Drake Mag Summer 2024

Page 24


Drake Mag


Associated Collegiate Press

Fall 2023 Clips + Clicks Contest, presented on January 16, 2024:

Second Place

Best Feature Story, Sadie Jones

2023 Iowa College Media Awards, presented on February 8, 2024:

First Place

Best News Reporting, Lincoln Roch

Second Place

Best Written Feature Reporting, Nate Eisenmann

Best Print Design, Annie Peterson

Best Illustration, Princess Hart

Honorable Mention

Best Cover, Annie Peterson

Interested in being part of the team behind this award-winning work?

Follow us on Instagram @drakemagazine for opportunities to join.


I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and nostalgia wash over me. It’s hard to believe that my time at Drake Mag is at an end. As I prepare to graduate in May, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey I’ve had with this magazine, from being a nervous first-year assistant editor to stepping into the role of editor-in-chief this year.

Together, we’ve engaged with big topics, and this issue is no exception. We’ve thrown out the old definition of virginity and written our own. We looked at the disparities in mental health care here in Iowa. And we’re finding our own way to express ourselves, even in the close-minded parts of the Midwest.

I am incredibly proud of the work that we’ve produced for you this year. Every page of Drake Mag is a testament to the dedication and creativity of this team and our commitment to you. As I look towards the future, I am excited to see where life takes me after graduation. But no matter where I go, I know I owe it in part to my experiences with Drake Mag.

To the future Editor-in-Chief, Bella, I wish you the best of luck next year. You’re about to embark on an incredible journey, and I have no doubt that you will continue to elevate Drake Mag to new heights.

Special thanks to Dean Catherine Staub, Associate Dean Kelly Bruhn, Jen Wilson, Jeff Inman, Kate Busch, Drake School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Neil Ward, Gina Ryan, Christian Edwards Printing, AM Apparel, all of our models, and everyone who’s supported us behind the scenes.

Copyright 2024 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. Please direct any questions, comments, or concerns to drakemag@gmail.com.


Nate Eisenmann


Lily Eckenrode


Tori Oliver


Bella Spah


Kylie Petty


Zoey Borkowski

Sadie Jones


Allie Raines


Colson Thayer PHOTO Summer Ahartz

Joshua Bruer

Michael Cummings

Madissen Kerman

Karis Tuve


Ava Barvian

Sarah Greiver

Maria Hernandez

Eve Kelly

Maddie Kruse Ava Leigh

Eve Loehrer

Reese Modugno

Allie Raines

Logan Schlueter

Tyler Strachan

Emily Zeller


Lainey Arrol

Madeline Cisneros

Amanda Favazza

Sarah Greiver

Sarah Jamil

Skylar Lathrop

Morgen Neuhauser

Gunner Onkst

Ryley Roudabush

Victoria Soliz

Mack Swenson

2 SUMMER 2024


Me, Myself, and I | Ditch your date

Midwest Music Mashup | Find a festival for you

Fermented Flavor | The benefits of kimchi

The 1920s Are So Back | The return of speakeasies

How to Build a Coffee Bar | Skip the $7 drink


Giving Vintage a New Life | Retro is back

Color Me Confident | Unlock your true palette

Styled by the Stars | Fashion for your Venus sign

Nailed it | Improve your at-home manicure


Climate-Proof Your Skin | Protect and care

My Virginity, My Choice | Rewriting our definition of virginity

This Pouch Will Get You High | The Zyn craze

Lack of Control | Redefining responsibility in the bedroom

The Soldier Who Ghosted Me | Losing myself in a situationship


Where is Our Third Place | Virtual is all we know

A Generation in Crisis | The need for more mental health care

Challenge Accepted | Meet a Gen Z gym owner


Polo Prep | A summer fashion guide

Tea Time Treasures | Summer sips

Savoring Summer | Pizza bliss

Move Over, Wisconsin. | Iowa is the new cheese capital

Architectural Symphony of the Des Moines Art Center | Appreciating art

Midwestern Gothic | Alternative culture in the corn belt

The Triumph of Smut | Passion in print






Going out alone can be uncomfortable for some and an outright phobia for others, but being comfortable alone is a skill you can improve by practice. Here are a few ideas to treat yourself and try new things, all by your lonesome:


Cooking for one usually means a frozen meal or ordering some greasy food. Ditch the microwave and cook one of those recipes saved in your TikTok favorites and use those pots and pans you haven’t touched in months. According to HelpGuide, cooking can promote creativity and physically make you feel better because instead of ordering takeout, you can create something healthier. You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay, but why waste those groceries on a Hinge date when you can chef it up for yourself?


Don’t just watch a movie in bed, get the real film experience, reclining chairs and all. This is a simple way to spend a few hours with yourself and a great way to explore new genres. It’s a dark room, no one else can see you downing that bucket of popcorn but it got you out of the house. Check your theaters for discount days, so the most expensive thing will be the Sour Patch Kids you sneaked in.


Once a week, somewhere in your city, there’s a street that transforms itself into a bustling farmers

market, complete with an array of dogs, produce, and questionable breakfast foods. Go outside, take in the UV rays, and pet every puppy. Pick up a cup of overpriced coffee from a trailer and in-season strawberries. According to a study by Michigan State University, eating locally promotes the local economy, benefits the environment, and allows you to eat seasonal produce with more flavor. Grab your reusable tote bag and go.


Be a kid again and do some arts and crafts. Yes, there may be actual children around you, but lose yourself to the art. Choose a piece that calls your name, maybe a plate or maybe a robot piggy bank. A Life Kit article by NPR states that painting activates the reward center of your brain and allows you to focus deeply. Tune out the world and paint something beautiful, chaotic, or both. The best part is that you have to wait a week or two to see your finished product, making it feel like a gift to yourself.


Imagine you’re going to take a friend to see your city’s greatest hits. Now follow that plan alone. There may be gobs of tourists, but going solo always means you can shimmy to the front unnoticed. Include the latest upscale restaurant in your itinerary. Reserving a table for one is a daunting task and actually sitting through a meal alone is scarier, but you’ve made it this far. Reward yourself with a delectable dinner and the best company: yourself.

4 SUMMER 2024


From country and indie, to EDM beats and pop, find something for your music taste this summer.

Whether you prefer cowboy boots on your feet or glitter in your hair, find something for every music taste this summer — and you don’t have to book a flight to get there.


Your favorite indie artists like Noah Kahan, Lizzy McAlpine, and Hozier are waiting for you in Iowa this summer alongside 15,000 other fans ready to scream some lyrics with you. With more than 30 artists, the folk, indie, pop, and country sounds will be heard across the Iowa plains and are ready for your emotional catharsis. One-day general admission passes are $145, and tent camping is included with all festival tickets.

St. Charles, IA, August 2-4 hinterlandiowa.com


For fans of Latin music, Spanish pop, and Bad Bunny, this is the event for you. Be ready to dance like never before and wear your brightest colors. Held in Grant Park in Chicago, this two-day fiesta features Spanish and Latin artists like Peso Pluma, Rauw Alejandro and Maluma. Weekend passes start at $360.

Chicago, IL, May 25-26 suenosmusicfestival.com


Further north, Milwaukee is hosting a twoweek concert event featuring all genres. Kane Brown, Mötley Crue, Tyler Childers, and Keith Urban are in the mix. Soak in the immaculate vibes as this festival is set on the lakefront of Lake Michigan. Ticket prices

vary based on artists and day, but basic passes start at $28. Summerfest is a family-friendly festival with vendors lining the pathways, local cuisine served around the park, and a Ferris wheel for cinematic views of a Midwest summer.

Milwaukee, WI, June 20-July 6 summerfest.com


This weekend is more than a music festival — lose yourself while surrounded by all kinds of art. There are workshops, activities, art installations and, of course, live music on multiple stages. Three-day general admission passes start at $250, which includes camping for all three days, or volunteer and receive a free three-day pass. Fans of Fleetwood Mac and a Bohemian wardrobe, head to Solshine and explore the music and your inner identity.

Chillicothe, IL, May 24-26 solshinereverie.com


With artists like Eric Church, Nickelback, and Lainey Wilson, you’ll be “laughing and living, drinking and wishing” in your best denim with your best friends. Weekend passes start at $275, which includes access to camping grounds and all performances throughout the weekend. An hour outside Milwaukee, the city dwellers will hear the boom of your boots this July. This weekend will make you want to “dig [your] boots into the dirt, and face the rollin’ thunder.”

Twin Lakes, WI, July 18-21 countrythunder.com



Kimchi is a quick and sustainable way to add new flavors and nutrients to your everyday diet.

You may have noticed your favorite food spots serving up pickled veggies with their savory main dishes. Maybe your granola roommate has moved on from kombucha to the latest gut-health craze. Whatever it may be, kimchi, a Korean culinary staple consisting of salted and fermented vegetables, has been taking over the cultural food scene in the U.S. The combination of fermented Napa cabbage and daikon radishes being seasoned with gochugaru (Korean chili powder) creates a dynamic and distinctive flavor profile.

“Kimchi has a perfect balance of spicy, sour, salty, garlicky, and sweet — that curious flavor of zing and tangy that you can only get with fermented foods,” says JinJoo Lee, author of the Korea food blog Kimchimari. “The flavor profile of kimchi changes over time. The saltiness and spiciness decrease while the sourness and sweetness increase, along with the zingy flavors as it ripens.”

Even better, it’s good for you.


Probiotics found in fermented foods reduce the effects of IBS, according to the National Institutes of Health. Though some view probiotics as a passing fad, we’ll take anything that helps, considering the number of Gen Z IBS sufferers are projected to shoot up by 90% by 2030, as reported by NPR.

Known as a “superfood,” kimchi is full of probiotics, microorganisms that boost your immune system and help the digestive system function. During the fermentation process, lactic acid kills harmful bacteria, leaving beneficial bacteria that boost digestion and promote overall gut health. Kimchi is also rich in vitamins C and K, calcium, and potassium, all of which help with tissue repair, heart health, and bone strength.


In 2022, kimchi exports to the U.S. reached a record high of $27 million, attributed to the “interest in kimchi’s health benefits and the rising popularity of Korean food,” Jung-hwan Hwang reported in the Korean Economic Daily.

But Lee says it’s also about our love of new trends. “Korean food provides new exposure to a combination of flavors that Americans have never experienced before,” she says.

Sustainability is another appeal. By fermenting food, you prolong its expiration date. It’s a good way to save food that would be otherwise wasted.


International food markets sell kimchi, as do some bigger chain grocery stores.

You can also ferment your own. Kimchi is traditionally made with Napa cabbage and daikon radishes, but you can also experiment with your own veggies (your parents probably call it “pickling”). Just sub in or add your own to the process — things like carrots, peppers, cucumbers, or really any vegetable. Make in bulk and store in the fridge for up to a month.

Add kimchi to dishes like rice, noodles, soups, and stews as a side. This makes it a great source of vitamins and minerals to add to your weekly meal prep — and a tangy compliment to zing up duller dishes.

6 SUMMER 2024


Try one of these retro-style bars inspired by the illegal drinking establishments of the early 20th century


Beneath the inconspicuous exterior of The Aviary in Chicago lies The Office. Access this bar by confirming a reservation with a $30 deposit and requesting an escort from your server upon arrival. The entrance sets a dark and dramatic tone, where the server unlocks the door with a key, enveloping you in an all-leather room. The dimly lit space with snug furnishings challenges the conventional look of a night out, while the dining experiences intrigue your taste buds. For an exclusive taste of The Office, try the Kitchen Table: a seven-course cocktail journey served by The Aviary’s chefs amidst the hustle of their kitchen.

955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL. 312-226-0868


Visitors to Hotel Fort Des Moines should book accommodations, but reservations aren’t required to enjoy In Confidence, a contemporary speakeasy located underneath the hotel. Only accessible through a hidden bookshelf in the hotel’s coffee shop, you’ll emerge in regal hues of deep blue and subtle yellow velvet, welcomed to savor meticulously crafted cocktails. Among the offerings is the Hemingway — a combination of rum, Luxardo liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit juice — a drink that would make Hemingway himself laugh at our desire to relive the dry years of prohibition.

1000 Walnut St., Des Moines, IA. 515-528-7733


Nestled within the underground tunnels of the City Foundry in St. Louis, you won’t find None of the Above by chance. Start your journey through an unmarked doorway at street level, softly illuminated by a red light.

Proceed down a tunnel complemented by an explosion of vibrant graffiti which paves the way for your descent into the lounge below. Vintage artwork and brass lamps evoke a midcentury modern vibe. Classic cocktails mingle with creative house concoctions like “In the Mood for Love,” a blend of black sesame rye, sotol, pimento dram, lemon, cumin, and coriander.

3730 Foundry Way, St. Louis, MO. 314-656-6682


The alley to the right of Steamship Games in Uptown Minneapolis shouldn’t be the place to randomly wander late at night, but it’s worth it. Tucked around the back of the building, beyond a tiny parking lot, there’s a nondescript metal door with a red light above it. If it’s on, Volstead’s Emporium is open. Just open the door, descend into the basement, and discover a hidden throwback to the roaring ’20s, complete with the kind of live jazz and low lighting to enjoy as the night unwinds.

711 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN. 612-259-7891


Housed in an unremarkable brick building on W 19 Terrace, Swordfish Tom’s offers visitors an exclusive experience. Navigate through the nearby alley to arrive in a modest waiting room where a green lantern beckons you in. Once you’re within the confines of the lounge, a grand boiler demands your attention,

as this speakeasy resides in the boiler room of a basement. Before ordering, peruse the house rules diligently: cash only, photography prohibited, electronics on silent, and absolutely no phone calls. Maintain a hushed tone as the ambiance cultivates an environment where conversation brews, devoid of the commotion of typical bars.

210 W 19 Terrace, Kansas City, MO. 816-721-5291



Everything you need for your in-home brewing station

Coffee bars are becoming the heart of every home. Enhance your morning ritual with a coffee bar of your own, and get your station started with these essentials.


Choose a machine that best fits your lifestyle and preferences. Opt for an espresso machine for specialty drinks like lattes or cappuccinos. For a budget friendly coffee, try a French press or pour-over.

Espresso is brewed through pressurized water so you’ll likely need a machine to make it. Choose between a manual espresso machine and a handheld maker — like the Wacaco minipresso.

A French press brews coffee by adding grounds and water into the same pot then filtering it by slowly pushing down the press’s plunger. This separates the grounds from the water for a smooth and strong blend.

A pour-over tends to produce a less extracted roast with a rich and smooth flavor. Pour-overs are made using an hourglass-shaped pot. The coffee filter sits on top while water is poured over, filtering the coffee into the pot.

De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine ECP3630, $149.95, delongi.com

Minipresso GR, $54.90, wacaco.com

French Press Coffee Maker, $39.99, bodum.com

Pour-Over Coffee Maker, $19.99, target.com

8 SUMMER 2024


Buying local-made can be complicated for a variety of reasons — whether that’s higher costs or quality concerns, but buying local coffee beans is a simple way to start. You can find coffee beans at grocery stores, local coffee shops, or farmers markets. Locally roasted coffee beans often have a fresher taste than widely available brands, and different roasts cater to different palettes. Light roast beans taste more acidic with citrus notes, while darker roasts are smoother, easier on digestion, and usually contain notes of chocolate. A happy medium blend incorporates light and dark roast notes.

Home Sweet Home (medium blend), $17.00, happyhomecoffee.com


While some say whole beans make better coffee, you have to grind them at home. The Hamilton Beach Custom Grinder is beginner friendly with a variety of settings for your chosen brewing method. For French press coffee, use a coarse grind. For a pour-over, use a slightly finer grind.

Espresso uses a very fine grind that may require a burr grinder. These machines produce a consistent grind with precision-cutting for your coffee beans.

Custom Grind Coffee Grinder, $34.99, hamiltonbeach.com


To experiment with flavor, add a few tablespoons of syrup. A note of caution, though: Syrups are for hot drinks only and will crystallize if added straight into cold coffee. There are many flavors to choose from, such as vanilla, hazelnut, or mocha. Making your own syrup is easy. Heat one part water with one part sugar until dissolved before stirring in your choice of flavored extract.

Mini Coffee Flavors Syrups 5 Pack, $10.99, worldmarket.com


If you like foamed milk in your coffee, add a frother to your setup. Choose between a handheld frother for cold drinks and automatic for hot drinks. Automatic frothers can also heat milk while frothing for drinks such as cappuccinos. For drinks with cold foam, a handheld whisk frother works best.

Aerolatte Handheld Milk Frother, $19.95, williams-sonoma.com


Add interestingly shaped and colored glassware to your coffee bar for a unique touch. Make it your own by trying different glass shapes and textures such as ribbed or rippled drinking glasses. If you take your drink to go, find options that have matching to-go tops and straws or recycle food jars with lids.

Fluted Acrylic Tall Drinking Glass (set of 4), $32.00, westelm.com


How one small business owner seeks to bring back the old

Picture your dream clothing item. If you’re like me, you’ve definitely made a Pinterest board all about it. For me, it was a skirt. But not just any skirt.

I’ve always admired the ’90s pop-grunge maxi skirts that actress Kate Hudson flashed on the red carpet and singer Mazzy Star wore on stage. That explains my excitement when I found the skirt at the Time Travelers Vintage Expo.

The name doesn’t lie. You truly travel to a different time period as you walk among the collection of booths. Sarah Frick, owner and organizer, travels around the Midwest and surrounding areas to gather vendors with a passion for vintage clothing, records, and novelties. She started the expo in 2021.

“I’ve done pretty much every pop-up in the Tulsa, [Oklahoma] area under the sun and beyond,” Frick says.

Fast forward to my jaw dropping when I see vendors dressed up in their favorite bell bottom jeans, or ’80s button ups featuring geometric prints. ABBA and The Bee Gees are playing over the speakers. Rows and rows of booths are all covered in clothing, jewelry, prints, and records. It’s retro paradise.

After winding through rows of vendors, my friends and I stumble upon Viva Vega Vintage. Their booth has racks of clothes from the ’50s but our eyes jump to the skirts.

There it is. My dream skirt.

It’s black, lined down to the floor with a pattern of flowers, seed packets, all in yellow, blue, and red.

It has to be mine.

I’m not the only one mesmerized by their skirts. So is Bailey Moore, an expo visitor from Tulsa. She appreciates the variety of clothing that you just can’t find at places like Shein or H&M.

“I bought this maxi skirt, and it had safari prints on it. It was so unique,” Moore says. “I never would have been able to find that at a modern store.”

Sarah Vega, co-owner of Viva Vega Vintage, says that she’s “hooked” and always wants to come back



to sell at the expo. She plans on selling at half of the 12 shows scheduled in 2024.

“I love how happy somebody gets when they find their dream piece,” Vega says. “Vintage means something different for everybody, and it brings back memories or somebody that they are trying to reflect or style around.”

Each expo is unique. In Dallas, vendors featured more items from Western and Hispanic backgrounds. Tables and booths were piled with vintage bolero jackets, ponchos, and vests with intricately embroidered designs.

Shopping for vintage is a trend as Gen Z focuses on creating capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe means gathering fewer clothing items that will last a lifetime, rather than falling into the trap of fast fashion.

According to earth.org, online clothing returns accounted for 2.6 million tons of landfill waste in 2020 in the U.S. alone. By shopping vintage, people are saving the planet from piles of unused or unwanted clothing.

“Things were made with so much better quality back in the day,” Frick says. “[Young people] have really caught on to the fact that these things were made with integrity, and not fast fashion.”

Providing more people with good quality clothing and vintage items is one of Frick’s reasons for putting together the expo.

“It’s always the best to hear vendors say, ‘This is the best event they ever vended.’ That’s why we do what we do is to support small businesses, creators, and collectors,” Frick says. “That is like my middle finger to corporate America.”

The Time Travelers Vintage Expo continues to add new stops in the Midwest to its list. Visit timetravelersexpo.com for more info.

10 SUMMER 2024


Discover your ideal palette to boost confidence and style

With everything going on, from stressing about politics, school, and what to do with your life, getting your colors done by a professional might seem frivolous. But it turns out that doing something like this is a nice break in the normal routine and may just make it easier to confidently seize your day.

“You’ll be sick of looking at yourself by the end of this,” says Laurel Lund, certified color and image consultant at LL Style Studio in Des Moines.

Standing in the middle of a luxuriously decorated room, I feel out of place without makeup in my comfortable outfit. The process is hands-on and personal. Lund can tell which colors look good on me as soon as I walk in, but she wants me to understand the process.


The idea of having a “season” to match your colors was popularized in the ’80s with the book “Color Me Beautiful,” by color consultant Carole Jackson, but Lund simply identifies your colors based on if you have cool, neutral, or warm undertones.

She starts the session by putting three color palettes in front of me and asks which palette I like the most. I reject one immediately and take a minute to decide between the other two.

“Which colors resonate with you?” she asks.

I have no idea. I just choose the one I find myself looking at the most.

Lund pulls out a thick Pantone color swatch book with every color from the palettes I just looked at and says we’re going to go through every color to see which colors suit me.

“You’ll like some [colors] from each of these [palettes],” Lund says. “But one will be your dominant.”

To better understand my coloring, Lund asks questions about my hair and eye color. She points out that I have pink, yellow, and blue undertones. This combination of warm and cool undertones means I have neutral coloring.


The colors that complement or match the natural colors of your eyes, hair, lips, or cheeks bring your natural appearance to life, giving you a healthy glow and natural confidence. These are your signature colors.

As we go through each color, I’m drawn to muted pinks, blues, and grays, but yellows and stark blacks and whites make my skin look pale or sickly.

“Those who … sport their most flattering colors create a ‘halo effect’ or ‘beauty bias,’” Lund says.

If you have cool undertones, Lund says to wear jewel tones — rich colors that resemble jewels, like

ruby, sapphire, and emerald. Stick to muted, pastel, and neutral colors if you have neutral undertones. If you have warm undertones, wear bold colors that share your warm undertones.

You may have warm undertones if you have golden highlights in your hair or flecks in your eyes. People with cool undertones have stark light and dark features — bright blue eyes, jet black hair, dark eyes, platinum hair. Neutral undertones fall somewhere in between.

Besides finding colors that suit you, use color theory — the study of how colors affect emotions and perceptions — when choosing colors to make a certain impression. If you wear colors that suit you, Lund says people will perceive you as more intelligent, talented, and attractive.

Although each undertone looks better in certain colors, there’s no one-sizefits-all when it comes to finding the right ones for you. Hire a professional color consultant to have certainty about the colors you should wear.

This process can build your confidence and save you time and money. I left the session with a ring of my color swatches to carry around in my purse, so I can confidently know which colors to make a beeline for next time I’m out shopping.

Contact Laurel Lund about getting your colors done at llstylestudio.com.




Sagittarius, athleisure or overtly functional pieces always catch your eye because of your “on the move” mentality. Those pieces can be spiced up by some unconventional layers. Wear sweats with a corset and varsity jacket, or a sporty tee and mini skirt.


Gemini, you’re not afraid to experiment, so embrace layering. A lace top with a corset underneath will offset one another and allow for wide-leg denim to compliment the bold upper half.

Venus’ — the Roman goddess of love, sex, and beauty — placement in your birth chart can direct your personal tastes and aesthetics. With Venus’ identity in mind, you can dress to be the most attractive and “aesthetic” version of yourself, invigorating your personality.


Aquarius, bright, earthy colors are perfect for you. You are innovative and often wear some funky shapes to bring out an eccentric style. Outfits with fringe or hanging pieces add movement and spunk to your down to earth color palette.


Capricorn, you dress for success. You’re able to make a semi-professional look with flair. Investment pieces are essential for you. Try a white button up shirt and a black dress. For shoes, choose a simple sneaker that can be sporty, yet clean and professional, for the duplicity you adore.


Virgo, you’re organized and a perfectionist. You know how to play with timeless, classic, and functional pieces. Pair wide pleated pants with a fitted waist with a fitted top when going out, or a more relaxed graphic tee. Duality is key for you.

12 SUMMER 2024

How to dress for your Venus sign



Libra, you have expensive taste and a knack for fashion. Your outfits are the definition of aesthetic, no matter the theme you are going for. Combinations of fabrics and textures like leather and silk create balance with an elegant feel.


Scorpio, the world can’t be anything but intrigued by you. Bold makeup and accessories like glitter appliques and large hoop earrings add to your edgy energy. Two piece sets allow for an intimate vibe to cut the intensity of your looks. You are the definition of bold and beautiful.


Aries, you’re lighthearted but you love competition. With your flirtatious nature, focus on playful silhouettes like skirts with volume — think the infamous Carrie Bradshaw tulle skirt — or tops with a ruched sweetheart neckline.


Pisces, you are looking for a deep, cosmic connection. With this in mind, escapist, free flowing outfits match your energy. Aqua blues and bright greens ground Pisces. With eccentric hues, you can float away in a bell sleeve dress paired with strappy espadrilles.


Taurus, you attract people naturally and since you’re so effortlessly put together, combining a loose figure with a fitted one — like a fitted shirt with wide-leg pants — creates organic balance. You are naturally bold, so high slits and indulgent colors fit you.


Cancer, you dress like a fairytale as a testament to true love. You are overtly feminine and adore the vintage shapes. Lace and pastel colors will protect your heart, and antique gold jewelry and pearls will bring you back to the days of true love.


Leo, you have a flair for the dramatics and know you look good. Dark colors add to your bold attitude, so black and silver are the perfect combination for you. Add butterflies, flowers, or an edgy pattern to top off your look.



Tips for achieving salon-worthy nails from home



USE A SOLID BASE COAT. Whether or not you want to add color to your nails, this kind of base prevents chipping. Start with a clear base coat to hydrate and protect your nails. Wait at least two minutes for the base coat to dry before applying more polish.

“A solid base is the key component to having a great-looking manicure,” says Auden Vervair, a nail technician in Hastings, Minnesota.

Here To Stay Base Coat, $6.25, beyondpolish.com

14 SUMMER 2024

Cuticle health is just as important as the glamor aspect of a manicure. Soak your hands in warm water for 10 minutes every few days to soften your cuticles and keep your nails clean. Use cuticle oil to push your cuticles back to the edge of your nail bed with a ‘cuticle pusher’ to prevent infection and make your nails look glossier. Better yet, using cuticle oil is a great way to ensure your

Pro Pusher & Cleaner, $10.99, ulta.com

Orly Cuticle Treatment Oil, $7.55, beyondpolish.com


No one likes hangnails. Clip your nails every couple of weeks to prevent those unwelcome guests. File your nails to smooth out rough or uneven edges, leaving your nails looking healthy and maintained.

Japonesque Nail Clipper, $3.12, sallybeauty.com

Duraboard Nail File, $2.49, ulta.com


Don’t overload your nail polish brush with a ton of polish. Adding too much polish to your nails can lead to clumping and the accidental drip of polish on your skin. Make sure to wipe off your brush on the edge of the container before applying.


Vervair says nail art is the leading trend in the world of nails.

Whether you want to practice intricate designs or abstract art, there’s a design that works for everyone.

“I would recommend getting several sizes and lengths [of brushes] for different types of brush strokes,” Vervair says. “It is also much, much easier to create nail art using gel polish.”

10-piece Nail Art Brush Set, $8.79, sallybeauty.com

Madam Glam Gel Soakoff Gel Polish, $10.98, madamglam.com




Defending your complexion against climate change

16 SUMMER 2024

As the impact of climate change escalates, so does its effect on our skin. Its effects will become increasingly noticeable, so you’ll need proactive skin care practices.

Karan Lal, board-certified dermatologist, says a weaker ozone layer results in stronger UV rays, which can cause sunburn or skin cancer. General pollution can damage the skin barrier, causing premature aging and dehydration. And increased temperature can cause excessive sweating and oil production, which leads to breakouts.

Here are some ways to defend your skin from damage caused by climate change.


The skin’s first line of defense is the moisture barrier, made up of lipids, ceramides, and filaggrin — a protein that tightly binds skin cells, creating a strong barrier. They keep the skin strong and work to keep pollutants out.

“As the skin matures from the bottom layer to the upper layer, it creates lipids,” Lal says. “[Lipids are] there to seal your skin.”

Some soaps can break up lipids and wash them away, leaving your skin dry and defenseless. Use a gentle water- or oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and other skin pollutants but keep your skin barrier moisturized and intact.

Ceramides are the ultimate skin superhero, helping retain moisture and protect the skin from pollutants. Products with ceramides help strengthen the skin barrier while building up ceramides that are already in the skin.

Filaggrin deficiency can result in a “leaky skin barrier” that releases more moisture than normal, resulting in dry or broken skin.

“[With dry skin], your skin will easily come into contact with the environment,” Lal says. “Pollutants can easily penetrate [your] skin, causing inflammation.”

Avoid over-exfoliation, keep your skin hydrated by moisturizing every day, and drink lots of water.


“Sunscreen is the best thing you can do to protect your skin,” Lal says. “[It’s] a definite daily must.”

Lal says UV rays damage your skin in several ways. They can harm ceramides, prematurely damage and age the skin, as well as reduce the production of collagen, a protein that promotes skin elasticity and firmness, making it harder for pollutants to penetrate your skin.

“[UV damage is] not something you see right away,” Lal says. “[It] can take 10 years to see some of this.”

Since it takes time to see the harm UV rays do to your skin, Lal recommends using sunscreen now to proactively stop damage. Apply sunscreen each morning, in the form of an SPF moisturizer or straight-up sunscreen, to provide a barrier for your skin against harmful UV rays and polluting chemicals.

“With all of the things you do in your daily routine, like brushing your teeth, add [sunscreen],” Lal says.


Vitamin E reduces skin damage caused by UV rays, and vitamin C keeps pollutants out of your skin. Together with SPF, vitamin C can form a strong barrier for your skin. UV rays lower the skin’s vitamin C and E levels, so use vitamin-containing serums to keep those levels strong. By being proactive and prioritizing your skin’s health now, your future self will thank you.



Shame, guilt, dirtiness — it’s common to experience doubt or disgust at ‘losing’ your virginity. Can we move beyond the idea of ‘losing’ virginity and adopt an individualized approach?




18 SUMMER 2024

For centuries, the definition of sex has been — at least in the Western tradition — exactly what you’d imagine: a penis penetrating a vagina. In the process, something precious was given away, particularly by those on the receiving end.

These days, things are more complicated. In an age of same-sex couples, asexual couples, transgender couples, and polyamorous throuples, quads and networks — to name just a few — the notion of sex applying only to penetration seems, well, old-fashioned.

And as the definition of sex becomes more complicated, so does the definition of virginity. But if virginity isn’t about maintaining an obscure fleshy flap at the opening of a vagina (the hymen, for those unfamiliar), what is it?

The idea that virginity must be protected, almost hoarded, is embedded deep in the human psyche — blame religion, tribalism, whatever you want. Virginity is purity, and purity needs to be protected.


It’s telling that 10% of U.S. obstetriciangynecologists sampled by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists were asked by a patient about virginity testing, which typically involves checking for a broken hymen. (Men, obviously, get a pass here.) However, hymens can (and often do) break from day-to-day activities like exercising and inserting a tampon. Still, 3.5% of the sampled OBGYNs said they’d performed a so-called ‘test’ for a patient’s virginity.

“I would say that there is not a true definition of ‘medical virginity.’ As medical professionals, we are more cognizant of the different meanings sex has for different individuals,” says Amy Bingaman, a gynecologist at Broadlawns Medical Center.

So, virginity testing is often inaccurate. What’s the big deal? Turns out, people who don’t feel they meet strict virginity

criteria could harbor harmful ideas about their body and their pleasure.

“The impact of virgin culture and upholding virginity is super harmful, ultimately, because it can impede our relationship with our sexuality and our relationship to pleasure and put us on a path of self denial in a lot of ways,” says Margaret Canero, an Iowa State graduate who has worked as a doula, domestic violence and sexual assault advocate, and sex educator. “Because we’re saying, ‘I don’t want to do that because it will put my virginity at risk, or it will put my purity at risk.’”


Anyone who’s experienced a middle school sex ed program is familiar with abstinence, which is closely related to sexual purity. Abstinence-based sex ed implies that women should strive to maintain their purity and men should control their animal instincts. By the same token, it assumes that sex-related concerns can be assuaged with a simple solution: Don’t do it.

What abstinence often doesn’t teach is that sexual issues don’t just apply to old-fashioned penetrative sex. Thus, those who engage in other activities (let your mind wander) might deny the risk of sexually transmitted infections, sexual assault, and more. In this sense, these old-fashioned ideas are especially harmful for queer people and survivors of sexual violence.

“If someone is raped and they had not had sex before, a lot of times they worry about still being a virgin,” Canero says.

She describes women who believed they could no longer get married following sexual assault because they no longer possessed the “gift” of their virginity.

Virginity, it seems, has always been something women possess and men protect. Unless, of course, a man’s penis penetrates a woman’s vagina. Then, regardless of whether the penis had consent to enter, the woman is often

to blame. Her life forever changed, she must walk through the world knowing she is ‘dirty.’


Between the shame and sex-related dangers, it’s easy to see why Gen Z has fought so vehemently against purity culture. Younger generations are leading the battle for increased recognition of the harm caused by sexual violence and — with a whopping 28% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ+ — the parallel battle for sexual inclusivity.

“I don’t think [‘losing’ one’s virginity] is just a physical act. It is a psychological and emotional act,” says Joseli AlvesDunkerson, a couple’s and sex therapist in West Des Moines. “We may have had similar experiences with two people, but one was nothing really important while the one was really a breakthrough for you, so you consider that [your] loss of virginity.”

We’ve established that strict notions of virginity are a problem when people’s health (physical or emotional) and safety are at risk, but perhaps purity culture isn’t all bad. Even in today’s oppositional political climate, how one person decides to go about their sex life isn’t inherently in conflict with creating a safe and inclusive environment. In other words, it might be possible to forge a world in which virginity is something everyone defines for themselves.

“I have several couples with a purity culture, and they are okay with everything. They respect other people’s choices, but they don’t change their choices for other people,” AlvesDunkerson says. “I respect that, because research shows people are happier when they live according to their values and respect other people’s values.”


Are Zyn pouches safe, or are they doomed to follow in Juul’s footsteps?




Warning: The product mentioned in this story contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

Hanging at the bar with a drink in hand, 23-year-old Casey Voichahoske is enjoying a typical night out with friends. Normally, he smokes when he drinks, but this time, his friends encourage him to try a Zyn pouch. Voichahoske already knew about these little white pouches, as his brother has been using them daily. So he tucks one between his cheek and his gum.

A relaxing sensation fills his head and calms his body, allowing him to just sit down and be in the moment. This sensation is familiar to smoking a cigarette, but that usually comes at a cost: a circle of smoke and a lingering smell that gets trapped in his clothes — all downsides in his mind. Not to mention the aftertaste and a possibility of affecting others due to secondhand smoke.

So Voichahoske is pleasantly surprised to find that using Zyn gives the same sensation without the smoke.


When smoking started declining, vaping took over. At its peak in 2019, as many as 27% of high school students used Juul, a popular vape product. But that’s old news. Now, thanks to health concerns over vaping, Zyn is taking center stage. Marketed to people above the age of 21, Zyn pouches lack tobacco but contain additives, flavorings, and nicotine salt — a highly addictive chemical — and they’re popular among young people.

According to 2022 data from Statista, people between the ages of 21 and 34 account for a whopping 33% of nicotine pouch users in the U.S. They’re doing it, like Voichahoske, because they don’t want to smell, be a nuisance to those around them, or who knows what happens when you vape.

“This is something easier to do in public per se and more socially acceptable because others won’t notice it,” Voichahoske

20 SUMMER 2024

says. “I feel like I would have maybe heard something by now if it was deadly or terrible.”

And when would he hear? After all, doctors in the ’40s and ’50s used to recommend smoking to their patients, and it wasn’t until 1965 that the first warning labels were required on cigarette packs.

Could it be possible that nicotine — no matter how you cut it — just isn’t good for you?


The fact is that the side effects might be more similar to Juuling or smoking than Voichahoske believes. According to Medical News Today, a person gets about 1-1.5 milligrams of nicotine per cigarette.

And with a Zyn pouch? Up to 3.5 milligrams, according to a 2020 study. That’s more than three times the amount from a typical cigarette. Nicotine in any amount comes with a long list of health consequences.

“In and of itself, it’s a toxic substance, carcinogenic by nature,” says Slawomir Bilanicz, an anesthesiologist in Illinois.

The intake of nicotine can cause a variety of cancers, such as lung, gastrointestinal, tongue, or oral cancer. On top of that, nicotine does major damage to the heart. It can narrow your blood vessels, cause high blood pressure, and even plaque formation, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Bilanicz says these effects can happen regardless of whether the product is a cigarette or a pouch.

“I can only imagine how a synthesized salt form of nicotine as is present in Zyn products might even worsen some of these risks compared to tobaccocontaining products,” says Thomas Kalista, assistant clinical professor at the University of Rhode Island.

But perhaps the most concerning among the potential side effects is the addictive properties found within Zyn pouches.

“Nicotine is among the very most addictive substances known to man,” Kalista says. “The first uses might induce a mild euphoric experience, but the body develops tolerance very quickly.”

Because nicotine from Zyn is directly irritating to the skin inside the user’s mouth, users are at an increased risk of throat and oral cancer and should be concerned about dental and hygienic concerns when oral nicotine products are used extensively.

“I don’t know what you’re going to gain by using nicotine besides empty pockets and a series of bad reactions that your body is going to try and survive through,” Bilanicz says.


Jensen Czernejewski knows the addictive qualities of nicotine quite well. During his sophomore year of high school, Czernejewski started vaping along with the rest of his friends. The habit continued until he got to college and made the switch to Zyn. He would go through 30-45 pouches per week. Slowly, he realized that he’d just replaced one bad habit with another, so he was determined to quit using altogether.

The first couple of weeks almost made it impossible to quit, Czernejewski says. He experienced cravings, headaches, and even increased irritability.

“It may seem like a popular thing that everyone is doing now and you may want to do it, but in reality, we don’t know everything long term,” Czernejewski says.

The newness of the product also concerns doctors like Kalista. Without more research on the long term effects and health consequences, we can only assume that Zyn may go the route of cigarettes, vapes, and every other nicotine product we know. Until then, it’s probably best to be wary of Zyn.

“Because it’s so new,” Kalista says, “it’s very difficult to say what other risks might be present we don’t even know of.”



For guys wanting to take more responsibility in the bedroom, the options remain terrible.

This story includes one name change, Jaxson, to respect the source’s request for anonymity.

Trigger warning for mention of abortion.

Jaxson had been talking to a girl he met on Tinder for a few weeks. One night, his friends were gone — offering up some privacy. He invited her over to hang out, and one thing led to another. He figured there wasn’t a need for a condom. She promised she was on birth control.

A few weeks later, Jaxson received an unexpected call from her. She missed her period and took a test. She was pregnant.

“I was freaking the fuck out,” he says. “There’s no way I’m affording a kid.”

What should 20-year-old Jaxson have done differently? Sure, he could’ve just thrown a condom on and decreased their chances. But he decided to take her word for it.

And why wouldn’t he? For decades, birth control has mostly been considered a woman’s job.


“Given the selection of methods available today, women hold the lion’s share of responsibility in preventing pregnancy. That shouldn’t need to be the case,” says Tara Shochet, director of programs and grants at the Family Planning Council of Iowa. She thinks more work is needed in securing highly effective male-centered methods.

The market for female birth control has a variety of methods like pills, IUDs, shots, and more. Plus, they are highly effective at preventing pregnancies. But they come with their fair share of financial, mental, and physical burdens.

Meanwhile, men have four options. That’s it. And they aren’t very effective.

There’s abstinence: simply not having sex. We all know from high school health class that it’s 100% effective — but it’s not always realistic.

There’s withdrawal, which typically fails about 20% of the time.

Even condoms don’t work about 13% of the time. But at least they protect against STIs.

And vasectomies — surgically cutting or sealing the tubes that carry sperm. But in some cases, they aren’t reversible. Not

usually the first choice for most young guys. Jaxson and his partner were left to discuss their options extensively. They decided to move forward with an abortion. However, she always wanted kids. It took a toll on her.

“We both already had our individual problems beforehand, but with the added weight, she just kind of stopped taking care of herself. She wasn’t eating or drinking,” Jaxson says.

At 14 weeks, she suffered a collapse, putting her life and the life of their twins at stake.

Jaxson was left a decision: prioritize the life of his partner or the twins. At 14 weeks, he knew the twins would struggle after a forced delivery.

In the end, he chose her life, and the couple proceeded with an abortion.


Men want more options. A study presented at the Reproductive Health Innovation Summit in February found that 78-98% of men, depending on their country, would take male contraceptives. They would probably take something like NES/T.

NES/T is an experimental male hormonal gel. It combines testosterone and nestorone, which is shown to suppress sperm development. After applying once daily to the shoulder for 8-12 weeks, it should take full effect: full sperm suppression. And the effects are reversible 12-16 weeks after ending treatment. But it could be years before it hits the shelves.

The product reached a milestone in August 2022 after 100 couples completed a yearlong clinical trial. If the study continues to produce positive results, it could be the first male birth control method to reach Phase III trials.

“It would have prevented a whole lot less stress for sure,” Jaxson says. “Even if it comes with symptoms or side effects, that is definitely the better alternative to what we experienced.”

Birth control sucks, for everyone. Women are stuck choosing between going through hell … and going through hell. Men’s options are limited and weak, but they want to step up and take responsibility. After all, it takes two to tango.

But until the next breakthrough in men’s birth control is approved, there will continue to be more stories like Jaxson’s.

22 SUMMER 2024

My online long-distance situationship was full of miscommunications, anguish, and sleeplessness. And I’m still glad it happened.

Weeks before heading off to college, I met this guy through Snapchat — a military man stationed hours away — and I was hooked. Adding strangers on Snapchat didn’t seem too risky at the time as I was desperate to find a college roommate. I didn’t usually do this, but I was trying to make the transition less scary and get to know others. I thought everyone did. When he added me, I assumed he was doing the same.

First conversation and I was caught off guard. This guy was gorgeous. Blond hair, brown eyes, beautiful smile. A man in a uniform.


In the beginning, our conversations were full of late-night chats and playing iMessage games. The more we talked, the deeper our conversations got and I started checking my phone constantly, just to see if he had texted me back.

I moved to college and the excitement of starting this new chapter of independence set in, but all I could think about was him. FaceTimes became daily and he went from being just a notification to a conversation I could rely on. Our conversations then transitioned into us talking about the future. He wanted to take me to the Marine Corps Ball.

My feelings for him became all-consuming. My phone and our texts became my focus. I started daydreaming about the first time we’d meet, what his embrace would be like, how his kiss would feel.


Eventually, his responses became slower, his calls were rare, and he began blowing off our planned calls. I didn’t want to acknowledge it, but I knew that marked the beginning of the end.

At this point, I felt lucky to get even two responses out of him a day. My mind turned from looking forward to calling him again to trying to convince my naive self that I wasn’t losing him. It’s ironic because I never actually had him. I don’t think I ever relied on someone for my happiness as much as him and I was

broken. It felt like I was constantly trying to justify these feelings despite never meeting him in person.

Over Thanksgiving break, he texted asking to FaceTime. I was so torn between excitement and sadness because I couldn’t. When I called him back it was like our old normal. His smile was so big I saw his dimples. It was like all the life had been sucked back in and I could take a full breath. Finally.

It didn’t last. I realized that I had been begging for the simplest things — like a good morning or goodnight text. I really tried to ignore it but I started to finally accept I deserved more, which only scared him away.

Every now and then he would reach out and I would give in. I was so desperate to be wanted and the feelings still hadn’t gone away. I realized I didn’t recognize myself anymore so I started joining extracurriculars to find who I was again.

“You may miss other opportunities to get close to people you interact with in daily life, or activities that would bring you a sense of connection,” says Catherine Johnston, licensed marriage and family therapist. “And when you do connect, the dopamine rush feels magical.”


Months later, I noticed he had blocked me on Snapchat. He never had Instagram when we were talking, but out of curiosity I searched his name.

To my surprise, his profile was the first to pop up, but what surprised me even more was his profile picture.

There he was, the same smile I had remembered, the same beautiful brown eyes — but he wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by a beautiful girl with long brown hair and brown eyes.

And then I saw a baby.

A beautiful baby with features that were distinctively his and hers.

I had never been so shocked. I didn’t know what to do. The account was private and despite having closure, I think that that was

what sealed that door for me. Focusing on my own happiness was the hardest door to close. I lost myself in more ways than I ever had to a guy I never met. I grieved. I lost my independence and my confidence.

But I also learned to pick and choose who to be vulnerable with and realize that not everyone deserves it. The best thing I could do was to grow from the experience, work on myself, and move on.



Socializing. It’s who we are and it’s what we’re losing.

Growing up, my friends and I counted down the days until we could go to coffee shops, bookstores, and the mall for all-day adventures on the weekends. We talked to fellow book nerds we met in the aisles, getting a new perspective on that one novel’s plot twist. Then we bought hot chocolate and croissants for lunch, relishing the feeling of freedom and just being together.

Now, we don’t go at all.

We lost our Third Place — a space separate from work, school, or home, to relax with friends, meet new people, and socialize. With everything going on, quality time with friends and meeting new people is constantly put on the back burner. Now, our generation can barely wait for our coffee orders without taking out our phones to look busy.

in a coffee shop, going to the library, or studying at home. While these spaces are still beneficial for socialization and identity development, they don’t replace spaces where we can relax and meet people outside of our bubble. And even clubs have become stress-inducing to students who pack their schedules with too many things.

“You define yourself, in a lot of ways, by where you spend your time,” says Steve Hitlin, social psychologist and professor at the University of Iowa. “If you spend your time at work or home, you just don’t have a very rich definition of who you are … We should be more than our work.”

Some attribute the lack of Third Places for Gen Z to the extra pressure we face to do well in school. Gen Z faces more negative mental health effects from academic anxiety — leading us to be an “at-risk group” according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Coffee shops have gone from places to socialize to places to get work done.

Previous generations had more variety in their Third Places — malls, bowling alleys, and more. For Gen Z, physical Third Places have turned solely into school clubs, religious groups, and sports teams because of the pressure to get involved in school activities. After all, we’re told we need a slew of extracurriculars to get into college so we can land that job after graduation. And if our Third Place was outside of school, it was probably still doing homework: studying


Gen Z is the guinea pig generation for growing up surrounded by technology. It’s affected the way we interact with each other, form connections, and act in public.

“A lot of our social spaces absolutely moved online, and I think that there are positives and negatives to that,” says Katherine Dentzman, community attachment researcher at Iowa State University. “You can connect with communities of interest … but you don’t get that diversity, embeddedness, or connection.”

Are you truly getting anything out of sending a Snapchat just to keep that number next to your friend’s name? In doing so, you’re not allowing room to have meaningful interactions in-person with others while buried in your phone.

“I don’t know if young adults make eye contact with each other anymore,” Hitlin says. “It’s all on their phones.”

It’s possible social places aren’t going away completely and that they’re just taking on a different look.

Not only are we struggling to hold basic conversations with people other than our friends, we struggle to be anywhere by ourselves.

“I do think that there’s an increase in a younger age group coming into the restaurant to grab food and go,” says Sam Smith, manager of Eat!, a small, local restaurant in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. “They don’t normally stay to eat if they’re alone.”

As if simply being seen alone and without our phones will be harmful to our reputation. But this dependence goes further than in public Third Places.

No one would blame you for wanting to relax after a long day of classes, practice, work, and homework. But according to the American Time Use Survey, almost 75% of Gen Z prefers spending their free time online.


Online Third Places can be a good outlet, but Dentzman says it’s important to find a balance between online and inperson connections and social spaces.

“We have all of these potential online communities,” Dentzman says. “But [they] are a little more disconnected from the actual physical piece of you.”

While nice when you want a curated feed or to connect with like-minded people, online algorithms and special interest groups can prevent you from learning new perspectives on the world.

“Those additional interactions that you get outside of the

home or your normal routine are important for identity development,” Dentzman says. “You can’t actually figure out your own identity until you explore the other options.”

Only learning what your family taught you growing up, or sitting in the echo chamber of social media keeps your views narrow. Dentzman says it’s just a default until you get the chance to explore more. Discovering alternative points of view forces you to dig deeper into your views and analyze their cohesion and rationality.

She says that getting to know more people that you might not generally interact with — who have different jobs, perspectives, or experiences than you — will also break down the ‘us versus them divide’ and will increase your tolerance of people who are different from you.

“Just by having that contact, you can start to have better, deeper conversations that are going to be more profitable,” Dentzman says.

26 SUMMER 2024


But having deep conversations isn’t the only thing we’re missing out on in the absence of a Third Place.

“There’s also something called weak ties … [which] are actually really important,” Dentzman says.

Weak ties are the people you’ll chat with once in a while, people you kind of know. Although you can form weak ties with coworkers and classmates, having social places and groups gives you more. Weak ties might be the ones who’ll give you additional support when you least expect it. They could be the corporate executive at a law firm you bumped into at a coffee shop one day, who gives you their card when you tell them you’re studying for the LSAT.

“It just gives you this larger, more robust support network,” Dentzman says.

We’re no strangers to being isolated from our communities after the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’re finding new ways to socialize.

“During COVID, [people] realized the importance of [social] places,” Dentzman says, “and realized how much they get out of going to those places and having those kinds of connections.”

In the years my friends and I have grown into our 20s, many restaurants, coffee shops, malls, and other hangout spots either shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic or raised their prices due to the record-high inflation. The easy option for us was to turn to our phones and social media platforms to connect with people.

It’s possible social places aren’t going away completely and that they’re just taking on a different look. The trick is finding diverse spaces. My friends and I still go out, but we don’t have a ‘spot’ like our parents did. We just try different spots to mix it up every once in a while.

“It seems like it’s easier for [Gen Z] to avoid each other and or just do things digitally,” Hitlin says.

Third Places bring many important things. Meeting new people, finding your identity, and creating connections — weak and strong.

“The worst thing you can do to people is isolate them,” Hitlin says. “People are happier when they’re around other people.”

Not only are we struggling to hold basic conversations with people other than our friends, we struggle to be anywhere by ourselves.

Only 12 out of the 99 counties in Iowa have full access to mental health care. Here’s what you can do.

28 SUMMER 2024

he dawn of sunlight seeps through the window, the ring of the alarm vibrating the nightstand. As Sam Harper stretches a hand to hit the snooze button, still half asleep, he suddenly feels that vibration course into his veins, his fingers twitching as his hand subtly shakes. He can feel it in the way the rise and fall of his chest starts to quicken, the way his stomach pinches inward as he tries to take control of his body, regulating thoughts of nothing and everything simultaneously battling each other.

It’s the signs of a panic attack on the way to crash into his lane.

Six, maybe five years ago, the mood swings would have taken flight, sending him to a place of anxiety that would follow his footsteps throughout the day. It would have affected his ability to respond to any stress that gets thrown in his way, as a dizziness pounds through his head and pins and needles stab through his arms. It would’ve taken over, until one day, he sought an intervention — therapy.

About two years ago, he and his doctor decided he should start taking Lexapro, a common medication used to treat anxiety and depression. Now, taking care of his mind is as routine as brushing his teeth.

“It’s really helped me maintain stability in my life, and definitely helps tamper, for me particularly, symptoms of anxiety,” Harper says.

But not everyone has that same access to treatment. According to Mental Health America in 2022, 56% of adults didn’t receive any treatment for their mental illnesses — that’s 27 million individuals throughout the U.S.


You land on the luckier side of Iowa if you find yourself living in the Polk County area. In Des Moines, websites like Psychology Today will list available mental health care providers. Being from or in the capital and the largest county in Iowa means you’ll be able to find therapists who lean into being culturally sensitive, and those who specialize their services for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. But the second you go beyond Polk County, you’ll find yourself crossing towns on towns of “mental health care deserts.” Those are areas where the population has limited or no access to in-person care providers.

There’s a clear shortage of people in the workforce for mental health in Iowa, especially in rural areas. Out of the 99 counties, only 12 have sufficient access to mental health care professionals.

When looking at a map by the Rural Health Information Hub, northwest Iowa, home to Sioux City, a city with a population over 100,000, is going through a full-on drought due to a lack of mental health care resources.

And yes, telehealth exists. The advantage of today’s technology means being able to speak to a health care

Despite how diverse Gen Z is in ideology, in knowledge, and in mental health awareness, they’re also struggling the most.

provider through phone or video. Even so, Sidecar Health reports that 10.23% of those counties have no access to broadband — so Wi-Fi is out of the question.

“Somebody who’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder looking for access to a certain medication or a certain type of therapy, versus maybe somebody who is indigenous, who’s looking for a therapist who shares their culture — your path to finding care will be very different,” says Bethany Kohoutek, communications and advocacy director of the National Alliance of Mental Health Iowa (NAMI).

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to seeking mental health treatment. The beauty of humanity lies in the way every single person paints a different color to the world’s portrait. It’s the system of mental health care that


threatens to tear that painting down — not the people. It was harder for Harper to find a therapist in Iowa City, closer to his university. The person he ended up choosing was out of his network for insurance, meaning he and his family had to do a lot of paperwork to work around that situation. Without insurance, it wouldn’t have been affordable — but as a queer person, it was the only therapist he saw fit for himself on the Psychology Today website.

“They have someone who believes their skill set lends them specifically to work with people who might face unique challenges due to their sexuality,” Harper says.

More than 700,000 people in Iowa use Medicaid as their primary insurance — many of these are children, elderly people, people with disabilities, or come from low-income households. But mental health providers are often not compensated enough money for those sessions, causing many of them to stray away.

“I think you can do a community a disservice if you don’t take Medicaid,” says Breanne Ward, counselor and founder of ForWard Consulting in Des Moines. “It’s really important for us to be mindful that as providers, we have the opportunity to see people, but maybe we have to see them for where they are.”

And for Ward, who owns a small private practice, that includes working around her clients who are experiencing financial strains. If a patient has an insurance that is out of Ward’s network, she’ll make it a point to throw back the question of “what can you afford?” by offering a sliding fee scale.

Right now, she has a patient who only pays her $35 per session, but she works with it because at ForWard Consulting, it’s people first. Some practices are stricter, writing more literature in the intake process to assure the client will pay.


There’s a generation in crisis, here in America. Despite how diverse Gen Z is in ideology, in knowledge, and in mental health awareness, we’re also struggling the most. A report by Cigna in 2024 shows 73% of workers aged 18 to 22 experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. In 2022, a study by Harmony Healthcare reports that two in five Gen Zers have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. The most common of them are anxiety and depression.

That means if you walk into a college classroom and pick out a person at random, chances are, they’re dealing with at least one mental health issue and they know they need help. They’re the generation most equipped with the notion that there is no true harm or stigma in reaching out for help, but there are more than just internal, emotional barriers to be able to grasp it with ease.

Here are supports you may not know of:

Peer support models, whether student led on a college campus, or part of a non-profit organization. It’s more than just a health hazard if you continue to tell yourself, “I’ll get through this fine on my own.” Instead of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, there’s someone out there to talk to. Even if that’s not a licensed therapist, it’s people with lived experience in a mental health crisis or substance use that are trained and certified for peer support groups. Because, as humans, we are meant to help each other.

That’s a conversation NAMI Iowa has been pushing for. They host weekly support groups with people in recovery or people with lived experience dealing with mental health challenges. As a non-profit that centers itself in advocacy, a solution to Iowa’s workforce shortage, they have introduced peer support models more and more at the capitol, incorporating them into policy-making. Universities like Iowa State and Drake have already started NAMI organizations on-campus.

Then there’s social media. It’s no secret the negative effects of doom scrolling, and what comparing yourself to others who sugarcoat their daily lives through filtered photos and videos can do to your mental well-being. But alongside the artificiality, there are hundreds of resources for mental health online. Sites like Psychology Today, and therapists like Dr. Anita Phillips who’s on Instagram and Youtube. You just have to be careful in finding the right ones, and discarding what’s harmful.

The point is to use the digital space to your benefit and not a weapon against you.

“If we demonize and make social media into a punitive type of thing, that’s where you start to war against therapeutic spaces that are physical and direct, versus those that can be digital and just as good … they’re a good blend if you work them right,” Ward says.

Consider self-advocacy — learning to be your own best support, and standing up for yourself when you or a loved one experiences issues with mental health. As you graduate college and escape to the real world, you start to realize how much of an onus is on you to take the first step. But there are people out there to aid you through that process. What NAMI Iowa does, alongside advocating for equitable mental health care access statewide, is provide resources to help people navigate the mental health care system.

And even if it feels like the hardest thing in the world, all you really have to do is ask.

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Tori V. Fit uses what she’s learned from obstacles in her fitness journey to help women be their best selves.


pine straight, shoulders down, knees directly above ankles. Tori Vasbinder comes out of a squat with perfect form, marking the end of her first set. She resets the leg press hack squat machine. It’s my turn.

Dwelling in my pilates princess castle, I’ve never encountered such a beast. The machine has bulky barbells for limbs, a black sled for a body, and thick platform for feet.

I should feel intimidated. But I don’t. Vasbinder, known as “Tori V. Fit” to her 127,000 Instagram followers, is daring to revolutionize gym culture and empower women to take up space. Women like me. Inspired, I climb into the machine.


“It’s really intimidating for girls to walk into a gym typically because it’s so male dominant,” Maddie Bagby says.

She’s an employee at Flex Factory, a gym in Urbandale, Iowa, where Vasbinder is a co-owner. And Bagby isn’t wrong. A University of Lincoln, UK study published in 2021 found that among other issues, gyms can be intimidating spaces for women due to the separation of structures and emotional barriers associated with accessing ‘male areas.’ In other words, gyms, especially those that are closed concept, set women up to feel like outsiders.

But in Vasbinder’s gym, the girls are insiders.

For one, there are transparent conversations about women’s health at Flex Factory. Not long ago, Bagby was swimming at the collegiate level. The workouts were difficult on her body. She ended up losing her period. Nobody around her was leading the necessary conversations about diet, exercise, and its relationship with reproductive health. Then, Bagby met Vasbinder.

“It was really refreshing to see someone talk about [hormone health] and not talk about … skinny [as] the best thing to possibly be,” Bagby says. “[Strength] is important and feeling healthy is important.”

For two, women are represented in Flex Factory’s staff and membership.

“What makes this one so special is when you walk in here, a lot of times, there’s just as many women as there are men,” Bagby says.

Vasbinder wants to attract even more women to her gym. In fact, the first class held at Flex Factory was called the Women’s Seminar.

“What I’m trying to do with this seminar is get girls comfortable in here,” Vasbinder says. “Because if I can teach them the form and give them a workout … they shouldn’t feel embarrassed. They shouldn’t feel like stress coming in here, I hope.”


Vasbinder has always been a daredevil when it comes to fitness.

When she was cut from the high school volleyball team, she swore to try out the next year — for rugby. Sophomore at the time, she was already a multifaceted athlete, having competed

in volleyball, basketball, track, and the one year of soccer everybody does when they’re five years old. Why not try rugby?

Newly a junior, she took a risk. And it paid off. Not only did Vasbinder make the team, she helped it win the state championship.

“There were times when I was worried for the teams we played against because I knew Tori would run over them,” says Maddie Backes, Vasbinder’s former rugby coach.

The end of Vasbinder’s high school career also marked the end of her athletic one. To fill the hole sports left in her heart, she turned to the gym.

“I was going to the gym every single day, seven days a week,” Vasbinder says. “I would find something random to do, even if my whole body was sore, I would just walk on the treadmill or do box jumps to see how high I could go.”

Vasbinder became fascinated by the process and results of nutrition and fitness. She wanted to learn more about it. So, she decided to leave college and pursue a career in personal training, becoming a certified professional at 19 years old.

It took her a couple of years to build confidence in her skills as a personal trainer. But after being mentored, leading group classes, and gaining traction on social media, she was able to build a virtual personal training business, in which she taught people from all over the nation.

Vasbinder had settled into her career. She was itching for a new challenge.



Bodybuilding seemed like the logical next step in her fitness journey.

“I follow a lot of competitors on Instagram, and as a young girl, I was already lifting,” Vasbinder says. “I was already shaping my body, getting more muscular. But then, you see the [bodybuilders], and they look beautiful but also muscular.”

Moved by the challenge to be just like the bodybuilders in her feed, Vasbinder participated in two bodybuilding competitions. For both, she followed a strict diet and demanding workout regimen. The competitions are achievements in her fitness journey that she is proud of.

“The moment you step on stage, after dieting and working out and hours of cardio for months,” Vasbinder says, “you just feel so accomplished because you think about everything that you’ve done to get there.”

But bodybuilding isn’t a lifestyle, she says. After her first competition, and being strict on her diet for months, Vasbinder struggled with binge eating.

Christyna Johnson, a registered dietitian who founded Encouraging Nutrition, LLC and “Intuitive Eating for the Culture” podcast, says the clinical definition of binge eating is “consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time that’s not socially ‘standard.’”

One type of the condition, physiological binge eating, occurs when one doesn’t have consistent and adequate nutrition and their body

pushes them to overcompensate, Johnson says.

“All that restriction,” Johnson says, “I think of it like a slingshot. Eventually, you’re going to let that slingshot go and you’re going to go right in the opposite direction. You’re going to end up with the binge.”

And this is why Vasbinder doesn’t endorse restricting foods or calories. At Flex Factory and online, she preaches that food is fuel.

Another reason bodybuilding is not a suitable lifestyle for most women is due to its potential to harm their reproductive health and hormones.

“What we do know is traditional bodybuilding diets include high protein and high carbohydrate content while having low fat content. Consuming very low amounts of fat could potentially do a poorer job of supporting fat-based hormones, like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone,” says Avery Erickson, a registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic.

She says body building has been linked to disturbances of the menstrual cycle in studies, as well.

“Overall, we need much more research on this,” Erickson says. “But for athletes, recommendations include eating enough calories, taking in a balanced diet to support overall health and performance demands.”

Through her bodybuilding experience, Vasbinder learned these truths about health and fitness. Now, she is

revolutionizing the fitness scene to bring it to more women.

Vasbinder’s followers are bold. They’re women who want to be confident partners. Women who want to be active mothers and grandmothers. Women who want the energy to make a difference. Women who want to love themselves.

And Vasbinder will run over any opposition to help a woman become her “ultimate, healthiest, happiest self.”

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1. 1.


Christyna Johnson says a lack of carbohydrates in your diet will make you “cranky.” Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which your cells use to make energy. Without enough carbs, your body is forced to convert other things you consume, like fat and protein, into energy. This is a process that will drain you. So enjoy carbs.

2. 2.


You can eat your favorite foods. When deciding at what portion, Johnson says to ask yourself: “Where does this fit in the balance of all that you eat and that helps you feel your best?” Your answer to that question will ebb and flow. That’s allowed.

3. 3.



What is your reason for exercising? Johnson says to identify if your aim is to build strength, flexibility, endurance, or some combination of the three. Then, know your “why.” Know what it is you are working towards, whether that’s being able to take the stairs or run a marathon.

4. 4.


Maddie Bagby says that you don’t need permission to exercise the way you choose. Fitness doesn’t require a specific face or body type. If you want to lift weights, do it. If you want to try pole exercise, nothing’s stopping you. If you want to swim, dance, jump, ball — dare to.

5. 5.


With the freedom you’ve gained by not being on a diet, Johnson encourages you to help liberate others from diet culture. Explore your role. Are you a caretaker? Educator? Activist? Decide, then advocate for a world in which all bodies are accepted, and all foods are allowed.


Achieve posh perfection by styling pieces with collars, plaid, and stripes.



Top | Hanes Pants | Acne Studios


Button down | VanHeusen Skirt | Model’s own

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ON PETIT-PAUL (He/Him) Top | Zara Pants | Banana Republic ON FIONA (She/Her) Sweater | Ralph Lauren Top | Ralph Lauren Skirt | Aéropostale


Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4

4 cups water

3 black tea bags

2 cups orange juice

1 sliced lemon ice

1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.

2. Add tea bags to boiled water, steep for 3-5 minutes.

3. Pour tea into a pitcher, stir orange juice, lemon slices, and ice.

Tea Time Treasures



Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

4 cups water

3 raspberry tea bags

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 cups lemonade ice

raspberries for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil then remove from heat.

2. Add tea bags to boiled water, steep for 5-8 minutes then add sugar and lemonade.

4. Pour tea into a pitcher and serve over ice.

5. Garnish with raspberries.

4. Serve over ice.

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Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 5

4 cups water

½ cup sugar

10 black tea bags

2 tsp. coconut extract

1 cup pineapple juice ice pineapple slices for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.

2. Pour in sugar, stirring until well dissolved.

3. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Steep for 8-10 minutes.

4. Add coconut extract and pineapple juice.

5. Pour tea into a pitcher and serve over ice.

6. Garnish rim with pineapple slices.


Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 5

8 cups of water

8 bags of hibiscus tea

2 cups pomegranate juice ice mint leaves for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.

2. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep for 10 minutes.

3. Pour tea into a pitcher, stir in pomegranate juice and ice.

4. Garnish with mint leaves.

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Pizza recipes for any occasion


Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

4 skewers

12 mozzarella balls

12 grape tomatoes

12 fresh basil leaves

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze

1. In a large bowl, cover mozzarella balls with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Let them marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

2. On a mini skewer, thread a grape tomato, basil leaf, and mozzarella ball. Repeat the pattern three times.

3. Place skewers on a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze, then serve.


Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

fresh green onion

¼ cup black olives, sliced ½ tomato, diced

1 romaine lettuce heart, sliced pizza dough

⅓ cup vegetarian refried beans

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

6-8 tortilla chips

2 Tbsp. ranch dressing hot sauce (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 500°F and place the pizza stone on the middle rack for 30-60 minutes to heat.

2. Slice green onion, black olives, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.

3. Stretch the pizza dough into a 12inch circle and place it on a rimless baking sheet (lightly greased).

4. Spread refried beans onto the dough. Top with cheese, black olives, and green onion.

5. Transfer the pizza onto the heated pizza stone and bake until the crust is golden brown, 5-10 minutes.

6. Top the pizza with tomatoes, romaine, and tortilla chips. Drizzle on ranch dressing and hot sauce.


Total time: 90 minutes

Serves: 4

pizza dough

½ cup tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. olive oil

16 oz. dairy-free mozzarella

5-8 fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven for 1 hour to heat.

2. Roll out your pizza dough into a 12-inch circle, spread the tomato sauce over the dough, and drizzle olive oil over the pizza sauce.

3. Break apart, or chop, large slices of dairy-free mozzarella and place slices all over the pizza.

4. Spread basil leaves around the pizza and press them lightly into the sauce.

5. Place pizza on the warm stone and bake at 400°F until the crust is golden brown, for 20 minutes.


Total time: 60 minutes

Serves: 4

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

16 oz. cauliflower rice

2 large eggs

8 oz. low-moisture

mozzarella cheese

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. ground black pepper

½ cup pizza sauce of choice

2 cups pepperoni

1 cup spinach

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease lightly with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, add cauliflower rice, eggs (lightly whisked), and half of the mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine the ingredients.

3. Place the mixture into the microwave. Heat on high in 1-minute increments until the cheese is melted and the cauliflower mixture clumps together when stirred.

4. Add garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning,

salt, pepper, and any other desired spices to the cauliflower mixture.

5. Transfer the cauliflower crust to a prepared baking sheet and shape it into a circle (if you like crispy crust, spread the dough thin).

6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

7. Flip the crust by tipping the sheet upside down onto a second prepared baking sheet. Remove the parchment paper on top before placing it back in the oven.

8. Bake crust for another 5-10 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven and add pizza sauce, remaining cheese, pepperoni, and spinach.

10. Return to the oven until the cheese has melted, 2-5 minutes.


Cauliflower crust is much more fragile than a traditional pizza crust and can be prone to breaking. Be careful not to add too many toppings.



Total time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

2 flax eggs (2 heaping

Tbsp. flax seed + ½ cup warm water)

3 cups gluten-free rolled oats

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

⅓ applesauce

½ maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

coconut whipped cream

3-5 strawberries

3-5 raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Lightly grease a 9-inch piepan.

3. Mix flax eggs and set aside for 5 minutes.

4. In a large mixing bowl, add oats, salt, and cinnamon.

5. In a separate bowl, add applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and flax eggs.

6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.

7. Spread the oat crust into the bottom of the pie pan, making sure that it is eventually covered.

8. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10-12 minutes.

9. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before layering with coconut cream and fruit.


Wisconsin is known for its cheese, but Iowa is giving the dairy king a run for its money.




Cheese and Wisconsin. Two of the most synonymous terms — to most. But in the corn belt of the Midwest, Iowa is gunning for its cheese to become a new art form that is putting cheese states like Wisconsin to shame.

“Most people don’t realize that Iowa consistently ranks among the top 12 in milk production and milk production per cow,” says Stephanie Clark, Iowa State University’s creamery director. “This year, it ranks eleventh.”


As a cheese connoisseur (and a student on a budget), I decided to take a look at some of the most popular cheeses from Iowa that are competing against Wisconsin and give them a ranking.

Take the blue cheese from Maytag Farms. Maytag, located in Newton, Iowa, has continued to pull inspiration from tradition to keep their famous blue cheese among the world’s best. With a flavorful and almost lemony finish, this moist and pungent cheese is fantastic when crumbled over salads. Produced and distributed nationally, its moldy goodness is a favorite among cheese lovers, and comes from a long, tedious process of separating the cream from the locally sourced milk and adding of enzymes. The cheese begins to take shape in hoops that give it that circular shape.

Culinary professor Austin Bailey offered firsthand praise to Maytag Blue, citing that the French have also taken a liking to the blue mold. At Des Moines Area Community College, two lucky students go to

54 SUMMER 2024

Saint Etienne, France, to study and hone in on their skills while France sends over their own students to learn in Iowa.

“When the French students come over, they’re used to this blue cheese called Montbrison and the closest thing they’ve found to it …is Maytag’s blue cheese,” Bailey says. “They love Maytag.”

The Purveyor in Des Moines focuses on fine dining with artisanal goods, bringing a more refined taste to the regular charcuterie board you can make at home. With a focus on educating guests on the best choice of pairings, The Purveyor lends a helping hand to guests who want to showcase Iowa cheese powerhouses — like the creamy Milton’s famous Prairie Breeze.

This cheese has me going back for more. And more. And more. By itself, this mighty cheese packs a wild punch.

Sharp cheddar with a nutty aftertaste, it’s sweet, flavorful, crumbly, and creamy with those great little crunchies inside (those are calcium crystals, by the way). Milton also offers a salivating sundried tomato, which pairs well with a grain cracker and grapes, and savory garlic cheddar.

“Iowa is up and coming with Winsonsin cheeses,” says Drew Charron, general manager at The Purveyor. “World renowned chefs are using Iowa cheese more than the more popular brands.”

Iowa is unassuming and surprising. That’s what gives its cheese the power it deserves. And that’s why states like Wisconsin should be nervous about the dairy delights coming from this state.

This free museum houses more than art — it’s an architectural marvel.



The world-class Des Moines Art Center is the pinnacle of modernism in the capital of Iowa, living on Grand Ave like a trophy unfaded through changing skies, surrounded by the rustic romance of Greenwood Park.

It’s a well-known fact, that former director Jeff Fleming had grown the permanent collection from 4,000 to 6,000 pieces, with most featured artists being women, people of color, or part of the LGBTQ+ community.

But change is a fundamental color in the palette of growth. Kelly Baum, previously a curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, took over Fleming as director after his 18year run. She viewed those same exact walls in a completely new light, wanting to emphasize the building itself as a historic piece of art.

“To have somebody come in and be like ‘What if we put this next to this?’ in a way that nobody else would’ve thought of — that’s really exciting,” senior curator Laura Burkhalter says. “It’s seeing a new element of this thing that you’ve looked at for 20 years now, and suddenly it looks brand new.”

Collections of contemporary and modern artworks grace each building in the museum. The paintings and sculptures, however, aren’t the only pieces at this one-of-a-kind location. The museum structure itself is actually three separate structures, each designed by a notable architect.

“There is almost no other art museum in the country that is made up of three very distinct, architecturally significant buildings,” Baum says.

“You experience three different museums without having to go outside.”


While the art center first opened in 1948, each connector was built through three different decades — all highly contemporary and out of the norm for a mid-sized city like Des Moines. Each section boasts a different big-name architect: Richard Meier, Eliel Saarinen, and I.M. Pei. Pei and Meier both won the prestigious, international Pritzker Prize in 1983 and 1984.

“You might think any significant institutional building is going to have columns and pediments, and it’s going to be a classical language because that’s what they are on the East Coast, by and large,” says Paul Mankins, an architect in Des Moines. “[The philanthropic class] decided a long time ago that we don’t need classical buildings here in Iowa. We’re fine with this kind of world-class modernism.”

Saarinen designed the first building in 1945 after his fourth proposal to the institution’s trustees.

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Everything was intentional — the curved shape of a door handle, the size of the trim around the doors, or the way artificial light is contained from the ceiling top to only hit certain pieces of art. Those pieces cannot be plucked simply from the industry, as they were custom-made for the building.

In 1966, Pei designed the wing neighboring Saarinen, connecting the original U-shape layout into a full circle. Natural daylight seeps freely through large windows since the building was intended for sculptures, as opposed to paintings which would be affected over time by the ultraviolet daytime light. The building was completed and opened two years later.

The third section was designed by Meier and opened in 1985. Three stories tall with ample natural lighting, the crisp, white walls and hardwood flooring serve as a blank canvas to the complexity of the museum’s permanent collection. From the outside though, the porcelain-coated metal paneled structure competes a little more loudly with the fluidity between the Saarinen and Pei buildings. It’s got three divisions — the connection to the courtyard, the pavilion where art is displayed, and a service area.

“The Des Moines Art Center, it’s free — all you have to be is interested,” Mankins says. “They’d figure out a way to get you there … that’s a powerful, subliminal message to say that you’re welcome.”


For more than 20 years, Burkhalter has decorated these walls of the art center with a plethora of artworks and exhibitions — each and every piece reflecting humanity in its finest details. In June of this year, she’s collaborating with artist Robert Moore to grace the walls of the Des Moines Art Center with works that detail his personal identity and Black culture.

And the next time you walk through the museum, you’ll have a better appreciation for the space itself, and the diversified thought process that went into designing the buildings.

“We want that 10-year-old kid who comes here on a fourth-grade tour to be like, ‘I saw a sculpture that I thought was really cool,’” Burkhalter says. “I also want the person who has no art background, who just comes here … to see something they relate to.”





Midwest goths are faced with isolation, pushback, and the occasional near death experience. Yet somehow, they find ways to be themselves.

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We’ve seen them on our social feeds. Dark hair. Pale, white faces. Smoked-out eyes. And leather.

Oh, the leather.

But what does it mean to be goth? That question has caused a controversy over socials but, to most, being goth doesn’t start or end with what you wear or how you look, but rather the music you listen to. Gothic trendsetters include Joy Division, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Cure.

Few styles are more identifiable than goth. While the origin of the word comes from the Roman Empire, the subculture we know and love today was pioneered from Gothic novels originating in the eighteenth-century.

Like most subcultures we’ve seen (punk, emo, nu metal, etc.), these people gravitate towards each other. They find each other because of a distinctive dress, a well-styled signal. They find safe spaces within their cities and create safe havens for all the weirdos society sneers at. Florida, California, New York, and plenty of other bigger states have a wide range of gathering spots where they can express themselves: night clubs, bars, boutiques, and others.

But for goths in the Midwest, it can be harder to find their safe havens in towns that don’t fully accept them, due to the generally traditional and conservative values in these areas.

real world, Stuthard was ridiculed for how she looked. She quickly found solace in the online chat rooms. Fellow goths across the nation shared their love for the macabre, the darkness that surrounded all beauty. She learned tips and tricks on how to best make her makeup stay on longer, grew her music taste, and even found love online through mutual friends.

The homogenous vibe of the great plains forces these ghouls to find their havens online and for popular gothic artist Jordan Fiction, that’s exactly what he’s striving for.

Growing up both as an alternative kid and Black, Fiction knows what it’s like to be on the outside of the norm.

“It can be tiring out here sometimes,” says Sky Stuthard (@ robzombiefangirl on TikTok), a 19-year-old self-described goth since 14 living in Ohio.

Stuthard knows what it’s like to be on the outside, to be the ‘weirdo.’ People hate her because of how she looks. One day, while walking to school, she heard an engine rev. Dust kicked up as a group of teens hollered at Stuthard, fully prepared to run her down. In just the knick of time, she threw herself to the side and just out of the way, watching as they laughed and sped off.

Stuthard grew up listening to the darker side of music, such as The Sisters of Mercy or Type O Negative, with her parents. Moody guitar riffs filled her ears and she found herself fascinated by the gothic lifestyle. She began to paint her face with hues of white, black, and gray. Her clothing slowly became darker, leather-clad. But the world of the Midwest doesn’t accept these darker beings. While in the

“It’s a lovely sense of community when you go from being this freak in your town to knowing that no matter where you are, there’s always people out there that feel you,” he says.

Although Fiction lives in Long Island, New York, social media has skyrocketed his music to a close cult following from all over the U.S., drawing inspiration from the fantastical worlds of Walt Disney and Tim Burton.

“I see [the goth community] as a big family,” he says. “I love posting something and seeing other people talking to each other in the comments — that’s what makes me really happy. I wish I had a community like that growing up.”

Beyond these onlines spaces, however, there are plenty of challenges that goths face in the Midwest. But perhaps this gives them an advantage.

“Being goth in the Midwest forces you to get creative,” Stuthard says. “You don’t have clubs to go to or places to get gothic clothes. I had to DIY a lot of my clothing to find my sense of style, which a lot of Midwestern goths have to do.”

Elise Keuning, a longtime Iowa resident, shares that they believe being from the Midwest and being goth have a lot more in common than most people think.

“Midwestern values align a lot with goth values,” they say. “We both value kindness, listening to others, doing the right thing — we’re both pretty humble, too.”

While the Midwest still has some growing to do in loving these dark-clad beings from down below, it seems goths will always find a way to make things work.


Slip under the covers of the romance genre to understand why readers are turning to smut.

Behind the steamy scenes and scandalous plots of today’s popular romance novels lies a deeper narrative of empowerment and a reflection back on how far the genre has come. Raunchy romances — endearingly referred to as ‘smut’ — have been popular for decades, but have gained more traction across social media, especially on TikTok.

Using the term ‘BookTok,’ Target and Barnes & Noble devote entire sections of their shelves to the popular books of the hour — usually in the romance genre. Despite its popularity, there’s controversy in a genre where women are the protagonists. Historically, women were seen as extensions of their partners. But in these pages, women are depicted as individuals. Oftentimes, their sexuality is treated as taboo, hence the secretive nature of readers in the genre. But indulging in this ‘guilty pleasure’ shouldn’t feel guilty. Women deserve stories where they’re desirable, but not objectified.

“Many of us are made to feel ashamed or just shy about our romance reading,” romance author Maya Rodale says in a speech on the value of romance.

“The reason, in a nutshell, is this: We are writing stories about women who triumph

in a world that doesn’t want women to triumph.”

Romance readers are alive and thriving, breezing through books at these quick rates. A study by WordsRated found 46.4% of readers today finish a romance novel within seven days and 78.3% read more than one romance book per month. Gone are the days of book clubs at your local library. Now, communities develop in digital spaces, like TikTok and Instagram.

“The community is definitely the best part. Everyone has been so nice in my corner [of Bookstagram],” says Callie Elkhabbaz, 27-year-old ‘bookstagrammer’ — someone who posts content dedicated to books on Instagram.

Elkhabbaz has more than 2,000 followers on the platform, and thanks to her account, she’s met many of her best friends.

Despite the seemingly recent uptick in readership, romance has always been the choice for many. It’s possible that what was once hidden under the covers is now revealed, thanks to social media.


“Anecdotally, [we’re not seeing] more people reading, though Colleen Hoover, Emily Henry, and some of those big names are pushing [the genre] more mainstream,” says Sarah Lane, information services librarian with Des Moines Public Library. “There are more people who are willing to say they read romance than I’ve seen in the past few years … It’s something people used to hide and that’s less true now more than ever.”

Because a majority of romance books are female led stories, Lane says this aids in the reason for the predominantly female audience. But between this and the often-raunchy content, romance has garnered a negative reputation.

“People often get too caught up in the explicitness that can be in romances and not enough

in this idea of women getting happy stories,” Lane says. “It’s easy to put [romance books] in a negative context without reading them at all or knowing that there’s so much more to the story as well.”

It’s not all homogenous. There exists a diversity in readership, thanks to authors like Denise Williams. A romance author who writes stories with readers in mind, Williams creates realistic heroines who go beyond the binary of others in the genre.

“If people want to see more diversity, publishers need to hear people asking for it, because it exists, it does. It isn’t talked about as loud as atypical stories,” Williams says.

Most of the genre follows a formula that builds a sense of predictability, which can explain the appeal, Williams says. The predictable nature soothes readers because, unlike the real world, they’re guaranteed a happy ending. Life is swimming with complexities, so readers deserve one thing to be easy.

Romance fiction gives readers the opportunity to see characters — who may resemble themselves — being seen as desirable. It’s empowering.

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