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THE EDGE VOL. 9 ISSUE 1 FALL 2017 ELON, N.C.

TRES MCMICHAEL Rejection, Perseverance, Identity

INSIDE HER EMPIRE

Q&A WITH REBECCA MINKOFF A Face Behind the Filter

The Dangers of Social Media

Get Dirty to Get Clean

A Look at Charcoal

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THE EDGE Editor-in-Chief Hannah McCarthy Design Chief Mary Richards Directory of Photography Rachel Kading Style Editor Kayla Hoey Assistant Editor Sophie Eng Reporter Johanna Hilpuesch Reporter Gigi Woodall Fashion Editor Katie Kane Reporter Meaghan Corcoran Beauty & Wellness Editor Jordan Hsu Assistant Editor Christina Mazziotta Reporter Hayden McConnell Reporter Devon Rosenberger Reporter Sarah Vates Makeup Artist Katie Heit Features Editor Matt Reichenbach Reporter Sierra Leavenworth Reporter Jamie Snover Reporter Bridget Turner Designers Cally Crocco Eliza Mosbarger Jenaye Alston Nicole Seay Photographers Julie Levine Joyce Llopis-Martell 3


letter from the editor 4

At our tiny kitchen table in our even tinier New York apartment, Beauty and Wellness Editor Jordan Hsu and I had one of our frequent heart-to-hearts—while it was heavily dominated by our career goals and our futures, we also discussed The Edge. She suggested the theme for this issue be black and white. Having parents of two different nationalities, Jordan explained that her identity has never been clearly one thing or another, black or white. As much as our brain seeks to organize, categorize, even stereotype things and people, there’s a lot that doesn’t fit in a box or fall into a niche category. This semester, we strive to highlight topics, identities and people left too often in the dark. Though this issue is visually black and white, a portion of the content serves as its antithesis—the gray area. On page 16, the fashion and style teams take on the gender fluidity of fashion. The beauty and wellness team delves into the stories behind tattoos that reach far beneath the skin (page 24). Read Tres McMichael’s battle with identity, courtesy of the features team, on page 40. This issue has allowed me, and the rest of The Edge’s staff, to challenge ourselves not only creatively, but also politically and socially. I hope that this final issue under my term as Editor-in-Chief allows you to join us in doing the same. All my best, Hannah McCarthy Editor-in-Chief


in this issue

App-ortunistic Love She Shirts Your Body, Your Choice Unconventional Product Uses Androgyny Takes the Runway Get Dirty to Get Clean: A Look at Charcoal Trust Your Art Behind the Ink Pop Art: Look Book Inside Her Empire: Rebecca Minkoff Celebrating Feminism Through Art Tara Willey A Face Behind the Filter Cover Story: Tres Mcmichael

6 8 10 12 16 18 22 24 26 28 32 34 37 40

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App-ortunistic

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back and looked at the bigger picture, it seemed so dysfunctional—on the surface it felt like we were dating, but the looming expiration date of a summer fling was itching at the back of my mind.

When we were together, there was insane chemistry. It felt like we met on an elevator, placed together Kayla Hoey | Style Editor by the hands of fate or just by eave it to Childish Gambino one was just normal. He went to happenchance, not through an app. to perfectly sum up the school in the south too, also loved conundrum that is the dating sushi and worked near me in the city. And even though we talked about app trend. It always seems to come The conversation was easy— natural, our families, our pasts and our down to the dilemma of, “Are we even–and all of a sudden I found futures, we never talked about it in dating? Are we f!*#ng? Are we myself deleting the app, and instead terms of doing anything together, best friends? Are we something? In texting and Snapchatting a stranger. and although I knew so much about between that?” Add an app into the All within 24 hours. his life, he never fully let me into it. already complicated college hookup Both of us avoided talking about culture, and relationship confusion As excited as I was to be talking to a how we met. I’ll never know if reaches an all time high. It feels like boy who seemed to have a legitimate anyone in his life knew I existed. We any semblance of the traditional interest in me other than going home didn’t even formally say goodbye, rules of dating gets thrown out the from a party together, I wasn’t overly just a half-hearted, “If we’re ever in window when you start swiping eager to share the story with anyone the same place again…” left and right. right away. I never told my parents, and I didn’t tell my friends about Is this the new normal? Or are we When I started working in a city him until after we met in person, hesitant to date this way because this summer, I felt like a grown- which was for lunch after two weeks it’s new and not how our parents up for the first time. I mastered of countless texts and one drunk or everyone in our favorite movie commuting and the perfect FaceTime after our first message on met? Before the introduction of business casual looks within the the app. Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure Bumble or Tinder, everyone met by first two weeks. Yet, with all the I would show up to the date until 10 chance—but in person. There was twenty-somethings in my office minutes before, so hung up on the no technological middleman, but at talking about dates they were going illegitimacy of the whole situation the end of the day isn’t Bumble just on and their significant others, I because we had met online. like your friend setting you up? felt a little behind in the world of grown-up dating. After hearing all But it was the best first date I had The only real difference is that one my friends from high school joke ever been on. I felt like it was the fifth is in the palm of your hand and about going on Bumble to find our date or sixth date, because I already matches via an algorithm, and one friends from high school, I decided knew all the basics. It was way less is a human. When you break it to join in on the fun. pressure, and it made that first kiss down, it’s not so weird. at the doorway of my office that On the first night of navigating afternoon even more special. However, there’s still a stigma the world of online dating, it attached to using dating apps, like felt painfully forced to start All that being said, every time I maybe you’re not good enough conversations with people I didn’t thought about a potential future to find someone offline, or you’re know. Instead of obsessing over with Bumble Boy, the way we met too desperate and settling. 23 the first thing to say to someone, was nagging at me, kind of like the percent of people polled in a Pew I just went with “hey.” Some of the little red squiggle that appears below research project from 2016 agree 6 responses were overtly sexual, but a misspelled word. When I stepped with that statement. There is still

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some awkwardness in telling your friends you met online, regardless of how normal and healthy the relationship is. Just because you met someone online doesn’t mean you have to continually justify how “normal” and “actually cool” the person is. This is the way our world is moving now, and soon enough it will become the new normal to meet people online. In the same Pew research report, 66 percent of people actually went on a date after talking online with someone. There’s no clear definition of a relationship —a timeline, where you meet, what you should or shouldn’t do, what constitutes legitimacy. As much as I wanted to make my summer relationship last into the fall, I realized that wasn’t the start to a relationship I personally wanted to have.

Relationships, regardless of their origin or their length, will teach you so much about what you like, need, and the type of person you want to be with. If the person is worth it, they’ll push you to be a better version of yourself. My summer was fun and flirty, and the confidence boost I needed going into senior year. Even if we don’t talk every ten minutes like we did this summer, I have to be thankful for this pseudo-relationship that gave me a taste of what the real thing could be. I’m not scared to put myself out there, online or off. As young people about to enter the real world of dating, we need to be open to meeting people in new ways instead of romanticizing the old.

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She Shirts Shirts She

Meaghan Corcoran | Fashion Reporter Photos by Joyce Llopis-Martell Styled by Katie kane

The rise of feminist & female empowerment T-shirts This season, we’ve been rocking velvet, loafers, and frayed denim. Who’s to say whether they’re here to stay or go, but there’s one trend that never goes out of style: female tempowerment. By incorporating these stylish tees into your everyday ensemble, you can step up your fashion game and support some incredible organizations and causes. Empowered is a look that suits every 8 gender, body type, skin, eye, and hair color. Make your next fashion statement a social statement.


Girls to the Front T-shirt: ASOS Pull & Bear Joggers: Aerie Boob T-shirt: Mommy and Memes Etsy Shop It’s My Body, It’s My Choice T-shirt: mysister.org Varsity sweater: Forever 21 Jeans: American Eagle Outfitters

La Femme Liberté T-shirt: Urban Outfitters Western belt: ASOS Jeans: Kendall & Kylie PacSun

Smashing the Patriarchy T-shirt: The Her Campus Shop Denim jacket: ASOS Jeans: Levi’s Sunglasses: Ray-Ban 9


CHRISTInA MAZZIOTTA assistant Beauty & Wellness editor The second you hit your mid-teens and mother nature makes her grand debut, every doctors’ appointment seems to begin with questions about sex, which are then followed by conversations about “the pill.” Birth control, like menstruation and sex, is a natural topic that arises for most women in their lifetime, be it for sexual health, hormonal imbalances or anything in between.

I am on birth control because it is said to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer, which my mom had. She put me on it when I was a junior in high school to start reducing the risks as soon as possible. Daria Sprague, Sophomore Many young girls find themselves in the face of shame, embarrassment and discomfort that often trail closely behind conversations revolving around sex and birth control. But why is it so taboo? In an effort to break the pattern of speaking about birth control in hushed tones, we invite you to learn more and join the conversation. Though many see birth control solely as a contraceptive for pregnancy, it serves a variety of purposes.

I have the Nexplanon birth control in my arm. At first thought It was an awkward conversation, but I was able to be very open with my mom about it. Going on birth control allowed me to take control of my life and everyone should have the access to that. Kathleen Hart, Junior According to a study by Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of pill users rely on birth control for purposes other than pregnancy prevention while 31 percent of women use it to reduce cramps or pain from periods, 38 percent to regulate their periods, 14 percent to reduce acne, and 4 percent for endometriosis (a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of the uterus). In a 2013 Child Trends Data Bank Boll poll, results show a 50 percent rise since 2002 in girls from ages 13 to 18 filling prescriptions for the birth control pill. If you’re someone who is inconsistent at taking a daily pill, have no fear — there are several other 10 forms of birth control options available to conform to your needs and lifestyle habits.


The Patch, (also known as Ortho Evra), is applied to the outer arm, stomach, or back once a week for three weeks. The IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a “T” shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted inside of the uterus and is known to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs. Since the IUD can last between three and six years, it’s an appealing form of birth control for women who don’t want to worry about forgetting to take a daily pill.

My initial reason for going on birth control was to help regulate my cycle. I have an IUD because it is so convenient. Mary Katherine Hilb, Sophomore Nexplanon, another form of birth control, is a tiny implant shaped like a rod that is inserted into the arm and releases hormones into the body, helping protect against pregnancy. Working with your doctor to find more information about the several types of birth control is a definitive way to find the right fit for your body and needs.

I think birth control is great and that women should have easier access to it. I value a woman's right to choose what they do with their body, and while I am not on birth control myself, I have as much right to not use it as any other woman has to use it. Emma Kopkowsi, Sophomore Although the conversation can be awkward, ask yourself what’s best for you, and remember that your health and wellbeing are always worth it. The method of birth control you choose — or don’t choose — to take is your choice, and it’s important to support your body in a way that makes sense for you. Whether it’s going the holistic route without birth control, using the pill, or having a protective device, having the freedom to do what you want with your body is your decision, and yours only. Disclaimer: This is only advice, you must consult a qualified nurse or doctor before making any decisions relating to 11 contraception and health.


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Unconventional Product The tricks that hide Uses in the shadows


Johanna Hilpuesch | Style reporter 13


Baby oil • • • • •

Removes makeup Works as massage oil Substitutes shaving cream Smooths zippers Oils squeaky things

Vaseline • • • •

Doubles as chapstick Works as moisturizer Protects the scalp from hair dye when using box dye at home Base for body scrub - just add sea salt!

Lemons • • • • • •

Dryer sheets

• Freshen your suitcase when traveling • Reduce static cling • Remove pet hair from clothes or furniture

Mason jars

• Work as cups • Stores food or candy • Easy to make DIY holiday decorations * i.e. put some ornaments in a jar and put it on the table • Serves as a piggy bank • Becomes a pencil holder

Rubber bands

• Keep clothes on hangers • Keep a sliced apple fresh • Can become a makeshift wallet 14

Relieve flu symptoms Clean chopping boards Lighten skin blemishes Brighten whites in the laundry Brighten fingernails Disinfect wounds


Aluminum foil

• Sharpens scissors • Ball it up to clean baked on stains from pots and pans

Coffee • • • •

Exfoliates skin – mix coffee grounds into regular body lotion Deodorizes unpleasant kitchen smells Gets rid of strong smells on your hands (like garlic) Makes coffee ice cubes with leftover coffee

old ripped tights

• Make a good dusting tool • Clean the bathroom * Wad them into a ball to clean bathroom surfaces, it won’t scratch tile! • Protect wrapping paper rolls by sliding the tube into a leg of the tights • Use a leg as a huge rubber band • Cut off the bottom half or ¾ of the legs and wear them like spanx 15


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ctivated charcoal has quickly become trendy for health habitués and Instagrammers alike. While some prefer a capsule of the flavorless black powder in the morning, others take a more gourmet approach. Activated charcoal has become a go– to ingredient in lemonade, coffee, and even sweets like cake and ice cream. Besides its aesthetically appealing jet black color, charcoal boasts a lengthy list of health benefits.

Devon Rosenberger | Staff Writer Photographed by Julie Levine & Hannah Spears

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might not be top concerns for college students, they’re still worthy of your attention. Besides its detoxifying powers, activated charcoal has proven invaluable in the emergency room, namely, in treating overdoses and poisoning. Of course, charcoal is not an at-home remedy for a drug overdose, but it can help with minor situations like hangovers. Some people, like Kate, the blogger behind Real Food RN, swear that taking a few capsules of charcoal after a night of heavy drinking will prevent that telltale pounding headache and light sensitivity the morning after. Alcohol left in the bloodstream binds to the charcoal and leaves the body naturally while you sleep it off. (Keep in mind: this is only effective for hangovers, not a DIY treatment for a serious alcohol overconsumption.)

Recipe blog Savory Lotus claims that activated charcoal has increased absorption power due to being processed at high temperatures. Charcoal carries a negative charge, allowing it to attract toxins and metals in your body that carry a positive charge. It traps toxins in its many tiny pores and eliminates them safely through the GI tract. After ingestion, all the toxins will exit your body (with Real Food RN also claims proper hydration, of course). that taking activated charcoal upon the first sign But is it the ultimate detox? of the stomach flu can help In the short term, charcoal knock out the virus earlier flushes out your digestive than it would naturally by tract and eliminates mold absorbing bacteria. The same that grows in the body. can be said for other stomach According to Real Food RN, bugs— at the first sign of activated charcoal also has food poisoning, popping a long term benefits — with charcoal tablet could help repeated use, it can lower ease your symptoms. cholesterol and promote kidney health. While these


let’s talk about Pressed Juicery makes an activated charcoal lemonade with only four ingredients - lemon, lavender, honey, and activated charcoal. This delicious detox drink is available in several major cities throughout the United States or online at pressedjuicery.com.

LuliTonix’s Black Magic Charcoal Lemonade is a refreshing “zesty lemon tonic,” that helps with sluggishness and has all the benefits of activated charcoal. Use the code ELON17 on LuliTonix.com to try it for yourself!

Juice Press is committed to using healthy, organic ingredients in all of their juices. Their Dirty Detox juice contains cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and lemon to create a refreshing and detoxifying drink. Dirty Detox is available in five states or online at juicepress.com.

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Ta k e s t h e R u n way

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sophie eng | Assistant fashion editor photos by Joyce Llopis-Martell styled by katie kane

ach fall, dozens of designers, hundreds of models and thousands of critics, bloggers and photographers, flock to New York, Paris, London and Milan, waiting to get a look at the spring’s hottest pieces. Drawn from those pieces, one globally popular and controversial theme has quickly become a sort of muse in the fashion world: gender-neutral, androgynous clothing. It’s easy to shy away from gray areas — we can’t easily make sense of something we can’t categorize. But given its cultural importance and presence in the industry, androgyny should not be ignored.

walked down the Jeremy Scott runway sporting fishnet shirts and bows, while women strutted their stuff in powerful pantsuits.

At their show for the Resort 2018 collection, Gucci took hold of the trend sending men down the runway in leather short-shorts and paisley jackets and pants. The concept reappeared in their Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear collection, with male models adorned in bright, chunky necklaces, adding a feminine edge to their everyday suits. Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, took inspiration from the gender fluidity that was present throughout the Last season, the trend hit an ‘70s, which he’s also done in past all-time high when designers collections. Michele took what combined their men’s and women’s would usually be regarded as a collections, creating pieces feminine pattern or piece, and used that blurred the lines between the structure of the suit to give masculinity and femininity. Men collections a gender-balanced twist.

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On a more affordable level, fastfashion retailer Zara released their “Ungendered” clothing line in March. Complete with 16 pieces, the collection ranges from sweatshirts to denim, including everything in between. While the collection consists of basics, the colors and sizes allow for both men and women to wear them comfortably. The brand’s site is filled with baggy corduroy trousers and button down shirts, which has undoubtedly influenced more fashion bloggers to rock these tough, masculine pieces alongside soft, feminine elements. Designers like Emma McIlroy, founder of WILDFANG, use fashion to show us that the future is fluid. A line between what we can and cannot wear no longer exists, it’s about what we want to wear regardless of gender. Seeing industry power players take steps towards gender-neutrality helps to show the public the importance of androgyny. Fashion has always been regarded as a feminine interest, but with a growing appreciation for gender neutrality and fluidity, it’s finally becoming something everyone can and should openly enjoy.

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the future is


"A line between what we can and cannot wear no longer exists — it’s about what we want to wear regardless of gender."

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Trust Your Art E Jamie Snover | Features reporter Photos by Kaylie Murphy

ntrepreneur. Photographer. YouTuber. These words adorn the bio of Olivia (Livi) Murray’s Instagram.

to get it,” she said. “It’s gone so much further than what it originally was because people didn’t feel the need to support me.”

As sophomore class president, she’s become a figure at Elon. But if you haven’t heard her name, you’ve probably seen her merchandise. The words “Trust Your Art” have been floating around campus and beyond since July 2017 when Murray began selling T-shirts on Etsy, a peerto-peer e-commerce website.

Before selling the shirts on Etsy, Murray would ask her friends what size shirt they wanted, deliver it herself and wait for payment.

“‘Trust Your Art’ came to me because I’ve always had a really hard time trusting myself in general and trusting the process of my growth as an artist,” she said. “I would compare myself to other artists, other photographers, other people that are way further along on their journey than I am.” Once Murray decided on the words “Trust Your Art,” she sketched a design, found a graphic designer to put it into Photoshop, and off to a t-shirt printing company it went. Since July, Murray has sold around 170 shirts. “I had to beg so many people 22

“It was very trustworthy. Those were my rookie days,” she said. “I realized I needed a more professional way of sending things out. When I started reaching out to social media influencers to wear my shirts, I knew I needed nationwide [shipping] access.” Murray began to reach out to Instagram influencers with reaches ranging from 20,000 to 140,000 followers


Among these influencers was Salem Mitchell, who agreed to post a picture wearing one of Murray’s shirts. Mitchell is a young model signed to L.A. Models and New York Model Management, two of the most prestigious agencies of their type in the country. “I’m really excited. It’s unknown where it’s going to take me. I’m just taking it day by day,” Murray said. Taking it day by day is a little easier with friends by Livi’s side since day one. Sophomore Ana Ford has been watching Murray’s company grow since the start. “Livi has impressed me since I met her while touring Elon,” Ford said. “She has done so many amazing things at Elon, and her new endeavors just prove she is going to go very far in life.” An entrepreneurial career is a perfect fit for Murray, which is something she learned through a broadcast journalism internship in Atlanta and hosting at California Pizza Kitchen.

“I knew I didn’t want to work

Livi Murray was able to pay back her father through her sales, which covered the several hundred dollar loan amount. At $20 a piece, Livi believes the price is affordable yet still allows her to profit and benefit the community.

“He said something like this in an interview: ‘I don’t know, her vibe was just pretty.’ I’ve never heard somebody call a vibe pretty. It stood out to me,” she “Right now when people buy a shirt, I said. “It’s all about good vibes, confident donate 10 percent of that to Puerto Rico vibes, cool vibes. It means so many and Virgin Islands charity funds,” she different things to me.” said. “The price allows me to profit and The “Pretty Vibes” platform is more than still give back to the community.” an entrepreneurial endeavor. Murray Though this tragedy is over 1,400 hopes to connect and relay a positive miles away from Elon, North Carolina, message to her followers. Hurricane Maria hit home for some students, including sophomore Ana “My main reason for starting Pretty Ford, whose hometown is Guaynabo, Vibes was to show people that no matter how old you are it’s never too early to Puerto Rico. start to generate a platform for you to “When [Hurricane] Maria hit Puerto spread knowledge, network, and help Rico, I was so worried about my family other people,” she said. “I’m only 18, and and here at Elon we, Puerto Rican I created my brand without much help students, tried and are still trying to raise from my parents, or friends. When you funds and awareness to help out,” Ford put in hard work and have a go-getter said. “Knowing someone cared enough mindset, nothing can get in your way no to donate a percentage of their proceeds matter what background you’re from.” to Puerto Rico was so important to me, and it means so much to me that more In the end, “Pretty Vibes” and people want to help us sends funds and “Trust Your Art” aren’t about resources to our home.”

for other people,” she said. “My

Creating these T-shirts is Murray’s way of creating a community. She hopes the dad has always wanted me to shirts bring people together, and she even created a YouTube channel to share be my own boss.” her ideas and experiences. Both these platforms have one thing in common — Without her father, the #TrustYourArt her brand, “Pretty Vibes.” movement may not have been possible. “I told her that if she can find 50 people who were willing to purchase her “Trust Your Art” shirts, then I would give her a loan to pay for the product and its shipment,” said Sydney Murray, Olivia’s father. “In a couple of days ... she doubled it, and we promptly ordered the shirts.”

The term ‘Pretty Vibes” came from singer and actor Kid Cudi.

“It’s not ‘Trust Your Art Co.’ It’s ‘Pretty Vibes Co.,’ she said. “People may look at the brand and think I’m a clothing designer. No, that’s not my title. I’m Olivia. I’m Livi first.”

numbers. According to her father, neither money nor followers are the goals. It comes back to passion. “I want her to be happy doing whatever it is she has a passion for or chooses to do. If she focuses on that first, the money will automatically come,” he said. “I hope she will use it to build herself, her business and brand into a very successful entity that will not just enhance herself, family and desires, but charitable organizations, non-profits and individuals that seek help.” 23


Behind the

ink

More than just a mark Hayden McConnell | Beauty & Wellness Reporter

I

Photos by Sarah Vates & Julie Levine

was standing in line at a local coffee shop in my hometown. It was one of those “hipster hangout” locations — decorated walls, decorated ceilings, and decorated baristas. Almost everyone was a millennial with at least one tattoo. A straight cliche right? An older man, around the age of seventy approached me in line. He noticed my cartilage piercing on my ear and chuckled something snarky along the lines of “I like your piercing, will it make me cool if I get one too?” I pulled out my best ‘f*ck you’ laugh and said “No, probably not” to which he replied “What about if I got some ink like all you kids have?” gesturing towards the baristas. I said “Well, I don’t have ‘ink’ but I don’t see the problem with it.” Neither of us budging on our views, he dropped the conversation.

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shifts at the local dive bar. In reality, that clean cut guy could be on his 4th divorce, and the girl with pink hair could run her own company. Don’t get us wrong — we stereotype and categorize, too. The mind seeks order, it seeks explanation. We want to see everything in black and white: good or bad, kind or mean, success or failure, right or wrong. We’re scared of grey areas because they contain more of an unknown and require more attention, so we’re quick to label things as black or white and move on.

Tattoos tend to be a hot-button subject, especially when it comes to professionalism. A lot of people label tattoos as either black or white — they either don’t have a problem with them or they hate them — with no in-between. Those who are adamantly In a way, people are like books. We all have different against tattoos find it easy to forget that there may covers — none of them are blank. Whether it be be meaning, stories, and emotional significance with scars, freckles, tattoos, or anything else, we’re behind them and view them as a hasty, bad decision. all marked on the front. We see each other as In hopes of helping to diminish this negative books. We evaluate the cover, passing judgement. stigma, we interviewed a few people at Elon with If we don’t immediately pass it by, we might peek tattoos and discussed their stories. inside, read the first few pages and say “f*ck it that’s pretty weird” or “it’s a bit boring.” We don’t give it For these people, tattoos are more than works of much thought, and thus we don’t give it much time. art — they’re reminders, symbols, pieces of the people who have them. It’s our hope that these Everything has a stigma — it’s human nature to stories encourage you to look at tattoos in less of a label things. People assume the clean cut and black or white manner — neither as good nor bad, shaven guy wearing the suit has his shit together, or professional nor unprofessional — but rather as an that the girl with two tattoo sleeves and pink hair opportunity to learn more about the people who sits around her apartment between bartending have made those tattoos a part of them.


Julian Rigsby |

Washington, D.C.

People can be quick to assume that someone with tattoos or piercings (or both!) are intimidating, but Julian is the most warm, down-to-earth person we’ve ever met. During his summer between his freshman and sophomore year in college he decided to add to his growing tattoo collection (currently of 42). He was very close to his artist in D.C., describing their friendship as brotherly. After going through the artist’s sketches, Julian came across an owl. Not only had Julian always loved owls, but he was also around the same age as his artist was when he drew the sketch. Having it on his body has only strengthened his bond with his artist. One might take the tattoo for face value and assume Julian just likes owls, but it actually represents a friendship. Sharing the experience of putting someone’s art on your body permanently creates a deep connection. There’s no better way to strengthen that bond than by keeping a piece of that person with you until the end of time.

Alexis Nixon | Hanover, Massachusetts

Alexis has one tattoo on her wrist: a white triangle that she got the week before she left for college with her two childhood best friends. The triangle is a symbol for change over time — though they all went separate ways, transitioning into a new phase of life, the triangle created a reminder of the group’s long lasting relationship. College is a time filled with change, confusion and uncertainty. Having something to anchor an overwhelmed mind in the midst of commotion can bring some calm to the storm. Plus, something small in white ink is a perfect way to have a personal touch that is less noticeable for those who shy away from the boldness of black or color tattoos.

Jaylan Evans | Greensboro, North Carolina Virginia Vichi-Miller |

El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain

Virginia has a total of three tattoos and intends to expand her collection. Her most recent one is a simplified drawing of two flames on her hand. It represents the quote, “it’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness,” which she heard in a documentary about rapid extinction rates and how conflict between humans and wildlife threaten endangered species. She began to realize how hypocritical and ignorant the world can be — for example, people say they’d never personally harm an animal, yet they buy meat from corporations that mistreat their animals. It’s frustrating to watch people choose ignorance out of fear of feeling bad. The two flames serve as a reminder that facing difficult situations and attempting to resolve them is better than ignoring them altogether. Though it may be easier to curse the dark than to light a candle, change is impossible without action.

Jaylan got his tattoo in June after his senior year of high school. It’s a tribute to his heritage: an outline of the continent Africa that pays homage to his mother’s Nigerian roots, containing Native American symbols representing his father’s connection to the Haliwa Saponi tribe, being full Native American. The symbols have a variety of meanings, including Christianity, happiness, good luck and destination — all things he wishes to keep at the forefront of his life. Having struggled to accept his how being a person of color in a minority made him realize that a lot of people don’t want to embrace their roots. As he got older, he became more comfortable with his background. The tattoo became a permanent way to embrace his heritage and roots.

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Pop Art lookbook

Sarah Vates | beauty & wellness reporter Photos by Hannah Spears Makeup by Katie Heit

Pop Art emerged as an art movement in the 1950s in Britain and the United States. Created with the idea of contrasting the classical ideals of art with modern notions of popular culture and mass media, the rivaling ideas of elitist art and popular media provide the framework for this movement. Andy Warhol is one of the most prominent and noted artists from the revolution.

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Look 1: (Left)

To truly pay homage to the name pop art and create a look that stands out, incorporate layers of black against white for a stark contrast. Also consider asymmetry – the subtle (or not so subtle) differences draw attention to the face as a whole, rather than specific individual features.

Look 2: (Above)

-

Super simple and ultra chic by staying true to one color, this idea proves that black truly is the new black. It’s irreplaceable. Straight lines create dimension and contour that allow natural bone structure to pop.

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Hannah McCarthy | Editor in Chief Photos by Rachel Kading

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ntranced by a plethora of alluring crossbody bags, my friends and I did what we did best after a long day: shopped and talked. I had come straight from my internship, opting for a change in scenery from Manhattan’s skyscraper-filled Midtown to SoHo’s quiet, brick paved Greene Street lined with storefronts and trees. At her namesake shop in New York’s SoHo, Rebecca Minkoff traipsed in from the bustling streets of Manhattan wearing an oversized army green jacket atop a fitted olive skirt, finished with a statement necklace and strappy sandals. Her hair was perfectly tousled yet smooth, her outfit undone yet put together, her aura intimidating yet down-to-earth. Minkoff worked the room while fielding questions and accepting photo requests from the brand’s devotees. At first I played it cool, but I quickly felt my nerves creep in—though she was neither scary nor cold, the designer’s long list of merits intimidated me. Nearly an hour had passed when we noticed Minkoff slowly making her way toward the door with the Uber app open on her phone. Five minutes until her driver arrived. (I still wonder where my lapse in manners and all social graces came from in that moment to tell me it was even remotely acceptable to look at someone else’s phone screen.) A very nosy move on my part, yes, but the sight was wildly motivating: I was immediately overcome with the feeling one might experience when there is a singular hors d’oeuvre left in the center of a table encircled by hungry people—if you don’t go for it, someone else will. As I wrung my hands and carefully placed one foot in front of the other, praying I wouldn’t topple over in my heels, I approached Minkoff. Her conversation with another customer reached a lull, so in a scarily Bachelor-esque manner, I said, “Excuse me, Rebecca, could I steal you for just one more minute?” I explained to her what I do for The Edge as Editor-inChief, and asked if she’d be kind enough to answer a few questions to put in the magazine.

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Inside Her Empire


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"if you have a dream, you need to work your f*cking ass off. There are no shortcuts. whatsoever."

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“Of course—email my assistant your questions and I’ll answer them tomorrow.” Is this how 12-year-old boys feel after they ask a girl out on a date for the first time? Minkoff regularly hosts Fireside Chats at her SoHo store, a series of events where she invites female entrepreneurs and leaders to speak before a group of roughly 25 people. On June 28, she spent about 45 minutes interviewing the two founders of health food company Sakara Life, tapping their minds for business motivation, goals, and entrepreneurial wisdom. Met with a glass of Chandon and leather-lined shelves, I made my way to the front row of lucite chairs arranged in a semicircle around the armchair on which Minkoff would be seated. My friends shuffled in, slipping beside me in preparation for the fire of inspiration and wisdom to consume us. The overarching theme? “If you have a dream, you need to work your f*cking ass off. There are no shortcuts whatsoever."

THE EDGE: Plenty of articles preach a slew of techniques to prevent burning out, but few discuss a course of action for when it actually happens. What do you THE EDGE: Starting a business is do in moments of exhaustion and scary (or so we'd think...). How did lack of inspiration when you don't you get over the fear and uncertainty have time to take a break? to start the empire you've built? RM: When I’m feeling a lack of RM: In the beginning it wasn’t inspiration, I go for a walk. A lot easy. It’s a risk going out on your of my inspiration is drawn from own and honestly there were some walking the streets of New York, days where I just didn’t know my travels and people watching. if another order would ever be Taking a break gives you the chance placed. But every time there was a to reset and get a fresh perspective. positive response, however big or small, it kept me going. The Daily THE EDGE: If you could go back in Candy piece that was written and time and do something differently helped launch the business was with your company, what would it probably the most memorable of be and what would you change? those moments. But even when RM: I would have started an you have those moments when Instagram account a lot sooner. I your dream seems unattainable, would have gone on Facebook on you must remind yourself that you day one. Yes, we were early adopters can achieve it if you stay focused, in these fields, but I wish I would driven and diligent. have adopted them even earlier. Less than 24 hours later, an interview appeared in my inbox. It’s my absolute pleasure to now, finally, share it with you:

THE EDGE: You have 5 minutes to get dressed and need to put on an outfit fit for a street style photoshoot. What do you wear? RM: Our classic wes moto jacket, a basic tee, good pair of jeans and lots of layered jewelry.

THE EDGE: What makes a young professional stand out to you? RM: Someone who is entrepreneurial, creative, passionate, collaborative. Someone who takes initiative.

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celebrating celebrating femini femin 32


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rt: a means to comment on society, often through various symbols, metaphors and stylistic techniques. It asks questions, represents things, people, places and events too laden with emotion to express in any form other than the visual. The modern art movement pushes boundaries while tackling current issues. It without words, and thus universally, allowing us to understand issues in an unspoken and timeless way. Judy Chicago’s work The Dinner Party is profound in both its unity and the unique identities it emphasizes in regards to women. Widely considered to be the first “epic” feminist artwork, Chicago finished it in 1979. She originally had the idea to depict 13 important women in Western history (both real and mythical), but realized that it was nearly impossible to set a limit that small, given the number of important women in the world. She instead created a triangular table of 13 names

on each side, names in the middle, totaling 1,038 and an additional 999 tiled women of significance. Each plate and place setting is different, symbolizing each woman’s contribution to society, while all of the forks and cups are the same to symbolize unity. Another artist with an impact both strong and widespread is Doris Salcedo, a Columbian woman whose work has served as a way to process traumatic conditions or violent events in the media. Salcedo offers a unique perspective, often depicting her work from the point of view of the victim. For example, one of her works features 280 wooden chairs hung from the outside of the Palace of Justice in Columbia by rope, to symbolize each individual who was murdered by the violent seizure of a group called M-19 in 1985. Besides its ability to communicate without words, art also takes on a characteristic of reorienting — it

pushes viewers to look at paintings through a different lens. Georgia O’Keeffe, for example, made this function a cornerstone in her paintings of flowers. Though her paintings might first look like an ordinary, naturalistic flower, when looking closer, there are numerous qualities of space, value, and balance, causing a shift in the viewer’s thought process. Many of O’Keeffe’s works are symbols of the unknown; a world to get lost in. They create a way to make the unfamiliar, familiar. Art is a catalyst to societal reflection and development, one that allows an audience to become educated beyond words and feel a closer connection to perfect strangers with whom they may have more in common than they realize. These sampling of female artists show not only how important equal representation is but also how powerful the visual medium can be when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to it.

gigi woodall | Style reporter

The Women Whose Visuals Speak 10,000 Words

ism through art

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TARAWILLEY

Bridget Turner | Features reporter

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tara_willey we wake up each day with so many blessings and gifts. sometimes we are our own worst enemies and refuse to see them. we beat ourselves down for what we arent and dont see all the beauty that already exists inside us. please never forget how special, important, and unique your existence and presence are in this world. you have so much to offer, you are worthy of everything, and you deserve to love yourself. be kind to yourself today, love yourself today, your beauty and your light already exist inside you.


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erfection can be easily achieved in the world of social media. We’re all familiar with the flawless aesthetic, paired with sparkling smiles and beautiful locations – life appears to be perfect. However, Tara Willey begs to differ. Sophomore Tara Willey began using her Instagram as an outlet for her personal struggles starting January of her senior year of high school. The result has been life changing. “It is so, so freeing, the moment I decided to wear all of my problems and vulnerabilities on my skin,” Willey said. “I felt more human, more happy, and less afraid to be myself ”. Willey strives to depict her life as it really is in each passing moment, embracing her struggles and vulnerabilities on each and every post she decides to put on Instagram. “No one’s life is perfect, and I found myself getting sad and stressed looking at all of these ‘perfect’ lives on social media,” she said. To live in a generation so consumed by the appearance of an idealistic life is a constant challenge. Among the endless social norms to follow, it is easy to forget that Instagram is not a measure of our value as human beings. Willey stands as a refreshing example of how social media can be a positive and supportive outlet in our lives, rather than a relentless fight for the idea of perfection. “It is such a blessing to have a platform in which we can share love, empathize and spread joy and positivity”, Willey said. “My

biggest passion in life is making sure that people love themselves.” In running towards her insecurities rather than away, Willey openly invites others to share in her vulnerabilities, allowing them to see that they are not alone in their struggles. “I want to help people accept themselves, recognize their beauty and live a life embracing their struggles so that they turn it into beauty, love and uniqueness,” she said.

“It is so, so freeing, the moment I decided to wear all of my problems and vulnerabilities on my skin. I felt more human, more happy, and less afraid to be myself.” Willey’s voice travels far beyond the bounds of an app and her spirit radiates to all those around her. Grace Brown, sophomore and close friend of Willey, is one of the many that have been uplifted and inspired by Willey’s message. “Her Instagram has helped me immensely”, Brown said. “She is very open and vulnerable about her battle with body image and other struggles.” Brown

commends

Willey

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honest on such a public platform. “To allow complete transparency with the world takes strength and bravery,” Brown said. “On a platform that millions obsess over each and every day, being this vulnerable is a feat on its own, showing that she has the desire and will to help others.” Brown admires Willey’s ability to confront body image head on and spread awareness of various positivity messages. These messages include being grateful for the gift of life and believing that beauty has no single definition. “She reminds me that when I look in the mirror I should be in awe, in awe that I have been given a body that can do anything I set my mind to -- a body that is beautiful because I can literally and figuratively climb mountains with it,” Brown said. The importance of spreading a message of self-love is immeasurable but deeply important. “Today I think a lot of girls look in the mirror and don’t like what they see”, Brown said. “We need help in getting rid of these thoughts, and Tara, I truly believe, has already changed the mindset of a lot of girls.” In the hectic lives we live, it is essential to stay grounded in the fact that we are all human, and that our vulnerabilities give us beauty. The world needs more of this raw honesty and acceptance in order to help others embrace their uniqueness. Using social media to depict life as it really is, with all it’s joys and sorrows, has the potential to be liberating for so many. 35


tara_willey you are astounding and you deserve everything in the world. you dont even have to try, youre so beautiful, and i am so grateful to every beautiful friend along the way. we are our insecurities. let’s take them, own them, and let them make us beautiful. we are human, and how incredible is that.

tara_willey i am insecure. we all are. but im confident that my insecurites are what make life worth living, worth fighting for, worth enjoying, and EMBRACING. you should too. i literally get teary eyed thinking about how immensely grateful i am for literally all of the blessings you beautiful friends give every day by not doing anything at all, just by being.

tara_willey i just want to take a moment to say thank you. i just want to say thank you to every single beautiful human who i am lucky enough to be intertwined with. i literally cry tears of joy due to that fact that i get to know and love so many incredible, loving, people in this planet. just your existence alone touches my life everyday and gives me reasons to find beauty, hope, and joy in all of life’s situations good and bad.

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A Face Behind the Filter: The Dangers of Social Media Sierra Leavenworth features reporter

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s Jane sat in b e d on a typical Friday night, she managed to pull every eye lash out — one by one. As tears ran down her face, the yellow light from the Snapchat logo illuminated her face. Her fingers moved hurriedly over her iPhone as she watched her friends dancing and having fun without her. (This name has been changed to protect the interviewee's identity and maintain anonymity) Jane, a sophomore at Elon University, suffers from anxiety and Trichotillomania, a type of impulse control disorder that causes her to impulsively pull out hair in times of severe stress. As social media and the typical college lifestyle of late nights and partying exist in Jane’s life, she feels her anxious behaviors spike, more often than not. “I feel as though I am supposed to be constantly doing something,” Jane said. “People go out but sometimes I feel my anxiety set in and I can’t get out of bed. Then I watch people having

fun without me throughout the night.” Jane began to lose her sense of normalcy in the spring of her freshman year. She had practically lost all control of her life. She developed anorexia, fell into a deeper state of depression and would not get out of bed for days at a time. “One of depression’s best friends is sleep,” Jane said. “When sleep takes over, it becomes difficult to get out of bed, get to class, and make it to meals.” Jane points out that if it were not for the increased amount of Snapchats she receives from friends or the need to pose for the “perfect” Instagram shot, she would not feel as bad about missing out or looking her best at every working moment of her life. “Snapchat has changed the game because it is constant,” she said. “Girls are constantly being held to this standard of looking our best even if we just woke up from a nap or something.” Snapchat and Instagram have reinvented the social climate for teenagers today. A 37


Themes and color coordinating have taken precedence. The need for that perfect beach picture or night out with friends demands to be documented. Without that captured moment, the minds of millennials race. Social media usage has increased significantly within the last ten years. The Pew Research Center reports that at least 70 percent of Facebook users access their profile daily, 49 percent of Instagram users, and 36 percent of Twitter users. It is an obsession that is resulting in dangerous results for depression and anxiety in many social media fanatics. Fletcher Rowe, a junior at Elon University, is no stranger to social media. In his sophomore year of high school, Rowe decided that working with social media was his main passion. However, he recognizes the downfalls. The need for likes and follows, essentially creating an identity and the need to gain social clout, are all issues that Rowe sees first hand in social communities. “If someone says that they don’t care about the likes or their following, chances are they aren’t telling the entire truth,” Rowe said. “I think authenticity is very important and people have become very smart

at telling when something isn’t The American Psychiatric necessarily your honest self.” Association reports that research has suggested a link between spending Rowe also sees a rise in self esteem extended time on social media and issues amongst his peers. He experiencing negative mental health suggests this increase is due to the outcomes, with the most damaging evolution of technology and the outlet being Instagram. While growth of global communication at many are concerned with a strong a larger scale. “gramming game”, the negatives greatly outnumber the positives. The “I believe the issue differs between #StatusOfMind survey published by genders,” Rowe said. “The the United Kingdom’s Royal Society expectations for women in our for Public Health, included input society has put quite a lot of pressure from 1,479 young people, ages 14 to and unreachable expectations for 24, from across England, Scotland, women regarding body image and Wales and Northern Ireland. The beauty. It is somewhat heartbreaking survey noted that while the phototo see.” based platform helps with selfexpression and self-identity, it is The Huffington Post reports that also associated with high levels of social media has been linked to anxiety, depression, bullying and higher levels of loneliness, envy, FOMO. anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. Individuals In March of 2014, U.K. teenager like Jane feel the true dangers of Danny Bowman became so obsessed social media on a daily basis. with taking the perfect selfie that he tried to kill himself when his efforts While exclusion is a main factor that failed. At 19 years old, he would take causes the FOMO phenomenon or approximately 200 selfies per day and the “fear of missing out”, issues of spend up to ten hours a day trying low self esteem are becoming a more to edit his face to represent a better prevalent, and dangerous result version of himself. He dropped out of excessive social media access. of school and remained housebound According to The Huffington Post, for six months in an attempt to 60 percent of people using social capture the perfect self-portrait, media reported that it has impacted according to the Independent news their self-esteem in a negative way. for the U.K.

“It is a problem that affects “Less filters, more transparency” every social media user” 38


fomo

n. | fōmō | fear of missing out

“I think authenticity is very important and people have become very smart at telling when something isn’t necessarily your honest self” Bowman’s story along with many others of millennials generation, prove that the desire to have a perfect social media presence and identity is on the rise. Dr. Christine Gainey, counselor for Elon Health Services, speaks to the issues that social media create for some students. “Teenagers are beginning to have two separate identities,” Gainey said. “One that is true and comes out in real face-to-face interactions and another of who they represent themselves as on social media pages.” Gainey specializes in studying self esteem issues. Over the years, she has noticed that the dangers of social media exist beyond teenagers and are not

confined to college campuses. “It is a problem that affects every social media user now, not just the millennial generation,” Gainey said. “I have plenty of adult patients as well who suffer from the effects of social media. You’d be surprised at the amount of Facebook addicts out there.” Rowe agrees that social media has its addicting qualities. “Social media is addicting in a way, but people don’t delete it because it is so common in our society to the point that it is expected of everyone to be a part of it,” Rowe said. The crux of the issue is understanding why everyone believes participation in social media is to be expected. Jane and Bowman would agree. People are expected to post, to show off their

“perfect” lives, to gain likes and follows—a social clout. But the concealing of real identities and real life is a trend that many are beginning to analyze. This is the true danger of social media—the expectation and creation of a false representation of an identity that is different than one’s true self. There are answers though. Gainey suggests taking a break from the phone. Contact people to meet up in person and engage in real life fun and interactions. Not all great experiences need to be documented. Living in the moment is the best way to live. For Rowe, it’s quite simple. “Less filters, more transparency,” Rowe said.

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TRES Rejection. Perseverance. Identity.

He always knew that he was attracted to men, but to him it was more about what it meant than what it was called. He would go back and forth making up his mind about whether or not locked. Led on. Ignored. to hide it. In the end, he decided to For yet another night, he come out as gay in the seventh grade. lay looking towards the ceiling. He wondered what he did “I didn’t want to keep answering or to deserve this– he wondered why denying the question,” McMichael a relationship was so hard to find. said. “I didn’t really have a huge He thought it wouldn’t be different, reveal. It was more of like a process.” but because of who he is, it was People accepted his sexuality. In his different. early years, McMichael attended a magnet school which greatly Woke from Early Beginnings Growing up in a Baltimore suburb, aided this transition as people from Elon junior Tres McMichael different backgrounds flooded experienced early on the importance the halls and exposed him to the of diversity. Pikesville, Maryland, concept of identity, specifically a culturally eclectic town with an intersectionality. array of diverse communities, was Growing up, he knew of other gay the perfect location for him to men and found company in being explore himself and understand able to relate to them. Over time, he his identity amongst people who noted what being gay meant from different backgrounds, and how that welcome and cherish differences.

Matt ReichenbacH Features Editor Photos by Rachel kading

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experience might be different. As a black, gay man, McMichael has always struggled to identify himself as someone who exists within two heavily marginalized groups. “It’s interesting. I think that from my experience I came into my gayness before I came into my blackness,” he said. “I think gayness is more accepted in society than blackness to a degree.” This distinction would be one that would trouble him for the next few years. Uncovering a Hidden Campus Culture With an esteemed musical theatre program and the thought of being able to perform with other talented actors, he looked forward to starting at Elon.


Elon’s promise to uphold the value of diversity further enticed McMichael, as diversity mattered to him. However, the weeks up to move-in revealed a climate that he never thought was possible at Elon. Like most students, McMichael used group chats to talk to and make friends with fellow students before arriving, doing his best to make the transition process easier. On one occasion, another student used the “n” word in a chat. “Recognizing that he felt no regret, I reached out,” he said. “He reacted angrily and asked me why I got offended.” Amidst the conflict, no other students supported McMichael. Upon arriving, the social climate on campus made McMichael feel like he was not welcome. In most cases, this feeling of being an outsider, stemmed from his blackness rather than his gayness. “Being at Elon, it’s hard to be black, however, my black gayness makes it even harder,” he said. “People won’t reach out or go on dates with me.” It’s here where problems arise. “They say they aren’t interested in darker skin, black males, or even that they wish they could date me, but that they can’t take me home to their parents,” he said. “Gay men don’t know the implications that has with my feelings.” As a result, McMichael is immediately blocked or ignored on dating apps. “People have no shame saying racist things when going after a sexual experience, but in the real world, no one would say they wouldn’t have a conservation with a black person,”

he said. “But behind the fourth wall, black identity. He felt vulnerable, trapped in-between two identity it’s all fair game.” fronts — he felt alone. To this day, McMichael has never had a relationship on Elon’s campus. A Diamond in the Rough Despite these experiences, McMichael is visible across campus Caught Between a Rock and a and represents an important aspect Hard Place McMichael, having been cast away of identity at Elon. from finding love on Elon’s campus, Aside from being heavily involved looked elsewhere. in the musical theatre program, One day, he went on a date with he also serves as a room advisor, a a man from a historically black member of the Leadership Fellows university a few hours away from program and a fraternity brother– an amount of involvement unheard Elon’s campus. of within the theatre department. He was excited. He thought that because of their blackness, they As a member of Phi Beta Sigma, would be able to connect and a historically black fraternity, McMichael prides himself with experience something together. being an out and fearless member They sat down and talked– however, of both the black community as something seemed to be bothering well as the LGBTQIA community. the man. “I know brothers who are afraid to “Oh, you’re so white,” the man said. come out because they don’t know what it will look like,” he said. McMichael was lost, confused as to “Being vulnerable in the beginning why he was perceived to be more made it easier for me.” white than the man sitting across the With this, McMichael represents table from him. a demographic at Elon with few Suddenly, McMichael realized why visible members, vv him a role model for what it means to be a this distinction existed. black, gay member of a fraternity. “It wasn’t bizarre for him to be black and gay,” McMichael said. “When I His rise to becoming an unofficial was in a predominately white high leader in this demographic school, I had relationships with was quick yet subtle. Because white males." He explained that of his confidence, he quickly their differing backgrounds created demonstrated his talents to differing expectations of what being various groups on campus and was black and being gay meant—there undeterred by opposition. was a sense of unfamiliarity between them that neither could understand “I haven’t had much issue because I am very vocal,” he said. To the nor relate to. people around him, his leadership With this, it appeared as if he was capabilities are noted and praised. a social pariah, walking a thin line between his gay identity and his 41


“Tres brings sunshine to this campus” - Maya Eaglin “Tres brings sunshine to this campus— he is one of the most motivated and inspirational people I know,” said Maya Eaglin, a junior at Elon University.

up and brings life to campus.” Whether it be from his former roommate, a close peer at Elon or a long-time friend, it’s clear that McMichael’s persona and energy are contagious and recognizable. “Whether we both need to cry, laugh or calm down, we have an unconditional love and understanding,” Eaglin said. “I’m proud of the person he has become, and even more honored to be his friend.” “I’ve always known, and anyone who encounters Tres knows, that he’s gonna be something special,” said Amber Merritt, longtime friend and sister figure to McMichael. Even further, his ability to cultivate meaningful relationships on campus is evident through his presence in his friends’ personal lives. He helped Rigsby maintain family ties. “He was the person who encouraged me to keep a relationship with my father even when I didn’t want to– he was there for all of that,” he said.

“When he walks into a room, everyone feels his radiance.” He helped Eaglin cope. In addition to his involvement at Elon, McMichael brings a certain exuberance to Elon’s campus, one not often found in someone who has experienced the amount of trauma that he has. “Tres has a marvelously unique energy that infatuates you– his high energy makes you love him even more,” said Julian Rigsby, junior at Elon University. “If he’s singing in the middle of the quad at 7:30 in the morning, his energy wakes people 42

“At the repass, he danced with my mom and grandma just to make them laugh,” she said. “Whatever he can do to make things a bit brighter, he will.” He helped Merritt experience prom. “When I met him, we said from that moment that we would go to all of each other’s proms– that would be our thing,” she said. “When a slow song came on, I always had someone to dance with– he’s my guy.”

It’s moments like these where the trauma that McMichael has experienced seems out of place, so undeserving. Despite being blocked, ignored and led on, McMichael lives on. He stands tall, stout in the face of discrimination and confident in his ability to change mindsets. So what if he’s different? Different is necessary– different is needed. “Whatever he chooses, that’s what he’s meant to do and he’s gonna make a lot of change with what he does,” Merritt said. “Hopefully he’ll be President so I can be the first lady.” And for all McMichael has accomplished so far in his lifetime, becoming President may very well be on the horizon.


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