To be a woman. To walk in both strength and grace. To carry both passion and sensitivity. To see the world through the female eyes. To find beauty in overlooked spaces. To carry and birth the future generations. To be both beautiful and powerful. It's so much more than the body parts.
I've struggled with the concept of being feminine and still being a feminist. Because of many twisted stereotypes and assumptions of feminism, I at first associated "feminist" strictly with removing the contract that said a woman's place is in the household, cooking, cleaning, and of course, looking flawlessly and unbreakably glamorous for her husband. This former standard of women in society is one that attempts to pre-determine my career, but I have aspirations that do not fit in these cookie molds, so they just won't do. I find women to be bold, powerful, spiritual and significant. A women's place therefore should be wherever she chooses to stand tall.
Womanhood is not defined by an A-line tea-cup dress, or an apron covered in baking powder. It's not defined by a lipstick color or a blow-out or a kitten heel. And with that, my heart strived to acknowledge and advocate for the women tossed aside for their non-conventional appearances or ambitions.
However, I realized that I had been mistaken in some important ways. Feminism is NOT about stripping the female sex from its femininity; it's about removing the tight, rigid and unrealistic lines in which past generations have assumed us to color. In fact, it's disproving the assumption that an individual's sexuality or appearance determines their capabilities.
I've experimented in many different realms of the fashion world. I've had "tom-boy" phases, retro phases when I mimicked the Notebook's costume designs in every way possible, and days (which have not seen an end yet....) where 90% of my closet consists of mustard yellow. When stripped of all trends, news, and comparison to the wardrobes of those around me, I find myself most drawn (fashion-wise) to minimalistic, dainty, feminine pieces. I want to wear these pieces because they are an expression of ME and my individuality - and whatever pieces those are not open for anyone else to make assumptions about my potential to be powerful, innovative, or a leader.
So, I am a feminine feminist. A feminist who is feminine because feminism enables and empowers me to be whatever type of woman I am designed to be, and to be worthy of love and embrace no matter how cropped or flaired my jeans are, or how short my hair is.
To the daughters, sisters, partners, wives, aunts, nanas, and mothers. Celebrating womanhood today and the irreplaceable role we are and contribute to this world.
Much much love to the ladies out there, in all shapes, colors, sizes, and styles.
13 Reasons Why We Can Do Better.
Raising awareness about mental health and advocating for healthy, happy people mind are things so vital to the core of who I am, what I do.
I want to praise people who not only share these values with me, but are actively voicing the dangers of untreated mental illness, as well as spreading a message of hope. It's important that we extend hands of healing and options other than self-destruction or silence to those going through these things. To anyone; to everybody; to ourselves.
But when doing this, it’s got to be in an appropriate way. In a healthy way. And in my opinion, the growing “13 Reasons Why” show and its following do NOT do this.
As a survivor/overcomer/and daily warrior in the realm of mental health issues, I am so so disappointed to hear about the way this show/storyline/production is approaching such a really really real topic. Yes, there have been a lot of media voicing out the danger this show is putting thousands, if not millions, of viewers in, by presenting an in-depth depicting of a suicide plan. For someone struggling with any suicidal thoughts, well Netflix, you may have just released the tutorial that this person previously did not have access or exposure to, and now instead of only feeling understood/supported/hopeful, this person may feel triggered and even more considerate of the idea.
Assuming all pure intentions of the producers and writers, I think it’s noble for these folks to step out and at least try to say SOMETHING, to do something for this issue.
But I personally do not find the delivery of this content effective. The graphic scenes are explicit, and the concept does not depict a realistic portrayal in many ways of the leading up to, or even the aftermath of, a suicide. It suggests suicide can be a way to guilt those who contributed to the individual’s increasing suicidal consideration, and that somebody can use suicide as a way to initiate desired social change. This is not always the case, and we should instead be encouraging open dialogue on mental health, and recognizing suicidal thoughts as a very dangerous side effect of untreated mental illness.
In addition, rape is a way-too-frequent occurrence that needs to be reported and prevented - this series should use its cultural limelight and influence to not just demonstrate the frequency of rape, but to demonstrate ways it can be prevented, or otherwise appropriately reported. Instead, the producers chose to explicitly show a graphic rape scene - something that should require a strong trigger content warning - followed by a emotionally scarred witness who didn't have the resources to properly report the situation. Again, why was it so necessary to include explicit detail of the rape, something incredibly dishonoring and triggering to survivors of sexual harassment, and something in my opinion too detailed for a viewer with a predator tendency or disposition.
If the series' intention is to demonstrate what NOT to do in various situations and cultural tendencies, it's too selective in which backstories it develops. For example, rather than depict the final 13 triggers leading up to how this mentally ill student decided to go forth with suicide, why not depict the steps of self care that were avoided and shouldn't be? Why not depict the red flags leading up to the rape, so viewers can be more actively aware of these warning signs?
We as a species should be better facilitating spaces of compassion. We as a species should be better developing self-awareness of our words and actions. And when putting together a project as daring as "13 Reasons Why," it should be a collaboration between mental health professionals, counselors, suicide attempt survivors, their families and peers, and educators. I don't feel it ethical to dress up suicide in any way as a foundation for entertainment.
I have so many more thoughts, but I want to limit the content I dedicate to this delicate and heavy topic on this blog.
Now that the conversation is open in culture folks, let’s improve our dialogue and our delivery.
When it comes to the dangerous concept of “perfectionism,” I’ve found a lot of the approach to perfectionism is based on comparison. For example, if I am given a piece of clay and told simply to “create,” I may experiment with shapes and textures or be inspired by a personal idea. There are no guidelines, no requirements. When finished, I will feel inspired, maybe exhausted, maybe energized. However, if someone then shows me the same portion of clay transformed into a flawless teacup by another pair of hands, I may feel a surge of discouragement, a surge of determination or frustration to redo my creation and pursue the modeled design instead. When I’m not given something to compare my own art to, I have less pressure to meet a specific expectation and more freedom to create on my own.
I see this again in my music studies, and it is something I am working to reverse. I hope to use examples of more advanced artists as inspiration to practice, strengthen, and explore the art and the field I’m passionate about, rather than a source of discouragement or unhealthy comparison. I hope to do so in a nurturing way that’s mindful of my own individuality.
Instead of setting inhuman expectations on myself, I strive to celebrate my individuality and the growing process while I’m enduring it.
One of my dear friends (and absolutely breathtaking vocalists), K.W., gave me a beautiful reminder of this after my strained vocal cords gave way during a line in a winter performance. I approached him, thinking only of the two mis-pitched and shaky notes I had delivered, rather than the other 28 minutes of flawless art. He hugged me warmly, and did not mention, despite my expectations, the unveiling of my vocal limits. When I brought it up, he shook my hand and said, “Congratulations on being a human being.”
This has always stuck with me.
So, take your shaking hands, your mistakes, your missed shots, dirty dishes, and spilt wine, and let's celebrate them as our stamps of humanity.