What to Wear to a Protest

By Ariana Ortiz

Women's March protestors in San Jose, California on Jan. 21, 2017.    Gordon-Shukwit / Flickr                                                                                                                           

Women's March protestors in San Jose, California on Jan. 21, 2017.   Gordon-Shukwit / Flickr                                                                                                                          

In today’s volatile political climate where a new executive order seems to materialize every five minutes, many American citizens are taking up their right to protest. If you’ve never participated in a march, protest, or demonstration before but now feel a burning need for it emerging in your soul, you may be a bit embarrassed to ask what to wear. Maybe you’ve attended protests before, but want more specifics to be better prepared for your next demonstration.

Don’t fret, because we have some tips and advice from experts to help you along your journey in activism. 

Above all, dress for functionality.

From head to toe, every piece of clothing you wear to a protest should serve a purpose. Political organizer and activist Genevieve Davis, who began organizing in high school and currently works with the Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC), suggests dressing in layers for the sake of comfort and mobility.

“You'll be outside moving around a lot, so chances are you'll want layers. Wear clothing you would feel comfortable moving around in.” Davis says.

Layers are also useful to avoid weather-induced suffering; you can add and remove pieces as the temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Always ensure your outermost layer is waterproof, whether it is a rain poncho or beloved raincoat. 

Comfortable, no-slip waterproof shoes with arch support are necessary to keep you focused on the protest rather than your soaked, aching feet. Bring tennis shoes and sneakers in the case of warmer weather and insulated boots for frigid temperatures. While it may be tempting to spring for a pair of intimidating combat boots just for the occasion, save money and closet space by waterproofing a pair of shoes you already own. Bustle recommends Kiwi Camp Dry Water Repellent’s formula, which lasts a long time between applications.

During the Women’s March this past January, women and men alike donned pink crocheted “pussy hats” around the nation. While these hats undoubtedly helped protestors stay toasty in frigid weather, they also served to provide a striking, pink-tinged image: A united front of people marching for women’s rights. 

American flag hijabs were spotted at the numerous pro-immigrant protests organized in response to President Trump’s “Muslim Ban”, serving as a sharp visual reminder that the identities of “Muslim” and “American” are not mutually exclusive.

Consider a t-shirt emblazoned with the message you’re trying to spread—if the discourse surrounding Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” shirts at their Spring 2017 show demonstrates anything, it is that fashion has always been a kind of protest in itself.

Safety first, always.

Remember that when you participate in a peaceful protest or demonstration, there is a measure of danger you’re signing up for. You will be running the risk of bodily injury or arrest by attending. 

“Most worst-case scenarios I've seen are just the police reacting really violently, or people that may not necessarily be there with the common good of the protesters in mind coming in and reacting violently despite what the leaders advised.” Davis says.

Leave valuables like jewelry behind, as they can easily get lost in a crowd or even pose a risk of injury if the demonstration starts to get hectic. 

Bring your ID and a small amount of cash in a concealed money pouch. While it is not mandatory for you to give proof of identification to authorities for participating in a protest, the ACLU recommends having your identification on hand to encourage an earlier release in the case of detainment.

Security guidelines for the Women’s March on Washington were notoriously strict; only clear, uncolored backpacks no larger than 17”x12"x6" were permitted. Any purse or bag that was larger than 8”x6”x4” was subject to be confiscated. While clear bags are normally only seen in the hallways of safety-conscious public schools in post-Columbine America or even Prada’s Spring 2010 handbag collection, tens of thousands marched for women’s rights with their backs adorned with them. 

“The clear backpacks at the Women’s March were a kind of statement in itself to its organizers and to law enforcement,” says stylist and NMSU fashion student Zoe Housen. “Like, ‘we know you don’t trust us to be nonviolent, but we’re still showing up to march.’”

A clear backpack will not guarantee that you won’t be stopped or questioned by police, but wearing one is a safety precaution for any demonstration, just as bringing your identification is. Refinery29 has compiled a handful of sturdy options from retailers such as Amazon and Urban Outfitters. If you’re a more hands-on person with a love for sewing and crafting, YouTube user “Ryan IDK” has graciously uploaded a tutorial on how to DIY your own clear backpack.

Now, what will you carry around in your clear and very on-trend backpack? 

Lip balm and baby wipes are basics that will help you avoid chapped lips and discomfort. If your demonstration is an all-day kind of event, these two items will save your sanity. Basic first-aid items such as bandages and alcohol wipes will go a long way in case you or anyone around you sustains minor injuries.

While sunscreen is always advisable, spring for one that is water-based: In the event of tear gas or pepper spray, an oil-based sunscreen will absorb tear gas and worsen its effects, according to International News Safety Institute (INSI), an organization devoted to safety for journalists. This also applies to any lotions or cosmetics—be sure to wear only those that are water-based on the day of the protest.

Street Medic Wiki, an online resource by and for volunteers who provide first aid at demonstrations and protests, recommends a solution of half liquid antacid and half water to rinse out pepper spray-affected areas such as the eyes, skin, and mouth (if the individual can breathe). If you choose to bring along a squeezable bottle of this just in case, be sure the liquid antacid you use is aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide-based, such as plain or mint-flavored Maalox.

You don’t have to bring a street medic-worthy arsenal, but there’s nothing wrong with being prepared with a few essentials in case things take a turn for the less peaceful.

Your cell phone is an important tool; make sure you bring it fully charged, accompanied by an external battery charger. If your security settings are set so you can unlock your phone with a fingerprint, the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests you consider changing them so a code must be input. Authorities cannot compel you to tell them your code, but they can require you to press your thumb to it, thanks to a judicial ruling in Virginia in 2014.

You may feel tempted to try and Snapchat or record every moment of the protest—Davis advises you withhold that urge.

“A lot of demonstrations lately have been so heavily focused on the social media image, which is important in a lot of ways because you need to let people know things are happening,” Davis says. “But I also feel that taking a constant stream of pictures as well as removing yourself from the moment really takes away a lot from the objective and the personal experience… Bring your phone in case anything happens, but use it only to a minimum.”

Show up to the protest with helpful numbers decorating your arms in permanent marker in case of arrest. A useful phone number to start with is the National Lawyer’s Guild NYC at (212) 679-6018. Keep that permanent marker on hand so you can jot down any badge numbers of police officers you see abusing their stations.

Stay hydrated and keep your blood sugar up by bringing a water bottle and calorie-dense foods like granola bars, trail mix, or even packets of honey. 

You are now a reflection of the cause you’re marching for.

Lastly, remember that once you decide to march in a protest, you are no longer only representing yourself. As soon as you join your fellow protestors, you have become a part of the collective face of a movement.

“How you present yourself is important in everyday life, yes. That also goes for protesting, you are representing a cause. But in a way the functional aspect of protest clothes is a statement in itself,” Housen says. “It shows that you’re here to march, here to be taken seriously.”

So whether you show up in a homemade t-shirt courtesy of puffy fabric paint or you purchased a piece directly supporting and benefitting the cause (think the “I Stand With Standing Rock” t-shirts popularized by actress Shailene Woodley), know that your presence and willingness to march are in themselves powerful statements.

Claudia Delfina Cardona: Storytelling and Revolution

By Ariana Ortiz

Cardona on a recent trip to NYC.

Cardona on a recent trip to NYC.

The poetry of 23-year-old Claudia Delfina Cardona seems to be perpetually centered on the everyday incidences of late adolescence, drawing on her own coming-of-age experiences in San Antonio, Texas. But within the intimate observations and emotions she allows readers a glimpse into, her writing reveals an even more deeply rooted truth.

“Cesar, son of forgiving parents / Created from the dirt of fingernails / And born in the darkest ditch in San Antonio / Dressed in a bleach stained black shirt / Cesar sits on his abuelita’s front porch.”

This is how Cardona introduces the subject of a past winter’s romance in her poem, “I realized I no longer felt anything for you after November 2013.” In Cardona’s writings, even the seemingly universal theme of teenage heartbreak, a budding relationship cut away too soon, becomes uniquely Mexican-American.

She does not refer to him as an idiot or a coward, but rather “a pendejo who spits out his words / Before he can swallow them.” Her work can be classified as Chicana poetry, but not for the sole reason that she herself identifies as a Chicana, a political identity which strives for the empowerment of Mexican-Americans. Her usage of Spanglish is intentional, yet as natural as her fond allusions to her hometown. Nothing about it is forced: She acknowledges and embraces the fact that being Mexican-American has had an undeniable influence on who she is.

It is her realization as a Mexica-American that Latinos of color are severely underrepresented in art that led to her establishment of CHIFLADAzine. (Full disclosure: I submitted a short personal essay to the magazine in 2014; it was then published in its first volume.) Chiflada is slang for bratty; this is a purposeful name, as Cardona says that marginalized groups are characterized as such when they demand more resources or representation. 

Cardona, along with her close friend, Laura Valdez, established CHIFLADAzine in 2014 as an online creative space for Latino writers and artists, welcoming the submission of pieces in both Spanish and English. Cardona explained that while she had been thinking of creating an online platform since early 2013, it was Valdez who came up with its name during a brainstorming session between the two later that year.

Cardona confirmed the meaning behind CHIFLADAzine’s name, which she said has seemed provocative to many Latinos who were raised with a negative association attached to the word. I can attest to its attention-grabbing power: My mother's eyebrows noticeably rose when I excitedly told her the name of the magazine that published my piece.

In a 2014 interview with San Antonio Current reporter Nick Joyner about CHIFLADAzine, as Cardona explained the need for diversity in art, she named Rookie Mag—a popular youth culture publication founded by New Yorker Tavi Gevinson—as an example of why she felt CHIFLADAzine was necessary, and referred to the other publication as “unbearably whitewashed.”

Delfina’s statement drew ire almost immediately, as evidenced by a promptly posted comment on the article which stated that Rookie Mag is not whitewashed, as “there are many voices of color within the Rookie community as a whole… if you bother to read it and keep up with it.” Cardona responded to the comment, stating that when Rookie began, it was whitewashed with “an entry level” understanding of feminism.

“So yes,” Cardona wrote. “Rookie is more inclusive than it used to be but for CHIFLADA, we wanted to focus on a project that emphasized our Latino voices and perspectives.” 

Cardona said she considers herself lucky to have grown up in a home of artists: her mother, Olga Garza Cardona, is a visual artist; her father, Jacinto Jesus Cardona, is a poet and high school English teacher. Cardona said that she grew up within the wings of art galleries her mother would take her to, becoming exposed to artists such as Vincent Valdez and Alex Rubio.

“One summer my parents held art and writing classes at my house during the summer, so my friends from school would come over and write poetry or make sculptures from clay,” Cardona said. “That summer is one of my fondest childhood memories. I think watching them teaching the youth through creativity really inspired me to also want to teach poetry.”

Cardona has become a fixture in San Antonio’s local art scene over the past several years, from her teenaged days of sneaking into punk shows to attending local art fairs and festivals, tabling and selling CHIFLADAzine merchandise.

"I had a great childhood, I was immersed in the art and poetry scene in San Antonio, which is mainly run by Chicanos and Chicanas. I took it for granted when I was growing up, but looking back, I'm so thankful that I was raised in SA." Cardona said.

She has also amassed an online following on social media through her writing and her visual art, a number that has grown to thousands since she first began her Tumblr blog in high school.

She is a figure among the online alternative creative communities that have recently begun to be noticed by mainstream publications such as i-D Magazine and Refinery29. But there is an unspoken question hanging over the success of niche publications such as CHIFLADAzine, and larger publications' fascination with independent media: In an environment where—according to Statista—magazine retail sales have dropped from 103 million in 2014 to 85 million in the second quarter of 2016, how can there be so much enthusiasm and interest for these small publications?

While there is almost certainly no clear-cut answer, CHIFLADAzine is one example of an independent publication that defies the gloomy statistics surrounding magazine publishing, and print media itself.

Despite CHIFLADAzine’s purpose of being a platform for Latino artists, Cardona admits she is not as open about her own written work. “I think I have been very open about my visual art, but have been more private about my poetry and short stories. I've published a few pieces but for the most part, I am very selective about who I show my work to,” she said.

Cisneros' Instagram post mentioning CHIFLADAzine.

Cisneros' Instagram post mentioning CHIFLADAzine.

Acclaimed Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros has also been introduced to CHIFLADAzine, after Cardona gifted her a copy of volume one in March of 2016. Cisneros posted about the gift on her Instagram account, along with several other new books she obtained. 

The story of their first meeting is one that shows Cardona's strong belief in her own work: “Last March, the St. Mary’s University Department of English invited me and a couple of other students to a lunch and reading from A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros. I decided to give her a copy of CHIFLADAzine because I thought she would enjoy it, and she did.” Cardona said about their initial encounter. According to her, during that first meeting, the two discussed Cardona’s work, as well as Cisneros’ memories of Cardona’s father as a young poet.

Since the initial meeting, Cardona has remained in contact with Cisneros, attending events at her invitation and even designing the official poster advertising an upcoming event celebrating the latter’s life and work at Texas State University.  

She won't talk about the extent of her interactions with Cisneros, perhaps to avoid sounding like a name dropper. But Cardona has posted a few photos on Instagram in which she is posed with Cisneros, the caption of one this past October which casually reads: "Chicana M.F.A. crew with Sandra!"

Cisneros, third from left, and Cardona, second from right.

Cisneros, third from left, and Cardona, second from right.

“I wasn't exposed to her work until college when I read Woman Hollering Creek,” she admitted. “But reading Cisneros and Junot Diaz were super formative in my decision to go into creative writing. I definitely see Cisneros as a mentor, I love her work and want to evoke the same responses in readers that she does with her work.” 

Cardona is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in creative writing at Texas State University in San Marcos, having graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree at St. Mary’s University. Prior to this, she attended Incarnate Word High School, where her father currently teaches. She spoke of how she sometimes feels she struggles more to be taken seriously as a woman of color in her primarily white classes, and of how some of her experiences in undergrad made her doubt her future path.

"It wasn't until I became more confident in my poetry writing skills in college that I decided to pursue creative writing full time." Cardona said.

While Cardona still enjoys creating visual art, she says she has not created any recent pieces. Like her written work, she incorporates Mexican-American symbolism and pop culture icons into her work. It is her art that is the cover for CHIFLADAzine’s first and second printed volumes. The first consists of a hand-drawn illustration of late Tejana legend Selena Quintanilla in an Andy Warhol-esque, while the second is her take on Roy Lichtenstein's iconic style.

Cardona's artwork on the covers of volumes one and two.

Cardona's artwork on the covers of volumes one and two.

“My parents play a huge role in the way I create,” Cardona said. “My dad's poetry has been a huge influence on my writing and my mom has inspired the ways I create visual art and always gives me good feedback. I'm very lucky to have two parents that both share a common interest in the arts.”

While feverish debates about diversity and the ever-shrinking profitability of print publications rage on in the public eye, Cardona will continue running CHIFLADAzine, writing, illustrating, and pursuing her M.F.A. in creative writing, not far from her beloved hometown of San Antonio.

The Rise of the Minimalist Makeup Look

By Ariana Ortiz

While not every woman chooses to use makeup, makeup culture has always been a major social and economic force in modern society. However, the ways in which the makeup industry functioned and survived have changed at a dizzying pace thanks to the invention of the internet and age of social media.

Something has happened within the past five years: Makeup culture has become ubiquitous, and more so than ever before. According to Statistica, beauty industry revenue in the United States has only climbed since 2009, to a revenue of 62.46 billion dollars in 2016—even accounting for inflation, the highest numbers the beauty industry has ever seen. That number is only projected to keep climbing. 

It has become common to look around a public space and see almost every woman present donning “Instagram brows”, sharply groomed, thickly filled-in eyebrows popularized on the social media platform, or intense, unconventional makeup looks that were once relegated to high fashion runways. Women can be seen carefully applying indigo blue liquid lipstick or brushing rainbow-colored highlighter onto their temples in settings as commonplace as mall bathrooms. While these bold looks would previously garner more than a few raised eyebrows in the past, they have become as mundane a reality as taxes.

There has been a small but rising upset within this high demand for opulence and glamour: Glossier, a brand which launched in late 2014, is built on the ideal of the woman who is simply too busy to painstakingly blend layers of eyeshadows, but inspires all with a dewy, fresh face accented by minimal swipes of color.

Launched by popular beauty blog “Into the Gloss” founder Emily Weiss, Glossier’s slogan is “Skin first, makeup second.” Its product offerings stray from those of current cult beauty brands such as ColourPop or Melt Cosmetics. There are no liquid lipsticks, heavy foundations, or sparkling eyeshadows. Instead, there are creamy face masks, serums, an all-purpose “Balm Dot Com” that Glossier encourages buyers to dab onto their eyelids, and coconut oil-based highlighters. 

For Glossier fans, the brand’s appeal lies in the image of its ideal woman: fresh-faced, glowing, and downright shiny on the high points of her face. She is effortlessly chic and does not waste her time with such time consuming endeavors as precisely applied cut creases or Kardashian-esque contour. While those who are not very active on social media may not have a clue as to what Glossier is or what it represents, anyone with an Instagram account can recognize its baby pink-clad aesthetic.

I spoke to makeup artist Inés Aaliyah about the phenomenon. Aaliyah, who lives in Canada and whose career as a makeup artist spans over fourteen years, has a large social media following on Instagram and Tumblr. She is known for her work in fashion shows and editorials, and for doling out skincare and makeup advice online. 

“I actually find that the trends progress quite logically,” Aaliyah said. “If we take in the last few years, from the explosion of contour kits to liquid lipsticks to metallic highlight, it's clear that the shift has moved one hundred and eighty degrees from fast and user-friendly makeup to elaborate and ornate glamour.”

Aaliyah's own take on ornate glamour using McGrath's #Gold001 eyeshadow.

Aaliyah's own take on ornate glamour using McGrath's #Gold001 eyeshadow.

Aaliyah says the appeal of the brand lies more in its marketing than the products themselves.

“Glossier packaging and marketing is so chic and minimalistic. Milk Jelly is is an ordinary gel cleanser; Haloscope is really just a mica-based highlighter with coconut and castor oil. Glossier takes daily beauty essentials from basic to must-have simply through intriguing marketing strategies.” Aaliyah said.

“While formula-wise Glossier isn't unique, their catalogue is refreshingly bare-bones and elegant compared to garish beauty houses like Benefit, Tarte and Too Faced.” Consumers are known to snap pictures of their newly arrived Glossier packages and upload them to Instagram, where Glossier’s official account will “like” only the most beautifully arranged photos.

Minimalism in makeup is gaining traction, and while Glossier may have been among the first to capitalize on it, it is not the only one. A little over a year ago, Milk Studios, a media conglomerate based in NYC, launched a makeup brand of their own. Milk Makeup’s initial release was through global chains such as Sephora and Urban Outfitters, while Glossier products can only be bought through their website or at their Manhattan showroom. 

“MILK GIRLS DO THEIR MAKEUP QUICK”, a mirror compact included among Milk Girl Kits boldly reads. Among Milk Makeup’s chief offerings: “Sunshine oil”, a grapeseed and avocado oil-based concoction which doubles as a highlighter and spot hydration in a pinch; blotting sheets decorated with a print of marijuana leaves, which also double as rolling papers, and a jojoba-oil based “Hero Salve”, not unlike Glossier’s cult “Balm Dot Com”.

The Milk Girl and Glossier Girl are one in the same: “The Glossier girl has gleaming skin, curled black lashes and wet lips and eyelids. It's unnatural and vibrant while still resisting the glamorous-to-death looks that have overtaken social media.” Aaliyah said.

At first glance, it is easy to see the Glossier or Milk Makeup “look” as one that is an antithesis to heavy, glamorous beauty. For women who are tired of owning thirty cosmetics brushes, and resent using half of them for one makeup application, these brands seem to be the answer to a minimalist’s prayer. In fact, the idea conjures images of the freeing, bare-faced beauty ideal of the ‘70s.

However, when we look to historical makeup trends, we can clearly see the defining characteristics of these brands constitute their own kind of glamour. 

“Petroleum jelly was sometimes smeared on the eyelids in the 1940s and 50s to make [women] look sultry. The effect was pure glamour, especially against fluttery lashes and a red lip…Glossy lids haven't spent any time in the mainstream since then,” Aaliyah said. “I knew it would only be a matter of time before glossy eyes and skin made a big comeback. Impractical makeup is definitely in right now.”

Rather than being the commonly assumed antithesis to heavy, carefully crafted makeup looks, brands such as Glossier and Milk—and the image they project—are currently made more successful because of those more maximalist brands such as Too Faced or Benefit Cosmetics. While it is over-the-top beauty brands that are currently in the limelight, and will continue thriving in the mainstream for the foreseeable future, it is clear that the success of skincare-based brands is nothing to sneeze at.

Over the past three years, Glossier has expanded its operations fivefold, and garners 1.5 million unique views each month on its website, according to a recent article by Business Insider. Milk Makeup is stocked in over 150 Sephora stores throughout the nation. According to Main Post Partners, a firm that famously invested and later sold Too Faced Cosmetics, it will aim to continue expanding worldwide throughout 2017.

The rising popularity of this look could be a signifier of an imminent upset in the beauty industry, a yearning to be free of twenty-dollar makeup sponges and heavy foundations made real. Perhaps a decade from now, bare-faced idealism will be en vogue once more. Or this could very well be the illusion of some sort of overall progression; rather than feeling bound to spending hundreds on glittering eyeshadows, perhaps we will be spending them exclusively on balms and oils that make our skin gleam. This begs the question: Can a beauty revolution truly begin with commodification?

Whether it is simply a niche market, a passing trend, or the mark of the beginnings of a beauty revolution, remains to be seen.