INSIGHT U N R I N S I G H T . C O M
NEVA D A ,
R E N O ’ S
S T U D E N T
M A G A Z I N E
AESTHETIC gender generalization hipster hysteria follicle fury
NOVEMBER 2011 VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 3
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PHOTO BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
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4 EDITOR’S LETTER
6 PACK PROFILE Insight talks with the makeup artist for the University’s wrold premiere production of “Hamlet.”
8 ARTIST PERSPECTIVE A look at the different creative eyes of three artists.
12 HAIR WARS
A peek at what choices and dilemmas African-American women have when styling their hair.
16 UNCOVERING THE REAL TRUTH
An American-Muslim girl’s reconnection with God.
18 BOYS WILL BE GIRLS
Insight gets to know local drag queens and explores a saucier side of Reno.
20 THREAD-BARE STANDARDS
Insight Magazine explores gender conformity in fashion, and beauty.
24 LOOK AT THIS FUCKING HIPSTER A look at the implications of the hipster, and how the Millennial Generation is missing the boat on a potential movement.
28 4 GIRLS 1 DRESS Insight shows you four different ways to wear one dress.
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esthetics define a person. There are deliberate choices made in how people present themselves, and they deserve a second look. The analysis given to each person’s presentation is an exercise in understanding and relating to one another. Aesthetics are not merely limited to physical appearance; every piece of art deserves careful attention. There’s something to be gained from each examination of self-expression. Sometimes, this gain comes from evaluating ourselves. Many of the stories in this month’s issue started as an explanation of self, and ended with discovery. There is always something unexpected to be seen in art, as demonstrated when Insight asked three artists to take a look at the Mackay statue and interpret it for themselves. None of these interpretations look alike, proving that one object can offer several meanings. It’s important to constantly keep evolving as a person, and that is a difficult task if one has nothing but himself to learn from. Everyone is offering something to you, and it’s best not to write it off before really looking at it. Treat your eyes to something new, and keep a look out for the next issue in February.
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Contributors: Delaney Davis, Kailee Gett, Catherine Ho, Emily Hobbs, Leanne Howard, Rachael Kirkland, Oanh Luc, Nicole Oshan, Krysta Pascual, Elia Pirtle, Nikki Raine, Farah Rashdan, Jessica Ross, Loraine Shoemaker, Jean-Paul Torres. Corrections: In the October 2011 issue, the photo credits in “Fooling with Phantoms” were mislabeled and should read “Photos by Sebastian Diaz and Farah Rashdan.”
The opinions expressed in this publication and its associated Web site are not necessarily those of the University of Nevada, Reno or the student body.
COVER PHOTO BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
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PACK PROFILE BY LUCAS COMBOS PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
J ocelyn M organ JOCELYN MORGAN who has shown a passion for makeup since high school, is involved with character makeup in this month’s play “Hamlet”.
t was sophomore year in high school when Jocelyn Morgan first took a makeup unit in theatre class—she really connected with it. Morgan was the makeup manager for productions throughout her remaining high school years. Her favorite production was “The Magic Flute,” which allowed her to be adventurous with glitters, colors and swirls. Now, at 20, she is the makeup artist for the University of Nevada’s latest theatre production, “Hamlet”—her first with the school. Despite developing such a keen interest in doing others’ makeup, Morgan was never overly interested in doing much of her own. Although, like many, she may have had a brief experimental phase. “I didn’t really start wearing makeup until about eighth grade,” Morgan says. “That’s when I went through my dark stage. So, I had the big, heavy makeup and then I toned it down in high school.”
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Since high school, Morgan finds altering the looks of performers to be uniquely satisfying. “It’s like a canvas—I know how to do my face, because I’ve seen this canvas all my life,” Morgan says. “People have different bone structures, skin color and different shapes of their face. It’s nice being able to manipulate and find ways to make them look different than how they actually are.” While she does see makeup unquestionably as an art-form, Morgan draws no specific inspirations from people or things. She does, however, have a penchant for blood and guts. “My specialty is gore. I love gore,” Morgan says. “My friends always get me blood and latex for Christmas or my birthday, because I just love it. I like getting my hands dirty. I like making somebody not pretty.” Morgan finds this kind of work to reflect a more accurate depiction of people—and it’s not all beautiful. “In society, everybody wants to look at that ideal ‘pretty’ person,” Morgan says. “That doesn’t show how true people are. By making them into zombies, or making them have half their face off…it’s like you can’t judge a book by its cover, basically.” In theatre productions specifically, Morgan has learned the necessity of makeup to transform actors into their characters. “As my director said in high school: they’re not paying to see you—they’re paying to see someone else,” Morgan says. “Yes, a lot of your friends and family go to see ‘you,’ but they’re going to see you in a different light, in a different character, in a different setting.” In normal life, makeup can shape perceptions of those around you, and appearances often seem to be key in presentation. Morgan finds the prevailing attitude mostly unfavorable, preferring people might find beauty in an unpolished look over the more extravagant. “No one likes to see imperfection; they always want to see perfection,” Morgan says. “First impressions are always the most important, so it makes sense that makeup would be important in society nowadays. It’s unfortunate, it really is. I believe natural beauty is the way to go.” Although, she adds with a sparkle, “I wouldn’t have a career if natural beauty was shone through.”
After she graduates, Morgan will probably go back to her hometown of Las Vegas with hopes of finding work on one of the many shows there. While she has also acted on stage, her biggest aspiration is to do special effects makeup for films—no doubt a result of her lingering obsession with gore. Her current endeavor—The Nevada Repertory Company’s rendition of “Hamlet”—won’t allow for gore or heavy experimentation, but Morgan is excited all the same. Simple character makeup can take Morgan as little as five minutes per person, though she admits the gentleman actors can sometimes have difficulties with eyeliner. On other occasions, actors are allergic to latex or even certain brands of makeup. Overall, Morgan remains the most proud of finding the opportunity to practice what she is passionate about. “I am proud that I am in college pursuing what I love,” Morgan said. “I am also proud and thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with these amazing actors, crew, and technicians for a big portion of the semester with ‘Hamlet’.” “Hamlet” plays throughout November and information can be found at http://www.unrschoolofthearts.org 2011 November | Insight | 7
3 ARTISTS’ TAKE ON THE MACKAY STATUE
PERSPECTIVE PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
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After getting an associate degree from TMCC, I transferred to UNR to complete my bachelorâ€™s in arts with a minor in psychology. My focus is on drawing and painting because I like classical art and am too stubborn to really get into digital media. In order to avoid living in a van down by the river, I spend most my time working different jobs and developing fancy barista and bartending skills. So far, I have no solid plans for after graduation. Iâ€™m just looking forward to traveling as much as possible and hopefully selling some art.
D elaney D avis
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N icole O shan Creating art is something Iâ€™ve always been passionate about. Being able to make something that no one has ever seen before is truly amazing to me. I use flat colors and simple shapes to create a larger image. Art is meant to be shared. The world is an ugly enough place, art makes it beautiful.
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My name is Krysta Pascual and I’m a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in math and computer science. However, I hope one day I’ll be able to be an architect and design house plans, even if it’s just for my own house. I don’t draw as often as I used to, but I still love looking at other artists’ work and learning something new. If I’m not thinking about art and houses, I’m either sleeping, eating, or watching people play video games. My life isn’t too exciting so my interests are pretty monotonous, especially since being in computer science; I can spend hours staring at a computer screen waiting for the computer coding. Do I need sunlight? Pff, that’s for skin cancer.
K rysta P ascual
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BY DIAMOND LAMBERT ILLUSTRATIONS BY ELIA PIRTLE
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air is a piece of one’s image that can’t be shied away from. It’s there, on top of the head, making a distinct statement about the person. If it’s a shorter style, maybe the person prefers lowmaintenance hair upkeep. If hair flows down to one’s buttocks, maybe they want to be in a Rick James video. There are so many societal pressures coming from different perspectives on what is ‘presentable’ or ‘in style’ for wearing ones hair. It’s a safe bet to say that African-American women face the brunt of this evil. There’s a constant war between those who go au naturele, the creamy crack fiends and the constant extension wearers who all choose their style of choice for their own personal reasons. Some even overlap within these categories because they want to maintain some flexibility. This article is not written to say that one is better than the other. It’s simply written to show that black hair can be beautiful in a multitude of forms. Each method: natural, chemically straightened, or extensions has its own pros and cons. Each can look beautiful when well taken care of and each is a valid option in the world of black hair care. What’s my weapon of choice, you may ask? Creamy Crack, or chemical straightener. Whatever you want to call it, I’m shamelessly addicted. A relaxer is a serious commitment. It’s a special mixture of chemicals in the form of a white cream that is applied to the hair with an applicator brush (think when you get hair color). The chemicals are left on the hair for roughly 20-30 minutes and rinsed from the hair, resulting in bone-straight silkiness. Touch ups occur every six to eight weeks depending on how fast one’s hair grows, and the wearer is pretty much free to style as they wish. I chose to make the fated decision this summer when I looked in the mirror and saw something I didn’t like: disorder. Not that my curly mane wasn’t an area of myself I was incapable of embracing; it just didn’t feel like ‘‘me’’ anymore. Upkeep was becoming more difficult as my hair texture was changing. I’m very anti-excessive-heat, so I refused to iron my hair to a crisp every morning for sake of looking decent. Those who grew accustomed to my fro or pin curls were in shock that I would consider such a decision. After moving from highly diverse Las Vegas to teeny, tiny Reno, my spectrum of hairstylists was little to none. I wanted my hair to remain healthy and I wanted simple upkeep, so I was pushed, largely by my change of environment, to make the best choice for myself. University of Nevada, Reno junior, Tiffany Gibbs, has
experimented with all areas of the spectrum, from dreadlocks and natural curls, to extensions. She too expressed the difficulty of getting black hair to grow and remain healthy. Gibbs largely gave her partiality based on maintainability, “I prefer extensions because (they) make your hair grow faster and it’s easier to maintain. I can straighten my weaves every day, but if I did that to my natural hair, my hair would fall out!” Some have told me, “Diamond, I think you take appearance a little too far,” but my responses to them remains as snappy: “And you get clip in extensions, why?” “You have your eyebrows threaded, for what reason?” (I prefer tweezers) “What possible excuse justifies fifteen minutes of pain as someone pours hot wax on your vaginal area and rips every hair off with no mercy?” (That’s just self-mutilation!) These are all things individuals tend to find aesthetically pleasing. We, as black women, can’t help ourselves. We have an ingrained image of beauty and we’re not satisfied ‘til we’re looking at it. When it comes to image, some go too far. Take note of the late Michael Jackson who couldn’t quite leave that sniffer of his alone because it reminded him too much of his supposedly abusive father. Who also--surprise--got a nose job. I digress. The disorder I’ve hinted at in so many words has been the battle between myself and my curly, twisty, kinky cottony-soft hair. One must remember that as far The disorder I’ve hinted at in so many words back as the Egyptians, individuals has been the battle between myself and my of African descent have had a love/ hate relationship with hair.You can curly, twisty, kinky cottony-soft hair. 2011 November | Insight | 13
imagine my shock upon entering the Nevada Museum of Art and seeing a piece of hieroglyphic rock bearing directions on how to appropriately weave extensions into a woman’s hair. The glyph next to it? How to make a wig. The Egyptians had a terrific way of hiding their distaste for ‘‘plain’’ appearance by saying it all tied into cleanliness. I learned that a good 90 percent of Egyptian women shaved their heads bald. This made it easier to have wigs shaped to their heads. These wigs would be made of woven animal hair, natural fibers or even black, dyed wool. The pricier wigs were dyed repeatedly until they were a reddish-blonde, which was highly fashionable--if you could afford it. Add on expensive broad-collars adorned in jewels and heavy black kohl accentuating the eyes and it’s no wonder black women have retained many of the same fashion preferences: accentuating one’s best features, and buying what you don’t have. It seems that in the public eye, black women have become synonymous with weaves, extensions, pieces, wigs, perms, fros and anything else hyped up on MTV. What people fail to realize is that the extent we go to dress our hair is as essential as a fresh pair of kicks. Teresa Payne, a UNR sophomore, says she was practically raised in the hair salon. “Growing up, my mom always made sure she went to the hair salon for her relaxers and styling and
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I would be right there with her,” Payne says. “Every two weeks, we would go--my aunts, my sister, all of us. So, my mom taught me that, as a black woman, your hair had to be done. From there, I also picked up the mentality that if you don’t have a perm, your stuff wasn’t gonna be looking right. So you just had to keep your hair done!” Payne also reflected on getting her first full set of extensions woven in. “I got my first weave my senior year of high school- and it felt like a privilege,” Payne says. “I was just blown away by the complexity of the whole process.” Extensions can cost black women hundreds, and in some cases, even thousands of dollars. Key factors in the price of the process include the type of hair used (human hair gives the best results), the length of the hair, the exclusivity of the stylist, and how much prep work they must do to prepare your head for the process. Some go in with their hair in tight mini cornrows; others let the stylist do his or her thing. For now, Payne sticks to individual braids, which are pieces of hair woven and braided with the wearers’ natural hair. “The maintenance is very low,” Payne says. “Maintenance is key for the hairstyles I choose because I know I’m not as skilled with hair as some of my friends. I like not doing much to my hair for long periods of time. The natural look is good on me, but the upkeep is something I just don’t care for.”
THE RUNDOWN the top cosmetic surgeries undergone by college students
In a survey of 559 female college students between the ages of 17 and 24, five percent (30 women) have gotten cosmetic surgery, and the other women have not ruled out surgery in the future.
Chemical peels: 11 women Breast augmentation: 8 women Nose reshaping (rhinoplasty): 6 women Breast reduction: 5 women Liposuction: 3 women Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty): 2 women Eyelids (blepharoplasty): 2 women Botox: 1 woman Cellulite treatment: 1 woman
ILLUSTRATION BY EMILY HOBBS 2011 November | Insight | 15
Information found in the March, 2005 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surger y.
Those fond of natural black hair will find that trimmings, parabenfree products and popular leave-in treatments such as Miss Jessie’s or Carol’s Daughter get extremely pricey. The results look excellent, but after buying the leave-in cream, oils, organic shampoo and conditioner, one can expect to spend almost $100. That’s a couple visits to the hair salon in comparison. Due to the sensitivity of our hair and large amounts of money spent on it, black women cannot simply go to bed with hair flowing free-willy. We have a process: Some moisturize. Some wrap around the head. Others clip up curls. I, personally, am notorious for cruising in rollers until I absolutely have to take them out. Shower caps and Saran wrap are a necessity when in the vicinity of water or “accidental splashing.” You learn at a very young age that pools are a no-no. It’s not that we, as African-American women, are incapable of loving our hair. We each have a different view of what looks good on us as an individual. I have had moments where I have succumbed to the trends of hair care including the popular Rihanna bob, the China doll bangs, or even blonde highlights. I’ve learned to be content with what I have. Black women should be encouraged that whatever side they take in this hair frenzy can easily be changed by another visit to their favorite salon.
UNCOVERING THE R E A L TRUTH A Muslim-American girlâ€™s reconnection with God
BY FARAH RASHDAN PHOTOS BY JEAN-PAUL TORRES
Wearing the hijab, FARAH RASHDAN finds herself facing unexpected drift, but also, self-discovery.
As the token Arab girl in any given situation, I am accustomed to fielding questions from people about my ethnic and religious background. When I was approached by Insight to do a project in which I would wear the hijab (a head-covering worn by Muslim women), I thought it would just be like any other question or task given to me by curious outsiders. What I failed to realize is that this seemingly simple task would cause me to question my entire relationship with God. 16 | Insight | November 2011
The image of the Muslim girl in the mirror slapped me in the face and I still haven’t recovered THE HIJAB’S SIGNIFICANCE The Muslim holy book, The Qur’an, gives a very detailed description of how women should dress: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE HIJAB Hijab is the outward representation of most Muslim women’s relationship with God. Scarves, long sleeves, and long pants are worn as a sign of modesty in Islam. In my own life, however, I have never opted to wear the hijab. My mother does not cover, and I didn’t see any reason that I should. Even though I am Muslim and have been since the day I was born, I considered the hijab to be a thing for the fanatics. Surely, what one wears on the outside wouldn’t dictate the way one feels on the inside, right? I have always tried to adhere to the rules of Islam to the best of my ability - hijab aside. I fasted, prayed, didn’t date, didn’t drink or gamble, or have premarital sex. I was mindful of God, but like most people, I only called on him when I found myself in need of help. It was not until I embarked on this project that I really had to reflect on what Islam means to me and what I believe. When children are being told what to believe, rather than being given a choice, it creates a sort of disconnect within them. They are told they have faith in something, but aren’t really given the tools with which faith is built. I was told I was Muslim, but I really never had to consider the depths of such a commitment.
DRIFTING AWAY On the first day of my project, as I prepared to wear the hijab for the first time in public, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. Prior to that moment, I thought I was just making a choice to wear a piece of clothing. It should
have been easy, but it wasn’t. What I saw when I looked in the mirror was a fraud. I realized in that moment that this outward representation of my faith was not even close to being the truth. I had no relationship with God. Where was he? When had I lost my faith? How far had I allowed myself to drift from his hand? These questions carved a chasm in my soul that still has not been filled. The image of the Muslim girl in the mirror slapped me in the face and I still haven’t recovered. I tried repeatedly that morning to wear the hijab and go out and face the world and its inquiring looks. I never made it past the mirror and my own inquiring face. I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me. The fact that I was willing to wear the hijab to write an article, but had been unwilling to wear it for God hit me with a resounding blow. The Muslim women in my life wear hijabs to signify a powerful relationship they have with their faith. This faith is mind-boggling to me. How do they unyieldingly believe in something they can’t even prove exists?
REUNION After a few more days of vacillating between wearing the hijab or not wearing it and several bouts of serious introspection, I finally rested on a conclusion. I stood staring at the scarf wadded up next to the sink in my bathroom and it occurred to me that God is with me whether I acknowledge him or not. He’s been there all along, and he will be there when I’m ready to accept him. Sumayya Beekun, a practicing Muslim female, explained to me no one can focus my acceptance of him. “No one can force you to wear the hijab, and if they try to, I remind them that it is my choice to wear the hijab or not wear it,” Beekun explains. “If I chose to take off the scarf, I do so because it is my decision to do so,.” Whether or not this acceptance will lead me to wear the hijab full-time or not, I’m not sure, but I can’t continue avoiding the topic of my belief. Like the scarf that was wadded up and thrown at the wall, I have folded up my thoughts about God and Islam and tucked them away in a drawer. I can access them when I’m ready and I can visit them from time to time, but I’m not ready to wear them all the time and to have them be a part of my everyday life. Abdel Barghouti, the former Imam at the Northern Nevada Muslim Community in Reno, listened to my story and said simply, “There is no compulsion in religion. You come to the idea or presence of God when you are ready.” This explanation is enough for me. I can’t hold myself up to the standards of other women, and I can’t envy their faith and devotion. Religion and a personal relationship with God is just that – personal. For the first time in my life, I finally learned something from being questioned by curious outsiders. I learned about myself.
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BOYS WILL BE GIRLS BY JESSICA ROSS PHOTOS COURTESY OF THERENOGAYPAGE.COM
In “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” Wesley Snipes explains that “when a straight man puts on a dress and gets his sexual kicks, he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man’s body and has a little operation, he is a transsexual. When a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a drag queen.”
rag queens are part of a steadily growing culture that people somehow seem to be missing. While a drag queen could easily be seen just about anywhere from a club to an office supply store, some people still don’t realize how large drag culture has become. It seems that, for most people, when they think about drag queens, they think about the movies like Tim Curry from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” or Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo from “To Wong Foo.” For people who aren’t an active part of drag culture, it seems to be something far removed from them: it’s something 18 | Insight | November 2011
seen in pop culture and not in real-life, especially not in downtown Reno. Chris Daniels, otherwise known as Ginger Devine, has been going out in downtown Reno dressed in drag for the last two years. After getting his start at a drag fundraising show in Wisconsin, Daniels realized that he was always meant to be Ginger. He says that he “always (feels) so effing pretty when (he) is Ginger” and that “she exudes (a) sassy, confident demeanor” that he wishes he could always display. While Daniels enjoys being a drag queen and feels “ridiculously hot and egotistical” when he is dressed up, not everyone feels the same way about the drag culture. Daniels
is aware that people are uncomfortable with his choice, and says he has been ridiculed, threatened and harassed in public. Daniels is “always extremely heartened and encouraged because, though there are a few haters, most people absolutely love drag queens.” “They are jealous because I look fantastic and they wish they could look this good,” he says. While the drag culture can cause some controversy, there are those who still find it interesting, even if they are not involved in the culture. Travis Jones, a recent
university graduate, found that men who participate in the drag culture often look better as their drag counterparts “because it’s how they’re most comfortable and being comfortable in one’s own skin does a lot for their outward appearance.” Kristine Vasilevsky, the Queer Student Union officer in charge of the upcoming drag show says that, while her male friends “still look fabulous not dressed in drag,” when they are dressed up, “they are even more beautiful.” Daniels says that he does not dress in drag as often as he would like to, because getting all dressed up can take anywhere from three to five hours. “(It) is no small feat,” Daniels explains, to get dressed up as a glamorous woman before a night out on the town. He begins the process by gathering his materials: things like razors, eyelash glue, and all the pieces of his costume. Next, he starts his “intensive shaving process, removing all traces of hair from (his) body.” After the shaving is complete, he has his makeup artist, Veronica, get him all prettied up. After deciding on his outfit and accessories, he begins the torturous process of giving himself the illusion of womanly curves by putting on a pair of spanks, a pair of control-top pantyhose and cinching into a corset. Finally, he adds his wig, which has been a signature part of Ginger’s look for about six or seven years. Vasilevsky believes that drag queens dress up to “express their inner beauty” and that she admires them for “the time and devotion” involved in it. By the end of the night, Ginger is usually feeling the pain that most women are all too familiar with after a night out. The torturous high heels, the smeared makeup, and the restricting clothing (not to mention the corsets) all make a woman or a drag queen feel like she did her best to end her evening in pain. All of the work seems to be worth it, though, because drag queens are “very beautiful and extremely well-dressed,” according to Pat Ponder, a sixty-seven-year-old Renoite. Others seem to feel similarly; many people say that they find drag queens to be beautiful and confident. Daniels’s female friends often tell him it’s unfair he makes a prettier woman than they do. Daniels believes it is important for “people (to) discover their gender identity, gender expression, (and) sexual orientation and decide that they are going to unabashedly live their true and authentic lives.” 2011 November | Insight | 19
THREAD BARE STANDARD BY EVYNN MCFALLS PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
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hen I was younger, I’d been in a high-school chemistry class when a girl told me of a discussion that she’d had with her older brother about me. Apparently, her older brother had seen me walking down the street— and he had a volley of not-so-kind remarks about the way that I’d been dressed. He hated my skinny-jeans, my low-cut shirt, and suggested that I had a problem: I wasn’t manly enough. The girl came to my immediate defense, letting her older brother know that my style of dress wasn’t my fault. She, in an expert stroke of making my familial matters (which were absolutely no one’s business at the time) public, explained to him that I’d been raised without the benefit of a present father. She expressed pity for me. I still remember her words clearly: “It’s not your fault that you don’t know how to dress manly. No one ever taught you.” I was irritated by the girl’s well-meant but terribly flawed defense of my wardrobe, but it caused me to ask myself an important question which remains relevant even now: what does it mean to dress like a man? For that matter, what does it mean to dress like a woman? According to a growing minority, the answer exists solely with the wearer’s gender identification. Even so, fashion outlets continue to dedicate different sections of their stores to clothing tailored with a certain sex in mind—and the fashions made available within those sections tend to be drastically different from one another. In the men’s section, one will likely find loose-fitting jeans, band-shirts, button-down collared shirts, ties, and “power-suits” to give the appearance of the wearer’s greater mass. Flatsoled shoes, darker colors, and modest patterns also tend to be mainstays within the section of fashion that much of the world has attributed to men. Over in the women’s section, one will find items that very much illustrate an ideological opposite—and foil—to the clothing found in the men’s section. Frame “flattering” dresses, bust-enhancing brassieres, and form-fitting jeans made to decrease the visual mass of the wearer are all likely present in the women’s fashion section. Generally speaking, people are expected to shop within their specific sections, and adhere to the binary of fashions that are made available to the two demographics. A growing minority is not satisfied with these options which are, according to them, rather limited—and that dissatisfaction oftentimes has less to do with rebellion, and more to do with the preference of the wearers. Take Denali Lowder, for example. Denali is a nineteen-year-old female and a full-time barista. She is a pretty, fair-skinned girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a lean figure. According to the fashions made available to her, she should be capitalizing on the leanness of her figure, and wearing form-fitting dresses and high-heeled shoes that demonstrate her femininity to the nth degree. According to Lowder, however, it isn’t likely that this is going to happen any time soon. As a matter of fact, if one takes a gander at her wardrobe, it isn’t likely one will find a single dress, or high-heeled shoe to speak of. “I guess I’d describe what I wear as sort of tomboy punk, or maybe it would just be androgynous,” Lowder explains. “I like band shirts, Dickies, Vans. It’s the same as a lot of other kids who go to punk shows—except that I’m a girl.” Lowder identifies wholly as a woman—and a woman of heterosexual orientation at that. Unfortunately, her manner of dress does not go unnoticed by those in her periphery, and for much of her adolescent life, Denali has withstood criticisms, embarrassing mishaps, and accusations of denial where her romantic proclivities are concerned—all based solely on her appearance.
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“People not only doubt my femininity, but also my sexual orientation and identity quite a lot—not that I think sexuality is a black-and-white thing—but it’s hard to grasp the fact that I dress and act in the way that I do and identify as a straight woman,” Lowder says, “and I get a lot of confused older people assuming that I’m a young man. I’ve even had a lot of people doubt my sexuality when I tell them that I’m straight. They assume I haven’t come out of the closet yet because I wear what they perceive as ‘boys clothes’.” Lowder who is in a happy relationship with a male, believes that much of the suspicion where her sexual identity is concerned comes from preconceptions about what men and women “should and should not wear”—and from the idea that those who step outside of what is thought of as generally acceptable dress by society is an act of deviance from the norm. Lowder’s is an example of a fair question asked by many others like her: who decides what clothing belongs to what sex, if not the consumer? One cannot help but wonder where these stigmas and preconceptions about sex and gender come from. Why is it so difficult for people to grasp that those select few who dare to step out of the sphere of consensus in the fashion world still wish to cling to their chosen sexual preferences and gender identifications while wearing fashions that do not necessarily fall in tow with said identifications? How could a male who prefers tight-fitting clothing and revealing attire identify as a heterosexual man; how could a female in Vans, Dickies, with short hair dare to identify as a woman, in spite of her “manly” wardrobe? Shelby Paxton, 20, is a woman who identifies as queer, and she feels that much of the stigma of stepping outside of the binary of pre-determined dress originates from long-standing ideas about sex and gender. “I think most fashion is influenced by [(American) society’s preexisting gender roles,” Paxton says. “It shows in the fact that masculine influences in women’s fashion are acceptable, but feminine influences in male fashion are not so widely acceptable.” Furthermore, Paxton believes that the fashion industry plays a large role in helping society at large to determine what clothes belong to which sex. “I think the fashion industry has set a standard for what a man should look like, and those are the type of men they cater to,” Paxton says. “It’s not unlike women’s clothing, which is marketed mostly to women sizes two through 10. The fashion industry is forcing their image of the ideal ‘man’ by selling clothes catered to certain figures.” The stories of these women reminded me of something I have believed about fashion since I was very young: as consumers of fashion, it is our right to express ourselves, through the designs of what we choose to wear, as we see fit. The boundaries of beauty and sexuality are not so binary in life as they are in department stores. Though people like Denali Lowder and Shelby Paxton may face criticism in response to their chosen style, one cannot deny that they enjoy a level of self-determinism in fashion that is rare, and daring. 22 | Insight | November 2011
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STORY BY SAM DISALVO PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
â€œLook at this Fucking Hipsterâ€? displays photos of 20-somethings sporting bushy beards, handlebar mustaches, glasses with the lenses popped out, and occasionally posing with taxidermy and giving the thumbs up. One photo shows two young people kissing in a dumpster. This image seems to sum up hipster quite nicely; there is something romantic in the hipster culture, but that sentiment is buried in a pit of garbage no one wants to take responsibility for.
LOOK AT THIS
FUCKING HIPSTER The subculture that everyone sees, but with which almost no one identifies. 24 | Insight | November 2011
HISTORY OF HIP “Hipster” is a word derived from much earlier subcultures. The term itself was brought about in the 1940s and given to those who were aware and participating in the growing jazz scene. African-Americans used the term “hip” to refer to the most up-to-date individuals. In the 1960s, the term split into two subcategories: the hippie and the beatnik. The beatniks were those who were participating or indulging in the postmodern literature movement, while the hippies were scorned by the beatniks. They were considered uninformed, unpatriotic drug users. A recent evolution has taken place. In terms of more contemporary culture, modern day hipsters could be said to be descended from the emo and scene movements of the 1990s and early 2000s. It seems that those who wore thick eyeliner and called Weezer their favorite band in high school are now the same people drinking Pabst and browsing through reviews on Pitchfork. The term found really resurfaced in the late 2000s when journalists began to take note of a new culture emerging that had great respect for the authentic, but little respect for each other, much like the animosity demonstrated between the beatniks and the hippies. Though these origins are apparent to those being labeled a hipster today, there seems to be a stark difference between how the original hipsters were perceived and how modern day hipsters are viewed.
A CULTURE WITHOUT A CAUSE “This whole subculture has become a huge movement, but it really stands for nothing,” says 19-year-old business major Nick Rattigan. “Hippies were protesting a war. Beatniks were coming up with all these cool philosophies and writing novels and such, but the hipsters are just kind of getting drunk and doing drugs. There’s no unified thing we stand for. Like any counterculture, we get the negative connotation from the mass culture, but in this case, I feel it deserves to get the negative connotation.” Rattigan attributes this negative connotation hipsters receive to their pretentious attitude on everything from music to politics. Rachel Cochrane, a 21-year-old French major, agrees, saying that hipsters are characterized as judgmental people. “They scoff at mainstream culture and tremble in their vintage
lace-up boots at the thought of not being original,” Cochrane says. “They immediately judge your style, your tastes, your haircut, your voice (and) your opinions.” Cochrane says she looks like a hipster because of her love of thrift store shopping and 90s fashion, but it isn’t something she seriously identifies with. “Numerous people have called me a hipster—including myself—but it is not something I ever strive for,” Cochrane says. “If I like something, then I like it, regardless if it’s too mainstream or not alternative enough.” Cochrane says her enjoyment of movies like Atonement and gossip magazines set her apart from the hipster ideal because those things are “mainstream.” Others say there is no such thing as a “hipster,” but rather the term is used to slander the Millennial Generation. Sterling Hall, a 20-year-old philosophy major, believes it to be a term used to discredit young people. “It’s cast upon people of our age to try to make us look more naïve and less empathetic and less caring than we actually are,” Hall says. He says it is especially detrimental because it seems to be an attack used mostly by young people. “I think it’s more horizontal, like young people against young people. It’s really an absent term.” Many have a difficult time defining what exactly makes a hipster in terms of intellectual makeup, and instead refer to their way of dress and hangouts in which they might be found. Will von Tagen, a 23-year-old English major, says hipsters are the people who wear beanies, flannel shirts and scarves, all while reading a book in an independent coffee shop. “They consider it an intellectual haven,” von Tagen says. This definition, however, does not always ring true. “I don’t see a lot of hipsters in this café,” says Mark Norris, a barista at independently owned Bibo Coffee Company on Record Street. Norris is wearing horn-rimmed glasses, suspenders and a beret and plays in a local punk rock band. Norris does not identify with the hipster culture and says it contributes little to society. “In general, when you talk to (hipsters), you just get the impression they don’t care about much,” Norris says. “You might see a hipster drinking a beer before going out and telling some dude not to be a racist.” In other words, hipsters’ actions to curb social injustice are often done with little passion or urgency. Norris says the hipsters from the ‘50s and ‘60s had much more of an impact than the hipsters do now. “I don’t see this generation, in general, doing a whole lot to make their lives, or the future of our country and our planet a little better.”
This whole subculture has become a huge movement, but it really stands for nothing. 2011 November | Insight | 25
THE OUTLIERS Rattigan is the music director at Wolf Pack Radio, which makes him in charge of putting music on the stream and recommending bands to disc jockeys. He is the source of knowledge on new indie music to the college campus. He is wearing a cardigan that he is proud to say he just bought at Junkee prior to the interview. Rattigan fits the bill for the average hipster— except in one important way: he identifies with the culture. “Fuck it; I’m a hipster,” Rattigan says. “I’m sick of this whole hipster hatred going on.” Rattigan believes that, despite the negative connotation he discussed hipsters getting, they have contributed a lot more than the general public seems to give them credit for. He relates the Technological Revolution that hipsters grew up during to the Industrial Revolution. “Hipsters are kind of the romantic stage of the Technological Revolution,” Rattigan explains. He refers to websites like Tumblr (a blogging site used to display different mediums of art and popular memes) and Bandcamp (a site used for budding musicians to spread their music to the masses and to sell merchandise to their fans) and says outlets like that are doing a favor for the arts because of their ability to spread creativity to millions of people. “Because more people see it, we get a broader spectrum and we’re inspired by more things,” Rattigan says. Vice Magazine is considered a hipster publication because of its dictating of fashion, ironic takes on politics and its status as a record label for indie bands such as Chromeo and Bloc Party. Many have labeled the magazine as pretentious because of its assertion that all published material is imperative and must be read in order to be cool. Katie O’Neill, a University of Nevada, Reno alumnus and Vice intern says working with the publication and living in Brooklyn changed her perception of hipsters. “Hipster, to me, now really means being free and comfortable in yourself that you’re not afraid to wear clothes that other people don’t think about wearing, or maybe you listen to music that is totally different from what others are listening to,” O’Neill says. She argues that hipsters are reconstructing the art scene because they’re taking old elements and blending them with new ideas. “It’s important to remember that nothing is original anymore, but attempting to put together different elements of style to create something unique or inspiring to you is a part of evolving and creating identity.” 26 | Insight | November 2011
NICK RATTIGAN, 19, hangs out in the “intellectual haven” that is Bibo Coffee.
This idea of incorporating the old has been chastised wrongly. Critics argue that, because hipsters revive old trends, they’re being inauthentic. Christian Lorentzen wrote in his 2007 article, “Kill the Hipster: Why the Hipster Must Die: A modest proposal to save New York cool” that hipsters “fetishize the authentic,” and while the tone of his article was clearly condemning, there is something to be said for the preservation of old fashions. As von Tagen points out, there is a reason why these methods lasted so long in the first place. “There’s problems with digital archiving, (but) we still have film negatives from the 1800s that’ll still produce almost a better image than some of those top digital cameras out there,” von Tagen says. “You never know when we might want to fall back on that.”
“IT’S LIKE A MOVEMENT” Indie band LCD Soundsystem deconstructs the hipster movement in their song “Movement,” saying “it’s like a culture/Without the effort of all the culture.” There’s truth to that. Hipster isn’t a movement yet, but there’s potential. It’s an especially poignant time for one, considering the financial and emotional climate of this country. “We’re trying to get back to a simpler time when not as much money was spent on things,” Rattigan says about the hipster’s tendency to shop at thrift stores and rob their parents of their record players. This would also be the reason why cheap beers like Pabst and Schlitz are the drinks of choice, and why illegal downloading is at an all-time high: We just don’t have the money. There is a plight to be fought, but the current generation will not rise up. “No one can embrace their culture,” Rattigan says. “And I think that if we did embrace it, we can channel it to a better thing.” There is strength in numbers, and there are clearly enough hipsters to fill up thousands of blogs and Polaroid photos.
“I don’t see a lot of hipsters in this café,” says Mark Norris, a barista at independently owned Bibo Coffee Company on Record Street. Norris is wearing hornrimmed glasses, suspenders and a beret and plays in a local punk rock band. There is no use in denying the culture exists, and it is useless to condemn the youth around us; that’s simply denying the reality of the situation and hindering our own growth. The Millennial Generation is often labeled apathetic, apolitical and lazy. Perhaps, it is because that we deny our own passions when their potential is right there in front of us. The hipster movement has the ability to become an explosion of creative moxie, but it needs backing. It needs to stop collapsing upon itself and build.
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Nikki Raine adds a lace scarf and leather belt to her dreess with high-heeled boots for drama.
4 Girls, 1 Dress
FOUR FASHIONISTAS INTERPRET THE SAME DRESS AND MAKE IT THEIR OWN. Dresses courtesy of Forever 21. 28 | Insight | November 2011
PHOTOS BY SEBASTIAN DIAZ
Leanne Howard pairs her dress with a retro demin jacket, and throws in some color with her two-tone belt and paint-splattered wedges.
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Oanh Luc pairs the dress with a subtly textured sweater, thigh highs and flats for a more relaxed, day-today look.
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Catherine Ho keeps it simple with a statement-making necklace and high heels for a night out on the town.
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This publication is made possible by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno
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