Columbia College Chicago Echo Body Issue 2018

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The Body Issue

A Dreamer’s Nightmare The mental toll of DACA legal limbo Speaking Up Youth join forces against gun violence Grub and Glitter The double shift of a drag queen Out of Stock Foraging for food in an urban jungle Plus-size Problems The frustrations of finding the right fit

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Echo magazine searches for the questions that can only be answered with stories, and we dive in. Echo is a catalyst for sharing ideas and boosting voices through the medium of diverse, thoughtful content and engaging individuals. 002 002

Letters from the Executive Editor

Managing Editor

The body is our conduit to the world around us. It reacts to the environment we are in before we can even find the words to explain it. We can’t exist without the body, yet it’s hard to find language to express its complexity. But for the fourth themed issue of Echo magazine, we dared to find those words. Our team of Columbia College Chicago students from the Journalism, Design and Photojournalism programs sought out the best ways to describe the restrictive feeling of a small-sized fashion industry, or the adrenaline of protesting for your life, or the familiarity of a long-lost relative. As we continued our search, we had to wonder what the body’s limitations are. Sometimes, it may seem, we have evolved past our bodies’ capabilities. What corporeal existence is there in the digital age? How do we confront the fragility of our bodily forms? Can our emotions overrule our physical instincts? In the end, we learned, we are too anchored in our bodies to navigate life without them. Whether biological, political or theoretical, our senses are the first to give us the information we need to understand such concepts. Our bodies are not only the physical representation of us; they are our guides. Because of this, we have named the sections of this issue after the directions our bodies tend to lead us: Beneath, Between and Beyond. Find where your body is telling you to go. We’ve already mapped the journey for you.

The Body Issue is a product of itself. It was born from hundreds of billions of neurons transmitting electrochemical signals, from fingers tapping on keyboards, from eyes peering through viewfinders. Twenty-five bodies sat down in January and decided to make Echo’s fourth themed issue about a topic of utmost importance: the body. But not just about the body; also the body politic. The pages you now hold feature bodies that are disabled, plus-sized and undocumented; bodies that have endured sexual trauma, food insecurity and mental illness. Our reporting revealed that though a physical existence is the single thread that connects us all, no two people have the same relationship with their body. Nutritionists gave us their best hangover remedies (but what works for them may not work for you). Psychologists gave us insight into bipolar disorder (but every patient’s case is unique). Your body is, quite literally, one in 7.6 billion. Notice your hands. Does Echo’s cover feel smooth against them? Was this copy warm from resting in the sun, or cool from an air conditioner set too low? Are our words blurry after a long day, or crisp under a fluorescent light? Your physical experience at this very moment will never be replicated. It’s yours alone. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Flip through these pages and feel each of them against your skin. Learn new information and think of your brain processing this knowledge. We’ve written a love letter to our bodies, and you’re holding it. Now go write yours.

— Tyra Bosnic

— Sadie Miller

Echo The Body Issue


The Body Issue Editorial


Executive Editor

Creative Directors


Tyra Bosnic

Sarah Graf Nick Rissmeyer

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin

Sadie Miller

Art Directors

Guy Villa, Jr

Production Manager

Jason Min Sarah Trobee


Managing Editor

Andrea Salcedo

Section Editors Laurence Almalvez Khai Clardy Jonathon Sadowski Marisa Sobotka

Features Editor Courtney Wolfe

Copy Editing Chief Brooke Pawling

Fact-Checking Chief



Brand Managers

Ad & Business Manager

Cecsily Bianchi ZoĂŤ Haworth

Micha Thurston

Web Designers

Kami Rieck Grace Senior Sara Wolcynska

ZoĂŤ Haworth Ben Hullinger Denise Wong

Graphic Designers Ben Hullinger Neriza Miranda Ana Ojeda Denise Wong

Media Sales

General Manager Christopher Richert

Department Chair Suzanne McBride

Talia Wright

Art/Editorial Integration Manager Madeline McQuillan

Photography Photo Editor Moe Zoyari

Web Editors Katlyn Tolly Gretchen Sterba

Cover photo by Moe Zoyari Model: Maryam Rasoulzadeh

Copy Editor

Echo logo sound design by Niko Gerentes

Sofia Avendano

Social Media Editor Amanda Kaplan


Thank you to SharpTypeCo and DSType Foundry for their generous typeface donations to Echo


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061 Beneath




Common Senses We all have them. Why not use them?


Assessing Access

070 Feminine Physique

072 Healing a Hangover What to do after too much brew



The Face of Change Korean beauty products defy easy gender classifications

Period Piece Why are we so hung up on menstruation?

Bronzeville native embraces diversity in women’s bodybuilding


Model Figures TV characters who changed the way we look at our bodies

An ensemble shines the spotlight on mental health issues


By Nature Eight places for solace in the city

When Drama Meets Trauma

Finding Family Online geneologists crowdsource their genetic connections


068 050

Saving Your Skin Advice from an arctic explorer on weathering winter


Come Together Young activists find common ground fighting gun violence

An online resource helps people with disabilities enjoy the Windy City

Facing Forward Beauty trends come and go and come again



Sex and the Windy City Which sex toy is for you?



Traditional Filipino tattoos go beyond artistry

Stinkin’ Labels Making sense of the stuff in your deodorant


Skin Deep

Short-Term Fashion Long-Term Consequences The human and environmental impacts of cheap, trendy clothes


Features 014

Of Two Minds A conversation on living with bipolar disorder


Living in Limbo DACA recipients struggle with more than their legal status


Out of Touch What does love look like after sexual assault?


Wheel of Fortune Female rideshare drivers take a chance every time they accept a fare


Greening up a Food Desert Englewood residents look for a future with better food options


Parallel Lives Manager by day, queen by night


Stomping Grounds Chicago’s punk scene finds community in combativeness



Life Lines A prison pen-pal program provides help inside and out

Beyond 080

Laugh Out Liberal


The art of producing all-inclusive comedy


Sisterhood of the Healing Hands Women of color are curating community for little cost on Chicago’s South Side



At the AbilityLab, new limbs change lives


Pet Care A new generation of robots seeks to improve human health


Threadbare Why are plus-size clothing options still slim?

#TooMuch When does self-care turn into self-obsession?

Body Shop


Breaking Away For Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s not easy to leave the fold

Gotta Go? Chicago’s top downtown pit stops

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Invisible Other Can a virtual relationship make you happy?

Rest in Progress Cemeteries are so 21st century. What’s next?

Echo The Body Issue


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Echo The Body Issue



Common Senses We all have them. Why not use them? Written by Katlyn Tolly & Marisa Sobotka Illustrations by Neriza Miranda

We experience the world through our senses: sound, touch, taste, sight and smell. But can those senses be harnessed to improve our mood, our sleep and our lives? Echo talked to Chicago-based sensory therapy practitioners about the untapped power of our senses.

Brain Tingles

Sound Your sense of hearing is a portal to the world of ASMR, sometimes described as “brain tingles.” The acronym stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, defined as the buzzing sensation some people experience while listening to specific noises. Common sounds that induce ASMR include the crinkling of plastic, the tapping of nails and soft whispers. “It’s almost like a meditative experience,” says Chicago-based artist and ASMR therapist Hanna Owens, who utilizes the practice to help her clients overcome anxiety and insomnia.

Cuddle Buddies

Touch Human touch increases the production of oxytocin, a hormone that can improve your mood, decrease stress and even help with insomnia. “Cuddle Parties” are designed to provide a comfortable environment where participants can give and receive platonic physical affections—no relationship or sex involved. “It’s about teaching people a specific style of communicating where we are empowering them to figure out their own boundaries,” says Keeley Shoup, a professional cuddler in Chicago. “The level of authentic vulnerability and connection that you’re having with these people is not something that they were expecting.”

Blind Dining

Taste Would you give up your sight to have a better sense of taste? This is the trade-off patrons agree to when they dine at The Blind Cafe, a Chicago pop-up. Designed to enhance the tasting experience, the complete darkness also lightens social expectations. This allows for an honest connection between people, which many participants find therapeutic. “We have created a recipe for how to really crack people’s hearts open a bit,” says founder and Boston native Brian Rocheleau. “People come for a dinner in the dark and they leave with something more.”


Your Inner Eye

Sight Movies have lied to you: Hypnosis isn't a pocket watch swinging in front of your face. In fact, Lakeview-based hypnotist Raymond Czarnecki says hypnosis is not focused on external sight at all, but rather inner vision. “My job as a hypnotist is to help a person release their burdens so that they can move forward in their life,” he says. Czarnecki frequently asks his clients to picture wounded scenes in their life and describe their visions out loud. Through this openness, Czarnecki explains, clients can use sight as a strategy to visualize their struggles to help them move on.

Perfume, Personalized

Smell Walking into a smelly store and being bombarded with overly enthusiastic salespeople is the opposite of therapeutic. This is what sets Lincoln Park-based Aroma Workshop apart; here, customers sample and create scents on their own. “This is a creative experience,” says owner and Bucktown resident Tedd Neenan. “You go into a zone of sorts and you forget about whatever was on your mind before you came into the store.” After an hour of guidance, customers walk out with a customized perfume or essential oil made to soothe their stressed minds.

Sensory Deprivation

Wait, what? Imagine stripping down, climbing into a 10,000-gallon tank full of saltwater, floating for an hour in total darkness and perfect silence, all in the name of ... relaxation? If this sounds stressful rather than soothing to you, you're not alone. But for some people, sensory deprivation can be a way to stimulate the creative process. “We have a lot of artists who find that being in the tank helps them reach some areas that maybe they can’t reach just sitting at their desk,” says Gloria Morris, president and founder of Float Sixty in River North. The unique positioning of the body, buoyed and cushioned by the salt water, promotes physical relaxation, while the deprivation of sight and sound allows the mind to focus in new ways. ¡

Echo The Body Issue



A conversation on living with bipolar disorder Written by Tyra Bosnic & Brooke Pawling

What would it be like if we systematically silenced Wisconsin? Approximately 5.7 million people wouldn’t be able to talk about what it was like to live in their state. All those tales of cheese and silent pastures would go untold, replaced by insidious lies spread by outsiders. The rest of the country would always view the state through a lens of misconceptions, thinking of Wisconsinites as terrifying and “other.” Eventually, they would begin to believe these myths themselves and become too ashamed to discuss the issues that affect them. It sounds ridiculous, but a group of people comparable in number to residents of the dairy state already faces such stigma. Approximately 5.7 million adults in the U.S. are living with bipolar disorder, and many feel shamed into silence about their illness. It just so happens that two such adults are on Echo magazine’s staff. Although we have long wanted those around us to understand what we go


through with our illness, stigma has kept us from speaking about it. That’s a mistake, according to Alexa James, MSW, director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Chicago. “It’s much more impactful to hear from folks who have actually been on that journey,” she says. “In fact, that’s how you reduce stigma. You come out and you talk about it.” And so we talked about it. We compared our highs and lows, how we cope and how our experiences with bipolar disorder have shaped our lives. During our conversation, we noticed many similarities in our stories— and we discovered how empowering a candid conversation about mental illness can be.


We were both diagnosed after being admitted to psychiatric wards. Considering the ways people in inpatient facilities often are portrayed, getting admitted carries its own unique form of shame.

“There’s definitely a different level of stigma when we start to talk about more serious mental health conditions in which you would need inpatient to stabilize or get more comfortable with medication,” James says. Tyra: I was first diagnosed when I was 14. I started showing symptoms when I was about 11, and around the same time, I started exhibiting really self-destructive behavior. I was put into inpatient care at Lutheran General Hospital in the suburbs, and this one patient who was just about to be discharged was talking about his symptoms. He said something to the effect of, “It’s like there’s a tape recorder fast-forwarding and rewinding over and over again, and it’s never-ending.” For some reason, that resonated with me, and in the middle of him talking, I blurted, “That’s what I feel like.” At the time, the therapist I was seeing was in the room, and when she heard me say that, she pulled me aside and said, “Let’s go talk.” As

I was getting discharged from that psych ward, I got all my paperwork. It just said: “Bipolar Disorder Type I.” I didn’t get to process that while I was there—that came later. Brooke: I had a mental breakdown one night, now about five years ago, and I told one of my friends that I had pills hidden and I was going to kill myself. He called some of my other friends, and they took me on a drive to try and clear my head. They parked in this parking lot by my high school and said, “We need to take you to your parents and tell them what is going on with you. We can’t just let you do this.” I snapped, had a breakdown; the police were called. Six squad cars pulled up because they had no idea what was going on. It was traumatizing. They had to call my parents while I sat in the back of the squad car. I remember the police officer said, “Why are you wanting to kill yourself? You’re a pretty girl.” I remember looking at him like, “I don’t know, either.” My parents took me to the hospital that night, and the doctors gave me an MRI. I was discharged. The next morning, I told my mom I wasn’t going to go to school. She replied, “You’re going to school today unless you want to go back to the hospital.” I basically told her that I wanted to go to the in-

patient hospital. It was my decision in the end. I technically didn’t get diagnosed until weeks after my discharge when I started seeing a psychiatrist. I never got the verbal, “You have bipolar.”

myself, “I need to change everything about this. This is making me feel cluttered, anxious and I don’t like it.” And I’ll get up and move everything.

“People also don’t get that it’s not just mania. There’s hypomania, there are mixed states. Sometimes mania is good for you, especially after a long bout of depression.” “It’s a rejuvenation.” I, like you, just saw it on my papers and then got put on a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant.

Ups and downs

Mania is one of the major symptoms of bipolar disorder. James characterizes it as “high energy, euphoric mood systems where folks don’t necessarily feel like they need a lot of sleep.” Those in a manic state may also have racing thoughts, speak very quickly and act impulsively. B: I’ve changed the layout of my room four times. It’ll be 8 pm and I’ll think to

T: I took up so many hobbies when I was manic. Once I tried to make a painted collage, and it took up my entire room. I was working on it for days, and then my mood dropped. I had all this paint and paper and thought, “What do I do now?” B: For me, there are times I think I’m going to be the next bestselling author. Then I get several pages in while writing over a course of time and I’m like, “Screw this.” T: People also don’t get that it’s not just mania. There’s hypomania, there

Echo The Body Issue



are mixed states. Sometimes mania is good for you, especially after a long bout of depression. B: It’s a rejuvenation.


On top of social stigma, James says many people shame themselves. “They feel like a failure, even though we know that it’s a medical condition that’s super common,” James says.

T: It’s hard because I’ve already spent “There’s a lot of evidence to show five years of my life trying to navigate when our physical well-being declines, this, and there are still behaviors that I so can our mental well-being—and don’t want to go into. Especially when vice versa.” it comes to symptoms that are stigmatized like delusions, which I struggled T: My therapist puts a lot of emphasis with. I don’t talk about them because on mindfulness. She says, “It’s not a I’m ashamed of having had them. disorder that just lives in your brain. You feel it physically and it spreads, B: I spent a lot of my time being so we’re going to figure out the way ashamed of it. It seems so unfaththat it spreads and you’re going to omable to other people, so I’ll say I’m tell me.” If I feel certain emotions during sessions, she’ll ask me what that emotion is. If I can’t name it, she’ll say, “Okay, then describe it. Where do you feel it the most?” Just by making it tangible, I’ve learned to cope with it better.

“I started thinking about it like a really bad best friend who also knows how to have a good time. Sure, she might ruin your life, but she throws a killer party.” “When folks feel self-stigma, their likelihood of engaging in help-seeking behavior or engaging in treatment diminishes.”

anxious even if I’m manic. I can’t use the medical jargon of bipolar disorder with people because they don’t understand. They look at me like I’m weird.

T: When I first started getting bad, there was like a wave of unhealthy behavior I dealt with. There was substance abuse and self-harm, an eating disorder, and then mood swings.

T: At one time, I had gone through months of auditory hallucinations. It led to my hospitalization and then an outpatient program. I don’t think people understand that there is more to bipolar disorder than just mood swings—there are so many other parts that make it much worse.

B: I don’t think people realize how much nutrition and eating play a part in mental health. I wasn’t eating at all, either, and I was dropping weight. If you brought up my weight in therapy, I would shut it down and never go see that person again.



“Mental health is physical health. Your brain is one of the most important organs in your body,” James says.

B: Sometimes I have to force myself to be with people, to be present and in the moment. If I go home and I’m dissociating, I’m not going to get anything productive done. I stay really busy. That’s what keeps me semi-sane a lot of the time: constantly doing something.


We were both nervous about coming forward with our stories. As James says, being honest about having a mental illness can lead to unjust repercussions. “Coming out about your mental illness—you can’t unring that bell,” she says. “Once you share that, it’s hard to unshare it, and for some folks, there’s still a stigma that impacts them professionally and personally. It shouldn’t be, but it does.”

T: Bipolar disorder is never going to leave me, so I might as well start accepting those parts that can be good for me. I can’t even list the number of assignments that would never have been finished if it weren’t for hypomania. The thing I hate about bipolar disorder being stigmatized is that we’re not able to look at the nuances of it. We’re not able to talk about those little quirks in how we think or do things just because our disorder makes it that way. I’m not thinking violent or destructive thoughts; I’m just thinking differently. B: You have to get to a point where you accept and embrace it in order to move forward. The bottom line is that no matter if you understand it or not, you have to love yourself despite it. T: I started thinking about it like a really bad best friend who also knows how to have a good time. Sure, she might ruin your life, but she throws a killer party.

Looking to the future

“There’s this misconception that if you’re experiencing mania, you’re really happy and full of joy, but that’s not necessarily what’s going on,” James says. “You can be energized but still experience sadness.” This makes envisioning your future difficult; one minute your future looks bright, and the next it looks bleak. B: I’m worried because I’m about to end my college career and move on to this next chapter in my life. It’s scary

to me because I’m afraid that as soon as I turn over that new leaf that... T: It’s the fear that you’re going to start having suicidal thoughts. B: Exactly. Even though it’s hard to pinpoint what triggers it. When I had my first major breakdown, I was 16 and getting ready to end high school. I was afraid of losing my friends, of losing everything around me. It transformed into, “Well, if I lose myself first...” T: Having a frame of reference of what I was like before—to the point where I don’t know how I’m alive right now—it’s unfathomable to think that life is going to keep progressing. I’m functional, and I can’t wrap my head around continuing to be functional. My brain always goes to, “Well, you’re going to fall at some point.” B: You’ve gotten to this point—where else is there to go? It’s not even this need to die. It’s just this confusion of where I told myself I would be, so what happens now? T: It’s like living past your expiration date every day. ¡

Echo The Body Issue



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Stinkin’ Labels

Making sense of the stuff in your deodorant

Written by Amanda Kaplan

Illustrations by Zoë Haworth

On a hot summer day, after pumping iron at the gym, or before giving a speech—nervous sweating, it’s a thing— it’s understandable that you would put on some deodorant to help combat body odor. While the purpose of these products may be obvious, the labels are less clear. What are all of these ingredients really for? And how might they affect you beyond curbing your odor?

Echo read up on the latest research and chatted with Jenny Duranski, owner of Lena Rose Beauty in Chicago; Grace Soraparu, owner of Whole Love Organics in Naperville; and naturopathic doctor Shayna Peter, NMD of Chicago to learn more about common deodorant ingredients and how they affect our bodies. 

Drug Store



Arrowroot powder

No, this is not the shiny foil used to cover your leftovers. It’s a chemical that creates a barrier that prevents sweat from escaping your pores and causing pit stains. It’s what puts the “antiperspirant” in the product. At one point, it was suspected aluminum might contribute to cancer and even Alzheimer’s disease, but no causal connection has ever been proven.


This 18-letter word is just a fancy name for silicone. Despite its sci-fi sounding name, it’s perfectly safe for your skin, and its purpose is quite simple: It’s what makes stick deodorants easy to apply.


Peter warns that this preservative, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, has “estrogenic” effects, meaning it may interfere with your body’s hormone regulation. In small amounts, parabens may be harmless, but long-term use allows them to accumulate in the body, potentially increasing the risk of cancer.


Silica is found in almost all deodorants. It’s there to keep the product from caking. Talc is one type of silica that Peter warns against because of its potential contribution to lung cancer when inhaled.

This natural starch absorbs bacteria in your underarms, along with reducing wetness. It also helps the deodorant stick hold its form, binding the other ingredients together.

Candelilla wax

Made from the Candelilla shrub, this wax is a common base for natural deodorants, holding the ingredients together. It’s an alternative to beeswax in vegan products.

Aluminum-free baking soda

Baking soda neutralizes odors in your pits, just as it does in your refrigerator. However, it can cause a pH rash by rapidly changing the alkalinity of your skin. Fear not: If you still want to try out a non-toxic deodorant but have sensitive skin, Soraparu recommends purchasing a deodorant with bentonite clay in place of baking soda.

Essential oils

These make your deodorant smell good, and some also have antibacterial and antifungal properties. This is good because if there’s something you don’t want in your armpits, it’s stinky microorganisms. Soraparu warns that some people become smellier in reaction to certain essential oils, and recommends tea tree and lavender as great scents for first-time, non-toxic deodorant users.

Echo The Body Issue



START Do you want to start off slow?

With a partner

Have you used a sex toy before?





Yes please.

What’s the genital makeup of the couple?

How about bondage?

Not yet!


How adventurous are you feeling?



Nah, you right.

Would another vibe be that bad, though?

Not at all.


No thanks! Nah.

It’s okay! How do you feel about handcuffs?


Eh, medium.

Tie me up!

Never mind!


2 4


6 Whoa, you sure?

Are you using this sex toy...

Do you want to try it?

Do you already have way too many vibrators?

LOL yes!


Love ‘em. Sure!


Are you interested in penetrative sex? External!

I’m iffy... Mmhmm!


4 6

Are you feeling internal or external stimulation?

Being blindfolded: stressful or sexy?




Sex and the Windy City 020



Are you more into internal or external stimulation?


Ok, what are we working it?

Penis How subtle do you need your sex to be? Very!

Have you tried anal play before?



Is being penetrated your jam?

Nope, never. You know it!

No thanks.

Just a few.


Quickie! Does a hands-free experience sound good?


Mm, no. Sure!

Are you interested in trying it? Uh, no.



How interested are you in trying a new sensation?

12 How important is G-spot stimulation for you?


So you still have plenty of alone time...

Do you have your own room?



God yes!

10 8

I’m not sure...

Nope! No point.



You know it!

Are you more of an “all-nighter” or a “morning quickie?”

Yes please!

Got it, no worries. How many roomies we talking?

Did you enjoy it? No thanks!

Both, baby!


Super subtle.


Have you had a vibrator before?


No concern.

Oh yeah!


Not a priority.

Come on!


Screw it!

Just a little...



Written by Sadie Miller Illustrations by Jason Min

Sex is one of the most obvious connections we have to our bodies, but also one of the most complex, which is why it’s unsurprising that the sex toy industry is projected to bring in $20 billion in 2020.

Retailers like Amazon have taken away the awkwardness of having to stare down an aisle of dildos, but knowing where to start can still be tricky. So Echo did the dirty work for you. We talked with a sex therapist and two sex shop owners to find which toy you should try next.

Check the next page to see your results...

Echo The Body Issue



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13 022

Vibrating cock ring

This toy is a game-changer. While it gives pleasure to both partners, its main function is bringing clitoral stimulation into penetrative sex for an unforgettable experience.


Remote vibrator


Blindfold and cuffs

There are so many ways you could play with this toy, including internally or externally, for foreplay or intercourse and from the same room or across hundreds of miles. It’s up to you!

Vibrating butt plug

Whether you’re just discovering anal play or you’re a seasoned pro, you can’t go wrong with a classic, vibrating plug.

There’s nothing sexier than taking it slow. When your eyes are closed, your mind is free to focus on physical sensations, taking your intimacy to the next level.


If you’re up for an adventure, a strap-on is the way to go. Make sure you get a harness that fits well and can use multiple attachments —one for every mood that strikes you.


Cock sling

For those who are just dipping their toes in, a cock sling adds an extra dimension to intercourse. Restricting blood flow to the penis gives more powerful sensations in intercourse.

Rabbit vibrator

This bad boy hits all of your sweet spots. Equipped to stimulate both your G-spot and your clitoris, the rabbit will definitely be your new favorite weekend activity.


A sleeve

You can get masturbation sleeves in many different styles and textures. Do some online window shopping and find the one that's right for you!

Magic wand If you’re a beginner, you truly can’t go wrong with a magic wand. They come in tons of sizes and styles with various options for different speeds and sensations.


Anal beads


Suction dildo

Don’t be fooled; these are anything but basic. Big, small, vibrating, silicone, plastic, glass —the options are endless!

Suction simulator

This toy is here to change your life. Stimulating your clitoris with both vibration and suction simultaneously, the combo vibrator will ensure you never look at another vibrator again.

Curved dildo

Perfect for G-spot and prostate stimulation, this classic toy will not disappoint. ¡

You’re about to have the best shower ever. Simply stick this toy on any suction-friendly surface and you are ready to roll.

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Living in Limbo DACA recepients struggle with more than their legal status Written by Andrea Salcedo Photography by Moe Zoyari

Maria Valenzuela didn't realize what the term “undocumented” meant until 2014 when she began filling out college applications during her senior year at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. “Hey, dad, can you give me my green card or my Social Security number?” she asked. “Oh, mija, we don’t have that,” was her father's reply. “I ended up pairing it together," Valenzuela, now 21, recalls. “No documents. No papeles. Got it.” She is one of 36,100 Illinois recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, established in 2012 by former President Barack Obama. DACA does not provide a path to legal citizenship, but it allows immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to obtain a valid driver’s license, enroll in college and legally work. DACA was in place when Valenzuela was applying to colleges, but she still experienced challenges as a result of her legal status. Valenzuela and thousands of other DACA recipients are living in a legal limbo after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to end the program in early September 2017. Her permit is set to expire on August 10, 2018, and even though it now seems like it might be renewed, her anxieties remain.

A foreign experience

Valenzuela’s college application journey constantly reminded her she was not like her other classmates. She


got little help from her counselor, who wasn't familiar with how to handle the application process for a DACA recipient, and as the first in her family to attend college in the U.S., Valenzuela also had to guide her parents through college applications—a foreign concept to them. According to Roberto Gonzales, Ph.D., a professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, many high school teachers and counselors still don't know enough to adequately guide DACA beneficiaries and undocumented students through the college application process. “That's one of the first barriers for young people,” says Gonzales, who has conducted research on undocumented young adults and their experiences for the past 16 years. “There’s a status that’s going to benefit them, but many of the adults in their lives don’t know how to appropriately counsel them and don’t know the benefits that they do have. That’s a big issue.” Valenzuela applied to 10 colleges, including the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Indiana University, Claremont McKenna College and Vanderbilt University. Despite her near 4.0 GPA, her extracurricular activities and her Advanced Placement classes, Valenzuela received rejection letter after rejection letter. “It was one of the most discouraging things I’ve ever felt,” she says. “I thought, ‘I look great on paper! I don’t understand. I’ve done everything right. I’ve taken the cookie-cutter steps necessary to be this poster child of a high schooler,’ and nothing was working out for me.” Then, one Friday, as she was doing her homework with a friend at the library, Valenzuela received good news: she had been accepted to New

York University, the one college she had applied to on a whim. A day later, she received an acceptance letter from UIC, but she had already decided she would attend NYU in the fall, to pursue a degree in early childhood and special education. “It was because of this lack of knowledge, in terms of strategizing,” Valenzuela admits. “Which one would be the better choice financially and in the long run? That was what I didn't know. That was what I never received help on.” Moreover, she didn’t want to disappoint her parents. Valenzuela still recalls their words: “Es Nueva York! How can you not go?” But she wondered how her parents, a cashier and an independent cookware vendor, would help her pay NYU’s tuition. She had only been awarded $24,000 of financial aid. How would they come up with the rest of the tuition and living expenses? She didn’t know, but they assured her they would figure it out. Money is a common barrier for DACA students when pursuing higher education, according to Tanya Cabrera, chair of the Illinois Dream Fund. Many DACA recipients have to work a full- or part-time job to help cover their tuition and living expenses, she explains, which creates an extra burden for them. “It’s a daily hustle for them, and that’s traumatic itself,” Cabrera says. “Not allowing the body to rest, being under constant stress from academia and from everyday life, and not being able to do things that your fellow peers are doing—it’s hard. I don’t even know how they go to school with that much on their back.”

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Gonzales agrees. Because DACA recipients are not eligible for federal financial aid, federal loans or most state aid, they must make decisions about college with limited resources, Gonzales says. To this day, Valenzuela is not sure how her parents were able to make that kind of financial commitment. But they had pulled off remarkable feats before. When Valenzuela was 5, her parents left Sonora, Mexico, with her and her brother, who is also a DACA recipient, in search of a better life in the U.S. Her parents’ American Dream would be fully realized by her attending college, and she couldn't say no. “Es Nueva York, mija! You have to go,” they insisted. And so she did.

Feeling like an outsider

Valenzuela did not struggle to adapt to life in the U.S. after leaving Mexico. She quickly learned English and was the first one in her classroom to learn to count backwards from 100 to one. “All I knew was that this is not where I was from,” she recalls. “But I never really internalized it to the point where [I thought], ‘Wow, I’m an outcast,’ because I did feel welcomed. I was able to adapt to this community and make a lot of friends.” But things were different in New York. Although she attempted to immerse herself as much as possible in the campus culture, she felt like an outsider. She remembers watching other students with their parents on move-in day. The minivans were parked in a line as students and parents moved boxes and bags. She could hear the laughter outside of her dorm. Valenzuela’s parents could not travel by plane to drop her off at NYU or even visit her because they lacked passports or any other form of ID. Before classes started, Valenzuela participated in a two-week social justice community service program. During a workshop about intersectionalities and identities, participants were asked, “What are your bubbles and your social identities?” “I'm undocumented. I’m a DACA recipient,” she said. “I’m also a woman.” When the workshop ended, a young man approached her. “I don’t think you should tell people that you are undocumented, because that


“I ended up pairing it together. No documents. No papeles. Got it. That’s when it hit me.” -Maria Valenzuela might make them uncomfortable,” he told her. Valenzuela was angry, but no words came out of her mouth. She was too taken aback to utter a reply. The young man walked away. “And that’s when it started,” she says. “That was the very first time that [I thought], ‘OK, I need to take a step back and understand that I have to redefine what it means to be here.'”

Impostor syndrome

Despite the difficult first few weeks, Valenzuela enjoyed her first day of classes and focused on adapting to the campus and to New York City. She became interested in an honors study abroad program on human rights in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and enrolled in a prerequisite seminar. It wasn’t until a representative from NYU’s Global Affairs Office visited her class to brief the students on the required travel documents that she realized she would have to explain her DACA status and provide additional documents to travel abroad. DACA recipients are only allowed to travel abroad for educational, humanitarian or employment purposes, or extenuating circumstances such as a family death, so she qualified. “I needed to make a case for myself, because I already knew that I was the only [DACA recipient] in that class,” she says. Valenzuela went through with the advocacy efforts but found that none of them was fruitful. She sought alternative opportunities to go abroad, but instead found a domestic community service program in Bartlett, Tennessee. There, she worked in a residential home for children with emotional and behavioral issues during her spring break. When it comes to higher education, Gonzales says not all U.S. colleges and universities are ready to assist DACA beneficiaries once they get to campus. Some institutions

have resources available such as undocumented student centers, regular training sessions for faculty and staff, support groups for mental health and legal counsel. While Gonzales believes higher education institutions are making progress on establishing assistance mechanisms and policies for undocumented students and DACA beneficiaries, there is still room for improvement. “On some campuses, the numbers [of undocumented students and DACA recipients] are just very small. And when numbers are small that means that, often times, young people have to navigate a complex bureaucracy of higher education institutions by themselves,” Gonzalez says. To improve this, Cabrera believes all higher education institutions need to have an undocumented student advisor to provide access to an immigration lawyer and a mental health counselor who specifically works with immigrants. “Providing those resources is essential,” Cabrera says. “Institutions need to be prepared. We all need to be on the same page and provide the support." Valenzuela's seminar professor gave her a key piece of advice: “You need to advocate for yourself. You belong here.” Yet she continued to progressively feel more isolated. She rarely spoke Spanish. One of her roommates asked if she missed speaking “Mexican.” After she disclosed her DACA status, one classmate asked her, “Why don’t you just become a citizen? Can’t you just Google it?” Valenzuela not only missed her family and friends—she missed her culture. After winter break, Valenzuela was reluctant to return to New York, but her parents insisted. When classes began again, things deteriorated quickly. She couldn't find the energy or motivation to get up and attend classes. “It got to the point where I’d get to my dorm and start crying,” she recalls. “I locked myself in the bathroom. I would sit there and either read something online or try to do my homework because I didn't feel like I wanted to be seen by my roommates.” She was barely eating. The end of the semester was close, or so she told herself. Cabrera says the feelings Valenzuela was experiencing are not

Maria Valenzuela keeps a box of mementos from her year at NYU. (Photo courtsey of Maria Valenzuela)

“Not having devoted spaces for them or any professionals on campus that understand their experiences can be really difficult, traumatic and isolating.” -Roberto Gonzales, Ph.D. unusual. “If you don’t feel like you belong somewhere, then of course that’s going to impact your everyday life,” Cabrera explains. “Recognizing your worth is difficult when you live in a society that is constantly saying that you shouldn’t be here or you should go back home.” Often, Gonzales says, DACA recipients receive indirect messages while at college that remind them they don’t belong. “Not having devoted spaces for them or any professionals on campus that understand their experiences can be really difficult, traumatic and isolating,” Gonzales says.

The financial burden of attending NYU was also taking a toll on Valenzuela's mental health. Although she was enrolled in a monthly payment plan, her father had to ask for advances at his job to cover the tuition. Even so, they would usually miss the payment deadline and incur late fees. While Valenzuela was at NYU, her father lost his job, but she didn't find out about this until later. “If I had known that, it would not have made things any more bearable,” she says. At one point, she lay in bed, staring at NYU’s student portal, one click away from withdrawing. But the guilt flooded back. “You can't do this,” she told herself. “This is what you have worked for, for the past four years. You are in this space because you deserve to be in this space. Do not let the impostor syndrome get to you. Do not let this feeling of inferiority get you.” She closed her laptop and went for a walk. Then she applied to DePaul University in Chicago without telling her parents. “I powered through that last semester in a numbing way,” she says. “I completely shut everything out and did what I had to get through it.” Those are her last memories of NYU.

Downward spiral

When she came home to Chicago in the summer of 2016, Valenzuela knew she would not be returning to New York. “That was not a space I wanted to revisit,” she says. “I felt like I was the only one advocating for myself. I didn’t feel like I was strong enough to be this pioneer that my professor wanted me to be.” Valenzuela told her parents she was transferring to DePaul to study psychology with a concentration in community research. Her parents supported her decision, but she still struggled to adapt to life back home in Chicago. “I went from being at this prestigious university, a top student, taking six classes, being in four extracurricular clubs, being in the honors program and getting on the dean’s list to coming home, transferring [and] only taking two classes,” she says. Above all, she feared she had disappointed her parents. She had endured her time in New York on her own because she didn’t want to worry them, but now that she was home, it was as if her body and mind knew that it was OK to break down. She still owed about $12,000 to NYU. All of her high school sacrifices and effort felt like they had been in vain.

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That’s when the suicidal thoughts in the morning, eating disorders— started. Sometimes they happened what they were describing as depreswhile she was on the train commutsion. It became very clear to me that ing to class. Other times they came, there was a very strong link between uninvited, when she walked down the their undocumented status and their street or waited for the bus. well-being.” “It’d be easier to end things by runValenzuela took a job at DePaul’s ning in the middle of the street when research lab, assessing Latino Chicayou’re not supposed to, just letting it go Public Schools students and their happen like that,” she says. “As sad as parents for depression. That’s when it sounds, that’s honestly what would she realized she was exhibiting the cross my mind the majority of the same symptoms she was screening time.” She battled these thoughts at them for. “I felt like a hypocrite,” she least 10 times. It would take everysays. “That was the reality check thing inside of her to resist crossing that I needed to come to terms with a street while the light was still green. myself and seek out the assistance Sometimes, Valenzuela recalls, she that I needed.” would wrap her hand on a pole at an Valenzuela called DePaul’s intersection as tightly as she could to counseling center. During her therapy stop herself from fulfilling her urge. sessions, she confessed her suicidal This sounds all too familiar to urges, disclosed her DACA status Cabrera. A key part of her job involves and recounted what she had been communicating with DACA recipients through the year before. At first, the and listening to their struggles. sessions helped; she got out of the Even though Cabrera admits dark place she had been in. But someit's very draining to do this type of times she felt like she was educating work, she'll invest as much time as her therapist, a white woman, about she needs to support a student. “I’ll what it meant to be a DACA recipient. stay on the call for two hours, I will Valenzuela believes that speakgo visit a student, I’ll take kids to eat,” ing to someone who could connect Cabrera says. “It’s hard to see these with her, understand her experienckids suffer like this. It shouldn’t come es and provide coping strategies to this.” unique to her case would have helped Gonzales has also witnessed her more. the mental and physical health toll DACA beneficiaries often experience, something he was surprised to encounter early on during his research. “00Almost all of the young people I was talking to were describing physical and emotional manifestations of stress,” Gonzales explains. “Chronic headaches, toothaches, ulcers, sleep —Tanya Cabrera, chair of the Illinois Dream Fund problems, trouble getting out of bed

“It’s hard to see these kids suffer like this. It shouldn’t come to this.”

“Just because I’m ‘X’ doesn’t mean I’m ‘X’” This polaroid picture was taken during Valenzuela’s first semester at NYU. Valenzuela had signed up to be a mentor in a program that motivated low-income African-American girls to pursue a college education. During a workshop session focused on identities, all the mentors and middle-school girls were encouraged to answer the prompt: “Just because I’m ‘X,’ doesn’t mean I’m ‘X.’”

Valenzuela grabbed the marker and scribbled on the yellow poster: “Just because I’m undocumented and Mexican doesn’t mean that I am a criminal.” Valenzuela showed what she wrote to the other mentors and workshop participants. When everyone saw her message, the room was silent, Valenzuela recalls. The participants’ blank stares stung like bees. (Photo courtsey of Maria Valenzuela)


Finding new meaning

The summer of 2017, Valenzuela started working at her neighborhood’s community center in Albany Park as a school-age group worker for low-income children. She helps them with their homework, because most of their parents do not speak English. Finally, she felt she could use her firsthand experiences to relate to the kids and give back to the Latino community. “It’s this job that gives me so much happiness, and that was one of the very first things that helped the healing process for me,” she says. She still suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression, mostly triggered by the political uncertainty under the Trump administration and the unknown fate of DACA. But her previous mental health issues prepared her for this battle. “Some people might think, ‘Yes, this is the exact time when you’re supposed to be freaking out,’” she says. “But the only thing I can do is take things day by day.” She has come to terms with the fact that she cannot control her identity. Valenzuela is an immigrant, a DACA recipient and a Mexican woman. But she has about 700,000 other DACA recipients in the country fighting the same fight. “I’m not alone anymore,” she says. “I also have support in people who have everything to lose just as much as I do, and they’re just as vocal and angry about it.” ¡

Facing Forward “You should always love your blank canvas,” says Samantha Callender, a beauty and hair writer for Essence magazine's digital edition and an influencer under the Instagram handle @onyourcallender. "However you want to play with it is fine. If you want to fill in your brows, if you want to wear whatever—because at the end of the day, that can come off." What we've put on and taken off our personal canvasses changes with the times. Echo spoke with Rachel Weingarten, a beauty historian and faculty member at Parsons School of Design and former celebrity makeup artist, about the significance of some of the biggest trends in the last few decades.

Beauty trends come and go and come again Written by Brooke Pawling Illustrations by Sarah Trobee

Eyes Bright eyeshadow began as a beauty trend in the late 1970s and went into the club-kid era of the 1980s as an expression of exuberance, Weingarten says. Bright colors were found in clothing and makeup. In the 1950s, winged eyeliner emerged in movies and then was copied by “bad girls,” Weingarten says. Soon it was mainstream, with housewives adopting the modified wing. Other elaborate eyeliner work emerged after thin, felt-tipped applicators as well as cosmetic formulations and tutorials made them possible and accessible.

Mouth The exaggerated lip emerged when women began getting collagen and other lip injections to improve the look and volume of their lips. People like Angelina Jolie inspired others to copy the shape of her pouty mouth, and Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kits encouraged people to try to accomplish this without injections. “Not everyone looks good [with large lips],” Weingarten cautions. Dark lip liner with a light shade inside were trendy in the 1970s and 1980s, and by the 1990s, a harsh, brickbrown was popularized by companies like MAC Cosmetics offering heavily pigmented lip products to replace the drugstore brands of the previous decades. “Red [lipstick] never goes out of style,” Weingarten says. “You’re always going to see—generation after generation—red lips coming back in some form or another.”

Eyebrows Brooke Shields’ thick, unruly eyebrows were groundbreaking in the 1980s, Weingarten says, upending a long trend of keeping eyebrows thin. Today, a variety of eyebrow styles are in vogue, which Weingarten believes is a product of everything that has come before them. However, microblading is more of a result of our tattoo culture, Weingarten says. Thin, exaggerated eyebrows date back to the silent films of the 1920s, along with heart-shaped lips. At the time, they symbolized freedom from the days of corsets. “Historically, women were told only prostitutes wore makeup, or actresses, who were only a tiny wrung above,” Weingarten says. “Eyebrows have always been very political statements when it came to women.”

Cheeks Heavy-handed pink blush was trending in the 1980s, with popular musicians influencing the way people dressed in harsh, neon colors, which extended past just clothes and into makeup, according to Weingarten. Contouring was characteristic of Noir films in the 1940s and 1950s. “You look at it and you think, ‘Oh my God, these people had killer cheekbones,’” Weingarten says. Ever since, people have used makeup for contouring and highlighting their features. 

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Out of Touch Written by Tyra Bosnic

Photography by Moe Zoyari

What does love look like after sexual assault?

The #MeToo movement that swept through the nation in late 2017 uncovered decades of sexual abuse by powerful people. Politicians, artists, journalists, coaches and other influential men were finally being held accountable for their actions. The movement gave survivors a platform to come forward with their stories, but it didn’t resolve their trauma. They still struggle to process how their abusers affected seemingly every aspect of their lives, including their ability to experience loving relationships. Laurie Kahn, LCPC, founder and director of Womencare Counseling and Training Center in Evanston and author of Baffled by Love: Stories of the Lasting Impact of Childhood Trauma Inflicted by Loved Ones, says if an abuser manipulates a person into believing abuse is healthy and there are no witnesses to intervene, “they don’t have their own narrative.” Reclaiming that narrative is a challenge for anyone who has been abused, whether by a public figure or a private individual.


Confronting the abuse

Lauren Elizabeth Yarbrough lives with her spouse in Rogers Park. The walls are an inviting shade of yellow, complementing the dark bookshelves stuffed with, among other things, the Animorphs series. Near the entryway, a display commemorates the couple’s 2016 wedding. A kettle whistles on the stove as Yarbrough sets her extensive tea collection—including a tin with colorful birthday sprinkles mixed with dried leaves—on the kitchen table. She organizes a plate of cookies, readjusts a blanket draped on the couch and digs into a woven basket stuffed with spools of yarn. She took up knitting because it helps her sit still. A sign hanging above her small kitchen table reads “Coffee Makes You Queer.” Yarbrough jokes that she likes to talk about herself. But for a long time, there was one topic she couldn’t raise, even in therapy. “I’ve spent a lot of time devoting a lot of energy to not talking about trauma and making sure everything seems fine,” she says. Some survivors may suppress their trauma. According to Kahn, the weight of processing such a harmful experience as sexual violence “can be too much to bear when there’s no support,” and survivors often choose to avoid processing that discomfort. “People have a hard time acknowledging it when they’ve been isolated in it for a long time,” Kahn says. “It literally becomes unbearable for the psyche to fully metabolize it.” Yarbrough once considered only one event in her life an act of sexual abuse. When she was 8, an older boy coerced her into sexual acts when adults weren’t around. In college, she once again gave in to someone else’s desires at the expense of her own. “At the time, I was like, ‘Well, boys want sex, and you give it to them,’” she says. She regarded her own discomfort as normal.

Yarbrough’s family was conservative, so she kept the episode to herself. “There wasn’t a lot of air to get perspective,” Yarbrough says. “I figured this was what me having a boyfriend is.” Years after her abuse, Yarbrough has reflected on the environment that led to her silence, and she now sees that there was more inhibiting her than unsupportive parents or individual shame. There was a system that told her she had to be quiet. “I definitely place myself in a larger political context as a Black queer woman that other people expect to do their emotional labor, and as part of a tradition of women who feel that what they have to do is accept oppression, unfair situations and swallow it down and keep going,” she says. Paige Baker-Braxton, manager of the in.power* program at Howard Brown Health Center, says LGBTQ survivors of sexual violence don’t only struggle with the trauma of abuse, but also the discrimination they face from the other identities they carry. In.power* is an LGBTQ-specific sexual assault response program, and Baker-Braxton explains that in order for her and her team to administer adequate care for clients, they have to acknowledge the intersecting identities of survivors that make trauma more complicated. “A different approach to survivor-centered care with queer survivors is necessary by taking into consideration these complex histories of the individual, but also of the queer community,” Baker-Braxton says. “Then we can add in all the other identities that folks hold, because LGBTQ people are not just LGBTQ. They have housing statuses, disability statuses, racial and ethnic identities that also might leave them more susceptible to discrimination.” Yarbrough’s therapist has gently pushed her to evaluate the events in her life and how they have affected her, but she still struggles to accept the effects of her trauma. “I’m definitely at a functional place,” Yarbrough says. “I’m aware of my triggers, and they don’t incapacitate me when they come up, but my stability is at least partly crafted from denial.”

This has affected her relationship with her partner, despite both of their efforts. “I definitely felt a little bit like I was handing over a bomb,” she says, recounting how hard it was to talk with her partner about triggering events. Expressing vulnerability after experiencing trauma is difficult for many survivors when they have experienced a violation of their trust, Kahn says. They may have guarded themselves from feeling the same pain they did while abuse occurred, and opening up to a partner can often spark fear of ridicule or further abuse. “The vulnerability is often where some of the shame is, the fear that they are not lovable, or the fear that people will find them or their story repulsive,” Kahn says. But, she adds, vulnerability is not a weakness and can actually strengthen a relationship. “Vulnerability is what needs to connect in intimacy, too.” Yarbrough and her partner work together to achieve a comfortable vulnerability. They use an online tool called Yes/No/Maybe List to help communicate what is comfortable during sex. After nearly two years of marriage, they have made progress, but Yarbrough admits there is still a long way to go before vulnerability becomes natural.

Restoring identity

Mackenzie Newhouse came to Chicago from Springfield, Illinois. When she was living downstate, Newhouse barely left her home. She was consumed by the fear of seeing her abuser. When she was 15, Newhouse was in an abusive relationship with someone who later came out as a trans man but identified as a woman while they were dating. Her partner forced her to present as feminine and identify as lesbian during the relationship, which lasted more than a year. “I wasn’t comfortable putting myself in that space,” Newhouse says. “I wanted to think more fluidly and identify more fluidly, and I wasn’t allowed to.” Newhouse had become so accustomed to such controlling behavior that when the relationship ended, she wasn’t ready for independence. “Immediately, within a month or two, I was dating someone else,” Newhouse says. “I didn’t understand how to be by myself and I was just looking to attach to someone else. There was not a lot of intimacy [and] not a lot of communication [because] I didn’t fully own and understand what had been going on.“ Then Newhouse began to act out in dangerous ways, convincing herself she was simply a young teen having fun.

It is not uncommon for survivors to suppress their trauma. Echo The Body Issue



She turned to alcohol and sex to cope, not realizing the toll and safety in your own body before moving forward is it took on her emotional health—or that her behavior was critically important,” Baker-Braxton says. a response to her trauma. Along with having a better connection with herself, Denying trauma—or denying the harmful behaviors Newhouse has also found a healthy relationship with her that can manifest from trauma—often comes from lacking current girlfriend. “We have good communication, and the space needed to safely process a survivor’s expewe have a lot of respect for each other,” Newhouse says. riences. Without any room to fully understand the pain “There’s a lot of love and mutual desire for growth, both inflicted on them, many survivors are unable to tell when individually and together. It’s a good deal—a healthy deal.” something is unhealthy, Kahn says. Eventually, Newhouse took a vow of abstinence in an effort to reclaim agency over her body. But without Reading the statistics on sexual assault in the U.S. can access to therapy or friends to confide in, Newhouse was take a toll. processing her trauma on her own. She often sat in her • More than a quarter of women nationwide are survicar and spoke to herself, as if there were someone there vors of sexual assault, according to a February 2018 to listen and guide her through what she experienced. It study by Stop Street Harassment. was during these monologues that she started to put the • In seven out of 10 sexual assaults, the survivor knows pieces together. the person who assaulted them, according to the Rape, “Just in doing that, I had brought up a lot things that I Abuse & Incest National Network. Of those, a quarter hadn’t really thought about,” she says. “At times it would are committed by a current or former spouse or partner. make me upset, but afterwards, it felt healing. I felt like • Women who identify as part of the LGBTQ community I would come to an understanding about new things I face higher rates of intimate partner violence than their learned about myself and about what had happened.” straight counterparts, with more than 43 percent of Newhouse did what many survivors dread doing: She lesbian women and more than 60 percent of bisexual confronted uncomfortable thoughts and sought out stories women experiencing sexual assault, physical violence of other women who had been abused in queer relationships. and/or stalking, according to the a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Repairing the damage

“To heal, you have to, in some ways, experience discomfort.” —Laurie Kahn, LCPC

“For me, a big part of early processing was looking for stories that mirrored mine,” Newhouse says. “A lack of diversity means less mirrors.” An upsetting moment of self-discovery is often a stepping stone to recovery, according to Kahn. Although it can be difficult to dwell on such discomfort, survivors can leave those experiences with a newfound understanding of what their pain means and how to overcome it. “To heal, you have to experience discomfort,” Kahn says. “It’s going to be hard. Part of what we’re hoping is that people will collect new relational experiences that will be better than what they’ve known.” Newhouse stresses the importance of having a platform for different narratives of trauma that often go overlooked. Survivors may struggle to accept their experiences as valid if they aren’t similar to the ones most often represented, which tend to focus on straight, cisgender white women. It was this lack of representation that pushed Newhouse to tell her story, hoping she could help someone who needed to relate to it. Today, Newhouse is still discovering what being a queer woman means to her. She is now more comfortable trying on masculine clothing and exploring how she presents herself to the world. She calls her current experiences “a second coming-out.” Baker-Braxton says finding a healthy relationship with oneself is key in healing after trauma. “To learn how to be intimate with yourself and to gain trust in your own body


The numbers seem staggering, but for me, they come as no surprise. I know a number of people who have endured sexual abuse. I still struggle with feelings of anger at the perpetrators, and guilt and frustration about my limited ability to help. In 2017, one of my best friends, Joy Murdock, was assaulted twice by two different men. The first assault occurred when she was spending her spring break in Carbondale, Illinois, where she goes to school. That summer, she was assaulted again in Chicago. She spiraled into an intense depressive state and began having sex as a form of self-harm. “I didn’t have sex to enjoy myself,” Murdock says. “I just did it because I didn’t think I was going to amount to anything.” But she did tell me and our close friends about the assaults. There wasn’t much we were able to do, except for listen and express our horror. I am still overcome with guilt when I think back to that time in our friendship. I felt overwhelmed and incapacitated. It felt like an evil entity was targeting my loved ones, and I was consumed by a paralyzing fear of the world around me. I reached out to our other friends to try to calm my fears, seeking their help after they had already emotionally exhausted themselves trying to help Murdock. We tried to support one another and cope with our heavy hearts so that we could be there for her. We listened to her vent and process the assaults, and we asked her what she needed from us to make coping easier. “Friendships can be such a potentially reparative relationship, particularly if there’s some awareness of things that trigger them and people have the capacity to talk about them,” Kahn says. This is even true in subsequent romantic relationships, when something triggers reactions to a past abuse. “People have the capacity, if they hurt each other, to talk about it and make some repair.”

Murdock says our efforts helped her. “Everybody understood that it was going to take time for me to open back up,” she recalls. “They understood that I needed to be alone. They gave me the space that I needed, and they were there for me.” Today, she is carving out her path to recovery. Her former boyfriend offered to go with her to counseling when she was still too uncomfortable to process what happened to her. “I still have outbursts, and I still have flashbacks of it,” Murdock says. “I’m still recovering from it, but for the most part I would say that it’s not as bad as when it first happened. I’m still healing.” As I watch her recover, that evil entity I felt looming over us suddenly feels like it is retreating in the face of the resilience of all the survivors I know who are committed to healing. Their definitions of love had been badly warped by people they thought they could trust, but they have resolved to find its true meaning again: a love built on personal agency, communication and genuine care for those they share it with. 

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6/7/18 1:54 PM

Saving Your Skin Whether you’re a seasoned Chicagoan or a fresh-faced transplant, you know the Windy City's weather can be hard on your body—especially your skin. Echo spoke to arctic adventure guide Eric Lillstrom, assistant director and guide at PolarExplorers, to find out how to protect your body's largest organ against the assaults of a Chicago winter.

Advice from an arctic explorer on weathering winter Written by Sadie Miller Illustrations by Ana Ojeda

Cover up If part of your body is exposed, do whatever you can to cover it. "Face masks, goggles, nose covers—there's all sorts of things," Lillstrom says. Covering your face and extremities is the first line of defense against wind, cold and sun. While you may feel—and look—ridiculous walking the streets bundled up like a mummy in the winter, your skin will thank you.

Learn to layer

Wear sunglasses

Layering sounds simple enough, but don't overdo it. Excessive layering can make you overheat and sweat, Lillstrom says. When the sweat freezes, you'll be even colder. If you're too hot before you even step out the door, stop and take off one of those sweaters.

They're not just for summer. "At the South Pole, you are always wearing glasses when you're outside," Lillstrom says. "It's partially for the wind, but it's more for the sun." Looking at the snow without eye protection can cause cornea damage. So don't pack your sunnies away when fall comes around; keep them out and ready for that first snow.

Block UV rays No, your chapstick doesn't count. Lillstrom recommends a heavy-duty sunscreen to save your skin from windburn, dryness and sun damage. And not just in the summer. The sun is closest to the Earth in early January, which means any exposed skin needs protection. ¡

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Finding Family Online genealogy groups help people crowdsource their genetic connections Written by Jonathon Sadowski

When Bruce Vicker found out at age 17 that he was adopted, he had questions he couldn’t find the answers to. He had no idea who his birth family was and no way of finding out. Vicker, now a 55-year-old defense contractor in Virginia, has finally been united with his two biological sisters, and he owes it to a group of more than 87,000 strangers. In the confines of a niche Facebook group called DNA Detectives, thousands of people post photos and swap historical records in a sort of genealogical bazaar, all with a common purpose: to understand what makes them, them. The group exists primarily as a way for people who were adopted to find their birth families.


Members post results from DNA test kits, such as 23andMe or AncestryDNA, and others in the group help them in their genealogical search. Two days after Vicker posted in DNA Detectives, a member connected him with his birth family. A week later, Vicker made contact with his birth sisters. He met them for the first time in March 2018, and they spent a couple of days getting to know each other. The connection was instantaneous. “We started talking like we’d been brothers and sisters forever,” Vicker says. His odds of finding his birth family without the group member’s help? “Not a chance,” he says.

“We started talking like we’d been brothers and sisters forever.” —Bruce Vicker

DNA Detectives has united countless people with their birth families since it was founded in 2015 by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore. “When I have the time to stop and actually read through some of those [success stories], I’m often brought to tears,” Moore says. Other genealogy groups fill in larger gaps by acting as research swaps for people working to create their family trees. “Ancestry will only take you so far,” says Steven Wright, a regular contributor to Chicago Genealogy, one of these groups. “It just depends on who you’re searching for.”

Chicago Genealogy, with more than 2,400 members, is more personal and local than a general website like When someone asks a question in any of these genealogy groups, people —not a website’s faceless algorithm —spring into action, providing records or advice on how to find information. “In this group, we seem to have two types of people,” says Cyndy Richardson, founder of Chicago Genealogy. “There are the regulars who probably visit every day, have it bookmarked and answer questions regularly. And then there are the people who join because they have a specific question, and once they’ve got it answered, they’re probably unlikely to come back.” The genealogical community is generally helpful and supportive,

Richardson says. For example, Wright, who has been involved in genealogy for 16 years and owns a business called Joliet Genealogy, does free record searches at the Cook County Courthouse for Chicago Genealogy members once a month. “I enjoy helping people find that one piece of paper that may be the missing piece for them,” Wright says. “It’s genealogy karma. If you help one person somewhere, you get your help somewhere else.” These online genealogy groups are constantly growing. Richardson says she approves two or three new Chicago Genealogy members every day. After a success story, Moore makes media appearances and DNA Detectives’ membership jumps, sometimes by 1,000 members. Vicker says his search is not over. He is currently looking for his biological father. After consulting with DNA Detectives members, he found a new lead to follow.¡

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skin deep Traditional Filipino tattoos go beyond artistry Written by Talia Wright Illustrations by Sarah Graf

The Batok ritual starts with ancestral chants, traditional dishes and prayers, which are all tailored to the recipient's personality and heritage. Afterward, Lane Wilcken, one of the only practicing Mambabatok (a traditional Filipino tattoo artist) in the U.S., decides what he is going to permanently etch onto someone's body. Wilcken prepares his tools: a handled wooden stick and a needle made of either bone or thorn. His assistants stretch the skin taut, and Wilcken carefully applies the ink. He begins by lightly hitting the stick, allowing the needle to repeatedly pierce the skin, reminiscent of a sewing machine. When Wilcken is finished, the person will walk away with a Batok—a visually stunning, traditional Filipino tattoo. Wilcken never thought he would become a Mambabatok. He spent nearly three decades independently studying the ancient history of the Philippines. Then his father was diagnosed with cancer, and he asked Wilcken to tattoo radiation targets on his body rather than having them done at the hospital.


“He came from the oncologist and said, ‘Lane, I don't want a machine I don't know touching my body. You've been studying tattoos all these years; I want you to tattoo me,’” Wilcken says. “And I couldn't say no to my dying father.” Once the word got out about Wilcken's tattoo experience, his friends started approaching him, asking him to give them Batoks. From there, it became a whirlwind of requests. “Filipinos love to gossip,” Wilcken laughs. “Everything went crazy after that, and I was just thrown to the wolves.” Wilcken now lives in Las Vegas, though he frequently visits Chicago to tattoo clients and work with the Field Museum of Natural History on its research collection on the Philippines. The museum currently houses more than 10,000 Filipino artifacts. Research, he says, is one of the most important parts of Batok tattoos. To become a practitioner, you must know the history and the lore. “Everything about that one aspect of the culture is reflective of the entirety of the ancient culture,” Wilcken says. “For example, Hawaiian design might be pointed up rather than down or sideways. Those nuances create the literacy for the tattooing motifs. To understand what those designs mean, you have to understand the culture they come from.”

“It felt normal. I felt like this has been under my skin all along, and now it's been brought out.” —RV Mendoza

Sometimes, Wilcken has to say no to requests. When people request placements or designs and aren't open to the Batok process, he refers them to a tattoo artist instead. Or when people come to him wanting a tattoo simply because they're proud to be Filipino, Wilcken tells them it's not about nationalism and gives them some readings, encouraging them to become informed about what a Batok tattoo means. “The tattoos are the physical expression of who we once were,” says Bernard Ruño, spokesperson for the Midwestern chapter of the Filipino tribe Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon (Mark of the Four Waves). “But it's also a way for the Filipino diaspora—especially those who are removed from the motherland—to acknowledge and reconnect with our culture. We have a deep desire to reconnect with our culture, and tattoos are the physical manifestation of it.” RV Mendoza, a Detroit-based disco songwriter and performer, is one of Wilcken's recent recipients. For him, the most important aspect of the process was feeling that his identity as a queer man and as a Filipino immigrant was incorporated into his Batok. Wilcken worked with Mendoza to celebrate his ancestors and strengthen him. The designs were aimed to protect him as a queer man. Wilcken was inspired by Mendoza's ancestors, etching those parts of his identity into the patterns of the Batok. “I was very thankful that Manong Lane was so reverent to the process,” Mendoza says, using a Filipino honorific to show his respect for Wilcken. “Not just acknowledging my identity, but celebrating it. Honoring queerness is honoring our ancestors.”

Mendoza's tattoo is on his right outer calf, honoring his mother's Tagalog heritage. He says Wilcken also gifted him with Illocano patterns, which have spiritual meanings. Mendoza's Batok includes water and weaving patterns for strength and navigation. Mendoza says he is reminded to connect with his ancestors through his Batok. To achieve these powerful, personal results, Wilcken meditates and prays to get a sense of what the recipient needs. It's believed that the ancestors communicate to the Mambabatok what designs should be tattooed on that person’s body. “If I meet a person and they want to be tattooed, I have to know their specific ethnic background,” Wilcken says. “Then once I know that, there is a pallet of designs I can choose from. Through meditation and prayer, I discern what designs are appropriate for that person to receive.” Wilcken’s favorite thing about being a Mambabatok is seeing the transformation that happens to people after receiving their tattoos. “I like seeing how at the beginning of the process they’re one person, and when they emerge from it they’re a different person,” he says. “It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.” After receiving his first Batok, Mendoza says he felt a sense of peacefulness. It just felt like it was part of him— like it had always been a part of him. “It felt normal,” Mendoza says. “I felt like this has been under my skin all along, and now it's been brought out.” ¡

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Wheel of




Female rideshare drivers take a chance every time they accept a fare Written by Andrea Salcedo Illustrations by Cecsily Bianchi

On a snowy, chilly February afternoon, Breanna Ruiz stopped her boxy red and white car outside of an Evanston coffee shop. She was dressed for comfort in her turquoise winter fleece. A high ponytail kept her curly, scarlet hair from falling over her face, which was bare, save for a hint of black eyeshadow and liner, and a silver piercing in her right ear. “I try to dress pretty casual and give men absolutely no foothold that makes me attractive to them,” she says. “It’s unfortunate that anybody would have to go to that extent just because of safety, but I’m pretty used to it now.” Ruiz, 24, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, signed up to be a Lyft driver in May 2017, drawn by the autonomy of a part-time job that she set the schedule for. But during her first week driving, she realized the work was riskier than anticipated. “You’re taking a chance every time you pick somebody up,” Ruiz says. “You don’t know who that person is.” The first time she felt threatened, Ruiz was working a late shift hoping to make good money serving the bar crowd. She now admits that wasn’t the best idea. Ruiz picked up two clearly intoxicated men. One of them claimed he had lost his wallet and needed to make an extra stop. This wasn’t unusual. Lyft and Uber allow riders to request stops at multiple locations as long as they aren’t sharing the ride with other customers. But Ruiz had a bad feeling about it, which was confirmed when she reached the destination: an empty truck lot, swallowed by late-night darkness. “As soon as I saw it,



I pulled right back out. I said, ‘I’m not taking you here,’” she says. The man insisted that his wallet was all the way in the back of the abandoned lot and that Ruiz should drive him there. He was right next to her in the passenger seat and his friend was in the back seat. She refused and told them to get out of her car. “He felt a little offended when I told him and his friend to get out of my car, but I didn’t care,” Ruiz says. “I didn’t want to be a part of a crazy news story because I didn’t trust my gut instinct.” Ruiz is a 4.9-star driver, but she doesn’t care if her passengers give her low ratings for how she reacts in risky situations. If she feels threatened, she will not hesitate to ask them to exit her vehicle. Her safety comes first. Lyft driver Amy Valenzuela, 30, says passengers aren’t the only safety threat. “One of the downsides with Lyft is that I can pick up somebody in a decent neighborhood, but you don’t know where you’re taking them until you’ve picked up the rider,” Valenzuela says. Uber doesn’t inform drivers of their destinations, either. One night on her way to pick up a passenger, Valenzuela ended up in a “sketchy” neighborhood. She could feel the stares of strangers walking past her car, silently telling her she didn’t belong there. “To me, it didn’t feel safe being a woman,” Valenzuela recalls. “The whole time, I was anxious. My heart was pounding.” Valenzuela says she felt so uncomfortable that once she completed the trip, she turned off the Lyft app and didn’t drive anyone else that night. After that incident, she tries to only drive during the day.




Women behind the wheel




In the U.S. and Canada, 35.7 percent of Uber’s total workforce is female; for Lyft, that number is 42 percent. However, these numbers are not specifically drivers. Neither company provides its U.S. driver demographics. According to a 2016 poll in TIME magazine, nearly one in three new Uber drivers in the U.S. was female; a 2015 Benenson Strategy Group study commissioned by Uber found that 13.8 percent of Uber drivers were female; an article published by Forbes magazine in 2015 found that 30 percent of Lyft’s drivers were women. When I started reporting this story, my instinct told me these women would share one main issue with me: sexual harassment from passengers. I also thought most of them would share they were wary of male passengers and felt like they had to carry extra protection with them. But my instinct, prompted by the rise of the #MeToo movement, proved wrong. During the course of several weeks, I spoke with eight women who drive for Uber and Lyft. Ride after ride, my theory was debunked. These women did not feel more threatened while driving because they were female. Although some of them had experienced rides where male passengers made them feel uncomfortable, they didn’t seem to view their gender as a disadvantage. Most of them thought driving for Uber or Lyft is as dangerous for men as it is for women. Some avoided certain neighborhoods or driving at night. Others felt comfortable driving at night but avoided carpool rides because they didn’t feel in control. One driver was even attacked by a woman as she took a smoke break outside a bar.

“You’re taking a chance every time you pick somebody up. You don’t know who that person is.” —Breanna Ruiz, Lyft driver I learned the safety precautions all of them had adopted after a couple of threatening rides—whether that meant carrying pepper spray or a pocket knife, or learning self-defense—had nothing to do with their gender but rather the nature of their job: ferrying strangers in enclosed spaces. Rideshare companies acknowledge there is potential for danger in these situations. In fact, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced in mid-April 2018 the addition of a 911 emergency button within the app for riders. But no such button exists for drivers. Uber drivers can use the relatively new “Driver Share My Ride” feature, which allows them to share their location with their phone contacts, says Kayla Whaling, a safety communications representative for Uber. “We strive to provide safety for everyone using the Uber app," Whaling says. “That includes riders and drivers.” Lyft provides a two-way rating system; drivers who rate a passenger with three or fewer stars are not matched with them again. Both companies have incident response lines, though they tell drivers to call 911 first. Whaling says Uber also has a safety advisory board that shares safety tips with drivers to keep them secure


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behind the wheel and a 24/7 team dedicated to monitoring trips. “No trip is anonymous,” she says. “We know who’s the rider and who’s the driver. If something is reported or if somebody ever felt unsafe, we can block the matching so that those two are not paired up again.” Lyft did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A safety plan

Megan Steel, 33, has logged more than 1,000 rides for Uber and Lyft. She once used her self-defense skills to immobilize a passenger who threatened her safety. “I encourage other female drivers to go out and get selfdefense training,” she says. “It’ll be your best tool.” But has this extra skill prevented Steel from experiencing rides in which she felt uncomfortable or in danger? Not really. One night, during her second week as a driver, Steel picked up a man from a bar in Winnetka. The man, who was intoxicated, repeatedly called Steel “baby” as she drove him to his destination. “The name is Megan,” she told him. “Please address me accordingly.” But he ignored her, continuing to ask, “Aren’t you scared driving for Uber, baby?” “He just kept calling me that over and over,” Steel adds. “Probably 10 to 15 times in a 20-minute drive.” She threatened to stop the car if the behavior continued and he apologized and promised not to do it again. But 30 seconds later, he uttered the word once more and attempted to grab her shoulders. “When he kept getting closer and closer, I was watching him through my rearview mirror,” she says. That’s when Steel stopped the car, turned around and grabbed the man’s face. She pressed her thumb as hard as she could against the back of his ears, got him out of the car, maced him and waited for the police to arrive, which took just a couple of minutes. Ruiz has a different approach. She doesn’t drive after 10 or 11 p.m. and stays close to the airports, hoping to



mostly pick up airline passengers who have gone through security and are therefore unlikely to be carrying something that could hurt her. If she feels uncomfortable, she doesn’t hesitate to cancel a ride and demand the passenger exit her vehicle. Ultimately, she says, it’s her car and she has the right to ask the passenger to get out. She advises other female rideshare drivers to immediately call 911 if this command isn’t followed. If the passenger is acting “crazy,” she says, park your car, take your keys and phone with you and wait for the police nearby. “Your car can come and go,” Ruiz says. “But your life, you only get one of those.” Other female drivers who spoke on condition of anonymity carry knives, pepper spray and other weapons for

“I don’t think women should shy away from [being a rideshare driver]. Just understand what they’re getting into.” — Amy Valenzuela, Lyft Driver protection. During one ride, a driver raised her hand to the well-made bun on top of her head and pulled out a metal hair pin as sharp as a small kitchen knife. It could severely injure someone, which was exactly what she would do in an emergency, she says. Another woman carries a butterfly knife. “It’s so I can hit somebody or crack a window, or somebody’s face,” she says, gesturing as she placed the knife against her car’s window. She, as well as other drivers I spoke to, also carry pepper spray at all times.






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Both Uber and Lyft prohibit drivers and riders from carrying firearms while using the apps. Uber does not specify its policy on other objects, such as pepper spray and knives, while Lyft forbids carrying anything that could be considered a weapon. “There are many items that could be considered weapons besides firearms, such as handguns, stun guns, explosives, knives, sling shots and tasers,” the company’s policy reads. “Lyft reserves sole judgment on what else may constitute a ‘weapon.’” Valenzuela, who does not carry pepper spray or any other weapons, relies on her instincts to protect herself when driving. She checks the rearview mirror frequently and uses conversation to assess the risk. “If it’s nighttime and I pick up a male rider, I try to engage with them to make sure that I don’t feel uncomfortable because you just never know,” she says.


Room for Improvement

What can Lyft and Uber do better to protect drivers? Ruiz would like Lyft to provide 24/7 cameras inside vehicles. “They’ve treated me really well,” Ruiz says. “But they know the safety issues and they’ve received a lot of backlash because of things that have happened. They could definitely do much better for their people and the company if they offered that.” But she is not waiting for that to happen. She has had enough bad experiences that she is looking for another job. If Valenzuela could improve anything about driving for Lyft, she would allow the mobile app to alert drivers where their passengers are headed before picking them up. Whaling says doing so would allow racial profiling. Valenzuela encourages other women to drive for Lyft, but emphasizes the importance of knowing both the good and the bad the job involves before starting. “I don’t think women should shy away from [being a rideshare driver],” she says. “Just understand what they’re getting into.” 



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Assessing Access An online resource helps people with disabilities enjoy the Windy City Written by Sadie Miller Illustrations by Denise Wong

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is 28 years old. That's older than most of Echo’s staff, and it means we were born into a world where curb cuts and access elevators are commonplace. But that doesn’t mean they’re ubiquitous. Almost 12.6 percent of Americans have a disability, and there’s often a laundry list of things they have to look for when planning a trip, whether it’s going to a new restaurant or exploring a new city. Is the destination going to have an accessible entrance? Will there be services and resources for individuals with vision or hearing loss? What are the transportation options? Even in the digital age, tracking down these answers can be difficult and time-consuming. This is where Open Doors Organization, an accessibility advocacy group, comes in. “The most important tool that a person with a disability requires is information,” says Constantine “Gus” Zografopoulos, a wheelchair user and international disability advocate who


serves as an advisor to Open Doors. “When they have information, then they know what they can or cannot do.” Based on this need for knowledge, Open Doors developed Easy Access Chicago, an online accessibility guide. The website aggregates information on the accessibility of restaurants, hotels and various other destinations throughout the city. “What we actually did was hire individuals with disabilities that would partake and be part of this access guide,” Zografopoulos explains. “We would do a site inspection, but we were looking at it from the eyes of someone with a disability.” When Open Doors evaluates a site, they look at two main aspects of accessibility: language and design. “With language, you've got a staff who knows disability etiquette and knows how to talk to somebody [with a disability],” says Katy O’Reilly, program manager for Open Doors. But talking can only go so far. A space has to be physically accessible, which is where design comes in. “The

ADA says that a doorway has to be however many inches wide so that a wheelchair could fit in,” O’Reilly says. “Architects can make a box the right dimensions, but then when somebody comes in and makes the design look good, it’s not always usable for everyone.” She gives a common example: a bathroom may have an accessible stall, but the sinks and paper towels are all out of reach of a wheelchair user. “All over the world, people would say, ‘Oh, that place is accessible,’” Zografopoulos says. “Yet you’d show up to a restaurant, and you’re like, ‘What were they referring to? What are these people talking about? This isn’t accessible.’” Based on Zografopoulos’s experiences in other cities, like London and Athens, Chicago is “absolutely the frontrunner when it comes to access,” he says. And he hopes it can be a model for other places. “I imagine Chicago as being a leader always open to ideas that will make access better. Chicago is one of the most forward-thinking, proactive cities I know.” 


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When Drama Meets Trauma An ensemble shines the spotlight on mental health issues Written by Madeline McQuillan Photography by Heather Monks

The house lights dim and the small talk fades as the stage lights illuminate the Latino Cultural Center of Chicago. Micah Figueroa wears a gray button-down shirt and takes center stage. He starts by telling the audiece about his drinking habit, explaining that inebriation allows him to avoid dealing with certain aspects of himself or the shameful things he has done, such as sleeping with another man. He chokes on and stumbles over his words as he recounts hitting rock bottom. As he recalls the process of piecing himself back together, he begins to sniffle and fight back tears. Although this is a true story, it is not actually about him at all; he is performing the story of another man: Julio, a gay man of color who is watching his performance. Erasing the Distance is an organization that puts a therapeutic spin on how people see and experience the theatre. Its plays address the truths


people experience, including emotional trauma and mental illness. Brighid O’Shaughnessy, the founder of Erasing the Distance, created the program to enable people living with mental illness to tell their stories without fear of judgment. In 2005, O’Shaughnessy conceived a program where participants share their personal narratives with actors. Then the actors transform their stories into performative monologues. Volunteer story collectors transcribe the interviews and create the monologue using the participants’ language. Heather Bodie, the artistic director of Erasing the Distance, says the transcription process is gruelling. But the real challenge comes when the story collectors have to condense what could be a 30-page interview into a two-page monologue. To ensure this, the story collectors undergo extensive training in order to gain an understanding of the potential impact of their work and, most im-

portantly, responsible and respectful story collecting. “That’s the hardest part, because everything on those pages is that person’s truth,” she says. “It’s their experience.” Erasing the Distance also uses the guidance of the Clinical Company, a team of mental health professionals. While the actors in Erasing the Distance are not licensed clinicians, they try to bridge the gap between education and support by partnering with those who are. “[A social worker] is assigned to every production that we work on and then works with that actor to make sure they have a full understanding of the different representation in mental health issues appearing in the piece,” Bodie says. Members of the Clinical Company attend the performances and conduct discussions after the shows with the actors. The group helps others find professional help by providing resources.

“Everything on those pages is that person’s truth. It’s their experience.” —Heather Bodie

Part of this training includes understanding the participants’ perspective by having the story collectors switch roles and share something about their journeys with other ensemble members. “I felt like another human being understood me in a way that was more direct than just listening to me,” story collector Brenda Barrie says. “’My best friend, Jenny, was addicted to meth.’ I heard somebody across from me saying that, and her own eyes could well up with tears because she knew the heart that I carry with that.” At Erasing the Distance, the person sharing the story is in control at all times. At any point, they can

change what is included in the story. They are granted absolute anonymity, and consent is confirmed three times throughout the process. “After a few days of reflection, they can say, ’I shared that story about my mother, but I’d like to leave that part out,’” Bodie says. Some participants find healing before the show even begins. Erasing the Distance has had participants come in, share their stories and leave satisfied, not even needing to attend a performance. Others, however, come to every show with an entourage of family and friends. “That is a part of their healing process,” Barrie says. “Owning where

they are, where they’ve been and how far they’ve come.” One of Barrie’s favourite parts of the shows is when audiences come in expecting a lecture on mental health but leave having experienced so much more because the raw and visceral performances shed light on internal struggles so many face. “You’re not doing a dramatic monologue up there. You’re not doing Hamlet,” Barrie says. “We’re just up there trying to share in the most honest way possible; people are deeply moved.” ¡

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Greening up a Food Desert Englewood residents look for a future with better food options

Written by Talia Wright Illustrations by Denise Wong

Every corner store on 66th Street seems to have its own specialty. One sells cigarettes, frozen pizza and “meat packs.” Another sells snack foods to flocks of neighborhood kids. A third mainly sells pre-made sandwiches. Cordell Longstreath, 29, relies on three corner stores, as well as an Aldi, when he shops for groceries. Still, he sometimes struggles to find enough fresh produce and other healthy foods. Englewood, on Chicago’s Southwest Side, remains a food desert because of an imbalance of food available to residents. They have lots of access to convenience foods high in sugar, fat and salt, but not much access to produce and other foods that support a healthy diet. “It has to give consumers the ability to choose the kind of foods that most regularly support not only the quality of life but length of life,” explains Mari Gallagher, principal of the Mari Gallagher Research & Consulting Group, which


popularized the term “food desert” in 2006 in its studies on food insecurity. Since then, everyone—from advocates to the U.S. Department of Agriculture—has adopted the term. However, the Gallagher Group’s definition and research methods differ from those of the USDA, which limits food deserts to low-income census tracts where at least 33 percent of residents live more than one mile away from the nearest supermarket. Gallagher argues this method doesn’t take into account other factors, such as race, social class, education level and convenience. Plus, she says, there’s no appropriate distance for a grocery store. “We don’t want to assume that just because people are not in extreme poverty, that living very far from healthy food doesn’t have an impact,” Gallagher says. “We always investigate each time if there’s an impact.” The Gallagher Group calls this the “convenience food factor.” Simply put, it means that people choose foods

from shops that are closest to them, even though they might desire or require healthier foods from further away, and are also affected by the cost of food and their comfort at the store. Those choices add up, which helps explain why the opening of a Whole Foods Market in Englewood hasn’t stopped it from being a food desert.

Shopping around

Longstreath and his sister live in a two-flat with two roommates each. All six typically eat together, so Longstreath says they try to go shopping collectively. “Upstairs they go big shopping, like fill up a fridge, probably twice a month, and [my roommates and I] go about once a month,” he says. One February afternoon, Longstreath and one of his roommates, Jerry Winn, are preparing to go on one of their smaller shopping trips just around the block to a couple of corner stores. Before going out, Longstreath runs upstairs to his sister’s apartment to see if they need anything, and Winn checks the freezer to make sure they have enough space. Then they put on heavy coats and scarves, and brace for the biting winter chill. Despite the fact that corner stores are, quite literally, around the corner, the wind is unforgiving today, and neither of them wants to chance getting sick. Longstreath says it’s been worse; when they go to Aldi, it’s a 20-minute walk. “We’re not always game to go [to Aldi] in the winter. The winter sucks—it shows you the limit of all this aspiration I’m trying to show,” he says. Often, especially in bitterly cold temperatures, the roommates will put off grocery shopping until there’s only rice and some leftover meat in the house. “The winter becomes like, ’Ok, going to the store is serious business and it must be done.’” Right now, however, Longstreath and Winn only walk about five minutes away. Their block is cold and quiet. The houses, gray and solemn, stand in one long row. They approach their destination: M&S Foods. The building is brown and squat with brightly colored signs that boast package deals on meat and display

simple illustrations of bananas, bread and milk. The door is covered with a barrage of signs. One advertises that the store accept Link cards, Illinois’ supplemental nutrition assistance program; another proclaims, in bright red and green letters, that the store has “Fresh Meats & Vegetables”; the third, “Open 7 days.” Today, however, the store is closed. Longstreath doesn’t know why, but he says they usually go to M&S Foods for small things. He’s partial to their cheese and likes a specific brand of energy drinks they carry, but their bacon is poor quality. Neither Longstreath nor Winn seem inconvenienced by the unexpected closure. Before going to their next stop, Morgan Mini Mart, Longstreath offers a warning: “It’s weird because you’ll see a lot of people, and you’ll think that something’s going on, but no, [the owner] employs his family and [community members].” He is right. Morgan Mini Mart is small and lively. People stand around the entrance of the store, socializing and picking up lottery tickets. They chat with the owner, who Longstreath says is an important member of the community. He joins in the camaraderie, joking and treating them all like family. The store’s aisles are narrow and packed, but Longstreath and Winn navigate them with expert agility. At the end of the aisles, the store opens up to reveal a gem hiding in the very back: a meat counter. The yellow signs behind the counter advertise “meat packs” for prices that range from $20 to $50. Longstreath opts for one with wings, legs, neck bones, pork chops, ground beef, ham hocks, pork steak, bacon, pot roast, loaves of bread and a pound of potatoes for $39.95. “If you don’t get a meat pack from a shop here, you’re going to be wasting your money,” he says. With a meat pack like this, they’re set for the month. Several corner stores on the South Side have hidden meat counters like this one, which offer packages of meat by the pound along with loaves of bread, sacks of potatoes and

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sometimes a carton of eggs. Besides the meat packs, the meat counter offers breakfast meats, deli foods and fish. While Longstreath is waiting for his meat, he wanders over to the meager vegetable section. There’s a small selection of tired-looking potatoes, onions, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, lemons and apples. Longstreath says the mini mart often runs out of vegetables, so he usually has to go to Aldi or Whole Foods for produce, especially if he wants some variety. Meanwhile, Winn is looking for dish soap. Originally from Syracuse, New York, Winn has lived in Chicago for three years, mainly in Englewood or Bridgeport. He recalls similar problems with food access in Syracuse. According to a study done by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 25 percent of census tracts in Syracuse show high levels of food insecurity, mainly on the city’s South Side. “It’s a smaller city obviously, but consider a distance of 10 blocks. You’ll still have to walk 10, 15, 20 blocks in Syracuse to get to a grocery store,” Winn says. “It’s not even necessarily the time it takes. It’s just a pain in the ass. It takes energy and effort and a chunk of your day.” The corner stores in his current neighborhood are much better than the ones in Syracuse, he says. But they still aren’t very good. The fruit and vegetable selection at Morgan Mini Mart feels like an afterthought. Their selling point is mostly meats and boxed foods. Longstreath agrees that the problem is local, but also economic. “A mango is like $6, and a bag of chips is maybe two. You can get full off a bag of chips,” Longstreath says. “We’ve actually had this problem where we haven’t been eating vegetables; we eat a lot of meat. We’re purposely cooking vegetable meals, and it’s kind of hard because the corner stores sell a lot of meat.” Morgan Mini Mart is still bustling with activity when Longstreath and Winn are ready to check out. People crowd around the cashier counter and discuss the neighborhood drama. Behind the register, there are shelves full

“You literally have to find a day where the food stamps just don’t come, because the shelves will be empty of everything like there is a drought.” —Mercedes Longstreath of objects that don’t seem to go together: rows of spices, durags, lighters, batteries and chargers, locks, peanuts, and row upon row of lottery tickets. Longstreath and Winn pay for their purchases together with their Link card. Their total comes out to $57.43. They leave with four bags in hand.


Longstreath and his household of six earn about $2,000 a month altogether. They also receive about $450 in SNAP benefits a month, which allows them to have a little extra money left over each month for laundry and other small expenses. SNAP, formally known as food stamps, helps lowincome people purchase food. Residents of Illinois can apply to receive SNAP benefits through the Illinois Department of Human Services, but eligibility depends on income, household expenses and the number of individuals living in one household. SNAP comes in the form of a Link card: an electronic card with a set spending amount deposited monthly. Link cards can be used at most Illinois grocery stores.

Cultivating community

The walk back home doesn’t seem as long, despite the bags. The neighborhood is just as quiet as it was before, but Longstreath says the silence is a product of the weather. In the summer, there are neighborhood kids running around the block and sometimes getting into fights. He adds that the people in this community are very protective of their streets and try to stop fights from happening. This particular street in Englewood has a neighborhood watch. It’s a tight-knit community that includes ex-police officers, teachers and parents who are determined to deter gangs. They have block club parties where they barbecue together, as well as meetings where they talk about changes going on in the neighborhood. Most importantly, they try to keep each other safe. “Basically, if it’s not a block club area, no one will call the cops,” Longstreath says. Longstreath and Winn walk past the closed M&S Foods on the way back to their apartment. Longstreath mentions that it was recently robbed at gunpoint. After the robbery, he realized how central M&S Foods is to the community. The same day, it was crowded with community members who wanted to hear about what happened. After that, the owner started employing people from the neighborhood to stand outside as security, and that became another part of the block club narrative. “With these corner stores, as long as they’re places that people are welcome to go to, it makes the street seem a lot better and way better to walk around,” Longstreath says. Back at home, Longstreath and Winn divide up the food; whatever can’t fit in their downstairs freezer goes to the apartment above them. Longstreath goes upstairs with chicken wings in hand. At the apartment door, a brown pit bull named Savage playfully greets him. Mercedes, Longstreath’s sister, does a lot of the cooking and shopping. She makes the 20-minute walk to Aldi once or twice a month, stocking up on vegetables and other ingredients they can’t get at the corner stores. But, she says, Aldi routinely runs out of food. Particularly on the 3rd, 7th or the 15th day of the month when people get their SNAP benefits, the food at Aldi flies off the shelves.

“There’s no food!” she says. “You literally have to find a day where the food stamps just don’t come, because the shelves will be empty of everything like there is a drought. Hurricane Katrina is about to come back, y’all, because all the food is gone.” The new Whole Foods doesn’t appeal to them. It’s unfamiliar territory. Longstreath occasionally visits for free wifi, a pasta dish or a smoothie, but he doesn’t stock up on groceries there. “It’s more about ignorance, though. I don’t know much about the food,” Longstreath admits. “It’s also like I’m splurging.” Angela Odoms-Young, Ph.D., associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago, notes that despite the small corner stores in Englewood, there isn’t a variety of fresh food available and Whole Foods doesn’t solve that problem. “Good food environment communities have bakeries, and they have produce markets; some have seafood markets, some have farmers markets. They have sit-down restaurants and corner cafes,” Odoms-Young says. “That’s the problem: you don’t have choice, and one type of retail is not going to solve that.”

Hope in empty lots

Mercedes sends Longstreath and Winn on one more run for the day: she’s requesting cigarettes and juice from down the street. They shrug their coats and scarves back on and trudge back out into the cold. This time they’re going to In and Out, a store on the corner of 66th and Halsted streets that sells cold sandwiches and sweets. It’s the most impersonal of the three corner stores. Customers are separated from the cashier and the inventory by a distinct glass partition. Customers who wish to purchase anything—from soap and hair supplies to flashlights and batteries—have to point and ask a cashier to retrieve it. Longstreath and Winn leave In and Out with a pack of cigarettes tucked in a pocket and juice in hand. They walk past empty lots on their way back to the house. Since 2014, a land lot initiative enables people who own homes in Englewood to purchase empty lots for only a dollar.

Longstreath says this has been a big part of some of the organizing that happens around Englewood, especially when it comes to food access. He is part of a grassroots community organization called Resident Association of Greater Englewood, or R.A.G.E., that has helped the community by buying empty lots and transforming them into safe places for children to play and community gardens. Other locals have jumped at the opportunity to buy their own plots of land to grow food. Kamal Rashid, a 68year-old Woodlawn resident, grew up in Englewood and just purchased two lots on 72nd Street. Rashid has years of farming experience and plans to grow 18 varieties of arugula and zucchini, which he will sell at farmers markets in Englewood. As a member of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, he’s helped spearhead the local farmers market, Fresh Beats & Eats. Longstreath believes urban farms such as Rashid’s might be the answer to Englewood’s food access problem. He thinks corner stores should buy vacant lots and start gardens, or at least collaborate with one of the neighborhood’s many urban farms. “We could be having the community growing food in our backyard and having it at the [corner] store, instead of acting like we’re on an island somewhere,” Longstreath says. He wants to encourage corner stores to work with the farmers markets, individual neighborhood farmers and big nonprofit urban farm networks. “The local pieces [are] really important, because I don’t think just slapping down a chain grocery store does enough,” Gallagher says. “Give people the education, different kinds of access and economic opportunity in the food system.” Corner stores are important pillars in Longstreath’s neighborhood, and if they also carried fresh fruits, vegetables and variety, they could transform Englewood from a food desert to a food oasis. They aren’t only part of the problem; they can be part of the solution, because according to Longstreath, “Without corner stores, it wouldn’t be a neighborhood.” 

Change Agents R.A.G.E: Residents Association of Greater Englewood R.A.G.E is a community organization created by Englewood residents for Englewood residents. They have a variety of initiatives, including So Fresh Saturdays, a summer campaign dedicated to spending time outside to create safe spaces in the community and share ideas about art and activism.

Growing Home Growing Home is an urban farm located on 58th and Wood streets. Growing Home provides farmwork experience and job training to residents of Englewood.

Grow Greater Englewood Grow Greater Englewood is a social enterprise that aims to develop relationships with residents based on sustainability, healthy eating and green practices. Grow Greater Englewood empowers residents to create wellness and health.

I Grow Chicago I Grow Chicago is dedicated to rebuilding Englewood and transforming previously empty and toxic lots into community spaces. I Grow Chicago is home to the Peace Campus, which includes the Peace House and Peace Garden. The garden features two lots with raised beds, a green house and a medicine wheel.

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Bronzeville native embraces diversity in women’s bodybuilding Written by Gretchen Sterba Photography by Moe Zoyari

It’s a chilly Thursday afternoon in Bronzeville, and La’Drissa Bonivel is bouncing back and forth between five clients at her fitness studio, ProFit, working on different exercises. A playlist comprised of hip-hop throwbacks, including “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe, interspersed with a few Snoop Dogg tracks, blasts throughout the studio. Bonivel pushes her clients, often falling back on her own personal mantra: “Excuses don’t burn calories!” One woman pauses in the middle of a rep. “Jesus,” she winces, sweat dripping from her brow. “Jesus is here, honey!” Bonivel yells back, unapologetically. “I don’t leave home without him!” She models an ab exercise for another client. Laying on her back, her feet a couple inches off the ground and her torso curling into a crunch, you can see her six pack flex, her toned quads and calves working simultaneously. Bouncy brown curls hit her shoulders, long, thick lashes blink and coral-painted nails flash as she describes the exercise. To her clients she’s just La’Drissa, the woman who’s helping them reach their personal fitness goals. But she never forgets where she came from. Displayed prominently on three shelves in the studio are Bonivel’s accolades from more than 18 years of competing in women’s bodybuilding competitions. From winning the 2011 National Physique Committee USA competition, taking home fifth for 2015’s Arnold Classic Physique and bouncing back to first in the 2015 International Federation of Bodybuilding San Jose Pro, the 43-year-old has a lot to be proud of. When she’s training, Bonivel spends 2 to 3 hours of her day doing cardio in addition to strength exercises. She meal preps every “clean meal” she eats; a salmon salad with cucumbers, eggplant, avocado and light olive oil as dressing is her favorite. In addition to workouts that seem mind-blowing to the rest of us, Bonivel has had to go the extra mile, both literally and figuratively, because she is one of the few black women bodybuilders to compete—and win—in her industry. She realized her passion when she was around age five while growing up in the Ida B. Wells Homes on the South Side. She was watching television when she saw a black woman bodybuilder with absolute confidence and poise, and both beautiful and strong. Bonivel thought she had a shot on that stage. “Being young, you didn’t see a lot of black people on TV,” she says. “So when I happened to come upon that channel, I was like, ’Wow. If this lady is on here doing this, I can do it, too.’” After graduating from DePaul University in 2000 with a degree in finance, Bonivel took up working out to feel good and stay healthy. “That was the only time I felt like the best, was when I was working out,” she says. “It brought me such peace.” In 2000, Bonivel officially started to compete in the women’s bodybuilding division. At her second competition,

she won first place in all four classes. Despite her success, Bonivel didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to go pro.” In fact, it took more than a decade for her to get to that point. In 2013, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness replaced the women’s bodybuilding division with a women’s physique division, with aesthetic ideals somewhere between the heavy muscles of bodybuilding and the lean bodies of body fitness. “I did not fit into bodybuilding, because I didn’t want to be that big or muscular,” Bonivel explains. “So, when they created the women’s physique, that was the perfect division for me.” Once she went pro in women’s physique, she was the seventh woman of her division to do so, but only the second black woman in the pro women’s physique division in 2011. This has been particularly inspirational to other black women, both competitors and spectators. “It always strikes me to the core of my emotional center because they are like, ’Oh my God, you don’t know how much you’ve motivated me to see you up there,’” she says. Kim Williams, who has known Bonivel since the mid’80s and started training with her in 2014, says she has been an influencer in the African-American community for not just fitness, but overall health. “When I go to the gym, I don’t see a lot of black women. I see everybody but us,” Williams says. “What she’s doing is saving people’s lives.” “I really try not to put the black and white picture in there, but it’s true,” Bonivel admits. Still, the lack of representation has never phased or intimidated her. “I never worked off of, ’Oh they didn’t like me because I’m black.’ I always tried to put it toward, ’Alright, she won, not because she’s white but because she’s just better than me this day,’” she says. In the 2015 International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness national competition, Bonivel placed 13th in the women’s physique division. But the next year, she was just one point shy of qualifying. Instead of feeling defeated, she was relieved. “It was like the greatest pressure lifted off of me because I was like under the gun. People think it’s very glamorous because they see the final product but they don’t see three hours of cardio. They don’t see double workouts. And then I’m still having a full load of clients. So I was like, ’OK, God, thank you. I can breathe now,’” she says. Three years later, Bonivel has refocused her attention to training at ProFit, but still has the drive to compete. She still aims to compete in an international show, but at the end of the day, she says her passion has changed to focusing on her personal training clients. “You have to drive your momentum and build upon what you’re doing,” she says, her hands extended, showing off her studio. “Use it, because they’re not going to just come and give you anything. You’ve got to go and create it yourself.” ¡

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Healing a Hangover What to do after too much brew Written by Khai Clardy Illustrations by Denise Wong

Three missed calls, two “You up?” texts and one overly confident Snapchat story: welcome to the morning after. Maybe last night you had a lot to drink—and none of it was water. You wake up with your head pounding, stomach growling and the world spinning. But don’t worry, because Echo curated an expert-endorsed list of delicious and doable hangover cures for any situation. So, here’s what to do when... have work in the morning Eat a hearty breakfast and drink plenty of water. Registered Dietitian Charlotte Hammond says any kind of protein that is quick to digest will be beneficial to helping you recover after a big night of drinking. A vitamin B supplement also will help your body process the alcohol, water will help rehydrate your system, and magnesium-enriched foods will help soothe your headache. But if you ate a big meal prior to waking up in the morning, Hammond says to wait until your body tells you it’s hungry again. The recovery breakfast can wait. If you’re looking for something lighter, Hammond recommends miso soup or any warm broth containing electrolytes. This wlll help replenish your body’s sodium, which it needs, and the seaweed found in some miso recipes is packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help your recovery. If you are allergic to soy, no worries; Hammond recommends chickpea miso soup.’re dealing with heartbreak We know, your heart hurts and a night out sounded like the perfect remedy. But now it's the morning after and you're feeling even worse. Alcohol crashes your serotonin levels, Hammond says, and those who are already serotonin deficient are going to have worse hangovers. Hammond stresses the importance of consuming proteins in the case of emotional distress while hungover, and says making sure you’re feeding your brain vitamins like B6 is important too. have an assignment due Put the coffee down. It's only going to make things worse. Instead, Hammond says, drink a cup of ginger or peppermint tea. The high quantity of caffeine in coffee increases catecholamine, a hormone that causes stress, she says. However, for those who need caffeine to get through the day, some studies, Hammond says, have shown that lower doses of caffeine, such as those found in green or black tea, can help restore your energy without giving you the jitters. 

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The Face of Change

Korean beauty products defy easy gender classifications

Written by Brooke Pawling & Marisa Sobotka Photography by Moe Zoyari

South Korea is cementing a place in the beauty and entertainment industry, and not just as the backdrop for a portion of Black Panther or the site of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. One thing Americans couldn't miss during the Olympic closing ceremony: the men wearing makeup. South Koreans weren't so surprised. This has long been part of the country's pop culture. EXO, a K-Pop group that performed at the closing ceremony, aren't the only men in South Korea who wear makeup, according to Leah Kim, the owner of Lakeview's Choc Choc Cosmetics. Male stars regularly wear makeup in South Korea, allowing other men the freedom to experiment with beauty products. “They’ll do eyeliner—even BB Cream—so those kinds of things are more exposed in media,” Kim says. “The guys feel more comfortable trying it out because [the K-Pop stars] look so cool.” Big K-Beauty brands are expanding in the U.S. to keep up with the rapidly growing market, with CVS Pharmacy's “K-Beauty HQ” expanding to over 60 products. Innisfree, another popular K-Beauty brand, just opened its first U.S.based store in 2017, and AmorePacific, the largest South

Korean beauty brand, already has several U.S. locations. Stores in Chicago include Choc Choc and Chinatown's Tok Tok Lazy Beauty and Korean Beauty. But it's not just women who are driving the demand. Kim estimates a fifth of her customers are male, adding that she has been seeing more men coming in to buy skin-care products recently. This could be due to being exposed to a beauty industry that offers gender neutral products, she speculates. “Most of K-Beauty is for both men and women,” Kim says. This includes keeping product scents and packaging gender-neutral, even though customers may be seeking products to treat different issues. Women, she says, are generally looking to buy anti-aging creams and brightening serums, whereas men are often looking for products to treat acne and large pores. Some products are still gendered, of course. Although sun protection and acne-related products are generally neutral, deodorants, lotions and colognes are gendered. Choc Choc's former assistant manager, Lydia Knoll, says products aimed at women generally have pink-toned colors and small drawings on its packaging, with rose and floral scents. Products perceived to be “neutral,” on the other hand, tend to have a natural theme and simpler packaging. Echo investigated a few of Choc Choc's products, snooping for gender cues. ¡




Innisfree Green Tea Moisture Cream

COSRX Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser

IPKN x ESTHERLOVESYOU Rose Water Soothing Gel

Feminine scents are frequently fruity or floral, and masculine scents have a muskier aroma. This highly concentrated gender-neutral moisturizer has a light, fresh green tea smell.

Gendered products are typically seen in various shades of pink and blue, but non-gendered products avoid them. The red-and-white container for this cleanser signals it's fit for all consumers.

This moisturizing gel displays a stereotypical feminine packaging with baby pink color, floral designs and a cutesy graphic.





Come Together Young activists find common ground fighting gun violence Written by Andrea Salcedo, Khai Clardy & Jonathon Sadowski Photography by Moe Zoyari

They’re young. They're fed up. And they’re demanding change. River Finnegan, Trinity Cole-Reid and Chyann McQueen don’t know each other, but these high school students are fighting the same battle: ending gun violence in Illinois.

Finnegan, 18, is from Cumberland, Illinois. He joined March for Our Lives as the marketing and social media leader because he’s tired of watching kids running out of their schools on the news. He feels like he could be next. Cole-Reid, 17, is from Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood. She has been a member of Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere (BRAVE) since she was a freshman.

McQueen, 19, is from Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood. She became a youth activist for Black Lives Matter after several of her friends died at the hands of the police. Echo sat down with these three activists to discuss how they’re fighting for their cause, where their messages intersect and where they differ. There is one thing they all agree on: enough is enough. Chicago needs gun reform, and it needs it yesterday.

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River Finnegan: March for Our Lives Chicago I heard about the Parkland shooting the day after it happened. My friends Bella Paredes and Emily Gonzalez, who also work with me on March for Our Lives Chicago, approached me about doing a walkout at our school, Plainfield South High School. On one side, because we’re so young, we have more time to fight back against gun violence issues. Adults are not doing anything, and we’re fed up with our government’s slow legislative processes. But being a teenager is also a disadvantage because no one takes us seriously. I understand the privileges that come with being a young white man living in the suburbs. It’s because of these privileges that I don’t worry much about shootings happening close to where I live or go to school, and although I have never lost anyone close to me as a result of gun violence, I worry about students who live in Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. The Second Amendment is outdated. Where does it say that an 18-year-old, my same age, should own weapons of war? To be honest, I don't believe completely banning citizens from owning guns is a realistic goal. But I do think that pushing for stricter gun laws banning weapons of war, such as the AR-15, is a reform that needs to happen soon.

“The problem is the guns, not minority communities.” —River Finnegan


The March for Our Lives Chicago chapter, which is fighting for gun control hand-in-hand with the national organization, is also fighting to stop discrimination against people of color. We’re trying to combat the stigma of people of color being directly associated with gun violence. The problem is the guns, not minority communities. We have worked with Black Lives Matter on the issue because our causes intersect. Gun violence and racial equality are issues that they’re also trying to address. If we collaborate, we can get our message out there loud and clear. We can reach more people. Reaching more people leads to more conversations, and more conversations lead to change. We live in a democracy, and the more voices that we have, the better, and the more chances we have of passing gun legislation. Collaborating with any politicians or the Chicago Police Department is not in our plans. We’re a student-led organization, and we want the students to be the main focus. Involving CPD would definitely hurt our movement. While the police may mean safety for some people, it does not mean safety for others. Politicians will always have their own agendas, even if they tell us they’re fighting with us. We don't want to associate ourselves with people that could derail our message.

Will our activism lead to change? I really want it to, and do hope that it will. Illinois has already passed plenty of new gun laws. Locally, change has already happened. I just hope that more change comes after this. We’re tired of watching kids die at the hands of people with guns when it could have been prevented. The United States should be a safe place where we don’t need to rely on guns to protect us. as told to Andrea Salcedo

Chyann McQueen: Black Lives Matter I feel safe at school. I feel safe at home. I don’t necessarily feel safe walking to school or going home from school, because anything can happen living in Chicago. People die every day, so I just have to be aware of my surroundings. I don’t trust the police. I don’t feel safe with the police. A student I went to school with, Pierre Loury, 16, was killed by the police. He was running from the police, and they killed him. He was trying to jump a gate, and they shot him while he was in mid-air. He fell, and his pants were still attached to the gate. They left him. Seeing that is really traumatizing. When people start to come together, that makes you want to get involved and do something. That made me want to do anything to end gun violence.

“Young people have the voice that can bring forth change.” —­Chyann McQueen

Poverty is a systematic design based on politics. The economic discrimination and policing, the inequality, the closings of schools in Chicago, police killing black people that aren’t armed, I think all of those are root causes. Not having resources, health centers and trauma centers in impoverished communities, not having jobs available, causes the unemployment and crime rate to be high. Living in an impoverished community, I just always wanted to do something about it—witnessing and experiencing it all sparked something in me. I feel like all the organizations have something to offer each other. If I‘m focused on ending gun violence for my organization, and someone is focused on educational programs in their organization, I feel like all of it can combine. If we didn’t have these organizations, then we couldn’t move forward with bringing change to everything at once. A lot of movements began with young people, so I think that young people have the voice that can bring forth change more than anyone. If you

look back in history, young people were always the leaders of change. The Civil Rights Movement: there's youth changing the world. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Panther Party, they were young when they started, so I think it’s important to start at a younger age to be knowledgeable so that we can change it. I believe that young people are going to change the world. Police come to my school for Cops and Kid’s Chess. Over the summer, I went to Whitney Young High School to be a part of Global Majority Youth Rising, a group of kids and the cop community. I’ve been to Alderman Scott Waguespack’s (Chicago, 32nd ward) office about planning marches, so I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that we’re creating change and the beginning of more safe spaces. as told to Khai Clardy

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Trinity Cole-Reid: Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere Despite all the talk about how dangerous Chicago’s South Side is, I feel safe in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. There are shootings here, but I’ve never personally been affected. I recently moved in the neighborhood to a different block where I don’t really see or hear any shootings, and it gave me a different perspective on gun violence. It hurts when people try to paint my side of the city as some sort of war zone. We’re not going through everyday life dodging bullets. We have a violence issue, but it’s not nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. The South and West Sides are the heart of the city. Most people around here hate going downtown or to the North Side because it’s boring; we’d rather be outside in our backyards having a barbecue. People take the Second Amendment too far, especially when they bring guns into public places like supermarkets. A civilian shouldn’t need an automatic rifle or any gun, for that matter. There are other ways to fight your battles. You can use your words.

“It hurts when people try to paint my side of the city as some sort of war zone.” —Trinity Cole-Reid


With BRAVE, I work to combat violence. I joined because I’ll be leaving my family for college after I graduate, and I wanted to make sure I did anything I could to make Chicago a better place for them while I’m still here. In my eyes, violence is mainly caused by poverty. Lower-class kids sometimes don’t have a lot to look forward to, so they look up to the wrong people. These kids often see only what is portrayed in the media, so they think that committing a crime or owning a gun is “cool.” BRAVE hosts public talks with the Chicago Police Department in an effort to increase visibility in the community and help people get to know officers. Doing this lets both the community and government know that violence is not a one-sided issue. We’re reaching out for help.

I recently took a trip with a few other Chicago Public Schools students to visit the survivors of the Parkland shooting. That meeting opened my eyes to see how much work they’re doing, but also how much work we’re doing in Chicago. Some people look at all of us and think we can’t have an impact because of how young we are, but a lot of people my age are very knowledgeable. We’re the next voters. Times are changing. We’re making that change. as told to Jonathon Sadowski 

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6/13/18 10:38 AM


By Nature Eight places for solace within the city

Written by Courtney Wolfe Illustation by Sarah Graf

Living in a city means most of your time is spent on the subway, in elevators and walking between skyscrapers. It’s easy to feel trapped. The buildings are tall, and the only wildlife you see for days at a time might be scavenging pigeons and squirrels. But the city doesn’t have to be stifling. “It’s an interesting word: trapped,” says Gavin Van Horn, director of The Center for Humans and Nature and of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness. “In a lot of industrial cities, there’s a tendency for people to separate cities from the natural world in their minds. But we are never apart from the natural world. It's within us, and we move amidst it.” While the endless cracked sidewalks and the occasional spewing exhaust pipes may make you feel separated from nature, you're not. You just have to shift your perspective a little. Chicago has its own lively ecology, with its own flora and fauna. “There are still so many ways to get connected to the natural world,” Van Horn explains. “There’s an amazing conservation community in Chicago and a ton to explore for those who open their eyes to the experience.” Echo sat down with Van Horn and other nature advocates to get the scoop on the best places to go to get away from the city without leaving it behind.

Northerly Island "That’s a horizon that can really change your perspective and get you out of your head in the city,” Van Horn says of the 91-acre Lake Michigan peninsula. “It’s right off the coast of the lake with an excellent view of skyscrapers, plus muskrats and great blue heron.” The lakefront east of the Museum Campus

The Skokie Lagoons This stunning expanse of marshland offers opportunities for kayaking and canoeing “boats are available for rent” as well as walking and bird-watching. “One of the nice things about waterways is they tend to really concentrate wildlife, especially birdlife, but also turtles, deer and fish,” says Van Horn. “Those waterways are wonderful places for wildlife encounters.” Willow Road to Lake Cook Road, east of I-94

McCormick Gardens For a hands-on nature encounter, get a plot at the McCormick Gardens. “Community gardens are a great way to get your hands in the dirt and just interact with other human beings,” Van Horn says. “You can grow food, which has its own pleasures, but you can also grow with wildlife in mind. Attracting wildlife to your garden or your backyard are great ways to get connected.” The lakefront at 24th Street


The Lurie Garden This year-round horticultural oasis is hidden in the hustle and bustle of Millennium Park. “People don’t always know about it until they walk upon it,” says Joyce Fong, chief concierge for the Chicago Athletic Association. The adjacent Chase Promenade South offers a spot for quiet contemplation, a quick lunch break, or even a cat nap between classes. Southern end of Millennium Park between Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street

Lincoln Park “I try to at least once or twice a year to walk the length of Lincoln Park,” says Liam Heneghan, co-director of DePaul University’s Institute for Nature and Culture in Lincoln Park. “If you take the time with that, it’s a section of the city that covers, in a space of a few miles, a lot of diversity.” During this walk, Heneghan likes to stop at Montrose Harbor, the Lincoln Park Conservatory and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Along Lake Shore Drive from North Avenue to Diversey Parkway

Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary Nestled against the shore of Lake Michigan, this sanctuary is the perfect spot for a day of reading or writing while you reconnect with nature. More than 300 species of birds fill up the silence, creating an ideal natural environment. “There are many paths through there, and while you can’t really take a bike through that area, even riding by it on the lakefront is very quiet,” says Fong. The lakefront at Montrose Avenue

Hegewisch Marsh Hop on a bus and take a day to explore one of Chicago’s least touched parks. “Just get on one of the trails. There’s really some neat pockets to explore,” Van Horn says. The preserve is home to more than 200 species of birds, 20 species of fish, and a host of rare creatures including, at one time, a family of bald eagles. Torrence Avenue and 130th Street

Graceland Cemetery If you’re trying to lose yourself in the tall grass that once covered parts of the city, go to one of the city’s remaining prairies. “Our rampant prairies are so tiny you have to have an appetite for cramped spaces, but it’s really delightful,” Heneghan says. He recommends Graceland Cemetery for its prairie land, which can be seen from the CTA Red and Purple Lines above. But if you take the time to step inside the cemetery’s walls, you can enjoy the native plants, birds and butterflies that live among the dead. Entrance is at the intersection of Clark Street and Irving Park Road 

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Model Figures TV characters who changed the way we look at our bodies Written by Marisa Sobotka Illustration by Sarah Graf

Raven Baxter: That's So Raven This Disney Channel original was a groundbreaking show in the early 2000s. Raven-Symoné, a plus-size, African-American actress, starred as the teen psychic Raven Baxter. While the focus of the show was on neither her race nor her size, there were several episodes where both topics were discussed in an open, informative way.


In the last decade, we’ve seen some iconic TV shows come and go. We’ve yelled through season premieres and cried through series finales, and we’ve gotten attached to certain characters and hated others. But while these shows won our hearts, they didn’t always fairly represent a diversity of body types. While representation has improved in recent years, many depictions are still stereotypical and often harmful. Echo compiled a list of shows and characters that have moved TV diversity forward, then checked in with Paul Booth, Ph.D., associate professor of media and cinema studies at DePaul University, about the importance and effects of better representation. Booth, who specializes in media reception, shared his thoughts on representation in television and how it affects viewers.

Kate Pearson: This Is Us When the 2016 NBC drama This Is Us premiered, it made waves in the body positivity movement. Chrissy Metz, a plus-size actress, stars as Kate Pearson, whose complexities and experiences are the focus of the show. Metz, who suffered from depression and body image issues, wanted to accurately depict that stuggle.

Mindy Lahiri: The Mindy Project FOX and Hulu’s sitcom The Mindy Project follows the life of Indian OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri, played by Mindy Kaling. The character broke through typical stereotypes of Indian women, presenting Lahiri as a successful woman who has complete control over her sexuality and independence.

On TV’s responsibility: “Television, in particular, is really good at making mainstream audiences aware of cultural norms. I think one of the most powerful tools that we have in our culture is to shape the way people think about particular issues through television.” On TV’s effects: “We are encouraged to think about the world differently when we see things on television. If we start seeing people with different abilities, skin colors and lifestyles, then we start thinking that we suddenly live in the interesting and diverse world that we do. It makes people feel like they are listened to and like they are part of a culture. If we never saw ourselves represented, we wouldn’t feel like we are part of a culture; we would feel like a constant outsider.”

On gender: “For the longest time, television was mainly designed by men for a male audience. The types of images and representations that we saw on television were male-generated, were from a male perspective. By default, the male audience would not necessarily have to think outside the paradigm that they have been given, whereas a female audience from the get-go on television will always be thinking outside the norms that she is watching.” On who’s doing it well and who isn’t: “Ryan Murphy, who did Glee and American Horror Story, has done both good and bad things. He has had characters with disabilities played by able-bodied actors, which I would say is not a very good thing, but he has also had people with mental disabilities portray characters with those disabilities. If you look at shows like Speechless, we have an actor who is in a wheelchair portraying a character who is in a wheelchair, and that is a real step forward in how the media portrays people with disabilities.” On his favorite character: “I have been watching Doctor Who since I was a kid. I didn’t realize how much I was influenced by a male character on television who didn’t resort to violence and whose first instinct is to talk to people and to try and fix problems and bring people together.” 

Andre Johnson: Black-ish ABC's Emmy-nominated sitcom Black-ish is full of complex, memorable characters who have had a lasting effect on their audience. One of these is Andre “Dre” Johnson, played by actor Anthony Anderson, a plus-size, African-American man who struggles with his self-image and how it connects with his race. These issues are tackled thoughtfully in the show.

J.J. DiMeo: Speechless ABC’s 2016 sitcom Speechless features actor Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy, as the main character J.J. DiMeo. Able-bodied actors often play the roles of people with disabilities (Me Before You, The Theory of Everything, What's Eating Gilbert Grape), so watching Micah Fowler in this role is a huge step forward in representation.

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Period Piece Why are we so hung up on menstruation? Written by Courtney Wolfe Illustrations by Sarah Trobee

Periods in America aren’t exactly celebrated. Instagram deletes photos showing menstrual blood; tampons and menstrual pads are placed on store shelves next to condoms, lubes and other shame-inducing products; people are taught early on to hide the fact that they are menstruating from the outside world. This shame and lack of celebration around menstruation is a product of our history and political climate, says Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue. “The view from anthropology is that where femininity and reproduction are not considered inherently

valuable, you will see a devaluing of menstruation,” she says. “Anywhere that female sexual and reproductive autonomy are compromised, you will see shaming and tabooing of menstruation.” But it wasn’t always this way in North America. Before the U.S. was established, the Navajo people celebrated their menarches, or first menstrual cycles, with a four-day ritual called Kinaalda. Each morning, young women ran toward the rising sun, as fast and as far as they could. Similarly, the Nootka of Canada historically commemorated a tribe member’s menarche with a test of strength and endurance. A boat dropped off the young woman in

Nepal Some Hindu communities in Nepal practice chaupadi, or menstrual seclusion. In rural areas, a young girl stays in a menstrual hut, or in urban areas, a separate part of the family home. The common rationale for this has to do with the concepts of purity and pollution that are common in cultures around the world, including the Hindu religion. Chaupadi sometimes has tragic consequences. A 22-year-old Nepalese woman just died from asphyxiation after building a small fire in her windowless menstrual hut in January 2018. While this practice was made illegal in August 2017, the law won’t take effect for another year.


the Pacific Ocean, and she swam back to shore while the whole village watched. So can modern Americans turn back the clock and reverse the stigmatization of menstruation? Martin doesn’t think so. “We have to change the underlying circumstances that allow these ceremonies to happen,” Martin says. This involves moving away from a culture that places value on machismo and bravado, and moving toward one where work and life settings are less stratified in terms of how gendered they are.

Beverly Strassmann, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, has a different perspective. Strassmann has extensively studied the menstrual huts of the Dogon people of Mali and says,“[The first menarche] is a celebration of her becoming a woman. She’s eligible to get married.” Menstrual celebrations, she adds, are effectively an advertisement to suitors: She can bear children now, so she can be married off. So what can we learn from other cultures’ menstrual traditions?

South India “When a girl [in the Tamil culture] attains puberty, she is kept in isolation for three or five days because the menstrual fluid is considered polluting,” says E. Annamalai, Ph.D, a visiting professor specializing in Tamil language and literature at the University of Chicago. “There is also a belief that she must be kept under protection since evil spirits may take possession of her.” After the isolation, the young girl is bathed in water mixed with turmeric paste by her aunt and presented with a sari by her uncle. Traditionally, that couple’s son will be her intended future husband. In modern times, however, this ritual is less common. “Now with marriage delayed to the late teen years, families keep the arrival of puberty to themselves [and] even hide it from others,” Annamalai says.

Bali When a young girl reaches menarche on the Indonesian island of Bali, it is common for her to get her teeth filed. “Theoretically, both boys and girls are meant to have their teeth filed at puberty, but in practice, this is not the case,” said Adrian Vickers, Ph.D., a professor of Southeast Asian studies at the University of Sydney, in an email. “Many wait until they get married or go through other significant life events.” The process involves flattening the two top canines and the four incisors, symbolically filing away the Balinese sins: lust, greed, anger, intoxication, sadness, arrogance and jealousy.

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Short-Term Fashion Long-Term Consequences The human and environmental impacts of cheap, trendy clothes Written by Amanda Kaplan Illustrations by Larissa Borror

Before a sales associate neatly folds and places a garment on the shelves of a fast-fashion store, the mass-produced, inexpensive and trendy clothing passes through the hands of several other people who are negatively impacted by the process of how the garment was made. Farmworkers in over 100 countries and 170 million child laborers support our fast-fashion habit, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee and the International Labour Organization. The Earth, too, is harmed by the production of material, manufacturing and disposal of garments. These bodies are not necessarily what consumers consider when they put fast fashion on their own bodies. Below, Echo has outlined the typical trajectory of fast-fashion clothing and all of the bodies affected in the process.


Pesticides and herbicides have a deservedly bad reputation. They can cause a range of illnesses to farmworkers who are exposed to them while planting, tending and harvesting crops. According to the Rodale Institute, 16 percent of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton farms, which cover 2.5 percent of the world's agricultural land. Paraquat, the most commonly used herbicide on cotton farms, was banned by the European Union in 2007. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it “highly toxic.” When paraquat is inhaled, it can cause damage to the lungs. Ingestion can cause organ failure. Even getting it on skin can cause severe rashes.


Factory Workers

The International Labour Organization estimates that 152 million children worldwide are child laborers, half between the ages of 5 and 11. Their work “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.” Twenty million of these children are employed in factories, including ones that make the inexpensive clothing we purchase. Adults, too, work in sweatshops characterized by poor working conditions and low wages, which produce inexpensive products. Purchasing those products supports this system.

Four ways you can break the negative cycle of fast fashion

1 2 3 4 Food

Cotton is found in more than a third of clothing fibers, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee, making it the most commonly used textile in the fashion industry. Sixty-five percent of the cotton used in clothing production makes its way into the food chain after harvesting, according to the Rodale Institute. Dubbed “gin trash,” these remains are pressed to create cottonseed oil, an ingredient in baking shortenings such as Crisco, or fed to cattle that are raised for meat and dairy products. Cellulose, a plastic filler of cotton production, also finds its way into everyday foods like cheese, ice cream, breakfast cereals and even salads.

Shop less

If you’re not a self-proclaimed shopaholic, chances are shopping less is the easiest and most affordable route to take to help stop the fast fashion cycle and reduce your carbon footprint.

Shop secondhand

Shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or using resale apps like Poshmark and thredUP, diverts clothing from landfills or incinerators. Plus, shopping secondhand saves money and can get you a sweet deal on a new outfit.

Shop sustainably

Many clothing brands pride themselves on sustainably and ethically made garments, such as People Tree, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and Reformation. Seek out items labelled “Fair Trade,” which means the farms and factories follow certain guidelines including paying and treating workers well and not using GMOs or hazardous pesticides. The World Fair Trade Organization has a list of certified brands. Don't trust the “Made In” label. Instead, refer to websites like Shop Ethical! ( and GoodGuide ( for information on where and how your clothing was made.

Spread the word

One of the best ways to break fast fashion’s cycle is to learn more. Documentary The True Cost and organizations such as The Fashion Revolution have done extensive research on the harms of the fashion industry. After learning more, tell your friends and family. There’s no better way to make a difference than by sharing knowledge.


The quality and styles of fast fashion are not meant to last long. This means these clothes inevitably end up in landfills or are incinerated, says Nancy Tuchman, founding director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. Greenpeace estimates that three out of four articles of clothing will end up in a landfill or will be burned. When synthetic fibers such as rayon, nylon and polyester are burned, they produce toxic fumes, Tuchman says. Some discarded items end up in the ocean, where they contribute to the Great Pacific garbage patch, a floating mass of trash the size of France, or litter beaches. Even the lint from fast-fashion clothing items gets washed into the oceans, Tuchman says. The animals that are most affected by this are plankton and other micro-crustaceans that are vital to supporting the food chain. ¡

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Paralleî“‹ Lives

Manager by day, queen by night Written by Jonathon Sadowski Photography by Moe Zoyari


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If you ask Tony Cook's mom what he does, she'll tell you her son is an entertainer. It wasn't always easy for her to accept Cook's drag queen alter ego, Tasha Salad, but now she says it with unflinching support. "I had to come out [to my mom] twice," Cook explains. "As a gay male, and also that I do drag." Cook, 40, has spent 19 years performing. Tasha has a closet full of wigs, dresses and outfits—half homemade, half purchased—worth an estimated $6,000. "[Tasha] gets new clothes and new hair and new shoes, and I've got the same s--- I've had for years," Cook jokes. She also has more than 2,000 dedicated followers on Instagram, which Cook credits to a wider acceptance of drag queens spurred by the television show RuPaul's Drag Race, which he hopes to compete on some day. "I just started it as a hobby, and it's become a very expensive hobby," Cook says. "Deep down I've always been an entertainer, and [drag is] the way to do it because I'm more comfortable like that." Tasha's lively personality draws people to her. "She's not shy," Cook says. "She says whatever the hell comes to her mind." Cook, by contrast, is more reserved. He is a practicing Presbyterian from southern Missouri who finds fulfillment in serving and entertaining people. Over the past four years, he has worked his way up the ranks to become assistant general manager and director of entertainment at Hamburger Mary's, an eccentric burger joint in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood that frequently hosts drag events. Tasha takes the stage at the restaurant a few times a week, but Cook is careful not to keep the spotlight on veteran queens for too long. He tries to rotate the roster of queens to accommodate up-andcomers, according to Ryan Royale, a young queen who performs at Hamburger Mary's. "He just has a huge heart for everyone," Royale says.¡ Left, top to bottom: Tony Cook uses all sorts of makeup to complete his transformation into Tasha Salad. Cook gets dressed before a performance at the Oak Park location of Hamburger Mary's. Tasha Salad puts on a show at the Oak Park Hamburger Mary's. Cook (right) removes his makeup while chatting with another queen after a show at the Andersonville location of Hamburger Mary's.


Above, top to bottom: Cook brings food out from the Hamburger Mary's kitchen. Cook looks out at the audience before a performance at the Andersonville Hamburger Mary's.

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6/15/18 8:52 AM


Laugh Out Liberal The art of producing all-inclusive comedy Written by Katlyn Tolly Photography by Moe Zoyari


The boisterous and just slightly tipsy crowd at Uptown Underground eagerly shifts its attention to the stage as Brittany Meyer emerges out of the audience. Meyer approaches the mic, preparing to introduce the two-year anniversary of Strip Joker, Chicago’s only body-positive standup comedy showcase. Those involved in Strip Joker attribute its success to the fact that its inclusive comedy strives not to alienate any race, gender, religion, sexuality or body type. In comedy, where there’s always room to unintentionally rub someone the wrong way, the showcase demonstrates a new way of making light of a situation. “I really wanted comedy to be more about the representation and the humor that I wasn’t seeing before,” Meyer, the show’s founder an co-producer, says. “I wanted to make people laugh and also get across social issues and things that I found important.” After Meyer brought co-producer Molly Kearney aboard, the underground project with a capacity of 60 seats blossomed into a monthly Brittany Meyer, Strip Joker founder and co-producer, opens the show. showcase for comedians to explore their personal journeys of self-love and body positivity—with the option to strip down during their acts. Strip as a recovering alcoholic, she took Joker now fills 140 seats. offense. “When it comes to being When Meyer was first getting inclusive, it’s a difficult balance,” into comedy, they learned a common Thomas says. “Generally speaking, trick among comedians: joke about if your jokes are in good faith and your your own appearance. Doing this, intentions aren’t to belittle someone, Meyer adds, makes it easier to relate and someone feels rejected by your to an audience. set, then a conversation can happen.” Comedian and resident Strip From stories of being catcalled Joker Kaitlyn Grissom agrees. “Make to gender identity, most of the sets fun of yourself, and make fun of people — Brittany Meyer at Strip Joker are socially progresthat are more powerful than you,” sive and extremely personal. The Grissom says. “Most comics know for Strip Joker and senior contributcomedians reveal their true selves that. Don’t punch down, punch up.” ing writer for the online site Clickboth figuratively and literally, should Meyer and Kearney want Strip Hole. “They say, ’If you have a joke they choose to shed their clothes. At Joker to be a space where everyone and you’re worried that might be the least for these comics, telling jokes is feels welcome and where underrepcase, feel free to talk to us about it.’” more about relating and connecting resented voices are heard. Though Sometimes, however, offense with the audience than teasing others, the producers don’t monitor or is taken. Thomas recalls one such making it easier to avoid unintentioncensor a comedian’s content, they are instance. ally offending someone. available before each show to discuss “Because drinks were half off, I “With standup, you get the purest questionable jokes with them. made a joke something to the effect slice of who somebody is,” Grissom “[The producers] don’t want a of, ’Well, if you’re an alcoholic, this is says. “If you go to an open mic or a marginalized person to feel like they great news for you,’” Thomas says. A show, it’s like a sample platter of are being ostracized or targeted,” woman in the audience approached human souls.” says Grace Thomas, a two-time host her after the show, explaining that

“I wanted to make people laugh and also get across social issues I found important.”

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Sisterhood of the

Women of color are curating community for little cost on Chicago's South Side Written by Khai Clardy Photography by Moe Zoyari

Rita Jackson, founder of Oh So Medicinal.


When I walk into Crystal E-Scentials, a metaphysical healing shop in Hyde Park, Alia Jhane, founder of SoulFreePeace, is discussing the benefits of crystals, yoni eggs and sage with a customer. She’s petite with short-cropped hair and a baby in a sling that covers most of her body. I had been researching alternative treatments to treat my general health for a couple of months, but this was a new world to me: a distinctively Black alternative healing community led by women of color. This encounter led me to other healers on the South Side, including Rita Jackson, founder of Oh So Medicinal; Aya-Nikole Cook, founder of the Haji Healing Salon in Chatham; and Khadijah Kysia, a licensed acupuncturist. These are women who provide healing products and services such as reiki, acupuncture and herbal teas, along -Harriette Richard, Ph.D. with group discussions and open mics, all while expanding awareness of health and healing in a community with a long history of oppression and neglect. She attributes this blossoming to the fact that people “There’s a broad conversation happening in the culare sick and tired of being sick and tired. “It’s just where ture right now about the trauma that we have experienced we are in the world, environmentally and health-wise; a lot at the hands of patriarchy and the historical racism in of people are sick and that causes you to rethink the way our country. Finally, the nation is ready to have an honest things are going and what we can do to reverse that and conversation about the emotional and physical impact that turn that negative into a positive,” she says. living in a racist society has on people of color,” Cook says. Richard says that, historically, Black women haven't Harriette Richard, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at sought out the medical care they need. “A part of the stereoJohnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, type is that we are strong, and we take care of other people, says that historically, Black women have always figured out and we’re the last to take care of ourselves,” she says. how to make the best of the situations they find themThere’s also a healthy distrust of mainstream mediselves in. Cook’s commitment to making holistic health cine in the Black community. treatments affordable speaks to Richard’s observation. “We have these stories from Henrietta Lacks to the For that reason, she has structured her salon as an L3C—a Tuskegee experiments,” Richard says. “We want to make low-profit limited liability corporation—because her main sure we can trust whoever is helping us move to this higher purpose is social good over profit. level of wellness.” “We’re interested in educating folks so they can learn In addition, Cook says, Black people have typically and understand that there’s a lot of practices we can seen self-care as a luxury and tend to focus on the exterdo on the daily to sustain us, and affordability is such a nal rather than the inner-self. “A lot of us just go to the big factor,” Cook says. Her group service method allows spa, and we feel like that’s when we get our self-care in,” guests to share the experience, space and cost for yoga, she says. meditation and acupuncture for as little as $25. Cook’s salon is a brightly lit home decorated with Jackson, also known as “Rita J,” has many hats— books on wellness, spirituality and culture; large pillows for herbalist, fashionista and international hip-hop recording lounging; and four chairs facing each other to encourage artist—and she slays them all. Inspired by her own poor communication among guests. When I walk in, Cook greets food choices while on tour, Jackson received an herb cerme with a cup of Oh So Medicinal tea, made by Jackson. tification in 2011, and continues to research and discover Cook and Kysia, who occasionally work at the salon, new herbs. were discussing their disappointment that they couldn’t She’s enthusiastic about the emergence of healing attend Jhane’s Soul Sunday event that day. Soul Sundays spaces on the South Side. “As a youngster, I had to travel are a monthly installation of SoulFreePeace and focus on to the North Side for everything, any little thing, whether yoga and peace circles—group discussions that provide that be for yoga, or a class for meditation, or anything a safe place to express an array of topics from sexual ‘spiritual,’” she says. trauma to spirituality. “I wanted to bring that to my community,” Kysia says. She relies on the support of other healers in the community for resources: Jackson vends her herbal blends, and Cook helps spread the word. “[Cook] knows what's going on within the wellness industry in terms of people of color and what their projects are,” Kysia adds. “We need each other to heal; we have to check up on each other and make sure we’re on the best path we can be on,” Jackson agrees. “I love to serve. It’s an offering. I want to help others—it’s not about me.” ¡

“A part of the stereotype is that we are strong, and we take care of other people, and we’re the last to take care of ourselves.”

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When does self-care turn into self-obsession? Written by Courtney Wolfe Illustration by Sarah Graf

Self-care is having a moment. The term has been hashtagged more than 4 million times on Instagram. It has been the topic of TED Talks and innumerable magazine stories. As a concept, self-care refers to attending to your own emotional, mental and physical needs and comforts. This can mean alleviating stress with soothing activities, but it also can mean eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising. It’s an important thing to remember—especially in a culture where work and school are so competitive. However, as with all good things, it was only a matter of time before it went bad. Marketers have taken advantage of the hype by selling


products like “self-care kits” and requiring social media influencers to use the term when promoting their products. Take vlogger Ingrid Nilsen for example: she posted a video about self-care on a bad day and it was sponsored by bareMinerals. While the self-care movement can and will be capitalized on just like any other movement, can this promotion of the me-first mentality also promote self-obsession? It depends. Self-care, despite the recent craze, is nothing new. There are mentions of it in literature from the 1800s, and even the ancient Greeks practiced self-care because they believed it made them better at caring for others. During the 1960s and 1970s, advocates of women’s rights and civil rights acknowledged the need for self-care to balance out the stress of their activism.

“It’s not new at all,” says Caroline Jordan, a wellness coach who has been working in the industry for the past 16 years. “Look at Oprah—that’s her whole thing. We’ve got a million people out there that preach selfcare, and maybe people just stopped listening for awhile because it had been so overused and abused.”

Setting limits

Taken too far, self-care can morph into self-obsession. “Emotional maturation is the ability to simultaneously be aware of who you are and what you feel and what others feel,” says Susan Heitler, Ph.D., author of Prescriptions Without Pills and The Power of Two: Secrets to a Strong & Loving Marriage. “Mental health is the ability to love and work. So, if all the loving energy is going to oneself, that becomes a narcissistic lifestyle.” Narcissism is a major factor in the declining rates of marriage, Heitler says. Someone totally focused on

“The only thing that makes me nervous is people who think about self-care, but don’t think about caring for anybody else.” —Keith Campbell, Ph.D.

according to Heitler, lack key social skills that predict success in the workplace. A 2004 study conducted themselves may not be able to mainby Campbell and others backs up this tain a mature and stable relationship. claim, showing that while narcissists “The only thing that makes me may be better workers in the shortnervous is people who think about term due to their desire to be the best, self-care but don’t think about they can bring harm to the company caring for anybody else,” says Keith long-term because of their inability Campbell, Ph.D., author of The Narto consider how their decisions may cissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of affect others. Entitlement. He gives the example of a In personal relationships, self-obfriend asking for a favor. If you say “no” session can be similarly destructive. and give the excuse of it being a “me “It’s an issue of balance,” Heitler says. day,” Campbell considers that to be “If you take good care of yourself, narcissistic behavior. that’s healthy living. But if 90 percent This type of self-obsession of your day is about making yourself shouldn’t be confused with Narcismore attractive, then that’s slipping sistic Personality Disorder, which on the narcissistic side.” afflicts only 1 percent of the general population, according to the 2013 edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Often, self-care is promoted on Manual of Mental Disorders. However, social media with face mask selfies, the number of people with narcissisyoga poses and luxurious bubble tic traits is much higher and rising. A baths. While Campbell says posting study by San Diego State University on social media is not an inherently found that 30 percent of American narcissistic act, expecting feedback college students responded narcisand validation based on appearance sistically on psychological tests, while can encourage narcissism. Posting only 15 percent did so in 1982. self-care pictures on social media can Narcissism of this kind can also even become a sort of competition for affect career success. Narcissists, narcissists, Campbell says.

Outside influences

Jordan agrees that the interplay of self-care and social media can become tricky. She tells her clients to unfollow content that makes them feel bad about themselves, whether it’s fitness inspiration or people bragging about their latest career success. Practicing beneficial self-care, Jordan says, is all about identifying your definition of well-being and taking actionable steps to get there. What’s most important, though, is knowing that self-care is not one size fits all. “I truly believe that self-care is the number one secret to success, but self-care looks different for everybody,” Jordan says. “Self-care is taking care of yourself in a way that is supportive of your health and well-being.” For over-stressed clients, Jordan may suggest choosing one night a week to turn their phone off at 6 p.m. For a client struggling with anxiety, Jordan may recommend using the Headspace app for meditation three times a week. If a client wants to stop isolating themselves, Jordan suggests they force themselves to make dinner plans with friends once a week and not cancel. And if you’re over the term “selfcare,” Campbell recommends replacing it with self-compassion: treating yourself as you would treat a friend. ¡

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Gotta Go? Chicago's top downtown pit stops Written by Katlyn Tolly Illustrations by Denise Wong

City dwellers, we’ve all been there: that sense of panic when you're in urgent need of a restroom, but you're in the middle of downtown. Clean public restrooms are a rare find in the city. And aesthetically pleasing ones? Dream on. Designers and users subconsciously overlook restrooms as a significant space, but they shouldn't, says Andrew Schachman, an architect and studio associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “People dislike making contact with the surfaces of bathrooms, so they don't interact with fixtures the way the fixtures tend to be designed,” Schachman says. “Consequently, they miss their mark, and a self-reinforcing downward cycle begins.” A bathroom should be one of the most well-kept spaces of a building, Schachman argues, because it’s an intimate space where emotions run high. “Human beings have to remove their clothing in these rooms,” Schachman says. “In these moments, the architecture becomes our clothing. Suddenly, we are more acutely aware of the building, the temperature of the room, the texture and hygienic quality of surfaces.” Though there are few public restrooms that would make Schachman's shortlist of what he would recommend to others, Echo rounded up some hidden gems that are on the right track when it comes to design, cleanliness and privacy.

Revival Food Hall

Bloomingdale’s Medinah Home 600 N. Wabash Ave.

Nordstrom 101 E. Chicago Ave.

Functionality is taken up a notch in this fourth-floor restroom, which is divided into three separate spaces. First, a baby changing room equipped with marble changing stations, illuminating mirrors and matching armchairs for parents to get a much-needed break. Second, a lounge featuring a leather sectional couch and rustic framed mirrors paired with modern, abstract art. Finally, a sleek bathroom customized with elongated wooden-door stalls to deliver a real sense of privacy.

Restoration Hardware

125 S. Clark St.

1300 N. Dearborn St.

Glass-bulb sconces, gold-framed mirrors and intricate tile detailing greet you when you step into Revival Food Hall’s public restroom. This Art Deco-style space cultivates a glamorous vibe that immediately makes you want to snap an Instagram-worthy selfie in the mirror.

We would only expect the best from a high-end furniture and décor store, and Restoration Hardware didn't let us down. Set with mood lighting, marble counters and brass hardware, it's worth stopping at this public restroom for the design alone.


Reminiscent of a traditional all-American home, this bathroom features marble countertops supported by white painted wooden trumpet legs, black and white floor tile, and floral artwork. Thanks to lavender-scented diffusers on the countertops, it always smells as fresh as the flowers in those frames.

Palmer House Hilton 17 E. Monroe St.

Because of its spacious lobby entrance and first floor bathroom, the Palmer House Hilton is the perfect location to discreetly take care of business. It's easily accessible, with a calming neutral color scheme and plenty of stalls to minimize the wait. 

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Now-defunct house venue Halloween All Year hosted Chicago bands in the living room.


Stomping Grounds Chicago’s punk scene finds community in combativeness Written by Tyra Bosnic Illustrations by Nick Rissmeyer

Sweat drips down your forehead in a cramped, crowded term for a staple Dunkin’ Donuts where local punks loiroom stuffed well past its safe occupancy. tered between shows. Air conditioning and personal space aren’t priorities This fervent sense of community is what draws many for you or the people crammed next to you, ready for the who feel like outsiders into the underground scene. But band at the front to start its set. The steady hum of idle what’s so fun about violently thrashing around to loud music? chatter suddenly gives way to whoops and yells as the first “That question has been going around since punk’s whine of a guitar and snap of a snare pierce the humid air. incarnation,” says Elwood Jay Fox, a local show organizer The band stands just inches away from the restless and musician. “It’s a release of energy. You can’t just go crowd. The gap shrinks as the audience—mostly made around beating people up like that [normally].” up of the band’s friends—pushes toward the musicians. The ability to shed societal expectations and express Finally, the first song begins, and you’re enveloped in the oneself without fear of judgment makes the punk scene raucous, pulsing crowd. a safe place, no matter how counterintuitive it may seem Eventually, you will retire into the night with a deafenfrom the outside. The visceral quality of a punk show is a ing ringing in your ears from the blaring amps, an ache in re-energizing escape from the mundane lives punk enthuyour feet from jumping to the rhythm, and maybe a bruise siasts lead, and it is soundtracked by short, fast and loud or two from the countless elbows that struck you in the songs that match the crowd’s pent-up energy from the ribs, chest or back. For some, this would be a nightho-hum of everyday life, according to Fox. mare—but for Chicago’s punks, it’s another night to fondly Because of this, the criteria for a good underground remember. Hot, humid basements are scenes for bonding. punk show aren’t like the criteria for a mainstream arena Punk, “dancing,” or rather moshing, crowd-killing and shov- rock or pop act. For punks, a band is worthwhile if its ing are signs of camaraderie. music can spark a wild feeling that can only be calmed Chicago’s punk music scene has been disregarding through hours of regulated rowdiness. norms and reinventing the meaning of community for de“There’s no other feeling like hearing live music. You cades. Members of the scene rejected the neighborhood get pulled into it. It’s like an overdrive almost,” Fox says. Starbucks for Lakeview’s late “Punkin’ Donuts”—a cheeky “You’re feeling the vibrations and all this different commo-

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Punk venues tend to liven their spaces with art and decorations.

tion around you. It gets you really hyped. ‘Hyped’ is the keyword.” It is that very energy that led Fox to play in bands with friends, regularly attend punk shows, book musicians and organize venues like Rabbit Hole X and the defunct Disastr House. The community is built on a do-it-yourself attitude. Musicians often flip their home into a venue, collect donations to pay for hosting the show, play a set and then join the crowd to watch other acts—all in one night. Unlike Chicago’s larger music venues, which operate at the mercy of city and county ordinances for live performance spaces, the threat of losing a live music license isn’t a concern for the house venues that already operate outside the law. With an almost inherent sense of rebellion, punks are able to mold the scene into what they want without much interference from outsiders—as long as they avoid the dreaded visit from police that can quickly shut a venue down. Many local punks use platforms like Facebook or Twitter to promote events but have to be careful to not to catch unwanted attention. Concertgoers are told to “ask a punk” for venues’ addresses in order to protect the locations from law enforcement. Suburban venues are much more visible to local authorities, Fox says.


“The cops have less to do out here [in the suburbs] so they’re more inclined to respond to that noise complaint and shut your show down than if you’re in the city,” Fox says. The thrill of protecting a collective secret adds to the sense that the punk scene is free from rigid hierarchies. Everyone involved is rebelling against the same authority simply by being in a house venue, so it would be counterproductive to allow one person or group to lead the scene when the point is to stick it to “the man.” For Fox, every punk is on equal footing. “It’s such an accepting environment," Fox says. “You don’t have to fall into any classifications or into any cliques to be a part of it.” Even so, the scene carries some of the harmful attitudes members are trying to escape from the world around them. Jill Lloyd Flanagan, whose stage name is Forced Into Femininity, says toxic masculinity can bleed into the scene. “Someone shoved me before the band even started playing, and there’s this very deliberate movement of dudes being like, ‘You’re not allowed to be up here hanging out and watching music. This is a bro-only space,’” Flanagan says. “It felt like a very violent move to remove us from the space.” Fox also has seen attendees violate the supportive ethos he believes punk embodies. Once, at a hardcore

concert at Disastr House in Rockford, Fox was shoved so hard he suffered an injury he could not afford to treat. Another show attendee was too rough during the show and pushed Fox into a pole, leaving him with a gash on his face. “I was a poor punk in Rockford at the time, so I didn’t go to the hospital. I actually still have a lump on my face because of it,” Fox says. Some of the scene’s newcomers have had difficulty finding their places in the community. When they first entered Chicago’s music scene, John Retterer-Moore and Mia Blixt-Shehan, who make up the band Lemon Knife, ran into local cliques that weren’t as accepting as they hoped. “It definitely depends on the company you’re in,” Blixt-Shehan says. “First getting into the Chicago music scene, it seems like a lot of the local people are kind of jerks.” Despite this, Lemon Knife played their first do-ityourself show at the house venue Halloween All Year in February 2018 before it was shut down two months later. It was their first time playing in a living room. “It’s a good release,” Retterer-Moore says. “Everyone is looking out for each other, but at the same time, there’s an almost violent energy to it. It’s a cathartic type of thing.” Flanagan insists that punk should empower women and other marginalized groups. Those who are hostile

toward other in the punk scene are violating a core value of a community where members open their homes to strangers and allow them to slam dance and sing with reckless abandon for a few hours a night, she says. “We are increasingly lacking in moments where we can physically commune and free ourselves of a lot of the boundaries that we are constantly putting around each other,” Flanagan says. In that crowded room—where only the punks know the address, where bonding has a different meaning—you see those boundaries fall away. At the end of the night, you’re left with more than those cuts, scrapes and bruises from moshing: You’re leaving knowing what rebellion feels like.

Halloween All Year shut down April 2018 after the landlord threatened the organizer with eviction.

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Invisible Other Can a virtual relationship make you happy? Written by Katlyn Tolly Illustrations by Sarah Graf

Imagine a zero-conflict relationship, one that caters to Licensed marriage and family therapist and president your every emotional want and need. Does it sound too of Chicago Center for Relationship Counseling, Josh good to be true? Well, a pair of virtual dating apps are Hetherington fears some users might mistake these making it a reality. relationships for real ones. Dating apps Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible “My primary concern is that somebody would get Boyfriend promise users the emotional support of a loving swept up into some sort of fantasy world where they really relationship “without the baggage.” Users pick selfies from thought that this other person existed,” Hetherington says. a gallery, then work with anonymous writers to create “But I’m imagining that is going to be the rare case.” their fake partners. Everything—names, hobbies, even the stories of how they met—is created by the users. Real people then play the characters and have text conversations with the users. For $24.99 a month, an introductory package includes 200 text messages and one personalized note. Invisible Girlfriend won a 2015 Webby People’s Choice award in the “Weird” category for the St. Louis-based parent company Crowdsource. The perfect partner could sound like a dream for some, but Amanda Hofbauer, AMFT, a Chicago-based Still, he says, the apps could be helpful for clients with therapist at Relationship Reality 312, says these apps dating anxiety. “In a therapy situation, I could imagine it can set unrealistic expectations for users who lack being useful getting through a threshold of discomfort,” experience dating. he says. “[Invisible Girlfriends] are being paid to make you All three therapists agree there are better ways to feel good,” Hofbauer says. “And that’s a really dangerous receive emotional support than through these apps. “Try pattern to get used to.” to be open with what you need from the people around Hofbauer notes the apps lack the reciprocity of a real you,” Hetherington says. “If you find yourself really relationship. “You don’t have to care about their thoughts, struggling with being able to do that, try to understand Abeliefs, hopes and fears,” Hofbauer says. what’s keeping you from doing that.” And, he notes, a ppe ara nce Conflict is also absent from these virtual licensed therapist can help. relationships. Even if the user instigates a fight, the “I often say to clients that choosing a partner is not fictional partner is required to steer the conversation about finding issue-free relationships,” Hofbauer says. e Agissues Pers in a positive direction. “It’s about choosing which set of you can live with. onal ity Amanda Berry, a licensed couple therapist and owner If you’re looking for a perfect relationship, it’s not going of Revive Relationship Therapy in Lincoln Park, agrees. to exist.” y “These apps are used to fulfill short-term loneliness, but alit Invisible Girlfriend and its co-founders did not n Age to multiple requests for comment.  when it comes to building intimacy, it’s really impossible,” Perso respond Agsays. eA she g arance

There are better ways to receive emotional support than through these apps.


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At the AbilityLab, new limbs change lives Written by Laurence Almalvez Photography by Moe Zoyari

A young man with a buzz cut covered by a hoodie struggles to pick up a business card from a chair. Rather than simply twisting his wrist, he rotates his entire forearm— which is comprised of plastic and metal—in an attempt to position a terminal hook that has replaced his hand. He stops, removes his arm, readjusts the straps around his shoulders and tries again. It’s just another day in the prosthetic wing of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The world of prosthetics has come a long way, says Nicole Soltys, C.P., clinical operations manager of prosthetics and orthotics at the AbilityLab, which is nationally ranked as the top rehabilitation hospital by U.S. News &


World Report. Advancements in robotics and bionics have allowed artificial limbs to be more lifelike in function and provide their owners with better mobility. But technology is only part of the story.

A human touch

Learning to live with a new limb is a physical and psychological challenge. Some patients have lost a limb suddenly in a traumatic accident, while others lost it gradually due to an ongoing medical condition, such as diabetes or an infection. In the process, patients can also lose self-confidence, develop negative body image and fear rejection. For this reason, medical professionals offer assistance

that goes well beyond fitting prosthetics. They may have spective as professionals: we have worked with hundreds to help patients through the grieving process so they can of kids with the same condition.” gain a sense of independence and normality in their everyBecause they are still growing, children may go day life through the aid of a prosthetic. through hundreds of fitting appointments and develop As a result of this process, the road to rehabilitation a deep relationship with their prosthetist. Soltys is comrequires a human touch. The relationship between a mitted to helping these kids get what they want out of life, patient and their prosthetist, occupational therapist and whether that’s learning an instrument or entering their physician—among others—are key to a patient’s recovery desired career field. as they learn to navigate life with their new limb. “Losing a limb can be one of the most difficult things a patient will ever experience,” Soltys says. She works with The process of making a prosthetic takes one to three patients to evaluate what they are able to do, learn about months. The AbilityLab makes 600 to 700 a year, and they their goals and select the best prosthesis to help accomlast three to five years before they have to be replaced. plish them. While the prosthetic is adjusted for fit and But amid all these limbs, Soltys says the key is seeing comfort, Soltys addresses the softer side of the transition. each patient as an individual. “Try to look past the shape “We also serve to continually encourage our patients of a person’s body and remember that this is a unique indithrough the rehabilitation process and help them to see vidual who has goals, talents and their own story,” she says. the light at the end of the tunnel.” “The individual may change, struggle and grow through the Adapting includes caring for what’s left of the lost experience of losing a limb, and they may need to adapt limb. Bridget Hahn, an occupational therapist and the how they get around or how they do things, but they are AbilityLab’s allied health training and orientation manstill the same person at the core.” ager, works with patients on pre-prosthetic training. This Christopher Reger, M.D., physiatrist, associate profesprocess involves helping people relearn their bodies and sor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and associate care for their skin and residual limb. Before they get their residency program director, says the relationships in the prosthesis, she helps them learn how to function without AbilityLab demonstrate how alike people are, not how their prosthetic through the use of a wheelchair or walker. different people are. “We’re all at risk to have a disability, But the process varies for the patients who have lost a so we really should treat people with respect who have diseased limb. “Some people we see have been living with disabilities, because it could be one of us.”  a painful limb for a long time, so this is a really interesting thing where they’re happy,” Hahn says. Those people have had more time to come to terms with limb loss than a person who experienced a sudden traumatic event. It’s also different for those who are simply born without a limb or extremity, which is referred to as a limb difference, and the patients can be as young as toddlers. In fact, six of 10,000 babies are born with a limb defect, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. —Nicole Soltys, Prosthetist “The first role that we play [for a child with a limb difference] is supporting the parents,” Soltys says. “Sometimes learning that their child has a limb difference can be devastating to the parents. But we have a different per-

The big picture

“Sometimes learning that their child has a limb difference can be devastating to the parents.”

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Previous pages: Kheim Le, C.P., examines a test prosthesis ready for a patient’s upcoming fitting appointment. To further tune the prosthetic leg to the individual’s walking style, Breanne Moen, C.P., looks on as a patient takes his new leg for a stroll. Counter clockwise starting at the top right: The display case provides examples of devices for patients, so they know what to expect. They can see, touch and hold the devices to get a better idea of their weight, shape, color and appearance. Rob Jeffries, orthotic resident, adjusts an ankle foot orthosis. Ken Boggs, certified orthotist, adjusts an ankle foot orthosis. These can be customized using a heat-active transfer paper that has licensed images such as Superman and Scooby Doo. Michelle Helsten, P&O technician, prepares a transfemoral model for lamination. Breanne Moen, C.P., helps a patient with the fit and function of a prosthesis. A custom cover will then be added to the lower pylon.

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Pet Care A new generation of robots seeks to improve human health Written by Laurence Almalvez Illustrations by Nick Rissmeyer

Meeting room 196 at McCormick Place looks like a Bennett then turns raw data from the collar into meaningscene out of a science fiction movie. A red robot rocks ful information by running it through various algorithms. back and forth on two wheels while people gather The results can be used to predict fluctuations in patient around discussing its applications. A holographic prodepression levels up to two weeks in advance. The predicjection of a human face mimics and responds to human tions so far have an estimated 75 percent accuracy rate. interaction. A drone glides through the air controlled by After the trial, Bennett says participants had a difficult its user’s hand movements. time retuning the robots to the company. Many had formed But it’s an adorable, fuzzy robot dog that could bonds with them, similar to those formed with actual pets. revolutionize how we think about healthcare. In some cases, therapeutic interventions were needed This robot dog, Therabot, and the array of other before removing the robots from people’s homes. technological marvels were stars of the Human-Ro“For some of them, we took pictures of them with bot Interaction Conference held in March 2018. The the socially assistive robot,” says Jennifer Piatt, Ph.D., theme was “Robots for Social Good,” and hundreds associate professor and associate chair of research in the of researchers from around the world were there to department of recreation, parks, and tourism studies for exchange the latest technologies and ideas in the field Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public Health. of robots and applied sciences. “We went in and talked with them and processed that with Therabot is the latest project by Casey Bennett, them when we removed the robot, so that sense of loss Ph.D, chief scientific officer for Raiven Healthcare, was less.” a Tennessee-based company with a Chicago office Access to a live support animal is effective for easing that integrates robotics and artificial intelligence loneliness and for relieving stress, anxiety and depression, with healthcare. Therabot is in the process of being according to Piatt. But some people lack access to these developed to monitor health in real time. It is designed services or can’t have a pet where they live. For them, the specifically to be a health intervention tool for children. robots function as a therapy animal. The technology behind Therabot was inspired by The Food and Drug Administration has approved PARO, a Japanese-designed therapeutic robot seal PARO as a medical device, and Bennett expects the that responds to touch, makes eye contact and learns stuffed robots will become even more sophisticated as what actions cause people to respond positively. These technology advances. The sensor collars have the potenrobots simulate the role of a therapy dog, reducing a pa- tial to pick up a range of different environmental contamitient’s stress and anxiety. Raiven Healthcare conducted nants—which are a contributing factor to, if not a primary clinical trials using PARO with an elderly population and cause of, many neurological conditions and chronic found the robotic seals were highly effective at alleviatillnesses, he says. ing depression. “People’s health doesn’t happen when you show up “A lot of the medications like antidepressants at the doctor’s office,” Bennett says. “It’s happening every have nasty side effects, and a lot of people struggle to single day. We need to get away from this notion that health stay on them,” Bennett says. “But if we can get people is when something goes wrong.” this furry, cuddly robotic pet instead and get the same Although science fiction has always warned us that effect, that would be a great alternative therapy.” the advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence can Raiven Healthcare is using artificial intelligence to be harmful, the inventions on display at the Human-Robot augment and expand both PARO and Therabot’s uses Interaction Conference are a reminder that technology in the medical field. Collaborators at Indiana University often serves a nobler cause. Bloomington built a collar for PARO with sensors that “The human element is often forgotten,” Bennett says. detect things like visual information, sound and motion. “And that’s the key.”

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Why are plus-size clothing options still slim? Written by Marisa Sobotka Photography by Moe Zoyari Illustrations by Cecsily Bianchi


The fashion industry is always changing to reflect the latest trends and styles, but one portion of the industry is lagging behind. Despite spending more than $21 billion a year, customers shopping for plus-size fashion, defined as size 14 and larger, continue to be met with inconsistent sizing, pricing and styles. A 2015 report by Plunkett Research found that 67 percent of female consumers in the U.S. are plus-size, yet only 18 percent of clothing is sold specifically in plus sizes. No wonder, then, that marketing research company NPD Group found that 62 percent of plus-size women struggle to find clothing that fits them and looks good. This might come as a surprise to consumers who see prominent models like Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday promoting size-diverse brands like Torrid, Lane Bryant and Swimsuits For All. They make it appear as though the fashion industry is taking steps toward inclusion. But more often than not, plus-size visibility stops at size 16.

Just ask Natalie Craig, creator of the popular Chicago-based, plus-size fashion blog, Natalie in the City. “[People] like when they can see someone who looks like them wearing clothes that they want to wear, looking sexy or beautiful and being strong,” she says. For women over size 18, this experience is rare, Craig says. It is the driving force behind her blog.

Selling the stigma

Craig recalls an experience with her straight-size friends in which she expressed that she felt fat and her friends replied by telling her that she’s beautiful. Craig immediately recognized a dissonance; she never said she wasn’t beautiful. But to her friends and millions of others, the words “fat” and “beautiful” are mutually exclusive. Craig says a lot of the stigma comes from the notion that fat bodies are only temporary, something she talks about extensively on her blog. She posits that many retail-

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ers assume fat women are striving to lose weight, to reveal their “true bodies” and fit into single-digit sizes. In fact, many plus-size women don’t even know what size to shop for. Part of the problem is that the U.S., unlike Europe, has no universal sizing standards. Instead, sizing varies widely from retailer to retailer. To put this into perspective, if a plus-size shopper decided to visit the plus-size section of Forever 21, H&M and Target in one day, they would wear a different size in each location. This chaotic sizing can lead to confusion and shame in plus-size shoppers, who may be a size 22 at one store but a 28 somewhere else. Additionally, plus-size customers often pay more for the same clothing as straight-size customers. Although it varies by retailer, prices tend to increase above size 14. This makes plus-size shoppers feel further removed from the “normal” customers, affecting both self-image and the development of their personal styles. Apparel expert and business consultant Gabriele Goldaper attributes these higher prices to decisions made during the production and distribution process. The additional fabric cost is passed on from the wholesaler to the retailer, who then decides the product’s cost. For an average garment, Goldaper says, 60 percent of the cost is raw materials and 40 percent is labor. Since plus sizes require more fabric, they cost more to produce and therefore cost more to purchase. The sense of being a size outlier is enhanced when retailers section off a small area devoted to plus-size clothing, often offering less appealing styles that are priced higher than the straight-sized options. “That is just one more way [retailers] are isolating the plus-size consumer from partaking in fashion,” Craig says. “The fashion industry has told her that she is not worthy of wearing fashionable clothing.” The implications of neglecting plus-size customers go beyond fashion. Sarah Farris, LCPC, who specializes in mental disorders and body image, has worked with many plus-size female clients who struggle with low self-esteem. “There is a sort of implication we see in pop culture, media





Plus-size customers often pay more for the same styles and have fewer choices. and advertising that success, beauty and happiness come from being small,” Farris says.

Trying to fit in

Consumers are forced to see this implication everywhere. Taking a walk through any department store, you will most likely see the smallest sizes prominently displayed on petite mannequins. As you move deeper into the store, the sizes grow larger and the options grow smaller, until you finally stumble upon a plus-size section in the back corner of the store with a tiny selection of styles. If you do find a style you like, the next step is trying it on. This puts you inside an enclosed fitting room with harsh lighting and a multitude of often unflattering mirrors. All of these factors, Farris says, contribute to what can be a “triggering” experience for some plus-size consumers. “Trying on clothes is a very vulnerable experience,” Craig agrees. “Getting naked in front of a different mirror and not having something fit you correctly is dreadful and it happens all the time.” Fortunately, a few retailers have begun altering their stores to accommodate plus-size shoppers. Brands like Target and Meijer have integrated plus-size apparel within their women’s clothing departments, offering all styles for all body shapes without “othering” plus-size bodies. For Meijer, the decision to integrate was easy, but the actual implementation wasn’t so simple. Annette Repasch, the group vice president of Softlines for Meijer, says the 2017 integration of its plus-size lines was made possible by strong collaboration with its manufacturers and suppliers. Meijer first reached out and asked for styles to be cut in a




Chicago-based blogger Natalie Craig continues to promote plus-size inclusivity through her writing and brand collaborations.

full range of sizes. Then, Meijer asked for a cost reduction on the plus-size garments. “Traditionally, plus-size clothing costs an average four to six, and sometimes even $8 more,” she says. “Thankfully, most of our partners were willing to work with us from a cost and extended line perspective.” With that perspective achieved, Meijer marketed to its customer base and successfully integrated plus- size

The average size of an American woman is now 16, and they are growing more demanding.





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women’s apparel in all of its 235 stores. One year later, it has received a flood of positive feedback and numerous inquiries from competing brands that want to adapt and join in the success. “We want to continue to help women of all sizes find clothes that make them feel comfortable and fashionable at an affordable price,” Repasch says. “It was a bold move, but it was needed.” The need for the fashion industry to treat its plus-size customers better is only going to increase. The average size of an American woman is now 16, and the body positivity movement is making them more demanding and vocal. Still, Goldaper doesn’t see the plus-size industry becoming fashion’s main focus any time soon. “Retailing is a volatile industry, and it changes constantly,” she says. “That defines the winners from the losers. Those that are with the changes will stay in business and make money.”





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Breaking Away

For Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s not easy to leave the fold

Written by Sofia Avendano

Illustration by Zoë Haworth

I trailed behind my mother as we approached the next house, keeping my gaze fixed on her shoes. They were plain, black, worn and slightly stretched from the swelling that accompanied carrying my brother for nine months. I purposely stomped on the gravel we stood on, reveling in the crunch it unleashed into the otherwise quiet neighborhood. It was 8 a.m. on a Saturday, and I knew how this day was going to go. It would unfold exactly like every other Saturday I could remember. I kept my gaze down as my mother knocked on the stranger’s door, the sharp raps disturbing the silence. We waited. There was the sound of movement inside. And then— “Thanks, but no thanks.” That was how it usually went. Sometimes we were lucky and someone would listen to us for more than five minutes. It was only on those rare occasions that I would dare to lift my gaze, listening to the conversation carefully. No matter how the door-todoor visits ended, my mother would walk away with a smile on her face. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for their door-to-door proselytizing, often waking people up in the early weekend hours with a Bible in hand and a speech ready. But there’s far more to this Christian denomination that sets it apart from other denominations. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Armageddon is imminent. They refuse military service and blood transfusions. They don’t celebrate birthdays, Christmas or Easter. And aside from door-to-door evangelism, they mostly keep to themselves. My mother didn’t grow up as a Jehovah’s Witness. She was, however, indoctrinated when she was a young teen by her own mother. When she married my father, a devout Catholic,


she faced the possibility of excommunication for associating with people from other religions. Despite the looming adversity, she remained steadfast in her faith, even continuing to practice after our small family moved from Guatemala to the United States. It wasn’t until my parents’ divorce when I was 16 that I pulled away from the religion. I realized then that it was impossible for everything to be perfect; setting strict rules for how to live only made living harder. It wasn’t an easy change. When you’ve been taught for your entire life that the world is a certain way, unlearning it is a long, difficult process. At this point, my family began to get a sense of how trapped I felt. I had no idea that there were other people who, like me, grew up in the religion and struggled to get out. But there were. Nadia Alexandra, 24, left the Jehovah’s Witnesses when she was 18. “I used to be afraid, going door to door, that I would knock on one of my teacher’s houses because my school was in some of the territories, so it was awfully nerve-racking,” she says. “I wanted to just turn around when someone answered the door; I just didn’t want them to see my face.” The bulk of Alexandra’s childhood, as well as my own, consisted of preaching and two-hour meetings to learn the word of God. My memories of those days have become hazy, likely from the constant effort to disconnect myself from that life. Moving on sometimes means trying to forget the past entirely. Yet what has stuck with me to this day is how lonely and fearful I felt then. I was constantly afraid of doing something wrong that would displease my parents or God. The punishment was entirely emotional; disappointing your parents and elders meant you

wouldn’t be able to get baptized or enced sexual abuse in her home. the religion because their families are. make it into the promised paradise. “In terms of the religion, the woman’s If there is a member who is an outsider, That was what every Jehovah’s body especially is shameful,” she they are not talked about. Witness was yearning for; it was the says. “All of it involved hiding womReynolds was never baptized, reason they studied methodically and en’s bodies.” which he considers a good thing. If spent hours getting doors shut in their But it was out of this that her a baptized member of the Jehovah’s faces. Only those who followed God’s rebellion began to grow. “My interest Witnesses does something that goes word would make it through Armain fashion grew during my early teen against the oath they took to live their geddon to live forever in paradise. years,” she recalls. “I made a point life according to the word of God, they Early on I knew this wasn’t for me. to always dress the way I wanted to, are completely excommunicated. There was something off about these even if it meant that my back might Without a baptism, Reynolds wouldn’t beliefs, but it was all I knew. be exposed or the length of my dress face that fate. Alexandra recalls the perceived grazed the tops of my knees.” Reynolds left the religion 10 years importance of moving up in the Alexandra found support in ago at the age of 20. Since then, he’s congregation. “There was a lot of the people around her. She would had a lot of time to think about his stress around becoming a ministerial tell classmates and teachers, “My experiences. “I truly feel like I’m just servant and, eventually, an elder,” she parents are like this. They don’t know being more of myself every day,” he says, noting her father’s elder status. anything about who I really am, what says. “I haven’t gone to a memorial in An elder in the Jehovah’s Witness my life is like [or] my friendships.” a decade. I celebrated my first birthcommunity is a man—and only a Even her friends’ parents helped day when I was 21.” man—who holds a position of authorcover for her by fabricating what she My first birthday celebration was ity and responsibility. A ministerial did on the weekends to ensure she when I was 17, a year after I had offiservant is an assistant to the elders. didn’t displease her parents. cially left the religion. It was a strange After graduating from high experience, but the happiness I felt school, Alexandra moved from the around my friends and even my own suburbs of Chicago to the city. Still mother, who had finally accepted my recovering from the abuse she choice, felt right. experienced, she found help through “They are typically learning how to therapy and performance. be just a normal person in the world,” “For people that have taken their Winell says of people who leave the religion so seriously, those are the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “Almost like an people that find it the most traumatic immigrant to a foreign culture.” [to leave],” says Marlene Winnell, Ph.D. As a child, I was constantly told author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide that I would die in Armageddon if I for Former Fundamentalists and didn’t go to the meetings regularly Others Leaving Their Religion. “The and apply the word and teachings of —Nadia Alexandra religion can provide a whole foundaGod to everyday life. I followed this tion of living, who you are and what path out of an instinct to please the There were two teachings that life is all about.” She puts emphasis people around me, out of fear and, were drilled into me as I grew up: on the idea of reconstructing oneself ultimately, to survive. Children must obey their parents and needing to discover a “new idenBut if I’m being honest with and elders, and women must obey tity” after leaving. myself, it was also out of love. The their husbands. Sex was a taboo Even when it’s the best thing to idea of facing Armageddon just to get topic, and anything beyond heterodo, it’s difficult to cut yourself off from the chance to spend more time with sexuality was demonized. the people you grew up with. There the people you love seemed worth it. “Jesus didn’t encourage his folaren’t many happy memories, but I Reynolds, Alexandra and I lowers to accept any and all lifestyles. do remember the people who were had very different childhoods from Rather, he taught that the way to salkind to me. I wish had met them under most of the people around us today. vation is open to ’everyone exercising different circumstances. There’s one thing we all agree on: faith in him,’” a passage in the 2010 Jake Reynolds* feels similarly You shouldn’t go along with somepublication of Awake! says under the about his experience growing up as a thing that makes you uncomfortable, section “How Can I Explain the Bible’s Jehovah’s Witness in southeast Kansas. whether it’s a person, a place, a job or View of Homosexuality?” Another After his father died, his mother rea religion. example can be found in the book married into what he calls a “rebellious If something isn’t right for you, it’s Questions Young People Ask, which family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” okay to break away.  refers to bisexuality as a “phase.” “They fought it and were the bad *Jake Reynolds’ name was changed Alexandra, internalizing these kids,” Reynolds says. “The guys that to protect his privacy. doctrines, found herself often diswalked in late [to meetings].” sociating from her body. This deeply Only half of his family members rooted shame about her own body are still Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is was compounded when she experirare. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses are in

“I wanted to just turn around when someone answered the door; I just didn’t want them to see my face.”

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Lfe Lines A prison pen-pal program provides help inside and out Written by Talia Wright & Gretchen Sterba Letters Courtesy of Samantha Dunn & Linnea Hurst


Dearest Linnea, I woke up this morning and had a feeling that it was going to be a good day. Fortunately I was wrong because it was a great day. Between going to classes then heading into work, yes I actually have to ‘work’ not just sit around at a place I call job, can get very hectic here at the Factory trying to get orders filled and making sure we have enough material to complete. The thing that made my day good was everything seemed to run so smoothly. But the event that turned my day to a great day was seeing my name on the mail list, then more importantly seeing the return name on the envelope. Seeing that has completed my day to its fullest. Love, Samantha Samantha Dunn, 42, is an inmate at United States Penitentiary, Marion, a medium-security prison in southern Illinois. She sends letters like this about once a month to her pen pal, Linnea Hurst. In her spare time, she writes and talks about her day-to-day experiences living as a transgender woman in a male prison. It can be hard, Dunn says, but she would be nowhere without her cherished pen pal. “It’s given me so much more energy to actually move forward in my life,” she says. “It’s given me the motivation to actually better myself so, upon my release, I’ll be more successful. It’s definitely given me a lot of light.” Linnea Hurst, 25, receives Dunn’s letters at her home in Rogers Park. She opens each one with excitement. “I don’t have co-workers, so if I come home after a long day of work feeling lonely and I get a card from her, it makes me feel seen and good,” Hurst says. “I remember she knows me really well and cares for me.” Hurst selected Dunn as a pen pal in August 2016 after reading several introduction letters provided to her by Black & Pink, a prison abolitionist organization dedicated to providing resources to members of the LGBTQ community who are incarcerated. She continues to write despite later learning Dunn’s daunting conviction: possession of child pornography, which netted her an eight year and one month sentence. Due to good behavior, Dunn says she should be out one year earlier. Through Black & Pink’s pen pal program, they are able to exchange letters, photos and emails as well as phone calls. One of Dunn’s earliest letters to Hurst was very honest about her crimes. “My mindset was, I got nothing to lose. If I tell her the truth, she’s either going to accept me or she’s not going to accept me. But if I lie to her, she can find out herself and then I’m going to hurt her that much more,” Dunn says. Perhaps for this reason, she waited a year for a pen pal to choose her.

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“Somehow, things were sent and said at the right time to help motivate me to say, ‘Yes, I am important and I do matter!’” —Samantha Dunn

When she first applied, the organizers warned her there were more people requesting the pen pal service on the inside than there were people writing from the outside. And then, a letter arrived from Hurst. “That very first letter was such a blessing, as well as many more letters since then,” Dunn said in an email. “Somehow, things were sent and said at the right time to help motivate me to say, ‘Yes, I am important and I do matter!’” Black & Pink was started over a decade ago in Boston by Rev. Jason Lydon after he served a six-month prison sentence for trespassing during a protest, where he learned how poorly LGBTQ prisoners are treated. Lydon began sending letters to incarcerated friends to keep in touch with them. Other inmates found out and began writing to him, too, seeking letters of their own. Soon, Lydon was overwhelmed and recruited people to take on some of the work. From there, Black & Pink was born. In 2013, a group in Chicago hosted a holiday card writing event in Chicago. Nikki Morse, a member of Black & Pink’s pen pal support team, says that the event got so many enthusiastic responses they decided to open a Chicago chapter of Black & Pink. From there, the organization expanded to nine chapters across the country.


In addition to connecting LGBT and H.I.V.-positive inmates with pen pals, the Chicago chapter lobbies against solitary confinement in Illinois prisons and works with other organizations on political education, Morse says. It also partners with other prison abolition groups and works on building community. Hurst says Black & Pink’s mission to humanize incarcerated individuals helps people look at prison systems differently. “It’s one thing to read an article about what abolition means and say, ’I don’t think our world is made safer or better by prisons. I think we should build something new,’” Hurst says. “But to actually write someone in a prison—that’s actually doing abolition. By getting to know someone personally, one specific human being, and their hopes and fears and dreams and their favorite food and their pet peeves, they become a human.” This is particularly important for transgender people, whose chances of being incarcerated are especially high. According to a 2011 joint study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 21 percent of all transgender women have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. Dunn says there are about a dozen transgender women at USP Marion,

but Hurst is the one person she can turn to no matter the subject. Dunn writes to her about her past pets and her current hopes and dreams. She writes about her life before prison and the monotony of a day behind bars. Hurst shares her experiences on the outside and keeps Dunn updated on current affairs. She also played a critical role when Dunn was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, formerly known as gender identity disorder, and denied the hormones she needed for transitioning. Dunn approached Hurst to see if Black & Pink could provide legal aid, resources and proper literature to help her obtain the hormones. Hurst reached out to Black & Pink’s pen pal support program and was immediately put in touch with someone who was able to connect Dunn with Crystal Reed, another prisoner at USP Marion, who had just gotten access to hormones. Unfortunately, Reed had transferred to a different prison, but she was able to share the laws and arguments she had cited to get her hormones. Dunn won that battle in early 2017 and has been taking hormones since. “I just wanted to be that one to help others because I knew what they were going through,” Reed says about being able to pass her knowledge along. “I knew the pain they were going through, the suffering of having to present yourself as a gender that you’re not.”

Hurst is sensitive to the obvious power imbalance between herself and Dunn; Black & Pink advises pen pals to be extremely aware of the power dynamic and equalize the power as much as possible. Within this structure, Hurst regards Dunn as a mentor. “We help each other both ways, and I have so much to learn from her. [That] helps switch it from ’I’m helping her,’ which is not that simple. She’s older than me. She has so much life experience.” Beyond the gratification and benefits of providing a pen pal, Dunn credits Black & Pink with helping mentally prepare her for returning to life on the outside. “The biggest thing that Black & Pink has done is to let me know I’m not alone, and I’m not the only one inside the bars that struggles with certain issues,” Dunn says. “Hearing some of the stories about transgender [people’s] release from prison, and how they’ve been able to survive and reintegrate, those stories have definitely helped me.” 

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Rest in Progress Cemeteries are so 21st century. What’s next? Written by Jonathon Sadowski Collages by Nick Rissmeyer

Even in death, we can’t escape the modern issues of overcrowding, resource depletion and pollution. Cemeteries around the world are filling up, and Chicago is no exception. Even the suburban graveyards will reach capacity in 40 to 60 years, according to local cemetery historian Barry Fleig, who has rediscovered and helped preserve forgotten cemeteries in Chicago. Burials include more than bodies. Each year, mourners in the United States inter an estimated 30 million feet of hardwood, 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, 104,272 tons of steel and 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete, according to a January 2012 article in the Berkeley Planning Journal. In addition, embalming uses 827,060 gallons of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Cremation isn’t an ideal alternative, either, says Jennifer Johnson, burial coordinator and co-founder of Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, an eco-friendly cemetery in Newfield, New York. Crematories burn large amounts of fossil fuel—around 25 gallons per body—and can release mercury from tooth fillings into the atmosphere. So what might cemeteries look like in a hundred years? These current practices suggest what could become more common in the future.


Water cremation

Green burials

Why get incinerated when you can slowly dissolve until all that’s left is your skeleton and any metal implants? That’s what a process called alkaline hydrolysis offers. Bodies are submerged in a solution of water and lye while a machine gently circulates the liquid, effectively creating the world’s most morbid wave pool. Water cremation’s carbon footprint is only about a tenth of traditional cremation, according to Ryan Cattoni, owner of Illinois’ first alkaline hydrolysis facility, AquaGreen Dispositions in South Holland.

Casket materials and embalming fluids are not eco-friendly. In green burials, a body is left untreated after death and put in a quickly decomposing coffin. Some cemeteries exclusively hold green burials. “It’s truly completing the natural cycle, and it’s allowing the body to decompose and give back to the earth,” says Johnson.

Tomb towers Brazil is home to the world’s tallest cemetery, Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica. It has continually expanded since its opening in 1983 and is now 32 stories tall with a capacity of 25,000 rented tombs. The bones are then moved at the end of the rental period. American cemeteries have adopted mausoleums up to 10 graves high and 70 wide, but Fleig says Chicago-area cemeteries “haven’t even thought about going up” to the level of a skyscraper of death yet.

Tree pods A handful of companies offer burial pods in which bodies or ashes can help nourish a living tree. One of the most well-known tree pod companies, Italy-based Capsula Mundi, offers burial urns for ashes and is working to offer larger pods containing full bodies placed in the fetal position.

Memorial diamonds A handful of companies offer lab-grown diamonds created from the carbon found in ashes and hair. Carbon is filtered out of the remains and pressed at extremely high pressures, according to Swiss memorial diamond company Algordanza’s website. Prices range from $3,000 to upwards of $30,000 depending on the diamond’s size and cut.

Space ashes In a turn toward science fiction, people can realize their astronautical dreams by having their cremated remains launched into space. A handful of companies currently offer the service, and two, Celestis and Elysium Space, can even shoot ashes onto the moon. Prices are as low as $1,300 for a low orbit—resulting in a return to Earth—but can rocket past $12,000 for a trip to the moon or launch into deep space.

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More stories at

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Staff 2018 Sarah Graf Creative Director Khai Clardy Section Editor Tyra Bosnic Executive Editor Cecsily Bianchi Brand Manager Sofia Avendano Web Copy Editor Laurence Almalvez Section Editor

Jason Min Art Director Sadie Miller Managing Editor

Amanda Kaplan Social Media Editor

Madeline McQuillan Art Integration Editor

Ben Hullinger Web Designer ZoĂŤ Haworth Web Designer Brooke Pawling Copy Editing Chief Ana Ojeda Graphic Designer Neriza Miranda Graphic Designer 114

Gretchen Sterba Web Editor Marisa Sobotka Section Editor Andrea Salcedo Production Manager Jonathon Sadowski Section Editor Nick Rissmeyer Creative Director

Moe Zoyari Photo Editor Talia Wright Fact-Checking Chief Denise Wong Web Designer Courtney Wolfe Features Editor Sarah Trobee Art Director Katlyn Tolly Web Editor

Guy Villa, Jr. Design Advisor Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin Editoral Advisor

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The Body Issue

Spring 2018

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