Modern Medusa

From the start of this year, I was confident and excited to see what I could accomplish each month. The first three months of this year have been nothing but turmoil and self-hate. My self-esteem plummeted ,and it feels like I'm in middle school again. I avoid mirrors and selfies. If I accidentally catch my reflection, I can't stop looking at myself. My face starts to burn and tears form in my eyes. I can't stop staring at the stranger in the mirror.

I spend so many nights going from picture to picture, profile to profile, obsessively comparing everything about myself to others, from the number I see on the scale to how my teeth look. Every time I leave the house, the only thing on my mind is, “I hope no one sees how hideous I look today."

Whenever I'm at work I can only think about how gross I look to everyone. I cry myself to sleep because I cannot stand to live in this body I hate and the mind I ruined. I'm not good enough for myself.

I've changed for sure, but not for the better.

By Blair Moore

Uncast Shadow of a Doubt

In Uncast Shadow of a Doubt, I juxtapose scans of fortunes with images of contradictory scenes. My goal in this piece was to portray doubts and anxieties about the future. I’ve been collecting these fortunes from my friends’ high school lunches for a few weeks, and I feel that it is ironic that these false prophecies materialized from a place where you determine the path of your future. Fortunes are often viewed as meaningless, holding no weight in reality, while your achievements in high school are seen by many as quite the opposite. The more fortunes I gathered, the more and more duplicates I received. Initially, I began to throw them out. However, I came to realize that the repeated fortunes symbolized the doubt I feel about my own future. The duplicates only added to the illegitimacy of the futures written on the fortunes, which I aligned with the feelings of fictitiousness towards my own dreams. To show this doubt, I placed images of the fates written on the fortunes not being achieved: a ghost having died without living them. This ghost is stuck in the past, as evidenced by the western scenery. A sense of irony is present in all of the photographs, as the bright Comic Sans fortunes laden with series of lucky numbers contrast with the sullen, shadowy scenes of a forlorn, haunted figure.

By Kathryn Zix


Today she is different.
Different than the rest, 
different than yesterday,
But that's alright—
she knows in her heart
that tomorrow,
she will be better than today. 

The poem serves to emphasize how we grow and change over time. One month from now, we might be very different from our current selves. It all lies in our decisions. I painted an arm between leaves that are going upwards to demonstrate the idea that we grow—maybe not as visibly as plants, but we grow and develop. 

By Laura Oyuela

Girls in Graphics

Throughout history, the female form has been a prominent topic of discussion. With the likes of starlets such as Marilyn Monroe, women have been taught to wear clothing that accentuates their curves. Women have even gone as far as wearing garments that physically change their bodies (such as corsets) to fit society’s warped view of the desirable woman. The new age of women is subverting this dated perception of femininity by opting for oversized and exaggerated forms of clothing similar to that of men, often ditching figure-hugging dresses for comfy streetwear. This does not make them any less feminine but redefines what it means to dress as a woman. 

By Danielle Ingles

Self-Love: A Constant Evolution

Photos by Allison Barr
Modeled by Xain Angeline 
Styled by Mary Thomas

These photos were also published in MIM Magazine.

Moving Forward

The last couple of years have brought me endless self-discovery and personal growth. I finished high school, and I am now in my second year of university. I lost friends and made new ones. I became so much closer to those who have stuck by my side. I had to start navigating the world as an adult and enter the creative industry. I had to balance my mental health and well-being, along with every other aspect of my life. There are bad days when everything gets out of hand and my anxiety gets the better of me—but I have grown so much as a person and adopted new ways of seeing myself and the world. I have my own opinions about what is important, and the values that are important to me are kept close to my heart. I have grown and I will continue to grow. This growth is infinite.

By Georgia Dawson

Polychromatic Feelings

These are pictures of my best friend, Kaylee. I’ve known her practically since birth, and I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in my life. She’s seen every side of me and has been next to me holding my hand regardless of the situation. We’re both finding out who we are and have come such a long way from who we used to be. It’s the most beautiful thing to watch and experience. With this shoot, I wanted to capture the colors and love she brings into my world every single day. 

By Scarlett Hennessey

Soft Men

I created this project to reflect upon how men are traditionally captured in art. In all mediums, cis men are mainly portrayed as hypermasculine while cis women are portrayed more consistently as delicate objects of pleasure. While I hope to challenge this representation in my artwork, I find it necessary to take into consideration this context and the reality of societal gender roles. I photographed these two friends and tried to display the affection and vulnerability that goes into friendship but is hardly ever displayed in male relationships. I feel strongly that men (and all people) should be able to display affection for one another without being labeled as "gay", because this notion perpetuates homosexuality as wrong and gross. The stigma against soft men and vulnerable relationships between men is caused by homophobia. I believe that artists and all people have the duty of not playing into gender roles that promote this stigma which feeds into the cycle of toxic masculinity.

By Kaya Nieves

The Overwhelming Feeling of Not Being Latina Enough

All of my life, family members have called me the “gringa” of the family. I didn’t like traditional Mexican food, didn’t listen to Spanish songs (unless my mom had control of the radio), and most of all, my ability to speak Spanish was quickly fading. Don’t get me wrong, I could still understand Spanish completelybut whenever I tried to speak it myself, my mind went blank and it felt as though I was trying to communicate using only tongue twisters. 

Being born and raised in a small, predominantly white town in Texas, I had to learn English, putting Spanish, my first language, to the side. The only remnants of the language in my life were found in my family members, my mom’s favorite telenovelas, and Selena Quintanilla, the Queen of Tejano music. I remember my mom having all of Selena’s albums, which I would play on repeat until they were scratched beyond repair. And when I moved to another small town, I remember teaching my classmates Selena’s iconic dance moves, giggling and laughing with Latina pride. But as I grew up, going into my high school years, it became harder to speak the Spanish language and I became more self-conscious about whether or not I was Latina enough. I was teased for sounding like a “gringa” when I spoke Spanish and being the “whitest Mexican” you’d ever meet (seriously, a teacher's nickname for me in school was “White Mexican”). It didn’t help that there was little to no Latino representation in Hollywood; growing up, I dreamed of being a Disney princess but was disappointed that none looked like me. 

And then, Jane the Virgin came out on CW. It's an American telenovela about a woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated while on a routine clinic check-up, throwing her and her Latin family into a frenzy. Gina Rodriguez, who plays Jane on the show, did an interview with Huffington Post Live in 2015 in which, funnily enough, she talked about going through the same overwhelming feeling that I was having about not being Latina enough. The interviewer asked, “Do you need to speak the language fluently in order to be proud of your heritage?” Rodriguez went on to say that the Latino community has 50 or so countries varying in different languages, cultures, slang, and cultural garb, and that putting them in all in a box and expecting us all to be the same is “limiting.”  She states, “I’m as Latina as they come, and I am not defined by anybody's definition of Latina.” 

Mexican-Americans live in a world where there’s a tug-of-war between two cultures, and they aren't seen as good enough in either. They’re too American for the Mexicans and too Mexican for the Americans, to the point where one has self-doubts about who they are as a person. And what Gina Rodriguez said is something that not only reassured me but made me realize that your verification of being 'Latino enough' has nothing to do with whether or not you speak that language but knowing who you are, where you came from, and being proud of that. 

By Blanca Reyes 

The Truth About Choosing a College

College-acceptance season is incredibly stressful. From start to finish, from applying to committing to a school, people are encouraging you to do your research, follow your heart, take risks, and go to a school that will benefit you. You get a lot of advice from a lot of different people. But not one of those people ever really tells you that after all of that planning and visiting and research, you might still make the wrong choice. Or you might change your mind. At least, no one ever told me that. When I was applying to college, it seemed like the end-all-be-all of the situation. I felt an enormous amount of pressure to be in love with the school I chose the way everyone else was. I wanted to be excited and have pride for the school I committed too, but I still felt worried. What if I made the wrong choice? What if it was nothing like the brochures said? All of these ‘what if” scenarios ran through my mind. I had dreamed of going to college for so long. I used to dream of what it would be like to be on campus by myself and study in the common area with my friends, to stay out late and be able to roll out of bed and get to class in two minutes. I dreamed of being in love with my college and never wanting to leave. I never entertained the possibility that it might not be what I hoped it would be. 

Upon arriving to the private four-year college two hours away from my home, I felt nervous. Despite having met all the criteria I wanted in a school, I still wasn’t sure. I feared that I'd sold myself short, that I didn’t try hard enough to get into what society deemed a “better” school, and that I had made the wrong decision coming here. Like anything else, quitting while you’re ahead does you more of an injustice than just seeing what happens, so I stuck around. The first year of college was incredibly difficult for me because it seemed like everyone was in love with their colleges. It seemed like everyone else was having the time of their lives, and I was just there. 

Truthfully, I was heartbroken that college was not at all what I expected it to be like. Most of the time I felt scared and alone. I was afraid I would disappoint my parents for wanting to leave and I didn’t want to give up, but I felt so unhappy being in a place where I knew I didn’t belong. Fear hinders any learning experience. I had to get out of there. Throughout the entire process, no one had ever told me that it was okay to feel scared or that it was okay to make wrong decisions. There’s a lot of pressure to make it to the end of college, to get good grades and get your degree and move on. There is little focus on being in college, on what kind of learning environment you want or if you even want one at all. There is a lot about customizing your experience in college that no Common Application, SAT tutor, college brochure, or AP exam ever prepared me for. Unfortunately, these aren’t even things that anyone can really tell you. You can answer all the questions about what “kind” of college you want to go to, but none of the answers will ever tell you what it feels like to be there. Thankfully, that’s okay. You don’t have to know right away. Making a decision is a good step. Though I was unhappy at my first college, I often look back and feel grateful. The decision to leave this college and take time off to find another school to go to was one of the biggest decisions I had ever made, and the first big decision I had ever made on my own. Had I not went there, I may have spent my life wondering what that would have been like. I would have never known that dorming and going to school in a rural setting wasn’t for me. I’m glad I got to experience that. But, I’m also grateful that I realized I wanted and needed something different and developed the courage to act on it. 

The most important part about choosing a college is making the first initial step to choose one. Follow your heart and your gut, and remember that there is a possibility that it may not work out. It is completely okay if it doesn’t. More and more students each year take time off from school to reevaluate their situations. College (and higher education in general) is incredibly expensive, and it is very important that you’re confident in the decisions you’re making. They will be messy, scary, and hard to make. But they are absolutely worth it. 

By Elysa Rivera

BLOOM: A March Playlist

Hey there, Lithium readers! 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m on spring break right now, and I truly don’t think I’ve ever needed a break more in my LIFE. Everything has been so crazy busy lately, and with our current political climate being the way it is, I often find myself feeling totally, completely exhausted by life itself. Also drained. Sometimes helpless.

That being said, I decided to use this month’s theme as inspiration for a playlist that’s all about growth. I enlisted the help of the Lithium team and created a playlist full of songs that inspire us, uplift us, and help us shake off those pesky winter blues. 

"Fight Song" – Rachel Platten
“This song came out right around the time I started seeking treatment for anorexia. In the song Platten sings about taking back her life, and it made me feel like I could fight off anything the world threw at me; it was MY life.”
-Rachel Pfeffer

"Chanel" – Frank Ocean
“It reminds me of one of the most inspiring, [carefree people] I knew. "Chanel" is one of the songs that makes me feel relaxed and [know] that my future will be okay.”
-Amelia Dogan

"Wonderful" – Gary Go
“The song is a bit older, but I rediscovered it recently when I was going through one of the worst anxiety/depression spells I had ever experienced. There weren't any metaphors or lyrics to decipher; it was very straightforward and became a mantra for me. I always feel like I radiate sunshine when I listen to this song.”
-Elysa Rivera

"Yes I’m Changing" – Tame Impala
“'Yes I'm Changing' by Tame Impala was the first one that came to my mind.  I listened to this song so much when I first started college to remind that change is a good thing.”
-Allison Barr

"Sweet Disaster" – Dreamers
“This song reminds me of when I started hanging out by myself, but [it's] also the song my new college friends and I scream to in the car.”
-Allison Barr

"Glenn the Dawg" – Cherry Glazerr 
“I listened to a lot [of music] when I was going through a heartbreak. It normalized the pain I felt while simultaneously helping me realize I was more than how I was treated.”
-Allison Barr

"Where Have You Been My Disco" 
 IV of Spades 
"Hey Barbara"  IV of Spades 
“I discovered this Filipino band recently and truly believe I discovered a gem. Whenever I listen to these songs, they make me want to just dance everything away. I rarely listen to upbeat songs, but IV of Spades got me real good. They're so great and their music videos are extremely aesthetically pleasing too. They deserve more recognition, honestly!”
-Sam Fabian

“Although it’s just an instrumental track, it has such an atmospheric, relaxed sound that I really vibe with when I’m feeling low. It’s also got the sound of wind chimes and some epic synths that really reflect and highlight the beauty of nature in a really unique way, and reminds me of the ocean on a warm spring day. Every time I listen to it, I get chills and am filled with images of growth and change!”
-Ethan Welsh

"Screen" – Twenty One Pilots
“I will always stand by the fact that I think Vessel by Twenty One Pilots is a perfect album. Say what you will about “Stressed Out” being overplayed or the band selling out, but I still think that Vessel is a completely, undeniably good album. From beginning to end. This was the album that made me fall in love with this band. It got me through a lot, and even today I still get chills when I listen to this song and it gets to the bridge. We’re broken people. Indeed we are. But we’re not alone.”
-Charlotte Smith

"Come On Eileen" – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
“I dare you to feel sad while listening to this song. I dare you.”
-Charlotte Smith

Check out the playlist here and feel free to add your own songs!

By Charlotte Smith