Skin Deep

We just wanted you to know how much we love and appreciate you! Thank you for everything you do for us. -)

Story By: Madeline Baker

I’ve had acne for as long as I can remember. Seriously, the combination of my parents’ genes was just not conducive to clear skin. In kindergarten, one of my fellow classmates asked me why I had so many ant bites on my forehead. I was confused because 1) I definitely would know if ants had bitten me on my forehead and I could not recall this happening, and 2) what did she mean? What was wrong with my forehead? In kindergarten my skin wasn’t bad at all. I had a few really small blemishes but that was probably from running around and sweating all the time. I never washed my face either, so I couldn’t tell you how dirty my skin was at that point. It wasn’t until around 4th or 5th grade that my skin really became a problem. I had full on breakouts that covered my face. They weren’t deep or painful, and I wouldn’t say I had chronic acne, but it was obvious that they weren’t going to go away anytime soon. I was never really teased for my skin, but it certainly felt like I was the only one with this problem. I was washing my face with Neutrogena before I was wearing a sports bra. I bought my first tube of concealer, a color way too orange for my own skin tone, before I was even allowed to stay up past 10pm. I was embarrassed, and no one in my class could relate to the same struggle (or so I thought?).

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The Black Column: Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter


Story By: Taylor Lamb

Recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Nigerian author and feminist, said some pretty off base things about transgender women. I thought about addressing these comments, but I don’t think we need to give her any more attention. Besides, black trans women have already addressed them better than I ever could. Instead, I’d rather take the time to focus on the people who deserve it. Trans women. Specifically, black trans women, and the seven of them who were murdered in just the first three months of this year.

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Mesha Caldwell was a 41-year-old makeup artist living in Mississippi, beloved by her community. 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with 26
known transgender people (the majority of them women of color) murdered. So when Mesha Caldwell was found after being shot to death onScreen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.42.51 PM only the third day of the year, it was a very sad reminder of the terrible burdens trans women are forced to bear. Very well known in her community, Mesha “never met
a stranger” according to her neighbors. She was also known for her beauty and style. Community members admired that no matter what she put on, “It looked good on her.” Commenters on her Facebook page hope that she will “Rest in peace and power.” Mesha Caldwell was the first transgender woman to be murdered in 2017.

Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell.

Say her name.

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A Journey Through Meditation, by Pinky Hossain

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Story By: Pinky Hossain

There are four of us in the room including our meditation guide. He sits straight, a relaxed gleam in his eye. It’s not my first time meditating, but already I can tell that the session will be different. Not bad or good – just different. Earlier that day, we have a conversation about silence in one of my classes. We talk about silence as transcendence, silence as a reprieve, silence as a tool to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Before we begin the session, I can feel the silence pressing down on my ears, and I wonder if the silence is so outstandingly present that the Sufi masters had to look toward a greater being to escape such oppressiveness. Thankfully, the air conditioner whirs softly in the background. My heart thumps two beats faster than it had before, and I don’t know why.

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Who Has the Right to Clean Drinking Water?

When does clean water become a privilege rather than a right-

Story By: Madeline Baker

About a month ago, in the midst of the chaos of exams and three days before I was scheduled to go home, my mother sent me a text that read “No clean drinking water here, not sure when it will be resolved.” I wasn’t really surprised by this message, as contaminated drinking water isn’t out of the ordinary where I live. Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was born and raised, sits on the coastal part of the state, and is littered with refineries as you move inland. My hometown had undergone water boil advisories in the past, mostly due to an excess of chlorine in the water or something related to the pH levels. After reading my mom’s text, however, I decided to dig a little further and see what the issue was this time. The first result of my Google search was an article on “NPR,” I thought, “shit just got real.” This wasn’t just another water boil advisory, this was a complete ban on tap water for the entire 300,000 residents of Corpus Christi. The city council warned everyone not to drink, shower, cook, or wash dishes using the tap water. The contaminant in the water was more potent and harmful than anything that could simply be boiled out of the water.

I kept my eye on the situation over the next few days. I wanted to know what had contaminated our water and who was responsible for such a catastrophe. It was soon revealed that a man-made chemical called Indulin AA-86 had contaminated the water. Our local news channel described it as “an asphalt emulsifier that is corrosive to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract and can cause damage to internal organs.” Investigators eventually determined that the source of the issue was a leaking backwater drainage system of a refinery owned by the Texas oil and gas giant, Valero. As I mentioned before, Corpus Christi is teeming with privately owned refineries, some located very close to less-developed residential areas of the city. Despite the city being left without clean drinking water for a total of five days and households spending close to hundreds of dollars each in bottled water, Corpus Christi never took legal action against Valero. To do so would have cost the city a huge portion of the revenue it makes from Valero’s property taxes, and Valero would have threatened to end its business relationship with the city. Essentially, the health of Corpus Christi’s residents came second to big business.

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The Life and Times of the Socially Anxious


Story By: Lily Patterson

You’re at a party. You’re laughing, probably holding a cup of something, or using those hands to wave high in the air, dancing, or grabbing a friend around the shoulders, drawing them into a tight hug. You’re physically there, your feet are firmly planted on the ground,your face branded with a wide grin, elastically stretching and contracting to produce laughs and words. But you feel entirely absent, as though you’re plastered to the ceiling, looking down on your autonomous body down below.

On the surface, anxiety disorders, but specifically, social anxiety disorder, work quietly and maliciously. They’re specters, just like many mental health issues. Social anxiety is not to be confused with shyness, or being a homebody, or even being a so-called introvert. Of course, these qualities can inform and reinforce social anxiety, but they are not one in the same. And, surprise, surprise – although you might have guessed due to this article’s publication in Iris, a female-centric publication – anxiety affects women disproportionately. From adolescence to late middle age, women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder as men.

Social anxiety involves excessive, deep-seated fears and compulsive behaviors stemming from one’s relationship and interactions with other people. Cases can range from mild to severe, and resulting thought patterns, emotional and behavioral responses can similarly figure across a broad spectrum. Someone with social anxiety might be entirely avoidant of all social situations and interpersonal relationships. Or, they might experience mental compulsions, forcing them to take part in all social activities possible, and to concede any and all demands, requests, and opinions of others for fear of ostracization. And these are just two paths this breed of anxiety can take.

Here’s a scenario to help explicate: imagine you’re walking out of the library. You pass a friend, who’s walking through the doors, mid-conversation with someone else. You say “Hey, how’re you?” and they look back, caught off-guard, and respond with “Oh, hey Lily,” and continue to walk. What’s your assumption? Likely, that they were busy chatting with their friend, and, moreover, happened to be walking through the door to the library next to another person, which is an awkward maneuver in itself. Easy enough, right?

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The Wing


Credit: Edith Young for Architectural Digest (

Story By: Lilly Patterson

This October, a new kind of clubhouse opened on New York’s East 20th Street. The space offers up a cafe and comfortable workspaces; a meticulously curated library; a locker room (more aptly named a ‘beauty room’) that defies its sweat and grime-ridden namesake; and most important, the buzzing of women intent on redefining the world both around and far beyond them.

The Wing – co-founded by former PR powerhouse Audrey Gelman and business development maven Lauren Kassan – provides a home base for women on the up-and-up to collaborate, communicate, and forge friendships and alliances. Members include actress and writer Lena Dunham, rapper Remy Ma, J.Crew president Jenna Lyons, and Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine, among many other notables. Though the concept is inspired by women’s clubs of the early 1900s, it’s clear there is nothing antiquated about the necessity of this sort of female coalition to combat the male-centric world outside its doors. Here I pose a few questions to Audrey and artistically-inclined member, Edith Young. We discussed their college-to-real-world trajectory, what membership and leadership at The Wing means to them, and their advice for all young women, no matter the path they’re on.


Credit: Edith Young for Observer (

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