Strike Magazine Gainesville Issue 08

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Issue 08

EXTERNAL Assistant External Affairs Director Sarah Sheerer Finance Directors Jessica Kennedy Syuzanna Kocharyan Finance Assistants Kate Bansmer Myanh Nguyen Nihar Soman Marketing Directors Alexis Lagana Alyssa Velez Marketing Assistants Preslie Brown Kenzie Chase Eden Depekary Kelly Henning Lexi Horowitz Samantha Levine Amanda Lopez Gabriela Tryzmel Zachary Venezia Merchandise Director Chloe Mazloum Merchandise Assistants Ekaterina Ivanova Ana Cardenas Alexis Castillo ​​Dani Donshik Rachel Raistrick Public Relations Directors Lauren Casole Andrea Guillen Public Relations Assistants Carolynn Arias Gabrielle Gangler Valeria Ledo Theodora Oatmeyer Joanna Salvat Isabelle Soto Anna Kate Womack

Sales Directors Natalia Lipcon Paris Vanacore Sales Assistants Bella Barrios Isabella De Miguel Mackenzie Logue Emily Talalaevsky Social Media Directors Alyssa Rives Kassandra Rodriguez Social Media Assistants Audrey Baker Emma Donato Brittany Grice Ilana Hill Mackenzie Kean Lindsey Robison Katherine Signori Madison Suter Carly Weinblatt Brand Ambassador Director Emily Ellingsen Brand Ambassadors Katy Curran Lexi Denowitz Candace Dobos-Bubno Jessica Freeman Sophia Galinos Alyssa Infante Sophia Johns Niamh Kennedy Sara Klein Eliza Lahvis Samantha Larson Christina Mackey Ahnaf Rahman Ben Robinson Victoria Nusman Teixeira Emma Tullio Emma Valdeon Athena Veghte Jessica Velez

EDITORIAL Assistant Editor-in-Chief Hannah Shelton Blog Directors AJ Bafer Kate Corcoran Copy Editors Madison Chestang Charlotte Dwyer Writers Grace Benneyworth Alexandra del Cañal Naina Chauhan Daniella Conde Cassandra DesVerges Abigail Hasebroock Quinn Healy Avery Morton Kaicha Noel Sofia Ramos Laura Tamayo

Erin Hu


Kate McNamara Brynn Fantuzzi

Creative Director External Affairs Director

CREATIVE Assistant Creative Director Nicole Poplewko Design Director Dina Coletti Art Director Larissa Aguiar Art Assistants Jordan Corina Claire Federico Chloe Girod Alexis Lagana Autumn Mattox Beauty Director Tamar Abrahami Beauty Assistants Lindsay Ayers Julia Chaplin Jamie Crompton Olivia Gallagher Katie Geremia Ava Lodge Hair Stylists Lindsay Ayers Mia Koval Mackenzie Potts Bookings Directors Katherine Ovadia Alexi Stoupas Bookings Assistants Julia Cury Gabriele Gedvilaite Gal Malik Isabella Marzban Heather Parrish

Castings Directors Skylar Sabol Isabella Teke Castings Assistants Nehemie Cyriaque Tess Foels Brianne Guldin Silvana Hanrahan Sabrina Rivera Content Team Orange Directors Jacob Wall Jordan Witt Content Assistants Bailey Berhannan Isa Camargo Ella Kulak Ashley Rickman Content Team Blue Directors Gabriela Donati Nicole Torres Content Assistants Ben Apple Clayton Bush Sophie Collongette Chloe Mazloum Kaicha Noel

Styling Team Directors Eva Duran Liv Vitale Styling Assistants Bianca Boor Dante’ Centofanti Aliya Delcastillo Tayler Ford Eva Kamp Victoria Lezcano Gabi Purcell Huntleigh Zhang Evan Zimmer Photography Director Johann Vázquez Photographers Brieanna Andrews Samy Asfoor John Bailey Nolfe Paige Davis Anissa Dimilta Katalina Enriquez Allison Epstein Stephanie Garcia Ryan Rivas Film Directors Samy Asfoor Ryan Rivas Film Assistants John Bailey Nolfe Abigail Jarvis Kyle Totzke Lorenzo Vasquez

ABOUT STRIKE MAGAZINE UF Strike Magazine embodies the idea that we are all striking. Gainesville is formed by a student body of individuals who are immensely striking in their own ways, and Strike Magazine highlights these unique qualities. Through our diversity, varied life experiences and interests, we each bring refreshing perspectives and visions to the world and one another. Strike Magazine values the human experience, and we aim to create a magazine that embodies the defining attributes of all people and yields a deep appreciation for fashion, art and pop culture. Strike Magazine in Gainesville, Florida, was founded in March 2018 as the first extension of the Tallahassee publication. Since then, here in Gainesville, we have grown to a staff of over 150 students. Strike Magazine has also expanded to 11 additional campuses in the United States. It serves as a creative outlet and source of professional experience for our driven, ambitious staff. We take pride in striking Gainesville as the first student-led publication of our kind. We, the editors, would like to thank our team for their consistent passion, creativity and support. We are endlessly inspired by the distinct beauty of each member of the Strike and Gainesville community. Strike Magazine looks forward to continuing to empower our readers to think beyond the norm.

Strike Out,

Brynn Fantuzzi, Erin Hu & Kate McNamara

ABOUT THE ISSUE In an era when everything’s been done and done again, why do we create? The answer: because we can. Art and its crafters have infinite forms, and each is purposeful because they exist. Every creative pursuit is an opportunity to revive ideas and ourselves.They afford us the chance to break out of a single dimension and splinter into infinite possibilities, ones that wouldn’t exist had we not breathed life into them. Then, there’s the undertaking itself. Every detail chiseled into a piece, whether symbolic or simply beautiful, is a realization of our mind’s abstractions, the purest pieces of ourselves. Even during creative droughts, those uncomfortable moments of mind-block are outshined by our breakthroughs. We’re emboldened by this overcoming, our self-doubt harvested and used to fuel our most expressive endeavors. The process is as pivotal as the product. From the avant-garde to the everyday, tranquility is achieved in the completion of a creation; finding calm in the chaos and pride in a job done well. We are eight publications out from Strike Magazine UF’s founding issue, and we’re just as hell-bent on outdoing ourselves as we were then. But make no mistake: this issue, like those before it, is a symphony of independent ideas. This time, though, they’re pursued without rhyme or reason. We’ve opted to embrace the complexity of art’s simple nature. We’re here to create, but to do so for the sake of creating. We hope you find Issue 08: “For the Sake of Creating” as liberating to read as it was to put together.

Erin Hu Editor-in-Chief








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WE WERE NOT MADE TO BE SUBTLE. Photographed by Anissa Dimilta, Allison Epstein and Johann Vásquez






y desk is death row. What once was an impenetrable garden of ideas has become the hospice of my thoughts. I sit there as soon as I wake, and I return moments before I sleep. Yet, I bear no fruits for my labor. My soundless sanctuary has become a means to survival; a grim evolution. Each session is plagued by voices of doubt that grow louder with every passing effort. “There’s no money in those arts fields.” “It’s far too risky, you’re wasting your time.” “You can’t do it,” they tell me, reminding me of my inability to be ingenious. How am I to be innovative when nearly everything’s been done? How much longer can everyone’s warnings against instability be

ignored? Despite my therapist’s prescription, I can’t counter the choir’s cynicism with affirmations for much longer. The heavy downpour outside my window seemingly agrees. I sit at my desk for a few hours the following morning. One last attempt at creating. I desperately plead for the critics to flee as I aim to connect to my tools of toil. The empty efforts taunt me. They were right. I’m wasting my youth on a meritless vocation. The rain finally stops. I find myself outside. The birds are singing, the flowers are dancing, and the oak trees extend their arms to me. 11

Despite the devastation that surrounds them, they remain joyful. I bask in their presence for a little while, appreciating their perseverance. Their spirit inspires me. “What is it about nature that soothes and captivates its ever-awed audience,” I wonder. After all, it is only what it ought to be. Suddenly, it clicked for me: the evergreens couldn’t care less about succumbing to society’s avaricious ambitions, and neither do I. I race home, head straight to my chair and create for hours, as if I’m in a trance. The voices dissipate as material flows out of me like a fountain. I’m transported back to the insatiable nature of my crafting as a child. The experience is euphoric. Relief courses through my body as I sit in my therapist’s chair in the following days. For the first time in ages, I have good news. 12 | STRIKE MAGAZINE | ISSUE 08

“Any progress on the artistic front,” she asked, filling me with great delight. At first, no words came out, but I imagine my face relayed everything I wanted to say. After the creative drought I underwent, I can’t help but feel proud. “Come on, spit it out,” she begs. I could sense the suspense building within her while I grappled over how to respond. I silenced the voices. My love for my craft returned. I felt weightless. I didn’t say any of that though. I didn’t need to. Instead, I uttered the unimaginable. “I filled the page.”





’m twisting a metal coil into a bottle of $7.99 wine. She’s flipping through a case of CDs I would never let her touch if I’d known her for more than 30 minutes. I’m pouring wine into coffee mugs, and she’s laughing like it’s really funny and not something that begs for further investigation. We’re on the couch sipping mugs of $7.99 wine, taste buds recoiling at the sweetness. Her nose is scrunching, and she’s asking, “How much was this? $5?” And I’m wondering if I can laugh, too. She’s all legs and dark makeup on fair skin and a couple of freckles leftover from summertime. I’m thinking she’s pretty, still pretty like she was 30 minutes ago in smoke and lights. I’m thinking she looks a lot like he used to, and maybe that’s why I brought her here. I’m begging it to be why I brought her here. The $7.99 wine gives me something to do about my trembling hands and my unnaturalness and her lack of it. I’m asking her to tell me something she hasn’t yet, and she’s looking at me while I’m talking and making me feel like what I’m saying is something, like it’s anything at all. She’s saying, “I’m an open book. I can’t help it. It was, like, ordained by God.” And I’m saying, “I don’t think very many things about me or you were ordained by any god.” And she’s smiling like I haven’t just told her something that has been festering, ripping, devouring me for 10 years, 15 years, longer. We’re talking about the death of the DVR and plastic silverware and woolen sweaters and the civil war in Liberia. The line of liquid in the bottle of $7.99 wine is in love with the coffee table and can’t seem to reach her quickly enough. I think we’re touching the whole time, maybe. And when the line and the coffee table are united in holy matrimony, I’m kissing her. She reached out, but I’m kissing her. And I’m thinking about him in that second, and I’m hanging from the ceiling. I’m watching my arms and fingertips and teeth kiss this girl in slow motion and then I’m not thinking about him at all anymore. She’s all her and that’s all I want her to be, and the $7.99 wine won’t let me realize that this revolution happened 22 years ago and the white flag was raised before I knew my name. She’s armed with a crossbow, baronet and Swiss Army knife. I’m stripping my chainmail armor off. She’s undressed, and I’m undone. My skin is cast iron and hers is cedar and nothing like his and I’m thinking thank God it isn’t and then I’m just saying, “God, God, God, God.” Her mouth is fire on the peach fuzz of my thighs and the CD ends but with her I’m finally beginning. I’m going down on her, and I’m writing bad poetry like when I was 14 and took inspiration from the young adult section at Barnes & Noble while my mom perused the leather bibles and beaded bookmarks. She’s reciting this poetry back to me, but I’m thinking it must have been rolled around or turned inside out or critiqued by the editor of The New York Times in her throat because her recitation is Dorothy Parker at an afternoon luncheon and mine is a nursery rhyme. And I’m saying things that aren’t words and she’s saying, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Or, at least I’m sure she’s thinking that, but she’s actually saying things that aren’t words, too, and I’m wondering how could I possibly be the reason she’s making these sounds. I’m wondering why I spent 22 years convincing myself I didn’t want to be. Inside of me is $7.99 wine that I drank out of a mug and him and him and him and him and now her. And I’m thinking that a sum of

experience may be all I am but what else can I be? I’ve spent my life searching between the couch cushions, unsure of what I’m looking for. And I’m finding it in her. She may not be forever, but skin is meant to meld together and pull apart again. She’s not everything there is and neither am I. But we’re both something, and together, we’re two somethings. I think, at least for now, that’s everything we need to be.






fter nearly 40 years photographing fashion for The New York Times from his favorite corner of Manhattan, the legendary Bill Cunningham said, “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” His conviction rings just as true in 2022, a time defined by exceptional tumult caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental injustice, civic unrest due to systemic racism and homophobia; the list is infinite. We are confused. We are outraged. We are terrified. We are unsure of what comes next. However, we can certainly be sure of one thing: in a world with so many problems and voices competing for the limelight, fashion often speaks louder than words. The avant-garde and wildly diverse style of Generation Z is a tailored response to the instability and oppression of modern-day society. Our personal and collective styles empower us to investigate, materialize and share conceptions of ourselves and our worlds as we figure out our places within it. Fashion is power. In the second incarnation of the Roaring ‘20s, our generation is gravitating toward a “live fast, die young” mentality. Hedonism and controversy are reigning supreme, and we’re loving every second of it. The glitz and glamour of contemporary style is overwhelmingly evident in popular culture. Series like Sam Levinson’s “Euphoria” hyperbolize fashion, adorning its anarchic protagonists with velour, glitter, ornate manicures, leather and lace. The show’s dizzying kaleidoscope of color and couture presents fashion as an unapologetic

deviation from tradition and decorum. Style in “Euphoria” is fantastical because, above all, it is rooted in escapism. In response to the terrors of today, fashion allows us to build a romanticized, guarded and intimate world of our very own. Its trends have stepped out of the screen and into the closets of Gen Z, highlighting that, at the end of the day, we just want to be able to experiment as we please. Style as a medium for social commentary, self-interpretation and creativity is most compelling on the runway. After the hiatuses and restrictions of the pandemic, nobody’s in the mood to play nice. The spring and summer 2022 collections of major labels showcase the current demand for fashion to provoke and relish in its own irreverence. Sitting in office chairs in the Parisian Palais d’léna, guests of Miu Miu’s Basic Instincts show were treated to a bold new imagining of workplace attire. Miuccia Prada’s newest collection uses the hallmarks of corporate apparel (with suits, sweaters, trousers, pencil skirts and blazers galore) to subvert the idea of the atypical work uniform. Egregiously cropped tops and skirts, flashes of underwear and raw edges instill risqué sensualism into the collection, marking a post-pandemic departure from following the rules. This attitude was also embodied in Gucci Love Parade, the legendary fashion house’s final show of its centennial. The brand’s show-stopping, star-studded (hello, Phoebe Bridgers and Macaulay

Culkin) tribute to the opulence of Los Angeles and cinema — staged on Hollywood Boulevard, obviously — featured daring looks that pushed the envelope of style. Feather boas, satin gloves à la Rita Hayworth, fur coats and velvet suits intermingled with sneakers, cowboy and baseball hats, sex-toy-inspired jewelry and aviator glasses. High fashion met provocative youthfulness to create a fantasy colored with the style of Gen Z. The mischievousness exhibited on the runway by these labels, and many others, reflects society’s tongue-in-cheek response to the hardships of the decade. After so much strife, it’s finally time to play. Looking past established houses, there exists a myriad of young creators vying for prominence in the realm of fashion. The next generation is pioneering the style of tomorrow, prioritizing ideals of sustainability, counterculture and inclusivity in the face of modern-day uncertainty. One such creator is Ludovic de Saint Sernin. After stints at Dior, Saint Laurent and Balmain, the 27-year-old designer founded his eponymous label with a focus on genderless fashion. You only need a glimpse of his artisanal designs — including his signature leather eyelet briefs, semi-sheer mini dresses and intricate knits, alternatingly tight and loose in all the right places — to detect that his brand drips with heady, effortless seduction. A similar concentration on unisex clothing that spotlights

LGBTQ+ culture can be found in the collections of Gypsy Sport, Rio Uribe’s cult-classic label. Uribe draws on his upbringing in LA’s Koreatown and on his wide circle of local influences to create joyful, vibrant streetwear that celebrates community. He is known for casting a diverse array of models (many who bear no prior experience in the field) to normalize new standards of beauty. With an exuberant passion for their crafts, young creatives are shattering entry barriers and transforming the landscape of fashion into an even playing field for all. On both the big screen and catwalk, it is clear we are entering a new era of fashion. The cultural shifts of the last few years have culminated in the mutable and expansive nature of today’s styles. There are unlimited and unprecedented ways to express oneself with clothing and design — the common denominator is a rampant desire to experiment. Instead of relying on the trends set by leading voices in fashion, young creators are forging a new foundation for self-expression. Through style that is both revolutionary and blasé, we are announcing that our generation is ready to rewrite the rules. The way we express ourselves will continue to evolve alongside culture itself. Although the future surely holds more insecurity and struggle, we can be sure that our generation will make ourselves heard, even if it takes one miniskirt at a time.


WE FIND STILLNESS IN OUR ARTISTRY, BREATHING LIFE INTO OUR IDEAS AND OURSELVES. Photographed by Samy Asfoor, Stephanie García and Johann Vázquez

Out of Place on Purpose BY ABIGAIL HASEBROOCK



hat prickly, out of place feeling. It’s awful and yet entirely universal. Maybe it was felt during forced Catholic school attendance. Maybe it was experienced after years of commitment to a team sport that was never truly enjoyable. Maybe it stems from burn out after overzealous involvement in an organization. No amount of magnificent cathedrals, carb-loaded cuisines at team dinners or stylish T-shirts with unique logos can mask the poison that institutions can inspire. How could this be? How could sitting on the pews of a church feel like a foreign cult? How could a sensation of cold exclusion arise from the same people you shed blood, sweat and tears with? How could you question belief in something you centered your life around? After all, isn’t an institution supposed to be a cohesive community? On the surface, the act of gathering for a collective cause is unifying and joyful; powerful and seamless. In many cases, it can be. Or, at the very least, it can begin that way. But too often, the power of greed and competition whittle away the purpose of the gathering itself. The biggest threat to genuine community within an institution is not external forces but the people inside the institutions. We are our own worst enemy, both individually and collectively. Leaders inadvertently develop unbreakable superiority complexes. Legalism runs rampant as members begin to feel pressured. And, worst of all, even good deeds can be corrupted by exploitative processes. Many of these constructs have certain images tethered to them: archetypes and personas that you can’t seem to accurately fit, no matter how hard you try. If you do, it feels forced, stereotypical, inauthentic. Suddenly, you’ve become so consumed in trying to fit a certain mold that you’ve forgotten your purpose and passion altogether. We are all susceptible to this phenomenon of

institutional evil. But we are also in control of our own thoughts, words and actions. Idolization is the quickest way for a pure purpose to pivot into something sinister. Apathy is the quickest way to let corruption in an institution fester. So, seeking a balance is crucial. Again, but how? Acknowledge your own capacity to lose sight of why you entered the institution in the first place. It’s frightening to contemplate the idea that our own pride and fear of not fitting in could intrude upon something we truly love and believe in. But, it’s entirely possible, and more importantly, completely natural. Just as plants eventually have to be placed into a bigger pot, it could be that you’ve outgrown this environment. As we discover our own natures, change and become confident in ourselves, some of the gardens we grew up in no longer fit. And that’s progress. Beyond these acknowledgements, recognize and remind yourself that your worth is not bound to any institution, no matter how long it’s been active in your life. Our purpose may feel so deeply intertwined with the institution that even peeling away ever so slightly would feel sinful. But it isn’t. Instead, it preserves your worth as a human being outside of your perceived worth from an institution. Accepting and truly believing this is not easy. But it’s also not impossible. It might be the one and only cure to institutional disarray and downfall. That dreaded “out of place” feeling? Others experience it, too. Disregard differences. Give grace where it may not be deserved. Eradicate exclusion to the extent that you are capable. Institutions, and more specifically, the people in them, are capable of harm. But they are capable of a plethora of lasting good, too.


“As we discover our own natu s, change and become confident in ou elv , some of the gardens we g w up in no longer fit. And that’s p g ss.”



around one another against a white backdrop — long winding roads of thread tying together a sweeping tail. A dirtied hem sits against the grass, where its lacy roses appear to be birthed from the ground. Here, a woman is enshrined in a feeling as much as she is a dress. The warm tint of the rising sun, the gentle hum of the idling honeybees, a drop of dew resting upon her cheek, running down her chin, tangling in her eyelashes that flutter from the light seeping in between tree branches above. In this dreamlike bubble, she is awakened by the rustle of her own consciousness. Her bed is made by the soft thread of cotton that hugs her shoulders and abdomen, that cloaks her legs beneath its lightweight hold. Beside her, it pours out in every direction, breathing in the light like the petals of a peony. Dirt crumbles through two nimble fingers, disappearing into the Earth she kneels upon. It leaves a moist sensation on her skin, touched by the wind as it capers past in an endless stream. A stream like the one that rushes below, disconcerting and divine and abundant. A stream like the one behind her of torn lace and floral fabric, where cloth sprawls across the ground like a burden of liberation. Beneath stains of time is the white hue of a dress, the value of which is diminished by the scars on its surface. No longer desirable to most, it blooms and bathes in the sunlight, free from the reigns of expectancy. Resilient and vibrant, this garb stands tall. Its soul is old, older than the trees that wither nearby, who writhe in envy of the timeless presence among them. Passing pests fall smitten to its velvety touch, raising songs of praise in its name. Its wisdom persists through the day and through the night, withstanding the plight of judgment from those who question its womanhood from a few moments’ gaze. To them, blemishes of the past dictate worth, yet each

oosely tied onto a limp body, a Gunne Sax dress beL comes a guidance of deliverance. As if stitched from the Earth itself, warm colors of the terrain intricately whirl


has built it into the sculpture of strength it is today. Even unfilled by the flesh of a human, limp and lying on the surface, it is too great to be seen past, too wide to walk around. The damsel found friendship in this gown, felt force within its grasp. Nothing could foster such a womanly pride, a willingness to rise. Together today, they sink into the grass where the outgrown roots of the willows awaited their arrival, welcomed them home. Sirens in guise call to them — the woman touches them with her own hands, she dances with them to the lullaby of the nearby running water. As she spins, her Gunne Sax dress embraces her and the wind, gripping tightly onto her skin, but feeling looser than ever before. A moment’s joy is enough reason to never retreat to society. In fact, neither the woman nor the gown ever existed outside this very moment, forever weaving in the delicacy of this peace, in the bliss of solitude. A once-held fear of wilting under the weight of loneliness fades into the relief of this freedom to simply exist. The tunes of the forest and the clutch of the cloth could sustain her, cultivating a space to fade in and out of oblivion like the morning fog above the sea. Amid this whirlwind of life, the leaves are green, alive, awake. They bump in the breeze, holding tightly onto their native branches, unaware their time is nearly up. Soon they will change, wafting and falling from the scene. Yet in their cyclical nature, they will come again. For now, the leaves watch the cruelly feminine picture from above, in awe of a maiden and a dress.








mid the crazed chaos of change lies the pining A ache for regularity. Cyclical fashion trends often correspond with nostalgic consolation in the past. Our

minds revel in the familiarity, forcing us to return to what is already known. Fashion expresses both modernity and eternity, symbolizing people, places and events of a time period. The clothes we wear are a reflection of the world in which we exist. From world wars to global pandemics and civic unrest, sartorial styles reemerge. Trends and history often work together, with tumultuous time periods underlining fashion’s perpetual pendulum. The legacy of fashion’s periodic pattern has allowed for lively color, voluminous design and sophistication to continuously return. Avant-garde styles like animal prints and knitwear that once dominated trends of the past became consigned to oblivion. Animal pelts and prints heightened the free-spirited imagination and interest of society during their peak in the Roaring ‘20s. In this time period, women gained the right to vote and were emboldened by their newfound freedoms, sparking a rebellious shift in fashion. The glitz and glam of the ‘20s epitomized the decade. In the late 1960s, the animal print trend moved to the fringes of fashion due to the condemning of animal cruelty. This aversion toward more striking styles resulted in a seismic shift, forcing fashion into another new era of reckoning. Yet, the trend regained its momentum in the ‘70s and ‘80s, with zebra and tiger patterns in the spotlight. The ‘80s embodied a time of excess and decadence with changes in U.S. politics. An increased emphasis on monetary and materialistic values allowed for bolder pieces to reenter the fashion industry. Sophistic style was a mirror of society, with periods of uncertainty reflecting cultural distortion and an inherent desire for consistency. Take crochet’s significance during the wartime efforts of both World War I and II. Yarn and needlework patterns emerged as displays of patriotism. The growing popularity of crochet reached its zenith in the ‘60s and ‘70s with Cher’s iconic crochet top and Clint Eastwood’s Playboy feature in which he donned a crochet pullover sweater. Crochet broke away from traditional patterns, emphasizing society’s desire for unconventionality amid the aftermath of a war-stricken time period. During this era, crochet represented a counterculture movement that rejected the mores of mainstream society. While the 20th century expressed an abhorrence toward crochet, it is now regaining its foothold in the fashion world, with instantly iconic pieces like Harry Styles’ legendary crochet tank top governing its return. Our obsession with reoccurrences allows for “old-fashioned” and “outdated” trends to retransition to timeless, grasping our attention once again. This recurring revolution emphasizes the human desire for habitual constants. While our world is ever-changing, our favorite inspirations have continued to cycle all the same.



Photographed by Bailey Nolfe and Johann Vázquez

GROWING INTO WHO WE ARE, RATHER THAN WHO WE SHOULD BE. Photographed by Anissa Dimilta, Allison Epstein and Johann Vázquez





remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror every morning and picking myself apart. Composed and upright, I would study myself as the shower ran, scanning all of the imperfections that scattered across my face and trailed down the rest of my bare, vulnerable body. I would criticize myself for all that I couldn’t control; hating my deep-set eyes and my wild baby hairs, abhorring the mole that stained my right cheek and the stubborn hair that grew in places that didn’t on other bodies. But what I hated most was how my Latin roots betrayed me in the way that my waist didn’t dip and my hips didn’t round. The way there was a gap in my teeth and the way my nose jutted out of my face, thin yet long – emulating a bird’s beak and sparking insecurity when I smiled. There were times when my reflection repulsed me, plain and simple. I could never appease myself, and it pained me. Like many other models, I started my journey in a small community of creatives. Being a friend of photographers and aspiring designers, I became a mannequin for their blueprints. Although I garnered a love for modeling and bringing creations to life, there were always insecurities that would eat away at me, wearing down any little confidence I may have found; the structure of the industry deepened this sense of self-doubt. Speaking with local Florida models like Noah Sams has reminded me that, while there are spaces where queerness and racial diversity are celebrated, the fashion world becomes increasingly more white and heterosexual the higher up you climb. Representation is hindered, yet toxicity and negative self-perception are bolstered by Eurocentric beauty standards. This is especially harmful when one grows up without seeing anyone who resembles them; they end up feeling unrepresented and alone. Grace Rodriguez, assistant photo director for Rowdy Magazine, shares this sentiment, as they argue that growing up would have been much different had they been exposed to models their size. Rodriguez believes “the industry could aim for more diversification; not just for the sake of showing face, but for the sake of representing all these different talented people.” After all, as companies have attempted to expand on diversity, a fetishization of models who look “interesting” or “exotic” has surfaced, which sparks feelings of diminishment for models as people. For all of the modeling complex’s faults, model Jordan “Jordie” Ortiz believes it also has virtues. He describes the field as open-armed, as it presents chances to make connections and pursue collaborations. “You’re given the opportunity to steer in different directions and experiment with different aspects of the fashion world,” Ortiz said. Whether it be in the form of styling or creating tracklists for runway shows, there are possibilities for models to branch out and experiment with all that goes into this creative medium of storytelling. Although the fashion world’s trends are quite cyclical, they are also evolving. Not just through the expansion of ideas, as seen through the late Virgil Abloh’s fusion of high fashion and streetwear, but because people of different backgrounds can now be successful; they are no longer another box to be checked off in filling a quota of representation. “As the modeling industry moves into representation of the average person, perhaps we will all feel a little less alone,” Rodriguez said. As we move forward and continue to break boundaries in fashion, Noah Sams explains that the end goal is not only to expand on inclusion and diversity, but to give credit to those of other communities who have impacted fashion. It is important we diverge from the cold and narrow-minded thinking of the industry, and begin to see the beauty in the unfamiliar and normalize it. To ultimately love and accept yourself, it’s crucial to disconnect your worth with how people perceive you, even as models whose work is perception itself. We must begin to recognize our own worth, not because we’ve fit any standards or because someone has offered us validation, but because we accept our uniqueness and recognize the vision and value in it. “When people can reclaim their individuality, heritage and the beauty of just being themselves, then they will be able to overcome negative body image and garner a sense of self-love,” Sams said. This is what the goal of the fashion world should be; after all, it is meant to make people feel confident in their own skin.



Trigger Warning: Body Image and Disorders


he oil hits the scorching Le Creuset Dutch Oven, jumping up to hit my bare arm. My face becomes flush with the warm aroma of paprika and Cajun-seasoned shrimp. Immediately, I’m transported to my grandmother’s kitchen, where I was 7 and taught how to make jambalaya, one of her favorite dishes. A wave of nostalgia consumes me before I can return to reality. Then, a wave of nausea hits me, washing away my hunger and replacing it with disdain. My eyes glare at the counter as I become disgusted by the dish I made, wishing it would just disappear. It’s the daily routine, the balancing act. How can something I love creating be the source of so much anguish? I force myself to spend hours in the kitchen with a wrist tired from stirring batter and a hand burned by cast iron. Hours pass only for me to stare at the food in horror, fearful of eating it. My eyes water as I watch the slices of cake circle the drain. The elegant, silky ribbons of buttercream slide down the sink, never having graced my taste buds. Since I was young, I’ve fixated on perfection. Grades below A’s brought me to tears while a frizz in my hair ruined my morning. As I grew, so did my expectations. Suddenly, my jeans fit differently, and my body no longer reflected the images plastered in the magazines. The first solution: layer on as many clothes as possible. Tank tops peered under T-shirts, hiding any skin, ensuring the outside world would not be able to judge my silhouette. This proved to be an impermanent fix, my concept of a flawless body did not manifest through baggy clothing. Slowly, this paralyzing fear of imperfection took away moments of joy. Folding in chocolate chips, searing steak — it always brought me a sense of calm until I suddenly shut myself out of the kitchen. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, criticizing everything I could, misconstruing the image looking back at me. The days I spent happily baking batches of cookies and developing recipes left me sick. So, I punished myself. I locked away my baking supplies. I turned my head away from delectable foods, all with the hope that someday it would result in me loving the person I was. It didn’t. After a trip to the store, a box of my favorite cookies found itself in the trash, untouched. Pasta, my favorite meal, morphed into a fear food before it could be boiled. Social media flooded me with messages confirming my thoughts. No more carbs. No more sugar. Look better. Be better. Push yourself to look better, push yourself to be better. I convinced myself I was not hungry enough for a meal. I mistook the emptiness within myself for happiness about the way I looked. Now, I’m here to apologize to myself, the girl I deprived for far too long. After years of hollow hunger, distorted mirrors and unused baking sheets, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for looking at you in disgust, believing you needed to change. I’m sorry for depriving you of food you longed for. I’m sorry for fixating on measurements rather than nourishment. I want to begin anew. I want to unlock the cabinet and bring out the recipe books. While I heal, I’m going to focus on the origin of my passion for food. It’s more than fuel. It’s memories encapsulated in a bite. The look of pure elation on my sister’s face when I covered her third birthday cake in M&M’s. My mother’s relief as the smell of freshly baked bread welcomed her home after work. My father’s gentle grin as my banana pudding trifle was placed in front of him as “Happy Birthday” hummed in the background. I wish I could promise this will be a steady journey, but I can’t ensure I won’t compare myself to those around me. I’ll always be inundated with images of people who do not look like me, but I can learn not to perceive them as threats. I can promise to forgive and treat myself with the same grace I give to others. It’s what I deserve. As I grow to happily see myself in the same way I see the family members I happily bake cakes for, I can picture a happy future. A future where my connection with food is about summer days spent crafting fresh pasta in a sundress and winter nights baking cookies in a knitted sweater. It’s time I finally learn how to happily live within my own dimension, one formed by the integral relationship between mind and body. I’ll be kinder and let myself enjoy my late nights spent in the kitchen. Thank you to my body for creating every aspect that makes me me, even the parts I don’t always love. We will always be one.


I TO “





UNCOMFORTABLE CREATION IS A JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY, RIDDLED WITH CREAKS, GROANS AND GROWING PAINS. Photographed by Brieanna Andrews, Anissa Dimilta, Stephanie García and Johann Vázquez


xuberance and desolation share custody over me. They tug me back and forth, back and forth. And back. I’m ripping in half, the edges sharp and jagged. But I knew I was in love like you know ghosts are real and that soulmates exist. Do you know what I mean when I say I’ve got borrowed conviction? I’m blanketed by the security of someone else. In your shirt, your space, your car with your favorite songs playing that are now my favorite songs. I’m echoing the lyrics with her conviction. But it’s just gathered spirits and bread crumbs. I feel distinct on the mornings I believe in soulmates. When the sun drips right out of me, ripe and full of love. When the shimmer of night wraps around me, I absorb it — reflect it. I am so in love with the world that I want to give it to you! Here, you too share this love with me. I shove my devotion so far down I can no longer stomach it. I worship oranges because she said they were her favorite, but now I’m on my knees after she said there were plenty of better fruits. The sickness sits at the pit of my stomach and on the other side of my door. I can’t purge it. Please, God, guard my bed. “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt,” I read once. And then I lived it. And it was so splendidly wonderful and vibrantly violent. A disco ball that shimmers through the night but desolate in daylight when she must tie her shoes and take the heavy steps out of the door. I’d rather do anything than deal with myself. So, I make shotgun-kind-of plans on our trip to the moon, and the car is packed and I remembered your favorite pillow and I love you so much I can’t bear it. We speak the same language, I tell her. She starts crying because she’s spent her whole life untranslated. But there’s no solace split between my sorrow and sunshine. I’m bone dry when I can’t breathe over how many people are in the grocery store. “There has to be more,” I spout up in spurts on the bathroom floor. I claw at my rigid, hollow skin at dawn, but by noon, I’m overflowing. My lungs are filled with light, and I’m alive. I’m alive. I’m alive. I meant it when I told you I couldn’t live separate from you, and I meant it again when I said I could hardly recognize you. How do I step lightly, or with stability Or convey this weight distinctly except to say that I’m so in love with the world I can’t stand it.







wirling waves breaking through the darkness of the surreal night. Spiraling strokes of concentric, radiant light. Exaggerated, turbulent, dramatic, agitated. This is “The Starry Night,” a painting crafted in an asylum in the south of France. The masterpiece is widely considered to be a product of Vincent van Gogh’s epileptic, hallucinogenic fits; a beautiful, vulnerable manifestation of his suffering. From Kierkegaard to Kanye, we have equated talent with pain. We have diagnosed suffering as a malady exclusive and requisite to the elite creative intellectual. The father of existentialism, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s influence on the authenticity of the individual experience revolutionized modern philosophy and permeated the foundations of Western society. Kierkegaard attributed part of his wild genius to his depression, saying, “real depression, like the ‘vapors,’ is found only in the highest circles, in the former case understood in a spiritual sense.” Today, Kanye West echoes these sentiments. The cover of his 2018 album “ye” reads, “I hate being Bi-Polar, it’s awesome.” In his song “Yikes’’ he writes, “That’s my bipolar shit/ That’s my superpower/ Ain’t no disability/ I’m a superhero!” What makes art legendary, philosophy transformative and music iconic is not just the artists, but the widespread obsession and glamorization of their tragic stories. Depression, grief, despair and trauma appear as necessities for unadulterated, raw creativity. For centuries, this has led Western society to idolize tortured creators. But this infatuation with tormented creators is unique to Western culture. While suffering may be intrinsic to the human experience, how we view pain is

far from universal. Beyond the Western constructs of suffering, Indian culture has an ancient history of validating pain as merely a state of change, part of the dynamic equilibrium of life. “Happiness will not come from happiness but only from pain. We know the value of standing in the shade only after roaming in the hot day sun,” quotes the Atharva Veda, one of the Vedic scriptures in Hinduism. In Hindu philosophy, suffering is considered inevitable. Pain and pleasure exist in duality. Without despair, there is no bliss. This sentiment is echoed in the Hindu belief of the karmic cycle. Pain is a necessary experience we must endure as a consequence of the wrongdoings in our previous lives. It has a purpose: it balances the karma in the universe. Just as we love, we suffer. There exists an equilibrium of experiences, and it is only in equilibrium that a person achieves full understanding and completeness of the mind and body. Born out of Hindu philosophy, Buddhism developed its own noble truths on how to overcome human suffering. A sheltered Brahman prince discovered suffering while tucked in the foothills of the

Himalayas. He ventures into the world to search for a cause until, seated at the foot of a massive Bodhi tree, he finds enlightenment. Through Western eyes, the Buddha fits the tortured artist mold. But, while it was suffering that led him to begin his journey, the Buddha did not attribute pain as the source of his enlightenment. In his enlightened state, the Buddha created a set of noble truths. Fundamental to these principles of Buddhism is that suffering exists, but it has a cause. It can end. The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan high priest, spoke on the true philosophy of suffering in Buddhism, writing, “​​the root of human suffering is our excessive self-centeredness; a fixation on our own needs rather than the greater good.” He believes suffering is fundamentally a product of our ego. We become entrenched in our singular existence rather than opening our minds and souls to the greater human experience. To the Dalai Lama, pain exists only to the “I,” which is an illusion, a construct of society we must learn to escape. So, how should we suffer? Do we land in the depressive, dark, yet creative haze of Van Gogh? Or, are we perched on the sprawling roots at the

seat of the Bodhi tree in a state of enlightenment, dissociated from the ego? The subject of suffering is far from resolved, and this ancient debate will march on for a millennia to come. It is in our nature to suffer, just as it is in our nature to question why we suffer. That’s why we have religion, art and philosophy. They are vessels to understand and cope with the human condition. But, it is enlightening to understand how differently humans deal with the most fundamental experiences of life. We can find solace in perspective — there is freedom in understanding that our worldview is a mere construct of our own backgrounds and environments. Van Gogh painted the celestial sky of a world outside the confines of his asylum. Buddha discovered peace once he journeyed from his home. Perhaps we can also find beauty and meaning once we look beyond the borders of our social identity. There is no one way to suffer. Thus, there is no one way to create. This, too, is inherent to our human experience. To confine ourselves to any one definition of creativity would be to limit ourselves from the infinite ways that exist for us to express ourselves.



Photographed by Samy Asfoor, Katalina Enriquez and Erin Hu















y grandmother cooked with the precision of a chemist. She treated her dishes like scientific formulas, mincing cloves of garlic and measuring spoonfuls of Crystal Hot Sauce into bowls of gumbo bubbling on the stovetop to reach an exact euphoria of flavor. When I’d spend the night, lugging around an overnight bag crammed to the brim with chapter books too big for my hands to carry, she’d laugh, showing me the new stack of novels adorning her bedside table and winking like it was our little secret. Luggage in tow, we headed to the kitchen to roll out meatballs for that night’s spaghetti dinner. She told me how she and her sister would walk a mile to the library, a little red wagon trailing behind them. By the time they’d leave, the wagon would be overflowing with whatever books they could get their hands on, tires squeaking and straining under the weight. Her eyes sparkled as she talked, awash with something I couldn’t understand at age 8. Wordlessly, she returned to the meatballs. She was more excited than either of my parents the day I was accepted to college. When I went to her house that weekend, she launched into a barrage of questions. What was I majoring in? Where would I be staying? What are my plans for the future? It wasn’t until after my grandmother’s death that I learned she’d never finished her four-year degree. Her life had been decided the moment she was born in rural Mississippi, where she’d been taught to use her sharp mind for housework. Hands that used to flip through books were used to clean tables and chop vegetables. By her 20s, she’d already married a controlling husband and was set to become another member of conservative suburbia. Any dreams of academia had been put aside long ago, lost to the limitations of white southern tradition. Now, as graduation approaches, I think of how my great grandmother sewed perfect quilts but was never allowed to leave the house, how my aunt painted beautiful portraits but worked at a textbook company to pay for her husband’s photography business – the ways the women of my family, filled with promise and potential, were resigned to a life of subjugation, the casualties of a culture built on their silence. I feel their gazes upon me with every choice I make. Given the chance, would they have spent their Friday nights partying instead of studying for midterms? Their dreams will never be known, and so I push myself to reach the heights they could’ve soared to. Weekends my peers spend relaxing are spent slumped over my laptop, lost in an expanse of to-do lists. I thrust more and more onto my plate, desperate to pull myself from the same obscurity that trapped the women before me. I am Atlas holding up the night sky, knees buckling under the weight of my expected success. Yet still I stand, the end of a legacy of unopened doors, an open path stretched out before me. More than any other woman of my family, I am free – there is no husband to put me in my place, no demands of domesticity to prevent me from chasing success. I was encouraged to pursue my education. I was never shamed for my lack of interest in dating or marriage. I am 21, untethered and staring down a lifetime of independence and choice. When studying for exams makes my head ache and I feel myself drowning under the weight of it all, I think of the women who never got the chances I have – how lucky am I to be burdened with opportunity? I remember the tight embrace my grandma pulled me in after my high school graduation, and how I never understood the meaning behind her pride in my achievements. With every step I take toward my future, I carry her and all of my ancestors’ lost dreams with me. I will always honor the legacies of those that came before.



ee this?” The woman waits for a response from her audience, an auditorium full of prepubescent middle schoolers. The children stare intently at the speaker on stage holding a blank sheet of paper. “This represents you now.” She raises the symbol up into the air and revolves slowly so everyone can get a good look. Then, she lowers the paper, crumples it up and attempts to straighten it back out. “Does this look the same to you?” The auditorium transforms into a sea of small heads shaking no.


“This is what happens when you have sex before marriage. No matter how hard you try, you can never get back what you gave away. You’ll be marked by it forever.” Forever. Thirteen-year-old me accepted this metaphor as fact. The sentiment behind the message was drilled into my mind during my previous eight years of Catholic school. Premarital sex is the ultimate sin. Don’t you dare do it, unless you want to be judged for eternity. The piece of paper was not the only inanimate object our bodies were reduced to. We were chewed-up wads of gum, nubby





pencils that had been sharpened too many times or cakes with messed up frosting. I didn’t venture to question purity culture until my Catholic school bubble burst, and I became a college student at a public university. The morally homogenous student body of my school days was replaced with a diverse campus filled with thousands of living souls. I was forced to question everything I had learned about sex in my adolescent years. Was my identity really going to be perpetually altered if I had sex? When I thought about who I was as a person, several words came to mind: daughter, student, sister, friend. None of these words concerned chastity. I grew up thinking my “virginity” was something I needed to protect at all costs, but it didn’t make me who I was at all; I was me, with or without it. As I reflected on what I was taught about purity, I realized I had a choice, one that was far too complex to be wrapped up into an analogy and tied with a bow. The decision to have sex could not be summed up by a physical change reflected on a lifeless item. The objects in these harmful parables had one thing in common: they had something done to them. Is sex something that should be done to us, or is it something that we can choose to participate in freely? The preestablished notions of purity proclaim we will be tarnished if we do not remain celibate. Yet if a person who has had sex stands next to

...WE SHOULD DEFINE IT AS BEING PURE OF H EAR T.” someone who hasn’t, you can’t tell the difference. We are not crumpled pieces of paper; we are human beings. Part of being human is having agency over your own body. Whether you abstain from sex or have sex often, whether you dress in modest or revealing clothing – whether you do whatever, whenever, with whomever – you have the right to a choice and the right to not owe anyone an explanation. Although it can be difficult to see past the demeaning names and double standards that arise when sex is used as a vehicle for shame, these decisions do not determine who you are as a person. If I could talk to 13-year-old me now, I’d tell her she’s more than her “virginity.” I want her to be defined by the things and people she loves, not by guilt and old-fashioned doctrines. I’d tell her that the way she treats others is more telling of her character than whether she remains chaste. Human beings are capable of so much love; we support each other’s victories, and we’re shoulders to cry on in times of need. Yes, we have bodies, but we also have minds and spirits. Instead of defining purity as abstinence, we should define it as being pure of heart. A pure heart is not comparable to a pristine sheet of paper, but it strives to love above all else. 75

FOR THE SAKE OF CREATING Cover photographed by Johann Vázquez, edited by Erin Hu



n artist’s work is their livelihood, their means of expression. From authors and composers to painters and filmmakers, creating has always been an intrinsic medium through which people are free to voice the inner workings of their minds. Works like Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” which paint pictures of dystopian worlds, are meant to serve as insightful critiques on the kind of system that once prompted the Red Scare in the U.S. This worry was fully merited, especially when considering systems that are founded on fearmongering and leave creative expression to sift through propaganda. After all, in such a state, there is an absence of rights that would otherwise be present in a democracy; no rights to raw, uncensored emotion or expression. A parent’s goal, especially that of immigrant parents, is to have their child live a life they never did; to succeed in ways only dreamed of. Growing up, I heard stories about the life of restrictions and censorship my family endured under Fidel Castro’s rule; from being outcasted by family members for not falling in line and supporting the regime, to learning about military warfare as a child in school. Knowing this, I live every day grateful that, to me, they are nothing more than stories. My family experienced the oppressions of tyranny, and they fled, as refugees, to the artistic and creative hub that is France. It was there that my father began to learn that the world had more to offer than what he’d known as a child. Their valiant act gave me the chance to grow and flourish in conditions that they never did – in a country independent of conformity, and instead filled with the promise of freedom; freedom to practice religion, speak out against bigotry and achieve whatever my heart desired. As a creative, this is the biggest blessing I’ve received. To create is to bring to life something entirely your own; something done best when the expression comes from the deepest parts of your soul and can be shared with the world to see. Something that sparks conversation and inspiration. This luxury to express yourself freely and unapologetically is one many take for granted, as not everyone can live out their passions and create without fear of censorship or punishment. My dad would tell me stories about the neighborhood watch in Cuba, about the neighbors who would report any participation in opposition movements or defiance of the Communist Party from those around them. Alternatively, in America, people are free to openly express their qualms with the government. They can parade around in the streets with the signs and chants of protests. They can create movements and change. Meanwhile, some people, like those in Cuba, have no choice but to create for the sake of creating – no thematic expression, no underlying critiques that challenge agendas. They create whatever they can, as long as it adheres to the parameters set by the government; they are only restricted to creating for the sake of it. And even though these creators cannot fully express themselves in their work, making something out of nothing remains their passion. But, what of those who do have a voice in their artistry? They should speak loudly. Proudly. Shout for the voiceless and raise the concerns of others in their own creations. Expand on different world views and experiences, not just their own; make work that says something – or work that says nothing at all. The purpose of creating, beyond the means of revelation, is to bring enjoyment to the creator. Sigmund Freud once identified “the desire to receive pleasure,” and the act of creating embodies just that. Whether you choose to speak on the idea of dystopias like Ray Bradbury or choose to make something simply because you have the freedom to – do it. Your creations, whether meaningful or meaningless, speak to others and encourage the feat of pursuing one’s dreams. Take advantage of it.




To my Strike family, Three years ago, when I joined our magazine as a public relations assistant, I never imagined the extent of the experience I would gain or the relationships I would form along the way. As a new member on the Strike UF staff, I was a little overwhelmed and intimidated to work with a team of such incredibly talented and professional individuals. But, they immediately welcomed me into the fold, and I had the fortune to learn from the most gifted people I have ever known. As I reflect on my time with Strike, I am reminded of the lessons I’ve learned, the friends I’ve made and the memories I have that will last a lifetime. Despite the incredible challenges we endured during the pandemic, together we grew even stronger by channeling our creativity and showing tremendous ingenuity to keep the vision of Strike alive. These experiences helped shape me as both a public relations professional and as a person. They unveiled my capabilities as a leader, a creator and as a teammate, giving me the confidence I need to pursue my dreams. I will remain eternally grateful for these experiences at Strike UF and the people who have helped me grow along the way. I am especially appreciative of Erin Hu for her selfless guidance, unwavering encouragement and extraordinary creative vision; Kate McNamara for her relentless optimism, persistent determination and inspiring work ethic; and my right-hand person, Sarah Sheerer, for being incredibly reliable, supportive and trustworthy as an assistant and a friend. A huge heartfelt thank you to Matt Hamburg for being the best partner I could have ever had, and to Maddy Whalen for believing in me and showing me the ropes. Thank you Editorial for your tireless hard work and written masterpieces. Thank you Creative for gracefully and diligently bringing our concepts to life. And thank you External, my home, for always embodying what Strike truly is: bold, unique and anything but trendy. To my staff and all eager young professionals, I encourage you to always put yourself out there, get uncomfortable, work hard and lead with kindness. I will miss you all.

Srike Out,

Brynn Fantuzzi External Affairs Director




EMBOLDEN Sue Khan TRANQUIL Nicholas Alexander Sasha Staszewski REVIVAL Ethan Chen-Fung Joelle Milord

DIMENSION Amina Hamzic Layla Rucker Tatiani Sloan UNCOMFORTABLE Cailin Lampert Bailey Nolfe PURITY Carla Fuertes COVER Jordan Ortiz


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