THE ID ISSUE
Thread is an independent student publication and the only fashion, lifestyle and art magazine at Cornell. Thread is a conglomeration of student-made fashion, art, photography, styling, and design. It is published semesterly, and aims to showcase the interdisciplinary talents of individuals within the Cornell community through its attention to compelling visual and written storytelling. Thread encourages students of all disciplines to join our team. If you are interested in working on Thread, please contact us. Web thethreadmagazine.com Email email@example.com Facebook facebook.com/thethreadmagazine Instagram @threadmag
The Thread Magazine, an independent student organization located at Cornell University, produced and is responsible for the content of this publication. This publication was not reviewed or approved by, nor does it necessarily express or reflect the policies or opinions of, Cornell University or its designated representatives. Funded in part by the Student Aseembly Funding Commission.
Editorial Sarah Chekfa John Payne Maya Kamaeva Eliana Rozinov Gabrielle Leung Teagan Todd Andrea OrduĂąa Photography
Ariel Hsu President Avidan Grossman Editor-in-Chief Nadine Fuller Creative Director Brenna Louie Technical Director Hannah Babb Vice President
Director Madison Chalfant Lily Croskey-Englert Jintana Cunningham Maya Jacks Daniel Karlic Emily Keenan Tiffany Li
Omar Abdul-Rahim Ke Ma Alessandra Piccone Cameron Pollack Shoshana Swell Kendall White Kiana Zhang
Business Director Claire Kim Gina Kim Seoin Park Mauricio Quispe
Kristina Linares Temi Sanusi Shoshana Swell Christine Yang
Marketing Creative Andrea Gonzalez-Del-Valle Mana Jhaveri Joyce Jin Maya Kamaeva Anna Kambhampaty
Daniel Karlic Hummd Ali Khan Cornelius Tulloch Emma Wang
Art Director Amy Chen Emily Chen Michael Choe Lily Croskey-Englert Jintana Cunningham Daisy Dai Joyce Jin Anna Kambhampaty
Tina He Yun Mi Koh Ann Li Lauren Park Kaitlyn Son Cornelius Tulloch Jill Wu Nicole Yan
Beauty Director Charlene Pires Hebani Duggal Betty Wang Ann Li Handan Xu Diane Tsang Styling Director Ravenna Stafford Quincy Blair Eliana Rozinov Kiana Chang Emma Wang Justin Parratt Handan Xu
Director Yodai Yasunaga
DeeDee Brown Erin Chen Lauren Chong Alexa Eskenazi Claire Kim Andrea OrduĂąa
Seoin Park Alessandra Piccone Victoria Shin Jacob Swaim Christine Yang
Web Director Karson Daecher Maggie Canfield Hummd Ali Kahn Cedric Castillo Abby Macaluso Erin Chen Julian Ohta Models Omar Abdul-Rahim Daphne Alerte Rebecca Allen Alex Basler Ariane Bowers Winnie Brown Olivia Chaudhury Sofie Cornelis Kalin Ellison
Josh Jordan Daniel Karlic Emily Keenan Laura Kimmel Seung Hwan Daniel Lee Ward Simcox Michael Solomentsev George Tsourounakis
Advisor Prof. Denise Green firstname.lastname@example.org Special thanks to Cornell Store, Miyake, Printing Center USA, Student Assembly Funding Commission, and other non-members who have contributed to Thread in any way.
Letter From the Editor In the now iconic 51st section of Walt Whitman’s free verse epic “Song of Myself”, America’s poet grapples with the complexities of his own identity. “Do I contradict myself?”, Whitman asks. “Very well then I contradict myself”, he answers. “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what in the fuck that means but I saw the quote superimposed over a generic-looking landscape on my younger cousin’s long forgotten Pinterest page and damn dude, the man can write! Whitman initially published the poem in 1855; he was 36 at the time. Way to make me feel real inadequate, Walt. You’re telling me I have a little over a decade to pen an anthology of poems that will arguably alter the very course of American poetry as we know it today? Fuck off, man. More like Leaves of Ass, am I right? At thirty I’ll be lucky if I’m not still sleeping in a bunk bed with sports-themed sheets, frantically trying to hide the grease marks every time I accidentally brush against the living room furniture with fingers stained orange from reaching way down into a family-size plastic barrel of cheese puffs. Luckily, even if I remain the child my parents promise they aren’t embarrassed to introduce around at Jerry and Goldie’s epic annual Hanukkah blowout each holiday season, I can rest assured that I nurtured the next generation of great American talent. HAHAHAHA FUCK OUT OF HERE WITH THAT. I DID JACK SHIT, BABY. This position has already paid mad dividends, though. You know how many
times I put this shit on my resume? Nurtured or not, the writers of this magazine represent a generation of American talent that’s as diverse as it is determined, as daring as it is defiant. Through their writing, they reinforce some of the essential truths of Whitman’s poetry. We all contradict ourselves. We all contain multitudes. FUCK YOU, JERRY AND GOLDIE. WE OUT HERE TRYING TO GET THIS MOTHERFUCKING MONEY.
4. 16. 17 Avidan Grossman
Letter From the Creative Director Despite hearing about Thread for the first time on a grungy, dimly lit, late-night TCAT, the notion of working on a fashion magazine, no matter on how small a scale, remained glamourous and exciting. And yet, though I eagerly sought out Thread’s table at clubfest, I hesitated to approach. Internally, I harshly critiqued what I was wearing and wondered if I was really the kind of person who could participate in such a thing. Clearly, I did eventually make it onto Thread, though I experienced the same hesitancy when it came time for me to express my interest in joining the styling team. Who was I to tell others what to wear? Perhaps my uncertainty was motivated partially by a deficit in confidence, but I think it also came from a fear of failure rooted in an unwillingness to outwardly acknowledge or broadcast a part of my identity. I like to assume that all of us have that part of ourselves that doesn’t feel ready to share yet- a hobby you’ve just picked up but haven’t yet mastered, a sport you played for many years but never excelled at, a language you’ve started learning but don’t want people to ask you about until you have some nifty phrases down- an aspect of your identity you’re still nurturing. A recurring motif throughout this issue is the tensions between change and permanency. Should identity be constant? Is it odd to feel like a different person from one day to the next? Judging by the conversations we had while planning this I’d say there’s no consensus as to what constitutes normal, or even what constitutes identity.
Hopefully the images, articles, reflections and stories presented in the following pages encourage you to question and refine your identity, and your presentation of it. I hope this magazine is at least as thought-provoking for you as it was for me. For a semester that seemed like one long, perennial identity crisis, I’d like to thank Ariel, Hannah, Avidan, Yodai, Ravenna, Omar, Tina, Charlene, Brenna, and Karson for talking this out with me countless times, and rallying behind me despite the fact that I’m still questioning myself every single day.
4. 15. 17 Nadine Fuller
contents 8 9 11 18 19 21 22 26 28 34 36 38 44 46 52 55
Impression Excerpts from “Blue Cans” Uniformity there is so much more for me The Dollhouse Dilemma Reminiscent A History in Evaluations learning curve Personal Wonderland The Other Me Schiele and Me “Too Nice To Be Gay?” Understanding the Poetry of Billy Collins The Sartorial Gets Personal The Fashionable is Political Good Indian Girls
“After all, how can we understand the desires of others if we can’t even get in touch with our own?“
the bite of a quick mint wash.
cracked from overuse.
deaf to a world beyond his barstool.”
“When I was younger, I was taught the difference between public and private spaces. At home, we played hide-andseek after happy hour. The seeker got mad early on and bellowed for attention, then spat to be left alone. There was never a winner in that game. In public, we played dress up. We put on masks and smiled through them, goddammit. Under the mask, my skin boiled over. I was never good at dress up. The rules were hard for a six-year-old, and it’s no easier at twenty-two.” — Anna Warfield From a town much smaller than yours, located halfway between a big city and nowhere.
Uniformity Gabrielle Leung As human beings with identities uniquely our own, we find an importance in expressing an acute sense of self. Daily life is a series of encounters—a passing on the street, a brief glance in class, a short interaction. Humans are figures in motion, and conversations with each other are hard to come by. The concept of an individual’s self can be revealed through these interactions, like the way we talk, what we know, or how we act. Our identity is already difficult to sense through these interactions, but the essence of our personality can be expressed through a physical, tangible, mutable way—fashion. Clothing acts as a reflection of our personality. It runs deeper than just our likes and dislikes, but has the ability to reveal our individual spirit and character. It’s a liberating form of self-expression; something we are in charge of choosing. Whether it’s the decision to follow trends or not, the very act of choosing gives us the power to express our interests through clothing. Similarly, it gives us the power to dictate how we want to portray ourselves to the public. But that’s where things become problematic. Do we dress a certain way to impress others? What are the factors that hinder how we express ourselves through style? How has clothing evolved throughout history so that it has increasingly or decreasingly become a show of social or economic standing?
The concept of the uniform has attempted to answer—and solve— these questions. School uniforms continue to be a hotly debated topic; students, individuals who are still figuring out their sense of self, are either being allowed to express this search through fashion choices or restricted by uniforms. The first recorded use of school uniforms was in England in 1222, but the idea of a uniform began to grow in popularity beginning in the 16th century. School uniforms were introduced on a large scale in England during the reign of King Henry VIII; labeled as “bluecoats,” they were dyed the cheapest available blue in order to show humility amongst all children. School uniforms in Africa began as a way to differentiate students at missionary schools from kids running amok in the streets. In Italy, uniforms were used to place children according to their age into the Fascist youth movements under Mussolini before World War II. One of the most prominent use of uniforms began in Japan. The “seifuku” is a Japanese school uniform that is modeled off of Europeanstyle naval uniforms. First used in Japan in the late 19th century, it has become common in many public and private school systems today—a part of Japan’s growing “modern” culture. Students attempt to express themselves by adding prohibited elements, such as large loose socks or badges to their uniforms. Some girls lengthen or shorten their skirts and remove ribbons, while boys choose to omit ties or keep their shirts unbuttoned.
Our identity is already difficult to sense through these interactions, but the essence of our personality can be expressed through a physical, tangible, mutable way.
If the ability to choose what clothes to wear is a form of expression, uniforms can be seen as a restrictive mechanism. Throughout history, uniforms have been introduced with the initial idea of commonality and conformity. Whether a proponent of uniforms or not, clothing acts as means of expression; something that one can rebel against or conform to. In the same way students add prohibited elements to their uniforms as an act of rebellion, certain clothing items have been incorporated into youth cultures as acts of defiance. Although bell-bottom jeans were a popular fashion trend during the 70s, they were originally worn by boat workers in the 17th century. The pants could be easily rolled up for labor-intensive jobs such as washing the decks, and if a sailor fell overboard, the bell-bottom pants could be pulled off quickly over shoes so that the wide legs would inflate with air and be used as a life preservers. Bell-bottom jeans resurfaced
in the 1960s as the clothing items of choice for those who didn’t want to conform to the conservative clothing rules of the 50s. Young people began shopping at military surplus and secondhand shops, rejecting the clothing from more expensive clothing stores. Navy bellbottoms were suddenly incorporated into a youth culture that was wholly against conformity. There are people who do not want their identities to be dictated by the clothes they wear. Identity itself is a complex concept that is made up of a person’s personality, beliefs’ and expressions’. To even answer the question of “who” someone is is a tremendous task in and of itself. However, clothing continues to be an outlet of self-expression for many people—a physical glimpse of something seemingly intangible.
From figment to pigment, the wearer and the artist share a signature. Though the canvas may warp and wrinkle, the etchings endure.
there is so much more for me to prove because you assume that I have nothing to lose you assume that I have nothing to use to get me where you’ve been but you don’t see the pulley I use to pull up the ones who are pushing me towards greatness and the best part is, you don’t know what to expect if I drop a book full of bars, you’ll still respect me if I’m the first girl on Mars, you’ll still respect me you will respect me you may reject me til you need me but I have my people to protect me people who will feed me and fill me with love because they know I am more than enough I know I am more than enough He made me to be more than enough so much more — Iyaniwura Olarewaju
The Do ll house Di l emma And r ea Or duĂąa
“I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Life is plastic, it’s fantastic!” The iconic lines from the hit song “Barbie Girl” by DanishNorwegian pop group Aqua perfectly embody the glamorous and idealized image of the Barbie doll. To some, she may seem like a meaningless plastic toy. To others, she is the quintessential representation of femininity and the true embodiment of what it means to be a girl. The doll’s persuasive power over its young audience plays a huge role in shaping the identities of children around the world. Since Barbie’s inception in 1959, she has grown to be a major superpower in the toy industry. However, despite Barbie’s growing popularity, the doll remains a source of controversy in terms of her negative impact on young girls. From a very young age, Barbie ingrained in me ideal standards of beauty that I felt compelled to strive towards. Her long, thin legs and narrow waist initially gave many young girls the idea that skinnier was better. The blonde-haired, blueeyed bombshell look was placed on a pedestal above all others, and that is what children viewed as a guiding role model throughout their early years. Indeed, the very first Barbie doll was marketed as a “Teenage Fashion Model,” promoting the idea that glamour was the new norm. Barbie was a breakthrough in the toy industry, as toys geared towards children at the time were usually modeled after their infant clientele. This new image of a grown-up, sexy, and stylish woman as a role model for young girls created unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards. In fact, if Barbie’s proportions were to be mirrored on a real human being, there would be multiple issues such as frail bones, lack of space for vital organs, and a head too heavy to lift on one’s own. The “ideal body image” that the doll perpetuates is both unattainable and unrealistic for any human being. Despite this, many girls around the world continue to strive towards the Barbie archetype, very often resulting in serious body dysmorphia and even eating disorders. In a research paper entitled “Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia” originally published in 1987 in Deviant Behavior, anthropologist Penelope McLorg and sociologist Diane Taub analyzed the causes of eating disorders, as well as how some young women change their concept of identity to conform to the “societal conceptions” of people with eating disorders. McLorg and Taub spoke about “cultural norms emphasizing thinness,” which are particularly prevalent in disciplines like advertising and branding. Indeed, Barbie’s brand has come to be associated with stereotypical, traditionally feminine attributes such as a beautiful face, a slim figure, and an affinity for the color pink. This is perhaps an effect of “society’s traditional emphasis on women’s appearance,” as McLorg and Taub suggest. In a visual age of smartphones and social media, it is easy for a young girl to form the misconception that her selfworth is determined by her appearance.
Our modern culture continues to fetishize unhealthy images that affect children, through outlets like reality shows centered around people who have undergone multiple cosmetic surgeries to become “real-life” Barbie dolls. We are told that money can buy us a new face, bigger breasts, and a different hair color. This gives young girls a false sense of hope by hinting at the fact that the Barbie doll image is slowly becoming a reality. The Barbie doll thus encourages girls to change their own conception of identity and to internalize these new, and somewhat unrealistic, identities as their own. However, it is not just young girls who have been affected by the image of the Barbie doll. When evaluating perception of identity among children, it is important to think of the normative prescriptions of gender that are typically forced upon us all through societal expectations. Over a decade ago, Emily Kane, a professor of Sociology at Bates College who focuses on women and gender studies in her research, published a paper that examined “parental responses to children’s gender nonconformity.” What she found was that girls were often encouraged to push back against gender boundaries by partaking in more masculine activities such as sports, fishing, and playing with tools. In contrast, parents steered their sons away from things associated with femininity such as nail polish, pink clothing, and Barbie dolls. Parents felt a responsibility to emphasize their sons’ masculinity to live up to the standards of society, fearing their sons would be excluded and teased otherwise. Although the encouragement of gender nonconformity varied across families, one thing remained clear – there was a consistent devaluation of femininity that persisted from one child to the next. The Barbie doll has become a powerful symbol of conventional femininity, and it has therefore become a tool in which parents and society alike can force gender norms upon young children. Girls are encouraged to play with trucks, yet boys are reprimanded for showing interest in dolls. Girls are celebrated when they join a football team, yet boys are shamed when they paint their nails. It is this overlying sense of conformity and structure that led to the creation of the Barbie doll as a feminine symbol that young girls – and only girls – could look up to. In January of 2016, Mattel, the company responsible for Barbie’s production since 1959, released the newest versions of the iconic doll. Today, Barbie is available in three body types (curvy, petite, and tall), as well multiple skin tones and hair colors. The change was encouraged by the recent drop in sales of the doll; as more competitors entered the market, children found themselves unable to identify with her sleek, plastic figure and opted for more relatable toys instead. Although Mattel has taken the first steps in creating a more diverse and inclusive role model for young children, it has yet to tackle the issue of gender branding that has been associated with the Barbie empire from the very start. In our progressive society, many parents have adapted a new mindset of gender fluidity and free expression for their children. If Barbie cannot keep up with the changing times, she may find herself isolated in her fantastic, plastic world forever.
A History in Evaluations 01 02
我們必須省錢為她長大可以得到整形手術 We have to save money for her to get plastic surgery when she’s older
Dad to Mom
她的脾氣就像男生的 Her temper is just like a man’s
Mom to Aunt
如果你剪她的睫毛他們可以長得更長 她可以更漂亮 You have to cut her eyelashes so they can grow longer and she can be prettier Aunt to Mom
我從來不想要個女兒 I told you I never wanted a daughter
Dad to Mom
你提起她就像她是個兒子 You raise her like a son
Grandpa to Mom
她很好, 但她不夠努力 She is good but she lacks discipline
Piano Teacher to Mom
她必須停游泳所以她的身體不會長醜 She needs to quit swimming so her body doesn’t become ugly
Grandpa to Mom
她變漂亮了 She’s become prettier
Grandpa to Mom
You will be discriminated every day
Everything revolves back to me. Don’t ruin our reputation
You’re so flat I feel like I’m looking at the Great Wall
You’re so mean and bossy. 男生不會喜歡那種女生 Boys won’t like that
妹妹,你110磅了, 要開始考慮減肥了 Now that you’re 110 pounds, you have to start losing weight
You have to find a way to make yourself more valuable
It doesn’t matter how hard you work. That white guy will get recognized more Dad
You’re cool because ur like not that Asian haha
我們買了一個LV袋子。 當你去康奈爾,有 interview 的時候，你要帶子 We bought you an LV bag. When you go to Cornell and have interviews, you have to use it
She has potential, bring her next week
Hello. Are you ok? Dad
她講話不甜 She doesn’t talk sweetly Grandpa to Mom
Why you so angry all the time? Can you smile?
Do you have boyfriend yet?
— 徐閲珍 Ariel Hsu Ariel Hsu is a Taiwanese-American from Potomac, Maryland studying Hotel Administration.
Art Teacher to Mom
A deconstruction of signature scents into an everyday synesthetic fantasia of past and present.
learning curve i imagine The Boy who is twisting your pigtails and poking fun at chubby cheeks and following you like a puppy (and someone says, look darling, look how He likes you) is not pulling gently yanking and grabbing and taking parasite fingers in dull strands; broken bottle palms by your scalp; a fist that never opens is not touching gently smearing and digging and stabbing exclamation mark hands, stomping down this sentence, which is no longer yours is following you like a hound and buried deep underground is a treasure chest of your bones -wait, I didnâ€™t mean it but He is hungry again. and someone says, look darling, look how He loves you.
learning curve ii five years old and someone says, darling, don’t be afraid of a shadow five o’clock and it is not yours that you fear.
— Megan Yan Megan Yan hails from Rockville, Maryland and recently graduated from University of Pennsylvania where she studied Finance, Management, and Political Science.
Retreating into the comfort of the material; indulging and entertaining the objects that are â€œso you.â€?
The Psychology of Fashion and Comfort Spaces Eliana Rozinov Fashion is one of the most powerful mediums of self-expression. “Style”, Rachel Zoe once remarked, “is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” The psychology behind our varied fashion identities reveals a great deal about both our conscious and unconscious stylistic choices. Our personalities impact what we wear a great deal, but those around us have an even more profound influence on how and why we dress the way we do. Walking down a bustling New York City street, you might find yourself immersed in a vast multitude of varying personalities. As you cross paths with different individuals, you might readily assume some sort of correlation between the clothes they wear, and the personalities they harbor. Nevertheless, these preconceived notions seldom hold true when you feel provoked enough to interact with someone dressed in such eye-opening pieces. Starting up a conversation, you come to realize that the person wearing the seemingly attention-attracting clothes, actually has no real intention of attracting your attention. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the fact that individuals don’t always dress a certain way to please themselves. When viewing Instagram posts of proms across the country, we see thousands of brightly-colored, bejeweled dresses. As the school year comes to an end, we become inundated with close ups of Stan Smiths, Ray-Bans, and triangle bikinis. The similarity in these photographs begs the question: do we follow trends because we want to, or simply because we feel obligated to? For this reason and many others, clothing is not the most influential way in which we communicate our identities to the world. In his book, What Your Stuff Says About You, psychologist Dr. Sam Gosling reveals that
essentially everything we do is an attempt to advertise our individuality, to get feedback from the world in a way that fits in with the traits we are portraying. For Gosling, we do not buy the items, or do the things we do in an effort to seek the attention of others, but to satisfy our basic human needs. Gosling maintains that aspects of our personality are promoted by factors ranging from how our desk is organized, to where we choose to sit at the table. We instinctively and intentionally act a certain way, revealing how we perceive the world to be and what we value most within it. Comfort spaces, settings that we create to feel most at ease in, are one of the most significant vehicles through which we control our thoughts and feelings. Spaces can be made comfortable through the simple actions of playing music, or through more complex endeavors, like the building of a private office. Nonetheless, the extent to which these locations vary for each individual support the notion that we all have intense aspirations to be understood, and express ourselves as accurately as possible. Identity has always been regarded as a singular and unique part of our beings. In order for our individual personalities to be conveyed truthfully, we must come together. We must be willing to listen to one another and not readily jump to conclusions about those we interact with based on rudimentary suppositions like the clothing they are wearing. True, we may be born with certain intrinsic qualities, but our environment plays a crucial role in shaping our identities. It is imperative that we never place limits on the boundaries of others’ self-expression, and more importantly, on the parameters that define our own stylistic identities. After all, how can we understand the desires of others if we can’t even get in touch with our own?
As I sit at a restaurant table in Manhattan, observing the urban landscape through a panoramic window, I feel submerged in a different time. All of a sudden I imagine myself in the 1920s, wearing a flapper dress and a plume on my diamond headband, fiddling with a cigarette-holder in my fingers and putting my perfect social graces to use in deliciously nonchalant conversation. Perhaps it’s the Cole Porter songs that the restaurant owner is especially fond of that inspired my sense of nostalgia for a past I’ve never known. Perhaps it’s the art-deco buildings that long for a crowd of chatting high society women in flapper dresses and plumes on their diamond headbands to occupy their marbletopped halls. I notice how much I’ve changed in the last few minutes since this fantasy crawled into my mind. My back is straighter, my movements are more controlled, and my voice gains a slight “turn of the century” lilt. Suddenly, I am a serious, mature woman, with a deep appreciation for arts and books and formal dinners and beautiful jewelry. What I thought was a momentary idiosyncrasy has gradually grown into a part-time obsession. Though I only occasionally indulge this passion, when I do I dress with reverence for the past, put on an old Cole Porter song, and head out to wander the streets of Manhattan. I would walk into the Met and spend hours looking at artwork that almost brings tears to my eyes. At times like these, I tend to act so differently my friends think I’m putting on a play. I lose the slang that has become an essential part of my everyday vernacular, the movements of my body shift from angulated and uncoordinated to smooth and controlled, and I talk to people I wouldn’t otherwise. On any other day, I’m wearing mom jeans, exposing the few tattoos I’ve acquired over the last few years, and laugh in a loud and completely ungraceful way. I enjoy the kind of TV shows I’m ashamed to admit I watch, swear like a sailor, and forget – completely – about all higher matters.
forget all about that comedy I watched the other night with my friends and the upbeat party songs that dominate my playlist. However, once I’m surrounded by my close friends and our conversations gain a playful, ironic tone topped with innuendos only we can decipher and understand, I lose that other part of me. My identity isn’t limited by one facet of my personality. I don’t not feel myself in either of these settings, instead I easily embrace both. The idea of limiting myself to just one facet of my personality seems restricting. An attempt at imitating a beautiful actress that appears on screen in a certain way is an attempt at living a pre-written reality. Life in its diversity is so much more fluid. An identity, I realized, is not a state of mind set in stone, but a process or a sort of evolution that is always grinding forward. The way we are – the components that comprise an identity – are subject to changes from minute to minute as well as from decade to decade. Accepting the fact that we are not easily definable characters but rather complex souls is essential to understanding ourselves. I don’t need to forget the burning sensation of freedom I get when I finish a good book to be a lone flapper stuck in the reality of 2017 or that girl perennially in search of a place to go out Friday night. It is a combination of those things that together contribute to creating my identity; I’m not disrupted by the differences but shaped by them. Even that may change over the years, when I am a person completely different from the person I am now. What truly matters is embracing our collective identities and following them down a road towards growth, wherever it may lead us.
What is my identity? I’m obviously not a serious and wellbehaved lady at all times, but I’m far from some sort of girl-next-door, too. When did I allow myself to grow into two opposite characters? Answering this question took time, and lots of it. The answer I came up with is this: it all depends on context. When I’m immersed in a setting with artwork on the walls or when I am talking to someone about a book we both read and were impressed by, I arrive at a very special state of mind where the mundane seems unimportant. When I see items of clothing from the past, whether it’s Audrey Hepburn’s iconic little black dress she proudly exhibited in Breakfast at Tiffany’s or original Coco Chanel creations, I
Egon Schiele. Self Portrait with Hands on Chest (1910)
Schiele and Me Love yourself. Yes, that sounds rewarding! Love yourself! That’s what they say right? Love yourself. Stare at yourself. Did you know you could fuck yourself? No, but seriously, you’d raw yourself. Capture yourself. Render your likeness, your form. That jaw you’ll contour to look even more you. That figure you’ll lengthen to be more godly. Note-you’ll never get it exactly right. Note-that’s what will bother you the most. Sice yourself. Take liberties, filter, emphasize. Lie. Your thumb strokes a slick screen for attention. You are happy. The boy you want so desperately inside you So desperately To want you Took the time to double tap. This sounds good. You must be doing great! This feels fine. You are fine. Self-actualization is reaching your highest self. Ecstasy is realizing you can stroke while others watch. Note- you create your own happiness. Note- which is empty, your fingers or the hole they fill? Note- they think you’re an artist, you do too.
— Andrew Geddings Hotelie and Fine Arts minor, concerned with self portraiture as a means to metabolize grief, narcissism, and identity.
“TOO NICE T
TO BE GAY?â€? A Meditation on Visible Identity and the Queer Aesthetic Teagan Todd
I still remember the first time I came out to a large group of people. There’s a difference in coming out to a close friend, someone who you’ve known for several years and whose opinion matters intimately to you, and coming out to a group of relative strangers whose conception of your identity is shaky and thinly formed at best. Prior to the August before my senior year, I’d never come out to people who didn’t matter, had never come out in a way that was simple. I had never found myself enmeshed in a giant circle of girls, crammed into a living room at someone else’s sleepover, being outright asked- with no pomp and circumstanceabout the specifics of my sexual identity. I had never responded in two small words and one large statement:“I’m bisexual.” My admission was met with a certain degree of surprise. Several people in the room confessed having always assumed that I was straight, and when I asked why, someone replied, “Well, you dress too nice to be gay.” “Too nice to be gay?” I said. “Yeah,” she told me. “You wear all those dresses and heels and silky floral shirts. I just figured…” Upon this explanation, several other people in the room confessed similar misconceptions. “Everyone in your [close friend] group seems so gay, so I figured there had to be at least one straight one,” another girl told me. The unspoken clarification: the way in which I presented myself was, for some reason or another, societally coded as heterosexual. It was frustrating knowledge—I knew myself and my identity so well that it seemed impossible that anyone could perceive me as anything other than what I was- but I found it also intrigued me. Over time, I began to wonder. Just how much of a role does personal style play in the communication of one’s sexual identity? Should people adjust their personal style to warrant the perception they desire, or should they hope to shift perception simply by continuing to be their most authentic selves? One of the most interesting aspects of this comment, “you dress too nice to be gay”, was that it was delivered to me by a group of predominantly bisexual women. These were people that shared my identity in an extremely significant way, and yet something about who I was- who we were- had been rendered previously unidentifiable to them. Knowing the demographics of this constituency raised another slew
of questions, each more complicated than the last. How is it that we so consciously reinforce these stereotypes and gender-based assumptions about sexuality and sexual expression when we know them to be, on at least some level or another, nothing more than societal construction? How do we, as members of a community, learn to recognize our own and express our membership without falling back onto old formulas that may not coincide with our personal aesthetic desires? Out of all the women I’ve talked to, there seems a mutual agreement that for one to be assumed queer, one must first display a willingness to bend or break the aesthetic rules of one’s perceived gender, to veer into the masculine (if perceived feminine) and the feminine (if perceived masculine). Though perhaps waning, there does still exist a strong desire to associate sexual identity with gender expression, particularly in the more rural or conservative areas of the country, where I spent my adolescence. Many of my high school friends were drawn to what’s perceived as androgyny, shaving their hair or cutting it short, dying their head any variety of fantastic colors while dressed in skinny jeans and flannels and Converse; by contrast, many of my bisexual friends in college veer toward aesthetics understood as feminine. We share a common identity and yet we still struggle to recognize that commonality in one another, sometimes even struggling to recognize it within ourselves. What is it about the way in which we style ourselves that renders us visible or invisible to members of our own community? Can it be ground down to gender and left at that, with no further exploration into queer expression? Over the past few weeks, I’ve made a point of asking the queer women in my life- again, predominantly bisexual women- about their experiences with perception and perceiving. Have you ever tried to express your sexuality through your aesthetic? Have you ever been misconstrued for something other than you were as a result of your self-presentation? How have you learned to locate other members of the gay community through fashion and aesthetic expression, or do you find you struggle to perceive the queerness of others? Gender, it was noted, and the violation of gender norms, is the greatest contributor to queer perception. Many of my friends told me that, though they had never explicitly sought to “seem” gay, in their natural prescription to masculine or androgynous aesthetics, they were more readily recognized as being such. Consequently, many of my more aesthetically
In the efforts to restrain that constriction, how do we ensure that we do not condemn the identity and expression of those whose aesthetic falls in with what’s cliché?
feminine friends shared similar experiences to my own, of having been rendered invisible by their tendency to dress within the boundaries of their perceived gender. Furthermore, several of the more feminine women, including myself, expressed the sentiment that wearing masculine clothing often caused us to act more masculine, whereas in feminine clothing we tended to feel genderless: “I don’t know if it’s theatre kid in me, the desire to play out some imagined character I’m holding captive in my head, or just the gender roles that I associate with the clothing, but when I find myself in hiker boots, tight jeans, and a hoodie, I know I walk differently,” I admitted. “I just act differently.” This admission raised an interesting question: is perception of sexual identity reliant upon the gendered association by the observer, or by the wearer of the clothing themselves? There were elements beyond gender at play, it’s true; one friend confessed that she believed bisexual women could be recognized by the way they carried themselves, a sort of innate confidence she found absent in other sexual identities. Friends from big cities possessed far different interpretations of what it meant to express oneself and one’s sexuality through fashion than did my friends from rural or suburban upbringings. Expression of identity was also highly dependent on one’s parents and the degree of emphasis that had been placed on appearance during one’s childhood. In more cosmopolitan areas, fashion tends to be considered a potent extension of one’s individual being, and that often trickles down into familial regard for appearance. Having grown up in central New York, most of my
fashion choices were determined by practicality, made with the understanding that what was happening outside could change at any instant, and that was a value I always found reflected in my family. Wear what’s practical and what’s appropriate- you can’t afford to be your truest self when the windchill is clocking in at negative thirty degrees. There are a thousand and one elements besides gender- race, religion, economic status, and so on and so forth- that further complicate a physical and aesthetic expression of one’s sexuality. So where do we go from here? How do we, as a community, restrain ourselves from constricting each other to certain modes of self-expression in order to be recognized? In the efforts to restrain that constriction, how do we ensure that we do not condemn the identity and expression of those whose aesthetic falls in with what’s cliché? Is this really something we need to be concerned with when many members of our community find themselves faced with the daily threat of violence, or are the two concepts somehow intimately related? In the grand scheme of things, we must ask ourselves: just what is the relevance, if any, of dressing too nice to be gay?
Understanding the Poetry of Billy Collins: Is America’s voice clearest through the static fuzz of discourse? John Payne Today, as more Americans than ever contend for playing time in a politically-saturated public forum, the simplest, not the most coherent, argument prevails. Common sense seems to dictate that the superior argument is the one with the fewest exploitable gaps in its logic, but these days common sense seems to be in short measure. The articulate retort, it seems, has no place in the political arena. Spin-room rhetoric dismantles even the most eloquently phrased of stances. Power resides in the distilling of nuanced arguments to pithy soundbites, not in the oration of the arguments to begin with. The recent election of Donald Trump as President of the United States despite his campaign platform’s general lack of articulateness exemplifies this new principle. Ignoring the complexity of an argument doesn’t make the complex parts of the argument disappear. In times of tremendous tumult, concerned citizens tend to turn towards art as a source of solace. Luckily, Billy Collins, the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 until 2003, has a full twelve volumes worth of wryly understated prose to pore over. Collins’ rejection of pugnacious punditry and hawkish XM radio-speak is a quiet protest against the contentious nature of American politics; his poetry, scrawled marginalia alongside the text of the 21st century political handbook, offers a repudiation of the doublespeak that so defines the narrative of the current cultural discourse. Collins’ tranquil scenes of quiet nighttime introspection almost paradoxically drown out the roar of national political discontent. In that sense, Collins and his colleagues are the true journalists of the country. Americans tend to regard the intelligentsia as a caste too smug to relate to the middle-class experience, as occupiers of a rarefied realm almost entirely unconcerned with the people’s’ welfare. Through his poetry, Collins rejects that label, shunning no segment of the population in his efforts to make poetry accessible and approachable. His are not the poems of an escapist; instead, they are the thoughts of one grown weary of redefining America’s identity each successive election cycle.
Collins’ country is one that provides an all-important space for silence amid chaos. His mastery of middle diction belies his status as an intellectual, and underscores his belief that America should be regarded as a blank canvas on which the artist can paint his or her thoughts on life, death, and everything in between. Collins is so confident in the worth of his words that he makes no defense of our most basic unalienable rights. His America is a country where freedom is for all, and the validity of the values this country was founded on are never in question. They hold true; his words are proof. It is no small act of defiance to champion a perspective like the one Collins outlines in his work when the very foundation of the liberal movement itself faces an existential threat in the form of a government all-too willing to criticize those it sees as its ideological opponents. In many ways, Collins has a moral duty to use his craft as a voice of the masses, and as a means of preserving the tolerant America he so eloquently describes, a country that allowed him his career. Can Collins subvert Trumpian politics through quiet rebellion, and should he? Indeed, these are possibilities—nay, mandates—Billy Collins, along with the rest of the American intelligentsia, must think about, and think about hard. Despite his inoffensive tone, Collins wields what J.J. Abrams, the American film director, referred to as a remarkable “power in such an abbreviated form,” a phrase he used in an interview for The New York Times Book Review in 2013, where he also noted that he has recently become a big fan of the poet. As long as praise for poetry largely remains within the confines of literature’s closed corners, however, Collins’ power as a cultural commentator is limited. The seemingly perennial effort to bring literature, and poetry specifically, into the public arena for more popular enjoyment has so far failed spectacularly, particularly given the stiff competition and the nature of the rapidly changing media landscape of today. To reverse this trend would be no small feat, and a victory for literature-lovers the world over. In the angriest of times, Collins’ unique brand of soft and subtle poetry could very well be the needle that sews us together once more.
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SARTORIAL POLITICAL PERSONAL 47
The Fashionable is Political: How the Hoodie Became a Neoliberal Scapegoat Sarah Chekfa Odds are, you own a hoodie. This is hardly unexpected; after all, the hoodie is a garment for the ages. It stubbornly defies the volatility of the weather, glowing with versatile charm while remaining hip to the trends. Yet in recent years—and, on certain people—the hoodie has taken on a new, profoundly political meaning. It is important to note that not every hoodie is subject to this political redefinition. The hoodie, while remaining a universal style worn by everyone, from angst-ridden teenagers to Mark Zuckerberg himself, is particularly popular among black and Latino youth. This is the demographic that is subject to the political reconceptualization of the hoodie. Imani Perry, of Princeton University’s Center for African American Studies, provides insight into what this political redefinition entails for minority youth. “Because of the pervasive…racial stereotypes associated with black young people, especially males, their styles are often singled out for criticism, as signs of criminality and misdeed,” says Perry. “But…this is simply another form of stigmatization against the person underneath the clothing, and only superficially has anything to do with the clothing.” In 2012, the lethal nature of this stigma came to light in the Trayvon Martin case. Martin was a 17-year-old black male who was killed by local patrolman George Zimmerman. Speaking to a 911 operator, Zimmerman described Martin as a “suspicious” person wearing a “dark hoodie” just before he shot him—an act he alleged was self-defense. Protesters marching for Martin in the aftermath of the shooting wore hoodies in solidarity with the cause. Speaking on Fox and Friends, former talk show host Geraldo Rivera warned parents of minority youth against allowing their children to wear hoodies in public, claiming that Martin’s “hoodie killed [him] as surely as George Zimmerman did.” This conflation of the hoodie and the criminal takes what is at best a tenuous fact and converts it into a corrosive generalization. While it is true that surveillance camera footage of armed robberies often features shadowy suspects wearing hoodies—in fact, even law enforcement sketches of wanted criminals tend to depict them wearing hoodies—this is only a reflection of the simple fact that a hoodie can be a convenient disguise for those desiring to engage in criminal acts. The mainstream media has emphasized the hooded criminal to the point of exaggeration, rousing racialized fears that lurk in the minds of the public. Hollywood, which already relies on problematic racial stereotypes in the construction of its characters, has appropriated this modest truth by prominently featuring the hoodie-wearing criminal in scenes of violence and delinquency. The link between the hoodie and the criminal has been reified in movies and TV shows, fed discreetly to receptive audiences in such a way that only contributes to the harmful public stereotyping of minority youth as criminals. The influence of this stigma is not limited to the civilian realm—it has attained such great heights of political legitimacy that it has managed to infiltrate the ranks of appointed government officials. In 2015, a Republican state senator from Oklahoma proposed a bill that would prohibit residents from wearing hoodies in public. The alleged justification for the bill, its sponsor claimed, was that it would make the community “safer by ensuring that people cannot conceal their identities for the purposes of crime or harassment.”
But it seems that what is at stake here is not, as some want to believe, public safety. In the end, the hoodie is just a political scapegoat—it’s not about the hoodie, but rather, it’s about who is wearing it and the sociopolitical identity we ascribe to them. By proffering to fear the hoodie and the portent of crime that stereotypically accompanies it, those in power attempt to police minority behavior under the convenient façade of public safety concerns. This is arguably yet another echo of the statist policing of minority behavior that has occurred as the government continues to roll back welfare for the most economically impoverished, cut affordable housing programs, and privatize social services. To manage the populations left struggling in the wake of the implementation of these policies, the government has sponsored the creation of a carceral state that increasingly imprisons these socioeconomically vulnerable persons at a greater rate, for longer periods of time, and for increasingly minor offenses. This hyper-policing of minority populations seeks to control these purportedly “dangerous” individuals through methods of surveillance and social control. It encodes a strict set of social norms and punishes harshly those that fall outside it. By ostracizing minority populations through increasingly punitive social and economic policies, the state implicitly
creates the conditions in which these populations must confront situations of violence and crime on a daily basis. Thus minority youth are presumed to be criminals, and public bias against them reaches levels of toxicity so extreme that any excuse to police them and their behavior is justified through the rhetoric of “public safety” and the need to be “tough on crime.” To truly understand the hoodie as political motif, we must consider the insidiously popular perception of minority youth as criminal delinquents while simultaneously acknowledging the hoodie’s popularity among that same group. It becomes apparent that the stigmatization of the hoodie as the go-to uniform of the “thug” conveniently cloaks real racialized fears of the purportedly criminal nature of young men and women of color. By designating the hoodie as the source of public safety concerns, the politically powerful maintain their status as superficially Not Racist. But beneath the surface, the true targets of these racialized public safety concerns—minority youth—are further ostracized, stigmatized, even killed, as Trayvon Martin was. Such is the byproduct of coldblooded policy that has lost sight of humanity—such is the grotesque, political underside of the hoodie.
Good Indian Girls Good Indian Girls don’t have pussies Instead of vaginas They have vacuous virginal cosmos Unknown galaxies That should never be touched Touched on in conversation Touched by hands Touched by mouths No touching. Good Indian girls don’t have opinions Instead of brains They have piggy banks Every man puts his two cents in But never bothers to take two out Keep your lips shut Tighter than your legs Save your breath and spittle and tongue For when you gossip with the other piggys No talking. Good Indian Girls don’t have breasts Instead of cleavage They have mysterious caverns For an inexperienced spelunker To explore Later Pull up your shirt No showing.
It’s confusing When your opinions are bigger than your tits And you dare to expose both Are you doing an injustice to your sisters To your people To the ones who brought you up Bathed you, soothed you when you wept, brushed your hair Are you dishonoring their goodness Are you being less of a Good Indian Girl? It took me a while To realize I was not less For wanting more I was not Bad For no longer wanting to be Good.
— Neha Sardana Neha Sardana is a recent graduate of NYU and is a social worker in New York City.
It’s confusing When you have a pussy instead of a galaxy A brain instead of a piggy bank A rack instead of a riddle You like touching And talking And showing.
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