Contents Against my skin
04 Love 22 Music 36 Skin Care 48 Nature 68 Self Love
Gulban Saib Cameron Creedy-Pile Dan Keesey Calkidan Fisseha Sanjana Hariprasad Eli Fosl Nancy Chong Sydnee Monday Genevieve Kotz Vanessa Newman Molly Pfeffer Autumn Henderson Pierre Deliso Valeria Sarra Sage Hess Sydney Gore Alexandra Oti Sofia Salazar Fernando Bruno Ana Villarreal Emma Asher AJ Glover Lucila Dazzi Abril Oteiza Steven Baboun Julieta Terceiro Ayesha Cough (Ayes Cold)
Editor-in-chiefs Izzi McDonnell Nicole Brunet
Letter from the editors It is with our greatest admiration that we present to you our third issue of Sad Girls Club. Over the course of the last two years we have been able to grow as designers, writers, and editors but also have been able to watch our contributors grow. From our small dream one late night in a American University classroom October 2014 now to publishing and printing our third issue. With this issue we hoped to reach beyond an internal sphere and give a glimpse of how the outside world affects us. Against my Skin has been many months in the making but well worth the wait. It is because of this that we see it as our most important issue. Sad Girls Club was created to give a platform for words normally left in the diary, images stored and never presented. Against my Skin is honest, raw, non-apologetic, and more than anything, human. We hope you enjoy and take something away from this. Listen to it and feel the hearts bleeding on every page.
illustration by Sofia Salazar
Love Finding meaning in this skin
Love is not a flower to be crushed in the fist, for the sake of displaying nor should it be. if the garden it grows in remains unchecked in devotion, What withers near roses may surely breed. Love is not a spade meant to toil in soil in hopes of unearthing its worth, For a love occupied by the thoughts of tomorrow might relinquish the present for work. Love is not a flower to be crushed in the fist for the sake of displaying, a part. Love is the gardener who knows of the harvest and worships the rest of the process as art. - Respiration Words by Gulban Saib, photo by Lucila Dazzi
The Way I Am we often see ourselves as imposters but I the most I think living someone else’s life on the edge of a cliff how could they want me enough to keep holding on to graze my back with their fingers to stop me from jumping? It’s like I’m the backroom of an old house I’m barely used but to store old furniture and to know it will still be there in the morning someday they will all see through the satin laying atop my skin throwing shadows against my bumps and my curves to make them seem intentional like i am this way because i chose to be i dream of them finally exposing me who i really am pulling my satin sheet away so fast it burns the skin underneath leaving it red and calloused gently used up and thrown away
Words by Cameron Cready-Pyle, Art by Izzi McDonnell
Skinless Shed some light On my shedding skin That pesky membrane of melanin That keeps the sun from hitting me Where I need it most A sense of touch From head to toe Around my ankles and elbows That glues me to the thought Of holding someone close But never getting close enough To touch whatâ€™s really there Oh angel of skin My tabernacle of sin Crack open my shell Peel me from the fruit And touch the pit of me Skinless and all
Words by Dan Keesey, Photo by Julieta Terceiro
Honey on toast Breakfast Reminds me how sweet And simple life can be. How the morning can seem To give you the hug you craved The cold night before. I know itâ€™s possible to be A hopeless romantic while feeling the pure Freedom of independence When you let loneliness seep Into your pores as it should, You learn to love how the light Hits the cheek of your friend Whoâ€™s sitting across from you Also eating lavender honey on toast.
Words by Izzi McDonnell Photo by Lucila Dazzi
illustration by Sofia Salazar, photo by Abril Oteiza
Chipotle, Chipotle, Chipotle,
The Sun of My Stomach Words by Calkidan Fisseha, photo by Abril Oteiza
As I pace around my house hungry as hell, I open the fridge and stare into its depths. The only thing that didn’t require much effort was my brother’s leftover chipotle from 3 days before. At this point, he probably forgot about it. I decided to take the food safety risk. As I crawled into my bed at 2 am with a half eaten chipotle bowl, there was no feeling greater. Then I thought about it... there was one thing. The way my skin feels when I’m laying in the sun. I’m vitamin D deficient and always forget to take my pills so I use letting the sun penetrate deep into my layers of skin as an excuse to get my required levels. I know it can be dangerous - skin cancer is no joke. But the feeling of the hot sun against your skin is unmatched. The magic of the heat continues for the rest of the summer when I look in the mirror and see the glow I’ve gotten from the big star. It’s not just me - every black person I know gets this BEAUTIFUL richness to their skin after doing anything in the sun. The colors of our skin are already amazing, but the glow we get takes it up a notch. There’s no need to sit in the sun for hours, just deciding to read your book outside instead of under artificial energy sapping lights can get the job done. Life’s a beach, but the beach isn’t always close so sometimes sitting on your patio is enough. It’s a natural highlight, no need for a $30 stick. I’ve decided to compromise with my health and love of UV rays - sunscreen is my new best friend. How I equated leftover Chipotle to the sun is beyond me, but it’s me.
Milk & honey dreams Words by Izzi McDonnell Photo by Abril Oteiza
I had a dream once that i walked into a Bright glowing silver ocean And waded through its shining waters Until they were above my thighs, soon Enveloping my entire body, And there i slept Looking up into the sky Letting the moonlight feed me And the waters hold and carry me, Embryonic waters That put everything at peace: All the waves raged above me And nothing could hurt me anymore All sound was gone All breathing unnecessary No more need Only exist A moment of such clarity Of why I can no longer love him Of how I can no longer love them: I’ve been loving and loving As ceaselessly as the moon and the sun Love the earth each day and night And every morning and midnight we forget To kiss and thank them For all that they do for us Each day we awake We are reborn Each day a miracle When they all forgot how to love me When i loved them all endlessly That’s when i fell in love with Love in its purest form: Ocean Sun Moon Nourished by the milk of The supernatural light.
i was supposed to love myself from the beginning / twenty years later I look in the mirror and finally like what I see - by Sanjana Hariprasad
They say you find your reflection In those around you. That night I became The moon’s bright reflection In which you see yourself.
Music melody fills the spaces between us
1. The Closing Door - Lvl Up 2. King of Song - Marching Church 3. Joke - Chastity Belt 4.. Ginger Ale - Sitcom 5. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash 6. Sororal Feelings - U.S. Girls 7. Chinatown - Luna 8. Those Were the Days - Angel Olsen 9. Newsbeat - Vulfpeck 10. Cranes in the Sky - Solange
1. Baitone - Cellar Door 2. Home Alone - Max Gardener 3. Ocean - Oliver Heim 4.. Country Room - Static Animal 5. Junior Spirit - JAALA 6. Easy to Forget - Drugdealer 7. Too Long - Cellar Door 8. Uu uu uu - Jaakko Eino Kalevi 9. Fig in Leather - Devendra Banhart 10. Period Piece - Jenny Hval
Playlists by Nicole + Izzi, illustration by Sofia Salazar
Demon City Electronica as a revolutionary weapon By Eli Fosl
I’m friends with Elysia Crampton on Facebook. That doesn’t mean she knows me and it doesn’t make me special, it just means she uses her personal page rather than a product page for her body of work. Following her posts, the ribbon between her personal social projection and her --what would be called by the Western world - “product” is often blurred, and perhaps in Crampton’s process it doesn’t even really exist. Just yesterday, about the cover of her just-released sophomore LP, Demon City, she wrote this: “It is an image of the Mexica people, exampling how even in precolonial times, within empire, the femme native body was used as a slate on which imperial violence was written. Although nudity in our ‘postcolonial’ world has come to signify weakness (many historians claim it meant the same to the Aztecs), I would argue this image of the goddess Coyolxauhqui glimpses a time and place where nakedness could show strength, in spite of the violence that marks her.” Nakedness, ‘postcolonial,’ violence against the femme, these are such crucial themes in the work of Crampton and many others who have regurgitated club music into a new form of queer theory musical work so intricate and insummarable that the movement doesn’t properly have a name.
â€œThe unclassifiable strangeness that permeates these songs confounds quite intentionally.â€?
Electronic music has always been - or at least for most of its lifespan was - queer music. House, techno, ambient, dubstep, you name it: these genres evolved from queer spaces, often from dance as protest. You don’t need a DJ Sprinkles interlude to tell you; the formulas and modules of these underground movements are woven with queer history in every way. But a peek behind the curtain of the mutation-filled queer identity-based here-to-stay club music coming from contemporaries like Crampton, Arca, Lotic, Rabit, Kablam, Chino Amobi, and many more turns the entire musical process in on itself. If one was searching for a perfect musical equivalent to turn-of-the-century deconstructionist ideology, one wouldn’t have to look much further. The new experimental club movement works with familiar sounds, trap bass kits and truncated vocal samples lay low under shuddering noise rhythms in most of the work. Sounds are constantly and consistently reappropriated into new voices that churn with rebellion and inner turmoil. From Lil Jon’s “yeah!” to Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,” familiar pop culture tropes find themselves torn into torturous pieces within this framework. The nuances of identity and selfhood today are infinitely complex on an incredibly finite scale. To engage with the violence of named identities is an inherently disconcerting and uncomfortable process, and so this music reflects that. House music was about creating a space protected from the horrors beyond the club walls, but the music that has exploded following Arca’s seminal &&&&& release embraces those horrors and mutates them into weaponry for the inflicted. The transformation of electronic music into a revolutionary weaponry is important. The unclassifiable strangeness that permeates these songs confounds quite intentionally. There is something so secretly personal about Demon City and about so many other similar albums, and yet it is anything but private. It’s meant to be shared. A world of social media connections has been vital for the livelihood of many trans and queer people for that very reason. Ending her status on Demon City, Crampton summarizes as such: “I believe there is power in recovering and talking about a difficult past, in confronting violence, in addressing all the unsanctioned ways we support and show up for one another along the way-- in spite of race, gender, class, species, ability, history - all the ways that our love is irreducibly incoherent to state apparatus/vocabulary.”
Words by Eli Fosl, illustration by Fernando Bruno, photo by Lucila Dazzi
Photo by AJ Glover
Chicago-born and India-raised musician, DJ Ayes Cold (pronounced “Ice cold”) left her white collar job at a non-profit to follow her passion and become a full-time musician. After occupying the DC scene for the past few years, she’s taking over the District’s electronic scene in an idiosyncratic and sensitive way, paving the way for future minority producers and beatmakers.
Boundaries Interviewed by Izzi McDonnell
What was your experience interacting with people when you first decided to DJ? What feeling do you find in music that you can’t find working up the DC ladder? Well, at my former non profit job I definitely had limited interaction with people. Literally most of it was via email, and when in person I interacted with a relatively narrow subset of people (mostly academics, ‘experts’, and white collar professionals). It was refreshing to start spinning on the side, because I realize I’m actually good at reading people and responding to their energy. I’m introverted, but people also keep me going - their hopes, expectations, and reactions. Through DJing I’ve been fortunate to build relationships with people I probably would have never met, had I stayed at my 9-5. Honestly, music makes me feel passionate again. There was very little of that at my 9-5. I had wondered where that formerly hardworking creative person had gone, until I started spinning...
You play often at venues around the city, but what are you favorite places in DC that you like to go to for shows? My favorite spots currently are U Hall and the 930 Club. I’ve also caught some great shows at Songbyrd. The Velvet Lounge is really accessible, so I have a lot of love for that space. My dream place to DJ would be a very elevated round stage where I could see and connect with everybody in the room. The stage would also be rotating, so I wouldn’t be turning my back on anybody for too long. After all the different things you’ve been involved in, from being a student at Georgetown, to working at a non-profit, to performing at festivals, what have been your values that stuck with you through all your changes? Off the top of my head: • Pushing forward, consistently, challenges. • Managing my own expectations.
However, over the past couple of years I’ve become aware of newer values - values that I wasn’t actively aware of before I started DJing. For instance, I know it can sound trite to say “do what you love,” or “follow your heart.” I used to be a skeptic of that kind of logic. Yet as soon as I found what it is I loved, I realized its importance in life. I also have become increasingly more aware that you can’t please everyone , and you can’t make everybody like you or your work. You’ve got to keep going, despite naysayers. You’ve got to believe in yourself - we are all we have. In a previous interview, you talk about how making mixes for you becomes like a rabbit hole - where you can just lose yourself in the process. Why do you think humans crave that level of intense passion and focus? What is it about the human experience that makes music so important? I think humans crave that intense passion and focus because it’s meditative - it’s because we crave truly living in the moment. Across philosophies, religions and creeds, there’s evidence that people seek to live in the moment. Carpe diem. The notion feels universal almost. So I think that passion and focus can briefly take us to that place, the Now. Music is important because it lets us live in our senses - sound can really feel exhilarating for the body. Music is also an instant way
of connecting with other people- across languages and cultures. I also see this on a more micro-level - I see community even on a packed dance floor, because everybody is feeling the beat at the same time. I definitely enjoy being a part of that. Being in the music industry - especially being a woman and a minority in the electronic scene can feel like a great burden (I know Mark Redito talks about that for being one of the only Filipino-American musicians). What do you think are the important conclusions we should be making about minority musicians being in a whitewashed and patriarchal industry? I would say we should definitely start thinking more multidimensionally or intersectionally about the experiences of DJs and musicians. When you have overlapping identities (for example QTPOCs) you’re constantly navigating different spaces: it’s an ongoing negotiation process identity wise, and that’s an added burden. It’s often tiring. You’re constantly trying to fit yourself into a culture or space that hasn’t been designed for you.
So there definitely are added burdens of constantly negotiating whiteness and a white washed patriarchal industry. For example, spinning at clubs that may perpetuate misogyny, e.g. spinning on line ups that have no diversity feeling like the token woman or the token brown person [ gigging is often a combination of both] . I’m constantly balancing my frustrations with the music scene with an awareness that I need to do gigs to grow. I guess the bottom line is that people of color we make tradeoffs to feel or be accepted - all the time. What music genres are really inspiring to you at the moment and why? I’ve personally become enraptured by the queer rap scene and find it incredibly powerful and poignant. Yeah, funny you mention that scene - lately some of the experiences in Baltimore queer (and just non-conforming) musical spaces have really inspired me. Abdu Ali gave me my first gig in Baltimore over a year ago, and since then we’ve been good friends and allies. I’ve definitely grown to appreciate more ‘noise’ music because of him (he’s been compared to Death Grips, probably to his dismay). While I don’t really spin noise music, I am inspired with music that ignores conventions, and is accessible - I feel that way about noise music. You don’t need to be a classically or institutionally trained musician to be a producer in this scene. Recently I saw Juliana Huxtable (Shock Value) do a DJ set outside Baltimore and it blew me away. I’m also a fan of DJ Haram (Discwoman), the Fade to Mind Label which has folks like Ngunzuguzu and Kelela, Fatima Qadiri on Hyperdub. I like the emphasis on found objects, it’s encouraging to me and makes me really want to make music. You identify yourself as being an empath. I’m an empath, too, and it sometimes feels chaotic because you’re so hyper aware of the energies of others and your environment that it can take a toll on your own energy balance. Could you talk a bit about your most telling experiences being both an empath and a DJ? Do you think it’s a blessing or curse having that level of sensitivity. It’s definitely a challenge to be an empath and
a DJ, but also a blessing. The good part is that you have the ability to feel out the energy of a crowd, and make course corrctions as you go along to keep people the whole set. The downside is that even one person who looks bored or isn’t having a good time bothers me. I had that experience at the Paradox out in Baltimore last winter... I was playing a mix of Ballroom and Club tunes - most of the people were dancing and having a great time but this one guy just kept looking at me. Staring. I could tell he wasn’t having a good time. It really bummed me out. Another time was at Flash when I had to restart my equipment half way through a set - I just couldn’t get back on track after that vibewise, and I came home and felt terrible. As an artist you pour so much of yourself into your work, and as an empath when you can’t connect with people, you feel really drained. What is your interpretation of authenticity, and what does forging your “own sound” mean to you? That’s a great question. I often think about that authenticity is important to me. When I first started DJing, I remember having a moment where I decided to call the whole thing an experiment. I wanted to see if I could do something very visible, and stay true to myself at the same time. It was a clear goal - I remember even writing about this intention on my website (an earlier version). Lately this thought has come up more because I’ve definitely felt some pressure to brand myself for a wider audience. I haven’t figured out how to do that without modifying myself. I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “don’t believe the hype” - but lately I’ve felt that to pay bills as a full-time artist, a little hype might be necessary. I’m definitely a believer of hard work over hype though. Regarding sound, I think a lot of this too, but in the aspect of producing. I’ve been producing for about a year now and hesitant to release stuff out of fear that it won’t conform to my ‘sound.’ I’ve mentioned this in other interviews before but I’ll reiterate here that I’m a very diverse DJ, as far as my selections go. So as a producer, it’s been hard to find my signature sound.
I’ve been told however that every producer and DJ has their own sound, whether they know it or not. I think the techniques that we use to mix, our tastes, and what we look for when listening to music inform our personal sounds. Since money is tight, I do want to be known for a certain style of music that makes clubs and venues want to book me. I’m currently testing out a variety of sounds to see what I make best. Having a nomadic mindset sometimes make it difficult for others to understand your music and identity. When was the first time you fell in love with music and what did that feel like? I don’t actually remember the first time I fell in love with music. I’ve always loved it, and can’t trace that feeling back to a specific moment of recognition. However, I do have memories of really enjoying music as a child. One of those was head banging to Nirvana and Guns and Roses in my parents’ basement when I was like 5. I also feel like a lot of my life has been soundtracked there are always songs that remind me of certain parts of my life. Like, certain Bollywood songs that kids sang on the bus on my way to school in India (when I first moved there in 1995). Because I can recall the songs, I also remember what that part of my life felt like. That’s really what’s incredible about music - it can really take you back in time. This isn’t so much a question, but a discussion point for how you view American culture while being ethnically diverse. You’ve expressed frustration at being constantly compared to M.I.A. because you’re a brown woman in music. While I do agree that she has set this sort-of precedent that all brown artists should use their cultural sounds within their productions, I do think that M.I.A is at the hands of different societal constructs. M.I.A’s from London, and in the UK, being able to express the beauty of one’s cultural identity can be a powerful act of activism. On the other hand, I feel that in
the States, there’s this expectation that cultural minorities should adhere to their cultural sounds in order for them to be exoticized and set apart as “different”. If you could offer advice to a new minority musician trying to produce music in the American industry, what advice would you give them? I agree with your point that it can be a beautiful empowering thing to create music that draws from your cultural traditions. Especially when it’s a form of cultural and political resistance (as in MIA’s case, with her being a Sri Lankan living in the UK). I definitely enjoy her work a lot. However, I made that comment about MIA because we live in a time when there are very few South Asian women visible in mainstream dance music. We exist in a culture where brown people are rarely cast as protagonists in mainstream television - and when they are, they’re cast as doctors or lawyers. Rarely are we portrayed as creative, ambitious, confident, dimensional people. To me it really feels like our experiences aren’t seen as valuable or as relatable, at least by the American media. This has a wider cultural impact, one of them being ignorance - I get compared to MIA because she’s one of the few South Asian musical artists most Americans can bring to mind. My advice to minority producers is to focus on your dream - even if your family thinks you’re crazy. Many of us are breaking the mold when put ourselves out here as creative people - success is possible if you’re consistent , no matter who you are or where you come from. Focus on the sounds - for they are limitless.
Interview by Izzi McDonnell Photography by AJ Glover, Sabrina Vaz Holder, Morgan H West
“As an artist you pour so much of yourself into your work, and as an empath when you can’t connect with people, you feel really drained.”
¿De donde eres? Whichever country I was in, or whatever language I spoke, people would ask me the same question over and over again. Where are you from? It was the look that gave it all away. When I saw the look in their eyes, I knew we would be having the conversation I dreaded having. I would say I’m from America. Born and raised in New York City. Then I got even more perplexed looks. With an intensified piercing tone this time, people would ask again, Where are you from? Before I could say another word, people said and did anything to catch my attention. Maybe it was the Indian auto-rickshaw walla repeatedly honking his horn and yelling “Konichiwa!” at me on the crowded streets of Udaipur. Maybe it was the Thai noodle shop owner that kept saying “syeh-syeh” after I paid for my meal and would only stop when I told him I wasn’t Chinese. Maybe it was the Korean vendor that looked puzzled when I suddenly paused during our conversation because I forgot the word for shoelaces in Korean. Maybe it was the Panamanian kids that pointed and shouted “Chino” at me when we were playing a round of musical chairs in a remote village. Maybe it was the high school math teacher I talked to that kept asking me what my real, Asian name was. Or maybe it was the Cambodian bus company employee that spoke to me in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai, but never attempted to speak in English even after all the times I shook my head, “no.” After all of these encounters, I felt defeated. It was when I visited new environments that I was reminded of my physical identity, which clashed with the dominant narrative of what an American was supposed to look like. Although all of these encounters made me feel frustrated, angry, and confused, one feeling I hated feeling the most was being powerless. Whenever people assumed a cultural identity upon me that wasn’t my own, I felt powerless because my appearances were then perceived as flaws to my actual identity.
Americans don’t usually look like you. Many times, it’s the unfamiliar surroundings that make me feel vulnerable. I cringe when people ask me where I’m from and shy away when people ask where I’m really from. Gwangwang-gaeg, videyshi, farang, turista, tourist. None of these words were words that people identified me with, because with my monolid eyes, pale skin, and straight black hair, my outward appearances did not reflect their perceptions of what many Americans look like. But then again, how can diversity fit a single image? The questions that people ask me about my cultural identity always strike me but from my domestic and international travels, I’ve learned that although I possess physical features that separate me from other Americans, those features do not shape my narrative as a person. Just as other cities, villages, and countries are linguistically, culturally, and genetically diverse, I am an example that America is too.
Words by Nancy Chong art by Nicole Brunet
Skin Care Love the skin youâ€™re in
photo by Lucila Dazzi
To The Daughters We Washed Away: This is how you wake up loving yourself. The sun will shine in on you through the window facing your bed; blink away the glow of your dreams from the night before. This day was made for you. This life is yours. Moving in small circles, rub into your skin tea tree oil and lavender. Place a warm rag over your face and let air slowly fill your lungs. Release. Step into the shower as hot as you can make it. Let the steam melt away all thoughts you donâ€™t need. Let all things go as gently as this. Love the skin youâ€™re in with jojoba oil, coconut if you prefer. Never forget to moisturize, especially when the winter wind stings at your nose, especially at night. You must not think that your skin needs to be soft for boys, or girls, or whoever you want to feel it. This is a gift for you. This is how you boil water for morning tea. These are the herbs to boil if you find coffee too strong or the tea not strong enough. Sit quietly and sip, not thinking of what you need to do or who you have to be. Talk to God, or Yourself, about your dreams from the night before. If your sleep is too compact to think your way back to yourself, talk about the dreams you have for the day ahead. Never cover your shoulders when the sun wants to kiss them on a hot, bright day. Vitamin D is important, especially for us. On 70 degree days when the wind makes everyone look romantic, never stop your dress from moving with the breeze or your hair from swaying in the sun. The universe teaches us how to move with it. This is how you bury your feet in cool sand or hide your toes in thick blades of sweet smelling summer grass. This is how you memorize the smell of people you love without losing your own scent. Give when you need to get. Sometimes the people you love and the people who love you will hurt you. It will be worth it. Cry when you need to. There are rules in this world made specifically for you. Ignore them if you choose. Do what you want but be aware of the consequences before choosing. Many of them are unfair. You will be hell-bent on learning all of these things from experience. I will be there when it hurts. This is how to be there for yourself when no one is there, and it still hurts.
Words by Sydnee Monday, photo by Steven Baboun Sydnee Monday is a writer and filmmaker most interested in exploring what shame has told us not to talk about. She writes about her mental wellness experience as a Woman of Color at blackgirlblue.co
Photo by Lucila Dazzi, illustrations by Sofia Salazar
ot all skincare routines are made the same. Not all skincare routines are for everyone, but I’ve found the one that works for me.
As someone who grew up with very sensitive skin, even a ripe strawberry would cause my cheeks to break out in hives, I’ve tried about everything and up until a year and a half ago I thought that I just wasn’t meant to be a person with soft, healthy skin. But alas! We are all meant to shine and we are all meant to be proud and comfortable in our skin. I was introduced to the company Origins a long time ago but it’s hard to feel confident about skincare when you’re going through puberty. I was reintroduced to the company at Christmas 2013, by my brother’s fiancé. She gave me a box of samples with two face washes and two creams, and to this day I have become invested not only in the contents of the box but just about everything from Origins. Everyday: My daily skincare routine and something I think no matter your skin type, should be included in your routine, is moisturizer. I use two products from the GinZing line. I use the Energy-Boosting Moisturizer ($27.50) and the Refreshing Eye Cream to Brighten and Depuff ($30.00). In the mornings or after a shower I will apply a thin
layer of the Energy-Boosting Moisturizer over my whole face. Being careful to get under my chin and along the sides of my nose, two spots that are often forgotten. Then I apply the Refreshing Eye Cream in a small amount under my eyes. The reason I initially fell in love with these products was because they actually have caffeine in them. Both of these products, along with others in the GinZing line, use coffee as an active ingredient allowing me to feel more awake and refreshed throughout the day. Whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or like me both, these products are here to help. But don’t get carried away, a little goes a long way. The packaging is small but I end up going through two Energy-Boosting Moisturizers a year and possibly one Refreshing Eye Cream in a year making the price definitely worth it. In the shower: Washing my face in the shower is probably one of the most relaxing activities for me, mainly because of my cleanser. I use two face washes, one as a cleanser and the other for exfoliating. The cleanser I use is Frothy Face Wash ($22.00) from the Checks and Balances collection. Similar to the moisturizer, a little goes along way. I usually apply a nickel-sized dollop in my hand and evenly apply it over my face. Here’s where the relaxing comes in. I then massage the cleanser into my T zone for close to a minute. Now I know this sounds like a lot in shower time but trust me, it’s centering. The combination of silky consistency
and fresh smell can help ease tension from a stressful day or help to prepare you for the day ahead. Similar to the moisturizers, this product usually lasts me a little more than six months. After my cleanser I use Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion ($33.00) part of the Modern Friction collection. It’s a beautifully natural exfoliator, using rice as an active ingredient. I use this product very lightly and not everyday. I put a dime-sized dot on my finger and gently massage it over my forehead, pores around my nose, my chin, and at my temples. So mainly I use in spots that tend to break out or get dry. It is made for dry skin so if you have oily skin, this may not be the product for you, but if you’re like me that my skin can be both oily and dry in a day I suggest massaging it lightly with your fingers so as not to get any irritation. Because this product, once again, should only be used in small amounts it tends to last me way over a year making it a very economical purchase when you can feel the benefits after even just one use. Origins also makes this product for your body but I sometimes use my face wash on dry spots on my arms and legs and it really does wonders for me. Along with washing my face, I have recently come to terms of the importance of taking care of all the skin of my body. I know, I said recently, I really wasn’t the best but now that I’ve found products that work for me I have created a healthier routine. For the longest time I was using a plain bar of Dove soap, and honestly
it took care of my skin pretty well. However, as of recently I’ve been getting some more discoloration and irritation and started to look for better soaps. I use Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Tea Tree Pure-Castile Bar Soap ($4.69). Now because I haven’t been using this product for a whole year, I don’t know how long it lasts me but I’m very satisfied with it so far. Tea Tree oil has many benefits and I choose this one because of how it helps inflammation. You can buy just the oil form from a super market in the supplement aisle and use it for acne, infected piercings, and other skin irritations. Dr. Bronner’s soap leaves my skin feeling clean and healthy without leaving any residue. It’s also all organic, fair-trade, and not tested on animals. Dr. Bronner’s is known for their liquid soaps that have the ability to be used in 18 different ways. It’s biodegradable and perfect for camping and backpacking trips. If you have relatively thin, and no-nonsense hair, you can also use it as a shampoo. However, if you’re like me, someone who cannot comb through their hair without conditioner, I do not recommend it. I find that my hair is still dirty and impossible to comb through after. But nonetheless, it works as a wonderful body soap for me and I recommend it. Along with Hemp Tea Tree, there is also seven other fragrances, all possessing their own unique benefits. Having a good skincare routine isn’t just about how the products make you feel it is also making sure that you are supporting ethical companies. A lot of cheaper brands use harsh chemicals and ingredients that could be tested on animals or use unethical practices in retrieving ingredients. Both Origins and Dr. Bronner’s are all organic companies that put a lot of thought and care into their ingredients, making sure that they are healthy from start to finish. You skin is sensitive and it is important. Give it the love and attention that it deserves with products that come from a company that cares. Words + art by Nicole Brunet
Loving my skin: a schedule Morning: Try to rise with the sun. Start my day off drinking lots of water, wash my face with cold water and a light coffee scrub, and moisturize with a little bit of frankincense oil. I might spray a bit of rosewater on my face if I’m feeling really exhausted from the day before. Enjoy the morning light with a cup of gingko and ginger tea (good for memory and anti-stress) and read a chapter of an inspirational book to put me in the right mindset for the day. I try to read and write every morning when I wake up because I know it’s what makes me deeply happy, and then you have something to look forward to when you wake up. Pause and love the day a little before it starts. I try to wear as litle make-up as possible and remind myself that I don’t need. No one should feel obligated to. Afternoon: Give myself a break and have some green tea - it’s great for your skin and good for your health in general! Go for a walk and feel the breeze against your cheeks. If I’m hungry, I’ll make myself oatmeal with a tablespoon of coconut oil. Grød, the Danish oatmeal restaurant has the best recipes to make you feel so hygge (cozy). If my eyes look a bit tired, I’ll dab on some vitamin E cream or almond oil. Most importantly, stay hydrated and drink lots of water!
Evening: Take a medium-warm to cold shower. No need to scrub too hard because our skin actually needs to retain all its natural oils. I try to not shower for more than five minutes. Don’t forget to thank your body for being present and working so hard that day. We don’t thank our bodies enough. Be a best friend to your body. To moisturize I use jojoba or coconut oil. If you have really dry skin, try using avocado oil. For a natural make-up remover, I use Farmaesthetics’ Eyebright Oil: with sweet almond oil, chamomile oil, grapeseed oil and vitamin E. All my make up comes off so easily with it! For dinner (or every meal to be honest), I always make avocado toast with lime juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on seedy bread. To relax, I’ll either have lavender tea or dandelion tea, which are both very de-stressing and detoxing. Night: To treat myself, I’ll make homemade turmeric tea (using tumeric, fresh ginger, coconut oil, water, honey and cinnamon). It’s very good for your skin and when turned into a face mask, it’s anti-bacterial. You can make a natural face mask just by using honey, lemon and cinnamon and leaving it on for 10-15 minutes. You can also make a hair mask using tumeric, avocado or coconut oil, and honey. I do this hair treatment maybe once every two weeks.
Words by Izzi McDonnell, illustrations by Sofia Salazar
Medicine cabinet musings I’ve always been jealous of people with perfectly-composed medicine cabinets. You know the type - their bathrooms are all white and they have a plant on their windowsill. Their medicine cabinets are stocked with Mario Badescu products and other fancy face creams and there’s not a Maybelline mascara in sight.Their medicine cabinets subtly say, “I am rich and I have my life together,” not only because of what they have, but also of what they have not. There is a luxury to minimalism that I have not yet achieved. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just go on the blog Into the Gloss their peeks into successful medicine cabinet’s have been fueling my voyeuristic tendencies since before their Glossier days made them a must-have for artsy NYC it girls.) With my cluttered collection of Burt’s Bees cleanser, charcoal scrub, 3 tins of rosebud salve, tray of multi-colored powdered glitters, various hodgepodge of Sephora samples and god knows how many tubes of red lipsticks, it is an elegance I fear I will never have. The ability to have just one of something and none of others and feel perfectly content with that. For me, my mark of success will be when I have condensed my cabinet into a cool collection of glass bottles and foreign beauty products and have finally settled on my signature scent. But for now, I will revel in the abundance of my youth and buy yet another tube of red lipstick - because who else would I be able to find my perfect shade?
By Genevieve Kotz Illustration by Sofia Salazar
nature Reveal your true skin
There, traced below the window I listen as it speaks about other times, now and yesterday you said goodbye to who I used to be today I am someone fading into tomorrowâ€™s once here, twice empty spaces.
Words by Molly Pfeffer
Lioness I feel sick Because the hairs that stand on end surround me with their prickly protrusions giving me the sense of chill where there is only the absence of heat, Heat that only the quick smirk from the lioness leering across the room can rip apart with her teeth, Heat that can glean from her gaze and amaze with the grace of her fur, Heat that can plead with the beast in me to unleash beneath the remains from those days of morality. She’s prepared to pounce, but doesn’t move an ounce I feel sick Because the doctor that sits before me only knows the letters A and double D, twisting my words and worries into thoughts of sex and pity that distract the lament i keep lingering inside. The inside that longs for the simple slouch of a woman to grace the room of my throne, and make me swell to wear the crown of thorns I keep laced between my ribs That makes it hard to breathe because I feel sick Because I can’t talk to you I feel sick Because I studder I feel sick Because being alone is not the cure
Words by anonymous, photo by Georgia Evert
Trigger warning: police brutality
Words by Vanessa Newman, Photo by Lucila Dazzi
sometimes i wear my hoodie walking home late at night just to see if i’ll get shot. sometimes i wear all black at night just to see if i’ll get hit by a white car stopped by a white car - cop car saved by a white car - ambulance saved by a white light - white Jesus sometimes i feel like a dark star in a dark sky surrounded by white stars shining bright i swear sometimes it seems like we’re all dark stars shining in a dark sky, it don’t mean we’re not illuminating light white just shines more bright but why is that, white Jesus? why i gotta walk around questioning the value of my life? why do i wear all black at night why do i wear my black hoodie upright just to see if i’ll get stopped by a white car white man white star why can’t i be a dark star that shines bright in the night sky? ain’t anyone ever show you that midnight is a beautiful color? or that it just signifies the time of night you lock your windows and close your blinds to dark stars shining bright across a midnight sky? sometimes i just wanna be a dark star that stands out in a dark sky dark times and not get shot cause i’m the color of midnight and not get lost cause my bright light ain’t white i just wanna be a dark star and still shine bright i just want my midnight to shine. so sometimes i walk at night in all black and pretend it does.
Trigger warning: racism
You cute, huh. And then I asked myself, would I find me attractive? Of course you are. You’re great. You’re amazing. Hashtag Slay. No, I think it’s all about the extra 5 Ys. Slayyyyy. Yes, much better. What’s the other one? Oh yes, Hashtag flawless. If beyonce, said it, it must be true. Except… I don’t quite look like Beyonce. No. I have cellulite. I have love handles. My abs? No sorry, don’t quite have those I prefer the ‘rotund’ variety. My face isn’t naturally contoured. I get bags under my eyes. My hair isn’t blonde, or straight. No, my hair is black and I believe it’s called nappy. I say ‘believe’ because that word was thrusted upon me. I wasn’t given an option. Suffocating under labels? Yes that’s me. Thick? Because I don’t fit into a size 4. Ok. Black? I mean I’m more than just a black girl but if that’s what you want to label me? Ok. Well spoken for a black girl? Is there a black language I don’t know about? Pretty for a black girl? Are all black girls ugly
I’m confused Yes. Confused. Another label. White. The worst. Apparently I don’t relate to my culture because I pronounce my Ts and use colons when I write; Oh but I’m loud. Yes. Typical black girls. Loud, loud, loud Crazy. Loud. Fiesty. Loud. Aggressive. Loud. Mad. Loud. Wild. Oh did I forgot to mention I’m barbaric ? Yes, why don’t you call me an animal. I bet the first animal you thought of was a baboon. Because you can’t forget that I resemble a monkey . But you’re not allowed to say it are you I bet you’re just itching to say it I dare you I D A R E YOU. Reduce me Dehumanize me You do it every day anyway Why not be upfront. Why not just fucking say it.
Words by Alexandra Oti
My Own Again Words by Sydnee Monday, Art by Ana Villarreal
Formication: A sensation like insects crawling over skin
n the middle of a dry June with sunsets that looked like cotton candy, my skin started to crawl. It began in what I thought was a dream: like soft waves my skin moved. I woke up, swatting at what I expected to be a spider, an ant. But there was nothing so I shrugged it off. I continued into July and the feeling continued with me. I watched old movies on my laptop and every morning in the mirror I checked my skin for bug bites. The hazy hum of the summer sun played in the background as I drove to the local library and checked out books I knew I probably wouldn’t return. The blue sheets on my bed began to frustrate me as I ripped them off every night before replacing them to sleep. I read magazines on the floor and filled out job applications online. In the middle of my day I would sometimes take off my shirt, turning it inside out and checking the seams. It became impossible to keep this experience to myself, but the more I shared with those closest to me, the crazier I felt. I had become obsessed with this feeling, overwhelmed with the thought that I was somehow dirty and that my most intimate, personal space had been invaded. But I’d also become obsessed with proving that I had bed bugs, or ants, or anything that could validate my experience in my body to someone else. The swatting became a quick touch my arm, less aggressive, more affirming. In the midst of feeling like my body was turning on me, I used my body to physically acknowledge that I was still on my own side. I woke up from a nap one day in my bed and felt the crawling down my arm. I grabbed at the feeling, and there it was: small, hungry. I put the bug into a clear baggie and called the exterminator. I wasn’t crazy. I saw with my own eyes that something I felt was connected to something that was tangible and that others could see. And so that feeling was true, that feeling was right. I was right. The next morning, small bits of clear plastic were strewn across the floor. My dog had torn up the bag. I went into the bathroom and sobbed. Was there anything there to begin with? I typed in “crawling skin.” I could have: Diabetes, Menopause, Morgellons Syndrome, be withdrawing from alcohol or drugs. I went to the doctor and everything was fine. The exterminator came anyway and found nothing. I was tired of fighting my body; I grew bored, I gave up. I got new sheets, and I stopped swatting at the feeling because I knew it would be there and I’d see nothing. I honored my body by allowing myself the space to feel without judgement and I acknowledged that regardless of what made sense to others, I knew what I was feeling in my body. One day in fall, the crisp air swept the feeling away entirely. It was lost with the heat, and the summer, and the fear of feeling what I felt. I had come to accept that my experience could be solely definable by what only I felt to be true, because in that feeling was truth, was reality, was rationality. My skin was my own again.
A fire in the woods
Trigger warning: racism, violence
I had a dream the world went like this: with little black boys, those little black kids, that they weren’t the sons of former slaves and lynching never prefaced their graves But that they were kings, the best clothes, the best schools, went to church, had no fears, followed their parents like little black fools. Followed their parents because they weren’t scared: of walking alone and being unprepared, of walking alone and the faces that stared of the White Man’s Burden their dark skin declared. I had a dream the world went like this: In 1968 with his heart a dim abyss, that Martin Luther King from a rooftop of secrecy, shot down a white man, in the name of black supremacy. And White America cried and buried their heads, “How could this man filled with love now be dead?” James Earl Ray: A soup of melted rubies in the road, and those rubies shined with the tears of inequality’s hold.
I had a dream of black pointed hoods, meetings round the cross, a fire in the woods. I had a dream, of signs biased and lonely: NO WHITES ALLOWED and SERVE COLOREDS ONLY I had a dream, the world went like this: way down in Georgia with its black racists, little white girls, those little white kids, felt threatened and confused by the color of their skin. And they would look in the mirror and scream up to God to know why they were made into something so flawed. And the mirror would answer with hopeless silence, the loudest call they heard to arms and to violence. I had a dream of Malcom X and Rosa Parks, of your grandfather and mine, of Civil Rights’ Louis and Clark. I had a dream, But the world went like that: when a black man was shot just because he spoke back. Because the world went like that, anger transcended these decades where race is welcomed to be blended. There’s a site on the web of a calendar of lynching, that can’t be read without deep breaths and fist clenching. And it’s said to be offered in the spirit of healing, and the image of Walton Adams murdered in Georgia ’26— is reading his name supposed to be the fix? Can it take the bullets out of the gun, And give warm blood to his hands to grab his only son?
I had a dream! I had a dream, But the world went like that: with beatings as sport, and racism as fact. And it wasn’t one-sided, no, blacks they took their turn, Let hate evolve to violence and violence into urns. And now there’s a stereotype of black men today, that stopped Trayvon Martin from just walking away, and put guns in the hands of boys still learning to add, and lowered the number of little black kids with dads. So I look at the world and consider my dream and transport back in history and think of time in between. I went to sleep only to wake up and ask if my people are really so tough? Because if the world had changed and hadn’t gone like that: would anything really be different at all? Would anything really be different at all?
Words by Autumn Henderson Photo by Lucila Dazzi
The travellerâ€™s skin
Like a chameleonâ€™s back
my skin changes: from landscape to landscape, culture to culture, and language to language, it adapts to its surrounding environment, and changes the smallest of its details. The luxury of my skin permits me to conceive of it metaphorically: instead of pigments, hair, and blood vessels my skin is held together by an idiosyncratic assortment of words, idioms, and basic human emotions. In a reductive sense, I have three of them: an Anglo-Saxon one, a Francophone one, and a rudimentary, messy, multilingual one, well-known and endorsed by all those who have travelled. This latter skin is by far the most interesting one: making appearances only when all conventional means of communication have broken down, and is usually accompanied by uncertain smiles, soft looks, and hand gestures of a vaguely Italian nature.
The goal of this language is to inspire in the interlocutor a sense of trustworthiness; a sense of humanity, of decency, and an understanding that, in its most basic form, the travelerâ€™s curiosity is harmless. At the foundation of this language lies a question in the form of an extended hand, reaching out for help in this unknown land. It presents an age-old dilemma: To trust or not to trust? To help this stranger or not to help this stranger? A certain leap of faith is required, but once the first brick of the bridge is laid the crests on my back soften up, my skin evolves into a sweeter, more joyful green dotted in purple. My friend, hopefully, is now also appeased, and somewhat intrigued and he, in turn, begins extending his hand to me.
Here lies the most precious moment of all moments of travel a short period of time when, man-to-man, human-to-human, we respectively, and respectfully, begin to reveal each other to one another carrying with us the crushing weights of our nations, cultures, shared histories, and contrasting ideologies. Acting as two diplomats we judicially choose which information to convey and which to stray away from, playing a game of guessing each other’s prejudices, guessing each other’s customs— truly one of the oldest games in the world— until finally, this barrier is broken down and replaced by the common ground of genuine laughter, inquisitiveness, and knowledge. A common language, a common human skin.
Words by Pierre Deliso, Photo by Lucila Dazzi illustration by Nicole Brunet Inspired by Pablo Neruda, the wonderful country of Chile, and all of the other countries that I have had the privilege and utmost pleasure of visiting.
tocar ese tengo tatuajes en el alma estoy atrapada y sin salida aunque dicen que la salida está adentro mio. me mareo me ahogo adentro pero afuera. ya estoy azul. ¿hace falta? recordarme quien soy tocar ese pedacito de mi piel que todavía no toqué ¿hace falta? ¿hace falta salir? ¿hace falta no ahogarse? nadie responde soy el teléfono que cortaste ayer soy la telemarketer que insultaste sin conocer soy pero ¿hace falta ser?
Palabras por Valeria Sarra, Foto por Abril Oteiza
Self Love This is when you learn to love yourself
my stretch marks mark parts of my body that are easy to hide parts society prefers i keep covered cause they are all not the same tone my estuaries and rivers scare them my journeys aren’t ones they’d like to see but they’re mine and i’m going to show them they deserve to be seen by Sanjana Hariprasad
Photo by Lucila Dazzi
I have a skin that’s invisible to others. It has no class. It has no colour. I am the one who cultivates it. It’s my sensitivity to the world: understanding what you cherish, what you fear, what you love. This invisible layer is my chrysalis where I become all that I had dreamed and what they’ll miss. Even though you aren’t watching me with baited breath, Even though you aren’t amazed by its rare glow, There’s still a heart that’s growing inside: wanting to understand her own power. This see-through skin is a gift: It lets me see into the souls of others. But now I’m slowly learning to see into my own. But note, my dear, that even when you are invisible you get to know this heart so intimately that there’d be no room for another. In this way You make a warm circumference by which others grow their own invisible skins, and learn to love themselves. Words by Izzi McDonnell, illustration by Sofia Salazar
Trigger warning: rape, violence against women
This is me talking about breasts.
This is me talking about breasts I hate my breasts Hate them They’re the wrong shape The distance is too far apart My nipples are too big They are saggy They are lack lustre Have you ever seen 40 year old virgin? Because these are the bags of sand that he’s talking about Ugh I hate my breasts Honestly I could go on I’ve analysed them enough I’ve tried to love them Every day I look at myself in the mirror naked And I try I try so hard I try different positions I convince myself that they’re really not that bad They’re fine Babe they’re fine Seriously, who even cares anyway This is me talking about breasts
Not because you all need to know every flaw that exists on my body (We’ll save thighs for another day) but because how do I live in a world where someone with as much shit going on as me I have a lot of shit going on! You know, I read from time to time I know what’s going on in the world I’m focussed (ish) I’m driven (ish) I’m not horrible I have on occasion shown aspects of kindness So how has someone with shit going on So utterly obsessed and disgusted by her breasts Surely that’s minor? Surely it shouldn’t matter I just got back from America As I was walking to a train There was a shop or a ‘store’ They were selling tshirts for the presidential candidates in the window There was one of Trump Standing in some kind of power stance Suited up Looking serious Looking strong Looking powerful And then next to him was one of Hillary They had photoshopped her head onto the body Of some busty, flat stomached girl in a bikini The bikini had the American flag printed on it Because of course hashtag patriotic Tell me again that breasts don’t matter Do you blame me for feeling continuously objectified When Olympic female medalists are told to wear makeup Tell me again that breasts don’t matter Is pamela Anderson famous for her acting prowess Tell me again that breasts don’t matter when working mums feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders Forget working mums Just all mums Have a career Keep the career
Be successful Have a family Be attentive to the family Attention always Attention to your family Husband, have a husband Keep him happy Oh he cheated? Maybe it’s because she let herself go The younger secretary? Cute. Expected. Everything still points up Tell me again that breasts don’t matter When I feel like I’m on a pendulum Swinging from either feeling ugly Or worried that I’m going to be harassed Worried that I’m going to be raped Tell me that breasts don’t matter When that’s the first thing some boys see Yes I said some Don’t sass me No not all I’m sure you wouldn’t do that Right? You see me as a person Right? We get along You’re funny I love funny Then why won’t you get your hand off my thigh Why do you keep forcing me I thought we were having a nice time Tell me that breasts don’t matter When some people just see me as a pair of tits on legs It’s funny too Because I hate them Oh you that I hate Couldn’t you just be shaped a little better? Words by Alexandra Oti, photo by Steven Baboun
The Girl I often think about how my gazes were always so caring for him. I never was that caring or filled with love when I looked at my own reflection in mirrors. Somehow, when I’d look back at myself, I wouldn’t see that body worthy of so much love or tenderness. Who told me that I was nothing? When had that ever been true? I made him beautiful because of the way I looked at him. That is the power of the girl gaze: you convert even the most dishonorable being into someone magical; you deem those people as being worthy of the love you so relentlessly give, while they won’t even lift a finger for you and your gorgeous energy. It’s only when your pure love is taken and so coldly betrayed that you begin to learn they weren’t mirrors with morals. No--it is more important to leave. Throw away their image and love your own instead. Learn to re-humanize your own body, instead of always providing excuses for its abuses. I close my eyes, and all of a sudden, all the people I had crossed paths with in my life; all the people I had loved, made love to, and had laughed with, became no more than brief breezes in the wind. My heart had become the door that would unlock and lock this constellation of memories whenever I needed them. To remind myself that people in life can be temporary, but that I always made them beautiful when they were around. I contemplated the beauty of my own name. I never thought about how unique it sounded; how it could marinate on my tongue, waiting to be understood and seen for its true beauty. When did I even contemplate the subtle aspects of myself, like the way I romanticized every inch of his body and mind?
Words by anon., collage by Emma Asher
Bloom in your own radical self love garden
If tasting, touching, feeling, expressing, caressing, unfurling, blooming, being, being a bitch, being real, being in my skin makes me a slut call me a slut. but if thatâ€™s your word for it. I feel so sorry for your inability to reach down into your depth and pull out your own worth. My skin empowers me.
Words by Sage Hess Photo by Lucila Dazzi Art by Sofia Salazar
Sleep Sleep has evaded me for far too long. There are many who will understand just how this feels. How strange, that in the moments when we most crave peace, comfort, and sweet dreams, are we so are unable to touch them. When pain makes my heart ache uncontrollably, I’ve found it interminably difficult to close my eyes, empty my restless head of all thoughts, and give myself up to the universe’s great waves of uncertainty. The dogs howl far away outside my window, an unruly cacophony desperate for an audience. I dread when the screeching birds of dawn will wake me up to my still harshly lit reality. The moon peeps through the trees that I see from a slightly awkward, angled view from my bed. I can’t help but think of you and where you might be and what might be crossing your mind. is it me? I touch my chest, feel how it lifts and sinks like waves of the sea. We are drops of water in the same ocean, you and me. Although we may be far apart, moving further away from each other among rough seas, I imagine you right next to me - in the ocean that is my intense joy and pain. And just as the tide sinks and rises again, so too, will I find sleep as this quickened breath subsides. Hours pass, in what seems like an eternity, and finally my intense mental hunger becomes subdued. I’m no longer looking for you. I’m looking for myself. I grasp the coolest pillow, pull it towards me, wrap my legs around it, swathe myself in this newfound desire for serenity and dreams. Like a helpless baby in swaddling clothes, as sleep nears the world eventually wraps you up in its nighttime glow and tells you, everything will be fine, you’re not alone because we are all the same. Droplet, river, ocean, water. I hope that when you find yourself in a somnambulant daze, desperate for your sheets to swallow you up into the deepest slumber, that you find comfort in the fact that I am dreaming of you. Yes, you. dreaming of all the possibilities of our lives. of this world. i wonder if we might meet, and if I will love you, almost as much as I love myself now.
Words by Izzi McDonnell, illustration by Sofia Salazar
Skin. It’s a touchy subject, literally. When I reflect on moments from my childhood, I can distinctly remember learning about all the colors of the rainbow in pre-school. I couldn’t tell you when the concept of race was first introduced to me, but I remember being deeply confused by it at a young age. How could I be “black” if my skin was “brown”? It didn’t make sense to me. I resented the term for most of my adolescence, preferring to identify as African-American. As a child, I hated the color of my skin. In the eyes of my peers, brown was the color of filth, and I struggled with the burden of inferiority. For too long, I denied the magic of my melanin. I didn’t appreciate the beauty of its recovery no matter what scrapes, bruises, cuts, or wounds were inflicted on its smooth surface. I didn’t understand how my rich caramel complexion made fair women feel insecure to the point where they willingly hopped in tanning beds. But somehow, the light finally shined through my chocolatey eyes and I slowly began to fall in love with the motley hues of brown. At last, I recognized the value of what this pigmentation represented to the human race. It took nearly two decades to learn, but I finally feel comfortable in my skin. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming how proud I am to be a black woman. My mother always told me not to color outside the lines when she should have told me to see more color; but it’s not her fault that I was blinded by whiteness. What an honor it is to be a person of color. I wear this skin with gratitude.
Words by Sydney Gore, Photo by Steven Baboun
Girlhood belongs to us A photo series by Emmalyn Sullivan
Through staged portraiture and casual snapshots, I am seeking out a language that belongs to me, for a girlhood that belongs to many. Earlier versions of my work revolved around creating the illusion of a dream-girl and unpacking this myth in the same breath; a task which became too binary restricting. Girls are more than ethereal goddesses and slobs slurping soup!, they exist within an infinite spectrum. In an essay by Roxanne Gay entitled Girls, Girls, Girls she says “It is not possible for girlhood to be represented wholly— girlhood is too vast and too individual an experience. We can only try to represent girlhood in ways that are varied and recognizable.” My goal with this project is to represent my vision of the young girl in all her glory; on the cusp of dizzying greatness and the nebulousness of life. The girls in the photographs are me.
“It is not possible for girlhood to be represented wholly— girlhood is too vast and too individual an experience.”
My work comes from a lifetime of being told where my place is on the food chain. I am now looking for the ‘why’s and the ‘hows’ to unravel the power dynamics at play, and to rewrite my past and future from scratch. I will uncross my legs and trip gracelessly down an evenly paved sidewalk without a camera angled up my skirt, i will talk about my sexual conquests in open forum the way my brother and our cousins are allowed, i will sit in a field of flowers and get pollen stains on a shirt that was marketed to me by a company that doesn’t care about the repercussions of its advertising, i will ride the subway and walk down the street without having to repeat the utterance “i have a boyfriend” and let a truth sound like a stale, protective lie, i will sit with them, sit with all of them and talk about the things that i love without someone checking my rap sheet or resume, i will be naked and i will be concealed and neither of these states will impact my personal or professional standings. In this new history my reproductive freedom belongs to me and i am fearless when I’m alone at night. I’m going to chew pink bubblegum and play with my hair on the way to the mall to buy makeup and pop music and pretty things and feel just as powerful as he does in his suit and tie. i wonder which is sharper, the nails they told me to keep neat and clean or the tongue i was told to cut out. different ways of talking about what has been robbed of us I’ve spent the least year examining the tropes in which women are photographed, what gets taken away, what gets left behind and what remains.
Emmalyn is BFA candidate at The Pratt Institute, currently living and creating in Brooklyn, New York
Half of Skin They tell us to love the skin we’re in, We tell us to be confident To be secure However as a community, We diminish the difficulty placed on your soul when you continuously have to tell yourself that you are beautiful Because they’re not saying it. It’s like screaming in a vacuum and not being heard. Sound vanishing from your lips as if it had never been uttered Your voice hoarse from the screaming It hurts No, it burns Tears screaming down your face erupting as the only manifestation from your aching heart It feels like screaming in a vacuum and telling yourself to stop. It feels like screaming in a vacuum and telling yourself that your voice deserves to be heard Your presence is valued. Now that is hard. It is hard to continually reaffirm yourself when life pushes you down. So excuse me when a chubby black girl with shabby breasts struggles to believe that she is beautiful If beauty comes from within, then why do I continually ask myself, “If I was a boy, would I find myself attractive?” Words by Alexandra Oti, photo by Steven Baboun
She rises from her rosy bed already in awe of the world the moment she opens her precious eyes that have seen so much and changed many Hearts, She wanders knowing she helped others discover themselves, tracing the world with her singing footsteps, She fights in a world that taught her to love others before she might learn to love Herself, She holds the whole world in her breath as she exhales, leaving this world as she sleeps to bask in the heavens as she dreams.
Words by Izzi McDonnell, photo by Georgia Evert
Dear Self, Your heart is heavy because you have many Unanswered questions keeping You from moving on: From propelling yourself into a Dazzling world and Mysterious future. It does you no good my dear To dwell on the past. I promise that all those questions locked In your heart, about to fall From your lips Will find their answers As you grow from your chrysalis, Developing into the wonderful, Inspirational woman you are destined to be. All that new perspective Will make your heart Light as air And love will flow Through you the way Blood flows through veins, You, will be a beautiful vision Of all the answers to their own questions. Love, Self
Dear Self, I know it’s hard. When you look in the mirror the face looking back can often be a stranger. The eyes far away, lips: misshapen, and hair: wild. But your ‘self’ isn’t in the mirror, it never was. It’s in the smile that grows red from laughing with old friends. It’s the hands that trace hearts into the back of love. When the sun sets and birds rest on their perches, close your eyes. Let your body slow down. Take in the sounds of the night and the silence of your nerves. Never be afraid to remind yourself of how important this life is. It is all we have. We must choose to treat it like a guest: wholesome breakfasts, warm towels, fresh squeezed orange juice, and love. Kiss the hands of compassion and sit with tenderness on a swing, watching the sky grow dark. Love, Self
Self-love notes from your editors, Izzi & Nicole, illustration by Sofia Salazar
â€œThe sun and all light Have forever fused themselves Into my heart and upon My skin.â€? -Hafiz
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