BOSTON, MA SPRING 2022
THE BUZZ Executive Editors
Editor-in-Chief Shai Mahajan Print Managing Editor Erica MacDonald Online Managing Editor Viktoria Popovska Head Copy Editor Lila Redler Creative Director Emily Snisarenko Art Director Tamar Ponte Photography Director Samantha Grobman
Campus Simone Crowder City Darcy Gallagher Culture Emily Tan Fashion Alexandria Sharpley Food Jasmine Loubriel Music Kiara Tynan Opinion Jessica Stevens Travel Caitlyn Kelley Wellness Andrea Lauritsen
Publisher Julia Kapusta Marketing Manager Isabelle Liao Social Media Team Angie Ye and Esha Raja Web Director Allie Richter
Ava Vitiello, Macy Wilbur, Lauren Had, Izzy Critchfield-Jain, Shelby Mitchell, Karoline Cunico, Jillian O'Farrell, Sofia Marin, Sophie Jurion, Yiran (Zoe) Zheng
Sophia Kysela, Kathryn Cooney, Elizabeth Watson, Hui-En Lin, Alexandra Bradely, Avani Mitra, Mohan Ge
Emily Snisarenko, Tamar Ponte
Our Spring 2022 issue would not have been possible without the help of many outside students and partners who shared their talents, insights and time. We would like to thank each and every new and existing relationship, and we look forward to our continued partnership in the future.
Dean John Battaglino Margaret Babson, Assistant Director of Student Activities Office, Boston University Student Activities Office, Boston University Study Abroad Office, Boston University Allocations Board, Boston University Anh Nhu Thuy Huynh, Business Share Accountant of Student Activities Office, Boston University WTBU TimeOut Market Boston Vivant Vintage Hope Lane
On The Cover
Katie Ferreri photographed by Sophia Kysela
Rachel Dirksen, Zach Murray, Darcy Gallagher, Nicholas Lyons, Rachel Liu, Savannah Tindall
SPRING 2022 Editorial 3.
Letter from the Editor
How Living Like TV Characters Transformed Our Lives in Boston
Inside Marathon Monday
Surviving in a 21+ City
Five Cheap Things to Do Abroad
Is Cancel Culture Productive?
From One Non-Reader to Another
Mature For Their Age
Loneliness in College
Gay Dating in the City
Niche Classes at BU
“Sex and the…” Advocacy
A Return of the Infamous Beanpot
Latinas with Attitude Problems
New Year, New Me?
Celebrity Food Brands: Feeding Their Fans or Their Fortune?
Grab A Cart
Nutrition: Fact vs. Fiction
Improving Your Relationship with Food
Fashion Photoshoot: The Art of Getting Ready
The Future of the SecondHand Fashion Industry
Stealing Style Tips From BU Alums
Can I Listen to Rap as a Feminist?
The Art of Interludes
No One Likes A Mad Woman, Except When They Do
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Breaks Down
R E TT
Designed by Emily Snisarenko Written by Shai Mahajan Photographed by Samantha Grobman
M TH DI EE
- IN CH
IEF BY SHAI MAHAJAN 4
Standing on the precipice of the past
and present, I think of my eighteenyear-old self, so eager to be out of the house and ready to be an independent woman with the world as my oyster. In a flash I’m thrust into senior year, suddenly conscious that the clock is running out. My days of exploring and experimenting seem over. How can I not think about the what-ifs and the what-could-have-beens? Now, with the real world right around the corner, the next chapter seems equally daunting as it is exciting.
The last couple years of the pandemic turned my college experience on its head. The uncertainty taught me to live in the moment, treasuring every second with the ones I love. I learned that I’m more resilient than I thought I was, and that when challenged, I adapt and rise to the occasion. I’ve learned to advocate for myself and to stand in my truth with grace, never losing sight of who I am when navigating the future. I have no doubt that we’ll turn our passions into success. And while that success might take us to the pinnacle of our goals, remember to…
Take time to celebrate the good things, to reach out and rekindle lost connections, and to show kindness always, not only to those around you, but to yourself, too. Appreciate ones you love and let them ground you. Never forget those who were a part of the journey you took to get to where you are now. And once in a while, despite the crazy pace of life, do something good for the good of someone else. Revel in it. Make your mark; make a difference. Seize every chance and make good choices. Your journey will be yours, no matter what you choose. There will always be time to explore, to question, to change and to grow. You never know what you will discover so embrace the unknown and remember that you have the power to make the future everything you want it to be. Sincerely, Shai Mahajan Editor-in-Chief
HOW LIVING LIKE TV CHARACTERS TRANSFORMED OUR LIVES IN BOSTON I Lived Like I Was in “Sex and the City” for a Week, and I Learned a Lot…
Written by Rachel Dirksen Designed by Shelby Mitchell Graphic by Emily Snisarenko
If you ask me, watching Sex and the City in its entirety is a rite of passage for young women. The hit HBO show has held major influence over pop culture since its start and long past its end in 2004. Almost two decades later, women of all ages can find a part of themselves in the four main characters: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. As a single 20-something woman living in Boston, I found myself referring to moments in the show in scenarios I experience on campus, in dating, throughout the city, and in my relationships—but most importantly, my friendships. As I began to really take notice of the subtle influences Sex and the City has on my life and how I perceive relationships, I decided I was up for a challenge. The goal: live like
I am one of the main four characters for a whole week. I wasn’t too sure what that entailed, and didn’t really have a plan of action. All I knew was I was sure to learn something about myself, and maybe even see the city of Boston in a new light. When I began this challenge, the one non-negotiable I had was to make sure I put extra effort into my appearance every day. The fashion in Sex and the City is one of my favorite parts of the show, but it is a bit extreme for a college student. As the spring semester began, I found myself throwing on sweats and a hoodie every morning before class. My goal was to at least make sure I was wearing something other than a groutfit, even if it’s not a perfectly
coordinated outfit paired with Manolo Blahniks. As I woke up on the first day of this challenge, I dreaded putting on an elaborate outfit, one that I would normally wear on a night out or for a formal occasion. I decided to opt for my favorite pair of trousers and a leather blazer for a streetwear-inspired look. Although this might not be something we would see on Carrie Bradshaw, it is something that gave me confidence. Spending time on my makeup every morning seemed pointless with mask wearing, but I made myself follow through with the process. I found that I enjoyed waking up early and having a little time to pamper myself before the day ahead. As the week progressed, I began to realize that there is a theme among the women’s fashion in the show; they are dressing for nobody but themselves. I doubt Samantha Jones wakes up in the morning and decides to dress to impress the men or women she sees on the street; she does it because it makes her feel good. That is exactly how I felt—good about myself. I noticed a shift in the way I approached my classes, work, and social events. I walked into every room with more confidence and a sense of security in myself. With this newfound confidence, I took any opportunity to socialize beyond my normal weekends with my girlfriends. I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art to see a new exhibit, embracing the elegance of Charlotte York. Afterwards, I went to a rooftop bar/restaurant in Seaport called Yotel. I was dressed in thigh high boots and an all-black outfit that could only be described as sleek, inspired by Samantha Jones. It was the perfect night out with friends. Carrie Bradshaw is not one to shy away from treating herself, famously purchasing designer shoes and a Vogue magazine instead of saving for the ridiculous New York City rent. I took on this energy of luxury, and decided to treat myself to little things throughout the week. I treated myself to my favorite coffee at Blue Bottle, even though I knew I could have made coffee at home. I also did numerous face masks, and spent maybe a little bit more money than I should have at Sephora. It may not have been the most responsible of decisions, but sometimes you need a bit of luxury in life, just to make sure you’re really living.
Set in a less-internet-age, one thing the characters of Sex and the City missed out on during their epic adventures was the magic of dating apps. I deactivated my accounts for the entire week, going off the dating grid. Although I’m not one to be entirely invested in dating apps, I did begin to realize how rare it is for Gen Z to meet potential dates in person. I was unfortunately not approached by handsome bachelors every place I went, unlike the show. Although social media and dating apps have their fair share of negative outcomes, they provide the chance to connect with people we may have otherwise overlooked on the street. Arguably the most important theme from Sex and the City is the importance of female friendships. Charlotte, Samantha, Carrie, and Miranda all have their moments of tension amongst themselves, but at the end of the day, they are always there for one another. They may spend a majority of their time discussing their current romantic interests (occasionally violating the Bechdel test), but I realized that commiserating and evaluating one’s romantic pursuits is sometimes what bonds women together. In the famous words of Carrie Bradshaw, “Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.” The time spent with my girlfriends during this week was more valuable to me than any date I could have been on. Sharing our stories, struggles, and laughs—as cheesy as it sounds—is sometimes the best form of therapy. There is nothing more uniting than the human experience of being a woman, particularly a woman in a city. New York and Boston are not necessarily one in the same, but they share the same energy and excitement that only a big city can provide. Walking down Commonwealth Ave, Newbury Street, and Boylston while feeling my best was sort of an out-of-body experience. I wanted to interact with the city in the way Samantha or Carrie would. I smiled at strangers, said hello to people as I walked by, and complimented anything I found myself admiring about other people. It felt amazing to do something other than walk with my airpods in, ignoring everyone else as much as I could. When you’re feeling comfortable in your own skin and in the right mindset, walking can become so much more than getting from point A to point B.
This leads me to my biggest takeaway from this week—life is about experiencing. This doesn’t mean you need to be invited to the hottest club or movie premiere like the women of Sex and the City, it means you need to live as though high on life. Live with glamor, elegance, poshness, boldness, purpose, and charisma. Say yes to plans that you normally wouldn’t, make a night-in a bit more luxurious with a face mask and take-out sushi, wake up twenty minutes early to put together an appearance that makes you feel confident. Find your luxury. Think about how you feel when you’ve done something out of the ordinary—attending a concert, taking a vacation, or maybe even just a nice dinner with your girlfriends. Look back at those experiences. More than likely you don’t remember every detail of what you did, but you do remember how it made you feel. Those exciting moments take us out of our mundane mindset and that can be so refreshing. You don’t need an extravagant excuse to achieve that feeling. This week brought me to the conclusion that life is truly about showing up to every moment, whether big or small, with an attitude of confidence, excitement, and a little bit of luxury. Carrie Bradshaw herself said it perfectly, “... The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship is the one you have with yourself.”
INSIDE MARATHON MONDAY THE EXPERIENCE OF A RUNNER Designed by Zoe Zheng Written by Dani Cejudo and Darcy Gallagher Photographed by Hui-En Lin
The Boston Marathon began in 1897, and is the
oldest annual marathon. The race has gained global popularity, as 30,000 participants will run in this spring’s upcoming race, according to the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.). We spoke with veteran marathon runner Mari Del Pozo to hear her experience with the historic 2020 race cancellation, as well as her journey back to competing in 2021’s marathon. Del Pozo has been a marathon runner for more than 20 years, running 1-2 marathons per year as well as triathlons. For Del Pozo, the pandemic provoked an abrupt pause in her usual athletic training. “It was hard as I have run more than 19 marathons,” Del Pozo said about 2020’s cancellation. “Although I was disappointed, this didn’t stunt my training.” Del Pozo said she would train in the space of a parking lot, which helped her both physically and mentally get through the pandemic’s challenges. “It was hard to work around COVID restrictions, yet really made me realize how much I loved the sport, forcing me to find flexibility in my schedule and run
whenever I had the chance to,” Del Pozo said. Del Pozo was living in Colombia at the time of the race cancellations, but due to her husband’s acceptance into MIT to obtain his masters, her family relocated to Boston. “My biggest challenge was starting to prepare for the Boston Marathon, as well as for my big move from Colombia to the United States. It was the end of a chapter, yet the Boston Marathon was my light at the end of the tunnel,” Del Pozo said. When the time came for the Boston Marathon in October 2021, Del Pozo admitted she struggled. She fell for the first time and experienced severe leg cramps. “After this, I was feeling a little down, but the support of everyone felt magical and got me back on my feet,” Del Pozo said. Del Pozo’s persistence proves how important it is to be passionate, and shows the impact the Boston Marathon has on people. The race will continue to push athletes to achieve their highest potential this spring, as well as bring the Boston community together to cheer them on.
SURVIVING IN A 21+ CIT Y
An Underage Guide to Enjoying Boston Nightlife Designed by Ava Vitiello | Written by Hollie Shuler | Photographed by Ellie Watson
Boston is home to 35 different colleges, which seems like the perfect reason to have a city filled with nightlife for those 18 and up. However, despite the large and ever-growing student population in Boston, the majority of city venues are closed after 8 p.m. to those unlucky enough to be under 21. Despite this unfortunate circumstance, there are still fun activities to do at night in the city for those under 21. We have rounded up a list of activities, places, and sights to see on a Boston night. Kings Dining and Entertainment Centre If you’re looking for a place to enjoy fun group activities with your friends, Kings Dining and Entertainment Centre is the perfect place. They have two locations in Boston—Back Bay and Seaport. The Centre offers bowling, arcade games, pool, and karaoke. It’s open until midnight, but many of the bowling lanes fill up quickly on weekends, so it’s better to arrive early to reserve a lane. Have a Movie Night For a more laid-back evening, the AMC movie theaters, located in Fenway and on Tremont Street, have showings that go until 10:45 p.m. on weekends. If new releases are not your thing, the Coolidge Theater in Brookline offers latenight showings of cult favorite films every weekend. Some films they have shown in the past include Fantastic Planet, Enter the Void, and Queen of the Damned. The avantgarde, camp movies shown here are often screened in 35mm film, and guaranteed to give you a unique weekend movie experience.
Concerts Boston is home to tons of concert venues—both large and small. There’s a concert occurring somewhere in the city every weekend. Keeping an eye out for venues hosting bands that you like is a great way to throw together some weekend plans. Spotify has a feature that will let you know when some of your frequently streamed artists are playing in venues near you—a simple way to keep track of future concerts. Some of the smaller venues such as Middle East Nightclub in Cambridge and Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Avenue have lesser known artists playing and offer cheaper tickets. Even if you don't know the artist, it is a great, spontaneous weekend activity to buy last minute concert tickets, enjoy the vibes, and maybe even discover a new favorite singer or band. Karaoke If you prefer to be more involved in the singing, Station K Karaoke in Chinatown offers private Karaoke rooms until 2 a.m. on the weekends. The private rooms are a great way to feel comfortable while loudly serenading your friends to your favorite songs. The rooms accommodate any group size, so whether you want to just go with your two closest friends or everyone from your floor freshman year, there's a room size for you. Get Outside! As the weather gets warmer in Boston, another fun late-night activity is simply going outside and exploring areas such as the Boston Public Garden. At night, the garden is relatively empty, and the moonlight’s reflection against the pond is something you just can’t miss. Renting BlueBikes with
your friends and going for a late-night bike ride to the garden to enjoy the serenity and emptiness is a great, inexpensive way to spend your night. A trip down Commonwealth Avenue at night is stunning and fairly stress-free, as there are not many cars out. After any of these fun weekend activities, you’re definitely going to need a bite to eat. However, most restaurants in Boston either close around 10 p.m., or turn into more of a bar scene that prohibits people under 21 from entering. Luckily, for those underage, there are two iconic Boston locations that keep their doors open 24 hours a day— Bova’s Bakery and South Street Diner. Bova’s Bakery Bova’s Bakery in the North End is the first location open late. Bova’s offers (arguably) the best cannoli in Boston, among other sweet treats, such as an award-winning tiramisu, luscious cream puffs, and sfogliatelle. Their late-night menu features calzones, arancini, and pizza. South Street Diner For a dine-in meal setting, South Street Diner, located right across from South Station, is the place to go. This diner has everything you could want for a late-night bite, including grilled cheese, milkshakes, burgers, and an assortment of breakfast foods. Boston’s nightlife doesn’t have to be limited to a 21+ crowd. Underage students can enjoy the city just as much with these activities.
LONELINESS How Social Media Feeds Our F.O.M.O.
On a bustling college campus in 2022, the air we live and breathe is made of social media. It’s the first thing most people look at in the morning, what we scroll through when we wait for the bus, what distracts us from doing our homework after a long day, and what lulls us to sleep at night as our eyelids grow heavy in front of our bright screens in bed. What does this mean for the mental health of everyone who lives in this semi-digital world? It didn’t quite seem possible in an already social media entrenched 2019, but our use of social media drastically increased once the pandemic hit. People were separated from those they already knew, and for students just starting college, meeting new people became an online affair. Following people on different platforms became one of the primary ways to reach out with awkward Zoom classes and rigid social restrictions. It was a lonely time for many, and social media may have eased that loneliness a bit. But, now that COVID protocols are loosening and we’re seeing more people in person once more, what happens to our social media use? I think that, for many people, it’s stayed the same. “We’re not meant to know or see this many people,” Grace O’Brien (COM ‘24) said. And she’s right. We’re meant to know 150 people at the maximum. This is Dunbar’s number, which was arrived at in a sociological study done in the late 1990s. Grace hadn’t known that there was a particular name or number, but she could tell from her own social media
experience that something was off. She used the word “overwhelming” a lot when describing platforms like Instagram, where content is constantly thrown at us. Once we exceed that 150 person limit, we start to stretch ourselves thin. So, what does viewing hundreds and thousands of people’s lives do to us? Many students I’ve talked to described FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as one of the primary negative effects. When you need or even want to stay in on a Friday night, it is so easy to feel like you’re missing out when you open up social media and see everything that everyone is doing. This can incur feelings of loneliness in you when you didn’t even feel lonely to begin with. This FOMO extends well beyond seeing people at the club or at a party on their Instagram story. Seeing how other people live, no matter how contrived it may be on their social media can have drastic deleterious effects on how we view our own lives. Even when we are aware of how factitious everyone is on social media, it still affects us on an unconscious level. Arin Siriamonthep (COM’24) described this sort of double-consciousness. He thinks, on the first level, people post and partake in social media to keep up with friends and be in a community. But, on another deeper and more unconscious level, many use social media because they crave attention. And this craving for attention that Arin mentions was absolutely caused by social media in the first place.
Written by Alexis Puthussery Designed by Emily Snisarenko Photo by Samantha Grobman
Studies have shown that validation from social media gives us dopamine rushes in our brains, the same thing that would happen with other addictive substances. Everyone wants to be seen and recognized, and social media is able to provide that in a cheap, fast way. It’s a vicious cycle in which the need for it grows the more you use it. But it can’t be all bad, right? Grace mentioned how it was through social media that she found the Bunion and the Pinky Toe, two BU satire publications which have been very fulfilling for her, and in which she’s met some of her closest friends. Arin, while conscious of the negative aspects, still subscribes to the idea that media is the future, and he’s trying to embrace this in a healthy, productive way. He’s used Instagram to trial and error ideas of his like magazines and student groups. Evan Akinyemi (SAR ‘24) has used social media to find the Brothers United BU, a group on campus that has helped Evan connect with other black men. And, sometimes, social media can just be entertaining. We’ve all seen a post that’s made us and our friends laugh, and that can’t be a bad or evil thing, right? So, clearly, there are aspects of social media that have been fruitful for many people. But, is it worth it? The idea that social media is harmful is not new. Its competitive nature, negative effects on body image, and erosion of our attention spans are all topics that have stayed fixed in conversations for years. It feels like I’m beating a dead horse by writing an article on this topic, because what left is there to say? How many times can our generation and society have the “social media is bad” conversation, nod our heads solemnly, and go back to whatever app we were on? All of the students I talked to strongly believed that one doesn’t need to have social media in college to have a social life. But, knowing you don’t have to have it and not having it are very different things. As long as you're being yourself and enjoying yourself, whether or not you have social media is unimportant. This was Arin’s basic philosophy when he spoke with me. “Positive attraction-- if you stick to your own morals and your own views, then you’ll automatically attract people who share those views,” he said. He says that’s how he met most of his friends in college, and to him, it didn’t matter whether or not he met them online or in person.
Noah Magaziner (CGS ‘22) had similar thoughts. He wants to reach a point where he has “nothing left to say about social media”. Whether he has social media or not at this point is not important. This “social media neutral” outlook can be hard to maintain successfully in a very social media present world, but I think it’s something worth pursuing. The biggest problem I’ve seen with the usage of social media stems from how much people care. People have cared how others view them for ages-- this is nothing new. Careers and fashion and social circles have always been things people cared about, but they are things in the real world that also give fulfillment and have value in themselves. Posting these things (social media) is only about perception. Because of this, when one has social media it is not a problem. It is only when one puts value in it that things get murky. If you try to find substantial value in social media, you will be disappointed. Going to college is hard enough. There are so many things that college students juggle, between class, clubs, jobs, and friends. Social media is something accessible and easy, so it’s not hard to get hooked. And most of us are hooked. Advocating for the complete riddance of social media is ridiculous. It simply will never happen because social media is here to stay. And to pretend that there isn’t a pressure to be on these apps when it is the currency of our conversations is equally naive. Instead of starting with reevaluating whether you should engage with social media, start with reevaluating how you engage with it. If it’s something that you can’t not care about, question its role in your life. There are very few things worth feeling burdened by, least of all social media. There are plenty of ways to stay connected with others. For Grace, her plethora of extracurriculars has led her to some of her closest friends. Noah said that playing basketball at FitRec is where he’s met a lot of people. Evan thinks just being outside and being open will lead you to others. And for Arin, it was all about positive attraction. It’s so easy to fall into the wide, meretricious trap of social media. And when you do fall, you can fall far. Think about how social media makes you feel and whether it’s worth keeping in your life, because there is nothing worse than an app telling you you have a thousand friends and feeling like you have none.
Written by Katrina Scalise Designed by Sophie Jurion Photo by Katey Cooney
S S ES A L A C E NI CH
Our Wacky Yet Fun Academic Opportunities
student at Boston University may find their required courses a bit mundane at times. So, why not mix up your schedule with one of BU’s many unique classes? Delphine Cohen (CAS ‘25), who is taking CAS PY 107 “Physics of Food/ Cooking,” said that she was drawn to signing up for the niche course because “[her] mom has always been a really good cook, which got [her] interested in food.” Cohen also explained the nature of the class.
“It explains the inner workings of different cuisines. For example, [it discusses] what the freezing and melting points are in the process of ice cream making, or how to cook chicken perfectly, or how to make a crème brûlée.” According to the College of Arts and Sciences website, the course also discusses molecular gastronomy methods of cooking desserts, cheese, and emulsions. On a darker note, BU offers conceptual classes that grapple with religion and death, such as CAS RN 106, titled “Death and Immortality.” “Right now, we’re learning about how the corpse of the dead, the soul of the dead, and the mourners go through different phases and how they’re all interconnected,” said Agnes Tan (Questrom ‘25), a student enrolled in the course.
She added that the class has unique and personal assignments, including designing your own pet’s funeral. Tan said that she appreciates the class’s ability to deal with taboo subjects. “We are able to discuss somewhat uncomfortable topics like death in a comfortable, safe way.” If those courses don’t suit you, BU also offers CAS AS 107 “Life Beyond Earth,” CAS EC 385 “Economics of Sports,” and SHA HF 329 “Intro to Fine Wines.” These intriguing options explore extraterrestrials, microeconomic applications to sports, and winemaking respectively, according to the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Hospitality Administration websites. At BU, there is a niche class sure to pique everyone’s interest.
On Valentine’s Day this year, Boston University Terriers experienced the joy of a Beanpot victory, beating the Northeastern Huskies in a thrilling 1-0 victory.
Beanpot is not only limited to men’s hockey, but has expanded to include the women’s team as well; this year is the 43rd iteration of the contest.
This was a rematch of the 2020 championship game, where the Terriers lost in a heartbreaking 5-4 double-overtime nail-biter to the Huskies.
Beanpot has even translated into tournaments for other sports, including baseball (played at Fenway Park), men’s lacrosse, and women’s rowing.
Beanpot is a treasured tradition in Boston sports, with the four Division I hockey teams—Harvard University, Boston College, Northeastern University, and Boston University—facing off in a tournament over two weekends in February. The winner receives the Beanpot trophy, and bragging rights until the next year.
Even the schools’ respective Pep Bands battle in a competition during the halftime of the women’s hockey tournament, as students from each school cheer them on.
When attendance rates skyrocketed as Boston schools faced head to head in Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, several proposals for a four-team tournament arose. Ever since its debut in 1952, Beanpot has become a staple of the BU hockey season. Many players cite it as the reason for choosing to play at BU, as it is something unique in college hockey.
Some more unique tournaments exist as well. For example, a Beanpot of Comedy and a Beanpot based purely on burrito eating, aptly named the “Rice and Beanpot.” Competition can even be brought to academic circles, with a Business School Competition taking place every year at BU’s very own Questrom School of Business, where students compete in case analysis. On a larger scale, Questrom’s MBA students
THE RETURN OF BEANPOT 21
compete in similar case competitions that have won them cash prizes of $15,000. Beanpot was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising the stakes and excitement for those watching the tournament this year. TD Garden was filled with supporters from both schools, and those from the Greater Boston area, bringing an electrifying atmosphere to the game. Spectators were on edge for most of the game, with fears of overtime lurking in the minds of many. But, BU sophomore Dylan Peterson scored the lone goal with 2:46 left, securing the victory for BU. Even though the Northeastern fan section was arguably bigger, it did not mean that Terrier fans did not bring the energy as well, holding up posters and chanting light-hearted insults at the other team. Beanpot is an event BU students look forward to all year, and one could sense the excitement as the Terriers raised the trophy, and the Beanpot banner returned to the rafters of TD
Garden with another BU championship. As the BU Pep Band played, the Dog Pound, BU’s student section, cheered loudly and waved off the exiting Northeastern fans. Terrier players skated over, showing off the trophy that had returned home once again. There was excitement in the following days, with the team even placing the trophy in the Agganis Arena lobby, and offering students to take a look, and even take pictures with it. It was not just the hockey team that felt a sense of pride, but the entire BU community. BU has not won a Beanpot since 2015, but throughout the tournament’s history the team has been a dominant force. The Terriers have won the most out of any of the four schools that participate, winning 31 times, and appearing in 54 of the 69 championship games. For first-year students, this was the first major sporting event they experienced during their time at BU, and it did not disappoint.
“It was so exciting when we knew we were going to win,” said Ellery Turner (COM ‘25). “It was something I had never experienced before.” Men’s hockey is possibly the most beloved sport at BU, often bringing the biggest crowds. Given BU’s history, including their 5 national championships, this sense of pride is not misplaced. “I was super excited to go to the game,” said Turner. “I had been looking forward to this all year.”
How Students Experienced BU’s 31st Beanpot
As students returned back to the Charles River Campus, crowds filled North Station, as many crammed to get on the T. “I’ll remember that T ride for the rest of my life,” said Chantel Kardous (CAS ‘25). Hopefully, the Terriers can repeat their Beanpot championship next year, bringing more pride to their fans.
Designed by Emily Snisarenko Written by Grace Hawkins Graphics by Tamar Ponte
NEW YEAR, NEW ME? 23
For Some New Year’s is a Day to Celebrate Accomplishments, For Women it’s the Start of a Risky Race to Physical Renewal.
Designed by Zoe Yiran Written by Ariadna Sandoval Photographed by Sophia Kysela
Year, New Me." A simple yet complex phrase. What may appear as nothing more than a typical New Year's saying can actually have more of an impact.
to look. We learn what it means to be “beautiful” according to societal standards, and we learn to want to achieve them. A crucial part of achieving this social model: the New Year's diet.
Everybody knows the drill; the moment the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, holiday cookies are out and dietary supplements are in. As if a fairytale ending, we strive for an overnight transformation.
I never chose to diet. At 15 years of age, I was pushed into the trend because I thought I was meant to do so, especially being a woman. I learned that losing weight equated to social acceptance. And, at that age, social acceptance meant happiness. There was little more important than fitting in during my teen years.
But nobody takes the time to question how unrealistic and taxing this transformation is for those who seek to achieve it. It’s time to look at the real reasons why New Year's diet resolutions exist, and why we constantly fall victim to them.
While the women in my Hispanic family adhered to this societal trend, men kept eating the leftover turkey. Even though the trend affected both genders, it seemed that women were more influenced by it.
During my early childhood, I never felt the need to reinvent myself. At nine years old, I spent the first days of the year celebrating the end of the festive season. After spending Christmas indulging in mouth-watering desserts with loved ones, January was spent eating Christmas dinner leftovers and drinking hot chocolate with my cousins.
As women, we are convinced, from as early as childhood, that thinness equals social value. We are expected to listen to dieting ads and weight loss tips, and are pressured to spend time and money in the noble pursuit of weight loss. Naomi Wolf states in The Beauty Myth, "A culture fixated on female thinness is not about an obsession about female beauty, but [one] about female obedience."
As I grew up, things started to change—I began to notice how I looked to others, how my side profile looked from across the classroom, and how the traditional Christmas dress fit my body. I internalized the public's gaze. Every year as that January 1st date grew closer, I saw myself looking forward to it—the day I could delete the past and restart.
While men are also affected by this trend, the weightloss "journey" is usually a women's journey. A 2020 study on gender differences in diet culture concluded that women are more focused on losing weight than men.
At fifteen years old, Instagram scrolling became an everyday hobby. I was bombarded with dietary ads and post-holiday workouts. The phrase "summer body" was forcefully introduced to my vocabulary as I saw myself avoiding the carb-filled post-Christmas dinners. From a young age, we are fed images of how we are supposed
From the moment we are born, we are conditioned to embody the gender stereotype. From detox diets to 5-minute fat-burning workouts, we are pushed to lose our past selves and become a new woman all during the span of one month. Women are expected to fulfill a sexist societal model that pushes us to become less, to become smaller. The New Year's diet is a clear example of that. Earlier this year, I asked my
male cousin what his New Year’s diet resolution was—"I guess I want to gain muscle," he said.
resolutions within a month, with the most popular resolution being dieting and working out.
"I guess." That phrase quickly supported my already forming notion that women are most affected by this trend. While my sisters and female cousins were already checking out Chloe Ting's 5-minute ab workouts, my cousin was debating whether or not he should even diet. While men want to become bigger, women want to become smaller.
After three months, most of us forget about our New Year's resolutions. We lose that "new year, new me" mentality, and become comfortable with our lifestyle—and companies know that. That's why they advertise their diets as a 10-day project, or their workouts as "quick and easy."
Tied with that need to change yourself for the new year is the feeling of guilt. Seven Christmases ago, finishing the last piece of Christmas cake, the sense of nourishing happiness that was prevalent in my childhood, was replaced with a feeling of shame. I felt guilty for taking that last bite and not starting my diet earlier. While I felt alone in my shame of accepting that last piece of paneton, my sister was going through the same thing. "I used to binge on the paneton on Christmas night, feel ashamed of my actions, and then promise myself to start a diet the next day," she said during a recent phone call. Women are expected to feel ashamed of overindulging and encouraged to start fresh—a "quick fix," they call it. As women, we are meant to see ourselves as broken and needing a "fix" as the year closes. Influencers usually emit and propagate these sexist ideals. Take GOOP, for example. Gwyneth Paltrow's mainstream wellbeing brand focuses more on selling overpriced vitamins that take you straight to the bathroom than helping you achieve true wellness. And, like GOOP, many companies take advantage of those first months where women rush to start the new expensive juice cleanse. Now, at 22, I understand it's all a marketing strategy meant to sustain a $4 trillion wellness industry . It's all part of the fitness industry's goal to profit from women's insecurities under the mask of "body positivity" that sells wellbeing and happiness. A wellbeing journey should focus on nourishing our psyche, not nourishing a brand's wallets. The fact that New Year's diets are fueled by a profit-driven industry means that they are often not sustainable. A study found that two-thirds of people fail their New Year's
For a diet to work, the first thing one must ask is: why? Why am I dieting? Is it because you want to feel better with yourself and increase your overall well being? Or is it fueled by a societal need to fit the model? We should understand that being healthy and happy does not always mean losing weight. Introducing a 15-minute walk into your daily routine could help you relax after a stressful day. Eating more veggies and fruits could be a fun way to add color and nutrients to your diet. And, if weight loss is what you seek, a sustainable diet should focus on learning to listen to hunger cues and being patient with yourself. Every body is unique and will react to changes differently. While increasing protein intake is the answer for some, eating more carbs could work better for others. Taking time to learn about your body is vital. Entering 2022 should not mean erasing 2021. Whatever you choose to do this year, remember your accomplishments. The friends you made, the memories, the food you ate. Let's learn to feel thankful for the obstacles we have gone through and to love who we are because of them. From going through a busy semester to surviving a pandemic—let's learn to be grateful. If you find yourself scrolling through new quick diets or workouts, take a moment to question the intention and reason for such actions. Unfollow toxic influencers, learn to listen to your body, and mute society's patriarchal demands. Let's love how we grew and feel proud of our achievements. So, starting in 2023, let's alter our New Year's resolutions. Learn a new language, create a new hobby, make new friends. Instead of changing our bodies, let's grow our minds. Why focus on starting anew when our past experiences make us who we are? Let’s start the year with: “New Year, Same Me.”
CELEBRITY FOOD BRANDS: FEEDING THEIR FANS OR THEIR FORTUNE?
Are These Celebrity Brands Worth the Hype? Celebrities constantly invest in and create products, convincing their fans to support and spend money on them. It is hard to tell whether the influencer is passionate about the item, or if it’s merely a cash grab. Below we tried five food brands created by celebrities to tell you whether they intend to feed their fans or their fortune. 1. Actress Kristen Bell collaborated with others to create This Saves Lives, a brand of granola bars, where every purchase donates a packet of Plumpy’Nut to children battling malnutrition. Although these bars are not bad, they are nothing extraordinary. Bell is feeding her fans and a great cause, but there are other tastier alternatives.
Designed by Ava Vitiello Written by Amanda Healy Photographed by Katey Cooney
2. Pizza connoisseur and founder of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, created One Bite Pizza after gaining popularity for rating different pizzas on a one-toten scale. As Portnoy says, “One Bite, Everyone Knows the Rules.” After taking your first bite, you will discover it’s just like any other frozen pizza. Portnoy is feeding his fortune through this product. 3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Sarah Michelle Geller created Foodstirs, an organic-based sweets company that sells everything from brownie mixes to donut kits. The Organic Lovers Brownie Mix was tasty, but nothing life-changing. Nevertheless, she is feeding her fans with a decent product.
4. Actor Paul Newman has a variety of products under Newman’s Own, and the profits go to charitable causes. The mild salsa and balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing are both quality options. With yummy products and profits that go to charity, Paul Newman feeds his fans. 5. Last but not least, the wildly popular Jonas Brothers recently released Rob’s Popcorn, claiming that “Every Bag is Special.” The popcorn recipe has the perfect salty to sweet ratio, and contains a unique flavor profile that is hard to describe. It is an addictive snack that’s easy to devour in one sitting. This product was made to feed fans.
GRAB A CART The Psychologies and Strategies Behind Your Favorite Grocery Stores Written & Designed by Jillian O’Farrell Graphic by Tamar Ponte
shopping: the essential task that most young adults dread. As college students, balancing independent living with demanding academic and social lives, we sometimes avoid basic routines like gathering food. When we do work up the energy to act like responsible adults, one grocery store reigns supreme: Trader Joe’s. Individuals aged 18 to 40 spend more on groceries than any other age group, but they also tend to eat locally and are more health-conscious. They’re open to a wider range of cuisines and products, but they still want to pay a low price for good value. Trader Joe’s earned its fanbase by catering to these wants— maximizing quality and minimizing cost. Trader Joe’s is known for inexpensive, quality food products, particularly freezer favorites like its Mandarin Chicken, Butternut
Squash Mac & Cheese, and Cauliflower Gnocchi. Trader Joe’s mainly sells under its own brand name; private labels account for about 80 percent of their products. These specialty foods are usually organic or health-focused (non-GMO, dairy, and gluten-free options). Adopting private labels keeps prices low by cutting out intermediaries in the supply chain. It also increases demand because its products can only be purchased at Trader Joe’s stores. Aside from the Trader Joe’s name and logo, there is little aesthetic consistency between the different stores. Interior designs vary based on the store’s respective location. The spaces are meant to be welcoming, fun shopping environments that represent the local area. Incorporating local motifs in-store designs makes shoppers feel like they’re in a local grocer;
this ultimately fosters a stronger affinity toward the store and its products. Trader Joe’s functions with the motto “less is better”; the company is extremely selective when choosing what items deserve the brand name. Without ties to big brands, Trader Joe’s curates its product portfolio around the current needs of its customers. Stores have a very small inventory capacity, so only the fastest moving products can stay on shelves. As buyers’ interests change, so do Trader Joe’s products. The most effective aspect of Trader Joe’s business plan, however, is eliminating the need to choose. Imagine you’re at the grocery store deciding if you should buy pasta sauce.
As you stand in the aisle examining the wall of jars, you don’t know which to choose: the brand you recognize, the brand you’ve never heard of, the least expensive, the most expensive? Studies show you won’t choose any. In a phenomenon called overchoice, you will likely be overwhelmed by the vast options and decide the safest decision is to not make one at all. However, at Trader Joe’s, you only have one choice of brand and within that, a few choices of flavor. Fewer options encourage customers to try new products because it feels like the chances of being satisfied by their choice are greater, especially if they already love the Trader Joe’s brand. Trader Joe’s annual revenue is about $12 billion—hardly comparable to megastores like Walmart and Target. However, it earns the highest Sales Per Square Foot. This metric directly relates to efficiency and inventory turnover. Based on Trader Joe’s total square footage, each square foot produces $1750 per year. In context, Walmart’s annual turnover is about $400 per square foot and Target comes in around $300 per square foot.
Trader Joe’s isn’t the only food retailer that employs psychological strategies to get customers to buy more. In the typical supermarket layout, shoppers are subconsciously encouraged to follow a one-way flow of traffic. Separating the entrance and exit doors directs them toward the intended “starting point,” often amid the produce. The fresh scent and bright colors of the fruits and vegetables begin customers’ shopping experience on a positive note, establishing a precedent that the rest of the store will be equally pleasing. After this point, the supermarket’s main goal is to draw shoppers away from the edges and into the middle of the store where the majority of the products are. Essential items, like bread and milk, are usually located furthest from the entrance, forcing shoppers to walk through more aisles, pass more products, and increase the likelihood of buying an extra item. For products that require significant choice, supermarkets tend to take a different approach than Trader Joe’s streamlining; they position these items away from high traffic areas, so if a shopper wants to spend half an
hour researching the best pasta sauce or coffee bean, they won’t feel rushed. Shelf placement for products is also intentional. Companies pay steep rates to have its products displayed at eye level. Big brands often populate eye level and above, which our eyes will naturally gravitate towards, and bottom shelves are usually filled with generic brand products. Shelf placement should be in relation to the target market for the item; stocking a sugary cereal product on a five feet high shelf is not as helpful as stocking it at a child’s eye level. Brands want kids to grab the product off the shelf—maybe even sneak it in the cart without their parents noticing. Even when you walk into a store and grab a cart instead of a basket, you’re playing into the stores’ hands. Your grocery list looks a lot smaller in a cart than it would in a basket; so you might decide to pick up a few unplanned items. But when food waste is such a prominent issue in American households, we should be aware of how our consumption habits are influenced. Don’t go to the grocery store without a plan, and definitely don’t go on an empty stomach.
an era of Los Angeles influencers flooding timelines with filtered pictures of green juice and boomerangs of low-calorie meals as they bathe in the sun, nutrition has become a hot topic on the internet. The trendiness of nutrition has turned the focus away on understanding what is actually nutritious and what isn’t. Post after post, social media influencers clog up the apps with their self-proclaimed health expert knowledge and advice. The nonstop stream of nutrition “rights” and “wrongs” make determining the truth seem like a battle of conflicting instructions. An Instagram infographic will claim that cutting out a certain food will save your diet, but then a TikTok dietician will post a minute-long video about the many benefits of that very food. These strict sets of rules tend to conflict with one another, which makes cultivating a healthier lifestyle difficult. However, eating more nutritious foods should be simple, easy, and encouraging. Despite all the uninformed and unverified information floating around the internet, there are some examples of genuine advice that comes from trustworthy sources. This article will look through popular online nutrition “do’s” and “don'ts” to determine what is fact and fiction. We will break down the perceived benefits of three common misconceptions about nutrition and explore the actual effects of making those changes to your diet.
Following a Keto Diet Keto— the notorious dietturned-meme— may be the most recognizable diet in the online nutrition world. The ketogenic diet consists of cutting down carbohydrates and eating more high-fat foods and has been a wide-spread phenomenon for people trying to lose weight or eat healthier. While many people have committed themselves to the intense diet, keto has also been scrutinized online. Critics suggest that the diet
Designed by Sophie Jurion Written by Alexandra Grieco Photographed by Hui-En Lin
Nutrition Fact vs. Fiction
According to The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the ketogenic diet limits most major food groups, which in turn makes it difficult to acquire necessary nutrients like Vitamin B. If you follow the keto trend, you will be at risk of lacking the nutritious value of your daily food intake, especially if you neglect to take the supplements necessary to balance out the diet. Although it is pushed to be a healthy alternative to carb-heavy meals, the extremeness of keto slowly begins to outweigh the positives. It is generally untrue that the keto diet can supply you with optimal nutritional benefits. In fact, many cases have proven the opposite.
2. Cutting Sugar from Your Diet Entering the words “sugar
free” into any search bar can generate thousands of tutorials, challenges, and vlogs about social media influencers who claim that cutting out sugars is a crucial step for good health. It has become mainstream to make this major change to your diet, with extra pressure to make it a full commitment and cut out sugar completely from your life. Even though there are many health benefits to moderately cutting out sugar that should be taken into consideration, fully removing sugar from your diet might be too drastic of a step for the average person. Through simply reducing your sugar intake, one can still feel positive effects. Every individual is different, but this can mean not eating as many sweet treats, not adding sugar into your coffee, or just keeping an eye on general sugar intake throughout the day. However, one should note that fruit should not be a part of the sugars to stop eating if you do decide to remove sugar from your diet, despite certain online opinions. According to The BMJ, there is a good chance that eating a consistent amount of fruit can lessen the chances of developing a chronic disease like cardiovascular disease and or cancer. Of course, many factors play into the origins of a chronic disease, but eating fruit, despite its natural sugar, may offer a slight nutritional benefit when dealing with a person’s general health. Cutting down might be a better option than cutting out when it comes to sugar, and it is important to
remember that there should not be pressure to rearrange your entire diet just to address the possible dangers of one food group.
Trying Juice Cleanses The apex of social media nutrition seems to be juice cleanses with influencers filling their feeds with all shades of green liquids that they swear can reboot your body. “Detoxing” is the main appeal of juice cleanses, and followers of the diet claim that the vitamin-rich liquid triggers an increase in the efficiency of enzymes, which flushes toxins out of the digestive system. Taking anywhere from a few days to a full week, juice cleanses are also understood to help with weight-loss. Yet, according to the Ro Health Guide, the calorie-restrictive cleanses, which only supply the body with 1,300 calories a day instead of the necessary 2,000 calories, deny your body the full requirements to maintain energy. So, instead of feeling healthier and re-energized from the cleanse, you become more prone to tiredness or fainting. Not only does a juice cleanse mean cutting down calories and energy, but it also means cutting down necessary nutrients, such as protein, fiber, and fat. This directly impacts your gut health, making it difficult to digest the juice in a comfortable way. Neglecting these nutrients also means that you would have to supplement them in another form, which is hard because a juice cleanse requires fasting hard foods that would contain protein, fiber, or fat. There is a lot of fiction behind the trend of detoxing and juice cleanses. Depriving your body of certain essentials and calories is not necessarily something that should be done in the name of nutrition. It can be easy to take influencer-approved diets at face value and miss the dangers and misinformation submerged behind the LED screen. While there are many social media posts that spread legitimate information about nutrition, it is helpful to keep in mind that not every person who shares their opinion has done the necessary research on the diet or trend that they are promoting. It is a personal choice to commit to a more nutritious diet, so forget certain online pressures and balance your meals in ways that feel right for you.
IMPROVING YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Designed by Izzy Critchfield-Jain Written by Andrea Lauritsen Photographed by Alexandra Bradley
A Step Towards the Self-Love We All Deserve
No two individuals are completely alike; this applies to the physical and psychological parts of what makes us human. However, we all share similar needs—the food we eat being one of them. Yet, since childhood, we have all been engrained with specific metrics and measurements in multimodal forms to guide us in achieving a certain type of body, one that takes harmful habitual habits, and a construed mindset of what it means to be beautiful. If this resonates with you in any way, you are not alone. Before we can fix a relationship that may be broken or damaged, we need to acknowledge that change of any kind can be hard. Oftentimes, the outcome from change is not a process that develops overnight. Be mindful, and give yourself the grace you deserve while you embark on a new journey in becoming a healthier version of yourself. Often, when it comes to food, we find ourselves creating a very rigid structure of what we can and cannot consume. Sometimes we do not even realize we have created a rigid structure. When we subconsciously categorize food as good or bad, we feed into the idea that food has a moral definition, when it is merely just energy that keeps us alive. By letting go of the strictness we have created, we can allow more flexibility in the choices we make when we eat. This newfound flexibility will inevitably lead to the freedom and liberation needed to create healthy habits.
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Once we adapt to the new versatility in the abundant amount of food choices we have welcomed into our lives, we can work on creating a balance that works. Remember, a balance of food that is fuel and a balance of food that is fun is different for every individual. Never go based on someone else’s consumption! A food that is dedicated to fuel is one that provides nutritional value with nutrients galore. Whereas food that is fun is food that we enjoy eating, and allow ourselves to eat because it is yummy and delicious! Neither are better, but both serve different purposes, and recognizing that is an important part of improving our relationship with food entirely. When we create flexibility and balance, we open the door to listening to what our body wants and what our body needs. Sometimes when our body wants food, we find ourselves feeling guilty. However, when we give into this guilt, we are going against the judgment that has been created, which is a healthy step in moving forward. Mindset is everything. Learning to love yourself enough to know and believe that you deserve to eat all the foods, both the ones we need and want, is a step towards self-love. The self-love we have for ourselves is constantly put to the test when we work towards improving our relationship with food. While there is no definite answer to obtaining total self-love, there are resources to help you out. Below are resources that can help you improve your relationship with food and self-love, because you are not on this journey by yourself:
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T R A G E N I T TH T E G F O Y D A E R Spring 2022 Fashion Photoshoot Designed by Emily Snisarenko Written by Alexandria Sharpley Photographed by Samantha Grobman, Sophia Kysela and Katey Cooney When we get ready for a night out, we often don’t know what adventures lie ahead of us. In this shoot, we wanted to delve into that sacred time before stepping out into the night. Getting ready with friends is often filled with moments of chaos and moments of calm. Through memorable silhouettes and bright colors, the personality and mood of each model is explored. The combination of vintage gems and modern pieces creates looks embodying the confidence of young adults in 2022.
Rachel Dirksen wears Fila sneakers and a sequined bathing suit top, light denim overshirt, and pink corduroy skirt courtesy of Vivant Vintage. Darcy Gallagher is pictured wearing an orange knit dress from Princess Polly, black faux fur Shein jacket, and shoes from Nordstrom.
Zach Murray wears a neon beanie, iridescent green windbreaker, and denim cutoffs from Vivant Vintage with Golden Goose shoes. Rachel Liu is pictured wearing black denim pants, sheer purple jacket, and asymmetrical black bodysuit from Vivant Vintage, as well as shoes from Coach.
Nicholas Lyons is wearing a deep maroon leather jacket from Guess, black Banana Republic tee, grey plaid dress-pants from Primark, and shoes from Nordstrom.
Savannah Tindall wears an oversized multicolored teddy jacket, turquoise disco shorts, and a pink, yellow and orange terry tank courtesy of Vivant Vintage, with pink suede heels from Sam Edelman.
The Future of the Secondhand Industry Designed by Tamar Ponte | Written by Cady Ghandour | Photographed by Mohan Ge
“Thanks, it’s vintage.” Perhaps the most satisfying and 21st century response to a compliment on an outfit. After all, when you buy a vintage piece, it comes with an unspoken guarantee that you won’t walk into a crowd and think you’re seeing your reflection in every other person. You certainly won’t see half your closet as you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed. Wearing “second hand” has become a stamp of boldness and flare—it makes you “different.” You’re not just any other fast fashion consumer buying your wardrobe from Zara and H&M, or Shein and Princess Polly. Thrifted clothing has evolved from something with a stigma of embarrassment, to a badge of honor, an unique outfit. Not only have people begun to realize the prestige of thrifted finds, but the shift in society’s view of thrifting has resulted in the secondhand fashion industry evolving completely. The secondhand apparel market has many facets. Not only does it consist of the household name “Goodwill” and “Savers” stores, but also boutiques and flea markets selling pre-loved clothing, furniture, house-décor, accessories, collectible coins and just about anything else. The origin story of these organizations, understandably, is for those who require more affordable options for shopping. Their low costs meant they provided options for people of lower socio-economic groups who couldn’t necessarily frequent malls on shopping sprees. However, with the influence of social media popularizing influencers and thrifting content, any frequent thrifter would know that groups of teens looking for trendy items are frequently found in thrift stores. The reasons behind this doesn’t just stem back to celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Julia Roberts being open about their love for thrifting, but also the increasing awareness of climate change and the emphasis on the importance of sustainability. “36 Billion Clothing Items are thrown away annually. 95% of which could be reused or recycled.” These statistics awaken millennials and Gen Z to the climate change issue, which is another incentive for us to buy second hand. According to a report conducted by ThredUp, “thrifting displaces 82%
of an item’s carbon footprint, eliminating roughly 17.4 lbs of CO2 emissions.” Young people in today’s world have a growing attitude of environmental consciousness, which can be seen in where we choose to spend our money, thus the turn to thrifting. Among the many after-effects of the pandemic is “1 in 3 consumers care more about wearing sustainable apparel than before.” Thrifting appeals to the modern young consumer because not only does it allow them to save money and dress uniquely, but it also aligns with environmental ethics, giving new life to a product. Alongside the rise in sales of thrifting as an affordable and sustainable option to shopping, it is true that not everyone who buys secondhand is looking to limit their spending. “Luxury vintage” has grown exponentially. Stores such as The Real Real, What Goes Around Comes Around, and Sami Miron Vintages’ have gained popularity—frequent customers include Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Madonna, and others. At a store like The Real Real, customers can sell and buy luxury items, for example pre-loved Chanel and Dior, for reduced prices, making designer items more accessible. Other luxury secondhand stores rework items to create trendy handmade pieces. Usually, customers of luxury vintage stores are in search of true one-of-a-kind pieces, and to stand out. As an industry, secondhand fashion is set to be valued at $64 billion by 2025, surpassing fast fashion which is set to be valued at $38 billion in 2023. Not only are websites like Poshmark and Depop making selling and buying secondhand accessible from anywhere by adding technology to the mix, but major conglomerates such as H&M are catching onto the trend. Just last year H&M launched H&M Rewear, an online resale platform where people can buy and sell items from any brand. Looking forward, any entity in retail is going to try to keep up with the times by adopting some kind of sustainability motive. Today’s conscious consumers are not just looking for a greenwashing campaign, we are looking for action and value. The secondhand fashion industry is thriving and is not set to slow down anytime soon—it’s time for everyone else to catch up.
T Y L E TI P S G S N I L ST E A
Designed by Ava Vitiello Written by Alexandria Sharpley Graphic by Tamar Ponte
Many incredible people have passed through Boston University’s halls. In addition to inspiring our career goals, a few of our alums also inspire our wardrobe choices. Keep reading to pick up a few style tips from some of our best-dressed alumni. Nina Garcia is the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, and a longtime judge on Project Runway. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, her style is chic and refined, but she also has an international flair that injects personality into her looks. In 2020, Garcia told Fashionista that she relies mostly on staple pieces paired with trendier accessories. She recommends having good button-downs, sweaters, and jackets as your wardrobe staples, adding some intrigue with fun jewelry, shoes, or a statement piece. Olivia Culpo (CGS’ 12), influencer and former Miss Universe, has an undeniable style—just check out her Instagram. Like Garcia, Culpo also likes to stick to the classics and doesn’t over-accessorize. “I try to keep things simple and make it more about the silhouette and
fit of clothes just as much as the patterns and crazy textures,” she told Fashionista. Finding out which silhouettes flatter your body is an often overlooked facet of looking your best. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (CAS’11) has changed the face of fashion on Capitol Hill. Historically, fashion and power have not gone hand in hand. Women putting effort into their appearance has been seen as unprofessional in the past. AOC is challenging that by using her powerful style to bring attention to the issues she cares about. In 2019 when she was inducted into the House of Representatives, Cortez wore an all-white suit to honor the suffragettes who earned women the right to vote. More recently, AOC wore a gown with “TAX THE RICH” written in red letters to the 2021 Met Gala. Though controversial, her look definitely defied the stuffy stereotype of political fashion. Cortez also once tweeted that it doesn’t have to be expensive to dress well; she noted that she often thrifts and rents her clothes for the hill.
Traveling: it’s on nearly every bucket list and many peo-
ple have nickels and pennies stacked in a jar, just waiting to be spent on a luxurious trip to the Maldives or the Swiss Alps. We scroll on Instagram and Twitter, envying travel bloggers who are sponsored to live the dreams of so many. We sit back and compare ourselves to what color the water is, what kind of wine they’re having, and what smiling faces we see plastered on our feed. What would you think if you were told it was all a facade? That travel blogging is simply virtual eye-candy intended to profit off the travel insecurity of ordinary people, while these bloggers live a carefree life of luxury abroad? Travel blogging can be dwindled down to one simple trade: profitability, for both the blogger and the brand (or even a country). While the general public may want to assume that travel bloggers have the best intentions when showcasing their grandiose adventures abroad, most of the time it’s an economic deal on display. Essentially, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the annual earnings of travel bloggers. Well-established bloggers may make $10,000 a month, strictly off social media revenue, which doesn’t even include sponsorships or tourist deals. Travel bloggers can also broaden to freelance writing and
content creation, such as vlogs. While there is no denying that there is genuine work that goes into running a travel blog, the bloggers themselves rarely acknowledge how much privilege they must have held before their blogging journey in order to sustain this lifestyle. Many travel bloggers do not blatantly disclose the beginning of their careers; they usually just expand on their passion for travel and how glad they are that they could turn it into a career. Lauren, more frequently known as @gypsea_lust on her social media, is originally from Northern NSW Australia. According to her online blog, she is selftaught in photography, which propelled her into a passion for travel photography. Alongside her blog, she runs Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. She is currently based in Bali, Indonesia. Her comments under her posts all ask how she has turned such a dream into a job. She simply states “just practice and get creative,” and seals the advice with a smiley face. Amid all the questions asked, Lauren never dives deeper into her self-taught photography journey and how her career as a jetsetter, and overall influencer, came to be. Tara Whiteman (@taramilktea) is a self-coined creative from Sydney, Australia. She studied design at the
JET-SETTING ELITE The Overarching Façade and Profitability of the Travel Blogger
Designed by Sofia Marin Written by Hailey Pitcher Photographed by Avani Mitra
University of New South Wales, all while being able to jet around the world and work on management projects with clients. She has also worked with high-end brands, such as Tiffany and Co. While it is impressive that Whiteman has balanced her career and higher education, it is extremely privileged that she was able to do so. The cost of higher education, matched with the price of traveling, and all tagged along with the time management of full-time clientele, is not an accurate reflection of ordinary life for a working-class individual. She regularly flexes her luxurious stays at sponsored AirBnB’s and dining at expensive Michelin star restaurants. A large aspect of traveling is to absorb all the beauty and culture a country has to offer. However, travel bloggers make themselves the focal point of their posts, not the country they are in. In the background, you may see gorgeous mountaintops and glistening waterfalls, but covering the scenery is an ad. These promotional posts take away from the true sanctity of a learning experience when traveling abroad, and turn it into a consumerism trap. Travel blogging has a seen-to-be-seen aspect, in which the scenery is not the highlight of the snapshot; the blogger and/or the product is. It completely demolishes all assumed meaning and appreciation behind the post.
Mainstream travel blogger, model, and overall content creator, Jay Alvarrez (@jayalvarrez), rose to fame in late 2017 through his jaw-dropping travel shots, occasionally captured with his ex-girlfriend, Instagram model Alexis Ren. His shots are often full of risk; they include bungee jumping, helicopter rides, and daring underwater adventures. Originally from Oahu, Hawaii, Alvarrez has frequently claimed that he has had a deep appreciation for nature and traveling his whole life. However, his adventurous and eye-catching feed rarely expresses appreciation for the countries he travels to. Many of his posts simply have a brand tagged with an emoji in the caption, or it’s a video compilation of him skydiving, but never any mention of where he is or his actual experience traveling. It’s simply a brand deal and a luxury flex. There are social media accounts that shine light upon the culture and beauty of a country. Simply take BU’s study abroad Instagram account, @ buabroad. Although still a promotional account for Boston University’s study abroad program, the account still highlights the culture of the countries offered in the program. The account participates in #FeaturedFridays, in which they expand
on an element in a country’s culture each month. For example, in the month of February, posts described the meaning of hairstyles in different global cultures, such as braids in Mexican cultures. The account also features student anecdotes of their experiences abroad, not only through immersion in the study abroad program, but immersion in their experience within a country. @seemyparis on Instagram is a team of eight Parisian photographers, bringing the enchantment of Paris to ordinary people scrolling through social media. The photography displays breathtaking monuments, buildings, and comforting Parisian stone roads. It presents a side of Paris you would not usually see flexed in travel blogs and mainstream media. The account also highlights Parisian life, with cafes, street seller booths, and store recommendations through comment sections. It’s an account that appreciates the beauty of the city, while describing the local living experience through a shared comment section. @travelandleisure on Instagram is also a travel blog, but not with advertisements and a face to the
blog. It is a blog that provides travel tips to those looking to fulfill their wanderlust. The account has guides to everything abroad, from AirBnBs to hacks to get better sleep when traveling. The account posts scenic pictures from around the world, along with story highlight reels of photography and tips from different continents. Travel and Leisure’s online blog has multiple browsing categories, even publishing news on celebrity travels, businesses abroad, and COVID restrictions to further feed and inform wanderlust-ing readers. Promotional travel blogging is plaguing the genuine intentions of common people to travel abroad. While some may think bloggers are posting to share advice and share their experiences in the beautiful places abroad, they rarely have these intentions. Travel blogging is a cash flow and sponsored career, one that is nearly untouchable for a common working-class individual. When travel is taken off the profitability pedestal and its presence on social media becomes elements of storytelling and appreciation of a culture, we gain much more knowledge and awareness of the sanctity of the world around us.
EUROPEAN EXPLORATION 4 Affordable Things to do Abroad!
Designed by Karoline Cunico Written by Olivia Chamberlain Photographed by Mohan Ge Europe is home to some of the oldest and largest museums in the world, housing famous artworks and historical walkthroughs. Thankfully, many of these museums don’t put a price on viewing art, including the National Gallery of London, home to works of Monet and van Gogh. If you plan on venturing to Paris, the famous Musée du Louvre features paintings such as the Mona Lisa and sculptures by Michelangelo, selling tickets ranging from 0-17€ depending on age and group size. Ultimately, museums allow tourists to learn more about the places and people who have such large historical significance, not just in Europe, but the entire world. London is full of flea markets that are known for various specialties, whether it be food, clothes, vintage furniture, and more. Brick Lane’s UPMARKET, open only on Sundays in the Old Truman Brewery, accommodates 40 different street-food vendors, locally sourced artisanal produce, and quirky independent designers and retailers. This market is frequented by artsy students and locals, and provides an opportunity to give back to the nearby community. Another market, Portobello Market, is mostly regarded for their antique stalls, but also offers fresh produce and quirky clothing. If I were you, I’d definitely re-watch Notting Hill before venturing to London’s Flea Market scene. When most travelers think of Europe, one of the first things
that comes to mind is the amazing food that each metropolitan city has to offer; some of these markets set the standard for fresh ingredients, diverse culinary options, and most of all, delicious meals! Open Wednesday through Saturday, London’s Borough Market is always available if you need inspiration for a foreign dish to recreate back home, or just a quick pick-me-up after a long day of touring. Italy offers Nuovo Mercato Esquilino in the Esquilino neighborhood, so it’s no wonder that you’ll find delicious options ranging from Chinese noodles to Romanian meats in Rome’s multicultural quarter. The most important piece of advice anyone will give you when you visit a food market in Europe is to ALWAYS take advantage of the free samples. Europe holds some of the world’s most beautiful scenic views, the best of which is easily viewed from trains. The Bernina Express links Northern and Southern Europe, departing Chur, Switzerland, and arrives in Tirano, Italy with multiple stops that you can get off on if you wish. Prices range, but the most affordable offering available amounts to 33 CHF, or about $36 USD. Traveling by train is also the best way to move from country to country, a service that the popular rail system Eurostar offers; a trip from London to Paris amounts to about the same as a flight when you choose a Eurostar route. Ranging from $50-$200, this train ride offers the utmost comfort, pastries, and other delicious food options, and complimentary tickets to some of Paris’s top galleries and museums.
IS CANCEL CULTURE PRODUCTIVE?
Designed by Sophie Jurion Written by Abby Balter Photographed by Alexandra Bradley
The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Celebrity Image in the Age of “Wokeness” A lot can be said about the way social media has changed the landscape of modern life and celebrity culture—from the accessibility of one another’s lives to the immortality of content posted, the internet has the power to make or break a reputation, a career, and even judicial action. Given the anonymous mechanism social media provides for people to share their opinions and interests, it is also a breeding ground for misinformation, bullying, and bandwagoning. Platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram have come under fire most notably for the perpetuation of what has been dubbed “cancel culture.” Cancel culture is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.” Social media has a special talent for encouraging people to crusade against a cause or else face backlash of their own. So, in conjunction with the rapid spread of information, it creates a thunderstorm of anger that villainizes people, sometimes before understanding the full picture. To understand why cancel culture may be considered a productive means of holding people accountable, one must first understand why this phenomenon has become so important in internet culture. Over the past few years, political unrest has perforated the U.S. and in turn, has resulted in political activism becoming trendy. And how does something become trendy in the 2020s? Social media. So rather than political activism among young people being rooted in care for others and genuine passion for an issue, it is sometimes more symbolic of one’s “wokeness” and an individual’s social status. Therefore, in order for people to prove how “woke” or progressive they are, they turn to social media to share their opinions on issues or chastise others for their behaviors. Because of this, people are more inclined to call out possibly problematic statements or actions in order to further their own positive public perception, despite not having accurate information or knowledge of the subject. Let's circle back to 2016. Taylor Swift was at the height of her career after winning her second “Album of the Year” award at the Grammys for her record 1989. Then in July 2016, #taylorswiftisoverparty started trending on Twitter after Kim Kardashian shared a Snapchat recording of a phone call between Swift and Kanye West over Swift’s name drop in his song “Famous” and her alleged approval of the lyric “I think me and Taylor might still have sex/I made that b*tch famous.” After Kardashian and West shared their “side” of the story, people feverishly attacked Swift—leaving snake
emojis, hateful language, and even death threats on her social media pages. Her reputation was in shambles. Later it was discovered that Kardasian and West had edited that recording to fit their version of events and Swift was not lying. But the damage to her career had already been done. Obviously, Swift’s career has since recovered from this debacle, but the question of whether the crime fits the punishment remains. Even if Swift had lied about approving the lyric, does that justify the career-ending backlash? The crux of the issue with cancel culture comes down to two things: is the response justified and is it a productive way of improving society? The answer to the first question is subjective, for everyone has a different interpretation of if or how the crime fits the punishment, although the accuracy behind the alleged drama would seem to be of paramount importance. The latter question is more complicated; “productive solutions” also mean something different to everyone. But the standard goal (to be used for the purposes of this article) is to help people learn from their mistakes and educate themselves on the issues at play. There is no justification for abusive, discriminatory, or derogatory behavior and remarks, no matter how far they date back to. But is it fair to completely isolate or cut someone out of society because of a mistake they made? Travel back to summer 2021, Rolling Loud. DaBaby is performing and says to the crowd, “If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up,” among other comments. His speech at Rolling Loud led to intense backlash on social media and major news coverage for days, including many celebrities speaking out against him and Dua Lipa even removing his verse from her hit song “Levitating.” Now it must be said that there was no condoning DaBaby’s remarks or behavior in the days after the show. But in a situation like that, shouldn’t the goal of criticizing his homophobic commentary be to educate? Attacking people when they make a mistake, even an egregious one, does not make them more apologetic or want to understand the complexities of a subject. It isolates people and fosters more anger and resentment than anything else. The same can be said for internet stars such as Shane Dawson, Summer Mckeen, and many others who have had videos or images of themselves doing or saying things that are considered racist, homophobic, or sexist resurface. This is not to say that the anger at
these celebrities' behavior is not justified, but “canceling” someone hasn’t proved to be the most productive means of causing people to reflect on their biases and thought processes. From the opposing perspective, sometimes canceling someone or publicly shaming them is the only way to draw attention to their actions and possibly receive justice or reparations in some capacity. Such can be argued in the case of sexual misconduct or assault claims, particularly among celebrities or public figures. It is a known fact that rape and sexual assault allegations have a very slim rate of making it to court, let alone the perpetrator being convicted. So in this way, public condemnation can provide poetic justice in the court of public opinion at the very least. The most notable example of this was during the peak of the #MeToo movement in 2019, which led to countless male celebrities being publicly accused of sexual assault or misconduct, such as Matt Lauer, James Franco, Ryan Seacrest, and of course, Harvey Weinstein. Some of the men publicly accused during that time were brought to court and convicted—most notably Weinstein—but many others faced consequences of their own even without legal action. Matt Lauer, the longtime anchor of NBC’s The Today Show was terminated from the network, isolated from the journalism and TV world, and divorced by his then-wife. Despite not having seen a day in court, he has certainly faced consequences for his behavior and has had his reputation entrenched in history. Although it is disappointing that the justice system has a way of mishandling sexual misconduct cases, cancel culture and the power of social media were able to bring some form of justice to fruition. While I wholeheartedly believe in calling out bigoted or dangerous behavior, cancel culture appears to be one of the least effective ways to enact real change. Aside from situations of sexual misconduct, I can think of very few scenarios in which canceling someone worked to educate and inform. For those being canceled and those doing the canceling,
it comes down to one’s own protection or formation of their public image. The long apologies given by the canceled and the act of canceling someone both stem from a need to be perceived in a certain way. And unfortunately, the tactics used to manipulate one's own image are often embraced by the public. Ultimately, aside from the moral implications presented by cancel culture, it is a deeply ironic phenomenon that speaks volumes about America’s fixation on celebrity. There are a multitude of celebrities who have fallen at the hands of Twitter’s #[insertanypublicfigure]isoverparty, whether justifiably or not, and despite the public backlash, have gained or retained a mass amount of followers with their careers bouncing back stronger than ever. This isn’t shocking, for Hollywood and the American public love a redemption arc. Just look at how many times James Charles or Trisha Paytas have been canceled for offensive, racist, problematic behavior and within a few weeks, all has been forgotten, at least in the scale of their careers. So what benefit does cancel culture provide if a YouTube apology video or rehab stint can undo the damage done to their public image? If you ask me, very little. It may not be fair to permanently exile someone who has made a mistake from the public eye, for if that were the case, we would all be held in contempt. But there comes a point where certain people just shouldn’t be considered public figures—they have done so many abhorrent things time and time again, just to repeatedly issue meaningless apologies and bounce back. Case in point: Trisha Paytas, Jake and Logan Paul, and hot take, Kanye West. But America loves the drama, and they love to see people suffer and fall from grace and crawl their way back up, purely for their own entertainment. This is why cancel culture will never really change anything. Because just as easily as people will come together to slaughter someone’s public persona, they will sit on the edges of their seats and watch as the person they once maimed is resurrected and granted forgiveness. And they will applaud.
FROM ONE NONREADER TO ANOTHER Designed by Sofia Marin Written by Anamaria Popovska Graphics by Tamar Ponte
“BookTok” Introduced Me to Colleen Hoover’s Novel “It Ends with Us,” and Now I’m Obsessed. Here’s Why. When I was growing up, my parents always reminded me of the importance of reading. I would have to read for at least 20 minutes every day because, as my dad would constantly tell me, "reading makes you smarter." But for some reason, I was never able to find a book that I liked. Now that I'm in college, I honestly can't remember the last book I read in its entirety. During winter break, after scrolling through TikTok and stumbling upon my 13-yearold cousin's "BookTok" account, I discovered "It Ends with Us" by Colleen Hoover. Everyone on TikTok was raving about it. In just a few days, I managed to finish the whole book. It was a monumental event and honestly, it was all because of Hoover's fantastic writing. The range of emotions I felt while reading the book was crazy. One moment I was happy, the next angry, then suddenly I was bawling my eyes out. Lily—the main character of the novel— has two love interests: Ryle and Atlas. How Hoover wrote this love story makes readers question Lily's actions, and I found myself constantly asking why Lily did what she did.
The answer is obvious, isn't it? There was one man who was caring and compassionate, and another who was stubborn and arrogant. One man who was her first love, and another whom she met on a rooftop one night. Hoover presenting Lily with two different love interests was infuriating, because as the characters developed, readers became passionate about which person was the “right” one for Lily. Another reason why Hoover's work is so popular is how realistically it is written. The characters definitely aren't perfect, and Hoover wrote them to feel like real people with real problems. Lily struggles with her childhood and past, and Hoover reminds readers that the protagonist doesn't have "the perfect life." Of course, there will be haters. If romance, heartbreak, trauma, and awkward conversations aren't your thing, I would recommend skipping this one. However, Hoover has many other fantastic romance novels. "Ugly Love" is another book that lacks a sappy love story. If you enjoyed "It Ends with Us," be on the lookout for "It Starts With Us," the novel's sequel set to release on October 18, 2022!
Written and Designed by: Jill O’Farrell | Photographed by:
MATURE FOR THEIR AGE Reforming the Way Teens are Represented in Film and Television Designed by Emily Snisarenko | Written by Jillian O’Farrell | Photographed by Sophia Kysela
A human’s frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision-making, does not fully develop until about age 25. For this reason, adolescents think and behave differently from adults; they’re known for being impulsive, emotional, foolish. However, the current generation of teens present a slight antithesis to this stereotype. Today’s adolescents struggle with anxiety more than any other issue, likely to a greater extent than any other generation. But, this
angst doesn’t seem to manifest into the reckless behavior we associate with teenagers. Instead, these teens retreat to screens. The average teenager spends over seven hours per day on screens for entertainment. While social media use contributes to a large portion of this, they also consume high levels of television and film via online streaming services. I was recently sitting in a cafe next to a table of high school girls and decided to ask them about
their favorite shows. Before I even finished the question, they answered: Euphoria. For the first eight Sundays of this year, the HBO teen drama series Euphoria broke records as millions of viewers tuned in to watch groups of teens navigate life. The 60-minute episodes include themes like sexuality, addiction, and abuse. Euphoria’s characters possess an emotional complexity that is usually absent from mainstream teen dramas; relationships of all
types—sexual, platonic, romantic, familial—tangle between characters in complicated, at times uncomfortable, ways. Writer-director Sam Levinson chose to take an unfiltered approach to explicit topics to portray life’s rawness, particularly during adolescence. However, when I asked the girls which character they relate to most, or if any of the characters remind them of anyone in their life, they couldn’t find any matches. They admire each character’s uniqueness but struggle to accept Euphoria represents high schoolers—even if an extreme version. “They’re like never anything,” remarked
doing homework or one of the girls.
Studies show that Gen Z is “growing up” slower than past generations despite most media narratives. In a 2017 study, less than half of teens in the U.S. reported being sexually active; in the 1980s, when teens over the age of 14 were asked the same question, 60% of males and 51% of females said they’d had sex. The girls, who I learned were sophomores at a local high school, agreed that sex felt like a bigger deal to them than the characters in the shows they watch. In these shows, “it seems like everyone is doing it, but it’s not like that in real life,” they said. However, one of the girls mentioned her eighth-grade sister also watches teen shows, including Euphoria. She felt her sister’s understanding of teenagers and high school was skewed by the characters and plots of the shows. Because she does not have first-hand experience contradicting media portrayals, her sister accepts shows and movies about high schoolers as truth—a subconscious standard to strive toward. But there’s a larger issue that exists; not only are viewers watching adult storylines, they’re watching adults. Casting directors hire adult actors for teenage roles to dodge child labor law limitations. In the state of California, children can only work for eight hours a day and cannot remain at their place of employment for more than ten hours total; the window becomes shorter depending on the actor’s age and school enrollment. These restrictions make production slower and more expensive. Hiring adults also offers more flexibility for on-screen sex; films can include scenes where “teens” engage in sexual activity without confronting the complex moral and PR concerns of using actual underage individuals. Unless it’s essential that the actors look as young as the characters, like in the Netflix series Stranger Things, directors generally avoid working with real-life teens.
In 2017, Vice calculated the average age gap between actors and their characters for 11 popular teen shows and movies. The CW series, Riverdale, presented one of the largest gaps, with a little more than an eight year disparity. The original Gossip Girl resulted in the smallest gap—only an average of three and a half years older. Overall, the average difference between actor’s age and character’s age was about six years. By this math, it is commonplace for a sophomore in high school—a 16-year-old—to be played by a 22-year-old adult. It goes without saying: a 22-year-old’s body looks significantly different from a 16-year-old’s body. When Lady Bird debuted in 2017, headlines praised director Greta Gerwig for deciding to show actress Saoirse Ronan’s acne on-screen. Critics celebrated the film’s quest for teen realness and imperfection, but Ronan was 22 years old at the time of filming. As with most Hollywood productions, any deviation from common practice is considered a creative risk, including a cast of accurately-aged actors. The systemic misrepresentation of an entire age group inevitably shifts society’s perception of adolescence; older generations don’t understand what it means to be a teenager today—physically or mentally—and when they create media based on those misconceptions, teens have no choice but to compare themselves. For this reason, portrayals like Sex Education are so important. The show is about a high school boy who runs an informal sex therapy clinic for his classmates. Episodes contain a lot of sex, but it’s not glamorized. The scenes are amateur and awkward—almost hard to watch. When characters discuss the topic or explain their interactions, they’re equally graceless. But they’re high schoolers, that is the reality. Teenage years are messy, insecure, confusing, but it’s also a time of passion, exploration, and self expression— entertainment media needs to accurately reflect both sides. Movies and TV shows play a large role in normalizing sex, but it’s essential that this is done in a healthy way. Like any type of entertainment media, teen dramas are still used as a form of escapism; viewers want to experience something different, more interesting, than the life they live everyday. But, we cannot sexualize teenagers as we do adults; we cannot present teenagers as experienced in adult situations when they’re not. As much as we love watching 25-year-old Rachel McAdams strut to first period in a mini skirt and three-inch stilettos, it would make more sense if she were strutting to a nine-to-five instead.
GAY DATING IN THE CITY 57
Not Just an Experience, But a Lesson Designed by Macy Wilbur Written by Zach Murray Photographed by Katey Cooney It’s a tale all-too familiar: a gay boy lives in a peaceful, albeit boring, existence in his suburban hometown. Said boy knows he wants to go to a big city for college, one where he will be easily accepted, where there will be many others like him. So, he bides his time at home…or maybe he’ll have a prolonged experience with a closeted boy at home…maybe he just goes on dating apps in the hopes that he can explore his sexuality and figure it out before going off to school. The thought of that big city he’ll move to after graduation is what keeps him going when he sees all his friends get into relationships, meanwhile he can’t even get into a talking stage with anyone. If you’re anything like me, this story will hit close to home. Maybe you grew up in a more rural area, or maybe you grew up near a city, but either way, dating at home was nearly nonexistent for you. Being one of two (out) gay men in my grade, there were nextto-no options for a romantic connection at school. So, at 16, I decided to try out dating apps (like many of my friends were doing). Immediately, I was flooded with compliments from men two or three times my age. The validation of being called handsome for the first time by someone other than my mom was enough to keep me on. Eventually, I started meeting up with these men. I figured, if I had to wait until college to experience a real romance, at least I could get some life experience and a few funny stories until my time came.
Now, flash forward to high school graduation. I knew my moment in the city was just on the horizon. Fresh off (finally) cutting out a toxic two-year “friendship,” I couldn’t wait to finally be able to date. I was going from an environment with one other gay man to a city and school that had what felt like an infinite amount. So, I arrived in Boston, filled with the hope that I could get a boyfriend whenever I wanted. But, as many have learned the hard way, it’s not quite that easy. I had finally gotten to the promised land: a real city. My dating apps were filled with guys my age, and I was meeting new people offline too. But, the one thing that no one tells you when you leave your bubble of home: you aren’t going to magically find a boyfriend. Sure, you’ll have some easy hookups, and you’ll finally enter a talking stage with someone. But, if you’re like me, nothing’s really gonna stick. So, you start questioning things, like if you’re good enough. Even though this isn’t an exclusively gay experience, it’s one that no one had told me about. I had just assumed that because every 50-something year old man on Grindr found me attractive, people at school would think I was too. Sure, going onto dating apps for validation of how attractive you are is universally considered unhealthy, but it was what I had known. So, I would troll the dating apps in hope of finding someone that would want me. And, more times than not, it yielded a less than fruitful search.
In the end, I wasn’t having the experience every gay person dreams of in college, I was having the same one I had back home. Although I generally talked to more people my age, it would end up being the same thing as before: they complimented me, told me all the things I wanted to hear, then we would meet up. After a lackluster 20 minutes, we would part ways, generally not speaking again. When it came to actually trying to plan dates with someone, the results were mediocre at best. Take, for instance, a boy that I had planned a sunset picnic with. It was my first Friday at BU, and I felt hopeful that even if the date was a bust, it was a sign of things to come. Unfortunately, it was a sign of things to come (just not good ones), because he texted me the afternoon of the date to let me know he was sick. An hour later, he was out at dinner on Snap Maps. Or, take the boy that unadded me after we had stayed up until 3:00 am texting the night before. Now, of course I am not completely innocent. I’ve had my fair share of times losing interest in people where I’ve stopped texting back, been flakey, and probably could have been more honest up front. Like the boy that I asked to a date party that I really liked. He said yes, and then said date party got canceled, but I never told him that. Instead, I had no thoughts about his feelings on the matter, and hoped he had just forgotten I’d asked. Although every lackluster relationship turned into a fun story, those stories get old after a while. It was a cycle I couldn’t figure out
how I kept ending up in, until I finally found gay friends. I had lived my life in a bubble before college, and that meant I had almost exclusively straight friends. I hadn’t thought it mattered, that dating was dating, and it didn’t matter what your sexuality was to understand boy troubles. But, once I finally found these friends, I realized my experience was one that many gay men have been through before. They understood the culture of gay dating apps because they had been on them themselves, and they knew what it was like to only know intimacy with men that are twice your age. In being lucky enough to find some great friends that had similar experiences to me, I learned a few things: first, gay dating in a city isn’t the magical experience you’ve made it out to be in your head. For the most part, you’re not going to find the love of your life as soon as you move. You’ll still encounter many of the same issues as you did with dating at home, and if you aren’t confident with yourself, those issues are never going to be resolved. But, if you open up your mind to leave room for even greater experiences than you imagined, things are going to be alright. You’ll learn what type of guy you want, the types you don’t, you’ll learn the steps you need to take to be a secure enough person to even be ready for a relationship, and you’ll probably have a lot of stories along the way. So, while gay dating in the city may not be the cinematic experience you’ve always imagined, it will be an experience worth its while.
“SEX AND THE…” ADVOCACY
Designed by Karoline Cunico Written by Sophia Falbo Photographed by Samantha Grobman
Women’s Health and the Surprising Place TV Got Some of It Right The most famous and fashionable quartet in TV history is no doubt Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha from Sex and the City. From their timeless dating advice to the iconic places they visit in both the TV and movie versions of the show, the ladies’ impact on feminism in America, and even across the globe, is inarguable. However, another major area of womanhood that the show covers is the failings in women’s healthcare. Particularly, how female health concerns are not always taken seriously. While the show first aired in 1998, the problems it highlighted persist. Women's medical care still seems to be an issue present in the world today. As a woman in society, we are supposed to simply “deal with” our medical problems alone, or we are forced to be our own best advocates if we do seek help. For hundreds of years, women were always considered the caretakers in marriage and family. In the 1800s, when their husbands were feeling ill, or their children, it was the women’s responsibility to nurse them back to health by providing them with various medicines, soup, tea, and accompanying them on a trip to the doctor’s office. However when the women become sick, how much energy was diverted to properly diagnosing them and treating their illness? Often, not enough. In Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, Maya Dusenbery touches upon the gap in knowledge about women’s health compared to men’s health as one of the most important “gender biases” in modern medicine. She writes, “In a 1995 report, the Council on Graduate Medical Education concluded that physicians have not been well prepared to meet the challenges of women’s health.” It’s unacceptable, yet it is a reality that women of the twenty-first century still face. While some health concerns are universal and are not gender specific, there are many matters only women endure, or suffer from at a disproportionate rate, and that doctors all over the globe need to be aware of to provide proper care. Between Charlotte’s infertility issues and Samantha’s breast cancer diagnosis, there’s numerous Sex and
the City episodes devoted to creating exposure for women’s health complications. They can help educate and advocate—creating, at the very least, awareness. The show acts as a vessel introducing real-life health problems, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, to be addressed and handled in a manner that mimics the way these health issues might be taken care of should they come up in a woman’s life. As Angela H.E.M. Mass described in “Empower Women in Healthcare to Move Women’s Health Forward”: “Medical science and patient care have historically focused on male patients. Many diagnoses in women are still undetermined and it takes several years longer to establish comparable diagnoses in women as in men.” So many diagnoses take years, if they ever become conclusive at all. Unfortunately, many doctors and physicians across the world don’t properly know how to treat much of what women experience that is unique to the female reproductive system or similar sex-specific hormonal systems, unlike how familiar most doctors are to properly taking care of men’s health issues. In many ways, treatments have been devised with the average male in mind, not female. Sometimes, doctors will treat for pain without concluding its cause, and thus never fully addressing the ailment. It is this kind of situation twenty-first century medicine should be moving to progress beyond. If one Sex and the City episodes sheds light on the reality of infertility—a common complication women face worldwide—and therefore champions a little more awareness, than it’s properly doing it’s job. Sex and the City may be most popularly known for its fashion and leading characters’ romantic lives, but honestly, it’s nice to seee something else come from the story—representation of women’s health struggles. Despite how much more has been discovered in the medical field in the twenty-first century with advanced technology and science, there is a long way to go in properly diagnosing and treating women’s ailments. Meanwhile, women must continue being their best advocate, but also an advocate for women everywhere who may face similar conditions and have been misdiagnosed by a physician. Representation is something we can control, and feeling understood as a woman within the medical field is the first step to progressing the agenda for women’s medical health.
Designed by Tamar Ponte Written by Alejandra Jimenez Photographed by Samantha Grobman
LATINAS WITH A T T I T U D E P R O B L E M S 63
Do Latinas Have Attitude Problems or Is It Merely Repression?
“Y’all want Latinas but know that it comes with… an ‘attitude problem’,”says my TikTok for you page. Welcome to the overused punchline said by several Latina creators to warn their potential partners of their ‘ethnic downfall.’ Because well, we all know, Latina women are cursed with an uncontrollable temperament.Behind this repetitive joke, lies an abundance of false advertisement. Let’s examine this deeper. First, do all Latina women have attitude problems or do some have strong personalities? Scanning a mental picture of my own family, I can admit most of the women are expressive, captivating, and dominant by nature. With pride, I divulge my participation in such a categorization. Does this at times include a fiery yell or lingered stare, well yes it does. But does this constitute an attitude problem? No! Using a magnifying glass to observe this phenomenon, the first question to ask is why are these women “catching an attitude”? As I returned home for winter break this past month, I had the opportunity to test my theory. I watched my mother and her four sisters interact with me and my cousins, noting interactions with raised voices. So, what caused them to yell? Here is a running list: 1. Leaving my room dirty 2. Not washing my dishes 3. Looking unpresentable with visiting family 4. or leaving the house appearing disheveled 5. My nails undone 6. Leaving without mention of my whereabouts 7. My location reading “not found” Beyond the superficial joke, we need to understand why this is a cause for concern. Why does it matter to look unpresentable or to leave your space dirty? What influencers (which are mostly first or second generation children) do not understand is that these “attitude problems’’ are byproducts of generational trauma. Most
immigrant women—specifically Latina women, are suffocated by gender roles and expectations. Women cook, clean, and raise the children. A woman’s place is to serve her male counterpart. A woman’s place is second to speak. A woman’s place is subordinate without exception and without question. A woman’s place is to survive. In this quest for perseverance exists a routine dance that every woman participates in. You can not break under pressure or swim up to gasp for air; instead, you must seem effortless, put together, and resilient. While at home, I realized my mother and aunts were, in reality, excruciatingly numb. Their trauma has transformed itself from hurt into redirection and distraction. My mother left Colombia at the ripe age of 19, hoping to obtain safety, opportunity, and a college degree. My grandfather disagreed. “Life goes on, you just gotta forget about it,” she says to me. So if Latina women are actually numbed by gender roles, Eurocentric body standards, and religious trauma, why are they marketed as having “attitude problems”? Because
The fetishization of Latina women as sexually domaint, fiery, curvy, and exotic creatures is unescapable. These “attitude problems’’ then act as a sort of aphrodisiac for white men. These women are “wild.” They can not be tamed. How “exciting,” yet so untrue. So, next time you decide to reuse this joke for the sake of TikTok content, ask yourself this: who is this video for? I promise you it is not for my mother or my aunts. It is for Steve, wishing he could get laid instead of googling pornhub yet again this evening.
CAN I LISTEN TO RAP AS A FEMINIST? How to Reconcile the Misogyny in Rap with Modern Ideals
Designed by Shelby Mitchell Written by Talia Zakalik Graphics by Emily Snisarenko
R ap exists today as one of the most popularly consumed music genres, transcending the music industry by mixing fashion and film. What started as a Black-led form of resistance and counterculture has quickly become mainstream. Yet underneath the catchy beats, there lies an underbelly riddled with controversy. When one listens closely to the lyrics of almost any rap song, they are likely to hear “bitch, hoe, slut, etc…”. Not to mention countless other terms that degrade women by oversexualizing them. In rap, it seems women exist merely as objects to suit the male gaze. Concurrent with my own love for rap, I also identify as a feminist. To some, this may sound like an oxymoron, while others simply disregard the degradation of women in rap music as inherent to the genre. Is it possible to subscribe to intersectional feminism while listening to rap? The mainstream representation of women is essential when considering the advancement of women in society. For centuries women have been viewed as weak, strictly maternal, but hypersexualized. Feminism was born as a response to inequality and gender-based discrimination. When an entire genre of music promotes a one-dimensional narrative of women, the consumers of that music are influenced. Subconsciously, ideas are passed down through music because it is a powerful medium. The opinions of big rappers have an especially large impact, with a huge platform and the power to paint women as submissive and existing for sex.
Eminem is regarded as one of the best-selling rappers of all time. Yet when I think of Eminem a particular lyric from “Kill You” comes to mind, “Sl*t, you think I won't choke no wh*re/Til the vocal cords don't work in her throat no more?!" Not only is this misogynistic, but it condones violence against women. West also degraded fellow artist Taylor Swift when he rapped, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why?/I made that b*tch famous (Goddamn)/I made that b*tch famous/For all the girls that got d*ck from Kanye West/If you see 'em in the streets give 'em Kanye's best.” While these lyrics stand out as especially problematic, there are less obvious ones. A 2012 article published in Time magazine found that Jay-Z used the word “bitch” 109 times out of 217 songs. There is about a 50% chance that when you listen to a Jay-Z song you will hear language that disrespects women. However, as 4th Wave Feminism is reshaping what it means for a woman to reclaim her own sexuality, women within the hip-hop industry are making strides. Cardi B has capitalized on her sexuality with her rap career and has come a long way from her days as a stripper struggling to make ends meet. She uses the same derogatory words in her music as her male counterparts; however, it is done in the name of female empowerment, perhaps a way of reclaiming the words, as is often done with slurs. Cardi B is strong and financially independent. She is a “boss ass bitch” and in this case, bitch has a positive connotation. 4th Wave Feminism has made it possible for words that were once used to shame women to be said with power. However, when a man uses these words, they still carry a different meaning—a connotation of inferiority. Similarly, Megan Thee Stallion has recently made a name for herself within rap, coining the term “hot girl shit” as a means of empowering women. Stallion has the utmost autonomy over her sexuality and is proud of it. Her 2020 hit “Body” opens with the sound of a woman moaning sexually, which then reappears as a the backdrop for the rest of the song. Stallion raps about receiving oral sex and having a body with “big titties and little waist.” Cardi B and Stallion teamed up to create WAP which stands for “Wet Ass Pussy.” The song is about female pleasure and explores sex from a woman’s perspective. It was controversial in conservative settings, but met with a warm welcome from women who find the lyrics empowering. Cardi B and Stallion are proud of being sexual. They are rapping about the same topics their male
counterparts do, but it is only made controversial by the media which is inherently misogynistic. These women are pushing rap forward by breaking the boundaries of how female artists can self-express. Perhaps rap is not the problem when it comes to sexism within the music industry? After all, there are countless other genres with artists who sing about women in a questionable manner. Even The Beatles, widely considered to be one of the most influential bands, infamously sang, “She was only 17 if you know what I mean.” The romanticization of underage girls within music has influenced a culture that hypersexualizes girls before they are even adults. One of America's favorite Christmas anthems “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which has been covered by numerous artists, consists of a back-and-forth between a man who is attempting to convince a woman to stay over while she comes up with reasons as to why she needs to leave. At one point he fixes her drink and she sings, “Say what’s in this drink,” alluding to being dosed with a date rape drug. He continues to pressure her to stay presumably for sex. Rap is mimicking an already established pattern of violation of female sexual autonomy in music. Yet there still is an undeniable hyperfixation on rap as a sexist music genre. This is a result of rap existing as a historically African American music form. The United States is entrenched with a uniquely systemic structure of racism towards black men in particular. He is portrayed as suspicious, unreliable, and a danger toward women. These notions date back to the Jim Crow era which perpetuated stereotypes that still linger within American society today. Therefore, when rappers, many of whom are black men, use language that degrades women, a pronounced outrage occurs as a result of historic racial biases. Music is a reflection of our current social, political, and economic climate. We live in a culture that treats women as secondary and that is demonstrated in the music we consume on a daily basis. If you reject rap on the basis of sexism, you must reject every lyrically charged genre of music. You can be feminist and listen to rap, just as you can be a feminist and listen to pop, rock, or even jazz. It is illogical for this debate to only revolve around rap. As feminists, we must unify to alter the perception of women within American society, and in doing so that will reenvision the representation of women in music.
THE ART OF INTERLUDES Designed by Sofia Marin Written by Anh Nguyen Photographed by Samantha Grobman
How artists use musical “breaks” for conversations with listeners Interludes originated as a transitional moment for audiences to take a break in between acts of a play. Today, they are used in music as an opportunity to guide listeners to recalibrate and refocus their ears. It asks listeners to reflect on what they’ve heard so far, and creates momentum for what is ahead. These “in-between” moments complete albums as musical projects by creating a narrative where we wouldn’t expect one. Yet, accessibility in the digital age has changed the way we experience music. Evidently, interludes are hardly ever the most streamed tracks in an album. Because of that, we sometimes overlook a major component of the music listening experience—an artist’s intentions.
seat of a car, according to a text he rewrote in the opening spread of his Boys Don’t Cry magazine. He imagined himself as the girl, with the album playing out like a trip in this car. Adjusting to the seatbelt, he feels a sense of freedom within containment. Settling into comfort while moving at high speeds, he confronts his most vulnerable and even childlike moods. Blonde experiments with silences through less-streamed interludes that serve as quieter moments, but also through more well-known tracks like “Nights,” where climax builds and perfectly splits the album down the middle.
In 2017, Frank Ocean released arguably his most important work to date—Blonde. As it is his first independently released album, Blonde is a project full of intention.
The nonlinear narrative told throughout the album is reflective of the nature of memories—how they dissolve and reassemble, but ultimately remain a large part of what inwardly defines us. It also leaves room for interpretation on the meanings of love, longing, and loss.
The concept for it was inspired by an image Frank Ocean saw of a girl sitting in the front
It is precisely the choices made through Blonde’s interludes that reveal Frank
Ocean’s thoughtfulness. He includes familiar voices like André 3000 on “Solo (Reprise)” and unfamiliar, but somehow personal, voices like his friend’s mom on “Be Yourself.” The voices he chose to include informs his own voice, because listeners are left to question what ways these figures have influenced him. The final interlude, “Futura Free,” is the most important. The track builds around a skit that captures the playfulness of youth and nostalgic memories. It features the voice of his brother, Ryan Breaux, who passed away in a tragic car crash in 2020. Being the last track, it bridges the gap between more romantic musings in the first half of the album and the more introspective feelings in the latter half. Perhaps it could more fittingly be considered an outro—however, it is a flawless interlude in the sense that it doesn’t bring the album to a halt. Instead we can feel the artist depart but we are left to continue on the ride. “How far is a light year?” the ending asks, leaving us to ponder: how far have we come, how far will we go?
NO ONE LIKES A MAD WOMAN....
How Media Capitalizes on the Female Feud
Designed by Izzy Critchfield-Jain Written by Andrea Morales Photographed by Samantha Grobman
It’s no secret that society enjoys having a front seat to public feuds. People jump at the chance to analyze a new song or read about a feud-fueled interview. We’ve all been there. Personally, reading the lyrics to “Shether’’ by Remy Ma, aimed at Nicki Minaj, was a jaw-dropping moment in my formative years. However, there is something deeply unsettling about how the media purposely pits female artists against each other. It’s one thing when a musician writes about a personal experience and makes art of it, and another when comparisons start being thrown around. I have a few theories as to why women are the prime target for this sensationalism. As any young woman knows, there are certain unspoken rules that we must follow. We must sit, look pretty, and dazzle people with our personalities. If we show an ounce of emotion beyond that, we are seen as “over-the-top,” “too much,”
or—my personal favorite— “unlikeable.” All of which are traits that are commonly used to characterize female artists. The media could never outrightly say that they don’t approve of a woman’s actions, so they take a more subtle approach. They blatantly compare two female musicians, and watch as society tears them apart. If there’s one thing the public will always pay attention to, it’s two women being enraged with one another— the one exception to the unsaid rule. Let’s look at some examples of this reality in action. Famous “feuds” include Lady Gaga vs. Madonna, Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B., Mariah Carey vs. Jennifer Lopez, and many more. While there may be some truth that these public figures have bitter relationships with each other, there’s no denying that the media does nothing but add fuel to the fire. Just a quick Google search of these names together will show headlines like,
... EXCEPT WHEN THEY DO “Madonna Vs. Lady Gaga: Who’s The REAL Queen of Pop?” or “Nicki Minaj vs. Cardi B: Which Trailblazing Rapper Has a Higher Net Worth?” The media sensationalization of these disputes turn the focus towards the fight instead of the actual artistry. The frenzy is especially heightened when both artists are successful, because if we believe what society tells us, there can only be room for one prosperous woman. Which brings me to my second propos al: female artists are treated as if they have shelf lives in the music industry, thus making it a game of who can survive the longest. Taylor Swift, an artist who has been under the media’s microscope for over 15 years and has had multiple “feuds,” spoke on this unique experience for female musicians in her Miss Americana documentary. When imitating what the press demands
of female artists, she said, “Reinvent yourself but only in a way that we find to be equally comforting and a challenge for you. Live out a narrative that we find interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable.” Going off Swift’s words, we get a better understanding of how the media capitalizes off her “viable” years and implies that there are other women more than willing to take her place. This narrative of women being naturally vicious towards one another isn’t anything new. To perpetuate this cash-cow tale, media outlets purposely exaggerate or misrepresent artists’ words for profit. One example of this is when Mariah Carey responded to questions about Jennifer Lopez by simply saying, “I don’t know her.” The gossip magazines immediately ran with it and claimed that Carey shaded Lopez. However, Carey later went on to clarify that
she meant she didn’t know Lopez personally. While it would be fair to say that these women aren’t the best of friends, that doesn’t mean they have to be enemies—which the press would have the world believe. By controlling the narrative and blowing details out of proportion, it’s obvious that this was nothing but a cash grab from the news outlets. I would like to say that publications have improved since the first public “feuds,” but they have just become more subtle about the comparisons. Ultimately, these women are artists— so let’s focus on that. Most of their craft will likely draw from personal experiences, like negative encounters they have with others. However, it shouldn’t be our place to pick sides and villainize one, if not both, parties. Their “feuds” should not be bigger than their art, but the media has yet to reach this conclusion.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl Breaks Down The Winning Submission From The Buzz’s Campus-Wide Fiction Contest, 2022. Written by Yoko Zhu Graphics and Design by Tamar Ponte
She takes her coffee with artificial sweetener and settles on a single boiled egg. The employee cuts it in half, divides the hard yolk, dashes red pepper on it, then hands her back the plate. Mel eats it with her fingers, nibbling at her lunch, making the most out of a tiny thing. She follows the nutritional plan Erica typed up for her. Simply looking at the list with its caveats and mathematical buzzwords like deficit and macronutrients wears her out. Erica, with her woodland deer frame and long limbs, moves through the world with a serpentine ease. It’s Erica who Mel emulates, but always finds herself falling short. Between sips of coffee, Mel writes her self-hatred in an overly bombast poem. It’s not very good, but she doesn’t expect it to be. Once in a while, she allows herself to fall short; it makes herself feel better when she’s accomplished a significantly impressive piece. From her peripheral vision, a stranger sits down across from her. It’s a small table, the kind where you have to be mindful that your knees don’t bump into the other person’s. Mel sneaks glances at him. His hair is onyx ink spilled on a table, aglow in the sun’s light. The stranger’s vacant gaze is drawn to the window, observing for the sake of observing, analyzing nothing in particular. He was the kind of man Erica would’ve devoured instantly, possessing a stark beauty that made everyone else seem flat, dull. She’s certain she’s amalgamated with all the East Asian girls he’s ever seen, fused into one monolith, because that’s how Mel always
has been. She resumes her writing, but loses a metaphor on the tip of her tongue. It’ll never be found, lost in a landfill with all the other forgotten things. “How’s your day been?” he asks her. “It’s been good, just beginning,” she says. “Do you want to go somewhere with me?” he says timidly, tilting his head to the door, to the outpour of busy cars and streets. She closes her laptop screen, the gossamer lines fading to black, thrilled by the spontaneous invitation. She grabs her hand-painted tote bag, leaving the lukewarm coffee on the table. “You’re not a serial killer are you?” she asks, stepping out into the New York street with him. “No,” he chuckles, “I’m Jasper. I’m new to New York. Just arrived this week, actually. I was hoping you could show me around. Someplace you’d like to go.” “I love a good bookstore,” she replies, expecting him to object, to suggest somewhere far more exciting. He nods, as if she’s aced an invisible test, “I’ve been obsessed with Murakami lately. I first read Kafka on the Shore a couple of years ago during a power outage. I wasted all my flashlight battery on it,” he says. “We were without power for a week and without water for days. Didn’t really have food, either. I survived on a pack of ramen and Murakami.” “His stories are magic. There’s so much symbolism in his work—so much life. I’m not quite sure I can analyze Norwegian Wood as well as the literary experts, but I got the sense there’s two categories in the face of suffering. You either keep living, or you give up. There’s not really an in-between.” She moves closer to him, as the sidewalk wanes into a skinny lane. The corner of his mouth quirks up, and it’s a melancholy, pensive expression. She doesn’t say anything else, determined to not ruin the Universe’s gift, mar her good luck, or have him slip through her fingers. *** The bookshop is not very crowded. She respires in the oaky scent of paper, mingled with the faint hint of Jasper’s cologne. Mel browses, pulling spines from tightly packed shelves, mouthing the titles under her tongue. She dreams of her name honorably attached to a masterpiece she has yet to create but is determined to, a poetry collection revered long after she’s gone. If she cannot be immortalized for her beauty,
have her headshot plastered in department stores like Erica, then she must do it on pure talent alone. She’s working on it now. She’s creating art, but it is not the art she’s always dreamed of: it’s melodramatic. It doesn’t feel genuine—her writer friend Soren admitted. It wasn’t a refreshing, raw voice. Soren is published with three novels. She can’t stand Soren. “Are you a writer?” Jasper inquires. He analyzes her facial expressions, probing for a secret the way gold miners pan the muddy California waters for shiny rocks. “I am. I’m not as good as I hoped I’d be when I was a kid, but I’ve been a writer my entire life. You’ve probably heard the story before. Parents weren’t there for me because of work, no friends growing up, retreating to books. It makes me a cliché. But honestly, composing poems is the one thing I can do naturally. I write when I’m bored of my own life, or when I need to capture my own life.” “Can I read your writing?” Mel grimaces. “It’s still a work in progress.” “I don’t mind,” he says, “I’ve always envied artists. I’ve also always wanted to be one, but I’m lazy in discipline. All my profound thoughts are probably already said, ten times better than I ever could.” “You have to be selling yourself short. I’m inclined to believe you’re being humble, that there’s a morose old novelist locked somewhere inside,” she says and he laughs. “I’m not humble. I’m well aware of all my good qualities.” “Like the fact you’re good-looking?” She’s trying to flirt, mimic Erica’s coyness to appear witty. She pretends to be thoroughly engrossed in an almanac. A strawberry moon is anticipated to arrive next week. She keeps this in her queue of subject changes, though she’s grateful she doesn’t have to use it. Jasper grins, tilting the book in his hands down. “Don’t be embarrassed. I know I’m attractive.” “You are,” she finally says, after her mind flashes blank for an Erica-thing to say. It’d all sound forced on her tongue, unnatural as Latin, so she temporarily abandons the script. They leave, each with one book in hand. Jasper buys a collection of Audre Lorde poems. For herself, she gets The Stranger by Albert Camus,
because Jasper said he believes the universe to be a fickle beast, as irrational as the old Greek gods, and absurdism was far more optimistic than nihilism. “I’d rather be an optimist than anything in the world,” she says. They’re sitting on a park bench, smoking cigarettes, ignoring the dirty looks nearby, overprotective mothers throw at them. She leans her head back. The golden sun, Jasper’s easy warmth, and the cigarette smoke—all of it was a poem. If she was a better writer, the lines wouldn’t have flowed—they would’ve poured out of her. Yet, Mel doesn’t feel the tiniest trickle. Earlier, it would’ve bothered her. Now, she cannot care less. It’s Jasper’s eyes that mesmerize her, replacing her earliest infatuation. “When I was little, my mother used to warn me about optimism.” Mel continues, “She told me how raising your hopes always causes them to crash. If you don’t expect anything, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the bare minimum. From her point of view, it was self-protection; she’s had her fair share of disappointments.” “You seemed to have turned out alright.” She chuckles, “I’m only holding myself together.” A cardinal sings a little melody to fill the empty space, until Mel finally asks, “Do you want to come to my place?” He does. He follows her on the subway. The rowdy city pigeons understand the importance of his occasion, and they express their respect by tottering away on their small feet. Jasper talks easily, freely, like he’s known her all his life. She imagines that she’s his girlnext-door, the cute one with frilly shirts that cut right above the abdomen, the one he falls in love with. It’s easy to daydream, easy to project her expectations on a stranger she just met, and so Mel does. While he’s taking her apartment elevator up, she dreams about meeting his little sister (does he have a little sister?), and how she would take her to the nail salon to get an acrylic set. She knows the loft isn’t special, but New York doesn’t yield luxurious homes affordably. This is her excuse, and he shrugs when she says it. “I did imagine it was bigger than mine, but I like the way you decorated it.” He gestures to the eclectic collection of thrift shop vintage, clay vases, and cheap trinkets. Often, she treats herself to the unwanted books at the thrift: the paperbacks with folded covers, hardcovers with broken spines. A savior complex. They sprawl on the sofa with their legs propped against the Ikea table. She tries to tell a story, a funny anecdote about a bartender who made her a drink on the house, because he thought she was in Crazy Rich Asians. Jasper does not laugh. He blinks in between her sentences, tuning her out with the rest of the physical world. A cigarette hangs from his mouth. When she finishes the warbled mess of a story, he faintly nods. “I don’t see the resemblance
between you and Gemma Chan either. Strange.” The insipid change in his demeanor makes the pit of her stomach turn. The oil turning the gears of their conversation, smoothly rotating from one topic to another with ease was suddenly wearing out. She wrinkles her nose, shifting in her seat uncomfortably, blaming the fabric scrunching under her thigh. With glassy eyes, he fixtates his gaze on the floor. There was an antique scale before him; he was gathering all his impressions of her, weighing them into a final appraisal. Either she was one of the few gems the world had to offer, or she was just like the rest of them: awkward, slow, draining, annoying, and inauthentic. His perception could only be so wrong. It would most likely be right. “What’s on your mind?” Mel asks. She manages the illusion of confident ease, as it’s really only in posture and vocal projection. “Not much.” “Do you want anything to drink?” “I’m okay.” Jasper stubs out his cigarette on the edge of her glass vase. Ash particles land in the water; she makes a mental note to change the water for the flowers the minute he leaves. She lets her gaze linger on his lips, smiling the way women in film noirs do with an intriguing seductive wryness, an invitation, really. Her ace. As a teenager, Mel practiced this expression in the bathroom mirror
for hours. It couldn’t look forced, had to appear natural, and it’s the closest Mel gets to seizing power. His shoulders shift, the crescent moon waxing, and it’s so quick she doesn’t comprehend her own movements, until she’s kissing him. She relishes his momentary surprise, the line of his mouth against hers, all enabled by her brief sense of control. The warmth burns through her like someone plucked the violin strings in her veins, releasing a reverb down her entire body. He tastes like pungent herbs, the thick woody Marlboros taste sat on her tongue, and she allows herself to enjoy it. It’s not until he holds her face in the heart of his palm that she feels an urge to cry. Mel knows men like this. They’re arguably not bad people, filled to the brim with quirks and interests that reflect her own, but she knows that she’ll never be able to pick up the Albert Camus book and actually read it, because of him. Murakami, for a long time, will be associated with the boy who read it during a power outage. Men like Jasper won’t call, unless the television breaks and boredom chases them out of their house. Mel’s only known Jasper for a day, yet she understands him. When the nights become longer than usual, when mascara streaks the slopes of her cheeks like rain down the river, she chides herself: it’s unhealthy to attach yourself to strangers. She forgets why it matters— why Jasper matters, why Liam matters, why Kennedy matters, why her father matters—so she laughs at own fragility, until delirium holds her like a baby. When she first met Erica, Mel had been taken aback by her best friend’s boyfriend (now ex). At the time, she’d labeled Erica as a bird-brain, an intrinsically insecure individual despite being gorgeous. Erica fell in love with Alec, a gangly pimple-faced Italian who ate fries that fell on the floor and screamed at Erica for smiling at other men, but Mel misunderstood. It wasn’t Erica’s fault that she didn’t know Alec wasn’t anything special. It was the entirety of society that conditioned Alec to believe he was special enough to date Erica. “You’re so cool,” he murmurs. At this moment, Jasper lifts the hem of her shirt over her head, and Mel lets him. She knows his hair is dark, his eyes are brown, and his heart is far away. In spite of this, she remembers the metaphor that she’d forgotten in the cafe. It comes to her slowly, the way sugar dissolves in hot water, but she can taste it on the tip of her tongue. Mel tilts her head back—not unhappy but not quite happy, rather a strange mix of the two. In this epiphany, she takes what is left of a man and turns him into poetry; writing she’ll never want him to read.
STAFF 2022 Executive Editors
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