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TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 I Still Drink Shirley Temples 8 Living in Delulu 10 Played Out 14 The Sweet Medley 16 Primordial 19 Acne in College 20 The Road to Social Prosperity 22 Bubushkas of Brighton Beach 25 The POCette Aesthetic 26 Love Bombing 101 27 Idols 31 WTF is a Tomato Girl 33 Detangling My Jewelry Dilemma 34 Shattering Reflections 35 Wedding Shoot 38 My Hair is Tying Me in Knots 39 Turned Off 40 Southern Grunge

IShirleyTemples Ill st k rin d

We saw girlhood shown on the big screen in a new light when Greta Gerwig’s Barbie showed up at the box office this past summer. Barbie made us laugh, cry, and everything else in between. Most of all it caused us to reflect. To think of ourselves and how we have changed through the years of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood. Barbie was so monumental because it proved we never have to fully let go of the little girls that made us into the women we are today. While growing up is inevitable, as well as change and developing into women is, who we are we may no longer recognize in the mirror. It is a part of life that we all must embrace. As we continue growing into the women we are, we pay tribute to the little girls we were and the parts of them that stay with us. What we loved and strived to be like when we were younger oftentimes influences the women we become. We go from playing with doll houses to spending our time getting dolled up. From dreaming of Happily Ever Afters to living in Hookup Culture. Growing up is reframing and reshaping the things we believed into things that now affect us on a deeper level. When thinking about these notions from our girlhood and how they translate into our lives as adults we decided to interview one another on our experiences.

Lollipops to Lana Del Rey

There’s something so bittersweet about trading in the innocent pleasures we once had as young girls for the seemingly haunting melodies of Lana Del Rey. What a perfect metaphor for growing older. It’s like realizing that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows but finding peace in the melancholy beauty of what much of her music represents. It’s about growing up, facing the harsh realities of the world, and finding beauty in the darkness. When posed with the subject of innocence we considered what made us lose our innocence. For Caroline, her loss of innocence began when she first realized how the world truly sees women. “When I started to grow into the ‘body’ of a woman, I really began to see how my value was no longer based on what I could bring to the table and it had all to do with how I looked,” she said. When transitioning from playing dress up to others objectifying how you dress and appear it is difficult to maintain that once wholesome feeling. As a follow-up question, we examined if any loss of innocence simply has to do just with society’s expectations or if it has to do with maturity. For Samantha, a loss of innocence is typically brought on by societal expectations. While this often comes with aging and maturing, that is because of the awareness that is cultivated. Girls are told things about

pg 6 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

themselves and other girls, whether they want to hear them or not. Whether that be from promiscuous song lyrics or from locker room talk, the adult world is often made known to young girls far too soon, resulting in a loss of innocence.

From Gold Stars to Gold Hoops

Remember the thrill of earning gold stars for acing that spelling test or scoring the winning goal? It felt like you could conquer the world. But as you get older, the stakes get higher, and suddenly it’s not just about being the best in academics or sports – it’s about fitting into society’s narrow definition of beauty and perfection. It’s about striving to be the prettiest girl, staying on trend, and constantly chasing that elusive idea of perfection. When obsessing over the things that society deems “acceptable” we consider what makes ourselves feel

unable to act out in the outraged way our younger selves did. Instead, we had to learn to cope and move on with our lives without the people we once loved by our side. Unfortunately unlike during playtime, you cannot move on without resolving issues and a quick hug isn’t key. For both Caroline and Samantha, friendship breakups are what have been the most impactful. Caroline stated “I would say friendship breakups have affected me the most. Losing a romantic partner is terrible and it did cause me to fall back on a lot of progress I made for my mental health, but losing a friend was far worse. You lose the person you talked to about everything, a rock and foundation in your life.” Similarly, Samantha conveyed how “there is nothing worse than losing a girl you considered to be a sister. While breakups have affected me and made me upset, it is still the falling out with friends that breaks my heart to

“We go from playing with doll houses to spending our time getting dolled up. From dreaming of Happily Ever

Afters to living in Hookup Culture.”

“adequate” or “successful”? For Caroline, validation is what makes her feel successful. Stating that she “hates to say it because I have tried to focus less on the validation of others when it comes to being proud of my accomplishments, but it is true. Other times I would say that feeling like I fit into a mold also makes me feel adequate (another thing I hate to admit).” Samantha took a very similar view, noting that “I typically don’t feel like any of my accomplishments are noteworthy or meaningful unless others tell me they are. I usually downplay success even if it is something I am proud of.” While we still work hard for our gold stars we don’t feel as golden with our achievements as we once did. Barbies to Breakups

There was nothing quite as dramatic as a fight between your Barbies. The most common scenario young girls choose to have their Barbies play out is the classic breakup and makeup - including a heavily dramatized depiction of betrayal. As we got older and we began to experience our own breakups with friends and significant others, we were

this day.” Any breakup is hard and it would be wonderful if we could wave our magic Barbie wand and erase any damage done. Unfortunately, life does not work that way and the pain that comes from losing a best friend remains.

I Still Drink Shirley Temples

And we probably always will. Just because we may not view the world with the rose-colored glasses we once did does not mean the little girls who were once overjoyed by the simple things in life aren’t still appreciative of them. Caroline recalled sitting with her hometown friend at a restaurant debating on what drinks to order. They were both 21 and able to legally drink, yet still chose to order Shirley Temples. Despite what seemed like a simple thing to do, it was a reminder that we carry those little girls we once used to be inside us. We see them in the things we do, the things we say, and even in the drinks we order at restaurants. They lay the groundwork for us to be the women we are today.

Living Delulu

words & art by LAUREN RAZIANO


pg 8 issue no.

Living in

The trendy word “Delulu” comes from the word delusion, the mental state of believing something that is not true.

Historically, in the 18th century and earlier periods, women were often stereotyped and marginalized for exhibiting behaviors that were perceived as deviating from societal norms. Terms like “hysteria” were used to diagnose a wide range of symptoms in women, often leading to their exclusion from mainstream society and reinforcing the stereotype of women as irrational or unstable.

“Delulu” has come to be re-defined: it means manifestation and something that will become reality. In relationships it can be used to describe the confusing causal “situationships” with expectations to have low-emotional commitment, often leading to the rise of “delulu” culture seen on social media platforms.

The term “delulu” emerged in 2014 within the K-pop fan community, originally describing delusional behaviors like believing in a romantic connection with a favorite celebrity idol. It gained widespread recognition in 2022, particularly on platforms like TikTok, with the hashtag #delulu amassing over seven billion views. The observation that in modern times, some women have reclaimed the term “delusional” and embraced it as a form of empowerment reflects a shift in cultural attitudes and the ways in which marginalized groups can reclaim and redefine language.

Young women have transformed this word from its obsessive connotation to symbolize unwavering optimism.

Acknowledging the excitement and thrill that can come from having seemingly unrealistic aspirations or fantasies, such as envisioning a future with someone shortly after meeting them, can be seen as innocent and lighthearted, driven by the excitement of new possibilities. But at what point does this excessive optimism pose a problem to our mental health? Essentially, when does delulu become delusion?

The National Institute of Health categorizes a person with delusions as a person that will hold firmly to their belief regardless of evidence to the contrary. Delusions can be difficult to distinguish from overvalued ideas, which are unreasonable ideas that a person holds, but the affected person has at least some level of doubt as to its truthfulness.

For example, when a friend believes that it is possible that a member from her favorite band will marry her, it is possible that she knows it is unlikely but sometimes this “delulu” may spiral into obsession and be difficult for them to discern that their belief is not their reality.

Social media can exacerbate delulu into obsession. By providing a constant stream of information and opportunities for individuals to engage with like-minded individuals who reinforce their beliefs, social media groups can spiral into unhealthy behaviors. This echo chamber effect can further isolate an individual from differing viewpoints and contribute to the intensification of their obsessions.

Delusional obsession on social media can have detrimental effects on both individuals and society as a whole. This obsession can manifest in various forms, such as relentlessly pursuing validation or attention from specific individuals or communities, maintaining unrealistic perceptions of oneself or others, or persistently promoting conspiracy theories or false narratives. These obsessive behaviors, promotes misinformation, fosters polarization, and can lead to worsening mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Due to the possibility of delusion spiraling into obsession, there needs to be an emphasis on the importance of maintaining a balance between optimism and realism.

It’s important to recognize that reclaiming a term like “delusional” is complex and may not resonate with everyone. While some individuals may find empowerment in redefining language, others may find it triggering or offensive due to its historical and mental health connotations.

Additionally, “delulu: culture may serve as a positive emotional coping mechanism, providing temporary relief from stress or disappointment by indulging in positive fantasies. This may motivate an individual to ground delusional beliefs in practicality and recognize the steps required to turn dreams into reality.

The goal setting delusions – career prospects or school orientations can provide a sense of purpose because you are striving to work towards something. Simply wishing for something to happen isn’t enough; one must actively work towards their aspirations. While dreaming big and setting ambitious goals can be empowering and motivating, it’s essential to recognize that achieving these goals requires effort and determination.

By appropriating and subverting the term, women may be challenging traditional notions of femininity and asserting their beliefs in a space where they were once stigmatized.

Assistant Style


Styled by: Megan Amore Max Bennett Chayse SophieMartinoKhosrowshahi Hair: Zoe Liva

Played Out!

Shay Dark brown hair, hazel eyes Louise Dark brown hair, brown eyes Helen Black hair, brown eyes Pam Black hair, brown eyes
chooseyourdoll vintage is in again! old is new! mint condition!
Prea Black hair, brown eyes
visit the doll house see these dolls and more! accessories too! LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 11

you’ll friendsmakeforever!!

play dress-up pg 12 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

broken dolls can still play!

WARNING! safteynot guaranteed!!

Experience the doll house and you’ll never want to leave. Endless hours of fun... Girlhood is for everyonVintage dolls are back, but handle with care!! Come play with us if you dare. Forever can start today! Forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and.......

where do broken dolls go?

Igrew up with a father who was a chef by trade. Home-cooked meals were a priority over dinners out. From steaks on the grill to homemade pasta nights, my father was always trying to teach me how to make a meal from scratch. But in the end, it wasn’t him who caused my love for preparing homecooked meals, but my mother. My mother who religiously reads the New York Times Cooking website and food magazines like Bon Appétit and Food and Wine. My mother is up to date on every food trend and frequents the New York Times 100 restaurants, but also wants to make elaborate home-cooked

art, layout and words by ADRIANNE HUTTO
“Growing up there were three gospels: food, music and reading.”

dishes--which means we’re eating at 10 p.m. because she has to perfect it. And it was also my mother who taught me how to love music. From The Grateful Dead to Van Morrison, being around my family means kitchen dance parties to Paul Simon, Wings, The Chicks and the Four Seasons. And because of her, when my roommates hear these songs from downstairs, they know I’m cooking.

Growing up there were three gospels: food, music and reading. When I am visiting my childhood home I am surrounded by overflowing bookshelves and piles of read and reread books on the stairs, side tables and counters. The fridge is stuffed full with local

vegetables, craft beer and leftover salmon pasta and beef stew. I opt out of a night at the bar with my friends to spend hours learning how to cook tortellini soup or homemade dumplings with my mom.

But this is nothing new, my family has always bonded over food. Come Christmas Eve, we start cooking at 10 a.m. and go until early in the evening making homemade perogies, a Polish tradition. After countless hours of dough making and eating the filling made from potatoes and onions and cottage cheese and “Our Love is Like a Holiday” by Michael Bolton and “Fairytale of New York” by the Pogues played essentially on loop, nearly two hundred perogies stretch across every surface of the kitchen. As an adult, the smell of onion fills me with waves of nostalgia and makes me strangely inclined to listen to the Pogues.

I always say that if one good thing came out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was forced family time. I spent much of the last semester of my senior year of high school and summer pre-college with my mom and brother, which forced us to transition from eating at the kitchen island or in front of the television to sitting down at the dining room table and having hours-long dinners. By the end of the dinner we’ve cleared two bottles of La Marca and the entire discography of Steely Dan and the Allman Brothers.

However, my mother doesn’t deserve all the credit when it comes to my music tastes. It has always been my brother’s playlists behind every dance party or road trip sing-along. With a collection of 200 hours of songs, my

brother is the DJ to our lives and especially our food. Despite never being the one doing the cooking, I cook to “Box #10” by Jim Croce and “Midnight Special” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The common genre in the music being folk, rock and country, a product of growing up in the South. For me, “Dixieland Delight” by Alabama and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker remind me of sitting on the beach in Charleston or the smell of the salt marsh. For the same reason I am drawn home when I cook fried chicken or baked mac and cheese.

Now, as a college student with a kitchen of my own and, thanks to my mother, a collection of kitchen gadgets rivaled by no others my age, I find my safe space in the kitchen. Despite now living in New York City, I am connected to my home and to my family when I am in the kitchen listening to songs from artists that my mother saw live when she was my age and my brother played for us in the car

“For me, “Dixieland Delight” by Alabama and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker remind me of sitting on the beach in Charleston or the smell of the salt marsh. For the same reason I am drawn home when I cook fried chicken or baked mac and cheese. “

on our morning drive to high school. These were the same songs that I hated when I was in middle school, when I instead was obsessed with whatever was in the Top 40. That now fills me with nostalgia and sounds like good cooking smells.

As a senior in college, free time is few and far between. However, when I can find a few hours to myself I can be found in the kitchen, music playing. Whether I’m cooking a 20 pound turkey, trying out a new recipe I found in my cooking magazines or a dish I’ve made a thousand times, “Scarlet Begonias,” “St. Dominic’s Preview,” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” act as my sous chef.

Among my friends I have become designated “the chef” (a title I have practically vied for). I’m always looking for an excuse to host an elaborate dinner party or force everyone to try a new recipe. On group vacations I’m always standing at the grill or over the stove cooking for a half a dozen to a dozen women. However, this role can often be solitary. Everyone else is off doing something else typically while I cook and therefore my music becomes my companion.

What I affectionately call my “cooking music” has become an integral part of my time in the kitchen. Which means tonight, like any night, you can find me in my kitchen spending hours making some elaborate dish and I’ll be listening to Glen Cambell, The Grateful Dead, Mumford and Sons, Dire Straits, John Prine, Blues Travelers and Bruce Springsteen. And my home will be just as my mother taught me, filled with good smells and good music.


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LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 17

creative director & stylist: MICHAELA SINEAD SCULLY photographer: LIZ DONG

nail artist: MICHAELA SINEAD SCULLY makeup artist: CHAYSE MARTINO models:







Shame, pain, and disgust ride over my red bumpy cheeks straight into my soul. I felt confident all day until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I talked to so many people and now I know the first thing they saw when they looked at me: my acne. Now, I don’t want to leave my bed. I’m transported back to seventh grade. I feel like that little girl again. No one can see that I am more than the surface of my skin.

We all have dealt with it. Acne is red, and can be pussy and gross. It hurts, it comes every month, and people need to start talking about it like it’s not taboo. As a middle-schooler, I was very comfortable with my face and my body. I even took a year-long class at a modeling agency. But once I hit seventh grade, something changed hormonally and I hated my face. I was covered in red cystic mountains that resisted everything from salicylic acid to benzoyl peroxide. I never showed my face unless it was covered with a thick caked layer of musical theater grade foundation. This lasted three whole years of attempts with Proactive, Differin, light therapy masks, turmeric pills and everything else you can think of. So, my dermatologist said I needed to go on the antibiotic: doxycycline for 6 months. It went away, or so I thought.

What happens now when the bumps return when you are twenty-one years old?

You’re going on a date with a new guy and you just know you can’t skip the concealer

this time. Or you’re going in for an interview for a job where you want to look professional and not like a teenager going through puberty. This happened to me, when my acne started to come back in December 2023, winter of my senior year. The worst part was that I thought I had grown up and became comfortable in my skin, but that impending doom feeling returned with the bumps. Insecurities are inevitable as we are human, but I thought this one would never come back. In a time and generation where social media and picture perfect photos come first before social interactions,

I had one terrible cystic breakout after a facial--it would not go away, unlike any breakout I’d had before. I found myself picking and choosing the days when I might feel low or when I think I need to cover my spots. As I found myself in this dilemma, I did what any girl would do. I went to Sephora and asked an employee for their best coverage concealer. They knew what was going on, they could see my issue right on the sides of my cheeks. That’s the story of how I dropped $40 on a Dior concealer. I know, I could’ve settled for something cheaper and not luxury, but there’s something about feeling expensive when you feel disgusting. And it works like a magic marker!

I know how that sounds. I’m not encouraging you to cover up. But if it makes you feel good at an event, then it’s worth it. As long as it’s not an everyday thing that constantly clogs your pores and you have a nighttime routine of washing your face, do whatever feels comfortable for you. Nowadays, they have the pimple patches that are really normalized and people wear them everywhere. Going natural is also empowering. Not caring what people think and feeling free in your own body is contagious. Confidence might not come easy, but it’s an ongoing process. Surround yourself with friends that love you no matter what, because how you look on the outside is not as important when people know the real you. Also, everyone has different skin conditions, so normalizing adult acne especially as a 21-year old woman is a must. The reality is if you want to cover it to go out, it’s okay and if you want to be fresh faced that is fine too.

acne is either covered up with makeup or blurred out of a photo with an app. It feels like your face is the first thing people notice and it’s so hard not to overthink.

If a future boyfriend or job employer judges you for having acne, then they didn’t deserve to get to know the real you. Everyone has their off days and it should not be life or death when deciding to cover up. Acne is a manageable skin condition and it’s okay to feel insecure, but it shouldn’t feel like the world is ending. Talking to a dermatologist and learning more about the foods you eat is a good step in the right direction if you are struggling with acne yourself. And remember to not always trust facials because they might just make you break out.

Give yourself a break and go natural, but don’t beat yourself up for wanting to cover up either. Your skin is yours forever, might as well choose to feel comfortable in it.

LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 19

The Road to Social

Disparity Prosperity with ECOn OmiC

Money can be the very thing to dictate a person’s social life. It has the ability to give young adults freedom or take it away. When most students enroll in Manhattan College, there is a sort of freedom that is naturally connected to it. Whether living with family or friends, it signifies the start of a new chapter of life--the bridge from adolescence to adulthood. But, when released from the boundaries of being an early teenager, new boundaries arise. Currently, as a junior at Manhattan College, I have found this biggest boundary to be financial. Whether it is a deposit for a trip, a charge from Uber on the way home with friends, or a couple of drinks from the deli before meeting up with people, any social interaction is fueled by these


Think about a common Manhattan College weekend. For many of us, it can include things like taking the 1 train downtown, paying covers at bars in the West Village, eating ice cream and watching a movie at a friend’s, or grabbing Jasper fries on the way home from Fens. However, no matter which route a student may choose while engaging in social interactions, being stuck at home may be the only option if a student’s bi-weekly campus check has not arrived.

According to a poll conducted on the LOTUS Instagram over three months, about 30% of Manhattan College students have changed their social plans due to financial restrictions some of the time, while another

30% have changed these plans the majority of the time. Most importantly, 25% of students within the poll voted that they had tweaked or changed plans over the last three months every single time due to financial reasons. These plans range from brunch at The Last Stop, going to Chelsea Market, or going to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. When a bowl from Chipotle comes to around $15 and a shirt for someone’s birthday dinner starts at a price of $25, it can sometimes feel impossible to live a life where you are not giving away everything you own in order to make new memories with people you love.

Due to recent price increases for just about everything, it can be hard to have access to social activities that can lead to formulat-

ing new, deep friendships. There is some versatility in hanging out with established best friends, including the ability to lie in the same bed and “rot” for an entire Sunday afternoon within the same messy room without a minute of awkwardness. However, Manhattan College is a relatively small campus community where many people are friendly with one another, but still work in creating deep connections that can last long after college. In order to do these things, activities such as getting dinner, going to the city, or meeting up and walking over to Greystone together are essential in transforming connections from “classroom friends” to “best friends”. These things have become less accessible to the average college student.

Within the last two years, there is a trend of students needing to sacrifice more in order to participate in the same outings. For example, in order to be able to partake in certain social events, I have often had to work double the shifts I used to, sacrificing other things I used to dedicate time to. Some of these sacrifices will be a different type of contractual, giving up buying certain items or meals in order to afford paying for their check at bottomless brunch on the following


While social class and financial status have always affected different aspects of social interactions for many people, lately it seems that the activities that were once accessible to the “little guy” have become unreachable. In a blatant sense, the Manhattan College community has gotten clever in working with today’s economy by fundraising for student-run clubs and working with the neighborhood around campus to find the best deals possible, this creativity is now needed for activities outside of campus as well.

What can you do?

While financial hardships are not something that any college student deserves to deal with, it has been pushed upon individuals by the world around us. For a possible solution, I offer this: get creative. While New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, it is also a city of opportunity. Take the 1 train to 96th street with friends, grab a fruit cup from a street vendor, and head to

Central Park. Find museums including the MET that have free entry to New York students and take trips down after a class. Look up the best restaurants with the cheapest happy hours and pin it into a shared notes sheet with friends. Most importantly, acknowledge financial situations, no matter how vulnerable it may feel. Chances are, all of the students around you are feeling the same way and would be relieved to brainstorm ideas that work for everyone. After all, building friendships in college is all about relating to one another during a unique time of adulthood.


Babushkas of

Creative Direction: Milan Marukovich Assistant Styling: Kimiya Ehsan Photography: Kimiya Ehsan Models & Hair and Makeup:
pg 22 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE
Chayse Martino, Zoe Liva, Alanna Cordero, Michaela Scully

The AestheticPOCoquette

My Pinterest boards are dedicated to my late-night scrolls surrounding different hairstyles and sun dresses for trips when NYC gets unbearably cold. A few months ago, I remembered a new aesthetic called coquette, which surrounds a feminine style containing lace and bows in a pastel palette, and I wanted to draw inspiration from it. To my surprise, in all of the photos, none of the women were POCs [people of color], and it was when I typed in ‘WOC [women of color] coquette aesthetic’, that I finally found women who looked like me.

With many recent fashion trends connecting to a more feminine style, society has furthered an already-established idea surrounding a white lens of beauty, ignoring a massive group of women who are continuously told that dark colors are the only way to appear beautiful and sophisticated.

Tumblr’s miss-mademoiselle created a blog surrounding the POC coquette aesthetic to find her footing in the community after not feeling a sense of belonging when intertwining the feminine nature of her clothing and ethnicity.

“This blog has really helped me feel more comfortable as a girl again,” she said.

“I am enjoying all the small girlhood things, experiences, and excitement that I hated about myself when I was a kid and teenager, especially being a black girl and teenager.”

The healing of the inner child is something many women say

the coquette style has been helping with.

“This ‘aesthetic’ and subculture has been so healing for me in so many ways,” she said. “The raw enjoyment of all things girly and flirty and carefree and wild and curious is just... it’s so healing. It’s beautiful.”

Cornelia Eboh, a senior adolescent education major concentrating in English, shared her experience as a black woman navigating her feminine style in a world where WOC are often looked down on when products and color schemes intended for those with lighter complexions work for everyone.

“When you’re a black woman, you have to try ten times harder to be seen as a woman, and when I moved to a more feminine style, I struggled with many aspects of feeling beautiful and comfortable enough in clothing that highlighted my body type,” Eboh said. “Black women can be uplifted with their styles or mocked and mimicked, and if one occurs more than the other, you start to believe that is all you are good for.”

With the coquette aesthetic surrounding the laces and bows, many other fashionable accessory trends are also considered “too white” for a POC to own.

“Birkenstocks are in right now, and I have people telling me that I wear them because I go to a PWI [Predominantly White Institution] and I want to blend in, and even though I know they’re joking, it makes me feel some sort of way,” Eboh said. “It’s a weird thing to hear because I don’t want to forward the concept of ‘I’m too black for the black kids and too black for the white kids’.”

It is as if WOCs are not permitted to enjoy any delicate feminine color because that is not what we are used to being categorized with. Being a part of the Hispanic community has led me to wonder if, regardless of how I speak Spanish, I will fail as a Latina if I do not ditch the frills and bows and put myself in darker shades to be taken seriously and part of my community.

“I actually bought some ribbon because of the coquette trend, but I haven’t had the guts to wear it,” Eboh said. “Feeling beautiful with my hair and this feminine coquette style is something I am starting to struggle with. I really want to wear the ribbon and have the confidence to go out with it, and I know I’m at an age where people are not vocalizing they care as much, but I definitely feel like the judgment will always be there no matter what.”

As I move into my senior year of college and start looking for jobs, I wonder if I must leave my love for pastel colors at home. Will I be complimented on my feminine style and reassured that it helps give off a kind, gentle look, or will I not be taken seriously enough even to make it past the application form?

“People can sometimes over-compliment and not realize how it might come across as a microaggression when they say things like, ‘That color looks good on your skin tone,’ and you say thank you, but in the back of your head, you’re wondering if they would have said that if you were white,” Eboh said.

There is freedom in knowing that we, as women of color, are reinventing the feminine style and putting our own spin on it. No one else can replicate it, even if they try to


Bomb ing

Neverhave I ever loved a boy. I thought I was getting close to it, but the opportunity was quickly ripped out from under me. I didn’t see it coming. I think I was still too naive. But was I really naive, or just hopeful that I would be his exception?

It started at the beginning of my spring semester freshman year. I was finally starting to feel at home at Manhattan. I was enjoying my classes, making friends, and planned on rushing the sorority to meet more people. The semester had a tinge of hope surrounding it.

He was a friend of a friend. I had noticed him around campus before but had never been introduced to him. Sure I thought he was

cute, but I didn’t know him, so I had never paid much attention to him before. I had expressed to my friend my interest in him once. The two of them had a class together that semester. One night, when she went down to his floor to help with something for class, I went down with her. As soon as I got back upstairs, I saw he had added me on Snapchat. It was innocent enough, but I was ecstatic. Unbeknownst to him (and to most), I didn’t have much experience when it came to guys. He came out with us both nights

that weekend. I got his number. We talked every day. I didn’t have a roommate at the time, so he would hang around with me in my room. We saw each other every day for almost three weeks. When we weren’t together, we were texting about our days. It moved quickly, to say the least. I had some doubts, but he continued to reassure me, buying me gifts, doing

pg 26 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

its not as simple as it seems

things for me, and coming over every night. Looking back, I knew nothing about him, but that didn’t matter. I was happy to be around him and hopeful for what was to come. He made me feel secure.

I sat outside with him on a Saturday night. That was the first night he told me whatever we had wasn’t going anywhere. He “didn’t want a relationship.” After the gifts. After the nights spent talking till morning. After being multiple of my firsts, which he knew from the start.

He cried when he told me. Was it because he felt bad? Did he know he was in the wrong? Was he crying just because I was? I don’t think I’ll ever know, but what I do know is that

I couldn’t let go.

I continued to text him, letting him get in my head. The empty feeling set in. I’m not sure how you can be heartbroken over someone you never really got to know, but I sure as hell was. It ended messily when instead of wasting his time on me, he chose the girl I was told not to worry about.

He never made me feel like I was too much. He seemed just as passionate about it as I was. He told his best friend about me. He even told his mom. He said he was distancing himself from other girls he had talked to, which I had never asked him to do. He made me feel like I mattered. It was all I could have asked for. How could I have known the danger

of all of it in such little time?

I was sick, convinced it was my fault. Why else would he walk away? I know now that it wasn’t my fault, but I still look back and struggle to understand. I don’t think I will ever get the answers. I felt hopeless, my heart ached, and throughout all of this, I couldn’t help but feel like I was being dramatic. We didn’t even date, but that somehow made it worse. Everything I felt was valid. The only thing that helped was time. I still think about it almost every day, but much differently than how I once did. I understand my strength, the things I learned, and that with time, all wounds will heal, and love will come again.

Zoe Liva. Chayse Martino. Milan Marukovich. Kimiya Ehsan. Rita Cordero.
pg 30 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE


my Dilemma Jewelry

It all started with the notorious half heart, ‘best friend forever’ necklaces I saw my friends wearing in the second grade. Whether it was how they wore those necklaces everyday (as their friendship of course relied on it), or my naive jealousy that I did not receive a matching one, it started my prevail-

At the end of fifth grade, one of my good friends announced to me that she was moving to another state. As a goodbye, she gifted me, along with my other two friends, a bracelet with a turquoise heart pendant with ‘BFF’ engraved in sparkly letters. I felt so special to be remembered as one of her BFFs, especially

as she was getting ready to move hundreds of miles away and with the start of middle school taunting us.

After a few months of wearing that bracelet, I stopped. Not because Lilly and I weren’t friends anymore, but because I grew out of this piece. I was frustrated that I didn’t have a piece I could wear forever like everyone else seemed to have.

As I got older, I realized jewelry could have a more profound meaning, one that went beyond the Justice brand BFF necklaces that I saw my friends trading at recess. But how could I consistently wear one piece of jewelry that held meaning, if every year there was a new trend of bracelet or necklace?

At my eighth grade graduation, my grandparents gifted me a large silver heart locket necklace. It was beautiful and something

that felt like the solution to my dilemma, because I could see myself wearing it everyday. Although, due to my shallow perspective, I stored it away for years because of one minor “flaw”: my graduation date, June 9, 2018, in shiny engraved letters on the back. To me, this date was not important enough to be commemorated on my neck everyday. With highschool approaching, all I could think about was how I could start with a fresh, clean slate, and the necklace held me back from starting new.

After returning to highschool after online classes, I began to take notice of a completely

LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 31
art by LAUREN layout by ADRIANNE

foreign concept of jewelry to me: rings. It seemed like every girl in my high school had some sort of stack on, and I realized that these rings defined their styles more than any bracelet or necklace did before. Some girls wore stacks of gold bands, others wore sterling silver rings with stones on them that could only be found once a year at the farmers market.

Lauren Wells, a jewelry design major at Rochester Institute of Technology, was someone I admired throughout highschool because of her distinct passion for jewelry. As an artist, she understands the physical aspects to jewelry and how they operate as pieces of art, while still balancing out the emotional connection she has to her jewelry.

“Patterns in nature can coincide with patterns of how the body moves, which is how I create a lot of my patterns in my art,” Wells said. “I think jewelry tells a lot about a person and the story behind them. Even clothes do the same thing, but I think with jewelry there’s a certain materiality behind it…clothes deteriorate over time and they’re not the same garment that your mom had back in the eighties. But jewelry is so constant, like rings being passed down from generations so that their sons can propose to their future wives.”

The next step in

solving my problem was figuring out what materiality worked on me. I leaned more towards silver, but now it was a matter of the seasons. If I got tan in the summer, wouldn’t silver wash me out? What was I going to do with my gold necklace I got for my first communion that my parents were just trusting me to wear now?

On the first day of October I ran into my friend, Ava McGuigan, on the quad, and I immediately noticed her jewelry. Not because there was any specific necklace or hoop that caught my eye, but because it looked like she had put on the exact same stack that I saw her wearing just the day before, but it was now silver instead of gold. I asked her about it, and her response was, “I only wear silver in October, January and February!”

“I used to only wear silver. But then for my highschool graduation I was given a

gold necklace, and the chain was passed down from my grandma, and it was the first real gold jewelry that I got since my first communion,” McGuigan said. “During summer, I got super tan and I really liked the way the gold looked on my skin tone. So, I decided that every summer I would switch back to gold. [As for] October and January, they are just silver months in my head. Christmas (December) reminds me I need to wear gold, and Halloween (October) reminds me I need to wear silver!”

After observing how my friends wore jewelry, I reopened the box of the silver locket from eighth grade. Since moving from home and being away from my grandparents, it is now a pendant of love and family.

The thing about jewelry is that its meaning can always shift and be used to represent anything in your life, it is all up to you to decide what it means to you. I wear the locket everyday close to my heart to have a piece of my family who are hundreds of miles away from me, just as Lauren wears the fingerprint ring of her late father and Ava wears her claddagh ring. But from a mere look at these pieces, that meaning might not be communicated.

Accessorizing is not only fun, but it calms me down and gives me a sense of stability. When I look in the mirror and see the necklace, I am reassured of my individuality and how I have changed in the years I have worn it.

pg 32 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

What the F*** is a T mato Girl?

Do you love the idea of lounging around in your Italian villa somewhere in Northern Italy on a nice summer day? Do you love tomatoes more than the next girl? Is your favorite color red? Well, congratulations you may just be a “tomato girl!” The girl who is always seen reading a book and wearing beautiful summer clothes and eating fresh tomatoes from her garden. This aesthetic is a great example of the constant rebranding of interests and products to fit into an aesthetic.

Recently, aesthetics have devolved to microtrends, or “micro-aesthetics.” A way to brand yourself online to appear a certain way. However, this over branding of everything someone becomes interested in, can become harmful to one’s own individuality. Maybe you’re not a “tomato girl,” but you’re a “clean girl.” Girls who have the perfect slickback, clean skin, drink tea, use Hailey Beiber’s Rhode lip tint, and are always seen in the perfect minimalistic sweatsuit; the “it” girl. This “branding” is only seen online and is to just compartmentalize one person’s interests to appeal to the masses.

These aesthetics seem to help people feel they have a community of people who care about the same things they do. However, the community they are a part of restricts them, more than individualizes them.

Mina Le, a video-essay Youtuber, brings up a good point in her video “booktok & the hotgirlification of reading” about the constant rebranding of things to fit into an aesthetic and the possible negativity to personal growth.

“If you dress coquette… and you pick out Lolita… and you didn’t actually like the book, would you admit you didn’t like it or would you assume that you didn’t get it because the rest of your friends in this community liked it?” said Le. “Or would you pretend to like it so that it doesn’t interfere with your own personal branding?”

more than really brings people together. Tiktok shows you content based on things you watch more, look up or “like”. This helps you to divulge more into your interests and expand your knowledge. However, this can create a constant flow of only one specific type of information, thus creating

These echo-chambers get people stuck into a bubble without realizing and don’t allow them to look into other areas of interest unless they seek it out. With products, interests, and fashion items being placed into specific aesthetics, people have less of an inclination to look outside their own interests. Echo-chambers end up leaving people just listening to what is in their space and following what is shown to them

The constant rebrand of what is already established also is a gateway to people overconsuming and doing things just because there is a new buzzword or, as I call it, aestheticized word, to catch the consumer’s attention. Things like “cinnamon bun glaze hair,” “light wash denim eyeshadow,” and dressing like a “mob wife,” are all examples I have seen on Tiktok. It gets people to stay in a specific lane. helps people to believe they are doing something new, but in reality they’re just contributing to the latest

With all of that, if you enjoy following these trends or happily claim one of these aesthetics, continue to, who am I to stop you? I am trying to show you that the trends of today could end up harming your individuality. Calling yourself a “tomato girl” can be fun, if not taken too seriously.

Le seems to be criticizing the overbranding of things and the constant need to put things in an aesthetic category. Personally, I think she brings up a good point in the fact that being “a part” of an aesthetic could lead to personal conflict.

Overbranding also creates a divide between people online

But living and dying by what is fed to you online only, without looking for what actually may interest you, kills authenticity. It takes years of testing different products, reading different book genres, and having many phases of personal fashion to truly understand what you may enjoy. So, don’t let a couple of online influencers dictate how you live your life if you haven’t even fully lived it yet.

LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 33

Shattering the Reflections of Imposter Syndrome

Iwas born in The Bronx to two young people in their 20s. My mom was in the middle of completing her degree at Lehman College and my dad had been jumping around mailroom jobs after dropping out of college. My parents spent most of their time working while I was in school. When I was 5, my mom finally got around to finishing her degree and I went to her graduation. The day was momentous in my family and it was filled with endless photos, music, cake and tears. I didn’t really understand why this was such a big deal until I got older and realized that my parents had sacrificed so much for me to succeed. They had put their dreams on hold and worked hard to make sure I had a better future.

After nine years at my local public elementary school, I got accepted to one of the top high schools in New York City. I was beyond excited– and it was one of the times in my life where I saw hard work really pay off. Shortly after the first day of classes my freshman year of high school, a rumor spread about our freshman class. Someone had heard through the grapevine that the scho accidentally admitted too many students. Naturally, students started taking matters into their own hands to guess who the alleged imposters To ensure that nobody would think it was me, I made sure to always raise my hand and overcompensate for my perceived ostracization.

I struggled with my place in high school. Still, this rumor was in the back of my head and it felt like every misstep was a reminder tha I wasn’t supposed to be there. Even two years after graduating high school, I think a part of me will always wonder if I deserve the things I e Sometimes when I’m around my neighborhood, I see some of my old middle school friends– ones that shared the same hopes and dreams of ing our neighborhood– with their children and wonder “Did things just fall into place in my life that led me to this point of perceived success?” Unfortunately, I know that hard work doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes hard work means burnout and the fall out of said burnout. Despite doubts, I remind myself of the sacrifices my parents made and the opportunities they provided me through their perseverance. While succe not always come easily or quickly, I try to hold onto the belief that perseverance and determination will eventually lead to fulfilling achievements and meaningful experiences. - A.S.

Asa black man, trying to ignore the stigma was impossible. A part of me knew that I had to defy stereotypes in order to get where I wanted to be, even though the pressure of being exceptional weighed on me while finishing up high school.

It’s the high school phase, where they tell you to lock in and focus on your grades and extracurriculars so you can end up at a good college. I locked myself in, which included taking Pre-AP and AP Dual classes and signing up for any clubs that would help me stand out, like my

It was fun because I was performing--which I loved to do--while completing the “rigorous” coursework, but there were times when I showed up to school running on 3 hours of sleep or holding a bottle of Advil because all the studying gave me a headache. It didn’t matter to me because I was working hard so an easy and successful future was my destiny, but it took a while to realize that life will always be hard for someone like me.

Staying up past midnight remembering lines for The Madwoman of Chaillot, but also understanding what’s happening in Romeo and Juliet was the life I felt like I needed. There wasn’t anybody telling me that I had to make it in the world or I had to rise above the ashes; no situation occurred to make me rethink my choices. An observation, at best, is what happened to me because then I was seeing what could happen if I fit the archetype. No matter what door opened for me, I was going to walk through it.

My identity in high school was academics, that’s all I cared about. Even at a semi-young age, I knew the world was ready to minimize my hard work to a simple comment on my color. That my skin color played a part in why I got accepted into college, or how I’m breaking the status quo. With those comments lingering in my mind, it’s only natural that I took harder classes and did every extra credit assignment just so I proved not just them, but myself wrong; that I actually deserved the success that came my way. Even at Manhattan College, I catch myself loading on more than an average person can handle like 2 internships, a job, and a handful of clubs that add on top of classes. “Why is he doing the most?” “Am I really just lucky?” I do the most because it feels like I have to do the most so it doesn’t feel like I’m just lucky, even if it means burning out and feeling like it’s never enough.

With every doubt and every negative thought thrown at me, I try to remind myself that all of the hard work and sacrifices being made now will pay off in the end for me. That success won’t come without its own set of trials and tribulations, but holding onto the faith that endurance and commitment will guide me to the light. Meaningful experiences are coming my way, and I’ll know for a fact that it’s because I worked hard to

Wedding Shoot













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pg 36 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

My Hair is Tying Me in


I sent one of my friends a video on Snapchat last semester. What was probably a rant or an explanation that I can’t remember while writing this, there were several parts of that night I do recall. I was seated at my desk with my phone propped up against my mirror and my Revlon and straightener plugged in on my desk. Since I had to wait for one to heat up, I thought there was no better time to tell my friend what I’ve been wanting to share. Before she responds with a video herself, I receive a notification in the chat section. “Your hair looks perfect.” My natural, curly hair looks perfect.

I stared at my screen, the one I opened right after I passed the Revlon through the first section of hair. I smiled because this has been a wonderfully common occurrence. Someone is kind enough to compliment the hair I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with since I was 10, and I, in return, reach for a hot tool. I thank her. I turn the Revlon back on. I really would do anything to feel the same way. I keep on going, no matter how much the piercing sound of the blow drying brush starts to piss me off.

yearned for. I bought their products, even though I knew they would do nothing for my type of hair.

And after all these years, I knew what I wanted would be unattainable. I wanted perfection. I wanted hair that was effortless. I wanted each curl to be identical to the next. I wanted this thing about me, something that I felt was so prominent, to be just right. But now I realize there is no such thing, and that was the epiphany 10 year old me needed to accept herself.

Growing up, I had long and frizzy hair that I never knew what to do with. It was thick and healthy, and I look back today and envy the girl who had the hair I spent years attempting to change. And at 21, I still ask myself the same question: Why did I feel like I needed to straighten my curly, frizzy hair all these years?

There is something about controlling something that has never once been able to be tamed. Once I knew how to use my mother’s straightener without her guidance, I’d try different hairstyles that effectively smoothed out the mess I felt lying on the top of my head. I even had considered more permanent fixes. Keratin treatments and Brazilian blowouts that produced the clean looking, sleek straight hair I had always wanted. I purchased product after product that never aided in creating the hair I desired. I saw girls with the type of hair I

I was jealous of my friends who were blessed with the hair I tried so hard to replicate through hot tools or styling. They had straight or wavy hair that dried to perfection and barely needed product to look beautiful. It was pleasing to the eye. It was orderly and easy to deal with, which is exactly what I wanted, or thought I wanted. Because as I continue to damage my curly hair, the hair I get from my father’s Hungarian and Russian background and my mother’s Cuban background, I realize that no matter how frustrated I’d become, I could never go through with a permanent fix. I could never justify taking away an aspect of my identity that is represented in every childhood photograph or home video. I could always straighten or style my hair, but there is something about a natural, curly, “perfect hair day,” that will always make me stay.

I was sitting at Beal with a Moscow Mule in my hand a few weeks ago, after I made a pact with myself that I would style my hair naturally. My friend came in and walked over to our group of friends. He greeted us, we hugged, and we talked about our class. From the corner of my eye, I saw a question in his face. I looked over and he asked with a curious look, “Is your hair naturally curly?”

My hair is so prominent, I thought. How did it get to the point where my own friends didn’t know this part of me? I had burned my hair down for years. I watched heat come off the strands. I watched it stop growing from the excessive styling. I bought biotin vitamins I took religiously for about a week, two if I was lucky. I’ve dreamt of my hair returning to its past healthy state. However, I have never once thought to embrace this aspect of me that I’ve always tried to change. Until now. I stared back and smiled. “Yes, it is.” I answered. It is.

pg 38 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE

Turned Off : Coming to terms with my body after it was taken from me

Can we turn the lights off?” I wasn’t scared of the dark, I welcomed and embraced it like a protective blanket that hugged me with security. I was in high school, and it was my first time being with someone after being raped in late 2018. After being raped, I had an estranged relationship with my body and while it has greatly improved since, I still struggle to this day. The skin I had grown and experienced all these milestones in felt like something foreign to me, something I wanted to escape. But how do you escape yourself?

Insecurity within myself was as stable and reliant as the sun rising every morning. Along with insecurity was frustration with my body, how it was a looming reminder of what had happened to me and how I couldn’t step away from it. It was as if someone took what was mine, physically destroyed it, and then gave it back to me. I was full of pure and utter disgust for myself.

During these days my body felt like a form of punishment and it constantly served as a reminder of this violation. I discovered how I could find some peace within myself. For a few weeks after school every day I would come home, turn the lights off, draw the curtains, and turn on my shower. It was me confronting my biggest fear: myself. The first time, I stood in front of the mirror and I started to look at my breasts with my rapist’s words in the back of my head, his sweaty hands clamoring over my skin while whispering words of disapproval grabbing onto my stomach and telling me to lose a few.

Looking at my body I felt ashamed, dirty, and unfamiliar. Looking at my vagina despite nothing being there, I felt the pain all over again. I couldn’t even bear to see an outline of my body, something I’ve been with and known my whole life, masked by darkness. Stepping into the shower the fresh hot water mixed with the salty tears on my mouth made me crumble. I sat down with my forehead on my knees and the water cascading down my back, I was told was “too fat.” His words and motions on repeat as I tried to silence the sobs coming from my shaking body. I was coping with loss of innocence and the inability to control what happened to my own body.

I needed control, I craved it. After losing control over the one thing I had control over - my body - I took matters into my own hands. At the age of 14 (the age I was when this happened) despite my wonderful upbringing and lovely people I have been surrounded by, I convinced myself the only way I am deemed valuable is if I sexualized myself and acquired male validation.

I sexualized myself before they did, hence giving me the control. I didn’t do this in ways of actually having sex with people or any phys ical contact but instead changed my appear ance to become more pleasing and attractive towards men. This wasn’t an immediate switch around but something that developed steadily until I was 17.

Our teenage years are already hard enough, and here I was living with this weight that I did something so adult at a young age. I felt like I was robbed of my youth. By late high school, COVID-19 was in full swing, I started seeing a therapist, and slowly but surely stopped overtly changing my appear ance and personality in an attempt to “take back control” and sexualize myself. It was also the first time, in a long time, I was intimate with someone else. After the work I had done in therapy, and the relationship with the body I lived in improved greatly, I felt like I could handle it as I also felt safe and comfortable with this person.

Despite feeling ready I still couldn’t bear the fact someone could see my body. His cruel words that left invisible wounds all over my body still loomed over me, “can we turn the lights off?” I found comfort in knowing I wasn’t able to be seen but instead was just something someone could touch. With these words I didn’t have to worry about folds in my stomach, or the acne on my face. I didn’t have to worry about all these traits about myself that were so beautiful yet I convinced myself they were so unappealing and disgusting.

After being with this person for almost a year, due to unrelated circumstances, we went our separate ways. But I was able to rebuild the acceptance for my body that I needed - the acceptance that allowed me to feel somewhat

comfortable in my own skin again.

You can’t rely on others to provide you with love and validation, you have to find that within yourself and that doesn’t just lie within your body. You have to find it within all the times you’ve laughed at something you’ve said in your head, or all the times when shit gets hard yet you wake up every day and climb out of bed. Now I hate to sound like a cheugy millennial Instagram quote page but sometimes your best friend and biggest enemy is yourself.

Now as a sophomore in college and years after being raped, I find my relationship with sex something still morphing and growing, as anyone at this age would. Sometimes I question now why I’m not scared of it or why I actually enjoy it but then I just tell myself: “well yeah, you’re human.” I can’t look at sex as a fear or obstacle I have to overcome, a task I have to complete, a source of validation, or revenge on my body. I can’t put it in a box and define what it means to be doing it after being raped and gaslight myself into thinking “well it must have not been THAT bad if I can still have sex.”

As a victim of rape I felt guilty for wanting to indulge in sex, whether it was just a hookup, or in a relationship with someone. I can have as much sex, or as little sex as I want. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I don’t have to hide my body from anyone, even myself. I don’t have to be ashamed of wanting certain things. My relationship with my body directly correlates to my relationship with sex due to the security, or lack of, that may or may not come with it.

Some days I’m still met with the same feelings I had sitting in that shower scrubbing my skin hoping the more I scrubbed the more these feelings of betrayal and self-loathing will go away. But other days I embrace myself, looking in the mirror and having 14-year-old me staring back telling myself: be kind to yourself for her and for the woman you are growing into. Regardless of your age, yes these experiences may change us, they don’t define us. I keep the lights on now.



LIZ DONG pg 40 issue no. 14 | LOTUS MAGAZINE
styled and coordinated by ASHTON ERB photography


assistant stylist/makeup by CHAYSE MARTINO





LOTUS MAGAZINE | issue no. 14 pg. 43


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