MINT STANFORD UNIVERSITY
STYLE & CULTURE
“Seine” 2 Photographed by Ben Lin
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS
Dear Reader, This winter we embarked on an exploration in healing of the self. This magazine’s theme is “Come As You Are.” With winter comes introspection. This issue aims to celebrate the intimate and dynamic parts of ourselves, visualizing and exploring the aspects of Stanford students that are critical to our identities, wellbeing, and healing. “Come As You Are” is a proclamation of owning and accepting oneself and celebrating both the visible and invisible parts of us—whether that be an individual quirk, struggle, temperament, or pride. The pages that follow represent healing, reconciliation, and soothing after all of the conflict of 2017. Our writers tackle issues from self care to dieting to the erasure of black femme influence by renaming hairstyles. Our photographers portray poignant, intimate depictions of their hometowns and travels. Concentrating on wellbeing and the Stanford experience, we visually represent the infamous Duck Syndrome, and we partner with the Places I’ve Cried Facebook group. We hope you find solace and comfort in these pages, and that you are ultimately empowered to come as you are.
Iman Floyd-Carroll, Becky Aydin, Divine Edem MINT Editors-in-Chief
MANAGING DIRECTOR elizabeth GERSON
CREATIVE DIRECTOR tyler SU
WEB DIRECTORS mirna EL-KHALILY jackie ENNIS annie NG
DESIGN DIRECTOR phoebe YAO
EVENTS DIRECTOR eilaf OSMAN
DESIGNERS arkira CHANTARATANANOND eunice JUNG caitlin KLAUER gopal RAMAN izzy AMPIL jules ESPERO mei-lan STEIMLE nova MEURICE taylor SIHAVONH
EVENTS TEAM yasmin ELTAWIL daniel SANCHEZ serena SOH
WRITING DIRECTORS divine EDEM becky AYDIN
SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR carlos BUSTOS FINANCIAL OFFICER olivia GREGORY SPONSORSHIPS sean HOWARD
MODELING DIRECTOR autumn GRECO
COPY EDITOR em WILDER
PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR iman FLOYD-CARROLL
FOUNDING EDITOR ashley OVERBEEK
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF divine EDEM becky AYDIN iman FLOYD-CARROLL
ISSUE sacramento, CA 8 spectrum 16 alternate perspectives on self-care 24 black (me)n. 28 constellation of ink 36 in transit 44 speaking & healing 50 regrowth 54 on hair. 62 facing duck syndrome 66 drop the diet 72 places Iâ€™ve cried 76 baggage 84 outtakes 88
S A C R A M E N T O , Photographed by Ryan Jae
Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird has put Sacramento—the often overlooked capital of California, and our mutual hometown—on the map. But, the film’s private school setting is in the minority of Sacramentan experiences. There’s most days and nights: kicking it with the homies in the 110 degree summer heat and late hoodrat-hours-only hot boxes. But then there’s nothing like hearing the distinctive crack of gunshots, or the anxiety of dodging the boys (aka 12). And, nothing is more turnt than one of our legendary functions, as we dance until 4 a.m. Every image in this collection was taken when I was home during a Stanford academic break. Welcome to my Sacramento.
S A C R A M E N T O ,
S A C R A M E N T O ,
C A 13
S A C R A M E N T O ,
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SS PP EE C C
RU TT R UM M
...is an intimate art form between subject and artist. My intent was to capture people in minimalist environments in order to put them in the forefront of the viewer’s attention. While you may not know their backstory, I hoped to offer viewer’s a glimpse of each individual’s personality. Photography is an absolute joy for me because I get to capture people in a way they never saw themselves before.
ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVES ON SELF-CARE Illustrations by Isabella Ampil
TREAT YO S E L F
he idea of “treat yo self ” has become so commonplace and trendy that it has taken away from the true meaning of self-care. “Self-care” has become the altogether popular and problematic idea of retail therapy, as well as an excuse to eat unhealthily. It manifests as choosing a perfectly-colored bath bomb and arranging candles in just the right way on a bathtub solely to achieve the perfect Instagram post. Or, it’s going to a specific café not for its food, but for its aesthetic that would just look so good with the C1 VSCO filter. October 13, 2011: the term “treat yo self ” was coined in an episode of Parks and Recreation. A revolution in the concept of self-care was born. Rather than serving as encouragement for taking care of individual needs to ensure personal well-being, the phrase became an excuse to expensively selfgift, engage in unhealthy habits, and ultimately do so just “for the ‘gram.” In the episode, Tom, an appearance-obsessed, arrogant character, and Donna, who is similarly materialistic and selfish, use the term to justify spending lots of money on themselves on a designated day each year. Likewise, “treat yo self ” on social media is often associated with splurging on items one wants, rather than needs. For example, California fashion and beauty blogger Lydia Webb posted
Written by Fiona Henderson
an Instagram photo at a nail salon in February 2018. “It’s treat yo self Friday!” the caption reads, “How do you indulge at the end of the week?” Webb is only one of many who promote the idea that “treat yo self ” equates with “spoil oneself.” Brands have also taken full advantage of this idea. One of J. Crew’s 2013 Home Page promo banners read, “before you lavish your loved ones with gift upon gift this upcoming holiday season, take the time to treat yourself,” encouraging people to lavish themselves with gift upon gift as well. Additionally, subscription box services such as FabFitFun typify the idea of materially treating oneself; even though the person receiving the box is the one paying for it, what is inside is a surprise, making it feel like a gift. Understandably, since we live in an age when mental health is finally becoming a socially acceptable topic of discussion, self-care is having a big moment in the media. Therefore, we should realize what true self-care is in terms of mental health. By definition, self-care should be something one does for oneself. So why does everyone’s ideas of what “treat yo self ” means seem almost identical to each other on social media, all reiterating different versions of expensive manicures or material gifts? Each person is different, so each person’s version of self-care should look different. True
self-care involves maintaining individual well-being and mental health. We need to practice it in order to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is no rule that it has to be expensive, beautiful, or online–true self-care shouldn’t be for others. Stanford students weigh in on what their personal self-care practices look like. “Self-care has a lot to do with the exercise and things that I for my body to make my mind feel good,” Juliana Berglund-Brown ‘21 expresses. “It’s about being aware of who I am and mindfulness.” It’s about “taking time in the day to just stop and reflect,” says Elyssa Hofgard ‘21. “Making sure to take time to do things you enjoy.” Self-care does not have to be indulgent or unhealthy either. Both working out and, conversely, having lazy days can be forms of self-care. Eating a balanced diet could be someone’s version of self-care. Crying when sad could be a form of self-care. Celebrating when happy could be self-care. However, if taking aesthetically pleasing baths or buying an expensive and much-desired item truly makes someone happy and improves their mental well-being, then they can certainly be forms of self-care as well. It is most important, though, to recognize that self-care is not limited to the model of “treat yo self,” but is so much more.
HONEST HEALING Written by Carla Forbes
Healing, self-care, and mental health are practices and experiences that have flooded the collective vocabulary of our campus. These words can be heard while passing someone in CoHo or be seen jotted down on the whiteboard of your PHEâ€™s door. The rise in appreciation of these processes is something to be celebrated...but, only to a certain extent. As these words have gained such ubiquity, they seem to have been co-opted so that they no longer represent their true essences, leaving many who speak of them with just surface understandings. Healing and self-care are at risk of becoming sexy and easy concepts, barely skimming their potential depth. In the age of deliciously rampant media, the trending performance of healing dialogue can seem all the more contrived, and consequently, can be all the more harmful. What happens to those of us who do not use self-care as an airy buzzword? Where is the visibility for people on a path of healing that is not wrapped in ethereal undertones? It is not always clear. It can oftentimes feel that if healing is not performed romantically, then the process is not valid. We must acknowledge that healing does not only exist alongside palatability. Moreover, the consequences of this brand of healing are not equally affordable to everyone, especially at this university. For some, notions of self-care are familiar and in close proximity. For
others, especially QTPOC, Black, and Brown folks, shifting notions of selfcare from a luxury to a necessity is a demanding battle. A few of the barriers that make our healing processes uniquely turbulent include access to effective, culturally competent treatment and learning what sustainable self-care looks like. Having a campus culture that doesnâ€™t fully acknowledge the uneasy, gritty, and sometimes ugly facets of healing can result in disqualifying folks, who are in the midst of struggling, from access to healing discourse and resources. Some Black peers that I have spoken with have expressed sentiments of the claustrophobia that frequently accompany these well-meaning, but superficial attempts to talk about mental health and healing. There is a dearth of interactions on campus that genuinely invite conversations about the unglamorous side of mental health and healing, the symptoms in the periphery of popular conversation that quick self-care remedies canâ€™t always reach. These boundaries should be challenged and expanded to include pre-healing, pain, and straight up struggle. The truth is that healing hurts and self-care is remarkably difficult. While the end goal may be as sexy as current discourse has alluded, room needs to be made for those of us who are still in the depths of the honest hardships healing often demands.
Young black men often live through an identity crisis. If you donâ€™t fit into a specified set of looks or actions, your masculinity is challenged. If your masculinity is challenged, then your identity as a black man is threatened. Letâ€™s reintroduce complexity and dimension in black male personas. Just like other men, black men should have the option to wear their masculinity in any way they choose, because it is theirs to wear.
Photographed by Ryan Wimsatt Modeled by Victor Ragsdale and Malcolm Lizzappi
c o n s tellatio n o f in k Written by Gracie Newman Photographed by Jessica Yeung Modeled by Clara Spars, Yanal Qushair, Caroline Kushel, Alexa Davey, Rueben Krueger, Sahar Markovich, Graham Barnhart, Sophia Andrikopoulos
For many, tattoos are an externalized art, tribute, or declaration; they are a means of expressing an intrinsic, permanent part of your identity. The ink is carried with you wherever you go, a statement to the world of your choosing. From my own simple, tiny etching of a wave to each intricately shaded sleeve, every sting of the needle tells a story. The meaning of tattoos in society shifts throughout different ages and cultures. In some societies, they are sacred marks; Samoan “tatau” carry formidable cultural significance, as do religious Sak Yant tattoos in Thailand. In other places, tattoos are indicators of social or professional status, like the “tramp stamp,” military iconography, and prison or gang symbols. In each of these contexts, these permanent designs reflect invisible internalities permanently etched into the skin. Tattoos can be a defiant reclamation of the body or a continuous reminder of strength; a marking can honor a social movement, religious principle, or person. Perhaps this is why people say tattoos become addictive: a tattoo is a self-selected scar that has the power to affirm, to celebrate, to proclaim, and perhaps most profoundly, to heal. The constellation of ink across campus is as diverse and illuminating as the individuals bearing these marks. Tattoos are powerful works of art, capable of telling individual and collective stories of identity at Stanford. The members of the Stanford community that I have chosen to interview each have tattoos that represent profound elements of their character or life. They symbolize a wide array of meanings, from the reclamation of the body after sexual assault to the remembrance of a disappearing culture. Each one has a distinctive story to present, unflinchingly and honestly, to the world.
Clara Spars ‘21 I got my first tattoo when I was sixteen. I had been sexually assaulted, and was hurting like I never had before. I decided that I wanted a tattoo to mark this dark period of my life, and serve as a symbol of my healing. I have drawn all of my tattoos, which makes me feel even more wholeheartedly connected to them. The design on my spine is a stylized version of the Balinese deity named Rangda. She is the demon queen, and is both worshipped and feared. Like the ocean, she is not necessarily good or evil, but she is respected in her incredible power. I wanted to have her with me at all times to protect me, and was enamored with the notion that even the smallest portion of her ferocity and bravery would be carried with me. The tattoo on my back is a message both to myself, and to my attacker: the message that I have grown since he hurt me, that I am strong and in ownership of my own body.
Yanal Qushair ‘21 My tattoo is part of Project Semicolon, a movement that promotes awareness about suicide and mental health. I’ve struggled with depression in the past and appreciated the outlook that the movement promotes: your story is not over. Recently I’ve noticed a growing romanticization of depression, and from experience I can say it isn’t exactly a fun ride. I’m glad to have made it out relatively unscathed, but it always pains me to know that there are others who are still there and are much worse off than I was. As long and difﬁcult as the journey was, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Caroline Kushel ‘21 This tattoo was kind of my first act of rebellion as a college student. Tattoos are really taboo in my family, so it had to be in an easily hidden place. “Full Send” means committing yourself 100% to an action. It’s also commonly used as a term in skiing, as a way to encourage people to completely release fear and inhibition and ski their line as hard and as fast as they can.
Alexa Davey ‘21 The one on my arm is something I drew myself as a way of expressing and accepting the natural beauty of Black women. The one on my ankle is a girl with her head in the clouds, but instead of “living in her own world” she makes the world her own by letting her dreams out through the cloud’s rain. The one on my back is a sun, moon, and eye; it serves as my guide through both the darkness and light.
Rueben Krueger ‘21 I have three roses on my left arm, and a bear made of trees and mountains on my right arm. I chose the design of the bear because of who I am and where I come from. I’ve spent my whole life in the Pacific Northwest, and the bear really captures it…I need to remember where I came from so that I give back. I didn’t come from a rich suburb; I came from the rural town of Newport, Oregon. Even though I’ve had [my tattoos] for two months, I’m still in awe of them. It’s hard to believe that my body is permanently changed. Regardless, I think that they’re pieces of art.
Sahar Markovich ’21 My first tattoo, the one on my ankle, is for my great grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor. All throughout the war, she carried this smallest nesting doll out of a set with her, and it was the only one that made it, and she was one of the only siblings in her family that made it. Before she passed, she gave it to me, so I wanted a way to memorialize that on my body; I decided it would be my first tattoo five years before I got it. The one on my ribcage is from a storybook that my mom used to read to me as a kid, and there’s a small quote in her handwriting in Hebrew, so it was an emotional, family connection type thing. Then, the one on my wrist says empower. I did a lot of women’s empowerment work in high school and volunteer work and stuff, and it was a way to remind myself that it’s important to keep doing work to empower others because that’s the only way I can stay empowered.
Graham Barnhart (Stegner Fellow in Poetry)
“Longing we say because desire is full of endless distance” on my left wrist is a quote from Robert Hass’ poem “Meditations at Lagunitas.” I got this tattoo in Erie, Pennsylvania in 2006. I decided to get it on a whim. It goes without saying that afterward, I was instantly and officially cool. It had no particular personal meaning except that I was young and decided to be a poet and this was a poem I deeply admired. Still do, it turns out. Though I sometimes wonder if the line isn’t just a fancy way of saying the grass is always greener on the other side. The birds all over my right arm up to the shoulder
I got in Nashville, Tennessee shortly before my first deployment to Iraq. I remember spending that trip, nine months or so, with only about half of them filled in. Guys on my team would ask “why are some of the birds empty,” which I found to be very poetic but never said so to them. They were done by an artist in Nashville by the name Electric Athena. They aren’t any particular type of bird—I just walked in with the general idea and she already had these designs ready to go for another project, a restaurant mural that, I think, never happened. All I’ll say about their significance is that, Angeline if you’re reading this, I still love you.
Sophia Andrikopoulos ’21 The tattoo on my side reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe. It’s the mountains where I grew up, which are a huge part of who I am. The Teton Range (in the Rocky Mountains) is so breathtakingly beautiful; living under them and growing up in right next to a national park is an irreplaceable experience. The tattoo on my arm is an antelope skull with Indian Paintbrush (the Wyoming state flower) growing out of the eyes. It’s based off of the time I shot an antelope with my dad on our family’s ranch. The things I experience outdoors with the people I love are also the memories that remind me of the ways I want to live my life, always cherishing the places and people who make life special.
in transit Photographed by Noah Hornik
“I traveled through Europe with a Contax T2 in my front-right pocket.”
Speaking & Healing
Written by Esther Omole Photographed by Sarah Ohta Modeled Shreya Vankat, Christina Li, Sydney Westley and Esther Omole
y curiosity with speaking and healing began in my comparative studies in race and ethnicity class, African American Womenâ€™s Lives. Professor Allyson Hobbs initiated a discussion about how the female black body is viewed. I understood that womanhood in general was tied to ideas of purity, naivety, and virtue. However, the black female body has historically endured associations of hypersexualization and dehumanization, as has been represented in the media. To counteract these portrayals, African-American women developed a culture of dissemblance in which sexuality was cloaked and reserved for extremely intimate spaces, according to author of African-American Womenâ€™s History and The Metalanguage of Race Evelyn Higginbotham. This was part of the effort to lessen the negative images and stereotypes that black women have suffered through.
With a greater understanding gained from this inclusive setting, I wondered how discussions of this nature occurred for women in other communities of color. We usually talk about the sexual plight women of color endure in separate conversations, which is fair considering the different stereotypes and impositions that each group faces. Latinx and Middle Eastern women endure the stereotypes of exoticism whereas Asian women lie on the other side of the spectrum with antiquated attributes of submissiveness, according to Jaclyn Friedman, author of What You Really Want. Despite these differences, women of color share this feeling of conflict on how to grapple with the stereotypes placed upon our bodies. This common theme prompted me to facilitate this conversation about the sexualization of the bodies of women of color outside of my course. I wanted to shift the conversation into a setting open to honesty and free
from hesitancy, one that introduced multiple perspectives on the case of sexuality. I gathered a group of college students who identify as women of color, from Stanford and Stetson University. Through speaking and subsequent healing, the roundtable facilitated catharsis and community. We all discovered how the comfort of this conversation replaced feelings of isolation and entrapment that stereotypes can impose. Expressing our feelings showed how parallel our issues can be. Although we at times internalize societal definitions of how our bodies should be portrayed, it was comforting to know that we were not alone in these feelings. We recognized how fortunate we are to have communities of women here at Stanford and beyond that allow us to discuss ourselves freely and unabashedly.
Do you feel that there are stereotypes imposed on women of color? Christina Ali ‘21: It feels like for Asian women we are highly feminized, and I think that I’ve encountered multiple scenarios upon coming to college where people are like, he only goes for Asian girls, which makes me personally feel uncomfortable. Syd Westley ‘21: It goes into the subconsciousness of power dynamics...this idea of super light-skinned, innocent Asian girls that are being dominated by big men. As a queer Asian American woman, or I guess as an Asian American woman in general, there’s not a lot of representation of sexually empowered Asian women. Alyssa Wright ‘19: Well, I think that as a black woman you’re definitely oversexualized. Everyone thinks like, Oh Rihanna, Beyonce...and they expect you have to act
a certain way. I remember I was working last summer and this Australian guy was asking me about my last boyfriend like, did you put out? Yeah, you’re like black and Caribbean—y’all are definitely sexual. Valory Banashek ‘21: I guess it’s hard for me to speak on this because I haven’t experienced prejudice like that, and it’s because I am white passing, and I recognize that. Valentina Arango ‘21, Stetson University: Racialized gender stereotypes permeate everyone’s understanding of the world and can indirectly color others’ perceptions of me and other women of color. I did have a couple of instances last semester at some parties (during) which my name or my skin were thought of as exotic; I frequently get complimented on my skin color, how it’s the perfect tan. These comments had the effect to set me apart from others, despite the intentions. I do recognize that though I face certain stereotypes, black women face even more, especially dark skinned black women.
friends were always like, you’re the goody goody of the group. I came to America and you kind of start anew, right? I no longer had this goody goody thing attached to me—you’re not even assumed to be a goody goody. I came to Vaden (Health Center) and they were like, are you sure you’ve never had sex? They were very accusatory; that was already taken away from me. My ex-boyfriend’s mom would also say, I don’t like the way she dresses, it’s not conservative. My body was already hypersexualized because I’m black, or having a butt they would say, that’s so promiscuous. Sometimes a black girl wears something and they’re like, Oh that’s really inappropriate. So, it’s like you have to compensate for assumptions. Valentina: Colombian culture, and Latino culture in general, is very traditional in terms of gender roles, and also focuses strongly on “machismo,” an exaggerated form of masculinity...eventually, I learned that attraction should not be uncomfortable and embraced the term lesbian in direct contrast to societal expectations.
How do you think most women of color/women of your ethnic background experience sexuality? Alyssa: I feel like your surroundings definitely do shape the way you interact with (sexuality). Back home I went to Catholic school and I never really did much because I didn’t care for anything besides school. My
Do you feel free to claim control over how you depict your sexuality? How do you think women of color as a whole might work against sexual stereotypes? Syd: Put yourself in spaces that are not just white spaces. It sucks that the burden is on us, but if it’s for
your mental health? Do it. Kyra Whitelaw ‘21: I often react to racial tensions through humor. I think that I like turn to humor...I think it’s like good to have conversations like these. Alyssa: Every time these things happen I never like how I respond. Shreya Venkat ‘21: I’m still really uncomfortable: with the idea that (a romantic partner) might not like me because I’m brown, (with) always holding this insecurity and that whole part of my life, and also (with) thinking I probably wouldn’t have this insecurity if I was white. Christina: Also, when you bring up the idea of preferences—that people avoid other people because of their race or are super into people because of their race—they always get really defensive, like, oh, no, I like what I like. So it’s hard. Syd: And it’s so fucked up! Like, when people say, I don’t see anything in Asian women, like that’s my mom, that’s my grandma, that’s me. Alyssa: I wear more tight clothing, like, okay (they’re) going to assume that (I’m) over sexual. I can own my sexuality, you know? So basically I’m just doing the opposite, being comfortable with my decisions because they’re for
me, which is pretty hard to actually do. But when you do it, it feels good. Do you think discussing these experiences helps us better understand how they impact women? Valory: (Talking about it) makes me want to do anything that I can to advance human rights for my sisters. Valentina: I personally felt free to claim control over my sexuality once I started identifying as a lesbian. Centering (on) women in my life is a way of escaping control. To work against sexual stereotypes, we need to find solidarity with one another...we need work together to impact change, and to bring awareness to the issues that women of color face. Syd: You’re not growing up in a vacuum. If you’re insecure that’s not your fault, there are so many forces acting against you. Even talking about it now is like a breath of fresh air. Kyra: Even in everyday conversations, because it’s really important to have conversations, but even aside from that, have community. You can see shared experiences and identities even in everyday conversations.
Written and Photographed by Clara Spars and Chloe Peterson Modeled by Bao Phan, Alessandra Diaz, Clara Spars, Chloe Peterson-Nafziger and Anonymous 54
To have been broken is not to be irreparable.
We are faced with the constant stigmatization of sexual assault survivors and their ability to cope and heal. Social media conveys a message of objectification and, in turn, an unspoken support for rape culture, so much so that explicit acknowledgement of the issue oftentimes feels invisible. This photo series celebrates the subtle intricacies of the human body, and what it means to love ourselves in all of our shapes and forms. We have photographed survivors of sexual assault to shed light on this media-induced separation between the body and the human being inside of it, with the goal of identifying them as a single entity. We present to you a collection of vibrant, embodied souls embracing their sexuality, rather than empty, eroticized shells to be consumed by the public eye.
We want to show as much power as possible
... from within the survivors of sexual assault.
on hair. my natural hair journey
reshman year of college, I told my girls that I would never, under any circumstances, stop relaxing my natural hair and wearing weaves. I told them that it wasn’t because I didn’t love my natural hair, but that it was just easier this way. Now I sit here, three years later, playing with my natural curls, detangling my weave, and wiping the residues of tea tree oil and coconut oil from my fingers. I got my first relaxer in the sixth grade after begging and pleading with my mom for years; I was adamant about no longer wearing my hair in plaits. For those of you who may not know, relaxers are concoctions of acidic chemicals that straighten natural curl patterns. I wanted my hair to be long and straight like the rest of my (nonblack) friends. Spoiler Alert: it didn’t work. My hair wasn’t strong enough to withstand the potency of these chemicals. By the seventh grade, after a year of relaxing my hair, it was falling out in patches. My mom and I decided that it was time for me to take a break from the chemicals and let my hair rest in protective braids for a while. The crazy thing is, once it grew back, I went to a new stylist and got another relaxer. Later that year, the hair breakage started anew. Once again, I ditched the relaxer and got my hair braided. Then senior year of high school, after my failure with relaxers twice before, I got yet another relaxer and a weave. I thought, since I was older, I could take care of my relaxed hair better this time. Fast forward to college. Freshman year, I stepped onto Stanford’s campus with a fresh relaxer and new weave.
Written by Maya Pete Photographed by Madison Hurr Modeled by Maya Pete
Initially anticipating only weaves and braids, my two default hairstyles, I was immediately taken aback by the number of black women I saw around campus flaunting their natural locks in a myriad of ways. They had afros, twists, fades, braids, and the list goes on and on. Growing up, the only black hair that I saw on a regular basis was my mom’s, and she rocked a short, relaxed, bob. My Texas-dominated Instagram feed was filled to the brim with long, curled, big hair—because, you know, everything’s bigger in Texas. I genuinely did not know there were so many ways black women were wearing their hair, other than weaves and extensions. That same year, I began to interact with my blackness in ways that I hadn’t before. I joined the Black Student Union and involved myself in protests and activist efforts on and off campus. During that time, I wondered if I could truly be “down for the cause” if I wasn’t down to rock the natural crown that spewed from my blackness. I remember holing myself up in my room between hairstyles because I didn’t want people to know that my weave wasn’t my real hair—shoutout to Ujamaa, the African-American themed dorm on campus; they all knew. It was at that time that I began to question whether or not it was detrimental to my black girl soul to continuously appropriate hair textures that are not mine. I wondered if I was choosing to wear weaves because I liked them or because I wanted my hair to conform, to fit the standard. (Disclaimer: I do understand that this ability to transform our hair, to rock different styles and make them our own, is part of our power. It is part of our
radiance.) Sophomore year I did some introspection and embarked upon a journey to achieving an all encompassing self love. In my mind, there was no time like the present for me to go natural. So, I did. Let me tell you, it was so hard. Because I didn’t have the courage to do the Big Chop, I had to watch my relaxed ends fall out of my head piece by piece. Losing hair is kind of a heartbreaking experience (maybe that’s dramatic, I don’t know). While my hair was transitioning, I also tried different types of protective styles that didn’t require straightening or relaxing my hair. I felt like I had unlocked another level of black girlhood. But interestingly, when I was wearing a short, curly weave, this girl told me that she could tell I was a fashion-forward person because of my hair. I thought to myself: What the hell? My hair? Excuse me? That’s when I began to think about my hair as a political statement. There have been headlines about school rules and professional stipulations against black people wearing their hair in its natural glory. In 2016, the courageous girls of South Africa’s prestigious Pretoria High School protested
the exclusionary school policy code that banned wide cornrows, dreadlocks, and braids. In the U.S. too, one can see headlines about young black girls facing punishment and ostracization for their natural curls. People say it’s not prim and proper. It’s too big, too messy, too “ethnic.” Every day that we choose to let our curls roam free in the sunlight is a day we are taking a stance. It’s another day that we are normalizing our born identity and daring the world to threaten it. It’s another day where our sheer existence is both a right and an anomaly. And that’s a lot of pressure. So now, I’m sitting here, thinking about what I’m going to do with this afro of a crown for class tomorrow. I’m thinking about how I sometimes wish that my hair wasn’t a radical statement, a political stance, a movement in the making. But then I remember that my survival, my existence, my education, and my ambitions are political. So, I guess my hair is too...so be it. My natural hair journey is one that reflects my prime in being me and making a statement of who I am, who I want to be, and who I will be.
renamed hairstyles: the erasure of black femme influence
Written by Zoe Mhungu
ast week, my fifteen-year-old sister texted me a video from Kim Kardashian’s Snapchat story. She has never been one to keep up with the Kardashians, so I was especially interested as to why she chose to send this video. (Let it be known that my sister rarely messages me.) “I got Bo Derek braids, and I’m really into it,” says the socialite in classic valley girl vocal fry in her Snapchat.
The hairstyle Kardashian wore seemed eerily familiar to me. I actually was considering getting the same style over winter break for the upcoming quarter. But, if I had made the appointment with my hairdresser, I would have asked for Fulani braids, a patterned cornrow style adorned with braids, not Bo Derek braids. Kardashian’s repackaged representation of the Black female experience, however, is not the first time pop culture has renamed
Black hairstyles in an effort to be fashion forward. Some claimed that Kardashian meant to reference the actress Bo Derek’s iconic hairstyle in the movie 10. A Twitter user @LE_BONES argued, “That’s just the reference she chose.” That’s where the tension lies. Kardashian had the power to choose who to credit for this striking look. She could have chosen to laud the West African Fulani tribe for an innovative style. Yet, her post gave visibility to a white actress while erasing the Fulani culture of origin. Renaming hairstyles that have origins in the African diaspora undermines the credit that is due to the Black femmes that innovated them. Pop culture icons have repeatedly claimed aspects of Black culture and then neglected to acknowledge the contribution of Black femmes in crafting these trends. In the past few years, multiple Black hairstyles have been present on the runway, but a cast of majority white models wears them. Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2015 show featured white models wearing what beauty blog Mane Addicts refers to as “twisted mini buns” in a mohawk style. The models in Valentino’s Spring 2016 show sported a braided style referenced as “boxer braids” by MTV UK. Lead hair stylist for the Marc Jacobs’ show Guido Palau stated that the buns were a “punky vibe” inspired by Björk. Valentino called the braided hairstyles “an eclectic way of styling.” So why then, when one conducts a Google search of “ghetto hairstyles,” images of the same styles are shown, but worn by Black people and under different names—bantu knots and cornrows? Often the roots of Black hairstyles are lost in our collective memory. Bantu knots originate from Southern Africa, specifically from the Zulu tribe. Black women wear bantu knots to stylishly protect their hair or create voluminous curls without heat. Nok people, an early Iron Age ethnic civilization from Nigeria, sculpted figures dating back to 500 BC wearing the cornrow style. Versatility of cornrows allows Black women to wear the style to protect natural hair or lay the foundation for extensions.
Braids and bantu knots have a rich history on the African continent and throughout the African diaspora. Ignoring Black women’s present relationship with braids and bantu knots pushes their contributions to pop culture to the periphery. Repeated messages become incorporated into social reality. Renaming Black hairstyles excludes Black women and devalues their contribution to shaping trends. Fashion designers take inspiration from Black culture, yet they select a team of models that is mostly white to present these inspired pieces. These decisions dictate that the Black woman’s body must be altered to be acceptable to society, suggesting Black hairstyles are only acceptable on white bodies. Despite efforts to erase Black women from popular culture, Black celebrities are using their platform to rewrite the narrative. The battle to reclaim starts with increasing visibility of the styles worn by Black women. Rihanna wore bantu knots to the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Awards. And, who can forget Beyoncé’s braided styles worn during her visual album Lemonade and corresponding Formation concert tour? There is an observable trend in the types of Black women who are labeled as fashion icons for these styles (usually looser curl patterns, higher status, and lighter skinned). The latest Marvel blockbuster Black Panther, an afrofuturist superhero flick, dismantles this tendency by featuring darker skinned actresses in traditional African hairstyles. Situating the conversation on the fictional African country of Wakanda gestures towards the African Diaspora’s pivotal role in shaping these hairstyles. I’ve seen how this kind of representation of Black hairstyles on the big screen has empowered my sister to, in the words of the rapper Birdman, “put some respeck on it” and ensure that her school friends attribute the origin of their twisted buns and boxer braids to Black women. No matter one’s hair type or skin tone, Black girls should feel empowered to come as they are—bantu knots, braids, and beyond.
Pop culture icons have repeatedly claimed aspects of Black culture and then neglected to acknowledge the contribution of Black femmes in crafting these trends.
FAC I N G DUCK SYNDROME Photographed by Sarah Ohta Modeled by Helen Liu, Esther Tsvayng, Katherine Yang, Nora Wheat Face paint by Katherine Yang
“I asked each person to tell me which emotion or feeling of their’s didn’t feel appropriate to let bubble to the surface - what experience they let lie murky underneath the shimmering waters of casual brilliance and ease.
For Nora, it was a pained desperation. For Esther, it was a sort of harmed expression. For Helen, it was sadness. For me, it was hotblooded anger.â€? - Katherine Yang
DIET Written by Naz Gocek Illustrations by Nova Meurice 72
I wonder if the word “healthy” is trademarked—you know, reserved exclusively for pictures of Instagram dishes that are raw-paleo-vegan-protein salads with at least three ingredients you can’t pronounce, antioxidant moon dust from Nepal, and more colors than there are in my wardrobe. The dishes must be presented by bikini-clad women who are taller than the palm trees they always seem to be surrounded by, yet skinnier than the stalks of kale they put in their morning smoothie. To be frank, I’m fed up with this representation of health and the placement of tropical Instagram cardio goddesses on a pedestal. I refuse the notion of a food dichotomy; in my mind, an ice cream sandwich is just as “healthy” as a handful of fruit. I don’t believe in moderation either; if I want an entire loaf of challah all to myself, I will have an entire loaf of challah, and not spend my monthly income on pressed juices to “detox” it later. When it comes to bodies and food, I define “healthy” as whatever helps me thrive and be at peace. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Due to Western diet cul-
ture, having a positive relationship with food and our bodies is considered a triumph. Our bodies are never valuable because we are inside them; this value must be earned by a lifetime of deprivation, self loathing and obsession. I see the fact that I—along with many of my peers— wasted months, even years, depriving myself to look and feel a certain way, as a feminist issue. Hunger became fashionable in the 1950s. Until then, society expected women to be good housewives and mothers. Such expectations were mostly dismantled by the women’s movement. The entry of women into primarily male spaces threatened profit and patriarchal power. According to Naomi Wolf of the bestselling novel The Beauty Myth, that’s when the diet industry truly blossomed. From 1968 to 1972, the number of diet-related articles increased by 70% and today, the weight loss industry is worth over $60 billion. And while the shift in focus in the last decade of many brands, like Weight Watchers and Special K, from only weight loss to fitness and “strength” seems encouraging, sadly, it’s just a facade;
this month’s cover of Women’s Health had a small headline about “Fit at Any Size” surrounded by “The easier way to lose 10 pounds, boom!” and “Flat Abs.” The Weight Watchers ad in that issue reads, “Weigh in on our body analysis scale, then get out there and live life to the fullest!” Success on the scale is a condition that must be fulfilled in order to “live life to the fullest.” Additionally, magazines are still filled with “fit” women who have flat abs and perky butts. There is hardly ever any mention of getting better at your sport, or the importance of resilience. It’s all about numbers. We are surrounded by a saga of female fat; a melodrama given coverage beyond the consequences of obesity, employing emotive and moralizing diction that is hardly used even when discussing alcohol or smoking. Our resultant obsession with dieting and idolization of unattainable bodies comes at the expense of true self-love. Dieting takes self-worth hostage. Hunger has the power to make even the most successful women feel like failures; our capacities for liberation, leadership and economic independence are choked by the perpetual failure to defy our natural urges in order to exist in a state of semi-starvation. Diet culture writes up contract after contract (all with different titles: beach body, new year new body), filled with conditions that will supposedly lead to our happiness. Yet, 74
most diets inevitably fail, and those that “succeed” frequently require us to worry about maintaining the results. Dieting has a sedative effect as well; I’m sure that every woman knows the dreaded fatigue, anxiety and cloudiness that accompanies hunger. Instead of connecting with friends, laughing, exploring and adventuring, our minds become preoccupied by constant calculations of calories, carbs, and so on. Validation is sought through others; how many times have you found yourself feeling comforted by thefact that your friend also ate a lot pizza? Our bodies are constantly up for display on social media, curated and contorted carefully to reveal who we aspire to be: two dimensional magazine pages and images. Our bodies become foreign objects: mischievous,unruly and enigmatic beings outside of ourselves. We refuse our natural hunger cues and cravings, and thus, commit a devastating injustice to our bodies, which allow us to experience all the wonders the world holds. How do we disentangle ourselves from the suffocating language of health, willpower and guilt? Start by saying sorry. Apologize to your body, and hold a funeral for the one you will never have. Then, celebrate all the time, energy, money, and experiences you’ll gain once you stop chasing diets. My body is decorated with my history, my experiences, and the stories of my ancestors. My
definition of thriving involves living a life that is unapologetic and adventurous: spontaneous road trips, trying new foods, and my order of CoHo monkey bread enhancing, rather than distracting from, a great conversation over coffee. I practice intuitive eating, which means I give myself permission to eat and love myself without an ethical dilemma. Itâ€™s tragically hilarious that learning to listen to my innate hunger cues is one of the hardest (and most rewarding) things Iâ€™ve ever done. Let yourself be and devour the choice, liberty, empowerment, and joy that comes with permission. Spread the word. Whenever my friends complain about their diets or their guilt about eating some Lucky Charms, I remind them that enjoying food is wonderful, and that a meal should not dominate your day. I do not want to live in a world where young girls view dieting as a rite of passage into adulthood. I do not want girls to witness their mothers take a bite of dessert, push it away, and watch enviously as the men in the family chow down. I refuse to be complicit in furthering a national epidemic that pits women against their bodies and traps them inside of their skin. Abandon your fantasies of negative space in favor of unconditional exuberance. Take a page from Nobel Prize winning writer Derek Walcott: Sit. Feast on your life.
PLACES I’VE CRIED Photographed by Jonathan York Modeled by Elizabeth, Anna, Madison, and Eve For many students dealing with the infamous Duck Syndrome, there’s something about a good cry that can, even for a moment, bring relief. Stanford University Places I’ve Cried, a Facebook group created by Annie Zheng ‘20, has become a community of catharsis and support for its more than 1,600 members. Four of them spent time with MINT in the places they posted about online.
â€œAlone in a practice room in Braun Music Building, because being graded on a curve in piano lessons makes me resent the one thing that has always brought me joy.â€?
â€œIn the EBF backyard, thinking about how my sense of identity has started feeling more and more amorphous.â€? 78
â€œIn the pool at the Avery Aquatic Center, wondering how I got to be here and figuring out how to stay afloat.â€? 81
â€?In the fancy bathrooms at the GSB before hurriedly trying to look like a calm human so I could go to work.â€? 82
Photographed by Iman Floyd-Carroll Modeled by Bill Kwai
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