After living through more than two years of a pandemic, how have our relationships changed? Tucked away in the pockets of our own minds and away from others during quarantine, we ruminated on the space that our bodies take up — the way we dress, the way we act, the way we love — and came to new self-realizations.
But now that we’ve settled back into some semblance of pre-pandemic familiarity, how have our priorities shifted? Mint Magazine’s (stylized as MINT) latest quarterly publication offers dynamic responses to these very questions.
On Wednesday evening, Mint Magazine hosted a launch party for their winter 2022 issue — themed “in relation to” — celebrating their triumphant return from an almost two-year hiatus. Founded in 2016, Mint Magazine is Stanford’s only student-run fashion and culture magazine. Both a print and web publication, Mint strives to spotlight trends donned by Stanford students and show off Stanford-original art, style and culture.
“We have changed, we have grown, and that in itself is beautiful. There is a sense of warmth in this growing realization as we now welcome the unknown future since we know how easy it is for plans to be forever altered,” reads the Editorial Outtakes in MINT’s winter 2022 issue.
The launch party was hosted in the illustrious d.school atrium, a hub for creation and innovation on campus. With alluring finger foods and fizzy drinks in hand, attendees flipped through the pages of the latest issue, mingled and listened as the magazine contributors spoke about their experiences working on the issue.
Speakers included Editors-in-Chief Kelsey Wang ’23 and Natalie Zezza ’23 M.S. ’24 , Creative Director Osadolor Osawemwenze ’24, Managing Director Laura Futamura ’24, writer Russell Lacara ’24, Photo Directors Katie Han ’24 and Sherry Mestan ’23 and contributors Tomi Sogade ’25, Michael Crinot ’24 and members of Stanford Skate Club.
The issue’s spreads address a diverse array of relevant culture and fashion topics. MINT aims to support and elevate the voices, perspectives and creations of people from historically marginalized groups. Together, the team of photographers, writers, designers and stylists have produced an impressive amalgamation of poetry, prose, powerful social commentary and genre-bending photography.
Some MINT contributors like Ijeoma Alozie ’24 take command of normative beauty narratives through writing, including by claiming the word “fat” as something external from personhood. Alozie recognizes the immense power in calling themself fat and says that “fat is about claiming something … it’s not about how I view myself, but how society views me, what society has stripped me of.”
Alozie’s six-page spread is filled with bright hues of pink and blue, as models Kiara Dunbar ’23 and Destiny Kelly ’24 revel in an atmosphere of joy and playfully munch on sugar cookies and cake. The spread, entitled “make it fat,” is beauty in the rawest sense, a showcase of students’ journey navigating healthy relationships with their bodies and food in spite of all the pressures that come with attending Stanford.
Other spreads — including “visions of separation,” “no contact,” “born of water: to drown” and “skate!” — explore liminal spaces, feelings of isolation and human connection through a mosaic of artistry, all converging to emulate the publication’s themes of reconciliation, reconnection, rediscovery and rebirth.
Futamura and Lacara, creators of “born of water; to drown,” addressed the audience and touched on what it means to immerse oneself into their craft. For Lacara, this meant listening to melancholy bands like Weyes Blood 24/7 and challenging themself to sit down and write for sustained periods of time. For Futamura, this was an opportunity to shoot self-portraits and work with her mother, as she was in her hometown and without models or photographers to rely on.
What’s most striking about the spread, however, is the messaging. “I wanted to create this from the perspective of someone who is afraid of the pandemic ending. From someone who has become afraid of things going back to normal. This character is drowning, seeing the people on the surface feeling comfortable and free,” Lacara said.
“born of water; to drown” is a kaleidoscope of fear, unshakable dampness and uncertainty. Its imagery, self-portraits of Futamura trapped in a shower, pressed intimately against the glass doors, presents the viewer with a startling reality: we are often trapped by our own trepidation.
Sogade, featured in “skate!” as both a model and writer, spoke about the creative process that went into creating the spread. Using both digital and film cameras, the creative team behind the project depicted the multifaceted nature of skateboard culture at Stanford.
“My motivation for this project was my appreciation for skateboarding and community. This project represents the duality of skateboarding: there’s a cleanliness to skateboarding, but also a grittiness,” Sogade said. “You have the adrenaline, you’re up in the air, but 90 percent of the time you’re on your butt or breaking something. It’s humbling, but you keep doing it because you love it.”
Every year, the photo directors shoot the cover of MINT. This issue, we look to Han and Mestan as two of the masterminds behind the warm glow that is MINT’s cover page.
The cover of the magazine is a declaration of a collective rebirth. A graceful figure lays across a chaise, cloaked in faint shadows and a cascade of mint linens. The surrounding space is empty and burnt orange, save a few books and two glass vases. Above the model in all white, bold font reads “MINT.”
According to the letter from the editors, the set is staged as a stereotypical “grandma’s attic,” and the model is “finally unveiling himself from underneath the sheets that have been collecting dust for so long.” Together, the editors-in-chief assure, we are slowly but surely leaving the attic, which not only represents the pandemic, but an era of isolation. Together, we move toward more self-discovery as we dry ourselves off and readjust to the “new normal” before we head back out into the world.
“We wanted to convey themes of vulnerability and reconnection. Soft shapes and textures led us to use those fabrics as the main props. This represents a metamorphosis, to resemble the feeling of coming out of quarantine and coming back to Stanford after a year, learning to reconnect with people again and develop those relationships,” Mestan said.
The cover page and editorial outtakes were not only the fruits of the photo directors’ labor, but also those of a whole behind-the-scenes team, including the creative director, makeup artists, designers and various stylists.
After some time in grandma’s attic, we’re all ready to reemerge as better, more true versions of ourselves. Getting there, however, is a process — and in this process we must challenge ourselves to redefine what is important, according to our own personal values.
“This is really an opportunity to share that hard work with their friends and to the wider Stanford community. We’ve been put away collecting dust for so long, but this issue is a reawakening for us, an opportunity to reposition ourselves,” Wang said.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.