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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Kandi is sweeter than candy: a savior for my phobia

Jex Sammael Popov
“…Until all I could think about is neon green, pastel yellow, pink and eye-splitting cyan.”

Throughout my entire 15 years of living, nothing else has been more persistently terrifying than the veins on my wrists. Just the sight of the small, fragile and exposed lines criss-crossing the thin portions of my extremities still makes me nearly nauseous with anxiety. 

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been suffering from an obscure phobia called venephobia — the irrational fear of seeing or touching my veins and arteries. Specifically, I’m afraid of how fragile my veins are and the idea that I could press down on them too hard and accidentally pop them. I’ve never been particularly skinny, but the area that was always thin enough to take the brunt of this terror was the inside of my wrists.

My solution from a young age to deal with this nearly debilitating fear was to cover my wrists up! In STYLE! 

At first, I used to just wear bracelets that I bought, arranging them differently on my arms and piling them on until they trailed up to cover the whole area-which-must-not-be-named. Soon, however, I decided to get a little more creative with it and started making my own bracelets.

In the rave subculture, there’s a style of bracelet called a kandi bracelet. It’s made using square, bright-colored beads and often incorporates text beads or beads shaped like hearts or stars. What initially drew me to this phenomenon was the bright colors, the homemade aesthetic and the habit of rave kandi enthusiasts piling the bracelets up high on their wrists, covering the entire area which I never wanted to see or touch. It was the perfect solution!

Photo by Jex Sammael Popov

The bracelets all together.

One aspect I really enjoy is the customizability of making little jokes through the text beads, such as small puns or inside references for things I enjoy. For example, my Minecraft creeper bracelet, my bracelet dedicated to Monster Energy: Ultra Strawberry Dreams or my “Live, Laugh, Lobotomy” meme bracelet (which is one of my favorites). I usually wear the same bracelets each day on the same arm in the same spot, sorting them carefully by color palette and the length of the text on each.

Photo by Jex Sammael Popov

Left hand bracelets.

Photo by Jex Sammael Popov

Right hand bracelets.

The process of beading my bracelets also makes for quite a relaxing stim — the repetitive, predictable pattern is one I come to enjoy. Pick the colors, loop the string through the bead, loop the string back through a second time and tie the end off. 

Pick, loop, loop, tie, pick, loop, loop and tie. It honestly feels quite meditative. I can lose myself in the automatic motions for hours on end, until all I could think about is neon green, pastel yellow, pink and eye-splitting cyan.

I came to enjoy my hobby quite a bit, although with the student life grind I now have less time to indulge in it. My now extensive bracelet collection has become my outlet of creativity, and today, the bracelets on my arms basically feel like an extension of me.

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