VALLEY Magazine | Spring 2023

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our attraction to symmetry

A deep dive into the phenomenon of beauty and symmetry.

ISSUE 31

the intimacy of citrus fruit

How wonderful is it that nature makes something that you just can’t help but share?

unpacking the unconventional Exploring fashion that shatters the norms.

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EDITORIAL DIVISION

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF SARA HARKINS

MANAGING EDITOR LEIGH CHAMBERLAIN

WEB DIRECTOR MARIAH DOUGHERTY

COPY EDITOR STEVIE VESCIO-FRANZ

BEAUTY & HEALTH EDITOR STEPH MUTZ

SELF-IMPROVEMENT EDITOR ALYSSA OPRIS

CAMPUS CULTURE EDITOR HOLLY WILLHIDE

FASHION EDITOR GABRIELLA MUDD

ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR GINGER LYONS

THIS JUST IN EDITOR CASEY ZANOWIC

WEB ASSISTANT EVVY BLATSTEIN

PRINT WRITERS

TATIANA MCCOMBER, KATELYN LENZ, HELENA HAYNES, KIRA SARSFIELD, VANESSA HOHNER, SIERRA CUCCIARDI, ABI SCHONBERGER, NICK FERRARA

WEB WRITERS

JADE BRAMWELL, EMMA GOLDKOPF, REEYA KULKARN, VICTORIA SALVES, NATALIE UNTCH, SARAH GROSCH, MARIANA AZPURUA, GEORGIA CURTIS, CHRISTINE BITONTI, ZARA DENISON, AMANDA FLYNN, CAITLYN GARRITY, GRACIE WATKINS, JULIA MCGINTY

CREATIVE DIVISION

CREATIVE DIRECTOR ELINOR FRANKLIN

DESIGN DIRECTOR & JUNIOR ART DIRECTOR JOSH GUINN

PHOTO DIRECTORS JENNY LEE & JAMES RICCARDO

FASHION DIRECTORS LAUREN BRETL & GRETA AGEE

CASTING DIRECTOR MICHAEL CANNO

VIDEOGRAPHY DIRECTOR NATE REINHOLD

CREATIVE TEAM MANAGING ASSISTANT SIMONE SKINNER

CASTING ASSISTANT AND MODEL SCOUT CHLOE EVANS

PHOTOGRAPHERS

TAAY JAACK, SARA BOBULINSKI, KAYLYN THOM, ZOE EDDY, ABBY TARPEY, MICHAEL LANCIA, MASON LOPICCOLO, KAYLA MARCH

DESIGNERS SHADAE LOVELACE & MORGAN BROWN

MAKEUP DIANE AKPOVWA

STYLIST DEVON SNIEGOCKI

FILM DEVELOPMENT AND SCANNING IAN CUNNINGHAM

BUSINESS DIVISION

BUSINESS DIRECTOR ELIZA KOSTER

ADVERTISING DIRECTORS TYLER HOLENDER, SABRINA LOMBARDO

EVENTS DIRECTORS CAROLINE LEONARD, MACKENZIE WATSON

PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTORS CURTIS TROWBRIDGE, RACHEL DUNCAN

FINANCE DIRECTORS ZOE ZEFF, JIANA MARZANO

ADVERTISING

ALLIE MARTIN, TERESA DEMAIO, JAIDEN VAZQUEZ, RACHEL RUNTA, BREANNA MILLER, DAEVIANA BLOUNT, AVA TARONE, EMILY CLARK, NICOLE REILLY, PAIGE PENIZOTTO, LILY STACK, GIANNA GOLATO, ASHLEY LLOYD, SKYLAR MUNDENAR, GRACE WEISS, SARAH SMITH, TORI STERNBERG, SOPHIA KOLLHOFF, MADISON FULCO, ZOEY JOSEPH, SOPHIA MILLER, LAUREN DICKER, VIKRAM RAJ, ANJOLEE SMITH

EVENTS

MARCELLA CAMBARERI, OLIVIA BETZLER, ISABELLA JAIGOBIND, GRACE FAULHABER, CAMILA IGUINA, EMMA GINTHER, MADI COLE

FINANCE

VICTORIA VANRIELE, ALEX FERRY, LILY GUILLETTE, RACHEL FRUCHTER, TAYLOR SLEMBARSKI

PUBLIC RELATIONS

CHLOE WOZNICKI, OLIVIA SANDERS, EMMA FROELICH, CLAIRE SAROSI, GIANA RODRIGUEZ, LOIS WADDELL, JULIA ARGENTO, MORGAN SHAH, JULIENNE

MALUENDA, NICOLE JOYCE, MARCELLA WALTER, ZOLA DAVERIO, JANAE HOLMES, JANE WEINSEIMER, CHRISTEN FERRARA, MARIE HILBERT, KRISTIN HOBERMAN, NICK ROBLE, GRACE LINDSTROM, GENNA ZAGOREN, TYLER LIPTON, SONIA HO, LUCAS VALDEON, BECCA ZIEGLER, CLARE O'NEILL, SOPHIE MORAR, REAGAN MARCH, PILAR MEDRANO

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Penn State’s premier student-run life and style magazine.

VALLEY Magazine is published once per semester and distributed for free on Penn State’s main campus in University Park, PA.

Our mission is to recognize Penn State students for their academic and extracurricular accomplishments and to feature local style, entertainment and lifestyle trends.

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BEAUTY & HEALTH
Routines and Rituals: More than Meets the Eye 10 Our Attraction to Symmetry 12 Let’s Be Clear. 13 Embrace the Vibe 14 Insistent Insomnia
The Beauty of Harajuku: Beauty Photoshoot
SELF-IMPROVEMENT
The Intimacy of Citrus Fruit 24 Is it Better to Fake it? 26 A Dating Diary 27 I Love You, But I Never Want to See You Naked 28 Healing Your Inner Child
CAMPUS CULTURE
The Link Between Going Out and Eating Disorders 32 Conversations with International Students 36 Cover Story: Where Love Lived First 44 Did You Hear … 46 ENTERTAINMENT 47 The World of House Music 48 The Birds & the Bees: An Antiquated Tête-à-Tête 50 Ms. Movie Madness 51 The Fine Line of a Punchline 52 Erasing the Misconceptions of Modern Art 54 FASHION 55 Dressing for Change 56 Losing the Labels 57 Out with the Old in with the … Old 58 Unpacking the Unconventional 60 Battle of the Blings 62 Welcome to the Wild Wild West: Fashion Photoshoot The content and opinions of this publication reside solely with the authors and not the Pennsylvania State University or the University Park Allocation Committee.
VALLEY Magazine is named after Happy Valley and was founded in September 2007 by former Penn State students Nicole Gallo, Meredith Ryan, Katie Zuccolo and Kathryn Tomaselli. The Fall 2022 magazine is VALLEY’s thirtieth issue. by the Student Initiated Fee
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Photography by James Riccardo

Before I commit to a book, I skip to the last page and read the ending. Controversial, I know. But there is something thrilling about finding that perfectly nuanced ending that makes your heart clench in satisfaction. It’s no surprise then, that during my time with VALLEY, I’ve loved writing endings. I’ve neatly tied the bow on many stories, but Jaqueline Thomann’s was different. Her story begins after the ending, and that’s how I knew she’d be the perfect Cover Star. I believe the way she represents herself perfectly encapsulates the personality of this issue.

VALLEY 31 is mischievous and playful — it is also serious and heart-wrenching. My goal for this issue was to include niche, wellthought out ideas that you didn’t know you connected with (or thought of at all). These stories are creative and specific, and I hope some of them make you giggle and leave you with a better understanding of people, art and politics.

Most of all, I wanted this magazine to feel vulnerable and human. Etched in every line is intimacy. I know some of these topics are sensitive — loss, for instance, is never easy to speak about. Are you grieving too long, too hard or not enough? How do we grapple with overwhelming endings and “move on” from places where love still exists?

Jacqueline says she learns to make more space for love, and grief, to come. Jacqueline, telling your story was an honor. Thank you for sharing with such candor. You are a magnificent person, and I’m so glad we met. I can’t wait for everyone to read your story — I hope I’ve made you proud.

This magazine was created by such a talented group of people. Elinor and Eliza — both of you are responsible for so much and should feel so proud of all that you have accomplished. Thank you for your collaboration and for helping me grow. Watching you both lead has taught me so much. To our Business Director, Eliza, I admire your grit. I knew that working with you, things would get done. To our Creative Director, Ellie, thank you for your abundance of creativity and dedication to making this issue come to life. To our Design Director, Josh, thank you for putting in so much time and effort to make stunning pages. I can't wait to see what you do next year!

To Amanda, who not only gave me this opportunity, but consistently stayed by my side, you are my favorite thing that has come from this process — I am so lucky. To my Managing Editor, Leigh, I couldn’t have chosen a better partner — you are wise, sensitive and firm when needed. There is no one better to lead VALLEY next. To our Web Director, Mariah, thank you for your deep commitment to making the website outstanding, and for your friendship. I think we challenge each other to be better, and I thank you for your loyalty and vulnerability.

To our Web Assistant, Evvy, thank you for your kindness and openness to learn something new. I cannot wait to keep up with our content next year and see you thrive as Web Director! To our Copy Editor, Stevie, my favorite part of this process was giggling with you. Thank you for your endless support in making sure this magazine is in its best shape to tell these stories. As Leigh said, you are our secret superweapon.

To my wonderful Editorial team — you are the foundation of this magazine. Thank you to each of my Section Editors whose dependability and edits each week make our web content pristine. To my Web and Print Writers, your ideas are brilliant and creative, and I hope you continue to breathe life into those thoughts. Leigh once said that we all possess the essence of VALLEY; it’s why we all come together in the first place, and she is right. VALLEY will forever be composed of new, wonderful individuals like you. Being here for all of you was the best part of my job. I cannot wait to see what you all do, and I hope I was able to help you grow in any way.

Thank you to my family and to Anna, Eve, Hayden and Tessa. I love you all. Elise, Nicole and MJ — you have been, and always will be, VALLEY to me.

Finally, to our readers, cheers to VALLEY 31! I hope these pages feel magical and these stories provide humor, wisdom or relief for anything you may be dealing with. Read gently, and when you close the last page, put it down and move on to something else. Perhaps knowing that we will all keep going as Jaqueline demonstrates, is what makes writing this ending feel so sweet.

Done, I think to myself before closing my laptop and finally leaving my seat.

With love,

from our business director

26,280 hours. My VALLEY lifeline. 26,280 hours may not seem like a lot, but they are my hours to cherish. Hours that taught me kindness, collaboration, patience and leadership — lessons on never giving up and finding beauty in some of the most obscure moments. These hours taught me about my passions and capabilities, giving light to my future path.

To walk away may be one of the sadder things I’ve had to do, but to look back on what we’ve created is the greatest accomplishment I could ask for.

Three years ago, VALLEY was just a bunch of pages bound together on my coffee table, representing the creative pieces of me that I wanted to bring to this campus. Never did I imagine the incredible people I would meet along the way that shared those same passions and the experiences they would bring to my life.

I want to give a huge thank you to Elinor and Sara for creating and growing by my side. You each brought such a unique force to the table and proved yourselves to be unstoppable. It has been an absolute pleasure to not only work with you guys, but create everlasting friendships. I cannot wait to see the wonderful places you both go.

To our beautiful Cover Star, thank you for allowing us to share your story with the world. Your words show so much strength and will inspire others to stay true and confident in themselves as you did.

To my incredible staff, I love you guys. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a leader, and for allowing me to make mistakes within the masterpieces you all brought forth and learn from them. You helped me become the best version of myself through constant support and determination. We would not be here today without every single one of you guys. I am forever grateful for your contribution and commitment.

To my family, for supporting me unconditionally, I feel so blessed to be able to grow in such encouraging environments. You guys have given me freedom to find my path while providing a space of love and support. You pick me up when I fall, and cheer me on when I succeed. You have shown me what it means to be selfless and kind, and I am forever grateful for all you teach me. My accomplishments are a testament to your love and guidance.

To our readers, you are the driving force behind VALLEY Magazine. Thank you for opening these pages. As you read through, I hope you see this magazine as a window into the world and a canvas where we paint our passions. Get lost in it!

And to myself — You did it!

To watch life be breathed into pages of a magazine is truly an inspiring experience. To start from a blank slate and create something so meaningful is the true magic of it all. But a magazine is not just about the product, it’s about the journey that led to its creation. It’s a bittersweet experience saying goodbye, but as we move forward, I know we have created something truly remarkable to leave behind.

from our creative director

As this semester, and my college career, come to an end, looking back on my time at VALLEY has been an a great time of reflection. Serving as Creative Director for the past year has come with many highs and lows alike, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The experience gained from working on a project of this scale is unmatched, and I’d like to start by thanking every hand that has touched this publication's production.

There is truly no other project of this scale that has given me the opportunity to have this much creative freedom. To see work that I have poured so much time and love into printed and distributed for the student body to see has been incredibly rewarding. The whole team should be so proud of all that’s been accomplished.

I cannot give enough thanks to Eliza and Sara. It has been lovely to learn and grow through collaboration. I’m so grateful for your dedication and support throughout the production of this issue. I can’t wait to see where the future takes you.

To our incredible Cover Star, Jacqueline, thank you for trusting us to tell your story. You were wonderful to work with and I can’t wait for your words to be shared. I’m sure you will inspire others wherever your path may lead.

To my friends and family, thank you for your constant support along the way. I can’t thank my parents enough for putting up with all the props I’ve stored at their house over the past year. To my friends, thank you for being there through my hectic schedule and for always offering a listening ear.

To the entire creative staff, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know it’s not always easy work, but I hope you’re proud of everything that you’ve accomplished. A project of this scale would not have been possible without everyone's help. I hope you all continue to be unapologetically yourselves and continue to create.

To my design director, Josh, thank you for being there through it all. You have been the biggest help this year and I truly couldn’t have done it without you. Seeing your mood boards come to life has been a joy, and I can’t wait to see where you take things next year. To James and Jenny, my photography directors and friends, thank you for the hours of care and attention to detail through the many long studio days.

To our readers, I can’t wait for you to see these concepts come to life. Without you, VALLEY would not be what it is today.

As I close this chapter of my life, I can confidently say that I am incredibly proud of the mark I’ve left on VALLEY. I can’t wait to see where future teams take it from here.

For the last two months, the entire Adobe suite has stayed open on my trusty laptop. Today, I get to export it all and give the fans in my computer a break. With all the countless hours, late nights and early mornings, I can now close the massive InDesign file and take a breath.

Thank you,

beau yt & heal t h

"Getting a diagnosis is really tricky," Hammill says. "The issue with the medical world — with disabilities — is that they just want to fix you. They think you're a problem and there's something wrong ... But I'm not a problem. I want to manage it."

"You never know what's going on in someone else's life."
Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee

Routines and Rituals: More than Meets the Eye

Aster Phillips has journeyed quite far. Three years ago, after peeling himself from the sheets of a dormitory bed that he used as a hiding place for numerous objects — clorox wipes, gardening tools and eyeshadow singles — he may have chosen to begin his day with the St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Loaded with citric shards, dermatologists have claimed this product has comparable effects to scraping one’s face against a brick wall.

Like many budding professionals of the 2020s, Phillips fell victim to the sheltering qualities of the pandemic. Relegated to a $6,000 dorm room with faulty air conditioning and granted no social circle beyond that of a Zoom University breakout room, these conditions became a recipe for poor mental health. As he grappled with bipolar disorder and gender dysphoria, the necessity of self-maintenance would often evade his memory.

Even showering once daily can become an arduous task for someone who has no choice but to allocate all their energy to improving their emotional wellbeing, rendering subscription to a daily routine impossible.

“Your functioning has to do with your mental health in a way. I think that there is a correlation there,” Phillips says. “If you’re at least washing your face once a day, you’re at least functioning.” Furthermore, as he quickly realized that his body did little to affirm his newfound gender identity, motivating himself to care for that body became all the more difficult.

While joking about being eager to find methods of curbing the havoc that newly-growing facial hair can wreak on one’s complexion, he says, “When you’re comfortable with your body and you feel like yourself, you want to take care of the body that you’re in.”

For Phillips, a change in his daily routine represented a much greater change in his life — one towards happiness, inner peace and physical affirmation. The way in which one cares for themselves provides a window inwards, and in his case, it was a symbol of progress and newfound excitement for the future.

“I’ll be getting these babies off within a year,” he laughs, gesturing toward his breasts. “That is going to feel even more affirming for me, and that will motivate me to take care of myself ten times more.”

Both recovery and transitioning are an ongoing process for Phillips. Nevertheless, he continues to amaze himself both in his progress and in the way his lifestyle has changed.

“I was very low-functioning before I transitioned, and I was very mentally ill for a long time,” he continues.

Fortunately for Phillips, he would soon venture to a headspace where the grass was much greener. Finding a new therapist and investing in hormone replacement therapy changed both his life and his cosmetic regimen. With steadily improving body image due to a new sense of affirmation, he discovered within himself motivation to perform selfcare, finding peace in a strict skincare ritual and discarding old products that did more harm than good.

It is in moments like this that juggling both spheres of one’s hygiene, physical and mental, becomes particularly burdensome.
For Phillips, a daily routine became a window into his mind and an indication that he was waging an internal battle.
“Once I was comfortable in the body I was in and that space I was in, it was easier to take care of myself. Once I had the motivation to do it, it was so much easier,” Phillips says.
“I know that as I continue transitioning into the person I want to be, it’s going to be so great to take care of my body and say, ‘This is the body I want to be in and I am happy with who I am.’”

We see it all over social media. We pose to show off our “good side” in spectacular lighting, while hiding our other side. We use our gua sha tools, pushing the edges of our face down to look even. We contour, making sure our left side looks the same as the right. Even down to the middle part of our hair. What do all of these things have in common? Deep down, this obsession with evenness and balance in our appearance is our belief that to look “attractive” is to look symmetrical.

Symmetry Through History

The ancient Greeks emphasized that symmetry is attractive through their art and architecture. This began with Vitruvius, writer and architect, who emphasized the importance of mathematics and proportion in architecture, ultimately leading to symmetrical buildings. Later, Leonardo DaVinci utilized Vitruvius’ writing to create the “Vitruvian Man,” a depiction of “ideal” human proportion and balance.

However, artists from the 20th and 21st centuries have tried to move away from this idea that humans are rational and balanced beings.

Furthermore, these unachievable goals sometimes make us do more extreme things in order to fix these “irregularities” or imperfections that we see in ourselves. “I think symmetry is an artificial thing, and so when you set artificial standards for beauty, people are going to do artificial things to themselves,” says Ziolkowski.

Symmetry in Nature

While that is true for some things, when it comes to human faces, it doesn’t seem to apply. “There is a lot of symmetry in nature,” says Ziolkowski. “But that could be more functional than about beauty.”

Moreover, these artists recognized that humans are not rational beings, which strayed away from former western ideology. Instead, they began to focus their art on the irrational nature of humans.

Dr. Aaron Ziolkowski, professor of Modern Contemporary Art at Penn State, says, “There are these really old ideas that art is about perfecting the world. It is about taking the best parts of different things and combining them together and that gives you perfection … But even that concept should make it sound like Frankenstein. It's not actual bodies we're talking about, it's always about ideals and concepts, and so art is kind of divorced from reality, which is partly why it's appealing.”

Beauty Standards

These “ideals and concepts” that Ziolkowski refers to are taking over beauty standards in the modern day. While some concepts have been around for a long time, a lot of them are now playing a part in modern makeup, skin care and plastic surgery. With gua sha-ing, contouring or cosmetic surgery, people still, sometimes even unconsciously, strive for that perfectly symmetrical face. Symmetry compels us and inherently draws us in. “You go in closer and try to find irregularities, I think that's part of it,” says Ziolkowski.

Ziolkowski is referring to how things in nature use symmetry for different purposes than humans. Plants and animals in nature frequently use their symmetry for survival, which makes placing this idea on human beauty standards bizarre. Unlike living beings in nature, humans do not survive because they have symmetrical faces. But in reality, maybe asymmetry is what helps humans survive socially.

As an example, Ziolkowski explains the Starbucks logo, which was first designed to be completely symmetrical. “So, they added this tiny little change … and that actually optically balances it out. Sometimes things look more ‘perfect’ or ‘balanced’ if they're not perfectly symmetrical.” While some of us may be wired to search for those with perfectly symmetrical figures or faces, it is our irregularities that help us stand out. So next time you find yourself cursing your bent nose, crooked smile or mismatched eyebrows, remember that none of us are symmetrical.

They rejected this idea of symmetry; instead, looking towards the imperfections, rather than the “perfection,” of humans.
“I think there's something kind of uncanny about symmetry, that it doesn't seem real and that's kind of fascinating.”
Because symmetry is often seen in nature, many try to justify this idea of facial symmetry by claiming that it is “natural.”
Photography by James Riccardo, Kaylyn Thom, & Michael Lancia Makeup by Diane Akpovwa

Let's Be Clear.

We’ve all been through it before — that break out just before it’s time for your formal, a wedding, or that class you have with your crush. We try, cleanser after cleanser, to try to scrub it away, and sometimes, the breakouts just seem to get worse. Some of us have even been battling it for years, never seeming to win over that problem spot. That's when you know it's time to make that dermatologist appointment.

However, sometimes treatments can be daunting, especially when it comes in a pill form. So, how do we clear up our complexion?

How Dermatologists Prescribe

Dermatologists typically begin the process of prescribing medications by determining the severity of their patients' acne. Once determining that, dermatologists decide if the acne can be cleared up with over the counter treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid cleansers and over the counter retinoids. While these might sound scary, they actually do pretty simple things.

Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that contributes to acne formation as well as clears pores. Salicylic acid, which is a gentler option, helps with blackheads and whiteheads. Retinoids help with inflammation and normalize how the skin sheds, a more preventative solution. In more severe cases, dermatologists will turn towards prescriptions instead, whether that may be creams, oral medications, or both. However, oral prescriptions can be more complicated and choosing the right one for your skin type is crucial.

Hormonal Acne

Dr. Kate Berry, a Penn State College of Medicine graduate, who works in the Penn State Dermatology Department, has a special focus in acne, as well as skin cancers, psoriasis, eczema and cosmetic treatments. When asked about how hormonal acne works, Berry explained the role it plays in pubescent kids and older.

Another medication that is used to treat acne is Accutane … Well, not really. The medication that is known as “Accutane” is actually Isotretinoin, Accutane was taken off the market in 2009.

However, Isotretinoin is the same thing. It is used in severe cases of acne where scarring is beginning to occur, but it is usually not the first prescription that dermatologists go to. Typically, they will try a combination of topical and oral treatments first, and if those fail to work, then Isotretinoin is prescribed.

“Isotretinoin has a whole host of side effects,” says Berry. “However, what we see most commonly is dryness — especially of the lips. Most other side effects are rare, but we do go into pretty in-depth counseling about the potential side effects when prescribing the medication. Additionally, we do blood monitoring, and women have to get a monthly pregnancy test while on it. So, it's definitely more involved for the duration of treatment.” Most people require five to six months of Isotretinoin, and will often remain clear or only need to use a topical retinoid afterward.

Other Options

Other than Spironolactone and Isotretinoin, antibiotics are used as an acne treatment. While antibiotics can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, they are typically used to bring down inflammation and redness in the skin.

With all these options that are on the market today, many people are turning to prescriptions for their acne. However, there are a lot of nonprescription treatments that might be worth a try.

Berry continues, "However, when people say hormonal acne, they are typically talking about this adult female acne which is really related to flares around your menstrual cycle. It tends to be more focused around the jawline, and can have a more cystic quality. This can be harder to treat with your standard topical treatments.”

Moreover, typically hormonal acne is treated with spironolactone, an oral medication that blocks the androgen receptor (considered an antiandrogen) which decreases the oil production. It can also be treated with birth controls, which help with that stubborn adult female acne by regulating hormones. Just this past year, the first anti-androgen medication, called Winlevi, has been approved.

Accutane … Wait I Mean Isotretinoin

Though remember, everyone’s skin is different, and sometimes oral treatments might just be the right thing for you. Whether you have struggled with acne for years or you just have some “problem areas,” talk to your dermatologist and figure out what is right for you.

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“All acne is hormonal to some degree because androgens play a role in acne development. That's why you don't tend to see kids before puberty get any acne.”
“I think there are a lot more options for acne than there were a few years ago, especially over the counter, which can make it hard to determine what you should buy.”

“The Big O”: A euphoric feeling that many women never experienced. But with a touch of a button, this can be changed.

From rabbit vibrators to clitoral suction vibrators, there are many ways to "flick the bean" in today’s society. But if it is that easy to achieve orgasm with these products, why don’t more women jump for the opportunity?

According to a 2016 study conducted by TENGA, 81 percent of women and 95 percent of men revealed they have masturbated in their lifetime. However, women are overall reserved with sexual discussions and more likely to lie than men when it comes to openly talking about masturbation. But why?

The History of Female Masturbation

Women’s shame around sexual pleasure stems from a long history of stigma against female masturbation which started in the Middle Ages. Before then, masturbation was a celebrated act in different ancient civilizations. For example, the ancient Greeks believed that both men and women had to ejaculate so that a child could be born, so women were encouraged to finger themselves. It was even rumored that Cleopatra used a gourd filled with bees buzzing as a vibrator.

If masturbation was not frowned upon this far back in history, what was the switch up?

The Puritan movement in the Mid-1600s came with religious beliefs that shunned the talk of self-stimulation and sexual desires. These beliefs went as far as performing genital mutilations on women to stop the “addiction” to masturbation.

At this point in history, pleasure was only deemed as “appropriate” through penetrative sex within a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. Even then, the male’s needs were put on a pedestal, and women were pressured to put their partner’s needs first. While masturbation was still taboo during the Victorian era, the first vibrator was created in 1890, which led to further inventions over the years.

Present Day Perceptions

Fast forward to now, you can buy a vibrator at CVS, but many women will not due to the shame of prior and present societal standards. Carly Cykiert, a Sex and Relationship therapist says,

There is also an assumption that women use a vibrator as a “replacement” for their partner. Cykiert says, “Vibrators can be seen as an enemy rather than a tool that can enhance the sexual experience … They can also be seen as a competition because they are able to vibrate, which is something [a partner] cannot do.”

This belief not only leaves women ditching vibrators to cater to their partner’s insecurities, but also leaves some orgasmless. Many women feel as if something is wrong with their body if they cannot achieve orgasm from intercourse alone; however, this is relatively rare. According to ABC News, about 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from just intercourse, so a vibrator could be the possible fix to this issue.

Another reason why women are still intimidated by vibrators and masturbation is because of lack of sexual education around selfstimulation. When learning about sex education in school, educators fail to touch on the topic of masturbation as a whole, despite there being benefits to it. “There is a shame that is built up with sexual issues, but if it is talked about at the basics and in education, it would destigmatize that shame,” Cykiert says.

The Benefits of Embracing the Vibe

Masturbation is known to have many pros, including helping to release tension, relieving menstrual cramps, preventing cervical infections, relieving urinary tract infections, improving cardiovascular health and many more. “Masturbating is great for your health, both mentally and physically. Not only is it the safest sex out there considering there is no risk of getting pregnant or getting STIs, assuming toys are not being shared, but when you are orgasm, your body releases endorphins, helping with stress as well and it also releases sexual tension.”

If you have trouble reaching climax from manual masturbation or penetration, a vibrator will be your best friend. This will also help create a healthy relationship with your body and aid you in exploring your wants and needs.

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“I think that [the shame] is linked to the stigma that comes with the fact that there is a sexual double standard. It is okay for cis-gender men to talk about masturbation and sex, whereas women are looked at as sluts with six heads.”
Despite what history has led women to believe, masturbation is natural and should not be something to be ashamed of, but instead, celebrated.

If someone were to ask what sleep deprivation looks like, most would picture tired eyes and the act of pulling all-nighters. Although the word itself sounds grave, the average person wouldn’t label themselves as “sleep-deprived.”

But, what if sleep deprivation was a lot more common than what appears to the naked eye? The sleepless nights of tossing and turning are those we anticipate the least. It feels like no matter how hard you close your eyes, you remain restless.

To Study or to Sleep?

We’ve all been guilty of that famous line: “I stayed up ALL night studying for this exam.” Ironically, this phrase tends to have a positive connotation to it. Naturally, you’d assume that staying up and putting in all that extra work would pay off. But, the commonality of replacing sleep with study can be counterintuitive and have negative effects in the classroom. According to Talwar’s research, “Insomnia leads to impaired concentration, poor grades and high incidence of chronic diseases like depression, hypertension and substance abuse, specifically alcohol.”

If you’re someone that suffers from insomnia, don’t lose hope (or sleep) because there are certainly ways to fix this insistent insomnia.

A Seamless Sleep Cycle

Dr. Arunabh Talwar, a sleep medicine expert from Northwell Medical Center, says insomnia amongst college students has increased drastically over the years. “This has something to do with the increase of electronic gadgets in our lives. Using a computer or phone before bed, interferes with sleep by suppressing the production of melatonin, leading to insomnia.”

Cutting out phone usage cold turkey before bed seems next to impossible. For many college students, it feels like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. An easy loophole to make up for the lost time is staying up into the late hours of the night to finish an assignment.

However, prioritizing work over sleep isn’t a feasible solution in the long run.

If you are a person that goes to bed late and wakes up in the late afternoon, you might be thinking to yourself, “If I’m still getting a good amount of sleep, what’s so bad about that?” Talwar explains two common sleep problems that address this issue: Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Delayed Phase Syndrome.

“Delayed sleep phase, also known as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, is an internal sleep clock (circadian rhythm) sleep disorder. It occurs when your sleep pattern is delayed two hours or more from a conventional sleep pattern, causing you to sleep later and wake up later.”

Still, sleep is extremely overlooked when determining a leading cause for any physical or mental issues. Talwar stresses that “Insomnia is never a minor issue. If ignored, insomnia starts to interfere with your daily life and adversely affects your health.” However, lack of sleep and insomnia isn’t only present for those who stay up late. If you’re someone who prioritizes sleep and goes to bed at a decent hour and still can’t seem to catch those precious Z’s, there could be underlying issues that can be fixed through medication and or mindfulness techniques. Although melatonin’s effectiveness and safety have been questioned, Talwar claims that melatonin is safe, but he doesn’t suggest “prolonged use.” The issue with melatonin is that we assume it’s going to fix all our sleep problems. While presently that might be true, it’s not something people should be relying on for a good night’s rest.

Mindful or Mindless?

A shared reason many have trouble falling asleep is due to the curse of the wandering brain. Thoughts are constantly jumping from here to there and your brain doesn’t allow you a second to relax. When our mind is constantly finding something new to worry about, it can be frustrating when you're trying to fall asleep. In recent years, mindfulness practices have become a popular remedy for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Mindfulness is all about being present in a calm and peaceful way. If done correctly, it can lead to a much more sound and quality sleep.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is another practice that has helped those who have trouble falling asleep. It works as a stress reliever, admitting tingling sensations down the body to help a person relax. YouTube offers countless ASMR videos with millions of views that trigger these senses and provide a better night of sleep.

Sleep should never be neglected. It’s what keeps our physical and mental health in check. Understandably, sleep for college students lacks priority due to demanding schedules and social lives. However, when you realize these activities are getting in the way of your sleep schedule, it’s time to consider amending your nightly routine.

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The solutions of “counting sheep” or “breathing deeply” when you can’t fall asleep have become trivial.
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Photography by Zoe Eddy & Kayla March
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Photography by James Riccardo, Jenny Lee, & Elinor Franklin Makeup by Diane Akpovwa
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"If I can do it, I will. But why?" This mantra has allowed her to be honest with people and open up when she's struggling. Admitting that it gets rough and not pretending she is okay has been the biggest thing in her efforts to preserve self-care measures. Her favorite phrase right now, she says, is, "I don't know."

"You don't have to be present all the time, you don't have to talk all the time, you don't have to be in charge all the time."

impr o v eme n t

Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee

The Intimacy of Citrus Fruit

How am I meant to tell you I love you if I don’t have any oranges to peel for you? Tenderly and slowly, I peel the sticky fruit apart. First, separating the peel from the soft flesh of the fruit concealed inside. The scent of sweet citrus fills the air, making it impossible to be lonely because of the orange in my hand. Then, I split each slice with my fingers from its natural sections, taking half and giving it to you.

I save the other half for myself. If you think about it, it is almost as if this fruit were made to be shared; sometimes, I’ll pretend I am two people so I always have someone to share with.

What Makes Citrus Intimate ?

The inherent care and love that is put into peeling an orange, clementine or tangerine is what makes the fruit so special. It is instinctual and natural — a gift from the earth created just to be divided among yourself or others. It is a small labor of love to get your fingers sticky and have the citrus sting the cuts on your hands, but it all becomes worth it after taking that first stringent bite. The juice of the fruit expels from the flesh, flooding the tart taste buds in your mouth, always making you need another slice.

Intimacy does not have to be inherently sexual.

It can be a state of mind, the aura of a room or a sense of closeness — and how much closer can you get when dissecting a piece of fruit, bit by bit? This idea of citrus being intimate is not new, but it is not something often thought about. If you search hard enough, though, you can find examples of love and oranges everywhere: songs, literature and poetry.

Halves and Wholes

In the Frank Ocean song, “Golden Girl,” he says, “She peels an orange for us in the morning, she woke me up to give me half.” She, being this “golden girl” lover of his, shares an orange with him to convey that they

are two halves of the same whole. Halves and wholes are a common motif of life, love and citrus. In Spanish, it is common to use the phrase “me media naranja” to reference a friend, soulmate or lover — translating to “my half-orange.”

Maybe we are all a half-soul looking for our complementary part — one half of a clementine looking to be whole again. It is an aspect of silent unification. You are tasting the same wonderful taste — experiencing one moment rather than two — the instant you eat an orange with someone. It is sanguine and uncomplicated, that is what makes it all the more beautiful. Love in its purest form is the sharing of fruit.

Platonic Love

Citrus and its intimacy are not strictly romantic. It is also a perfect representation of platonic love. The poem “Oranges” by Jean Little shows how love and friendship are exemplified through sharing an orange. The poem's narrator talks about how neatly and perfectly she can peel oranges. Her friend, Emily, struggles to separate the fruit from its peel, always making a mess. It is implied that the narrator peels Emily’s oranges for her. By the end of the poem, she hopes her dear friend never learns to peel an orange.

Citrus is not delicate, it has a tougher exterior. You can toss the fruit around, drop it on the ground, pick it up, drop it again and keep it in your pocket — the fruits do not bruise easily. They are a reflection of us in that sense. It takes effort to indulge in the sweet, tender gift that awaits on the inside. It takes work to get to know people — to get past their outer layer and earn the privilege of learning their brains, hearts and souls.

Nature ’s Little Love Letters

These little moments, like the ones represented in the poem or the song, demonstrate how special and pure it is to have someone who you can share life with. Whether you find yourself with a relative, best friend, soulmate or lover, think of these “orange sharing moments” as nature’s gift to remind us of the importance of everyday pleasures. A little love letter packed into something as ordinary as an orange.

Citrus, life and true intimacy is about loving people for their flaws, not despite them, because if everyone could peel oranges perfectly, how could you ever show someone you love them?

IS IT BETTER TO FAKE IT?

In order to make a relationship work, you might be tempted to fake it. The interest, the conversation, the cleanliness, the orgasm. There is this pressing feeling to conform to what you believe someone desires. So, you play the game and you play it well.

The idea behind faking it is, without a doubt, justifiable from many angles. You make a sacrifice and, in return, you still have all the good moments. But, if faking it becomes a routine thing, where do you draw the line? If you keep raising the bar from one small moment to the next, does your whole relationship become a big act?

Even if you’re doing this to spare your partner’s feelings, you’re only hurting yourself in the end by having a fraction of a relationship. So really, where’s the gain?

FAKING IT WHEN SINGLE

Being single, you do what you can to get your fill. You fake the interest just so someone pays attention to you at the bar. Or, maybe it’s because at that moment, you really need to get laid. It’s all about immediate gratification or, honestly, validation.

Maybe you don’t really want to do something, but you agree to it anyway because, in that moment, it makes you feel better about yourself. So, you lower your standards for that momentary satisfaction.

Sometimes you might even be presented the promise of a future, just to end up being used for someone else’s temporary gain. You know how they are — those sweet talkers. Suddenly, it begins to make you think, “If this ‘faking it' thing has such a brief payoff, why do we keep practicing this dynamic?”

FAKING IT WHEN IN RELATIONSHIPS

Once you’re in a relationship, things get trickier. Now, you have something to lose. You might be holding back your true feelings or acting a certain way

Photography Abby Tarpey

because of fear that someone will leave you. Or, maybe you fear that you can’t do any better. But ultimately, you can’t fake intimacy.

According to Greg Kushnick, a psychologist based in New York, narcissistic behavior is mostly unintentional and strongest during the initial bonding stage of a relationship. As a romantic relationship progresses and the narcissist doesn’t receive this desired element of attention or feels questioned, they become closed off as a defensive mechanism. In response, the pleaser may “fake it” in order to maintain the relationship, often leaving them emotionally damaged or stunted.

On a more typical occasion, Dr. Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader, recognized as contributing founders of couples therapy, discuss that when people are in the honeymoon phase of a relationship, there are many neurochemicals at work, which wash away almost all reasoning and cause individuals to minimize differences, trying to seek compatibility. These people are generally conflict-avoidant and seek security. In Neil Sattin’s podcast, “Relationship Alive!,” they say how this phenomenon “begins by the conflict-avoidant partner not expressing their desires, needs or wishes, and frequently includes lies by omission. This partner gives more and more of themselves, ignoring important parts of themselves, until they either collapse, become depressed, develop secret anger, etc.”

THE FIX

In an interview with Health.com, Kushnik says, “If you recognize these signs of future faking in your partner and feel the ramifications, including a loss of happiness and joy or depression, it's a good idea to leave the relationship, even if it causes pain and anger. Better to cut things off sooner rather than later.”

In a typical situation, Pearson and Bader suggest that in order to rectify the situation, it’s best to take it slow and tell the truth. They suggest saying something like, “‘Hey, I want to share something with you that isn’t easy for me to say,’ and then verbally honor that your motivation in telling them the truth is to continue to build the trusting foundation you are both committed to creating in your relationship. This acts as a paradigm shifter — from ‘me and you’ to ‘us’ — and helps facilitate your partner’s ability to hear the truth.”

When it comes to faking it, two relationship pairs are prevalent: a narcissist and a pleaser, and two people eager to find commonality.
Ultimately, the choice on whether a relationship is worth continuing is yours to make. The important thing is ensuring that you are truthful, both with yourself and your partner, rather than ignoring the consequences of faking it.

I have spent a lot of time considering what type of woman I want to be. When I started college, I figured it was time to make a decision. I landed on being the “cool girl.” Being casual, effortless and unbothered seemed like the perfect combination to hold a boy's attention. It always was, until it wasn’t.

I always expect to remain unbothered. That somehow if I can remove myself from attachment, I am different from everyone else. I said this to myself over and over again until I convinced myself I believed it. At Penn State, this was the only reasonable approach I could conjure up — to not care. Unfortunately, I could never understand why it made me feel so empty. This revelation made me ask myself if there is a successful approach to dating on a college campus. Is this working for anyone?

In my mind, there are four different approaches to dating. I view life like a brunch scene in “Sex and the City.” Samantha's goal is sex, Charlotte's is finding Prince Charming, Carrie is chasing the story and Miranda could absolutely care less. I know these girls and I am these girls. I see them when I walk through the Hub or when I am at the bars watching someone fight with their boyfriend. These girls appear to be everywhere, but are they really?

At Irving’s today, I overheard a conversation between two girls at the table next to me. As clear as day, there they were: a “Carrie” and a “Charlotte.” As they discussed their boy troubles, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation about dating in college.

Carrie said, “I hate the dating style here. The dating style now is a onenight stand, cheating and being with each other for ‘clout’ ... not everyone needs to know about your relationship. Keep things private.”

Charlotte responded, “I feel like Penn State’s dating culture relies heavily on either dating people in your social circle or meeting people on dating apps.” Charlotte lamented that her “rosy expectations” of finding love have been crushed at Penn State. She told Carrie that the boys on dating apps “are asking to hangout and hook up, and I just don’t have that much trust for strangers that I have literally have had zero face-to-face interaction with.” She continued, “I’ve been on probably 15 to 20 first dates, and only one of those has been while at Penn State.”

Hearing how these girls felt resonated with the part of me that yearns

*real sources, fictional story*

approach to dating and now I was curious about her thoughts on it all. When I asked her if dating in college brought her fulfillment, she said, “I could truly not even call what I was doing prior to my senior year of college ‘dating.’ I made myself disposable to men who literally didn’t care if I lived or died and thought I had the leg-up because I was doing to them what they were all doing to me.”

Her revelation shook me. If my sex positive, ultimate cool girl wasn’t happy with dating here, is anyone?

The other day, I sat next to a girl who was on Facetime with her sister — we can call her our “Miranda.” Her sister was clearly having boy troubles, and Miranda’s advice was simple.

She said, “I was in a long distance relationship for five years … I honestly feel so developmentally behind because of that. I wasn’t able to experience sexual or romantic relationships in the Penn State environment for a long time, and had been hoping that one person would bring me my full happiness when I really should have just let myself be free and independent.”

Just like that, it occurred to me that dating is not the one-size-fits-all phenomenon I expected it to be. A relationship isn’t always the solution to this hellscape that is college dating. Miranda had the thing I always wanted and she regretted it.

I’ve spent four years wondering if there was something I should be doing differently. I was convinced there was something intrinsically wrong with me because I wasn’t in a relationship. Then, I learned that everyone feels this way. We are all trying our best. Most of us come to college to figure out who we are, where we are going and who we want to be. I came to college and learned that sometimes it’s more important that we figure out who we are not. I am not a “cool girl.” To that, I say, thank God.

I love you, but I never want to see you naked

Do you believe in soulmates?

Many people assume your soulmate refers to your one true love. However, the definition of a soulmate encompasses those feelings that you have for your bestie as well. It is a person perfectly suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.

Whether you believe in soulmates or not, platonic love can be equally as special and hard to come by. Joshua Rosenberger, Penn State Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, argues that platonic love can be harder to find than romantic love. In his work, he notices that

He emphasizes that platonic love takes more time to develop compared to an immediate physical attraction. Unlike romantic relationships, the bond is based on kinship and trust without the element of attraction — meaning there is no physical component that many intimate relationships misjudge as love. Vinca says that “it's almost entirely stupid to fake” a friendship if there is no platonic love there.

Furthermore, the media minimizes the importance of platonic relationships, always having opposite-sex protagonists fall in love. So, why does the media lack strong friendships between opposite genders? Why do they always end up together? Think about it: Jim and Pam from “The Office,” Jess and Nick from “New Girl” and Chandler and Monica from “Friends.” There is a recurring theme that if a man and a woman are close friends, they will have a love arc. However, this isn’t as prevalent between same-sex relationships. Despite many same-sex pairings being just as, if not more, well-suited for each other, there is less pressure from the media for them to be romantic. Television and movies love to emphasize the idea that a man and woman can never just be friends, but in reality, love comes in many forms.

Whether you think there are five or nine types of love, the word “love" doesn't nearly capture it all. In fact, other cultures have multiple words for love. The Ancient Greeks, for example, defined love through four avenues — one of which was specifically dedicated to friendship.

Rosenberger gave his best analogy of love through a burger joint.

He’s found that romantic relationships often involve higher levels of love than trust. The sentiment, “I love my boyfriend, but I don’t trust him,” is an example of this dynamic.

In platonic love, there is this additional element of trust. Psychology professor at Penn State, Maria Vinca, says that when you allow someone into your “inner circle,” which she describes as a very close friendship, “you get to be more yourself because there's less owed.” She explains that these friendships exist in a “zero judgment zone,” where you can be free to say anything, knowing that you don’t need to be a better version of yourself with them.

Although a platonic relationship may be rarer to find, it is easier to hold. Rosenberger says,

There is not a specific definition of platonic love, and there is not just one type of love. So, it’s okay to love somebody but never want to see them naked.

“trust and love are highly correlated, but they’re not the same.”
"(platonic love) requires a level of trust and, physiologically, that doesn’t coincide with the same expression of hormones that we see around sexual and romantic love.”
“If you strip down the menu, there's probably only four items: a burger, a drink, fries and a chicken sandwich. But when you actually look at it, there’s 14 different combinations.”

There are three people sitting at a dinner table. One is a 29-year-old, another is a 19-yearold and the last is a nine-year-old. It’s hard to imagine, but they’re all the same person. That’s how Ava Phillips, a third-year student majoring in accounting, views her life and stays in touch with her younger self.

At any given moment, she exists as the culmination of her past, present and future self. This perspective and purpose gives Phillips a reason to adopt a self-aware attitude about herself. But more importantly, it’s the image of hugging her younger self that drives her to make the most out of life.

Phillips always had aspirations of graduating high school, going to college and becoming the person she is today, which is why she took up scrapbooking to document these big personal milestones.

But what really comes out of a good relationship with your younger self is the healing that comes with it. It’s about recognizing that the same young person who threw a temper tantrum in the mall is the same one that’s going to make it to their nine a.m. class after a night out. So, what does it mean exactly to heal your inner child? And once we get to that point of healing, so to speak, will it make us happy? For many of us, it’s about the journey, not the destination. There may never be a single moment when you realize that you are living for your younger self, and that’s okay. It’s more about every version of ourselves — our past, our present and our future — coming together in hopes of becoming more sure of ourselves. Really, it’s about becoming whole.

For Sierra Sharma, a fourth-year majoring in finance, acknowledging the variations of yourself is what it means to reach your inner child.

“I have my THON wristband and my ‘big-little’ shirt that I cut up and put in the scrapbook. It’s trinkets and things like that which make me go, ‘I don’t want to forget this, because when I was eight, I would have lived for this,’” says Phillips.
“You don’t truly ever outgrow your inner child. I feel like that’s why it’s so important to heal your inner child because happiness is something that you experience now, and it stems from who you once were,” says Sharma.

Think of all of those times you found yourself grinning from ear to ear the same way you would when you were nine — a bright smile that gleamed with innocence and no responsibilities. While we may never be that nineyear-old again, it’s comforting to know that we can summon that child by getting in touch with our younger selves, whether it’s through revisiting an old hobby or reaching out to an old friend.

In that sense, happiness and childhood appear to be synonymous — try picturing your younger self smiling and meaning it. It’s almost like an ache to want that for yourself again. It’s important to realize no one's childhood ever looked the exact same, and yet here we all are looking for the version of ourselves that we used to be. Where did they go?

One of the repercussions of such a desire to be your younger, happier self again is the misconception of what it means to be happy that is carried throughout your life. What if happiness is less complicated than we make it out to be? What if it’s not about achieving your career goals or entering a relationship you’ve dreamt about all your life? Maybe it’s just about enjoying where you are in life.

For Maribeth Connolly, a fourth-year majoring in psychology, these are questions that make her mind go in a million different directions.

“I think that when we think of being happy, we think of being overjoyed and smiling and just being on cloud nine, but we don’t ever think of happiness as just being content. I think if we find more happiness and contentment, we’d be more happy,” says Connolly.

While there may never be a cookie-cutter answer as to what it means to pursue happiness throughout your childhood, adolescence and adulthood, maybe it’s just about being secure and content in the fact that you are where you’re supposed to be at any given moment. And what’s more, is that you’ll have so much to look back on when the time comes.

Healing your inner child means being able to sit down with your younger self and tell him or her how life has turned out, and that we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Simultaneously, it means that we can turn to our future self at that same table and promise to live for them so that one day, they too can look back and feel proud of the person they’ve become.

Photography by Taay Jaack & Abby Tarpey

In the pursuit of changing the lives of others, he’s forging his own lane. From breaking away from the path laid by his community to the very clothes he wears around campus, Pitts doesn’t take what others have to say too seriously, because he knows what he wants and he’s going after it.

campus cultur e

Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee

“Ugh, I ate too much today.”

“I can’t eat before we leave, I’ll just feel bloated.”

These are pretty common sayings in the lead-up to a night out in college. People tend to stress about how they look, try to eat as little as possible and worry about how many calories are in the drinks they’re going to consume.

Additionally, college is often one of the first times students have the opportunity to make their own food choices, and this can be an anxietyproducing experience. College is a time famous for late-night pizza runs, all-you-can-eat dining halls and uninhibited access to alcohol. So, if you come in already struggling with self-esteem or self-control, the environment is a perfect disaster. Dr. Bunnell says this combination can lead many people down a bad path, and even closer towards an eating disorder. “If you have anxiety already and you’re put into a social environment where also you’re constantly exposed to this ideal of thin bodies, that’s a perfect storm."

You try to have fun and ignore those demons in your head telling you to stop drinking the sugary mixed drinks, to suck in your stomach all night long or even to get it all out of your body once the night is over. Although not everyone can say they’ve had these thoughts, you might be surprised at how common they are for college students. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), "Approximately 10 to 20 percent of female students experience problems with eating disorders, and in males, 4 to 10 percent."

Douglas Bunnell, PhD, is the Clinical Director of Monte Nido & Affiliates, an eating disorder treatment center in New York. He says many people are unaware of how serious eating disorders can be. "People tend not to understand the real problem with eating disorders, and there is a true lack of awareness about how they are and how bad they can be. These are not just extreme diets, they are real medical illnesses.”

Social media and social comparison also play a huge role. American media tends to portray thinness as the ideal body type, which can make anyone who doesn’t fit into that ideal feel self-conscious. Through social media, students are much more likely to compare themselves to their peers, celebrities or other influencers, which can act as a catalyst for negative self-talk, an unhealthy body image and thus, an eating disorder. The circulation of many heavily edited or even photoshopped images on social media also perpetuate unrealistic expectations of beauty, which can lead many people to hyperfixate on their weight, body shape, food intake and exercise. These are the core psychological factors that influence disordered eating. Dr. Bunnell says it's important to look out for the people around us and examine if their habits are forcing them to change their everyday life.

Mixed with the regular anxieties that many young people experience, it’s no surprise that the added pressures of fitting into college life can lead to a need for control in whatever way they can get it. However, those factors are not the only things that can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Potentially troubling life events — many of which appear when students first go to college — could be triggers: feelings of isolation, homesickness, academic pressures or intense peer pressure.

If you or someone you love is experiencing feelings of disordered eating, just know you are not alone, and there are many resources available online and in-person to get help. If you feel you may have an eating disorder, call or text NEDA’s helpline for support, resources and even treatment options. If you’ve identified any symptoms or warning signs, reach out to close friends and family, as a strong support system is vital for recovery.

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“Are you sure this looks fine?”
All of this happens before your night begins — and once you’re out, sometimes that anxiety just gets worse.
The challenges of college life, such as an increased workload, less structure and more freedom create the perfect atmosphere for eating disorders to develop.
"All of these factors converge to create a possible eating disorder or it can drive a vulnerable individual into an eating disorder.”
"To what extent do the concerns surrounding eating, weight, shape and body image really start to dominate? If someone is starting to withdraw from normal activities because of these anxieties, that would be cause for concern.”

Conversations with InterNational Students

Photography by Kaylyn Thom, & Michael Lancia

A phone call to home the other day led to a much greater conversation than just the regular “how are you doing?” “They told me that they spent a huge amount of money to support me living and studying here. I did the calculation — just the tuition, it’s half a million,” says Lou.

“I matured way faster here than kids in China,” says Lou, “I learned about my responsibilities and consequences to my actions early on here — that is not something people teach their kids in China. Parenting here in the U.S. is a more hands-off approach, it’s more hands-on in China. This teaching method really helped me to grow.”

Lou makes it a point to FaceTime his parents and generally stay connected to his home through the community he has found. “I have a lot of Chinese friends over here, and I do speak to American friends when there’s stuff that international students or American born Chinese students wouldn’t understand.”

Orson Lou is a third-year student studying professional photography at Penn State. He grew up in China and moved to the U.S. in 2017 for high school. There, in a small town in Maryland, he noticed the difference between him and his peers. “Not everyone might have traveled around the world, especially not to China, so sometimes they wouldn’t be as accepting.” If there was ever a time that Lou felt pressure to acclimate, it was then, as a 16-year-old kid, who was navigating the world thousands of miles away from home.

Lou chose Penn State for college because of the opportunities that came with such a big school. Outside of academics, Penn State has also granted Lou with personal growth, formative connections and a sense of independence that he feels would not have been gained if he never left China.

A busy social life is a key component of Lou’s positive experience as an international student, which the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association plays a major role in. This association, in which Orson is now the director of the media department, puts on two events each year that provides international students with a celebration that feels like home.

Whether it is through these events, dinner parties with friends or his calls back home, Lou continues to find the balance of being far from home, while capitalizing on his experiences in his new one.

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“My parents said they spent this amount of money, not because they wanted me to earn it back or make tons of money in general, the biggest reason was to get the experience of meeting new people.”
“We rent out The Basement for the whole night, we invite a DJ — it’s a big part of Chinese culture, those kinds of parties.”
Orson Lou

Gigi Fitiany

Penn State is known for its ability to provide a sense of home to its community. The infamous “We Are” culture has the allure of an unbreakable bond between students, a work-hard-play-hard atmosphere and something of a … high school musical movie, according to Gigi Fitiany.

Coming to Penn State from the Middle East and growing up in Palestine, Fitiany tells all her friends from home,

“If you come to Penn State, it feels like High School Musical.” She explains that through the football games, the tailgates and the beer, “it was the perfect thing for me, a new exposure to a brand new side of life. I got the college experience.”

A fourth-year studying IST, Fitiany reflected on her first few years in the states, saying,

“The

There are certainly struggles that come with being an international student, whether it’s the questions about her accent or overhearing the many “I miss home” comments from her peers, when their “home” is only an hour away.

“The distance is hard, the time difference is like eight hours, so sometimes it’s really hard to find a time to speak with my mom — gossip with her and stuff.”

A lot of back and forth comes with being an international student, like the phone tag with family or the flights to and from home, but Fitiany finds stability within herself. She made it a point to stay confident in who she is and where she is from, no matter how strange it was to text on Snapchat rather than iMessage.

Something that Fitiany wanted to publicize to students who are from the U.S. is that asking questions is a good thing.

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adjustment was insane. I went to an American school back home. It's not like I didn't grow up with American culture, but once I moved here I thought these people were so weird. I felt like I had to relearn how to communicate.”
“If you are curious, ask me the question. I would rather you ask the question than assume something. Don’t be scared.”

Cristina Mock

Cristina Mock, a fifth-year studying architecture, also noticed a specific relationship with the questions people ask her as an international student from Panama City, Panama.

“As an international student, you are the odd one out. Some people either have a lot of questions or no questions at all.”

Mock has gone through a lot of different experiences being so far from home. She told the story of an interaction she had at the beginning of this semester on the bus.

“Someone was making fun of the way I look, saying, ‘What is she wearing,’” says Mock. “Sometimes I speak up, but when you do it’s hard because they just apologize really quick and leave or keep poking fun of you in your face.”

Mock’s sense of style is one of the ways she remains connected to home.

“In Panama, what you wear says something about you,” explains Mock. “Here, I saw people dressing in hoodies and leggings.”

These stylistic differences between cultures were initially challenging for Mock, but she learned to embrace her home culture with confidence through clothes and makeup.

On the outside, you may see Mock wearing bright colors with a smile on her face, but that is not to say she does not deal with complicated feelings regarding living halfway around the world from home.

home, you leave everything behind.”

This journey of self-sufficiency and adjusting is no small feat, yet through it all, the reason why Mock chose Penn State in the first place continues to ring true.

“I was looking for a school in the U.S., as it is very corrupt back home. I heard from a friend that Penn State looked safe, that it looked and felt like home.”

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“Mental health is one of the biggest issues within international students. When you leave

Growing up in Suffolk, Long Island, Jacqueline had no shortage of community. Between a two minute walk or a 20 minute drive, her family was in close proximity, their roots running tight. Both her parents have large families, so Jacqueline has endless amounts of cousins.

“I think there's now 30 of us — I don't know. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger … everybody just thinks that reproducing is the best,” she laughs with amusement in her eyes.

As a child, Jacqueline expressed that same mirth she has now — she was vibrant; buzzing around, her aura humming with energy.

From there, it became a normal occurrence — a death almost every year. Despite not every death making sense, each time she moved forward, until one time she couldn’t.

Holes in the Floor of Heaven

During those years, her father was traveling a lot. He was the Vice President of Turner Construction, but to Jacqueline, he was everything. When her brother was 12 and she was 13, her mom sat them down in her father’s car and told them the news she had been hiding for so many years: “Daddy has cancer.” Jacqueline remembers the sounds of silence and sniffling. When did this happen? Her father had melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — since she was in first grade. Is he going to be ok? “I don’t know,” says her mom.

Suddenly, those “business trips” he took lost their innocence after she learned they were for treatment. At first, Jacqueline was upset at the withheld information, but she quickly realized the circumstances.

But in loving life so fiercely, she would also experience the ferocious depth of grief.

It’s Beginning to Hurt

In her home’s brand new office, Jacqueline sat facing the window, looking out to her long driveway. She vividly recalls the details of this memory: Her mom sitting her down in the third grade, telling her that her favorite second grade teacher has passed away from brain cancer.

By the time she was told the news, her father’s cancer had reached stage 4, but her family was adamant not to treat him any differently. On her last family vacation, they traveled to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Her father had a cane and cancer up the length of his arm. Throughout the trip, she remembers her dad picking up his arm constantly, as if it was asleep. Even still, she laughs recalling how he moved the iguanas with his cane to get a better view. “If you knew my dad, it was just so on brand,” Jacqueline beams.

Her family moved forward, one small solution at a time. They built a ramp throughout the house, and his work sent a driver when he couldn't drive anymore. Even when he couldn’t travel, he encouraged Jacqueline to go. He worked until he couldn’t, relentlessly.

The following year, her grandfather passed away from Parkinson's disease. He used to sit in a padded, beige rocking chair — his chair. That year, Jacqueline had to watch that chair transform into a hospital bed.

“I didn’t really understand that loss,” says Jacqueline. For a lot of the kids, that was the first death in the family. At the funeral, she remembers hearing her little cousins yell, “Nice throw!” because instead of placing the roses into the hole of the earth where her grandfather would soon lie, they chucked them, effectively starting a new tradition.

One day, something in her gut was telling her to go home. Jacquline doesn’t fake anything — and yet, that day she lied to get out of school. She came home to hear her father shuffling, not picking up his feet. It turns out that her father was in the worst pain of his life and he was going to a hospice care facility. Jacqueline was the last person to see her dad at the house.

“We're going to get through it — you're going to be fine. I love you.” Those were her words as she watched the person who made the house feel like home, leave.

The majority of her eighth grade year was spent in the hospice care facility. School to hospice. Softball to hospice.

By the time she was in fifth grade, her other grandpa had passed from a brain bleed following a bad fall. But, even amidst the sorrow, it served as a turning point for Jacqueline, who got to meet a lot of her extended family.

“I kind of started to almost appreciate funerals because everybody is coming in … we have people coming from all over — from Canada and Ireland — coming in to say hello and pay their respects."

No one but her neighbor and family knew about her father. Assuming he would get better, she and her brother made a pact not to tell anyone. By July third, he fell into a vegetative state and never woke up.

They say that grief merely exists where love once lived. In a beige house, with green shutters and flowers decorating the perimeter, is where Jacqueline Thomann’s love lived first.
“I just loved life … That's what my parents made me appreciate — every little thing from the soil to the air.”
“I just remember starting to sob ... That person in my life was so influential. Genuinely, that was the best teacher I probably have ever had in my life. When she passed away, it just really opened my eyes to the real world.”
“It’s not a Thomann funeral if you're not getting hit in the head with roses,” Jacqueline states.
“How do you tell a first grader that your favorite person in the world has cancer?”
“I didn’t think my dad would die in a million years, but I knew where we were headed,” says Jacqueline.
“I got dressed for my eighth grade dance in a hospice room, while other girls were getting dressed in their bedrooms.”

That night, she said her goodbyes to her dad, and slept on his side of her parent’s bed. She dreamt of her father, and her father’s death.

Piece by Piece

Jacqueline loved therapy. After a year of treatment, she had a much better handle on her stress and anxiety.

The next day, on the Fourth of July, her uncle ushered their car onto the highway. She remembers watching pops of color glitter over the treetops from every angle. Fireworks and stars breaking up the night sky with glimpses of light, like opening holes into the floor of heaven.

Ripping Apart the Sky

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to see in my life was not his body in the casket, but laying there in the hospice bed.” One thousand people came to her father’s wake. Just like that, her world was ripped from her, gravity uprooted.

She would spend the rest of her life hearing, “I’m sorry for your loss,” “be strong” and “I know what it’s like to feel your loss” from people unsure of how to console her. She would grapple with the knowledge that her father, and everyone else she lost, will become her private memory.

At the end of high school, she got involved with the “Natural Helpers” club — a club that anonymously selected students to go on a retreat and help other struggling students. There, she met an advisor named Josephine, whose story paralleled hers. To this day, Jacqueline considers her “a big sister.”

“One day, I was having a really bad day in school. I just didn’t want to be there anymore. I was like, ‘what’s the point, everyone is gone?’” She called Josephine, who suggested she come talk to her where she was working, at the Tri CYA. The Tri CYA is a Tri Community and Youth Agency. Jacqueline describes it as “building the community up … specifically, for kids who are at risk of drug use, alcohol use, gangs, failing school or have dropout risk.” It also serves as a place for parents who need extra help looking out for their kids and obtaining other resources.

As soon as Jaqueline walked in, kids came running up to her. “They're like, ‘Can we braid your hair?’” she laughs. She mostly worked with the girls, which ranged from talking about feminine hygiene to discussing boy drama and crushes.

Mourning was not sequential. She was emotionally dominated by a tornado of anger, confusion and acceptance — why did this happen, where does that leave her now and what will she do next? Even after her father passed, loss continued to haunt her.

Her aunt, her cousin and her family friend’s mother all lost their lives. A month before her father’s death, her grandma passed, too. Shaking her head, she says, “High school was a blur, I can't tell you anything that happened.”

Jacqueline quit her beloved softball, and she began verbally sparring with her mom, both of them dealing with grief and pain. “I didn't realize how hard it must have been for [my mom] until I actually just spoke it out loud. I couldn't imagine having to take care of everyone through those moments.” Everyone was picking up the pieces left behind.

After she went to college, she continued to volunteer with them for about two years. “It was just a really fun time … they really made me who I am today, and I became more confident.” Between her beloved second grade teacher and the Tri CYA, her experiences led her to becoming a secondary education major in English with a minor in rehabilitation human services.

Jacqueline hopes to use her degree to become a juvenile counselor, working with young kids in juvie.

She went quiet at that time — cutting a lot of people off in anger while dealing with anxiety and depression. “It’s just an anxious tick I now do” she says, picking at her skin and old nail polish while recounting her first panic attack. Her mother went to the grocery store, didn’t return for two hours and wasn’t returning her phone call. “Immediately, my head just went: ‘She died. She got hit by a car and she died. And she's probably stranded on the road.’” When her mother returned, Jacqueline was on the floor hysterically crying, unable to breathe. “My mom was like, ‘I think you need to go to therapy now.’ I was like, ‘I think I do, too.’”

Like Jacqueline, her dad had a strong sense of community and never forgot where he came from. “I think that’s something that I got from him,” Jacqueline muses. “I work with kids who are at risk. I want to give back the same way he did. I’m his little legacy — me and my brother are.”

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“I spoke to heaven. I spoke to my dad where I couldn't in person.”
“I’m going to grieve for the rest of my life,”
Jacqueline states, “Half of my DNA is my dad. Half of me is dead. I only have one half of me living.”
“I was just so angry at the world. I was pissed off that people had a normal life with a mom and a dad and they could go to their grandma's and grandpa's house. It was just … like everything I wanted I couldn't have because it's literally not obtainable.”
“I’ve been trying to slow down and breathe … I realize I went through a lot, but at 14, watching [my Dad] go through that, it was normal to me.”
“I was there pretty much every day, whether it was after softball practice, or after any of my meetings. I went there after my graduation and I took photos with the kids. I was very, very close with them.”
“I saw a few kids going in and out of the system, or their parents going out of the system. The prison to school to prison pipeline is huge … I want to be able to change that and to have kids open up to me so I can help them … I feel like I've been doing that in student teaching.”

Tossing Roses to the Wind

Jacqueline tries to take life day by day, but after so much loss, it feels more like hour by hour.

“Everyone was always walking on eggshells around us for years. Some of my family won't talk about my dad — there’s a whole part of my him that I don’t know,” she says, continuing, “A lot of people shut down because they don’t want to talk about the dead, but I think the beauty is getting to know them the way you didn’t get to meet them."

But she affirms that, “Grief never goes away, but you learn how to make room for more grief or better things to come … I'm going to grieve for the rest of my life — I'm constantly grieving, but you have to keep going.”

She has learned to cope with her reality and finds that with every loss, comes a gain. New members are added to her family, and sometimes they mirror those lost. Her little cousin, Liam John, is named after her father. “There's a little boy running around with my dad's name. That just makes me so happy.” She appreciates the path she’s on, and acknowledges that she could have gone down another.

When asked about a time that she feels most at peace, Jacqueline replies, “The Fourth of July is my favorite day of the year.” On that day, her family throws a big celebration, and everyone comes together to celebrate and discuss what they’ve lost and gained. She learned to love the day that she most wished had never happened.

Instead, she views her life as one where she’s living for 11 people, living fully for every life that has passed.

There’s beauty in death, too. Although it can feel separating, it has allowed her to form close bonds with others, without hiding herself or her story.

And suddenly, you’re thrust into a vision of her at a funeral with her brother and cousins, throwing roses down into the hole of the earth. There she is — pitching her hand forward, and letting go.

“I’ll hear a song and I'm like, ‘My dad … that was his song.’ Or, I’ll see a top that my cousin would wear. It takes you back for a minute.”
“If I really wanted to be mad, I could sit back and be mad. I have the right to. But what does that do for me?”
"I met him as my dad, but I want to know him as someone’s uncle, friend or lover.”
In Jacqueline’s words, “You're not mourning a death, you're celebrating a life.”
Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee Styling & Set Design by Elinor Franklin & Josh Guinn

Penn State is many things according to many different people. Outsiders like to kindly refer to PSU as a cult. Where did that stereotype come from? Did it come from our devoted student section found in Beaver Stadium? Is it the way that the “We Are” chant is overwhelmingly loud and can be heard in airplanes, at weddings, in Los Angeles bars, reaching even the depths of Tokyo?

This widespread sense of community traces back to the people and their conversations overheard on the streets of State College. The beauty of this small town is that there are so many different characters. From a frat brother to an earthy, self-proclaimed witch, PSU truly has it all. All of these people have conversations, and whether most know it or not, word spreads around when hot gossip is overheard on the “Bloop” after a crazy night at Champ’s.

By the time what you said to your friend outside of Monte Carlo’s reaches the other side of campus, the story could have taken an entirely new form. Here are a few documented sentences overheard in State College, accompanied by a fake story for your pleasure and imagination.

White Building Gym.

Jack’s ex-girlfriend just broke up with him because he was emotionally unavailable. It’s bulking season, which means going to the gym five days a week and getting revenge on his ex. A villain arc makes Jack the cold, “love is stupid and so are girls,” type of person — that is, until he meets the next proclaimed love of his life. He thought Ella was the one, even though they dated for two months. You’ll get her next time, Jack.

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“I’m in my villain arc.” — Overheard at the
“Honestly a friends with benefits situation wouldn’t even be bad.”
— Overheard outside the Paterno Library.

Enter Luke — a second-year student who just moved into his first apartment. The first week of fall semester, he went to an apartment party and met James. They hit it off, *wink wink,* but Luke ended up falling for James more than James fell for Luke. At this point, they’ve had a situationship for a month, and Luke will take what he can get. James hinted at a “friends with benefits” kind of thing, to which Luke agreed. As long as he can be with James in any capacity, he will take it. Yes, his heart will inevitably break. Yes, he will one day realize he deserves to be treated better than an option. Just give Luke the time to learn that himself.

Overheard inside Roots.

Halley is a first-year student who comes from a small town in Virginia who just had her first kiss at a party in August. By November, she met Mac, a brother of a “very cool” frat. They start snapping, and he hits her with the “Come over” text at 2 a.m. Obviously, she goes to said “very cool” frat and only one week later finds herself at UHS because it burns when she pees. She freaks out and takes an STD test, as advised by her close friends. It’s not chlamydia, but a UTI. Phew. Halley tells her best friend while they eat their weekly Roots bowl.

Isabella and Eve met on Facebook. They chatted for a few days before deciding to become roommates for their first year. They both thought it was a simple, perfect match. After talking for hours over text and FaceTime, the girls were certain they would be best friends. They got put into Pollock, *cue sad noise.* First week in, at 2 a.m., Eve brought a guy over without telling Isabella. Eve assumed her roommate was asleep, and she assumed incorrectly. Safe to say — Isabella was traumatized. They never became best friends.

“Looking at that picture just gave me the ick.” — Overheard on the CATA bus.

Hook-up culture is for everyone else but her, Madeline decides. It’s a Sunday, and the hangxiety has hit. Madeline and her friends are taking the CATA bus to go downtown and use this opportunity for a weekend recap. Madeline has been talking to this guy for far too long, and she wonders to herself why she still keeps up the charade. Her one friend asks to see a picture of him, the famed boy himself, and shamefully, she shows her — only to have everyone laugh. While her poor boy didn’t do anything, his mere existence being perceived by her friends was enough to conjure an ick. “Maybe this is my sign to call it off,” she thinks, exasperated.

Emma and Regan are the most hated in their friend group. They think everyone else in their friend group needs to chill out because they believe they are unproblematic. They want to have fun and go out, and at this point, Emma and Regan are so done with petty drama that they will do whatever they want. Why should they sacrifice their fun? They may come to regret this when more drama happens on their outing, but that’s a cycle that will never break in this friend group.

Overheard

Joey has trouble keeping a girl. Awkward hookups, unrequited love, failed talking stages — you name it. He met a girl on Tinder and decided to go on a date. She was beautiful, and Joey — who didn’t trust women after so many frivolous attempts of dating — was intimidated. After the first date, he ghosted her, naturally. His best friend Harry loves to poke at his fumbles. On their way to CHEM 110 lab, he decided to kindly remind Joey that he may never get the girl.

When John applied to Penn State as an intended finance major, he felt like the next CEO of J.P. Morgan. He loves his capitalistic ventures and ambitions, thank you very much. He is now a second-year student and a regular attender of the Business Building. FIN 301 is telling him that maybe he should consider changing his major. Finance bros are overrated, anyways. Maybe he will switch into marketing or supply chain management. Maybe he shouldn’t have expected that it would be easy to become the new best thing on Wall Street, in the first place. Not without nepotism, and money, of course.

“I sent him my negative Chlamydia test.” —
“There’s so much drama, so I think we should go out.” — Overheard on Shortlidge.
“She has legs longer than yours.” —
outside Buckhout Lab.
“My roommate and I are very different.” — Overheard inside the Starbucks of the Library.
“Hey what’s up?”
“Nothing much, just failed my quiz.”
“What quiz?”
“Finance.” — Overheard at the Business Building.
As long as people at Penn State exist, there will always be conversations to be overheard. Some are serious, some not so serious. Next time you venture onto the streets of State College, listen when people speak. You’re guaranteed to hear something new, something questionable or something fun.

nme

Because of her perseverance and ability to stop and reflect, Scott pushes herself as an artist and as a human being. She plans on moving back to Pittsburgh after graduation, where the art is most inspiring to her. She hopes to get involved in the art scene, whether that is with an art residency with an established artist or teaching art classes.

“I started doing my art and it was just such a good escape. I finally had a purpose. I could express my passion again.”
Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee

The World of House

Music revolves around everything. Listening to music sets a tone, whether it be something to cry to or background noise for studying, it is everywhere. As different generations come and go, so does the genre.

Gen X had rock-and-roll, millennials had pop and alternative and now Gen Z has house music.

Walking into a club, you're immediately hit with adrenaline and the sound of house music, sometimes referred to as EDM. This genre is typically played for celebration purposes because the beats are played at a high level. The higher level of beats, the greater the serotonin levels, which is why the music you choose to listen to affects moods.

What is House Music ?

However, having the right ear is a crucial step to hear anything that can inspire a new creation for music. “It is almost as simple as hearing a cool song and thinking other people would like it too, so I start playing it in my sets and putting it into a remix.” Sebring also mentions keeping an eye out for popular culture to see what other DJs, such as David Guetta or Martin Garrix, are currently playing during their live sets.

When performing a live set, typically Sebring aims to play a short segment from each song. “I usually never play any song for over a minute, unless there is a super singable section, because you never want the energy of the crowd to go too low.”

Audio Engineering versus DJing

Within the EDM genre, there is a difference between audio sound engineering and DJing. When creating beats and remixes, that is more on the DJ side of house music whereas anything to do with music production, which can include developing music and refining soundtracks, is on the audio engineer side.

“If you look at rap or soul/R&B, they have tempos between 60 and 75 beats. If you take a look at house music, the beats are at a tempo of 120 to 130 beats.”

Sebring is a part of Sigma Phi Epsilon at Penn State University, which is where he learned how to DJ and the work that goes into being an audio engineer. The genre was introduced to him in high school by his older brother, but he started creating his own remixes in college.

According to Sebring, “When the economy in the U.S. goes down, house music becomes super popular. It goes back around 100 years now where different genres get faster, their BPM rates will go up. After the Great Depression, we got jazz music which is 120 to 130 BPM. After the oil crisis in the 1970s, we got songs like Whitney Houston’s 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody,' which has 120 BPM. Come back to today, house music is popular because the economy is doing so badly.”

Creating the Perfect Remix

“House music is the universal dance music. It is the most danceable beat in the BPM range of all music,” says Third-year student Brian Sebring.
With house music on the rise, music mashups have been a big request upon social events. Creating the perfect remix is not as hard as it seems when you have the right equipment for it.
“A DJ’s job is to play songs people wouldn’t find on their own to bring something new
Photography by Zoe Eddy & Kayla March

If you think back to the time when you had “the talk,” you likely can’t pinpoint the specific moment. The moment when everything was explained to you and you were officially a “big kid.” The truth is, when it comes to talking about the birds and the bees, the entertainment industry has filled that role for parents.

The New Sex Ed

Parents are shaped to believe that they have all the power when it comes to the dynamic between a parent and a child. In some sense, that is true. But there are so many things, like rampant oversexualization, that seep into everyday aspects of life — especially through media consumption.

The entertainment industry creates an opportunity for adolescents to explore the idea of sex in a very open, unlimited way. There are things to learn, but there is also overexposure, or unregulated exposure, that becomes dangerous when it comes to sex.

With this familiarity concerning technology and its use at such young ages, it makes you consider all the avenues of sexualized content available for adolescents, or younger. This access makes the ages of the audience exposed a real concern. It also questions the functionality of parental controls, and how much power the media holds.

When it comes down to the real thing, this exposure can become dangerous — learning about a version of sex presented and valued by the media can perpetuate overconfidence and lead to situations where there is a lack of knowledge or uncomfortability.

Sexualized Media Regulations

The origins of explicit content date far back, and their restrictions were set by Hays Code in 1934, limiting and overseeing sexual portrayals on screen. That is, until the MPAA film rating system replaced Hays Code. We know this today as movies rated PG, R and X: guidelines for viewer capacity and the type of content contained within a piece of media.

concern for developing generations and a call to action for parents to play their part and step in to be their child’s primary exposure and confidant. This can change the way this content is consumed and the extent to which media fills in that parental role.

For these entertainment outlets, these portrayals can definitely be a marketing tactic. Dajches states, “If sexualized content increases views and ratings, which then increases revenue, it follows as to why media producers continue to create such content.”

The Sexualization of Media and Impact on Developing Generations

Dajches says, “Adolescents look to media models for sexual information, especially when they have little to no firsthand experience. I think that the increasing prevalence of sexualized content in the entertainment industry is likely closing the gap … decreasing the need for adolescents to ask their parents about sex, but I also think the lack of standardized sex education in the U.S. is a factor to consider.” The entertainment industry isn’t the sole culprit.

“In particular, teenagers are developmentally more interested to learn about sexual information compared to other age demographics,” discusses Dajches. This then creates “associations [which] are not always negative or linear, and it doesn’t need to be a direct effect — the outcome changes depending on the specific type of sexual or romantic media one consumes, as well as other individual differences.”

So now, this whole idea of sexualized media and the role it plays becomes this interwoven web between intent, exposure and education — whether it be school or at home. This impacts how media is consumed and handled in future, and where the power really lies.

However, postdoctoral scholar at Penn State, Leah Dajches, notes that “regulation only applies to broadcast airwaves (e.g. basic cable TV, public radio) and does not impact cable television or satellite radio. Because of this, premium cable networks like HBO or HBO Max can air highly sexualized content without fear of rejection.” This becomes a major

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When you were little, you’d run at the mention of one day having to have “the talk.” Every child expected it and waited in angst for the awkward conversation. But, like magic, the conversation never came. We just knew — and not by sheer chance.

Ms. Movie

Ms. Movie Madness

The female protagonist’s last nerve finally gets hit. She storms off, tunnel vision surrounding her, as she slams the bathroom door and leans over the sink. She picks her head up, looks in the mirror and sees it. You see it, too. The look in her eyes, the heavy breathing — she’s not just pissed, angry or upset — she’s enraged. Directors have been trying to nail a variation of this emotional scene for decades and whether or not it is done correctly, the audience watches along every time.

The female protagonist’s last nerve finally gets hit. She storms off, tunnel vision surrounding her, as she slams the bathroom door and leans over the sink. She picks her head up, looks in the mirror and sees it. You see it, too. The look in her eyes, the heavy breathing — she’s not just pissed, angry or upset — she’s enraged.

We as a society are obsessed with these scenes of female rage and pain, but why?

Directors have been trying to nail a variation of this emotional scene for decades and whether or not it is done correctly, the audience watches along every time. We as a society are obsessed with these scenes of female rage and pain, but why?

“Euphoria” is the hit HBO show that includes very heavy, vastly femaleorientated issues like abortion, sexual assault and slut-shaming. The director, Sam Levinson, has intentionally made his female characters go through traumas — one of the reasons why the show is so popular. Due to this, many people, including the actresses of the show, have noted oversexualization or sexism within the plotlines. So, if the audience picks up on these subliminal sexist characterizations, why does the show continue to rank well? Society’s obsession with female pain is not only one that is evident in fictional plotlines, it exists in real time as well. Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears and Princess Diana all were loved because they had this vulnerability.

“Euphoria” is the hit HBO show that includes very heavy, vastly femaleorientated issues like abortion, sexual assault and slut-shaming. The director, Sam Levinson, has intentionally made his female characters go through traumas — one of the reasons why the show is so popular. Due to this, many people, including the actresses of the show, have noted oversexualization or sexism within the plotlines.

So, if the audience picks up on these subliminal sexist characterizations, why does the show continue to rank well? Society’s obsession with female pain is not only one that is evident in fictional plotlines, it exists in real time as well. Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears and Princess Diana all were loved because they had this vulnerability. Maybe this obsession comes from wanting to protect them, maybe it’s because you see yourself in them or maybe there’s an underlying attraction to the idea of a pained woman.

Film student Jamilynn Brady, a third-year at Penn State, used Cassie’s character as a means of explaining this “I can’t look away” phenomenon. “Cassie dealt with an abortion in season one, and [Levinson] got her there by sexualizing her character. He used the sexualization of her to bring in this very hard topic to discuss, and then after that, they switched her character and made her obsessive in the next season. It’s the epitome of what a male does to a woman in film.”

Film student Jamilynn Brady, a third-year at Penn State, used Cassie’s character as a means of explaining this “I can’t look away” phenomenon. “Cassie dealt with an abortion in season one, and [Levinson] got her there by sexualizing her character. He used the sexualization of her to bring in this very hard topic to discuss, and then after that, they switched her character and made her obsessive in the next season. It’s the epitome of what a male does to a woman in film.” Having your female characters go through these painful experiences, while simultaneously exploiting them sexually, adds to this curated allure of female pain. The audience sees the angry characters or the tormented singers being sexualized, and they start to internalize that. It is as simple as taking a snap on Snapchat every time you’re crying in your bedroom. You don’t know why you do it, but you do.

The audience sees the angry characters or the tormented singers being sexualized, and they start to internalize that. It is as simple as taking a snap on Snapchat every time you’re crying in your bedroom. You don’t know why you do it, but you do.

The portrayal of female rage in the media can be executed truthfully when the writer’s room includes women who have experienced it firsthand. “The moment that you include an emotional scene in a

show or film, you’re trying to relate to the audience,” explains Brady. This relatability begins with the ones writing it. When creating these characters that are representative of complex females, the behindthe-scenes needs to encompass personal experiences in order to do it truthfully.

The portrayal of female rage in the media can be executed truthfully when the writer’s room includes women who have experienced it firsthand. “The moment that you include an emotional scene in a show or film, you’re trying to relate to the audience,” explains Brady.

This relatability begins with the ones writing it. When creating these characters representative of complex females, the behind-the-scenes needs to encompass personal experiences in order to do it truthfully.

An actress that seems to nail the execution of female rage every time is Florence Pugh. You can see her face now, when her eyes get bigger and chin becomes scrunched. There is a reason why the “Florence Pugh Pout” is so widely recognizable — because it’s genuine. In movies like “Midsommar” and “Don’t Worry Darling,” she can be seen experiencing these emotions, and while it’s likely that the majority of the audience has not gone through what her character did in these movies, they feel connected to her regardless. That’s the power of the big screen; you see other people experiencing the exact emotions that you thought were so isolating. It inherently forms a connection beyond the fourth wall.

An actress that seems to nail the execution of female rage every time is Florence Pugh. You can see her face now, when her eyes get bigger and chin becomes scrunched. There is a reason why the “Florence Pugh Pout” is so widely recognizable — because it’s genuine. In movies like “Midsommar” and “Don’t Worry Darling,” she can be seen experiencing these emotions, and while it’s likely that the majority of the audience has not gone through what her character did in these movies, they feel connected to her regardless.

A director who uses female rage to add to his films is Ari Aster, who worked with Florence Pugh in “Midsommar” and directed “Heredity.” The mother in “Heredity” has a scene where she is screaming at the dinner table over the death of her daughter. From a film student’s perspective, “it’s perfect.” Female rage does not always have to stem from a situation revolving around the male character, something Aster proves. He depicts real life situations, like losing a child, to showcase that anger is a primal emotion, a natural response to a true tragedy. Yet, women still feel as though they cannot express this without being deemed overly emotional or irrational, and this begins with the media.

the power of the big screen; you see other people experiencing the exact emotions that you thought were so isolating. It inherently forms a connection beyond the fourth wall.

A director who uses female rage to add to his films is Ari Aster, who worked with Florence Pugh in “Midsommar” and directed “Heredity.” The mother in “Heredity” has a scene where she is screaming at the dinner table over the death of her daughter. From a film student’s perspective, “it’s perfect.” Female rage does not always have to stem from a situation revolving around the male character, something Aster proves. He depicts real life situations, like losing a child, to showcase that anger is a primal emotion, a natural response to a true tragedy. Yet, women still feel as though they cannot express this without being deemed overly emotional or irrational, and this begins with the media.

The media is a very powerful tool that feeds into people’s perceptions. When done irresponsibly, it can validate harmful stereotypes or create false illusions. When done correctly, you will feel seen. You will know that your experiences and emotions are not something that you need to go through alone. Someone felt these complex feelings, just like you have, and was empowered to make something creative out of it — that is what embracing your femininity is.

The media is a very powerful tool that feeds into people’s perceptions. When done irresponsibly, it can validate harmful stereotypes or create false illusions. When done correctly, you will feel seen. You will know that your experiences and emotions are not something that you need to go through alone. Someone felt these complex feelings, just like you have, and was empowered to make something creative out of it — that is what embracing femininity is.

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Maybe this obsession comes from wanting to protect them, maybe it’s because you see yourself in them or maybe there’s an underlying attraction to the idea of a pained woman.
Having your female characters go through painful experiences, while simultaneously exploiting them sexually, adds to this curated allure of female pain.
That’s

The Fine Line of a Punchline

The Fine Line of a PUNCHLINE

Some people — artists — can write songs and get their feelings across … I think jokes can do that, too.”

A joke has the ability to not only excite an audience, but unveil and disrupt power dynamics. These power dynamics are a key component when determining what makes something truly funny.

We all enjoy a good joke. Whether it be dark, witty, “yo mama” or of the dad variety, everyone knows the roar of a belly laugh from a solid joke. We are also all familiar with the pit that plummets in your stomach when a joke crosses the line. The class clown does anything for a laugh, sometimes at the expense of others, or even themselves.

We all enjoy a good joke. Whether it be dark, witty, “yo mama” or of the dad variety, everyone knows the roar of a belly laugh from a solid joke.

We are also all familiar with the pit that plummets in your stomach when a joke crosses the line. The class clown does anything for a laugh, sometimes at the expense of others, or even themselves. As kids, we witnessed them get kicked out of class or sent to the principal's office, but what happens when they’re all grown up? What happens when we are now the adults tasked with deciding whether something is funny or not?

The three roles that make up these dynamics include the comedian, the audience and the “butt.” Every joke must be told by someone to someone about someone, or something. You cross the line when there is any obvious “butt” to the joke and when that target is also in a less powerful position than the comedian and/or their audience. You want to make people laugh, not be the playground bully.

As kids, we witnessed them get kicked out of class or sent to the principal's office, but what happens when they’re all grown up?

What happens when we are now the adults tasked with deciding whether something is funny or not?

We’ve all heard the sentence, “You just crossed the line.” This intangible act, even if committed as a naive accident, or in the blind pursuit of making one laugh, comes with consequences. Depending on how forgiving your audience is, these consequences could range from gut wrenching silence to, in the worst cases, the ending of relationships. We have a common understanding to approach this line with caution and to do our best to respect it. But what are the conditions surrounding this elusive line when it comes to our sense of humor?

We’ve all heard the sentence, “You just crossed the line.” This intangible act, even if committed as a naive accident, or in the blind pursuit of making one laugh, comes with consequences. Depending on how forgiving your audience is, these consequences could range from gut wrenching silence to, in the worst cases, the ending of relationships. We have a common understanding to approach this line with caution and to do our best to respect it. But what are the conditions surrounding this elusive line when it comes to our sense of humor? Your audience, whether you're a stand-up comedian or conversing with friends, is who decides where the line is at any given moment.

Your audience, whether you're a stand-up comedian or conversing with friends, is who decides where the line is at any given moment. Everyone has a different sense of humor. In personal relationships and social interactions, as you are a commoner and not an SNL cast member, you’re obligated to be aware of this line.

entertaining political discourse and even point out hypocrisy. It is a comedian’s job to play with the line — to test their audience and see what they can get away with.

“I don't want more people to feel sad than happy after hearing a joke I do,” says Glaser. “I don't think jokes that are just making fun of someone for something they can't help are funny.”

“Jokes can be ways to communicate your feelings about something that you can't just say, without lacing it,” says Glaser. “It's kind of like a song. Some people — artists — can write songs and get their feelings across … I think jokes can do that, too.”

Always be considerate of the “butt” because if they are left unamused, your audience, depending on their empathy etiquette, will follow suit. This precursor is a must, according to Glaser.

“Every single time you tell a joke you’ve got to kind of do that math in your head of, ‘is this going to cause more damage than it's going to make people happy?’”

So sure, there is a line that we all communicate in constant apprehension of. Though this line has no permanent placement, it moves with both who is delivering the joke and the audience receiving it.

Everyone has a different sense of humor. In personal relationships and social interactions, as you are a commoner and not an SNL cast member, you’re obligated to be aware of this fine line.

Of course, it is up to your discretion how flirtatious you’d like to be with it while partaking in playful banter. We all know the rush that comes when a room erupts in laughter from something you’ve said. This boost of serotonin and validation can blur your conscience — a feeling familiar to all comedians, like Nikki Glaser.

The three roles that make up these dynamics include the comedian, the audience and the “butt.” Every joke must be told by someone to someone about someone, or something. You cross the line when there is any obvious “butt” to the joke and when that target is also in a less powerful position than the comedian and/or their audience. You want to make people laugh, not be the playground bully.

“I don't want more people to feel sad than happy after hearing a joke I do,” says Glaser. “I don't think jokes that are just making fun of someone for something they can't help are funny.”

The stand-up comedian and former resident-roast mean girl says, “I've made that mistake where I just get greedy, and I'm like, ‘Oh, I think this is funnier.’ And then it hurts someone's feelings. It feels terrible to do that, and it's not ever what I want to do,” says Glaser.

Of course, it is up to your discretion how flirtatious you’d like to be with it while partaking in playful banter. We all know the rush that comes when a room erupts in laughter from something you’ve said. This boost of serotonin and validation can blur your conscience — a feeling familiar to all comedians, like Nikki Glaser.

Always be considerate of the “butt” because if they are left unamused, your audience, depending on their empathy etiquette, will follow suit. This precursor is a must, according to Glaser.

Comedians are known to push the limits of what is politically correct or, overall, acceptable to be said. Comedy can be smart social commentary, entertaining political discourse and even point out hypocrisy. It is a comedian’s job to play with the line — to test their audience and see what they can get away with.

The stand-up comedian and former resident-roast mean girl says, “I've made that mistake where I just get greedy, and I'm like, ‘Oh, I think this is funnier.’ And then it hurts someone's feelings. It feels terrible to do that, and it's not ever what I want to do,” says Glaser.

“Jokes can be ways to communicate your feelings about something that you can't just say, without lacing it,” says Glaser. “It's kind of like a song.

Comedians are known to push the limits of what is politically correct or, overall, acceptable to be said. Comedy can be smart social commentary,

So, sure, there is a line that we all communicate in constant apprehension of. Though this line has no permanent placement, it moves with both who is delivering the joke and the audience receiving it.

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A joke has the ability to not only excite an audience, but unveil and disrupt power dynamics. These power dynamics are a key component when determining what makes something truly funny.
“Every single time you tell a joke you’ve got to kind of do that math in your head of, ‘is this going to cause more damage than it's going to make people happy?’”
Photography Mason Lopiccolo & Sara Bobulinski

Erasing the Misconceptions of Modern Art

Who is an artist if not a target of critique? To create art is to spark conversation — to startle, perplex and inspire. It’s no surprise, then, that modern art is often met with criticism from the general public.

“I could make that,” we say. “That’s just a bunch of scribbles on a canvas.” No, you couldn’t, and no, it’s not. Rest assured that you will never stumble upon a painting in a museum or gallery that isn’t “good” art. It may not be art that you enjoy, but it is valuable nonetheless.

Stirring the Pot

Artists always have been, and always will be, subject to criticism. Art is founded on change and innovation — two concepts humans seem opposed to. Our fear of the “different” is a coping mechanism that, from an evolutionary perspective, has kept us safe. In an increasingly global world, though, change is inevitable and differences are everywhere. The art world is no exception.

It’s easy to point at historical art that displays impressive feats of technical skill and say, “Now, that’s good art.” However, even the artists that we herald as masters have caused controversy with their work, finding themselves the target of criticism. Michelangelo, one of the most influential artists of all time, faced backlash for the vulgarity of his figures that adorn the Sistine Chapel. Édouard Manet’s famous painting, “Olympia,” which depicts a Parisian prostitute, was received by the public with outrage.

Nancy Locke, Associate Professor of Art History at Penn State, says that “as soon as artists were painting modern history as opposed to classical mythology, there was controversy.” In other words, to reference real, timely events is to stir the pot.

The Building Blocks of Art

Art is in perpetual conversation with itself, with each artist building upon those that came before them. Despite modernism’s emphasis on the “search for complete originality,” countless contemporary artists have created work that is in dialogue with art of the past.

postmodernism in architecture. Contrast that building with any of the modern, unadorned lab buildings that do not make reference to past architecture.” The difference is stark.

Whether artists are directly referencing historical paintings or simply taking inspiration from those who came before them, contemporary art would not exist in the absence of art history.

A Form of Commentary

Historically, art was largely representational, commissioned by patrons to serve a purpose. However, with the invention of the camera, the need for representational art all but disappeared. After all, no painter can render an image with the accuracy of a camera. This change allowed artists to experiment. Where they were once limited by their patrons, artists then had the freedom to create work that expressed their opinions about society.

“Think of any contemporary social problem or situation, and there is probably a contemporary artist trying to address it. The art is more likely to be conceptual art or to use non-traditional materials, but the engagement with the world in which it exists is paramount,” says Locke.

Locke cites Olafur Eliasson as an example of a contemporary artist who has departed from traditional materials in order to make a statement. Eliasson, in an effort to confront climate change, had blocks of ice shaved from a glacier in Greenland and shipped to London. There, they were displayed in front of the Tate Modern museum, where viewers were forced to watch them melt.

It is work of this kind — work which requires very little traditional skill — that is most commonly met with unfair criticism. This criticism often dismisses any conceptual aspect of the artwork, focusing instead on its lack of decoration.

Contemporary Times Call for Contemporary Talent

“People always think first of skill when they think of art; they think how difficult it would be to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling like Michelangelo,” says Locke. However, we are not living in the Italian Renaissance. Today, artists “need to be able to market themselves to galleries that can facilitate sales and placement in major international exhibitions.” This means reimagining history and presenting work in entirely novel ways.

Locke emphasizes the impact of historical reference, saying, “It is easily seen in architecture. Postmodernist architecture made eclectic use of classical elements like columns, alongside playful ones like the lion paws on the steps of the Palmer Museum of Art — an excellent example of

Contemporary artists have many of the same technical skills that their predecessors did, but their work exists in an entirely separate context. Today, the art world rejects traditional displays of artistic skill, instead emphasizing innovation and purpose. With an open mind, even those with no knowledge of the art world can begin to appreciate contemporary art in all of its weird glory. “Once you start looking at abstract paintings, you learn to appreciate the techniques these artists use and the compositions they produce,” says Locke.

f ashio n

In high school, Vaillancourt began developing her own sense of style inspired by others' closets and the unique stories behind them — and just like that, her love of secondhand clothing was born. Deeply contrasting her style from elementary and middle school, she became exclusively interested in wearing things others were not. Finding pieces that she had never seen before inspired her to keep thrifting, striving to be different.

“In three words, I would describe my fashion style as bold, original and me. ”
Photography by James Riccardo & Jenny Lee

Dressing Change

Every day, we adorn ourselves in clothing that we deem acceptable for our self-image; whether that be the sweats you wear to class or the pantsuit you wear to a job interview. The way we present ourselves tells others how we wish to be perceived, what we value and, ultimately, who we are.

A Historical Perspective

In the era leading up to the civil rights movement, Black communities were influential for “their highly valued design abilities” used “to create new aesthetics for their community,” according to Abena L. Mhoon, Associate Professor of Humanities at Coppin State University. The innovative styles that came out of Black communities had wide reach, gracing the pages of periodicals like Vogue.

However, the civil rights movement brought a distinct change in African American fashion — a shift from innovation to propriety. Mhoon emphasizes the importance of this shift in her article, “Dressing for Freedom.”

Modesty, clean lines and muted colors were essential to the peaceful protests of the time. The aim of protesters was to dismantle stereotypes held by their white counterparts. “This was not the time to look flashy. Breaking down the social, economic and political barriers that in the past had prevented African Americans from having access to the American dream, would not come about if people did not look serious and business-like,” writes Mhoon.

Women of the 1970s approached fashion from a similar lens — assimilation. During the women’s liberation movement, to be respected was to break free from the constraints of femininity. Women rejected the stereotypes that accompanied skirts and frills by embracing practicality. From wide-leg pants to stiff-collar blouses, there was a masculine air to the clothing of the time — a statement on women’s capabilities. This rejection of traditionally female clothing allowed women to play with what “femininity” meant.

A Modern Take

As the times change, so do our messages. When the goal of protest is to secure basic human rights, as it was in the ‘50s during the civil rights movement or the ‘70s during the women’s liberation movement,

practicality comes first. For activists, this meant dressing in ways that emphasized the commonalities between the oppressed and their oppressors. However, with social change comes the freedom to push boundaries.

Tashira Halyard is a former attorney and the founder of Politics & Fashion, an online brand that bridges style, self-care and social justice. To Halyard, empowerment means embracing her love for fashion and a “bomb red lipstick,” all while advocating for social change. “In order for us to be considered serious as women — respected or highly regarded — we have to be in the Hillary Clinton pantsuit. We have to, in some ways, be assimilating into dominant male norms,” says Halyard.

“I can show up in my masculine energy; I can show up in my feminine energy and still demand and command respect. Just because I’m advocating for systemic change doesn’t mean that I can’t also love to adorn myself.”

For Halyard, fashion is a “powerful tool of liberation.” For Black women especially, there is a notion that they cannot and should not “show up as themselves at work.” Rejecting the expectation that Black women shouldn’t wear their hair natural or wear clothes that show their figure can be a symbol of resistance.

PETA famously protested the use of fur in the fashion industry in their “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign. Starting in the 1990s, PETA used clothing (or lack thereof) to protest the use of animal fur in the name of fashion. They crashed runways, held protests and paired with countless celebrities in an effort that all but ended the unethical practice of skinning animals for a “look.”

Making Protest Personal

Fashion as a means of protest can be practical or shocking, but it can also be personal. For 24-year-old Maya Ernest, owner of Muñeca Vintage, small acts of protest can help save the planet. “I love fashion, but at the same time, I felt guilty indulging in it knowing that it contributes so much to climate change,” she says.

Ernest has always shopped sustainability, but it was with the realization that she could help others do the same that Muñeca Vintage was born. “A lot of people don’t shop vintage because it can be really expensive and it’s just not accessible — they don’t know where to start looking. When you have a platform to offer vintage to people as easily as, say, Urban Outfitters, it becomes a lot easier for people to indulge in sustainable fashion.”

Protest is the backbone of society, and when dressed up fashionably, it can be an effective means of change.

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Our clothes — their silhouettes, colors and designs — respond to the world they exist in, but they also ask the world to respond to them.
Small moments of protest make waves, but shock is also a powerful tool for change.

Fashion has always been used as a form of self-expression and individuality. Consider the royals of the Middle Ages, who often wore gold silk and jewelry to flaunt their material wealth. Opposingly, so-called “punks” in the 1970s wore leather jackets as an act of rebellion.

In relation to the current political and social climate, it is evident that self-expression through fashion is constantly evolving from one generation to the next.

Gen Z has redefined self-expression through fashion by embracing gender-neutral wardrobes in everyday wear. Skirts, dresses, slacks and polos are no longer limited to a single gender. Neither are colors — pink is no longer exclusively feminine and blue is not purely masculine.

What Is Gender-Neutral Clothing?

It is important to note that there is no established definition for genderneutral clothing. Rather, fashion experts argue that gender-neutral clothes should be viewed as a state of mind. This reasoning is used to negate the stereotype that gender-neutral clothing is limited to oversized sweatpants and sweatshirts.

While the definition is ultimately up to each individual, gender-neutral clothing lines generally do not separate fashion into two binary genders: male and female. Take gender-neutral clothing brand TomboyX, which was founded on the principle that any gender or size type could feel comfortable in their clothing. Their sizes range from XS to 6XL and there is ultimately no differentiation between women’s and men’s clothing. TomboyX invites those of all genders and body types to explore their boxer briefs, tank tops, bralettes and more.

Feeling Comfortable In One’s Own Skin

Gender-neutral clothing lines not only promote an inclusive shopping experience for Gen Z, but also help shoppers find their personal style.

Joey Greger, a fourth-year Penn State student studying supply chain and information systems and economics, is a current member of the Fashion Society at Penn State. He frequently sports gender-neutral clothes in his everyday wear. His gender-neutral wear consists of oversized sweatshirts and pants with colors of muted grays, blacks and tans.

“Gender-neutral, to me, means that you’re not trying to have a silhouette that implies any type of masculine or feminine physique,” Greger says. Through his own research about the evolution of fashion, Greger found that traditional feminine style is meant to accentuate the waist and be form-fitting. In direct contrast, traditional masculine style is centered around the biceps and chest to accentuate those muscles.

“When you evaluate gender-neutral clothes, there is no conformity to traditional feminine or masculine styles,” Greger says. “This makes gender-neutral clothes more comfortable, visually appealing and they ultimately work for everybody.”

Greger has been experimenting with fashion since middle school. In response to the questionable looks he received when wearing ‘girly’ colors such as pink, Greger would simply reply with, “I like pink.” He says, “Coming from a guy, that’s not a response that’s very typical of males today.”

The Embodiment of Gender-Neutral Clothing

As gender-neutral clothing lines begin to increase in popularity, Greger mentions that his favorite part of wearing gender-neutral clothing is receiving compliments from people of all genders.“All groups can see my outfit as something that they can wear themselves,” Greger says. “It agrees with a lot of different styles and facets of fashion. I love it because it’s something that works with whatever you’re trying to do, whether it’s quickly running to class or getting ready to go out on a Friday night.” For those trying to build a more gender-neutral clothing style, Greger recommends hitting your local thrift store between seasons. “Thrift stores are very progressive without the label ‘gender-neutral,'” Greger says.

“The majority of clothes in thrift stores work for everybody as far as dimensions and what you’re trying to wear. They’re also comfortable and timeless.”

The future of gender-neutral clothing is limitless. Celebrities are currently at the forefront of this movement, with Billy Porter and Lil Nas X breaking traditional gender norms by wearing skirts and dresses at major red carpet events. This unapologetic attitude from both goes beyond representation, and into the idea of expressing one’s true self and not caring what others think.

As gender-neutral clothing lines continue to evolve, it is important to remember that fashion is a form of self-expression for all. This means that everyone should have the opportunity to find clothes that they feel comfortable and accepted in.

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Not for the faint of heart, ArchiveVintage, TheFifthCollection and RosenStore are for the more experienced archivists searching for the incredibly obscure, and often astonishingly expensive items. Classics such as eBay, Depop and Poshmark are also great if you are just starting out.

Generally speaking, archival fashion encompasses the vast array of garments and accessories from historic seasons and collections. More often than not, when one refers to archival fashion they do not mean just any old handbag or jacket, but extremely sought after pieces from luxury designers selling for far above market price — think the Vivienne Westwood corset worn by Bella Hadid or the Raf Simmons bomber jacket donned by Kanye West.

Even simple, everyday pieces that appear mundane, might be sought after gems.

That is much of the fun for fashion archivists — the personal satisfaction of finding a piece they have had their eye on and knowing its impressive background in the industry. When thinking of archival fashion, think: less shopping and more collecting.

GET IN LOSER, WE’RE GOING ARCHIVING

The archival fashion community is an exclusive one where money alone does not grant you access. It takes a trained eye, dedication and astute expertise to know what is worth getting and where to find it. Some search for pieces from certain designers or collections, while others’ tastes are dominated by what their favorite celebrities have been wearing on the red carpet.

The methods of fashion archivists are similar to thrifters, however there is one major difference: there is no casual browsing when you are on the hunt for a specific vintage piece. This is why many opt to skip the shops and buy online — so they can search for the exact item they want and compare quality and prices from various places at the same time.

TIPS AND TRICKS

While it is unclear whether the surge in online, secondhand luxury marketplaces acted as a catalyst to archival fashion or vice-versa, it is certain that both spaces are prospering.

Grailed and Farfetch are two of the most popular, well-respected sites for vintage resale due to their extensive collections and transparent customer protection policies.

Jordan Pietrafitta, founder of EARTHLY For The Planet and expert thrifter, shares her experience with tracking certain items down and what influences her most when shopping secondhand. She recommends eBay as the top site to find nearly anything you are looking for without being overcharged, citing their bidding system as an easy way to get items at decent prices.

While Pietrafitta enjoys thrifting in person as well, she explains how shopping online is much more streamlined as you can search for items down to their SKU number or use Google’s reverse image search. Even when she finds items in shops, she often puts them on a list to search for online, especially high-end vintage items, for a fraction of the price. As a New York City resident, she is constantly finding herself inspired from simply stepping outside and also admits she is no stranger to being influenced through TikTok and Instagram.

DESIGNERS BUYING BACK

It’s not just fashion fanatics and vintage collectors searching high and low for coveted pieces, but the garments’ creators themselves.

There are many different reasons designers may no longer own their older collections — needing money when they were starting out, gifting pieces to friends or having their brands bought by companies.

In an interview with ELLE, Betsey Johnson describes how she’s been calling out to various vintage houses asking for any sightings of her older garments. She lists a few reasons for attempting to piece together her historic collections, including nostalgia and a possible new line inspired by her vintage prom gowns.

Though it’s been a tedious task, it makes her happy to see that her creations are selling for almost ten times their original market price. Alternatively, Valentino has its own buy-back initiative called “Valentino Vintage,” where they encourage customers to bring in any of their past pieces to a store or online to trade in for newer items. Overall, the anomaly of designers scouring the web to buy back their older pieces is a new one. Experts speculate the cycle went something like this: celebrities wore archival garments on the red carpet which influenced runway trends, and when designers saw their old ideas recirculating, they were re-inspired to create.

It could also simply be due to sentimentality, as most of the pioneers of the fashion world we know are retired and reminiscent of their successful careers.

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unpacking the

Have you ever heard the term, “it’s so bad, it’s good?” Well, this phrase seems to be finding its place in the fashion industry. We’ve seen it with public figures such as Julia Fox, and even in stores like Urban Outfitters. Pieces that look objectively strange or unattractive have gained popularity, and outfits that are undoubtedly outlandish have found their way into mainstream fashion.

Defining Unconventional

To be “unconventional” is to not conform to what is generally done or believed. When examining the word in relation to fashion, it can be interpreted as not conforming to the trends and perception of what is thought to be stylish or conventionally pleasing to the eye. For some, this means wearing things that are commonly perceived as unattractive. For others, it may mean adopting a more eccentric style.

If unconventional means not conforming to what is generally done, you may be wondering how this subset of fashion can even become trendy. If not doing what is common becomes normal, doesn’t that become the new norm? The interesting part of unconventional fashion is that it’s different for everyone. What may be abnormal for one person, could be within the comfort zone of another. It cannot strictly be defined, but there are common themes. Mix-matching, wearing elaborate or eccentric pieces and experimenting with fit and fabrics all fall under the unconventional umbrella.

Breaking the Rules

In the past, public figures have often stuck to the trends of their time. Many play it safe and subscribe to the looks that will receive praise from the general public. In recent years, this has completely shifted. Celebrities and influencers have begun paving the way for a new era of fashion, in which rules are made to be broken.

The rule breaking of unconventional fashion can range from wearing clothes that don’t traditionally match to taking unexpected style risks. Influencers have been known to make videos intuitively putting outfits together, mix-matching colors and styles that are not traditionally paired. One of these content creators is Toronto based stylist and designer, Sara Camposarcone. With over 1.1 million TikTok followers, she has become known for her unconventional looks. “My best tip for clashing prints and colors would be to start with prints/colors within the same aesthetic. For instance, if you're a first time pattern clasher, try mixing a neutral zebra print, with a neutral cheetah print. This is a more subtle way to approach a common maximalist technique when styling,” says Camposarcone.

Established designers, as well as up-and-coming designers, have been increasingly pushing fashion boundaries through unconventional style, such as Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress at Paris Fashion Week. This instance is an example of how unconventional fashion may be leading us to the future of style, where technology will play a greater role.

Fashion sustainability has also become prominent in unconventional fashion, as more and more designers are creating unique pieces out of sustainable materials. “The way I look at it, my content often encourages people to essentially ‘shop their own closet.’ What this means is don't go out and purchase more, use what you already have, but get creative with it,” says Camposarcone, adding, “Many of my TikTok videos show multiple ways to wear a single garment. This personally allows me to get more use out of what I already own, and at the same time, practice styling pieces in more unconventional ways.”

Embracing Self - Expression

Unconventional fashion can’t be boiled down to one look, trend or style. In the fashion world today, it is a form of self-expression that steers away from what may be common at the time. For many, it feels out of the box, but you never know what may come of it. Camposarcone says, “My best advice is you won't know unless you try. Stepping out of our comfort zone is how we learn and grow. It took me many, many years of trying to fit in with my style, instead of accepting I was just born to stand out. Sometimes change is good, try shopping secondhand if you never have before, swapping clothes with friends or even upcycling your old clothes to create something new.”

After all, being unconventional is individualistic. As our society becomes more accepting, it’s no surprise that a shift is occurring from dressing to conform, to dressing exactly the way you want to. Wearing whatever you want, whenever you want, is something to be embraced, not ashamed of.

Some of the most defining moments in the rise of unconventional fashion can be accredited to none other than Julia Fox. What’s more unconventional than shopping for groceries wearing underwear, a denim blazer and denim boots? Some saw this look as inappropriate, but despite the criticism, it received praise for pushing the envelope.

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Photography by James Riccardo, Mason Lopiccolo, & Sara Bobulinski Makeup by Diane Akpovwa Visit QR Code to see a 3D scan of the complete outfit by Casey Zanowic Photography by Zoe Eddy & Kayla March Hair & Makeup by Greta Agee

We’ve all heard the classic line made famous by Marilyn Monroe — “Diamonds are a girl's best friend.” Today, however, there’s a new kind of diamond making its way into the fashion world, and it’s slowly gaining appreciation and appeal.

The buzz of lab-grown diamonds has been growing for the past couple of years. While this option may not have been your top choice of diamond in the past, the changing diamond industry has led many to switch from natural to lab-grown.

One question that always comes to mind when talking about lab-grown diamonds is, “Are they real diamonds?” The answer is a resounding yes; chemically, physically and optically, lab-grown diamonds and natural diamonds are identical. These sparkling creations are real diamonds made out of pure carbon. The only real difference is, just as the name suggests, they’re created in a lab rather than from Earth’s resources. These diamonds are grown in a controlled environment where scientists use technology replicating the natural diamond process, making them look and feel the same as natural diamonds.

Kristy Cullinane is the co-founder of Plum Diamonds, a brand that focuses entirely on lab developed diamond rings. She says an average person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, and even jewelers with special testing equipment find it hard to differentiate between the two.

“Lab-grown and mined diamonds have the same makeup and crystal structure, so a tester doesn’t differentiate between the two. Lab-grown diamonds have the same visual and chemical components. This makes them identical to natural diamonds.”

You might be wondering how scientists make these creations. Well, it’s much simpler than one might think. There are two methods used to create lab-grown diamonds: chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and high pressure, high temperature (HPHT). Both are highly efficient and use cutting-edge technology to mimic the natural processes that create diamonds in the earth. Scientists subject carbon to high temperatures and pressures within the laboratory, thus creating a diamond. Scientists believe natural diamonds are formed from this same process of carbon dioxide exposure to high temperatures and pressures, but it happens below Earth’s surface. Over time, this causes diamonds to form, and eventually, volcanic eruptions enable them to move from Earth’s core to its crust, allowing us to mine them.

So, if you’re trying to decide between mined or lab-grown, here’s a few things to keep in mind. Beauty, like a natural diamond, isn’t the only thing that lab-grown diamonds have going for them. One positive revolves around the price. Diamonds aren’t cheap, that’s a clear fact. Lab-grown is a much cheaper option — sometimes even up to 40 percent less expensive. While not inexpensive, lab-grown diamonds are competitively

priced, which sometimes means you can get a bigger stone or even a higher quality diamond within your budget. The controlled environment in which scientists make lab-grown diamonds means that flawlessness is much easier to achieve at a fair price.

In terms of rarity, yes, natural diamonds win that round. The fact that natural diamonds form deep in Earth’s core and require volcanic eruptions to bring them to Earth’s surface to mine means they are much harder to get, and there are only a certain number of them in existence. However, Cullinane says that while the technology to create lab-grown diamonds has evolved tremendously, the art of doing so is still quite complex.

“My understanding is that diamond growing is part science and part art. All but some of the very best labs across the world struggle with this process. It’s hard to grow very high-quality in very high-carat weights. So, while this technology can, in theory, produce an infinite supply of diamonds, it is still limited in how much.” One other factor people usually consider when choosing to buy natural or lab-grown is the environmental impacts of each. Mining for natural diamonds puts a tremendous strain on the environment; poor planning and weak regulation have led diamond miners to destroy land, leading to habitat destruction, water pollution and the forced relocation of local communities. Over time, there have also been many instances of human rights issues and abuses related to diamond mining.

Lab-grown diamonds aren’t that much better, however. Since they are created in a controlled lab using a lot of technology, they require a ton of energy to create. This can lead to significant amounts of carbon pollution being released into the atmosphere. The controlled environment also means that certain gasses must be used to extract carbon, and some labs have been accused of using harmful gasses — such as methane — in this process.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to go natural or lab-grown is a personal one. Both options have pros and cons when it comes to

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