Pride 2020 Makeup Looks

June is Pride Month. I have been fortunate enough to have openly out, safely and proudly for almost a decade now. Normally, at this time in the year I would be gearing up to swap out my perpetually dark and alternative outfits for a more colorful ensemble to hit the streets for the New York City Annual Pride Parade. Pride month as well as Pride parades are chances to freely express all your gay self as loudly and flamboyantly as you’d like to. 

This year, Pride parades everywhere were cancelled for the global pandemic, as they should have been. When my workplace decided that last week would be a Pride spirit week, my coworkers and I rejoiced. Although it was entirely digital, it warmed my heart to see photos of my coworkers, gay, straight and everything in between, decked out in a different rainbow color each day. I did my own spin, because I genuinely only own 5 colored shirts max, so I decided to do a different makeup look everyday for the last 9 days of Pride month. Here they are!

Day 1: Red- Life

For day one, I went with a bold sparkly red eye look, paired with an equally bold red lip. Red represents life, which is why my “Vagina is not a dirty word” shirt comes perfectly in handy for this look. Finished off with a red bandana for a little Rosie the Riveter vibes and voilà!

Day 2: Orange- Healing

For day two, I decided on a very graphic and experimental orange winged eyeliner, outlined in black. Orange meaning healing, I wanted to represent the tough journey that healing can be with some sharp edges and guarded wings. This is my least favorite color but one of my favorite looks in this series. Paired with a muted shiny copper lipstick, an orange bandana and sheer polka dotted top, I think this risky combo was pulled off in the end.

Day 3: Yellow- Sunlight

For day three, I chose to focus on a more golden palette, doing a graphic doubled-back eyeliner on a sparkly gold shadowed lid. I wanted the eyeliner to emulate the cycle the sun makes through the sky every day to give its light to us. I paired this look with some sun shaped gold earrings and a mustard colored striped turtleneck.

Day 4: Green- Nature

For day 4, I went with a very basic black winged eyeliner on my lid, and reflected it in green in a half circle above my lid. I wanted this to represent the balance in nature. I wore an off the shoulder olive green crop top and kept the rest of my face and jewelry clear for a more natural look.

Day 5: Blue- Harmony

For day 5, I completely switched it up and did my regular eye look, and a striking blue lip. For harmony, I wanted to create balance between the blue of my eyes and the blue of my lips. Dressed in a denim shirt, large hoops earrings and my hair twisted back, I felt like the perfect harmony of masculine and feminine in this fit.

Day 6: Purple- Spirit

For day 6, I went BOLD, because purple is my favorite color. In the spirit of drag culture, I did a large sparkly purple wing outlined in white and black eyeliner, with drawn on bottom eyelashes. I put on my beautiful purple velvet cold shoulder turtleneck shirt and tied my hair up in a bun.

Day 7: Black + Brown- Black and POC Queer People

For day 7, I wanted to focus on showcasing these two colors as boldly as I could, with a brown and black smokey eye with a black and metallic brown lip to match. This day was to recognize and celebrate the two incredibly necessary black and brown stripes added to the Philly Pride flag in 2017. Pride was a riot started by queer people of color and their representation on the LGBTQ+ pride flag is so very important.

Day 8: The Pansexual and Nonbinary Flag

For day 8, I wanted to represent my own identities. I went with a simple blended eyeshadow look, my left eye including the colors of the pansexual flag, on my right the colors of the nonbinary flag, and a winged eyeliner with accompanying dots. With a lot of color on the eyes, I kept the lips a light neutral pink, and the outfit a simple black tank because black is my favorite color.

Day 9: The 2020 Pride Flag

For day 9, I wanted to go all out and recreate the 2020 Pride Flag on my lid. Complete with 6 rainbow stripes, and a chevron including the black and brown stripes for black and POC queer people, and the white, blue and pink of the trans flag. Complemented with a dark berry lip and sparkles galore, I think this look perfectly wraps up my Pride looks for the year.

Although we could not do what we might normally do to celebrate pride this year, it is in our hearts every day. It was fun, even just for myself and a small part of the internet to celebrate in my quiet, personal way. All my love to the LGBTQ+ community and allies; Happy Pride Month, this month and every month.🌈

Interview an Author: Julia Phillips

I remember the day I walked into Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and laid my eyes on the novel Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. I’m sure other bookworms agree: sometimes you just lay your eyes onto a new title, and instantly, you know what book is yours. 

Apparently, my instincts about the book were right- this unique mystery novel drove me in and kept me hostage to the pages until I’d devoured it. Unsurprisingly, Disappearing Earth is now a national bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. And, according to The New York Times, “A superb debut…a nearly flawless novel.”

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Today I had the honor of speaking with Julia Phillips, whose personality and answers to my questions were just as crisp and graceful as her writing. 

Analog Magazine: What is your background as a professional writer and when did you decide to pen your first novel?

Julia Phillips: I wanted to be a novelist from the time I was a little kid. It was always my dream. While drafting the manuscript that became Disappearing Earth, I worked as an editor at a small publishing house, then as a freelance corporate copywriter. The whole time, I fantasized about this project emerging in the world one day as my first book. It’s the dream of my life.

AM: Are there any authors, books, and writers who you feel have inspired your writing style or shaped you as a writer yourself?

JP: Oh, so, so, so many. Every book I’ve ever read has inspired and shaped me. While I worked on Disappearing Earth, I thought a lot about the writing of Louise Erdrich and Alice Munro, two master storytellers. Some of the particular works that informed this novel include Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman, and Dead Girls by Nancy Lee.

AM: Your debut novel, Disappearing Earth, takes place in the distant, remote area of Kamchatka, Russia. Why did you choose this setting and location to be the backbone of your story?

JP: Russian and fiction were my two main academic pursuits in college, but I struggled to find a way to combine the two. When I studied abroad in Moscow, I felt far from English-language storytelling. In my creative writing classes, I didn’t know how to capture what had excited me abroad. The best way forward seemed to be setting a book in Russia. Writing a novel in Kamchatka became my dream.

Kamchatka was a compelling setting for a few reasons. Though it’s one of the country’s most remote territories, the peninsula more clearly illustrates the effects of Russia’s shift from socialism to capitalism than larger and better-known cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg might. Before 1990, Kamchatka was classified as a closed military zone; no foreigners were permitted there and even Russians needed special dispensation to visit. It was an isolated area of an already insular state – an intensified version of mainstream Soviet culture’s self-reliant course.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, though, restrictions on Kamchatka were abandoned. The peninsula’s undeveloped land, rich natural resources, and distance from the government’s seat in Moscow made it attractive to everyone, from foreign investors to adventure tourists to poachers. Suddenly globalized, radically changed, Kamchatka remained a microcosm of its nation, which now had a different name.

There was no way for me to understand all of contemporary Russia, I thought, but perhaps I could get to know Kamchatka. The region is huge – the size of California – but self-contained. No roads connect it to the mainland. Most of its population lives in one city. Living in that isolated place for a while, I would be able to meet many people, hear their stories, collect the details that underpin convincing fiction. And beyond all of that reasoning, there was a romantic motivation: Kamchatka is very, very beautiful. Volcanoes and geysers. I wanted to go there because I loved what it looked like.

AM: Disappearing Earth breaks away from the ‘normal’ novel structure and instead tells the story through several smaller, unique anecdotes. What inspired you to array the novel in this way?

JP: This novel is the story of a group of people, a whole community affected by a single event, so I wanted to structure it in a way that drew out the connections between characters. Their shared experiences were just as crucial as their unique qualities in moving the plot forward. To me, the moral argument of the book is that we survive by coming together. In our most desperate moments, we save, and are saved by, each other. 

AM: What was the research process like for you to pen this story? Did you run into roadblocks along the way?

JP: I learned about Kamchatka from the US for two years, then spent a year living on the peninsula and gathering material for this book. After I returned to the US, I started writing the book; I went back to Kamchatka in 2015 with my first draft in hand in order to do more research and start filling in the things I’d missed. I kept revising the book with the help of peer writing workshops until 2017, when an agent, then an editor, took the manuscript on and edited it with me. There were certainly roadblocks along the way. The most substantial ones were always logistical: it costs a lot of money and time to get to Kamchatka from the US, so it took years for each trip to come together. In comparison to that geographic challenge, everything else felt relatively straightforward.

AM: Was there ever a point within writing the story that you considered scrapping your original idea and going in a completely different direction?

About - Julia Phillips
Photo: JuliaPhillipsWrites.com

JP: Hmm…I don’t think so. I worked on this project for ten years, so there were loads of times I felt discouraged, sad, and frustrated about it. But I don’t remember a moment where I felt so down on it that I seriously considered scrapping the whole thing. The project always compelled me even when I doubted my ability to pull it off.

AM: Several readers, including myself, have picked up on the tone of women’s issues and repression in your novel, particularly through the lens of sexism and homophobia. Why is it important to include these issues in your writing, and do you feel like the novel accurately depicts the scope of these issues in Russia?

JP: The theme of violence against women was essential to the project from the very start. This novel is structured polyphonically, with every chapter focused on a different woman’s point of view, because it is intended to explore the spectrum of harm in women’s lives—from the rare and highly publicized (an abduction by a stranger) to the mundane and hardly spoken about (a difficult doctor’s appointment, a social slight). I wrote Disappearing Earth to run the range of violence in contemporary womanhood, because I’m fascinated by how those hurts echo each other, overlap, and connect us. 

And that’s a great question about whether the novel accurately depicts women in Russia. I very much hope it is resonant with folks there, and I tried hard to make it reflect my perception of this particular place as much as possible, but everything in the book is coming through my American filter, and it is inevitably biased because of that. It’s an American work, an American point of view, created by someone American. It’s hard for me to gauge therefore whether it’s an accurate depiction of someone’s real-life Russianness.

AM: From your perspective, what is the importance of leaving the conclusion of Disappearing Earth purposefully vague? Have readers reached out to you and for more clarity in regards to what the ending means?

JP: I’ve been surprised and gratified to get to talk with lots of readers about their reactions to the book’s ending. It’s probably the most frequent topic that comes up in conversation with folks who have finished the book. That’s been a fantastic craft lesson for me, because I don’t see the novel’s conclusion as open-ended; to me, it is about a specific and concrete thing. So getting to learn from other people’s interpretations and reflect on my writing going forward has been a real gift.

AM: What was your reaction to the overwhelming success of Disappearing Earth?

JP: This is a really kind question. Really, every bit of the publication process for Disappearing Earth, from the book’s acquisition to its editing process to its release, blew my mind. The whole thing has been a dream come true.

AM: How would you feel if a studio approached you with interest in turning Disappearing Earth into a film? Could you see that potentially happening in the future?

JP: That’d be incredible! My fingers are crossed.

AM: What are your other hobbies and interests besides writing?

JP: Reading, for sure, and listening to loads of podcasts. Cooking, seeing friends, going for walks. Watching TV and movies, especially comedies. Reading DIY/decor blogs and fantasizing about restoring some gorgeous old house.


I wrote Disappearing Earth to run the range of violence in contemporary womanhood, because I’m fascinated by how those hurts echo each other, overlap, and connect us. “


AM: What is something you wish everybody/more people knew about you?

JP: Ha! To be honest, there isn’t anything I want everybody to know about me. I often get nervous about the bits of personal information that I’ve shared too casually in the past. 

AM: What are your general goals and aspirations for the future?

JP: I want to feel immersed in my writing, and challenged, stimulated, and pushed to grow by creative work. I want to support other writers and artists in sharing their works with the world. As I look forward, I hope to publish multiple books and tell stories that move their readers. And one day I’d love to have my own room to write in. With bookshelves on all the walls!

AM: Can we expect another novel from you in the future? And, if yes, will you stick with the mystery/thriller theme?

JP: Absolutely. I’m working on another novel now. I don’t know what themes will compel me far in the future, but for now, I love a mystery – I love a book that begins with a thrilling question and gives us some answer by the end.

AM: Lastly, what advice would you give to other young writers?

JP: I’d offer anyone interested in writing three pieces of advice: first, read as much as possible; second, write as much as possible; third, embed yourself in an artistic community. Through reading, you’ll learn so much about storytelling and craft. Books offer an education with no equivalent. And through regular writing, you’ll sharpen your skills, learning what works for you on the page and what doesn’t. The third piece of advice, community building, might be the most important. It’s so challenging and limiting to create art in a vacuum. Connect with the folks around you (whether in person or online), read and cheer on their work, participate in conversations around creativity, and get feedback from others on what you’re producing. In those ways, you’ll not only fuel your own growth but also help foster a world of stronger, better, more supported artists. ★

The World is Ours: A Conversation with Author Abby Elise

As a writer myself, I’ve always admired fellow authors and musers who incorporate real-life themes and struggles into their fictional stories. The World is Ours, the debut work by undergrad student Abby Elise, explores a young man’s journey to discovering and embracing his gay identity through heartbreak, mishap, and tons of self discovery along the way. Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Abby, who had much to say about books, queer advocacy, and her own journey of self-discovery.

The World is Ours: Elise, Abby: 9780359867370: Amazon.com: Books

Analog Magazine: How long have you been a writer and when did you realize that it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?

Abby Elise: I have always been fascinated by fiction and storytelling since I was child. I was in the fifth grade when I attempted my first novel just to see if writing stories was something I could possibly consider a career path. I kept at writing, attempting different genres, and in high school, I discovered it was something I wanted to pursue. I was writing all the time, doing research, and learning more about what path I should go down to be successful. It wasn’t until halfway through my second year of my undergraduate program that I decided I wanted to get a degree in creative writing and English, which I think was the best decision I could have made for myself.

AM: Who were your favorite authors growing up and how did they influence your style as a writer?

AE: I think the most influential authors of my youth were the ones I read in middle school, which is one of the biggest periods of transformation and growth anyone goes through generally. I think Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower were two of the more influential books I read during this time. Both of these authors, specifically citing the works of their I mentioned, use real-world struggles and themes through a young adult lens. These were some of my first experiences with YA fiction, which really sparked my love of reading. Divergent taught me that there is always a fight to be fought and that I can use fiction to do that and The Perks of Being a Wallflower was my first experience with queer characters and queer struggles in fiction, which was extremely eye-opening to me as a young writer.

AM: What other passions and hobbies are you interested in?

AE: I used to take music lessons throughout middle and high school, but I have lost a bit of that spark since moving onto college. I am also extremely passionate about activism and I do what I can to use my platform to promote change and to amplify the voices that need to be heard.

AM: What inspired you to write your debut novel, The World is Ours?

AE: I have been writing for a long time now and it took me years to write something that felt right to me. I spent a long time convinced that fiction had to feel distanced from me. Then, I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which weren’t my stories, but they felt close to me. I went to see Love, Simon in theaters twice, and when I was walking back to my dorm after the second time, I couldn’t help but thinking that I wanted to try writing a story that felt close to my own experiences. I ended up taking three major events from my own life at the time, created a boy named Riley, and wrote a story that felt authentic to me. It was a search for personal authenticity that inspired The World is Ours, which I found while writing it.

AM: How does queerness and the LGBT+ community lend itself to The World is Ours?

AE: The main character, Riley, is a questioning/closeted gay boy. Over the course of the novel, Riley goes on a major journey of self-discovery, which I worked hard to make it authentic to a general queer experience as much as I could. Riley experiences compulsory heterosexuality, internalized homophobia, heteronormativity, questioning, dating, heartbreak, coming out, being outed, homophobia, and learning how to accept himself over the course of the novel.

AM: What was the ultimate writing process like for you? Did you go through periods of ‘writer’s block’ while penning the story?

AE: The first time writing this story was the easiest writing has ever been for me. I had the full first draft complete after three months of writing it. I did zero planning or outline. I just had an end goal in mind and wrote every day until I got there. It was the most fun I ever had. I did experience some writer’s block because I had no real plan for the novel so there were a few stops, but nothing big enough to cause me trouble.

AM: How would you describe the feeling of finishing an entire book and watching it go out into the world?

AE: Finishing it was relieving and gratifying. I was proud of myself. Watching it go out into the world was scary. While I was excited to have the first book that felt authentic to me available to whoever, there was a sense of vulnerability with this one. Because of how close to home this book is for me, I was scared of how people would take that or how people would view me afterward. I try not to be specific about what parts, themes, and topics of this book I’m referring to when I say this book is personal because I would like for this book to be viewed as separate from me despite how close it is.

AM: What types of books are you interested in reading? Do you have a favorite book?

AE: I am most interested in reading young adult and new adult fiction novels that feature queer characters and their struggles. I try not to limit genre and I like to read books about queer people who have experiences different from mine, like transgender and nonbinary characters by trans and nonbinary writers and/or queer characters of color writter by queer authors of color. I like learning about different experiences through the lenses of these characters because I think it is important to have somewhat of an understanding of what other people have to face so I can be a better person and ally moving forward.

My favorite novel currently is Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. This novel helped me find my love of romantic comedies and my love of new adult fiction. I think it is well-crafted, well-written, and well-thought-out. It was fully entertaining from beginning to end and I learned a lot from it that I didn’t know before. This is the first book I list when people ask me for recommendations always.

AM: Have your friends and family been supportive of you along this journey?

AE: Very much so! My friends and family always help me out by advocating for me, sharing my posts, and buying copies from me. My friends have been endlessly supportive of me. They are always willing to read what I write, give feedback, or give me support when I need it. My sister, Meaghan, was consistently reading this project, providing feedback, and doing a bunch of work to help this book succeed.

I do worry that while everyone has been supportive of me and my publishing journey, I do not think they have all been supportive of the story itself. I had one member of my family try to convince me to have Riley go through all his questioning but find out he is straight in the end because they did not want me writing a happy ending for a gay character. This happened years ago and has lived with me since. While sexuality is fluid and people do question their sexuality just to realize they are straight, that is not Riley’s story. I will never write a straight character. Straight people have plenty of books to choose from where they can see themselves, they just won’t find themselves leading my books. I took this as a very clear sign that people only support the concept of me writing my books, not the actual books themselves.


“Because of how close to home this book is for me, I was scared of how people would take that or how people would view me afterward.”


AM: What is something you wish everybody knew about you?

AE: I listen to girl in red.

AM: Do you feel like you’re living a meaningful life?

AE: I do. Lately, the concept of life has been troubling me, and I realized that it is not because I’m afraid of death or because I have a desire to live, but I want to be alive and feel alive. It’s hard to feel like I am living a meaningful life while staying at home and social distancing, but in the grand scheme of things, I am living a meaningful life. In a year from now, I will have my undergraduate degree completed and I will be on track to my next step whatever it might be. What makes life meaningful is different for everyone. For me, it is hard work and dedication, which I hope I will see pay off one day. Either way, I believe I’m living a meaningful life.

AM: What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?

AE: Right now, I’m uncertain. I do intend on going directly into a graduate program after I graduate next year. It is hard to know exactly what the world is going to look like in a year from now with all that is going on. I don’t know what will be available to me then, but I do intend to work hard to find a career somewhere in the publishing industry.

AM: Do you have another book to publish in mind?

AE: I am currently working on a project that I am thoroughly excited about. I’m having a lot of fun working on it. I don’t know when it will be published, but I do intend on one day publishing it. I’m planning on taking my time with this one. The main character is a lesbian, which has made this story so much fun to tell. I’m looking forward to sharing it with people one day.

AM: Lastly, what advice do you have for other young writers?

AE: Don’t be afraid to tell the story that feels true to you and don’t let anyone tell you how to tell your story. It can be scary to tell an authentic story, but it is so gratifying. ★

 

You can keep up with Abby by following her on Instagram @abbyelisewrites

June is Pride month, but no one is proud

As a Bisexual woman, I have always loved pride month. I see it as a month full of support and camaraderie. I see that the entire world seems to be at peace. But I don’t see the pride this June. 

June has started off with hate, riots, and unnecessary death. You see some coming together in the name of Floyd, but you see others stirring the pot; using this tragedy to get out pent up anger. There’s war going on in our front yards. People are afraid to go outside. There is so much division this June, I have to ask how America got to this point. Contemplating this question, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of our problems have one central theme.

People. Don’t. Listen.

In our society, people listen to what they see on television or online. We think this gets us fully informed, but there is one problem with that. Media is greatly controlled by the majority. You hear what they want you to hear. It is biased

Instead of reading headlines, we need to start listening to personal stories. We need to start listening to the minority. People in the majority need to hear the minority’s problem.

White people need to listen to the struggles of Black people.

Straight and/or Cis people need to listen to the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Christians need to listen to the stories of other religions.

Nuro typical/able-bodied people need to listen to the hardships of people with disabilities.

Most importantly, the majority needs to acknowledge the issues of the minority and put aside their own feelings. When someone is airing their grievances, it does not mean that you have personally done something wrong. They are looking for an ally. Silently listen, and when they are done, ask how you can help, not what they can do to help you.

Fear and anger are caused by the unknown. We, the majority, need to work to make the unknown known.

Dear Neurotypical people…

Dear Neurotypical People,

This is a very unsure time in history. I know you are stressed. I know you are anxious, afraid of the uncertainties that lie ahead. You feel hopeless, useless like you have no control over what is happening around you. All of your feelings are extremely understandable and valid. Try to keep in mind, however, that this is feeling-pure anxiety, depression, and hopelessness- is what a lot of people feel every single day of their lives. People with mental illnesses are absorbed by this feeling. What you are feeling right now is their normal. If your anxiety has escalated due to the current circumstances, their anxiety has too. 

Our lives have changed. Our schedules are drastically different and, for you, this might be a great thing. You have that excuse to sleep in another hour. You get to stay in comfy clothes every day. You get the option to skip that shower (who cares, no one’s going to see me anyway!) These small luxuries that you are experiencing every day could be a nightmare for someone with a mental illness. Sometimes, they make it almost impossible to get out of bed. It can make you forget about hygiene (who cares, I want to be alone anyway.)  People with mental illnesses are not using this as an excuse to relax, their mental illnesses are using it as an excuse to break down everything that they have been building to keep them strong.

So please, reach out to those in your life who you know have mental diagnoses. Now, more than ever, they are going to need to be assured that they are not alone, because their illness is going to make them feel more alone than ever. They are going to need an extra shoulder to lean on. Be that shoulder. Ask them how they are. Let them know that you are there for them, even though it may not be physically. Make a point to tell them every day that you love them; that you care for their well being. Let them know how they make you happy. We are all working together to keep each other healthy, but that does not stop at physical health. Let’s all work together to ensure that the world stays distanced, not isolated.

Sincerely,

Your Friendly Depressed Neighbor

Meet Sam Bettencourt

Written by: Abi Brown

Sam Bettencourt, a senior in fashion design at Lasell University takes creativity to the next level. After studying abroad in London at the London College of Fashion, they realized corsets were their calling. Banksy once construed that “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.,” so one can only assume Bettencourt sees these pieces as a canvas. Their designs have elements of somber etched with beauty. They describe their style as,

 “Deconstructed elegance. It’s appalling but I try my best to make it… alluring.” While close friend Jackson Powell describes it as “…high fashion meets grunge.”

Sam Bettencourt

One of their professors, Lynn Blake, said they remind her of “A young Alexander McQueen or John Galliano come to mind when I think of Sam… by way of being razor-focused and completely dedicated to messages they sought to express.” Bettencourt was taught by designer and fashion icon, Mr. Pearl, while studying in London. From this experience, they’re able to create pieces in such an artistic way that they should be labeled as art. The craftsmanship, time, and labor that goes into making their collections is what deems their work worthy of such status; and this is what makes Bettencourt stand out. How do you capture your own pain and relay it to something everyone can connect to, in an alluring light? 

Bettencourt got their start in ‘corsetiering’ while studying abroad in London. It was in London where they met a couple of people who would later be labeled by Bettencourt as sources of inspiration and friendship. Under the wing of haute couture designer Mr Pearl, Bettencourt was exposed to the avant garde scene that is London. It gets its avant garde title because of its fashion scene that is inspired by the many designers that are from London, such as Alexander McQueen, another inspiration of Bettencourt’s.

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*not an original photo

If you know about the works of Alexander McQueen, you may know of fashion icon Isabella Blow. She was known for bringing highly skilled and under acknowledged designers to the top, McQueen and Mr. Pearl being two. Mr. Pearl is known for his work collaborations. Often times couture designers call in specialists, like Mr. Pearl, to make specific pieces for their collections. He has worked with designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi and Christian Lacroix to name a few.

With the help of Mr. Pearl, Bettencourt near mastered their skill. A friend they met studying abroad, Brianna Serio said “Sam was always in the lab very late until the next morning, working very hard, on multiple pieces at once.”Bettencourt did not always want to do design, in fact when applying to schools they “applied to 26 schools for music theory, and one for fashion design which was Lasell. I got into Lasell but not my top music schools…” They love the small community at Lasell and find it a lot more fun than being at a bigger school in New York City. 

For their final collection for the Senior Fashion Collection Show on May 2nd, Bettencourt is doing something personally healing for them. Recently in June of 2019, their grandmother, otherwise known as the “matriarch of the family” passed away. To pay tribute to their mother-figure, Bettencourt decided on their theme: Philosophy of the Threshold. They are focusing on two aspects of the threshold, “ the transformative threshold which is coming into contact with something that changes your perception of life so drastically that you become a different person afterward, it’s about what that journey is like.… And the second one, the pressure point threshold, which is basically the limit of ‘corsetry’ and what a body can take.” Bettencourt will present this with a garment that will test each model’s personal threshold by seeing how far they can cinch their bodies to “the height of their corset experience.”

After college, Bettencourt plans to either go back to London for graduate school, or take a teaching job at Lasell. The job was offered by professor and close friend, Lynn Blake. Bettencourt teaches a corset making workshop at Lasell, along with sewing construction courses, so they would continue teaching that curriculum. 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: How the Coronavirus is Affecting Colleges

row of books in shelf
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Naturally, I felt inclined to write about the infamous COVID-19 virus this week. In the past two or so weeks, all of my email inboxes have been papered with warnings and information about this unforeseen catastrophe, and how I, a student at a small, private university, can keep myself safe.

Living on the outskirts of Boston and attending college here, I have been able to see firsthand the potentially disastrous implications COVID-19 has plastered onto the city. The public transit is almost empty, the streets are alarmingly quiet, and the general atmosphere of my environment is a mixture of edginess and excitement. As potentially scary as a pandemic is, it is a fascinating time to be alive, wondering what will happen next as you scroll through your email and eye the alerts.

As of writing this, my school has not announced or hinted at a decision to close its doors and move online. If I had to pick a plausible outcome, I would say my university will probably extend spring break by a week or so, but probably not more than that.

(3/16 Update: Our spring break is extended by an additional week and all of our classes are now online. Students are still allowed to stay in the resident halls if they wish.) 

The risk is still relatively low for my area, and no one on my campus has tested positive for the virus. Here are all the ways the school closing down would affect students such as myself:

-Although this does not apply to me particularly, international students would be effectively screwed if my university decided to shut its doors. I know of several international students who have no other options at this point in time, especially on such short notice. 

-Students who rely on public transit, such as myself, would have a difficult time getting to our internships in Boston if we were asked to leave campus and resume classes online. Because I do marketing and social media work, I would probably be able to manage my internship online, but not everyone has that opportunity. 

-My university is well-known for its applied arts and fashion program, which basically exclusively requires students to stay on campus to utilize the materials and sewing machines. How can fashion students resume their work and build their collections online?

-Would I be refunded for room and board? Meal plans? Senior week payments?

These are just a few of the thoughts going through my head right now. As you can probably infer from the title of this article, however, I’m trying not to worry too much about these potential changes. I’m looking forward to posting an update on this situation down the line, as I believe my college is going to make a final announcement about the new course of action over the next couple of days. As I said, I believe the most extreme choice my college would choose to make would be to extend spring break by another week or two, due to the disruptive nature and implications of basically canceling the semester.

Of course, if the pandemic did reach a point where staying on campus would be an overwhelming safety concern, of course, I would be receptive to taking online courses for the rest of the semester. It would be inconvenient, of course, and a pretty meager ending to my senior year of college, but there isn’t really much I can do to control the situation. 

For the time being, remember to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, avoid large crowds, and cover your mouth when you cough! How is the coronavirus outbreak affecting your lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below.

Brain on Fire: Detaching from Trauma and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Over the last couple of years, I feel like I’ve gone through an enormous internal metamorphosis. Most days, I wake up brimming with positivity and gratitude, and sometimes even a sense of self-actualization. I truly do feel like I am the best version of myself that I can be, and even when I make mistakes, I try to be gentle and forgiving with myself.

I wasn’t always that way. Middle school and high school, the most formative years of my life, were turbulent and full of dark energy and negativity. I constantly found myself plagued with anger, confusion, self-doubt, self-deprecation, the sense that I was a bad/broken person, and a tendency to exhibit fawning behaviors (common with survivors of verbal and emotional abuse). I was extremely anxious and highly sensitive to loud noises, confrontation, and raised voices. If someone even criticized me a little bit, and particularly if they spoke loudly, my ears would begin to hum and vibrate. I shared several of my childhood memories with a therapist in high school, including the time I was dragged across the carpet and spanked as a child, screaming, and how similar memories tended to pop into my mind like uncomfortable flashbacks. I told her about my notable (but not alarming) social delays, my broken confidence, my damaged relationships, and my extreme discomfort with certain areas of my body. She swiftly summarized my case as C-PTSD, otherwise known as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD is commonly diagnosed in individuals who grew up experiencing repetitive, prolonged abuse, usually as a child. One of the most common experiences for young adults with C-PTSD is growing up with a parent who exhibits narcissistic tendencies, which is what my family agrees probably happened to me from my father. As a result of disconnecting from him, I went through a very mournful period of traumatic grief. 

What may be normal and surmountable to some children could be extremely difficult for others. Many kids grew up with unhappy childhoods and ended up fine, but for me, growing up afraid in my own household and dealing with anxiety through the roof, panic, and fight-or-flight sensations permanently altered my brain chemistry. As the therapist described it, my brain was “on fire,” constantly lit up with a life-or-death panic and ravenous will to survive.

There are still foggy patches in my brain, and sometimes, I lay awake and think, What happened to me? Most of the time, however, I put those worries to rest and allow the unknown to be unknown. At 20 years old, I still have several unrecovered memories that I choose to leave unearthed.

After I was put on a standard dose of escitalopram (which I continue to take to this day), entered college, and became estranged from my biological father, something surprising happened to me: I have seemingly recovered from my initial C-PTSD diagnosis.

This raises two questions. 1) Is it possible to recover completely from C-PTSD? Also, 2), did I ever actually have it? Do I simply have a ‘mild’ case of it? Am I just exceptionally lucky?

Honestly, I have no idea, and I almost don’t care to know. I do know that my trauma still impacts my life in several ways, but it’s not unmanageable and detrimental like it was a few years ago. It’s almost as if I’ve learned to love that part of myself and nurture it back into a state of healing. Additionally, as I emerge into adulthood, I feel like I have become very comfortable with self-regulating my emotions, particularly since I have such a strong support network now. 

I am a highly sensitive person. I still catch myself exhibiting fawning behaviors from time to time; particularly recently when I was going through a difficult period of anger and conflict with a close friend of mine. Rather than being angry, however, I am learning to self-soothe and forgive myself for the things I cannot control. I can truly say that I love myself and I’m enormously proud of the progress I have made.

When I feel my weakest, I remind myself that I am actually made of strength and perseverance. 

When my heart begins to cloud with fear, as it was a couple of weeks ago with my friend, I had a sudden moment of clarity and peace that enabled me to write this article in the first place: I am not a broken woman, I am not a bad person, and I am NOT going to push myself into a state of grief over privations when I can use this situation instead to love, forgive, and grow.

As I said, I wake up every day full of gratitude and fullness for the beauty of my life. I wish it were easier to put this feeling into words, but truly, I feel such a sense of clarity and excitement about the beauty and complexity of the world. Having gone through difficult things, kindness and compassion are even more present in my life than they ever were before, and I think that juxtaposition is a beautiful thing. Please don’t ever destroy yourself over things that are out of your control; forgive yourself for the cracks in your soul and learn to nurture those patches, too.

A Warrior with Words: Tiana Ferrell

“Being different isn’t a personal attack, it has no reflection on you. Different is just different: the way we look, the way we love, where we come from. That was Dr. King’s dream, to have us accept our differences as well as our commonalities.”

Perhaps as one of the most influential civil rights activists and journalists of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, Ida B. Wells is undeniably underrated. Being born into slavery and losing her family to the yellow fever epidemic in 1878, Ida certainly had several personal battles waged against her. However, this powerful woman went on to co-own the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper, document cases of lynching throughout the country, and even become a founding member of the NAACP. Later in her turbulent life, she married and had a family, while still continuing her journalistic work and her fight for freedom. 

For this feature, I had the honor and privilege of speaking to Tiana Ferell, the great-great granddaughter of Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Ferell, a prosperous writer and producer based in the Atlanta area, had plenty to say about her craft, her passions, and of course, her incredible ancestor.

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Analog Magazine: Tell us a little bit about your titles and roles, and what your day-to-day life entails.

Tiana Ferrell: I have so many! I run Tiana Ferrell productions, so we produce stage plays, we write content, and we do a lot of project management. That’s the bread and butter. On a day-to-day basis, I am writing, interviewing, and bringing projects to execution, if it’s a stage play or a screenplay. I also, of course, continue the family legacy of Miss Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Sometimes that includes partnerships with our Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation, or The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Mississippi. There’s always different projects going on. With continuing the legacy through my production company, I wrote and produced a stage play on the life of Ida B. Wells. It’s not her entire life, but the beginning stages. She was such a well-rounded person, and I wanted to share an unsung story because Ida is still new to history. We didn’t know about her until the 1970s when her daughter, Alfreda, published her autobiography. There’s still a lot of things we don’t know about Ida B. Wells. I wanted to share what ignited that fire in her, and the Ohio Railroad in Memphis through the ladies’ car incident. A lot of people don’t know about that story, and it’s one of those things that was swept under the rug, because we didn’t want to accept (we as in America), that African-Americans have rights. She won her case in court in Memphis, and we wanted everybody to know that. That was something kept secret that I wanted to bring to the forefront. 

AM: Where were you born and raised, and how did your upbringing affect your future goals?

TF: I was actually born in California. I moved to Atlanta when I was around six, and I moved around a couple places, like Memphis and Holly Springs, Mississippi at one point. However, I always came back to Atlanta and Atlanta is my home. My upbringing prepared me for the challenges that I would face. It made me stronger, knowing that I looked differently than some of my neighbors, and that once I got a certain age, I would be perceived as such. I was so naive growing up; I was the only black child in the school. But I thought that I was like everybody else, and when my family explained to me who Ida B. Wells was, I wasn’t impressed as a child. I just thought she was a dead relative, right? One day, when I became a teenager, I was in the store with my friends and someone looked at me like I was stealing, and I thought, “Wow, I am different. This is what they were trying to prepare me for.” I read Ida’s biography when I was a teenager, and at that moment, it kind of clicked. Like, “Wow, this is who we’ve been talking about at the dinner table!” Every time I complained about something minuscule, like “It’s cold outside,” I would think, “Do you think Ida B. Wells would be complaining that it’s cold outside?” So everything just came full-circle and made sense. I was very shy (I still am incredibly shy), and I think my upbringing definitely prepared me for things, because I always, even today, have to say, “Okay, what would Ida do? Why are you shy? Why are you nervous? Why are you uncomfortable?” I’m sure Ida B. Wells’ entire life was uncomfortable, and she made it through the discomfort, and you’re complaining about being shy- how trivial. Although the world still needs some work, I definitely have it easier because of Ida B. Wells.  

AM: What were your parents like?

TF: I am related to Ida B. Wells through my father’s side, and my father’s mother is Ida B. Wells’ granddaughter. My father always reminded me where I came from and why it’s important to give back. He encouraged me to go to Ida’s alma mater, Rust College, because I had no interest in doing that. I wanted to go to all of the well-known schools that everybody else is attracted to. They convinced me to channel Ida, and although I did not graduate from there because they didn’t have the curriculum I was looking for, I felt a connection to her when I was walking the streets and able to visit her parents’ resting place. I was able to feel the souls of my ancestors. I’ve always been reminded by my parents, especially my father, how important it is to continue the legacy. They always reminded me that it’s important because Ida B. Wells wasn’t known until her daughter published her biography. It was up to our family to ensure that the world knows how special she was.

AM: When did you start getting into activism/advocacy/writing?

TF: I would say my early twenties. Like I said, I struggle with my shyness, so it was definitely something I wanted to do when I was a teenager, but I just wasn’t ready to have the spotlight on me. It was definitely my early twenties- when the cause outweighed the shyness. Something needs to be done, something needs to be said, and I can’t keep waiting on someone else to say it. That was the tipping point for me; again, “What would Ida B. Wells do? She wouldn’t wait on the perfect scenario. She wouldn’t wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow’s not promised- we have to do it today. My grandmother encouraged me to do some things as well. She said, “I’m not gonna live forever, it’s time for you to take the torch. You have to be more involved.”

AM: At what age did you realize your great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, was a critical member of the civil rights movement?

TF: I would say my early teens. To see not only what she did, but to know that she was shut out because she was a woman. Even some of her friends, who respected her, left her out of their autobiographies. It’s just like, “Wow, she’s so ahead of her time.” It’s very impressive. 

AM: How would your family and friends describe you?

TF: Like I said, I am incredibly shy, but if I set my mind to do something, I’m going to see it through and I’m going to do it very well. There’s no half-stepping. They would also describe me as strong-headed and determined. I care about my community, probably more so than I do myself. I definitely want to make the world a better place for those who come after me. I’m also very organized- I am a Type A personality. My closet is color-coded! Lastly, I hope that they would say that I am nice. That’s what I want to be remembered for- just being kind. 

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AM: Have you ever experienced prejudice or sexism in your own life while striving for your professional goals?

TF: Definitely. Especially in civil rights organizations, a lot of men over-talk you or don’t take you seriously. When I pitched my play, I wasn’t able to get a lot of people on the line because I was a woman. I remember speaking to some of my partners who said, “We have to get a man on our team, because this is just the way it is sometimes.” Sexism is a big one, and racism. I remember I was at an event and I was called a racial slur. I walked past somebody and I heard it, but I just kept going. They didn’t realize that I was coming up to speak. After, that same person wanted to shake my hand and take a picture with me! Because, you know, now I’m different. I’m the token one, right? However, I never even said anything to that person; I just went on about my day. Sometimes I’m baffled and dumbfounded that it’s still going on. I think to myself, “Did that make you feel any better, saying that to me or somebody else? I’m still here, we’re still going on with our day.” 

AM: What type of journalism and digital media are you interested in, and how do you feel that has bettered you as a person?

TF: I kind of transitioned from journalism into storytelling. My goal now is to educate through the arts, because now, in a world where everything is at your fingertips, and our attention spans are so small, a lot of people don’t read anymore. How do I reach them? How I do I educate them? I do it through entertaining them; that’s my goal now, and that’s what I’m working towards. The arts are so important. Before a child can talk, they sing. Before they can write, they draw.

AM: What topics do you enjoy pursuing in your writing?

TF: Definitely activism, and I like to explore historical topics. I also just like to tell true stories, because there are so many things that happen in our lives that we can piece together. Not only is there a story, there’s always a teaching element to it

AM: Can you tell us, in turn, what Ida B Wells’ journalism career meant to you in regards to carrying on her legacy?

TF: I think now I’ve accepted that it’s in my DNA and it is my destiny. For years, I was told that I was a good writer, but I didn’t enjoy it so I sort of ran from it. When I was in high school, my teachers told me that my writing was awesome. When I got to Rust College, where Ida attended, my English professor told us on the first day of class that she doesn’t give out 100s because there’s no such thing as a perfect paper. You miss a comma, you miss a period, or something like that. We had this big paper due, and she gave us a few weeks to do it, but of course I procrastinated and did it the night before. I received a 100 on it, and she said it was impeccable. At that time, I didn’t know what “impeccable” meant, so I went to go look it up and said, “Wow, it means flawless.” And at first, being a teenager, I thought, “Ha ha, I thought you didn’t give 100s!” She pulled me to the side and said, “Tiana, you are phenomenal. I have never given out a 100. There was not one error in your paper.” But again, I kind of blew it off. I can’t remember the day I accepted that I had a gift as a writer. That wasn’t me trying to chase Ida, but I learned that you can’t outrun destiny. I should have been writing since college, but I took a detour. 

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AM: What modern pressings issues do you see in American society that deserve more attention and activism?

TF: Definitely equal rights for women. That’s something we hear brought up frequently because it’s still going on. You’d think that we wouldn’t be talking about this anymore, but when it comes to fair wage and feeling safe, not getting catcalled or sexually harassed, and things of that nature, we still have work to do. I also think that LGBTQ rights definitely needs more attention. I think we definitely need more education on love; it just goes back to that old saying that we’re afraid of what we don’t know and what we don’t understand. It makes us act foolish at times because we think being different is “bad.” Being different isn’t a personal attack, it has no reflection on you. Different is just different: the way we look, the way we love, where we come from. That was Dr. King’s dream, to have us accept our differences as well as our commonalities. I think that’s something that needs to be reminded to us- that all of our issues may not seem that big. I moved to Holly Springs a few years ago to try to go back to work and help my community. I wasn’t embraced by everybody there- just because I’m from a big city, I’m different. A lot of people weren’t okay with that. 

AM: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far in life?

TF: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice. And storms don’t last forever. 

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AM: What are your aspirations for the future?
TF: I am working on a couple of movie scripts right now, so hopefully I can have those done by the end of the year. And again, I just want to share with the world about Ida, whether that’s through the stage play or another medium. 

AM: What advice do you have for other young writers, PR professionals, and college students interested in going down a similar path?

TF: Get as much exposure as you can, whether it’s an internship or from your professor. I was the girl who sat after class for as long as my professor would allow me to. I fell in love with PR during an internship for my masters program, because again, I was a good writer. Just because I did that internship, I realized PR was something I was good at. If you’re doing a press release, make sure you get to the point as quickly as possible. When you’re emailing it out, you have to make sure you come up with a good subject line as well. When it comes to gaining exposure for your clients, you have to make connections. A lot of people call themselves PR professionals, but they don’t have a contact at the local radio station. You have to have those connections so you can call someone and say “Hey, Tiana, I really need you to cover this,” because your clients expect you to have some sort of coverage. When it comes to other areas, rather than just saying “network,” I would say use your network. That was something I had to discover. I was like, “Wow, I know a lot of people, but I’m afraid to ask for certain things. Use your network and say ‘Hey, do you have a couple of minutes?’ Or, ‘Do you happen to have the phone number of this person?’. Use your network! When it comes to writing, or whatever your craft is, just hone in on it. There’s no getting around it; you have to practice and you have to educate yourself. Now, I’m constantly taking different writing classes. When I decided that I wanted to write a play, I took a playwriting class at MIT. You always have to continue your education; that’s very important. Any professional organization, such as attorneys, need their education credits every year. It’s no different for writers or anybody else. Continue your education so you can stay on the forefront. What you put into it, you’re going to get out of it. If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to be patient. We want everything to happen yesterday. Now, I see that everything that did happen was moving me in the direction that I was supposed to go. We sometimes get down on ourselves, but the universe is moving us in the direction that we are supposed to take. ★

Cheers Queers: Chit-chatting with Mercedes Benzover

“The best thing about being a drag performer is being able to show the world a side of you that you’re not usually able to show.”

Not everyone can say they went to college with a fabulous drag queen, but I am lucky enough to say I have that experience. I met Dylan, also known by his drag persona, Mercedes Benzover, at my university’s pride club this past year. Not only is he extremely funny and animated, but he also has a kind heart and a loving personality that I immediately admired. I knew I wanted to interview him when I saw him perform live at a campus event, which absolutely blew me away. Some people are just born with strong stage energy and charisma, and trust me when I say Dylan has it. He describes himself the same way many other people describe him: outgoing, fun, and independent. “And crazy,” he adds.

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Like many young people, Dylan started getting into the art of drag after watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in high school. From there, he began getting into makeup and the intricate craft of drag culture, which ultimately led him to create his drag persona, Mercedes Benzover. “I came up with this name by putting two of my favorite cars together, Mercedes Benz and Range Rover,” Dylan says in regards to how he crafted the name. And, of course, it offers quite the laugh when spoken aloud.

The turning point for Dylan came during his senior year of high school, during which he decided to show up to the Thanksgiving Rally in drag attire. “I decided to not care about what people were going to think about me, and I put on a pair of heels from Savers and a grey wig,” Dylan says about that day, “I walked into the gym and felt so powerful. People ended up coming up to me and letting me know how proud they were of me.”

From there, Dylan’s confidence in his abilities as a drag queen only flourished. This past September, he performed in his very first drag show and sang “Sorry Not Sorry” as his first number. He recalls how beautiful it felt to perform in front of many people, even despite a potential mishap. “I remember my wig almost falling off when I tried whipping it around,” he says with a laugh.

However, things haven’t always been easy for Dylan, especially in the face of unsupportive parents. Dylan hid his interest in drag for the first two years of practicing it and resorted to watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in his basement. When his parents finally discovered his passion, he says that they treated it with disgust.

“They didn’t find out I was doing drag until about 2-3 years ago through a photo on my social media,” Dylan says, “My mom is kinda on the fence that she doesn’t care, but she does. The big thing is that she wants me to have a ‘real job’.”

Sadly, Dylan’s story of rejection from his parents isn’t uncommon for LGBT+ youth. Gay, bisexual, and transgender children have been shown to have significantly higher rates of mental illness and depression, usually as a result of disapproval and shame from their families (NCBI). However, Dylan tries his best to stay positive in the face of prejudice and hate and instead focuses on all the wonderful aspects of his craft. “The best thing about being a drag performer is being able to show the world/your audience a side of you that you’re not usually able to show,” Dylan says in regards to the best aspects of drag. If he had to pick the worst aspect, he says it would be the lack of acceptance around the art.

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Over the past few years, Dylan has built up a unique and stunning drag image for himself. He cites bougie girls, Sasha Velour, Chanel, and really “anything rich” as his inspiration for his hair, makeup, and fashion. Beyond that, however, Dylan says he can draw inspiration from almost anything. Besides performing drag arts, his other hobbies include watching YouTube videos, hanging out with his friends, and playing around with makeup and fashion. As a fashion design major, a large majority of Dylan’s time is spent in the sewing room designing new, exciting looks. “I believe college has opened my mind to so many things- personally and professionally,” Dylan says about his college experience thus far, “Ever since starting college, I’ve felt more open about many things and have become more independent. I truly think I’m living a meaningful life.”

In the future, Dylan aspires to continue his drag career and hopefully build a bigger name for himself. He wants to start his own fashion company, for which he would craft both special occasion dresses and custom drag pieces. Ultimately, Dylan wants to be happy, content, and continue to live his life to the fullest. Before we end the interview, Dylan has a piece of advice for other LGBT+ youth trying to make a name for themselves in the world: “There will be hard times and people might not respect you, but don’t care what other people think about you, and live life the way YOU want to live it. It’s your life, nobody else’s. I’ve learned that sometimes in your life there will be hard obstacles, but you’ll get through it, do better things, and help others.”

It’s always such an honor to sit down and interview artists for Analog, but Dylan is especially such a treat. His energy and his humor is so vibrant and inviting, it’s hard not to be immediately drawn to him. If you’d like to learn more about Dylan “Mercedes Benzover,” you can find him on Instagram @dylan_alves123. All the best in the future, Dylan!

Statistic source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5127283/