• CHAOS AS BEAUTY out now!

    CHAOS AS BEAUTY out now!

    Read Chaos as Beauty below!

  • Kayla’s Style Predictions for 2022

    Kayla’s Style Predictions for 2022

    Our Head of Styling, Kayla Edwards, predicts four trends you will see in the New Year.

    @vrntmagazine

    Will these be 2022’s most popular trends? Let us know what you think in the comments! #style #trend #prediction Made by: Kayle Edwards

    ♬ original sound – vrntmagazine

    1. Catsuits

    2. Sequins

    3. Miniskirts

    4. Low-rise pants

  • 2021 Through Our Lens

    2021 Through Our Lens

    VARIANT captured behind the scenes moments through disposable cameras during the Fall 2021 semester.

    Head of Styling, Kayla Edwards
    Behind the scenes at the Local Architecture shoot for the Patterns issue
    Evie Sears and Naila Latham at our North End social
    Model Jack Wilburn applying makeup before the Patterns of Historic Movements photoshoot.
    Reebha Chetty at our North End social
    Jack Wilburn and Adelina Miller on set
    Cheri Marshall applies makeup to model Isabella Lasneski.
    Behind the scenes of our Patterns of Historic Movements photoshoot
    Kayla Edwards, Emilie Burch, and Hannah Mazanec pose for a shot.
    Jordan Schmitt works on a sign for the Patterns of Historic Movements reading: “Screw Sexists.”
    Jonai Spates applying makeup on model Destiny Reynolds.
    Behind the scenes at the FACES collaboration photoshoot
    Models of our Patterns of Historic Movements photoshoot pose and yell for a shot.
    Head of Public Relations, Emilie Burch
    Executive Board members at the North End social
    Makeup artists prepare models for the FACES collaboration shoot.
    Members enjoy the North End social.
    Ky Rodriguez prepares a protest sign for the Patterns of Historic Movements photoshoot.
    Jack Wilburn and Adeline Miller on set
    Members enjoy the North End social
    Hannah Mazanec and Kayla Edwards
    Jordan Schmitt and Ellie Roberto
    Isabella Lasneski is photographed
    Co-head of Makeup, Hannah Mazanec
    Executive Board members enjoy the North End social.
    Sarah Osterle and Naila Latham
  • NYC Check-In with Anna: #2

    NYC Check-In with Anna: #2

    By: Anna Birk, Copy Chief

    Just as I knew it would, the phase in my New York journey has come where I find myself thinking, “I don’t want to leave. Ever!” It’s as if I long for the city, even though I’m actively watching it pass by from my apartment. I think some of the things I was originally nervous about are the same ones that I’ve come to love: the breeze of the subway as it jerks to a stop at any given station, the pigeons that fight outside of my bedroom window every morning.

    I think that as the city warms up as well, the atmosphere completely changes, like someone sprayed serotonin in the air and it blanketed Manhattan. Even in the colder weather though, I’ve been able to find ample experiences to feed my audacious endeavors – several of which have been through my internship experience, starting with the Cyrano movie premier.

    The screening/movie premier was something I had found out about no more than 24 hours prior to the start of the event. My boss looked at me and said, “Do you want to go to a movie premiere tomorrow?” Naturally, I said yes without hesitation. My role was to be the travel manager essentially; just making sure everything went smoothly and we went where we were supposed to go.

    The event mirrored the beginning of a race; you wait, and wait, and build up anticipation and then suddenly you’re rushed in front of cameras, keeping an eye out to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

    I arrived at the event before Harnaaz Sandhu, Miss Universe 2021, and when her car pulled up, I was given a run-down of how the red carpet would go. We would walk up, wait to be ushered in front of the movie-poster backsplash, I’d sprint through the cameras to the other side of the carpet and watch and wait for Harnaaz to signal me to come receive her Miss Universe sash – in which case, I’d hurry back on the carpet again. We needed to take photos both with sash, and without, hence all the running around.

    Before we even got the opportunity to go onto the carpet however, the leading actors and actresses arrived, halting the rest of the carpet. I think both Harnaaz and I were starstruck to see Peter Dinklage, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Haley Bennett and Director Joe Wright. After we finished our press appearance, we were able to interact with the other stars walking the carpet and the stars of the movie as well. I think Kelvin may have been more excited to see Harnaaz then either of us had anticipated – it was an adorable moment between the two of them.

    After many photo ops and interactions with others inside, we were escorted to our seats and watched a short introduction by the cast and crew on stage before the film began. The film was amazing. I was enthralled by the musical adaptation of the age-old tale of Cyrano and his pining love for Roxanne. For anyone who doesn’t know the premise of the film, Cyrano, played by Peter Dinklage, is a man with a physical quality that he, himself deems “unlovable” … naturally he falls for his best friend, Roxanne, played by Haley Bennett. She falls for someone else, enter Kelvin Harrison Jr., who is nowhere near as silver-tongued as Cyrano. It’s a classic case of hopeless romantics and words unspoken. 

    The movie premier is just one of the many things that I cannot believe happened. I think it’s just miniscule experiences like that that have added up to make this job, and city, somewhere that is going to be impossible to leave. What other city can I take a 20-minute train ride after work to attend the Harry Styles, “Pleasing,” pop-up shop? And then ride 20 more minutes up to Central Park to bask in the sunlight on a rock? For dramatic effect, let’s say there are no other cities that offer the same qualities. I suppose that leaves New York as the greatest city on Earth. I stand by that. 

  • Natural Patterns

    Natural Patterns

    Photos by Julie Graham

  • VRNT x FACES

    VRNT x FACES

    Photos by: Elliott Magenheim, Chloe Challacombe, Mikaela Woods & Evie Sears

    A collaborative week of events with FACES, a modeling organization at Ohio University, for the first Athens Fashion Week Events included a Makeup Masterclass and a Walking and Posing class. Additionally, we held a Styling Workshop with Ohio University Megan Carter, who works as a professional stylist, designer and creative director in the fashion industry.

  • Campus Activism: A Brief History

    Campus Activism: A Brief History

    By: Halle Dray

    Photos by: Madeline Melragon

    Katherine Jellison, Ph.D., is a U.S. and social history, and women and gender studies expert, who teaches at Ohio University. Jellison is a veteran of academia; she grew up as the daughter of a university administrator and has been surrounded by a collegiate atmosphere since childhood. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and immediately became a professor. Jellison has intensively studied and experienced various social movements, and when asked about their patterns on college campuses throughout her lifetime, she provided the following insight:

    Q: How did people on college campuses, with common beliefs, organize themselves together and form protests, pre-internet?

    A: “I assume the way that, back then in the 60s, was still the way we were doing it in the 80s: old-fashioned leafleting going around and putting up leaflets that said, ‘Here’s the protest, here’s the time it’s happening, here’s the location!’ Just taping things up on walls and putting them in the residence hall mailboxes … (graduate) student mailboxes. It has always been important and always a good strategy to get graduate students as well as undergraduates involved. Also, I remember people just getting out there with blow horns and saying, ‘Are you angry about such and so?’ and drawing people who were walking between classes at the time.”

    Q: Considering all generations of students, what are the most common tactics students use for reaching higher-up university officials?

    A: “Well, in terms of how effective any of them are, [there’s] the old ‘march around the campus, boycott classes,’ in which no students go to classes at this certain hour and we just leave the classrooms empty. That hopefully sends a message to administrators’ teachings. It all goes back to the 1960s. Faculty and students have also organized to have evening teach-ins, where they come together in an empty classroom and share information about the issue. I think a little bit of that happened here during the first year of the Trump administration with abortion policy. What probably gets administrators’ attention is that students and faculty are working together to become more informed about these issues.”

    Q: It’s common to think of iconic leaders regarding social movements, but on the microcosm of a college campus, have you observed that they are typically led by a collective whole or have you seen more individual spokespeople for groups?

    A: I think that what’s most effective is that people approach these things as a coalition. What works best is a united front that crosses these boundaries of who’s a student, who’s a faculty member and who’s a staff member. There may be individuals who might have a particular upfront speaking role, but I think, unless they are backed by their constituencies in large numbers, it’s not that effective. If we looked at the iconic movements, say of the 1960s, on certain individual campuses, we might gravitate toward individuals who were seen as various effective spokespersons…There may be one or two spokespersons who stood up on the roof of a car and said something that was amazing, and everyone rallied behind that person. The movement, however, was so much more than that person… on a college campus. No matter how charismatic and articulate [the leader] is, it has to be more co-leadership.”

    Q: As far as ongoing movements go, such as Black Lives Matter and abortion rights, what are some patterns that can be seen in the ebbs and flows?

    A: “Well, unfortunately, it usually takes a dramatic event; one that’s getting either local attention in a dramatic way or, obviously, national attention like George Floyd. It’s good to recognize that the movement continues even when it is not in the headlines. In terms of  women’s issues in general … Donald Trump’s inauguration was one day, and there’s the March on Washington the next day, and after that it seemed to be one thing after another. The Harvey Weinstein cases and the ‘Me too’ movement have kept the women’s movement in the headlines over the last five years or so. I think we’re probably coming to another one of those headline moments depending on what happens as a result of this situation in Texas.”

    Q: Particularly in the women’s rights movement, what has male participation looked like in the past? Over the years how has it changed, if at all?

    A: “That is still something that divides the movement. On every campus I’ve ever been on, a debate on an annual basis was the Take Back the Night March. ‘Are we going to allow men to be part of the march or not?’ Even on [Ohio University’s] campus, some say, ‘let’s have male allies’ and others say, ‘no, we don’t want male allies.’ I think the LGBT movement has helped make the women’s movement more inclusive, and caused more people who do identify, now or in the past, as men, to feel maybe more invested in things.”

    Q: Finally, what has the integration and prioritization of racial intersectionality in the women’s movement looked like over time?

    A: “Well, that was a criticism all along … one person who I can give as an example is Mary Terrell-Church, who was always talking about her own intersectionality as a Black woman, and that she couldn’t separate Black voting rights from women’s voting rights. She couldn’t say ‘I’m playing this side of my identity or that side of my identity’ because they’re both central. One person’s voting rights are as important as anyone else’s … if anyone’s voting rights or rights of citizenship was trampled on, then everyone’s was. By the time we came to second wave feminist movement … everyone started to allow Black women to be right at the center of the action, which I’d argue they always were … but now they are getting publicity.”

    Dr. Jellison concluded the conversation by recommending the book Vanguard by Martha S. Jones for anyone interested in learning about patterns and developments in intersectional feminism through the story of Black women’s fight for voting rights.

  • The War Against Reproductive Rights

    The War Against Reproductive Rights

    By: Amanda White

    After the decision of Roe v. Wade, there has been a pattern of almost identical legislation put into place in states across the nation to restrict abortion, making access to abortion increasingly scarce. For over a century, women, and those with the ability to get pregnant, have been fighting for their reproductive rights in the U.S., through movements such as The Women’s March.

    In 1976, after the decision of Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was legislated, blocking governmental funding for abortion under Medicaid, unless it was to save the life of the person with-child. In a 1980 Supreme Court case, Harris v. McRae, which challenged that amendment, the amendment was upheld. The case affected those who could not afford an abortion without Medicaid, forcing them to give birth or more commonly, perform an abortion on themselves, which causes severe medical complications, including death. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 22,000 people die per year due to unsafe abortions. 

    In 1979, a Massachusetts bill that required parental consent for minors seeking an abortion was challenged by plaintiff, William Baird. The court deemed the law to be unconstitutional, and stories of minors dying from at-home abortions due to the law began to surface. Consent also played a large role in the abortion control laws of 1988 and 1989, in which there were a number of regulations. One of those regulations meant getting informed consent from the father of the child before the person seeking an abortion was allowed to have the procedure. All of the regulations under the abortion control laws were deemed unconstitutional, except the bill in which one had to receive consent from the father of the child. That put many in danger, depending on how that person fell pregnant, whether it was rape, incest or an abusive relationship. 

    After the death of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020, the United States has faced a great challenge in keeping the decision of Roe v. Wade afloat. Only about eight months after her death, Texas passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, banning abortion until the sixth week of pregnancy, essentially ending Roe v. Wade protections in the state of Texas. Based on the history of such laws’ that the U.S. has witnessed, Texas will soon face many deaths due to unsafe abortions, as well as uproar from citizens across the state. 

    Likewise, there is a cry louder than ever to include transgender and nonbinary people in the conversation. Transgender, female-to-male, FTM, people who have not had sex reassignment surgery are still able to get pregnant. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute School of Law, transgender people “are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization,” making the rate of unwanted pregnancy for transgender people also considerably higher. Those who are transgender or nonbinary may experience gender dysphoria, which is “a distressed state arising from conflict between a person’s gender identity and the sex the person has or was identified as having at birth,” according to Merriam Webster. Gender dysphoria often causes severe depression and/or anxiety. Becoming pregnant as a transgender or nonbinary person would likely worsen their gender dysphoria, whether the pregnancy occured from consensual or nonconsensual sex. Yet, due to the pressure being put on the decision of Roe v. Wade, the risk of abortion care for transgender and nonbinary people is just as insufficient, if not more. 

    The cases and bills listed above are unfortunately just a sliver of reality that people face when it comes to abortion care. As one state has a law deemed illegitimate as per Roe v. Wade, another law is being embedded into a different state with interchangeable statutes. Individual states, almost yearly, put laws into place that are nearly identical to laws that have already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. When those who may need to seek abortion options, cannot access care according to their situation, this creates an unfair imbalance of the sexes. People living in the U.S. are not asking for dominance of one of the sexes, simply equality and accessibility to abortion.

  • Return to “normal” life after COVID

    Return to “normal” life after COVID

    By: Jordan Schmitt, Editor in Chief

    With a combined sense of hesitancy and relief, Ohio University students followed the rest of the nation’s attempt to return to life in person this semester. With an urge to vaccinate the population, COVID cases have started to decrease. 

    It was unsure as to whether our semester would follow through as planned, considering the past two years have not gone as planned, no thanks to the pandemic. Regardless, we powered on and cautiously welcomed old and new faces. VARIANT was thrilled with the amount of interest we received upon recruiting new members. After being confined to our homes and bedrooms, we were relieved to get back to creating in-person. New members and a new executive team, that had not yet collaborated in-person, brought a renewed energy that inspired our work this semester.

    In our fall issue, VARIANT wanted to explore a topic new to our readers; something that could be represented in fashion, visually and editorially. We chose the concept of Patterns.

    In fashion, patterns are a simple staple. The repetition of lines and shapes come together to create bold prints. We experimented with mismatching patterns in different looks for the issue. Kayla Edwards, our talented Head of Styling who is the face behind the cohesive looks this season, explains how to stylishly clash patterns on page 1. We drew inspiration from avid fashion icon Iris Apfel who is known for her over-the-top eclecticism, page 27. 

    In many instances, the rules of a pattern are meant to be broken. VARIANT seeks to question the patterns that make up our lives and what can happen when you step away from a norm. When patterns of oppression and discrimination are enforced over time, they are strengthened to marginalize certain groups. Patterns of racially-based injustice perpetuate society’s history, while decades of homophobia and transphobia have ingrained biases toward identities outside of the gender binary. Decades of conservatism and sexism have led to a war on reproductive rights, discussed on page 37, in which patterns of legislation restricting abortion have posed serious threats on its accessibility. 

    We are collectively growing more conscious of the detrimental effects of those patterns, but fully breaking them takes a large amount of time and work. Historically, recognizing injustices leads to speaking out through protest or activism. Writer Halle Dray conducts an interview with an accredited professor of social history and women and gender studies on page 9, who spoke on patterns of activism and its success in speaking out against injustice. 

    Another way to break patterns of discrimination is through media portrayal. On page 21, Copy Chief Anna Birk analyzes local news coverage and its impact on upholding stereotypes. Through examining coverage in Athens, we see how failing to report on all identities can leave important groups out of the narrative. 

    There are ways we can enjoy the beauty that patterns create – through music, and fashion and even nature. Life is simply an experience of recurring patterns, whether as reliable as plaid or as unsteady as chevron. As you read the issue, we hope you reflect on how we all perpetuate unhealthy patterns. We hope you love it, and on behalf of the VARIANT team, thank you for supporting student media and creatives. 

    Sincerely, 


    Jordan Schmitt 

    Editor in Chief 

  • Clashing Patterns

    Clashing Patterns

    By: Kayla Edwards

    Photos by: Mikaela Woods

    As we all know fashion is the furthest thing from boring. Mixing, matching and piecing clothing together allows us to express our utmost creativity. When we dress ourselves, we strive to style pieces that please our eyes, draw others in and show the world who we are. The freedom that fashion gives us, allows us to experiment with new things that may be considered outlandish or eccentric. This season, VARIANT Magazine is showing readers how to bring forth their ultimate level of creativity by clashing patterns.

    From patterns in life, music, and to even visual patterns, patterns are easily recognized in our world. In fashion, patterns come in many shapes and sizes. Fashion favorite patterns such as pinstripe, zebra print and plaid are usually paired with plain colors to tone down the outfit. Recently, we have seen the fashion industry lean away from calming down extreme patterns. As mentioned before, fashion is the furthest thing from boring. Fashion is only about taking risks and never playing it safe. The newest and hottest trends have become popular because they are different from what we’ve seen before. So why only wear one print or pattern when you can wear them all?

    Taking a look back into history, we can see that the 70s was one of the most experimental decades in fashion. The 70s aren’t considered groovy or retro because of playing it safe, but because the fashion industry experimented with any and every pattern one could think of. Florals, houndstooth and polka dot were mixed together from head to toe. The 70s held no limit to the amount of patterns worn, and as  fashion comes full circle, we are beginning to do the same today.

    Clashing Patterns in Today’s Streetwear 

    When we look around at what we wear in our daily life, we usually do not see people mix and match extreme patterns such as zebra with chevron, or pinstripes with polka dots. Prints in everyday fashion are usually dialed down so that they are not overdone or draw in too much attention. Society has decided that styling bold, loud prints are ugly because they clash. On the contrary, the fashion industry, stylists and even influencers are deeming pattern clashing as the newest, most chic trend. We see Pattern Clashing heavily in street style. One of our generation’s most well-known models recognized for her chic sense of street wear, Bella Hadid, is a pro at clashing the most unlikely prints and making them look surprisingly tasteful. We often see Hadid mixing stripes, graphic prints and animal prints together. One would think that these prints mixed together would be hideous, but if there’s one thing we know, it’s that a good sense of style can make anything look good. 

    Another celebrity widely recognized for her sense of pattern is Billie Eilish. Although Eilish’s style is changing and maturing, we all still vividly remember the days of the singer dripping in printed Louis Vuitton and matching the already eye-catching ensemble with stripes. Billie’s experimentation with pattern clashing has made her an influence in streetwear alongside other celebrities such as Sarah Snyder, Playboi Carti and Jaden Smith. 

    VARIANT’s Tips for Pattern Clashing 

    1. Step outside of your comfort zone 

    In order to master the art of Pattern Clashing, one has to think outside of their usual style norms.  Elevating your style, however, requires that you ditch what you’re used to and replace it with what you’re not. For instance, the next time you hit up Zara for your shopping spree, steer clear of the usual basics and pick up edgier pieces, striped dresses, printed jeans and animal print hats can easily elevate your wardrobe! 

    2. Think outside the box 

    When it comes to Clashing Patterns, the more creative the better. Thinking outside of the box when it comes to mixing and matching different prints and patterns will draw people into your style. One of 2020’s most popular brands Gimaguas has shown us how good clashing patterns can look together. 

    3. Accessorize 

    If you’re too unsure about clashing patterns within your wardrobe and want to start small, a great way to do this is to accessorize. Printed shoulder bags, hats, and even sunglasses are totally in right now. These accessories can definitely spice up even the most plain outfit.

  • Less is Bore: Iris Apfel’s Single Rule

    Less is Bore: Iris Apfel’s Single Rule

    By: Jorja Butt

    Photos by: Marin Cook

    Follow in the footsteps of 100-year-old Iris Apfel and showcase what makes you different.

    The term “less is more” is the world renowned motto that fashion designers live by. Iris Apfel, however, is a 100-year-old fashion counissuer lives by her own set of fashion rules: “more is more & less is bore.”

    Upon defying fashion trends for years, Apfel made her claim-to-fame after her wardrobe inspired a 2004 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York. The exhibition titled, Rara Avis: The Irreverent Iris Apfel, embodied what style meant to her. Styling chic couture with cheap flea market finds set Apfel apart from any other designer or stylist, and made her the oldest fashion icon. 

    Although Apfel didn’t become a household name until around the age of 83, she had been dominating the fashion industry long before. She and her husband, Carl Apfel, changed the textile industry after launching their own business, Old World Weavers, and remained partners in fashion crime thereafter. Because of Iris’ curiosity with fabric since the age of 12, Old World Weavers became her launch point in the fashion industry. The couple constructed their business to recreate fabrics that caught their eye from their world travels.

    Her influence didn’t stop at the textile industry. Apfel’s brilliance reached some of the most powerful people in the United States. Iris and Carl undertook multiple projects for influential Presidents, from Harry S. Truman all the way to Bill Clinton. 

    Throughout her years of perfecting textiles and her own style, she has gone on to inspire the youth of fashion to follow in her footsteps. Her eclectic fashion sense is intriguing and hard to miss. Her signature round glasses – whether neon orange, tortoise shell, or black – remain the only staple in her wardrobe. As for her jewelry and clothing options, you will never find her in a simple outfit. 

    In an interview with Town & Country, Apfel revealed that the only way to know if fashion works is to try and try again. “It’s all gut… It’s totally, totally the involvement and the process. It’s the process I like much better even than wearing it… People interview me and they keep asking if I have any rules. And I say, I don’t have any rules because I would be the one breaking them, so it’s a waste of time,” she said. 

    Neutral tones, simple accessories, and sleek black looks are not on the menu for the world’s oldest fashion icon. A neon pink blouse with a green fluffy collar followed by chunky geometric jewelry is part of how Apfel plays with patterns, textures, and colors in her everyday wardrobe. She is never afraid to mix floral patterned shoes with polka dot socks or rock a completely monochrome outfit (yes, including her glasses and socks).

    Apfel’s bold risks in wardrobe choice should inspire the future of fashion. Trends dictate what most people think is normal or necessary to wear to be considered fashionable. Apfel however, has challenged those norms and encourages the future of fashion to do so.  

    “You only fail if you do not try,” Apfel said in an interview with CNBC.

    Her funky combinations of patterns and colors work because she has confidence that they do. She is not afraid to take risks with her clothing, but being bold and being brave does not stop with her fashion. 

    Learning from 100 years of experience, Apfel has overcome the boundaries that come with being a woman. Thanks to her disregard of the status quo, Apfel made a name for herself by defying every rule in the book. Women’s fashion followed strict terms of long skirts, long sleeves, and modesty, as young Apfel grew up. The fashion mogul’s personality, however, shone through the modest rules. She wore jeans before they were appropriate for women, desired designer pieces before women were supposed to spend their own money, and broke every fashion rule while breaking every gender stereotype. 

    Starting her own business did not come easy, but pursuing her dream through determination did. 

  • The Reality of Addiction: Brain Changes

    The Reality of Addiction: Brain Changes

    By: Taylor Strnad

    As a child, it was hard to understand why my mother drank so much. I always thought, “Why won’t she just stop?” As I got older I realized that it wasn’t that simple.

    Addiction starts differently for everyone. You don’t become addicted to something overnight. For my mom, the risk factors that led to addiction were the stressors of her job, an unhealthy marriage, the COVID-19 pandemic and her only daughter away at school. It was too much for her to cope with at once, so she turned to alcohol. Although she drank excessively on weekends and at special events, it never initially affected her day-to-day life. Though, right before my eyes, it turned into something much bigger. She was missing work, lying about everything, and even manipulating our family and friends. 

    It was truly heartbreaking watching it unfold and feeling like there was nothing I could do. Once someone is addicted to alcohol, or another substance, their brain changes both physically and psychologically, according to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

    There are several factors that can contribute to addiction, including psychological and hereditary links. When someone feels hopeless, angry, or even scared, they might turn to a substance or behavior to cope with those emotions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), genetics account for half of a person’s likelihood to develop an addiction. 

    Everyday, I consciously think about breaking the pattern of addiction. I’ve witnessed firsthand what addiction does to someone and their loved ones, and I refuse to inherit it. To this day, I’m terrified that what happened to my mom could happen to me. So, I actively choose to break the cycle. Addiction, however, is not determined solely by genetics, but also one’s environment. 

    Early traumatic experiences, like physical or sexual abuse, may increase risk of substance use disorders “because of attempts to self-medicate or to dampen mood symptoms associated with a dysregulated biological stress response,” according to, Lamya Khoury, doctor of family medicine. Other environmental factors include lack of parental guidance, easy access to substances and stress.

    At the center of addiction you’ll meet our friend dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. When one experiences pleasure, dopamine is released in the brain, reinforcing drug addiction. When addicted to a substance, the user chases the “high” they felt while previously using, according to NIDA. The high can include feeling euphoric, pain relief and even calmness.

    The high of an addiction, however, doesn’t last forever. One of the toughest moments in watching my mother struggle was the physical and emotional pain it caused her. Everytime she drank, she would cry over how painful it was. Physically and emotionally, she was in pain. She was guilty because she continued to drink; she knew she shouldn’t be doing it but couldn’t stop doing it. Commonly, addiction begins as something that was once fun, but stops being enjoyable as the addiction worsens. However, despite the lack of enjoyment, the addict will continue because they are physically and psychologically dependent on it. 

    Addiction doesn’t have to last forever. While it is extremely difficult to battle, it is possible to overcome. 

    Recovering from an addiction requires breaking the pattern of use. Recovery is not a straight line. Often it’s a lot of bumps and uphill battles, according to Michael J. Rounds, an addiction recovery specialist for the Branchville Correctional Facility in southern Indiana. Relapse — when one stops using a substance for a period of time but goes back to the substance — occurs frequently throughout recovery. 

    When my mom faced the worst of her addiction, I lived five hours away in Indianapolis. I’ll never forget the day she called me from a hotel room, severely intoxicated. She said she could no longer do it anymore and that she was so sorry for everything she’s done. She wished she could stop but said she couldn’t. 

    At that moment, I remember begging her to stay on the phone and continue talking to me. I told her she was loved and that she mattered to so many people. After the line went dead, I dialled 9-1-1 as fast as possible and got in my car to drive five hours home to Cleveland. Those five hours were a blur. It was the worst day of my 21 years of living. 

    My mom was OK, but she could have died had she not been taken to the hospital. I thought that moment had to be rock bottom, and that it was all uphill from here. The sad part is, it wasn’t. She continued to drink as soon as she left the hospital.

    An addict can face the absolute worst and still continue to use.

    I can now proudly say that my mother has been sober for six months. Though, the road there was far from easy. It was mentally and physically exhausting for her. When she stopped drinking, she experienced headaches, sweating, shaking, anxiety and even a seizure. Before the stretch of sobriety, she had been in and out of rehabilitation, treatment and detox facilities for a whole year. 

    My mom works each day to break the patterns of addiction. She’s surrounded herself with healthy people, goes to therapy to cope with stress, joined Alcoholics Anonymous and lives in a group home with others who are also in recovery. 

    Addiction is not a clear or easy path, and for those that have to watch from the outside, it is incredibly difficult to understand. The best thing you can do as a bystander is educate yourself and offer support.

    If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357. 

    For more information on addiction, visit: 

    NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/

    SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/

  • Athens: An Untold Narrative

    Athens: An Untold Narrative

    By: Anna Birk

    Photos by: Evie Sears & Isabella Brazzale

    Patterns.

    Patterns in fashion create a continuous flow of motion, repeating from one form to the next. When those patterns bleed into the social world, however, stereotypes become perpetuated, and certain groups are left out of the narrative.

    When the Civil Rights Movement began in 1954, The Athens Messenger began to cover the unrest that proceeded. The extent of that coverage, however, was limited for the next several decades. 

    The August 28, 1963, March on Washington, made waves in history that would ripple for decades to follow. It was where civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. spoke his famous words, “I have a dream.” 

    In Athens County, The Athens Messenger newspaper covered the event by using an article from the Associated Press. The article spoke volumes of the current discrimination of the United States toward Black people. 

    The front page of the August 29, 1963 newspaper began with a front-and-center article that read, “The historic rights march on Washington … has dramatized the wants of Negroes in America, but leaders faced the task today of trying to turn drama into action,” wrote Stanley Meisler, a reporter for the Press. 

    The decision to use “dramatize” in that context can mislead readers, perpetuating the narrative that Black people in America were asking too much to have the same rights as their white counterparts. The choice for The Athens Messenger to use that article, with the claim that those events were “dramatic,” helped to strengthen stereotypes about Black people in an area that had been predominantly white. 

    With the presence of The Athens News, founded in 1977, however, these harsh patterns seemingly began to slow. In 2020, after the horrific death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and hundreds of others in Ohio alone, several articles covering violent and non-violent protests were published online. A top story for The Athens News was written by Sydney Dawes, an Athens News editor. 

    The article, published on June 2, 2020, is headlined “Athens protesters stand in solidarity.” The photo title, also taken by Dawes, depicts dozens of protestors holding signs to call those in power accountable for the violent deaths of Black people. Dawes goes into detail describing the demonstration itself and including statistics from a Washington Post database. 

    “According to the … database that tracks fatal shootings by on-duty officers … in Ohio, 154 people were fatally shot by an on-duty officer from 2015 to now,” Dawes wrote. 

    Breaking it down, the rhetoric chosen within the article breaks a pattern of Athens reporting on Black lives with dismissive tones, by including state-wide and national statistics about police brutality. The article also did not include some of the racist and derogatory terms that those of the 1960s did, showing a change in society, journalism and the tone of news in Athens. Dawes’ article, and others, were published during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. 

    Examining other narrative patterns that have been broken down over time, one should look no further than the rights of women. The Athens News ceased to exist until 1977, therefore, the articles from that time period in Athens County come from The Athens Messenger. 

    At a glance, there seems to be little coverage of the Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1960s or much coverage on women’s issues at all. In an August 18, 1969 spread, a small segment was allotted to cover women’s issues, holding hardly more than a dozen sentences. 

    The article headlined “Women’s Rights and Violence,” paints a predicting picture of women becoming violent if further discrimination toward them went unnoticed by lawmakers. A behavioral scientist was also referenced for his interview in Forbes magazine at the time, stating women will become violent if those needs are not met. Historically, the portrayal of women has displayedthem as hysterical, especially when advocating for their own rights. 

    A few years later, the paper opted to publish an opinion column written by James Kilpatrick regarding the one-year anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. 

    In the January 28, 1974 article, Kilpatrick voices that the court decision was a, “monstrous example of plain bad law,” calling it an “unhappy pronouncement.” Once again, women come under written attack for their right to choose, and the narrative that women are irresponsible is maintained. 

    Jumping ahead to the Women’s March in 2019, which took place in late January, local coverage highlights a different narrative of women. The local march, a sister event to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., took place in Uptown Athens. 

    An article written by Kayla Beard for The Athens News, depicts courageous women marching through Athens in dreary weather conditions but with lively spirits. Rhetoric within the article changes the narrative that women held 50 years prior, telling readers of the protestors’  power, persistence and strength. The article itself was also written by a female news reporter for the paper, giving a stronger voice to the female narrative. 

    Some patterns remain the same within news reporting, and certain voices are left out of the story. In the same 1969 newspaper spread that “Women’s Rights and Violence” was published, an Associated Press article was published, detailing the unionization of Mexican-Americans in the Southwest. 

    The article, written by Richard Beene and titled, “Mexican-Americans Begin Organizing,” is a descriptive piece, highlighting that Mexican-Americans are more than just a stereotype and includes the voices of many different Hispanics. While the rhetoric in the article doesn’t disempower those of Hispanic heritage, it is one of few articles written about Mexican-Americans, even today.

    According to demographic data from 2019, the population of Athens county is 81.9% white and 2.82% Hispanic. For those who fall into the minority percentages, news coverage is incredibly important. Stories about Hispanic people, and other minority groups, help to show that their culture matters; that events specific to them don’t go unheard. Similarly, people are more trusting of news organizations that report on people and events that are similar to themselves. 

    Change has taken place within the news rhetoric in Athens County over the past several decades. More diverse voices have been included in the narrative, and more inclusive verbiage is being used. And although those aspects hold a positive outlook for inclusivity in both news coverage and the newsroom, there is much that  news organizations can improve to halt the perpetuation of stereotypes.