go through. Instead of stepping back from the scene and advocating for my own mental and sexual health, I ignored the issue completely. When I went to sleep, I swear I could smell him. And even years later, when I smell the brand of the detergent he used. I can’t help but get goosebumps.
NAVIGATING PARTNER 2, SLOWLY Confiding in and sharing certain situations that may cause triggers or reactionary emotions with a new sexual partner can be helpful. They do not need to know specifics but should understand the pace you require. If a partner shows discomfort or resistance to taking things slowly, it is a good indicator of how they will treat you, and it may not be a safe experience. When I confided in my Partner 2, he might not have understood the weight of my situation, the trauma, or the fear, but he vowed to make sure I was comfortable with everything we did together. Taking things slow does not just mean foreplay lasts longer, but I found it helpful to take things extra slow. Kissing, and maybe going one step further the next time. I stepped back from my usual tactics of rushing into intimate situations and instead waited until I felt ready to be vulnerable again. It takes willpower for some people, me included, as well as an accepting partner, but it was essential to my healing.
HEAL YOURSELF FIRST Dealing with intimate situations after a sexually traumatic event will never be easy for everyone. For me, the first step to healing was the most obvious one: self-healing. It can take a long time to be ready for intimacy and vulnerability with a new partner. But moments of self-love and compassion can show you when you are ready. Looking in the mirror before taking a shower, reminding yourself that you are your own being and their touch, their words, do not linger any more. Using that time in the mirror to find features on your body you appreciate can be self-empowering. You have to remind yourself, or teach yourself once more, that your body is not an object, but instead something capable of that love and healing. Journaling and art also helped. Writing down thoughts and feelings was a healthy release of negative energy. Then I would try to draw pieces I felt embodied who I wanted to be. I eventually shared some of these pieces with my close friends, helping me rebuild the confidence I once had.
RE-DEFINING BOUNDARIES The boundaries you once had may change after experiences of rape or sexual assault. That’s why it is important to re-establish and re-define them with new partners. Identifying each other’s boundaries creates spaces for open communication and can bridge trust between you and your partner. Being in bed with someone who doesn’t understand your trauma can make you feel really lonely, so take the time to get to know your partner. It can be awkward talking about your sexual experiences, the things you’ve enjoyed, the things that make you feel uncomfortable, but being vulnerable with your partner is a healthy part of any relationship. It helps give them more insight into how you’re feeling, and if they have ever experienced similar trauma. Healing from my past has been a long journey. I am still young, yet I am dealing with the repercussions of what happened to me. Many others suffer internally with the same struggles, making physical and emotional intimacy hard. Confiding in people that you love and trust is not necessary, but it can help alleviate some of the weight off of your shoulders. Bottling everything up can do more harm than good to your mental and physical health. While sharing your experiences with someone can seem daunting, it’s freeing.
Created in the 1970s, cassette tapes and CDs were laced with musical compilations for DJs to take to events and show off their stuff. Then in the 80s, rapper 50 Cent took mixtapes to a new level, turning them into his own records. He re-worked DJs hooks and wrote in his own lyrics. This idea of crafting cassette tapes and CDs with songs of personalized flare sparked the era of giving mixtapes as tokens of affection— something our parents talk about doing back in the day. Mixtapes were made for friends, lovers, birthdays, anniversaries. They were personal connections made between the music and the maker. Strategically crafted, people took time and effort to record each song and add all the fades and flares to make it unique to the relationship. Though, once the late 80s rolled around, the digital revolution dropped mixtapes off the scene.
So, how do you create the perfect playlist for someone you love? There’s no secret formula, but here are some places to start: Setting the MOOD The biggest part of a playlist is the emotion behind the music. What does it bring to you and the person listening? The mood can be
words MOLLY ROTHAM design + illustration PRINCESS HART
But low and behold, they’re back in a new form. Playlists. These present-day mixtapes are being made for the same reasons mixtapes were, celebrating that special someone. Now, they’re even being made to reminisce on memories and moments. Something that’s never changed is the way music makes us feel. It’s a love language that has the ability to make us feel love, nostalgia, joy, sadness, and anything else.
based on the relationship or the situation. A playlist for Valentine's Day might be slow and romantic, whereas a playlist for your bestie’s birthday is going to be hype and energetic. Picking the SONGS With tons of titles to choose from, you won't be short of options. The hardest part will be keeping the playlist focused. The key here is lyrics. Really pay attention to the words and how they reflect the relationship. Choose songs with key lines or images. Add the first song you listened to together, the song you screamed to while driving home from the movies, or a song by their favorite band. Choosing the NAME You can name the playlist anything you want. Intimate names could be their initials, a reference to a memory, or their favorite number. If you want something more playful, go for an inside joke, pull out some puns, or throw up some emojis. Thinking about DURATION If you’re looking to add a subtle touch, the playlist can finish at a specific time. If you add the right songs, it can end at a time that reflects a special date. If your anniversary is September 15, make the playlist 9 minutes and 15 seconds long. If you shared your first New Year’s Eve kiss in 2020, 20 minutes and 20 seconds. Creating the COVER ART Cover art adds a little more personalization. If you have pictures together, you can assign your favorite or make a cute collage of a handful. Remember, playlists are like mixtapes: unique, creative, personal. Have fun with it.
W H E R E
M U S I C “If you would’ve told me seven years ago that I would be making 10,000 mixtape copies, I would’ve thought you were smoking something.” That’s Marquas Ashworth, though you might know him by a different name. As “MarKaus”, the 31-year-old rapper and entrepreneur is Iowa’s Jay-Z. Of course, he makes music. And owns his own record label. But he also owns a whiskey company, which he may be more passionate about than rhyming. And for his next act, he’s moving into urban redevelopment with an aim to help Black and brown families and businesses, though more on that later. For now, you just need to know that this budding empire started in a house in Kansas City, Ashworth’s childhAood home. His dad was always playing music. MarKaus was always taking mental notes—and maybe plotting a bit on the side. “Listening to his music then thrusted me into the business world,” Ashworth said. He’s not kidding. He went to Iowa State to study marketing and sociology in part so he could launch his own label, Media Fresh Records. That’s where he also started writing songs about everything from racism to mental health. “In my songs there ain’t no degrading women, no drugs, no nothing. I try not to misrepresent myself,” Ashworth said. “I don’t like tearing people down or giving bad advice.” In fact, his lyrics have expanded a bit in the decade since he graduated, now focusing on the development of Black communities and inspiring people to raise themselves out of poverty. “If my music can spark a hustle to go make some money and make an impact, that’s my goal,” Ashworth said. “I want to help the next young me become a developer.” During a trip to Iowa to promote his mixtapes, Ashworth discovered a new business. One night, a woman he met at a bar offered him a taste of her whiskey. “It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before,” Ashworth said. But because of the woman’s family history,
words KENNEDY STONE photo MARQUAS ASHWORTH design KAILI JIMEI
she couldn’t get a license to brand it. Using some of the money Ashworth had made off his mixtapes, he bought the 100-year-old recipe from the woman, filed for its rights, and launched his second hustle—Ziyad’s whiskey. The name Ziyad honors a former enslaved North African man and the rich history of African-American entrepreneurship. Almost identical to the original recipe, Ashworth’s whiskey is sold in around 400 stores, including HyVee. And to tie Ashworth’s love for music back into his whiskey, all of his albums are based on the titles of his whiskey products. His latest album, Burn the Boats, is inspired by his limited batch of Ziyad brown rye whiskey. Ashworth describes both as “deep, smooth, and epic.” Plus, each bottle comes with a downloadable tag to a private tasting, an exclusive music video, tickets to his next concert, or a new song. “When there are random people discovering my music and my whiskey at the same time, like ‘yo, this whiskey is good and the rapper is too,’ that’s when it hits me. Like, damn, I’m a little bit different out here.” As for the future, he’s not holding back. Ashworth has plenty of new projects in store for his fans and customers. “The main thing is with this next development, I’m going to be opening a two-level tasting room for my liquor brand,” Ashworth said. “That’s my main excitement, being able to potentially continue this idea and scale it out into other places.” The tasting room will be a part of Ashworth’s $10 million multi-use building plan north of downtown Des Moines. The new infrastructure will provide street-level retail space for brown- and Black-owned businesses, as well as affordable rental units for families struggling financially. “I have the ability to look out, and really understand the landscape of whatever market I’m in,” he said. “Not only that but understanding the synergy of the markets that I’m in and how they connect with each other and the people.”
W H I S K E Y M E E T S
reading between the straight lines WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE QUEER ROMANCE YOU’VE BEEN READING.
words MICHAELA BREED
photo MILES FRITZ
Queer romance novels have always been around. But for years, ther wewn’t advertised in bookstore windows or on table displays. They were lurking in the shadows. Forbidden lovers and their tales of hidden, shameful nights of passion waited for their stories to be read by the public eye. But the late 2000s saw a new wave of queer literature, specifically in the romance genre. Queer romance was finally hitting the popular shelves. People who started seeing themselves represented in the pages of nonheteronormative romance novels felt a new sense of belonging. Take Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. A beautiful story of two schoolboys who fall in love in writing class. One comes from a progressive family, while the other a religiously conservative community. Deemed as “epic” and “hopeful,” there’s an invisible issue. Christina Lauren is the pen name of the writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, two straight, white women. More times than we know, this is the case for many other queer romance novels. Although the queer community is seeing more representation in literary romance than ever before, not all of these works are written by people who identify as members of the community. “Often romance novels or novels with
design PAYTON BLAHUT
[queer] characters, in general, may tend to rely on stereotypes,” said Isabella Ksiazak, a queer student at Drake University. “When the author is not part of the groups they are writing about they may not fully understand the experiences of those in the communities and it shows in their writing.” Another issue is that many noninclusive novels focus on white, gay men and exclude those who identify as part of the queer community. “I feel like, as someone who identifies as a lesbian, I don’t really see myself represented that much in romance novels,” said Ally Wixom, Ally Wixom, a frequent reader of romance novels. “But often if I do, I see myself represented as either oversexualized or the very typical ‘coming out’ story.” Weeding out the disguised queer romance novels can be a challenge, but there are plenty of titles to celebrate, like Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, an openly bisexual and queer author. It’s everything horny hopeless romantics are looking for: a story of an international star-crossed love between the First Son of the United States and a charming British Prince. Authentic queer romance novels are worth digging for—every so often, you’ll strike gold. Head to drakemagazine.com to read more of our top picks for queer romance novels.