Issue 4 | Spring 2019
the in body positivity
Find sustainable maximalism pieces
Should cancel culture be
RESILIENCE issue features 18 28
Taking Sustainability to the Max: A Look into the Ethics of Sustainable Fashion and the New Maximalism Trend Bridge to the Mountains: How One Organization Strives to Heal a Broken Appalachian City
the Rainbow: Finding Your 42 Behind Personal Style and Incorporating Color Into Your LIfe
The Negative in Body Positivity: How Victoria’s Secret Refusing Inclusivity Indicates a National Trend How the Political Climate Impacts Creators’ Work After 2000
contents Canceling the Hypocrisy 12 Opinion: of “Cancel Culture” Organization Rewrites the 14 One Narrative of Prison Culture Local Business With an 16 AInternational Cause the Business Inventory 17 How Tax is Affecting Up-and-coming Businesses
Knows Someone”: The 36 “Everyone Lives Behind West Virginia’s Opioid Crisis
the Women’s March Speaks to 38 How a National Trend Leading Change: The 40 Activism Women Changing West Virginia
60 Don’t Judge a Movie by its Review Open Letter to Appalachian 61 An Creators Remove Gluten from Your 62 How-to: Makeup Routine
On the cover: Madisen Miles Photographed by Kristen Uppercue Mirage Magazine is a lifestyle publication created by students at West Virginia University.
Graphic Designer Mary Alvarez
Kristen Uppercue Kasey Lettrich
Managing Editor Adam Payne
Joseph Zecevic Taylor Miller Christina Kamkutis Darren Hartwell Maxwell Shavers
Lexi Persad Madison Greer Annika Godwin Teâ€™a Dinapoli Melinda Miesner Baker McNamara
ORDER YOUR OWN COPY Her Campus at WVU WVU Film Club Bridge to the Mountains
trich ylettrich t e L y e Kase r| @kas dito E t n sta
e Payn am m a Ad @ad | r o t di ng E i g a n
e rcu s_upp e p Up @kri n e t s | Kri Chief nor-i
nettino _g a i G a i vy Oliv r| @li e n g i s e unior D
e Camara n i r e h t a K camara e n i r e h t a ctor| @k ative Dire
lvarez A y ryash r a a m M z e r @alva | f e i h nC
letter from the
EDITOR 2019. A year that was supposed to be a breath of fresh air, full of hope. Following the “year of the woman,” the year of multiple marches (pg. 37), but also the year that had the highest record of mass shootings, 2019 was supposed to be different. However, as this semester continued, new instances transpired that made us feel just as discouraged as before. A West Virginia delegate compared the LGBTQIA+ community to the KKK (pg. 40), blackface became the theme of Gucci and Katy Perry’s fashion releases and our planet is quickly deteriorating due to our lack of focus on protecting the environment.
created for those overcoming addiction (pg. 36), finding their personal style (pg. 40), supporting small businesses (pg. 15), attacking gender roles in West Virginia (pg. 38) and many, many others. We also take a look at the reality of the body positivity movement (pg. 50) and fashion sustainability (pg. 18).
I’ve been able to grow with the band Paramore since I was 11 years old, embarrassingly enough since I heard the song “Decode” on the first Twilight album. It seems that every Paramore album was created for a very specific time in my life, a reality I’ve learned many experience. We can’t deny the lengths of inspiration, The last few years have been discouraging, solace and relief that Paramore has depressing and overall heavy. However, it spread over the years. Hayley Williams pushed young people into politics, women herself is the face of resilience for many. to the frontlines of the #MeToo Movement Specifically, their song, “Rose-Colored and encouraged the everyday person into Boy” inspired the color scheme for this their own form of activism. When it feels issue. While Hayley, Taylor and Zack took like there is no way up, we must stand and off their rose-tinted glasses for the song, march forward. We must be resilient. we put ours on for the issue, looking at the bright, optimistic side of things and Our Resilience Issue highlights those highlighting the stories that matter and the that continue to thrive and inspire the people behind them. I hope you find relief communities around them— despite the and inspiration in this issue. Together, we depressing headlines. This issue was too can be resilient.
“ I rise
...Out of the huts of history’s s hame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pa in
, “Still I Rise”
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Opinion: Canceling the Hypocrisy of “Cancel Culture”
written by Adam Payne designed by Mary Alvarez
his spring, Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” quite literally took the world (or at least the internet) by storm. Girls and gays everywhere snatched the lyrics to use for snarky tweets, empowering Instagram captions and memes… so many memes. Then, when her album coined with the same name dropped in February 2019, it was sprinkled with songs about breakups, her relationships with Mac Miller and Pete Davidson and songs that portray her newfound state of bad bitch-ness. This wave of charisma is most notable in her song aptly titled, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” All of this was met with huge praise from fans– inspiration even– for women to take the same stance. Why then when Taylor Swift, within a different musical genre, sang about her exes, bad bitch-ness was swapped for bitchy? When she released “Dear John” in 2010, it was branded with controversy for calling out her exboyfriend by name. Then, practically every break-up bop or love ballad Swift released after was deemed exploitative of her exes. The tabloids named her a “serial dater,” saying she was dating just for profit. This all has built up until today, where Swift, while still having a huge fan base, has practically been canceled from mainstream consumers—for doing the same thing Grande is doing now. Besides the music styling and disparate personalities, really what’s the difference between how they have been treated? Simply put, society picks and chooses from pop culture who they want to cancel and for how long.
Now I think neither Swift nor Grande is worthy of a ‘cancellation,’ and we all should just appreciate them for their individual song-power. But in the wake of the #MeToo Movement, when it comes to the dozens of other celebrities that have been under fire for far worse than singing about Harry Styles, the lines seem to blur. These lines are buried in two categories that can determine whether or not an artist gets canceled: their personality and their art form. Let’s start with the first. The hypocrisy arises because if a person has an attractive personality it seems that society is far less apt to eliminate them from the mainstream. Take two Youtube content creators working in the same field, for example, Laura Lee and Jeffree Star. While the two used to be a part of a (now dismantled) makeup guru friend squad, Lee’s chance of obtaining Star’s level of stardom obliterated after her old racist tweets were mined out of the Twitter archives. For example, following Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012, she said, “Tip for all black people if you pull ur pants up you can run from the police faster.” Yikes. But, in the same range, Star has been called out for his utterly racist language that surfaced in videos when he was a Myspace star. So why is Star a multi-millionaire and Lee is still losing subscribers? The way they handled each situation plays a hand as he made a sit-down, genuine video asking for forgiveness and an outcry of apology, while she made a sobbing, short video later ridiculed for being ingenuine. Is all it takes to
avoid a career death sentence a good apology? I think that what more people care about in their continuance to stan is likeability. With the help of YouTube giant Shane Dawson (who, notably, despite a blackface controversy is thriving now more than ever) and his mini-series on the “Secret World of Jeffree Star,” audiences everywhere empathized, laughed with and watched awe-strickenly as Star showed off his successes and garnered/solidified millions of fans in the process. Do you see the hypocrisy? The context, fandom and aftermath, of course, are different but the crux of that cyber, cancel-worthy, crime is the same. In the world of YouTube where authenticity and likeability are how you gain fame and coins, Star and Dawson might just be better businessmen. Outside of the virtual world, another determining factor in whether or not society will cancel you is the perpetrator’s career. The fact is, people will weigh the same offenses differently depending on the offender’s subtext. In late October 2017, actor Kevin Spacey was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Instantly, Spacey was erased from his upcoming projects and plucked out of “House of Cards,” the Netflix show he once spearheaded. He will never work again in Hollywood. Almost exactly a year later, rapper Tekashi69 was sentenced to four years of probation for “using a child in a sexual performance.” However, you can still go on any streaming site and be one of over 23 million monthly listeners to play 6ix9ine’s songs, and with a quick Google search, you can
easily find dozens of fan-made petitions urging the prisons to “Free 69!” The fact is problematic musicians, often rappers, are forgiven much easier than actors or media personalities. But why? Why are domestic abusers like Chris Brown still selling out concerts, or XXXtentacion posthumously getting the second highest streamed song of 2018? Then there are entertainment stars, like Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein, who after their sexual assault/harassment allegations they were completely erased– and rightfully so. They will probably never work again. The difference is that due to the state of ‘pristine’ Hollywood shoves its actors into, they are held to a higher standard than musicians- but specifically rappers. Rappers are stereotypically depicted as thugs, badasses and beyond, so when they do something wrong it isn’t as big as a shock as when the polished Academy Award nominee does.
Moreover, I think that the level of guilt you feel for supporting a problematic musician is less than that of a problematic actor because, in music, you don’t have to see their face. You see a person’s humanity less when they capture it in a song. You can play it off as liking the beat or clever lyrics because after all, you don’t have to see them emoting on screen cracking jokes, or feeling heartbreak or falling in love for two hours. Yet, deep down, there is always the knowledge in the back of your mind that the singer in your headphones comes from a tainted place. In March, Pete Davidson said regarding R. Kelly on Saturday Night Live, “The rule should be if you want to listen to their music, you just have to admit that they’re bad people.” Yet if you continue to support one artist, after admitting that they are a bad person, then you are just as much a part of the problem. If we want to stop having problematic celebrities
that people can not choose the one with better music or better movies and continue to support them with a faux clean conscience of “I admitted they are bad.” The art and the artist need to be inseparable to get results. Every ticket sale, stream or view is ultimately adding to a culture where denying and begging for forgiveness has substituted being a good person in the first place. Simply, if the artist created the art, then don’t separate them; they are inherently one. It looks like our options are as follows: support all problematic celebrities for their art alone, stop supporting one artist and canceling others for the same thing, cancel all problematic celebrities or forgive the apologizers. Is there a clear solution? Not even close. But I think if one thing is certain it is that we must destroy the hypocrisy hidden in “cancel culture,” and start treating one another better from the start.
One Organization Rewrites the Narrative of Prison Culture
written by Lexi Persad photographed by Katherine Camara
rowded with hundreds of books across all genres— fiction, nonfiction, howto’s, religion and many more, the small, second-story room located in the Aull House on Spruce Street doesn’t look like a traditional nonprofit. Housed inside this room is the hustle and bustle of the Appalachian Prison Book Project, an organization that ships books to prisons throughout the Appalachian region. This project strives to meet the needs of incarcerated persons, whether they are wanting to learn something new through educational books or even learn about a new world through fiction. Volunteers at the Appalachian Prison Book Project read through letters from the incarcerated persons and package books to send them in return based on their requests. Those leading the project recently launched a fundraiser to provide a college-credited course to those incarcerated in the Appalachian region. The class began in March and is intended to train and teach those incarcerated in preparation for their release dates. There are limited educational opportunities available to those in incarceration, according to Diana Mazzella, vice president of the Appalachian Prison Book Project and editor of WVU Magazine. However, the organization is making strides by providing books to prisons throughout the region and hosting book clubs.
Diana Mazzella, vice president of the Appalachian Prison Book Project and editor of WVU Magazine
“There are limited education programs in prison,” Mazzella said. “It’s important to get on paper that they’re doing this work.” Typically, an incarcerated person will request books that will help them after they are released, such as GED preparation or instructional books that will help them learn a new skill, trade or language. Mazzella also finds that incarcerated groups want to escape to another world while they are behind bars. “They just want to experience a story,” said Mazzella. “Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction or history.” Because the Appalachian Prison Book Project is a nonprofit, it relies on donations from the community.
The Aull House, located on Spruce Street The organization recently established an Amazon wish list to allow the public to donate frequently requested books. According to Mazzella, around 100-200 books have been donated. “[The wish list] is updated depending on what people need,” said Mazzella. “Dictionaries and thesauruses are always requested.” The organization’s website has also added a PayPal link that welcomes donations for postage, which is the biggest expense of the nonprofit. These updates allow past volunteers to continue to donate and stay involved after leaving Morgantown. The Appalachian Prison Book Project has grown because of word of mouth, according to Mazzella. It is easy for
people to begin volunteering and help those behind bars gain the education they need when they are freed. “There are a lot of people trying to learn more,” said Mazzella. “We focus on justice issues of people in prison and informing people outside of prison of circumstances.” However, Appalachian Prison Book Project would not be as successful as it is without its team of volunteers. There are few barriers for those that are interested in joining the organization. Volunteers can read letters, wrap books or help organize the bookshelves. “Seeing people’s engagement with the issue is really important,” said Mazzella. “Volunteers are people who want to educate themselves.”
The Appalachian Prison Book Project reaches as many prisons as possible. However, there are different rules and regulations between federal and state prisons that can make donating books challenging. Despite all the obstacles and expenses that the nonprofit faces, it has grown tremendously. Mazzella has witnessed the organization’s evolution since she joined in 2010 when they were running out of money and only sent a handful of books and postcards to local prisons. “In the past year, we’ve donated around 3,000 to 4,000 books,” said Mazzella. “Last year, the average amount donated was 1,000 to 2,000. We want to continue that growth.”
A Local Business With an International Cause
written by Annika Goodwin photographed by Katherine Camara
hannon Dowling began her career in the fair trade business in 1997. For 25 years, Dowling dedicated her life to working at wholesale companies across the United States, but two years ago she decided to start her own business in downtown Morgantown. “I came here to Morgantown and realized there was no fair trade store or anywhere local where people could get that connection,” Dowling said. “Here in Morgantown we’re just building strip mall after strip mall with big box stores– not that there is anything wrong with that, but the brick and mortar retails like me have a harder job getting the customer to come in.” Fair trade has become a movement around the world, but what exactly is it? According to Fair Trade Certified, fair trade is a partnership between a diverse group of producers, companies, consumers and advocates. In the modern world, the global market seemingly encourages the idea that production is more important than the producers themselves. Under certain big-name companies, employees– who are sometimes children– are working extended hours, with poor working conditions and for small wages. Advocates of fair trade aim to change this standard. Despite fair trade being a worldwide movement, it can be hard to find stores that actually practice the business model. Luckily for WVU students, Dowling’s store, River Fair Trade, serves the local community with fair trade products. The boutique, located at 316 High St., is a socially conscious gift shop that brings fair trade products from marginalized artisans all around the world. The store specializes
Shannon Dowling, owner of River Fair Trade
in handmade goods such as apparel, jewelry, decor and kitchen supplies. It also carries specialty coffees, teas and chocolates. Despite being less than a 10-minute walk from WVU’s Downtown Campus, Dowling was surprised to learn that college students are not her store’s main demographic. Though she would love to have students be more involved in her store and fair trade in general, Dowling finds that professors and faculty at WVU are the people who spend the most time at her store. “I think that those people already had the idea and the mindfulness about where their money goes,” Dowling said. Many people are unaware of where the products they buy come from or how they were made, so Dowling wants to give the people of Morgantown an option to buy ethically produced products that have a story behind them. Dowling wants her customers to feel like they are connected to the artisans and know their money is
actually benefiting somebody and “not just lining the pockets of the 1 percent somewhere.” Not only does Dowling think it is important to educate the uninformed about fair trade, but she also aspires to educate the marginalized artisans themselves about making their products more eco-friendly. For example, an artisan group was dumping extra paint water into the river, and Dowling helped develop other environmentally-friendly techniques of removing that waste instead of contaminating a river. Though Dowling is passionate about her work at River Fair Trade, the task of explaining to others that fair trade is a viable business model can be daunting. “I am already kind of preaching to the choir to the people who already know about fair trade. They’re coming no matter what,” Dowling said. “I want to show people that this really does work, that you don’t have to have the big box store or corporate mentality to do something.”
How the Business Inventory Tax is Affecting Up-and-coming Businesses
written by Madison Greer photographed by Katherine Camara
f you’ve ever taken a stroll down High Street, you’ve seen the dozens of unique shops that take up residence, some of them in the same place as they were 30 years ago. These stores are known not only for their unforgettable inventory, but their exceptional hospitality. The owners and employees are known to drop everything in order to make their clientele feel at home, and it puts them in a great light opportunity-wise, but behind the scenes, West Virginia businesses are struggling. West Virginia is one of only 10 states in the United States that are home to a business inventory tax, which taxes all inventory, supplies and machinery in West Virginia stores and businesses. Even if the tax was paid off on a specific piece, you’re not in the clear; if it’s still on the premises, business owners continue to pay for it until it’s been sold (if it’s a product), or destroyed or thrown away (if it’s machinery). At the beginning of 2018, West Virginia’s legislative session prioritized reducing business inventory taxes, which, according to House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson, was the “biggest single hindrance to bringing economic development and jobs to the state.” In the past, the business inventory tax has granted the state about $530 million in revenue for an entire fiscal year. West Virginia legislature was prepared to announce the decision to start reducing the tax rate so that the revenue would go down by $140 million thanks to the Just Cut Taxes and Win Amendment. The amendment calls for the elimination of the business inventory tax over a seven-year period, but in order to move forward, a change to
the state’s constitution would have to be made. A few months after its introduction, the decision to help lower the tax was thrown out the window of the legislative session. Morgantown’s High Street People wondered be a sight, she realizes that this dream what would happen to the state’s may never become a reality. economy if that much money in revenue would no longer be collected. “I think it’s important for West Virginia’s If the state didn’t collect money from economy [to get rid of the tax],” Watkins businesses using this tax, how would said. “I think it would make our state the revenue be replaced? Once this more business-friendly, and there are is established, legislature can start ways to make [the money] up.” looking more in-depth into options and a decision. The tax can add up for businesses and After a few months of silence, 2019 brought forward hope for the new amendment. Although it would not be identical to the changes last year, it would offer a similar bone structure. The main difference? Instead of focusing on the property tax on machinery, legislature wants to reinvent the inventory tax in a way that would affect a broader community of West Virginia businesses. Barbara Watkins, executive director of local concert venue Main Street Morgantown, has seen businesses both big and small take a hit from this tax. Although seeing the tax change would
can make it difficult for them to hit the ground running.
“I think it’s a detriment to everybody,” said Watkins. “Businesses get slammed with all these taxes, and when they’re small, their overhead is a very small margin. It can be the difference between a good and a bad year.” While there are both pros and cons about changing the state’s constitution in favor of businesses big and small, it looks as if the cards aren’t entirely all laid out just yet. The thought process for the legislature is far from over. But Watkins and business owners all over West Virginia have hope that together they can make the change.
taking sustainability to the
A Look into the Ethics of Sustainable Fashion and the New Maximalism Trend written by Olivia Gianettino
the birth of
fast fas hion
The birth of technology and social media has flipped the fashion industry upside down. It does not take long for runway trends to be seen by millions of viewers on Instagram, creating an immediate demand for these trends by low-budget consumers; this is how fast fashion was born. Stores like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M (sound familiar?) decide what is going to be most sought after, and begin producing their own versions, so the average consumer does not have to choose between what is stylish and what they want their bank account to look like after shopping. This process sounds genius, and for these companies, it is, but it is far more harmful than imaginable. But, whatâ€™s the problem? Ethics and sustainability: these are words everyone is familiar with, but maybe not when related to the realm of fashion. Much like how using single-use paper and plastic goods is wasteful, the clothing you buy and how often you are buying it makes an impact on our planet and the lives of those laboring over it.
The hands creating your closet Fashion is an industry that is still quite labor intensive. While there have been small technological advancements here and there, most of the clothing you are wearing right now was somehow assembled by human hands. Since there is such a high demand for these fast-fashion garments, real people are working hard to meet those demands, and often times, in very poor conditions. “Brands want to keep their profits high and their costs down so they will move orders to whichever factory will make it cheapest,” Martine Parry of Fairtrade Foundation said. “They cut corners on health and safety. Slash wages. It’s a race to the bottom.” This means that the laborers making your cheap Supreme knock-off hoodies for Forever 21 are not even getting paid enough to be able to afford them.
Earth is at risk
The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world behind the oil industry, according to Sustain Your Style. Textile and garment production creates toxins that directly pollute waterways while demanding a huge quantity of fresh water for finishing products. “Up to 20,000 liters of water are needed to produce just 1 kg of cotton,” according to Sustain Your Style. Also, garments that are made from yards of fabric make for tons and tons of scrapped and wasted textiles. Not only does the production of clothing itself affect the environment, but so does the accumulation of these garments. “According to Fast Company, the fast-fashion industry produces 150 billion pieces of clothing per year,” said Di Donato in her article, Why Fast Fashion is Killing the Planet and Your Ethics. “That’s a lot of jeggings.” When textiles are synthetic, as a large majority of them are, they take hundreds of years to decompose. All of that polyester and acrylic in your closet will outlive you for a long time. This ties in with consumers’ demand for what is new and Instagram-able. The idea that we must have a new outfit for every occasion means these garments will keep being produced by the billions and will sit on the planet for a very long time.
Buying into fast fashion does not make your closet evil. There are always ways to reduce the damage that has been made. Anuschka Rees, personal style expert and author of The Curated Closet, provides a pyramid for the ethical closet, and it looks something like this: the first and largest tier says to value and take good care of what is already in your closet. No matter how cheap or expensive that clothing is and no matter what they are made of, keeping your clothes in good shape means they will be wearable for longer, will not need to be replaced as often and will be easier to recycle when you do decide you are ready to let go. The second largest tier suggests we all be a little more selective when it comes to shopping. Stop settling for garments you kind of like or that sort of fitâ€”only buy what you absolutely need and love! The perk to this is that you will have more money, in the long run, to stop settling for cheaply-made items. The third tier ties right into this. Shop for items that are of higher quality. Fashion brands that are slightly more expensive often have much more ethical and environmentally-friendly practices, and shopping less, to begin with, will make room in your wallet for those nicer luxuries! The fourth tier suggests buying second-hand. Think of it this way: traditional recycling is to plastic water bottles as thrifting is to fashion. Buying secondhand can be exciting and selling secondhand is gratifying. Say you are looking to get rid of some clothing that does not fit anymore, or you just want to downsize: do not throw away your clothes. Please. People need them, and they want them. Send bags full of clothing to the local thrift store, The Goodwill or have a yard sale. Finally, the last and equally-important fifth tier of Reesâ€™ pyramid of ethical clothing says to support ethical brands. Do some research and find brands that offer what you like with a responsible and transparent mission. By doing so, the demand for these companies will only increase. For so many, fashion is a passion that cannot be ditched. Fortunately, measures can be taken to help save the industry and the planet, starting by simply kicking poor shopping habits to the curb. Begin to shop smarter; it is easier and more rewarding than it may seem.
What is maximalism?
Over the past few years, the art of minimalism has been heavily embraced. When integrated into style, the idea is simple: plain colors, patterns, textures and shapes. The minimalist strives for effortlessness and ease, but what about those who do not want their style labeled as effortless? The answer is maximalism. Maximalism is matching and layering articles of clothing in unorthodox ways. It is a child of frumpy eighties style and the way toddlers dress themselves for school. It is colorful, silly and carefree. As humans, there is a lot of pressure to take ourselves seriously, and maximalism through fashion is a way to break free from those restraints. Rules cease to exist in maximalism. Is it appealing to the eye, or more importantly, appealing to your eye? If the answer is yes, you can wear it. If the answer is yes, but I kind of want to add a black tulle skirt and a fringe jacket, do that, too. While it is nonsensical, though, it never fails to hit the mark. There is a sense of challenge when putting together a maximalist outfit, much like putting together a puzzle. Matching patterns, textures and color becomes more interesting and thought-provoking when there are a plethora of such elements. This aspect adds to the fun, playful nature of maximalism. Maximalism sounds like excess, but there are ways to cultivate a full, exciting wardrobe in a sustainable manner. Thrifting is a perfect way to find unique pieces perfect for whimsical, overthe-top outfits.
feature photographed by Kristen Uppercue and Baker McNamara
Photographed by Maranie Rae
Bridge to the Mountains: How One Organization Strives to Heal a Broken Appalachian City
Their mission is to come alongside people where they are as they live out life in the streets. To accompany them through the challenges they may face in life and in the streets.
written by Kasey Lettrich photographed by Kristen Uppercue
ittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is known as the city of bridges, but most don’t think of the people who reside under those beautiful bridges. On any given day, there are over 15,000 people facing homelessness in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2019, 350 will live on the streets in Pittsburgh and risk becoming victims of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, overdosing and are facing exposure to the elements brought on by heavy Appalachian snow storms. Dave Lettrich is all too familiar with the danger of the streets and has helped hundreds of people escape that danger in one way or another. The Making of Bridge to the Mountains Lettrich has made a name for himself in the city of Pittsburgh as the man who puts everyone’s needs above his own. He’s helped more than 100 youth ages 25 and under (50 of which were travelers) and multiple women escape sex trafficking, as well as obtained housing for more than 60 people and food stamps and medical insurance for more people than Lettrich can count. His distribution of Naloxone, better known as Narcan– a medication used to block the effects of opioids– has reversed over 100 overdoses since May 2018. Lettrich and his partner Calla Kainaroi are actively working with 60-70 people at a time and around 250 people collectively throughout the year. They do all this work through the nonprofit organization Lettrich began just a few years ago, coined Bridge to the Mountains (BTTM). BTTM began accidentally when Lettrich was attending Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to receive his master’s in divinity. At the time, he was interning at Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community in Pittsburgh’s Southside when he came across a man in the parking lot, Mike, who wanted to share his story with Lettrich.
Mike, whose name was changed to maintain anonymity, is a former incarcerated man of a federal prison and now resides under a bridge in Pittsburgh. The two bonded over coffee and quickly became friends. He took Lettrich to visit his home under the bridge so Lettrich could meet others also living there. Alongside Mike and his friends, Lettrich began taking trips to Ohiopyle to bike the river trail. “Through that shared experience a great friendship evolved,” Lettrich said. After several of these trips, they came up with the idea to get a group of people together to go whitewater rafting with hopes that similar friendships could be built through the experience. They created a GoFundMe and raised $1,200 for the trip. With them they took 10 people that live on the streets and 10 people that work with those living on the streets. “We were going from under a bridge to the mountains, so we called it Bridge to the Mountains,” Lettrich said. Thus, began the nonprofit that Lettrich has worked so hard to build. Lettrich’s only goal is to be present in the relationships that he finds. Sometimes, in that presence, he finds people that are in a place they don’t want to be in, and they will look to him and Kainaroi
to provide them with the resources needed to find a more peaceful way of living. In those cases, they do everything they can to get those resources in place. “We don’t set out with the goal of ending homelessness. We don’t set out with the goal of getting someone to overcome an addiction,” Lettrich said. “We don’t set out with the goal of changing people’s lives. Our only goal is to be there, be present and see people for who they are and where they are.” Lettrich likes to focus on the relationship of the people he meets with no expectations of where it will go. “We embrace our individuality, our perspective, our unique place on this Earth,” Lettrich said. “We recognize that a lot of times, somebody that we develop a relationship with might be in a state of turmoil, might be living life in a way that makes us or other people uncomfortable, but we try not to impose what we think someone’s life should be—on others.” Lettrich’s biggest challenge with the work he does is finding a way to be in the presence of so much pain and suffering every day, being comfortable in that space and not letting that have an adverse effect. “It’s often draining at times, physically and emotionally,” Lettrich said.
However, there is a handful of people who are fully engaged in the streets of Pittsburgh looking out for each other because at any moment, walking into a situation that is graphic or traumatic is a possibility. In those cases, they cannot leave until the person is safe, which oftentimes, means not walking away for 15-18 hours and being 100 percent in the crisis with that person. They support each other in the need to find space away from their work so they can regroup.
opioid receptors and helps to reduce opioid withdraw symptoms. He found an organization in the city that he can work with to break barriers down and increase access to medicallyassisted treatment for those he works with.
“We are walking, at any moment, into a major crisis situation,” Lettrich said. “Life outside of that moment has to be on hold.”
“When it comes to substances, those are my biggest areas of focus: our Naloxone distribution, harm reduction and access to medassisted treatment and long-term recovery programs,” Lettrich said.
Treating Those Affected by the Opioid Epidemic Because of Lettrich’s position on the streets, he has access to a lot of people struggling with IV drug and opioid use disorder. He is a strong advocate for “harm reduction,” a process of educating drug users on safe use practices intended to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading diseases and decrease the risk of death and serious bodily injury associated with drug use. He also tries to help people stay connected with medical care so if something does happen, they can address it quickly, so it doesn’t maim them or kill them. Because of the relationship and trust he has with individuals using IV drugs and opioids, he’s able to reach more of them with Naloxone training and distribution. With Naloxone, the users can give it to their friends so that more people have it and, therefore, more people can be saved. As soon as someone tells Lettrich they don’t want to use IV drugs anymore, he does everything he can to help them recover. Lettrich has great resources and it usually only takes him a couple of hours to get someone into a 30-day, or longer, program. He can have someone on their way to rehab as soon as they ask. Lettrich finds the most success with Buprenorphine, better known as Suboxone, a drug that bonds to the
Although he has helped many people find homes and stop using drugs, he doesn’t look at BTTM as a homeless service. “I’m okay looking back and saying, ‘this is the result,’” Lettrich said. “I’m just not okay looking forward and saying, ‘we’re going to help more people get housed, etc.’ because that’s not our goal.” If individuals want those things and Lettrich can help them get them, then he will. Helping Trafficking Victims Along with helping people obtain housing, medical insurance and other benefits, Kainaroi and Lettrich also work together to save people who are stuck in sex trafficking situations, a situation more common in Pittsburgh than many realize. “Most people don’t think that sex trafficking is a thing that happens, first in the United States and secondly right in your city, county or neighborhood,” Kainaroi said.
There were eight trafficking cases in Pittsburgh in 2017 and several ongoing cases that haven’t been resolved yet. In the city, Lettrich and Kainaroi work on an individual level with victims of sex trafficking. “We might happen upon somebody in the streets, a conversation starts up and you kind of notice some of the signs and then it rolls from there,” Kainaroi said. Many times, by accident, Kainaroi, who received a degree in psychology from Point Park University, finds people who are trying to get away from traffickers or aren’t sure if they’re being trafficked. “I like the idea of being in the community,” she said. “Being out in the streets I see a lot and I hear a lot. It’s important to be a presence, to be able to encounter that person and work through that.” Kainaroi used to work for Operation
Safety Net, but recently moved to Bridge to the Mountains where she works with Lettrich to battle trafficking and other problems they encounter. Together they work on the streets most of the day and try to build relationships with the people they find. “Whatever comes of that comes, whether they want to be connected to resources or just need a tent, a sleeping bag and some socializing,” Kainaroi said. With the most recent case, they collaborated with many folks around the city, including Angela, a victim of sex trafficking, to check the victim into a hotel of which the location was unknown to anyone else. More Than a Few Goals While BTTM doesn’t set many goals for their nonprofit to accomplish, when Lettrich looks back at the results of the relationships he’s had, he is most thankful for his ability to reach people struggling with addiction in a way that nobody else has and being very efficient and effective at Naloxone distribution. Lettrich, and BTTM specifically, has gotten to where it is not by setting goals and being over-defined, but by working where their services are needed. “We just let the street drive us to where the need is and adapt to meet the needs of anyone that we find,” Lettrich said. “We try not to become too focused on what our goals should be and where we’re going.” Lettrich chooses not to have many goals for his organization, but he does have hopes for the future. For this year, he has the hope to expand access to resources, financial and otherwise, to better serve individuals with more capable outreach providers. His biggest hope for this year is to be able to hire someone to handle all administrative tasks, so that it doesn’t continue to keep them from being in the street. He mainly needs help writing grants, meeting with organizations and all the other duties that come along with being a nonprofit.
Currently, Lettrich and Kainaroi are doing all the work on their own and are sacrificing their time on the street where they could be helping people. Because of all this work, they are two people with master-level education, working 70-hour work weeks and only making $36,000 a year. They still need more people, infrastructure resources and help getting basic resources to ensure the survival of the business. Even with all the financial struggles they’ve faced, Lettrich wouldn’t change a thing. Lettrich now realizes that his past experiences in business helped prepare him to have knowledge, skills and ability to be able to shape BTTM into his true calling. “This is the only pathway that has really enabled me to follow what God wants me to be,” Lettrich said. “I’d take all that challenge all over again.” One reason Lettrich loves his work is because he gets to focus on who people truly are rather than their unfortunate social circumstances. He focuses on knowing, loving and seeing every individual’s value and appreciating that rather than believing that the unfortunate social circumstances make them who they are – it simply helped shape where they are. Lettrich believes we get too focused on class struggle and not enough on individual need or
hurt. “I understand and recognize where people from privilege who are seeking to help a marginalized or oppressed class can feel guilt or shame because of the privilege that they’ve had, but I choose to look less at privilege. I choose to look less at class. When we look at each of us individually, regardless of what our socioeconomic status is, regardless of what our position is within society, there’s pain and struggle in the lives of everyone,” Lettrich said. “To have that guilt, to have that shame is to diminish the pain and struggles that one class has had that the other has not. Just because they’re not the same struggles or pain doesn’t mean they aren’t as real. In general, when we take those views, we are still putting individuals into separate boxes that we’ve identified.” Lettrich and Kainaroi are looking forward to starting up the Ohiopyle trips again this summer. Lettrich feels that the mountain trips are an amazing and valuable relationship builder, not only for Kainaroi or him to develop relationships with people on the streets, but also for people who live in the streets to make connections and friendships in a different way with other people who live in the streets.
A Story of Resilience: How Angela Overcame Hardship Angela, an employee at a wellestablished organization in Pittsburgh, is all too familiar with the ramifications that trafficking can have on a victim.
time seemed like a good deal. So, Angela followed her friend to the alleged job where a man picked them up and said, “Hey kids, wanna party?”
Born in 1953 to a single mom that was no older than 16 at the time, Angela was placed in an orphanage and was soon adopted by a minister. Her adopted father died when she was 13 years old and after that she had “one battle after another” with her adopted mother.
The men knew where to find the children. They would pick them up and take them to a place where they would get paid $5 for sex.
Following an argument with her adopted mother, Angela left home. When she returned three days later, all the locks were changed, and nobody would answer. This left 14-year-old Angela to live on the streets and regularly skip school. The other people living on the streets were generally her age and supporting her. They were her “real family”. Angela never got into “hard drugs,” but she was feeding off her friends for food and a place to stay. When this became too much, they offered to help her get a job. Angela’s friend told her she knew of a job where she would earn $5 in 10 minutes, which at the
Angela was a virgin and skeptical about the situation—to say the least—but she trusted her friend. When she saw that her friend was doing it, she did it too. She received her $5. This went on for about a month. Men would invite her to stay with them, which was a luxury. This would mean she had running water and toilet paper, even if for only one night. “You’re living day-to-day,” said Angela, whose name was changed to maintain anonymity. “You’re hoping you’ll make it to tomorrow.” When Angela was 15 years old, a man asked her if she liked what she was doing and she replied, “no.” He invited her to stay with him. She finally had a place to stay and he never tried to have sex with her.
However, this man was struggling from a substance addiction, didn’t work and didn’t have enough money for rent. Angela was grateful that he gave her a place to stay. After a couple of weeks, the man told Angela that the rent was due. He told her she needed to go back out on the street and go back to hooking to get money for rent and food. He was simply giving her a suggestion at first, but when Angela told the man that she didn’t want to go back to hooking, he got angry and hit her. “You better bring home enough money for us to eat and my drugs or I’ll beat the sh*t out of you,” he said to her. After several months, Angela took a chance and ran to a trusted friend’s place where she could stay on the other side of town. She stayed at her friend’s house for three days until he found her. He slammed her head against the wall and broke her nose. “If you run again, I’ll kill you,” he told her. After another year of living with this man, she ran, and her adopted mother took her back
in. When Angela’s mother saw her, she immediately took her to a doctor. Angela agreed since it was free medical service and she hadn’t received a medical checkup since living on the street except to get her nose repaired at an emergency room. The doctor told Angela that she had a double hernia and it required immediate surgery. But Angela didn’t feel any pain or show any other signs of having a hernia. She agreed anyway. At 16-years-old, Angela was given a full hysterectomy by a doctor that lied to her. She left her mother’s and went back to the man until her sister came back into her life. After many attempts, her sister finally convinced Angela to leave the street and live with her. Living with her sister allowed her to finish her undergraduate degree, which she began in 1970 and finished in 1989. In 1987, two years before completing her degree, the phone rang. She answered to hear the man she used to live with. She hadn’t seen him in five years, but when he called, he apologized and invited her to his new apartment.
When she arrived at his apartment, it was filled with a fog of weed and there were three boys standing there. When they got ahold of her, she screamed, so they put a rope around her neck and told her that if she screamed again, they’d kill her. The rope ripped her vocal chords. At 66-years-old, talking still hurts.
she didn’t have any medical training, she couldn’t do much for him.
In 1995, after moving to Pittsburgh and marrying an excop-turned-engineer, Angela had an epiphany. She saw an article about a doctor who goes to the streets to help those in need. She wanted to help, so she met with him. He told her that since
“Unlike my earlier existence, I can now look beyond the limits of a single day toward a future which, for good or bad, is mine to make as I will,” Angela said in an article, “Menace to Society: Autobiography of a Street Girl and Trafficking Survivor”.
She received her EMT license and worked at a clinic for the homeless until there was an opening in the group she wished to work for.
She decided to quit her job and go to medical school. The She left the apartment barefoot University of Pittsburgh gave her with blood running down her one semester to prove herself, legs. She was too scared to go considering her past transcripts. to the hospital, so she purchased She received a 4.0 GPA that codeine, which is the “hardest” semester and was accepted drug she’s ever done. into the master’s program in the College of Bioengineering. In 1989, she received her dual degree in physics and electrical Today, she is happily married, engineering. She left town has both a daughter and and changed her name, so he granddaughter, is working to couldn’t find her again. receive her M.D. Ph.D. and is a certified sexual assault counselor Angela has no pictures from her for Pittsburgh Action Against childhood. Rape (PAAR) while working part-time at an established “Essentially, before 1989, I didn’t organization that helps people exist,” she said. who live in the streets.
“Everyone Knows Someone”: The Lives Behind West Virginia’s Opioid Crisis written by Kristen Uppercue
“So, go running for the shelter of your mother’s little helper...”
ritten in 1966, the Rolling Stones’ song “Mother’s Little Helper” paints the same picture we see today as West Virginia struggles through the opioid epidemic. Detailing how suburban mothers relied on drugs to make it through their days, this song shows how the lasting effects of substance abuse transcend beyond when the song was created. Throughout history, drug epidemics have moved from one drug to the next, continuing this deadly cycle as newer and cheaper drugs enter the market. However, the current opioid epidemic is one of the worst the country has seen. “Everyone knows someone” is a common saying in West Virginia regarding the opioid epidemic. In 2017, there were 833 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in West Virginia– a rate of 49.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An epidemic is defined as “a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time;” but, looking beyond an epidemic to the stories that construct it shows a much deeper picture of pain. After being legally adopted at two years old by her stepfather, Tiffany Koch was sexually, physically and emotionally abused from ages four to 12. When her family learned of the abuse, two years of court cases began where Koch was forced to relive the trauma she endured for so long. Even though the abuse lasted for eight years, the court deemed Koch’s stepfather ‘medically insane’ and ordered him to spend one year in prison and obtain psychiatric help. He has since gone on to affect three other families. At the age of 17, Koch fell for a man that was struggling with a heroin addiction, foreshadowing her own addiction.
After watching many people use the intravenous drug, the day someone offered their needle to her she decided to try as well. “In my 17-year-old brain, I was just partying as I did with every other drug, not knowing what I had just gotten myself into,” Koch said. From ages 17 to 20, Koch suffered through multiple overdoses, visited many rehabilitation and mental health facilities and spent some time in prison because of her dependence on heroin. “Everyone lost hope in me. I lost hope in me,” Koch said in a Facebook post. “I believed I was meant to die a junkie.” In 2012, Koch was featured on an episode of Intervention, a TV show that depicts loved ones encouraging rehabilitation from the subject’s substance use disorder. While she had been to rehab before, this TV show kickstarted her journey towards recovery. “I can’t say that intervention is what changed everything, but what I can say is that was the start of my journey,” Koch said. “The intervention and being given the opportunity to go to a nice facility for a long period of time was the first time I’ve ever been given that opportunity. It was one of those things where it’s like, I can’t say no.” From rehabilitation facilities like Jacob’s Ladder in Terra Alta to sober living homes such as Ascension Recovery Services in Morgantown, West Virginians are stepping up to address the crisis plaguing their community. Inspired by her position as an EMT in Berkeley County, West Virginia, and the love of her community, Randi Shank decided to start a sober living home in Inwood, a small town in the eastern panhandle.
“Working in this county, seeing all the issues, knowing my children and step kids are growing up here, I felt like I had to do something to try and better the area,” Shank said. Just as Shank is working to better her community, Koch is also investing her time to teach the Inwood community about the opioid epidemic and addiction by speaking at local schools. She now works as an EMT in Berkeley County alongside Shank. Through that position, she has the opportunity to not only help those who are struggling with addiction but to also relate to and encourage them to seek treatment. Koch has since married and is the mother of two young girls. “When I go into an overdose, my brain doesn’t want to go outside and chit chat with everyone else. What I want to do is sit with the addict and ask them if they want to get better,” Koch said. “Every single addict is different. I am sure there are some people who did really bad things before an addiction even started, but I also know that there are some really good people who just got caught up. Those are the people I’m trying to reach.”
How the Women’s March Speaks to a National Trend written by Téa DiNapoli graphics by Mary Alvarez
his past year, Americans have chosen a recordbreaking 42 ethnically and racially diverse women who are now members of Congress. One who has been breaking headlines for her bold speeches and progressive actions is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. Others who have followed in her footsteps are Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who became the first Muslim women in Congress. This itself is monumentally exciting and a huge step forward for not only women but for the country as a whole. In contrast to the past two years, this year’s march was focused on women’s future plan of action. There is no doubt that the change of energy in this year’s march was inspired by the 125 women who won their 2018 Midterm elections. Organizers behind the event released a statement saying, “On January 19, 2019, we’re going to flood the streets of Washington, D.C., and cities across the globe. The #WomensWave is coming, and we’re sweeping the world forward with us.” The women’s march this year was all about celebrating women’s achievements despite all the darkness seen in politics. We have seen women do amazing things politically and socially. In the fall of 2018, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford inspired sexual assault survivors from around the world as she courageously stood up and testified in front of Congress. During the Olympics, Mirai Nagasau became the first American woman to land a triple axel. Ilhan Omar became the first woman to wear a hijab in
Congress. Many celebrities like Amy Schumer, Halsey and Laverne Cox dedicated their weekends to show their support for 2018’s victories. Although many could not make it to the women’s march, they were there in the spirit of posters. Ariana Grande inspired many signs. Girls were photographed holding colorful signs reading “You Like My Rights, Gee Thanks, I Want Them,” inferring to the pop star’s new single ‘7 rings”. Others held more simple, yet meaningful signs like “God Is A Woman.” In a march closer to Morgantown, the crowd in Charleston, West Virginia, did not go unseen– even in the rain. The West Virginia chapter of the Women’s March rounded up a group of 100 people who advocated at the Capitol steps. It was a day filled with performers and social justice leaders who shared speeches, poems and songs. West Virginians from around the state were focused on standing up for equality, protection and a day of celebration. Though it was anticipated for this year’s march to protest Trump as the past two have, this march became much more. It was about unity, empowerment and political advances of women. The first Women’s March took place in 2017– the day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office. It was estimated that 4.6 million people from around the country came to show
You like my rights? Gee thanks, I want them.
support that year, but the numbers were not as high in 2019, for many reasons. For one, the time of the march was also the country’s 29th day of the government shutdown. Although the shutdown did not hinder the march from happening, it did lead organizers to move the location of the march being held in Washington D.C. Several activist groups such as Planned Parenthood were seen at all marches. This year’s rallies have continued to be successful because of how much it has impacted the women of today and the generations to come. More women are voting, which continues to inspire hundreds of women to run and shows young girls how empowering it is to be female. The 2019 women’s marches set the tone for what is expected to come from them in the future because they highlight women that are making an impact around the world. Though the marches were smaller there were advances made, making it clear that the women’s march is here to stay!
Activism Leading Change: The Women Changing West Virginia
written by Melinda Miesner graphics by Mary Alvarez
very day, the stereotypical roles women and men have been unofficially assigned to by our culture shift. We see it happening in movies, awards for those movies, movements like #MeToo, amendments to laws, an increased amount of women in positions of power and general changes in stereotypes. Today the lines of gender roles are becoming blurred as women fight more and more for equality. Outside of West Virginia and the Appalachian Valley the people here are in a way misunderstood, thought to be behind the times and overlooked as a state entirely. These negative stereotypes are prevalent from those who haven’t gotten to know the people here. However, West Virginians are trying to make changes. Just as we’ve seen women making strides across the nation, women here are aiming to make a difference as well, whether that difference is telling our history, running for office or opening a small business. The women of West Virginia are no longer here to make pepperoni rolls and fill up your thermos before you head to the mines so many of our people have been connected to. She’s a powerful woman making her own trail through history. A large shift in gender roles started
Want to learn more? in West Virginia—and across the country—when men had to go fight in World War II. Women soon began to fill in the jobs men had been working in, these women are coined “Rosie’s.” The women in these positions may have been the family caretaker and homemaker, but they also became the breadwinner. Or they may have been younger women who were finally able to infiltrate male-dominated jobs. Executive director and founder of Thanks! Plain and Simple Inc., Anne Montague, created the West Virginia Rosie the Riveter Project as a way to honor her mother who was a Rosie. Montague had not asked her mother much about her work but was inspired to find the other Riveter’s and help them share their stories as an important part of West Virginia history. Rosie’s were more than just place fillers when men had to leave their positions, they were paving the way for women to have their own place and prove that they could do anything men could do—sometimes even better.
WV Rosie the Riveters lecture at the Cultural Center. Learn more about the West Virginia Teachers’ Strikes from 100 Days in Appalachia. Learn more about the Year of the Women and WV women politicians.
Women to Watch
“I was lucky to learn…I wouldn’t trade what I have learned over the years and with the Rosie’s. There was a lot of us. They couldn’t have won the war without us,” said Rosie Gladys Reece remembering her time working in a defense plant. Just like Rosie’s were part of a
WE’RE DOING IT
1992: The Year of the Woman
This year was given the honor of belonging to women because of the political history that was made. Voters in America elected more new women into Congress than any other year. Specifically, the number of women voted into the Senate made history. The rush of women voters to the polls and the excitement in the air that year could be attributed to the Anita Hill hearings. In 1991 Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court nominee at the time, had sexual harassment allegations surrounding him. Later in the year, Hill publicly accused him and the hearings began. Thomas ended up being confirmed 52-48 votes. This situation may sound familiar to the way U.S. politics handled the Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault allegations in 2018; Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed with 50-48 votes.
movement and early activism, West Virginia saw a different type of movement in early 2018 and again in the early months of this year. The 2018 teacher’s strike had so much impact that it inspired many others across the nation to follow and push for their own respect. The strike that started this past February was not about a pay raise, but funding for public schools. Specifically, the education bill that would redirect public funds from public schools to charter schools, which are privately run. Noticeably the majority of teachers in West Virginia are women, making them the leader for this activism. One woman leading these movements is Jessica Salfia, a teacher at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, West Virginia. She sees these strikes as an opportunity to shift the view on education in West Virginia. The article she wrote for 100 Days in Appalachia tells the narrative behind the teachers’ actions. Her greatgrandfather was a coal miner, he had not been educated in school, but still believed that proper education was
key to building strong and connected communities. The initial strike was never about profits, but for creating a dialogue about putting children’s education first and giving respect to the teachers that sacrifice for it. And these strikes have put West Virginia on a list for being first for something positive, rather than our abundant negative labels. In 2018, more women ran for office than ever before. Many compared it to the 1992 “Year of the Woman,” marking 2018 the “Year of the Women.” Women campaigning to be elected into positions of power have always been a way to make shifts in gender roles. In 2018, history was made when the first woman mayor was elected in Charleston, West Virginia, the state’s capital city. Amy Goodwin has had a large role in creating a better community from her time as deputy secretary of commerce and then commissioner of tourism. As a West Virginia native and a mother, she can understand the need to focus on making Charleston a safer and
livelier community. Two other women making impacts in their communities are Kendra Fershee, a West Virginia University law professor, and business owner Terrell Ellis. Both of these women are also mothers, a point that many try to say is a downfall for women striving for elected positions. Some imply women are primary caretakers, and as such it’s hard for mothers to be elected if people don’t believe they can do the job. While Fershee and Ellis did not win their races, it’s not a loss, but a stepping stone for more representation of women in politics. Women are not done finding spaces for their voices to be heard, and the work is not over providing equality for every person. However, just like we’ve seen across the nation, West Virginian women are being noticed for their hard work and dedication to making their communities better places. The questions are how can you shift gender roles? How can you participate in activism that improves life for everyone around you?
e h t d n i h be ainbow
Finding Your Personal Style and Incorporating Color Into Your Life
written by Baker McNamara photographed by Darren Hartwell and Maxwell Shavers
hat someone chooses to wear says a lot about them. Developing a personal sense of style is something that takes time and thought. Each person grows up and develops their own sense of style that works for them. For me, growing up and developing my own personal sense of style meant a lot of trial and error. I would quite often change my sense of style throughout the year, trying on different colors and trends. But as time went on, one thing began to stand true for me and my style; I love wearing color, especially wearing articles of clothing with a plethora of color. The monochromatic trend of wearing only one solid color, typically black, set colorful trends plummeting to the background. Whether it be award shows or everyday streetwear, many celebrities and influencers flaunt this lackluster trend, inspiring many to do the same. But I think it’s time for a change. Purchase that rainbow sweater, those bright pink sneakers or those rainbow earrings you’ve been eyeing because, trust me, you will not regret wearing more color. It not only brightens up your day, but everyone else’s as well. What you wear has a direct correlation with how you feel. Certain outfits and colors can give you a completely different feeling throughout the day. Wearing more bright colors in your wardrobe, like green and yellow, can make you feel more upbeat, according to a study by Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Want to feel calmer in your outfit? Incorporate more blues into what you wear. Looking to feel more energized? Wear more reds and purples.
It is clear that the colors you wear have a direct impact on how you feel. While wearing rainbow patterns and colors can be sported by anyone there is something to be said about wearing the trend as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. For many years the LGBTQIA+ community has claimed the rainbow pattern as their own. The flag that represents the community itself is a rainbow. For a queer person, wearing rainbow can be empowering, in a way that is more than just wearing what you love. For members of queer Appalachia, now is a time where we must remain empowered through our sexuality and community. Earlier this semester, remarks made by West Virginian Politician Eric Porterfield referring to the LGBTQIA+ community as a “terrorist group” and “a modern-day version of the Klu Klux Klan” means now is a time where queer people must empower each other through any means possible. The rainbow for many queer people is a tangible symbol of acceptance and pride. Being able to wear that and show your pride is such an empowering feeling. Rainbow means many things to all different kinds of people. It is a source of pride for some and a source of happiness for those who love color. For me, wearing rainbow is not just about accepting myself and who I am but also it is beautiful to wear and accept all colors into your wardrobe.
If you want to look your best, you can’t look like the rest. -Caleb McClung
I’m pansexual and I wear what I want. -Eddie Cyphert
You like it? Does it make you feel good? Wear it. -Jasmine Evans
I wear my color and my personality on my sleeve. -Adam Payne
The Negative in Body Positivity:
How Victoriaâ€™s Secret Refusing Inclusivity Indicates a Larger Trend written by Kristen Uppercue and Lexi Persad graphics by Mary Alvarez and Olivia Gianettino
ur generation expects and demands to see themselves in today’s culture, from advertisements to TV shows, runways and magazines. Many brands – like Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty – have latched on to this expectation and are thriving. However, one brand, in particular, is sticking to what they have always done– refusing to use a diverse and inclusive range of models. Victoria’s Secret is known for its bombshells. Long flowing hair, tall and extremely skinny, the brand claims to sell “everyone’s fantasy.” Being one of the Victoria’s Secret Angels is seen as the top position in the modeling industry. While they typically make waves for their yearly fashion show and top-notch models, comments made by Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek last fall sparked a conversation about the types of people they insist on leaving off the runway.
Following lingerie brand Savage x Fenty’s first runway show that featured two pregnant women and a wide range of skin tones and body types, Razek criticized the positive media coverage the show received. He claimed that Victoria’s Secret could easily host inclusive runways featuring a ave h n e wom for transgender Black heir curves model, in e t h d t e t g a n r i particular, and celeb es, harness t n e m i have thought centur sitivity move nce about it o ta body p he fat accep uch before, but m t out of t. However, ions, refuse to en uss because it movem y other disc ing m n o a c m downplays s like d style munity, the n a s d com tren
ck rupted he bla from t ople have e inate m pe white scene to do e n. into th conversatio the ut re abo o m n ody to lear Want tory of the b t? the his ty movemen en i tt positiv articles wri ar We out Check n of color in and ne me by wo oice Magazi Your V itch Media. B
whitewashed fantasy they’ve profited off of for many years. “No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” Razek told Vogue. “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is. It is the only one of its kind in the world, and any other fashion brand in the world would take it in a minute, including the competitors that are carping at us. And they carp at us because we’re the leader.” A discussion erupted on Twitter to decide whether or not Razek’s comments were justified. Some reprimanded him for his opinions saying that brands should become more inclusive because of the positive effects it has, while others defending the brand for not having curvy models because ‘it’s not the fantasy’ that men seek or that ‘fat people don’t work hard enough.’ (Don’t worry we’re rolling our eyes, too). One transgender woman decided to make a statement in the backlash of Razek’s comments. Beauty guru Nikita Dragun created her own Victoria’s Secret-inspired lingerie ad to prove that transgender persons can also sell the “fantasy.” “Dear Victoria’s Secret, you said trans women can’t sell the “fantasy” so here I am as a TRANS WOMAN selling the FANTASY!,” she said in a tweet posting the video. Razek did eventually release a statement apologizing for the insensitivity of his remarks. “My remarks regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive,” he said in a tweet from Victoria’s Secret’s Twitter. “I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model for the show. We’ve had transgender models come to castings… And like many others, they didn’t make it…But it was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are.”
In April, the brand decided to take on its sixth black model, Leomie Anderson, to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel since the top-tier “angel” program began in 1997. The Angels are considered to be the “best” models around the world featuring models like Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Lily Aldridge. Since 1997, there have been a total of 41 Angels, only six of those being black. Clearly, the brand hasn’t given much thought to finding a diverse range of models (sips drink). However-- in the 23 years of the brand’s existence-- they haven’t had one plus size or transgender model strut the runway. Victoria’s Secret is not the only brand that fails to hire an inclusive range of models, from runways and advertisements to in-store promotions and the products they sell. While many consumers have awoken in the last few years and now call for more diversity, the fight for the acceptance of our bodies is far from new.
Life Without Representation
Because the media sets the standards for beauty, being represented is important. Not only is it essential for a person’s self-esteem, but life without representation can have detrimental mental health effects. For young girls, it is especially crucial to see women who look like them represented in the media. Images of tall, skinny women are not an accurate depiction for the majority of women. Only around 5 percent of women have the genetics that allows them to naturally look as tall and thin as the models shown in magazines and on TV, according to women’s healthcare physicians at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. However, saturating the media with images of these women can lead others to feel inadequate with their own bodies, which ultimately results in anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Without the representation of other women with different bodies and skin tones, it is implied that women have to fit into a specific mold to be
You can find one size ‘fits all’ clothing at just about any major retailer. We decided to test out the theory behind the clothing to see if one size really fits all body types. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. Here our models are ripping up the one size fits all tee. Find out what they thought about the shirt on our YouTube channel.
considered beautiful. The need to meet society’s standards for beauty drives young women to become increasingly insecure in their own bodies at alarmingly younger ages. According to CNN, 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, while 42 percent of first and third graders want to be thinner. According to CNN, the average American woman is 5’4” and 140 pounds, whereas the average American model is 5’11” and 110 pounds, which emphasizes the unattainably high standards for beauty that the media has set. Refinery29 also showcased the media’s disregard for body inclusivity in their 67 Percent Project. According to this study, 67 percent of women are plus size, but only 2 percent of the images in the media represent these women. This inaccurate depiction of the ideal female body has proven to affect mental health in a very alarming way. Not only are young girls developing a negative self-image, but according to the CNN study, 13 million American women binge eat and 10 million suffer from anorexia or bulimia. Both of these eating disorders lead to longterm health effects and impact both physical and mental health. In order to fight this unattainable beauty standard, a variety of brands have become active participants in the body positive movement. Aerie, which has become one of the most body-positive brands, reported an increase in sales since 2015 when body inclusivity became the focus of their advertising campaigns. Aerie first launched their body positivity campaign with the tagline “the girl in this ad has not been retouched.” Since then, the brand has continued to showcase their openmindedness with diverse models and body types. Their latest campaign, #AerieREAL, uses models that depict a “real” woman and represent a realistic body expectation to empower women. As a result of this campaign, their in-store sales have increased by 38 percent
and the company’s value has risen to $500 million, up from $200 million in 2017. Dove also brought body positivity to the forefront of their brand with their Girl Collective campaign. Their message, “Every body is beautiful” is represented through their models of different ethnicities and body types. Recently, Dove has started a new campaign titled The Dove Self-Esteem Project, which aims to impact generations to come. According to their website, Dove’s goal is to “ensure that the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look—helping young people raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.” Dove partnered with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to provide self-esteem education through this project. Free Being Me is an educational tool that is free to download and uses parents, teachers and mentors to educate young people about positive selfesteem. While Aerie and Dove are major influencers in the body positivity movement, a variety of other brands have redirected their advertising campaigns on body inclusivity. However, with only 2 percent of images representing plus size women and the lack of inclusivity in the fashion industry, more attention needs to be paid and hopefully, more brands will follow in Aerie and Dove’s footsteps. While there are endless companies and organizations working towards the goal of inclusive representation in the media and specifically the fashion industry, the solution starts with the consumer and even in the classroom. Teachers are beginning to take on more roles than ever before. From instructing, counseling and making
sure the students are properly fed, teachers in public schools– especially in rural communities– take on any role a student may need. Tiffany Michelle Patterson, assistant professor of secondary social studies, believes teachers can also tackle society’s issues in the classroom. “Embracing diverse and multiple perspectives is critical as is centering the narratives of people of color,” Patterson said. “I have found it to be so enlightening in my classrooms as a middle school educator.” The easiest way for consumers to support the movement is by purchasing from brands that actually do their best to represent everyone in society. Some brands only do offer inclusivity for profits, while others like Victoria’s Secret just refuse altogether. Our society thrives on the notion that we should hate how we look and want to fix it by buying new things. All persons are beautiful and should not be made to feel less beautiful to fit the consumer agenda. As consumers, we have the power to make changes we want to see in society. It starts with us. Shop smart and only support brands that give a voice to all persons. That has been the fantasy behind the body positivity movement, but now it must turn into a reality.
Brands to check out: -Aerie -ModCloth -ASOS -Swimsuits for All -Dear Kate -Target’s Wild Fable Collection -Dressbarn -Lululemon -Girlfriend Collective -Premme -Zelie for She -Isolated Heroes
WOMEN TO FOLLOW Society told young Jessamyn Stanley that her body was not normal through the photos she saw in magazines, in commercials and what she saw online. Even though this was emotionally traumatic, she says in an Instagram post that she is proud to make it through the rough time of having no representation and feeling lost in society. “There’s part of me that wishes I’d had someone say some of this sh*t to me Jessamyn Stanley when I was a kid, @mynameisjesssamyn but then there’s a much bigger part of me that’s glad no one did,” Stanley said in an Instagram post. “I’m grateful for the emotional trauma of growing up as a fatty in America.” However, to ensure young women today do not have to endure the same emotional trauma, Stanley works to offer representation and overcome the stereotype of being a “fatty.” Currently, she works as a yoga instructor, writer and body positive advocate. Stanley is the author of “Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body.” “It’s so easy to feel alone in the funnel of self-hate,” Stanley said. “You’re not alone. I feel you. You don’t have to bear this alone. I see you and I feel you.”
Growing up, Kellie Brown struggled with being a larger size and loving fashion because typically “fashionable” clothes are not created with body inclusivity in mind. Her local plus-size store made her think she was “an older woman who wanted to hide in her clothes, was afraid of color and certainly not interested in fashion,” Brown wrote in an article for Teen Vogue. Due to her lack of representation in magazines and on television, Brown felt out of place. “It left me wondering, ‘Where do I fit in? How could I make a career where there is no space for me?’” she wrote in Teen Vogue. However, after seeing a Fern Mallis behind-the-scenes runway video, she was surprised to see a plus-size woman featured on the runway. This video inspired her to create #FatAtFashionWeek. Brown explained that the hashtag is meant to show street-style roundups that women with different bodies are often excluded from.
Kellie Brown @itsmekellieb
“#FatAtFashionWeek isn’t only about bigger girls looking cute in killer outfits,” Brown said. “It’s a reminder that many of us work in this industry, contribute in major ways, and are redefining how retailers and marketers think.”
Jameela Jamil created the ‘I Weigh’ movement to highlight your own self worth rather than the number that shows up on the scale. She hopes to show individuals that they are amazing and so much more than the ‘flesh on our bones.’ “I am just done with women not seeing how amazing they are because they don’t meet society’s beauty standards,” said Jamil in an Instagram post. Jamil is currently an actress on the show, “The Good Place.” Jameela Jamil @jameelajamilofficial
Don’t Judge a Movie By Its Review written by Joseph Zecevic designed by Mary Alvarez
hen you think of bad films, they really fall into three categories: cash grabs, one-part ruiner and just plain “missedthe-mark-bad” films. Cash grabs are the films that had little thought and care from the heads of film, and most of the people working on it are doing it for the paycheck rather than the art. One-part ruiners are films with one major aspect of them that ended up lessening the value of the overall film greatly. Finally, we have your classic bad movies that seem genuine (and sometimes are) and they just miss the mark entirely. Cash-Grab Films Cash-grab films are the ones you walk out of just feeling all-around kind of hollow and gross. These films are made without the heart and spirit that others have because the ones behind the movie see this as an easy paycheck. Whether it’s Holmes and Watson (2018) or Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), these films are made almost soullessly for the cash benefits of toys, ticket sales, ads and much, much more. These films, however, have some of the best things about films in them too. One of the major things is that these films tend to have colossal budgets and allow for some truly beautiful things to be made. Easily one of the most interesting shots in recent history is probably from Alien: Covenant (2017), with a story seen by most to be convoluted and irrelevant, it showed through with its beautiful scenes and vivid aesthetic. Every single shot from start to finish is stylistically precise and creates this deep and scary universe that an audience truly loses themselves in, however, it falls short on story and plot because the majority of the heads of the film see the dollar signs in the world of franchises from the dead. Partially Ruined These films are more than likely genuine
and from the heart, but major issues are present that outweigh the good of the film. These films will become the cult classics of the future and that’s when they’ll finally get their time to shine. A vital example of this is the live action The Cat in the Hat (2003), infamous for being the movie that convinced the wife of Dr. Seuss to never allow another live action reproduction of his works. However, when looked at critically it’s apparent that the major issues of the film are really just the poor computer generated images and musical sequences that really did not fit in. Take these parts out and you’re left with a very funny film for children and adults that also imparts a good message on its younger viewers. Sadly, the only thing remembered of this is just people knowing they thought it was just not unto snuff. Missed the Mark Entirely These movies usually suffer because of the bigger picture aspects like directors, vision and execution of vision. The most recent movie that can be considered example of this is Glass (2019), which is a very big letdown. With people only learning at the end of Split (2016) that there would be another movie that would create a trilogy out of Shyamalans existing works, people had high hopes. The first genuine expanded universe movie to not seem like a ploy by studio executives in what seems like forever, and it sadly was a fail. With two of Shyamalan’s best works now being tied to it, one would think that this should’ve been bound for success. However, with underutilized leads and a less than satisfying climax this film failed in my book. Shyamalan proved that he could make a financially successful universe of films that to him were from the heart, and also created something
“Take out the parts you hated and imagine what could’ve made it better.” that was original rather than a reboot of an established property. With more and more films being made every year, people rely on the number score given to the film and allow that to make the decision for them. I argue though, that this is wrong, and that people need to see the things that intrigue them. Even if you walk out of a film thinking that had to have been the worse movie ever made, think about why you hated it. Take out the parts you hated and imagine what could’ve made it better. What you’re left with is probably what one of the thousands of people who worked on the film had hoped for this film to be, and to me, that’s what makes even the worst films beautiful.
An Open Letter to Appalachian Creators written by Mary Alvarez
s long-term West Virginia residents and young professionals, we are often asked what our plans are for the future. “What are your goals?” “Where are you moving?” “Have you gotten a job anywhere?”
directly from people’s biases about this region, and rural areas in general. The idea that residents of Appalachia one way of thinking, one way of being, that news here is too small or that the region doesn’t have any impact on the rest of the nation.
“Anywhere” almost always means out of the state, in an urban media market like New York, Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles. There’s the unspoken implication that one isn’t truly successful until they’re living their dream in the big city—not just as journalists, but as creative writers, as artists, as musicians.
Efforts like Queer Appalachia and 100 Days in Appalachia have proven otherwise. The teacher’s strike, which inspired a number of similar movements across the country, has proven otherwise.
It’s times like this that we start to wonder to ourselves whether or not we can find success as creators in this state and this region. Is there a better location? A better means of creating? We wonder if there’s a secret formula to success as a media specialist, a formula that involves getting as far away from this state as we can, a way to prove to ourselves that we made it. This line of thinking branches
Instead of wondering where we can improve and prove ourselves, we should be asking ourselves harder, but more meaningful questions. Where are our skills needed most? Where could we help the most people? Where is there a gap that we can fill? There is no right or wrong way to create in this state. We aren’t bound to one brand, one voice, one identity. We can produce any content we desire and still belong. As creators existing in Appalachia, we are already doing so by default. West Virginia-native artists like Jennifer Garner and the
McElroy brothers prove that artists can grow and change and relocate while still keeping a dialogue that includes the state and region. Rather than be wedded to our perceptions of success based on any location, we must remember that hardship and influential change are not limited to cities. West Virginia needs creators that are young, creators that are women, that are people of color, that are LGBTQIA+– any creators that have new and innovative ideas. But it doesn’t have to be West Virginia. It can be any part of Appalachia, any underserved or underrepresented community. While there is some level of responsibility we may feel to this state, it is equally important to use our skills to give a platform to those that need it, regardless of location. This isn’t to say that we are obligated to stay where we are, to be stagnant or underachieve. It is simply to ask that before we set our sights to where we think we should be, we need to give a little bit of thought to where we are.
How-to: Remove Gluten From Your Makeup Routine written by Taylor Miller photographed by Kristen Uppercue
e all know the struggle: trying to find makeup products that are just right. You want a foundation that will give you full coverage with a dewy glow, but by the end of the day you look greasy rather than glowy, and those “stay-all-day” eyeliners always seem to migrate. The search for the perfect foundation, eyeliner, mascara or any product that actually delivers what you want seems never-ending.
common, many products can contain wheat or oats, but the most common source of gluten in beauty products is from cross contamination, or the product coming into contact with another product or sharing equipment with a product that contains gluten. It only takes an eighth of a teaspoon of gluten in order to make me sick, so I err on the side of caution when it comes to products that could possibly contain gluten.
This search can be made even harder for individuals with allergies to certain ingredients in beauty products. Some allergies are to ingredients you may not even realize are in these products, such as gluten, the main protein in wheat, barley and rye. I had never considered that gluten could be in the beauty products I use everyday until I had to be conscious of it. While gluten is something totally normal in most people’s lives, for me, it is something that can make me extremely ill. I have a serious allergy to gluten that is called Celiac Disease, but my allergy is slightly different from most. Rather than having an anaphylactic reaction, my reaction only takes place once I ingest gluten.
For me, the biggest benefit of using natural and certified gluten-free products is peace of mind, and this is often the benefit for others too. I enjoy knowing exactly what is in my products. Along with this, many companies that take the time to ensure products are gluten-free also make their products natural and cruelty-free.
In saying that, gluten isn’t a huge concern in beauty products for me unless it’s something that could accidentally get in my mouth, such as foundation or lip products, but it is surprisingly hard to find certified gluten-free versions of these products. While not extremely
Because finding gluten-free foundation and lip products are what are most important to me, I like to use the Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation. This is a buildable foundation that is perfect for almost all skin types. It’s creamy and long-lasting and can
So what brands provide glutenfree products? Some of the most popular are: Tarte, Bite, Eos, Vaseline and Physicians Formula– my all-time favorite. While it is a little on the pricier side for a drugstore brand, all of their products are certified gluten, cruelty and paraben free, as well as vegan and hypoallergenic.
be paired perfectly with a powder. Along with this, I love their Softlight Blurring Primer, which can be used alone or under other foundations and provides a light coverage tint of color. I am also obsessed with their Butter Blush and Butter Highlighter. These products are not only buildable and come in a range of great colors, but they smell amazing. If you have sensitivity to fragrances, I would suggest not using this product, but overall, most Physicians Formula products are fragrance-free and clearly labelled as to what they do and don’t have in them. When it comes to lip products, I love EOS and Vaseline brand chapsticks, and Tarte and Lipstick Queen lipsticks. My favorite Vaseline product is the Vaseline Lip Therapy in Rosy Lips. It helps keep my lips hydrated while also providing a touch of color. As for lipsticks, my favorite is Lipstick Queen’s Frog Prince, a custom color lipstick that creates a special shade of pink for each user. Starting out green, once you apply it, it blends with your body heat into a signature pink just for you. Finding products that match your specific needs can be hard, but I encourage you not to give up. If you do have an allergy, do your research. Check the ingredients on products, and if they aren’t clearly labelled, contact the company. You deserve to have beauty products that make you feel good, and it is possible.
In collaboration with Her Campus at WVU
How the Political Climate Impacts Creators’ Work After 2000
written by Christina Kamkutis photographed by Kristen Uppercue
very day we wake up with hundreds of thousands of sources at our disposal to receive some sort of news, whether that be through Twitter, online news outlets or on TV. We have the power to be able to choose which sites we monitor and where we receive our information, but with so many options, people never seem to be on the same page. Whether or not you consider yourself artistic, expressing your emotions through creation can be extremely relaxing. It is a way to quite literally draw your emotion out of your mind and organize your thoughts onto a medium as one collective piece. Art is an outlet for people like Frank Bidart, who was so engulfed with anger following the events of the infamous 9/11 attacks that he wrote in his poem Curse: “May what you have made descend upon you. May the listening ears of your victims their eyes their breath enter you, and eat like acid The bubble of rectitude that allowed you breath.” Political art through history tends to be straightforward, with little to no boundaries, in the hopes that the messages being displayed are seen and heard, loud and clear. Bidart’s poem makes no exceptions to this timeline as he rigorously rips apart the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, saying that he hopes the people responsible for this tragic event are so sinisterly haunted by their victims that they selfdestruct.
Other artists have released similar wrenching pieces, turning political anger stemming from issues as big as national gun control surrounding school shootings, all the way down to local environmental issues, into art. Over a year ago, Manuel Oliver lost his son, Joaquin Oliver, in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting, an event that caused a wave of young advocacy in Washington D.C., as well as across the globe, and birthed the March For Our Lives movement. Now, Manuel Oliver is turning his pain into art, referring to his late son, not as a victim, but an advocate and activist for change. Oliver took over the streets of Los Angeles last April to paint one of many murals dedicated to his son and other victims of gun violence around the world. This mural depicts silhouettes of young students carrying backpacks with huge targets hovering over their bodies. The words “WE DEMAND 2 STOP THE BS” reign across the top of the mural and eventually dip through the rest of the piece. Oliver also used a hammer to replicate bullet holes which he struck through
the mural countless times; the ‘bullet holes’ went over the white areas, the targets, and through the silhouettes of the children. He then filled each hole, scattered messily across the mural, with a big, bright sunflower. Another artist taking the world by storm is Shepard Fairey, who surfaced from the skateboarding scene to become the founder of OBEY Clothing, as well as go on to become one of the most wellknown, modern-day political artists in the United States and around the world. Fairey has a very recognizable style of art, crafting political posters that mirror what issues are facing our world today. Some of Fairey’s most identifiable pieces of art include Hope, which put him on the political art map during the 2008 presidential election. Hope depicts a take on the famous ‘red, white and blue’ color scheme to showcase Former President Barack Obama, followed with the word “HOPE” residing across the bottom portion of the poster. Another, which includes the same color scheme and style, takes its
T-shirts designed by Olivia Gianettino.
patriotism a step further by depicting a woman wearing the American flag as a hijab and reads “We the people are greater than fear” across the bottom of the poster. Fairey has made hundreds of these posters for issues including social and racial equality, police brutality, sexual assault, climate change, immigration, protection of indigenous lands, war, political corruption, gun violence, even Wall Street and so much more. The range that political artwork possesses has depth, passion and a strong voice. Former West Virginia University student, Lindsay Toney, takes her own spin on artistic expression when she turns her personal health struggles into art. In Toney’s print Urinary Frequency, the artist displays her continuous battle with chronic urinary tract infections. The artwork displays 21 urine sample cups, each with a higher number of pills present than the last, and the more pills each cup has, the redder the urine turns. Artwork like Toney’s creates an atmosphere built for open discussion about something that might otherwise seem too weird or too personal to talk about. Most of the people in our lives do not speak about private health
matters such as urinary tract infections or even a woman’s menstrual cycle for that matter. However, within the past two decades, things like these have become less taboo to bring up, normalizing things that are normal, but not considered okay to speak openly about. “People need to get more in touch with things that they’re struggling with to help them get through the week. So, if helping you make work about your dysfunctional pee makes you feel better, that’s what I do,” said Toney. “I think people just need to embrace that; embrace the weirdness of it.” Toney uses this idea of “taboo” language again in a collaboration piece that she worked on with her boyfriend, Reagan Douglas, who is a graphic design artist and WVU alum. This print, which depicts a circular emblem with a panther front and center, is sheltered by the popular phrase, “this pussy grabs back,” which emerged in light of the infamous 2016 U.S. presidential election, pinned against Donald Trump’s sexual assault allegations. This phrase has since gained high popularity at women’s marches across the globe. “I think it’s super helpful seeing people make stuff like that because it’s sort
of like a chain reaction,” said Toney. “These signs do have an impact, or else we wouldn’t keep making them.” Toney recalls a time in which she let everything about politics consume her: she made dark artwork regarding all of her mixed emotions surrounding the political turmoil that had dominated the country, and finally, Toney decided that for her own sanity, she needed to mitigate. “We need to step back; let’s focus on something a little more personal, something that I can actually control because I can’t control him [Donald Trump],” said Toney, recalling her emotions when creating darker pieces of art. Toney, Bidart and Shockley all have one thing in common: they use their resources to express their emotions. Maybe you have been to a Women’s March; maybe you have attended a gun rally; maybe you have been so frustrated with our current political environment that you didn’t know how to take your anger out, so, you let it resonate and build inside of you. There are many ways to cope with anger, and for many people, that coping mechanism is art.
ED’S PICKS Our editorial team’s current favorite products
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