Category Archives: Feminism

Strawberry Cream Cheese

I love hearing how other people see my daughter.  I know how I know her to be, but how a child behaves at home and how they behave when Mom isn’t around are often two different things.  So the stories I heard from kid kid’s teacher today were very nice to hear.

Apparently, after coming back from a lesson with Mr. G (who teaches both music and phys.ed) the kids were telling Ms. W how one particular classmate had been bad.  They all reported in, one after another, how this classmate had not behaved and ended up in trouble.  Then one student said “Lily-Ann was bad”.  Their teacher stopped and with a quizzical look repeated, questioningly “Lily-Ann was bad?”  To that, she explained, came an entire chorus of  “No” or “Lily-Ann is never bad” and “Lily-Ann is good.”  LMAO  I guess it was just a question of one student’s Freudian slip.

We also talked about how she, as their teacher, gets a unique look into each of their home lives.  Through the things they say and do, she’s able to figure things out about each of their lives.  How one student must watch a lot of horror movies, and another is jealous of their sibling(s).  She continued to tell me, with a smile, how Lily-Ann is always there to help and encourage her fellow students.  How she is always supportive, even through creative play.  And how a couple of days ago she was playing in the kitchen center and told the student pretending to be the child how she, the mom, was preparing strawberry cream cheese because it’s sweet like they were.  And how she was going to make it from scratch by cutting up her own garden strawberries.  I’ll admit, I like the story of our home life that paints.  🙂  And it’s true.  I make her mini-bagels with yummy and sweet strawberry cream cheese because she’s sweet like a strawberry and it’s just one way I can show her that I love her.

My daughter isn’t just sweet and supportive though, she’s strong too.  And she’ll defend herself, standing her ground if you try to tell her otherwise.  I guess one boy has been teasing her, telling her he’s stronger than she is, trying to get her goat.  But she’ll just look him in the eye and tell him otherwise…  he’s gotten himself in trouble with the teacher a couple times now for insisting she’s not as strong as he is.  LOL

The kid isn’t one to back down if she knows she’s right, but she also knows how important it is to offer love and compassion to those around her.  It makes me proud to know these are lessons she has internalized simply by how we treat her.  It’s nice to know others see the amazing girl I do when they see her too.

5 Girls & 7 Boys – Gender and Sex in a Kindergarten Class

On Thursday my attention was drawn to a new part of the daily routine for the girl’s kindergarten class.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something to have it changed.  Today was my first chance.

A simply drawn boy wearing a baseball cap, and holding a bat and ball, coloured blue with the word BOY.  His counterpart in pink with a pretty dress and holding a flower with the word GIRL sits beside him.  Both on the bulletin board next to the calendar, a counting chart, and other simple items used to subtly teach the kindergarten class basic numerical skills.

boy and girl clipart

The teacher touches the head of each student she deems as “boy”, counting as she goes.  “Seven boys.”  The number gets written on the wipe off board under the picture representing “boy”.  She then touches the head of each remaining child, counting.  “Five girls.”  That number gets written on the board too.  An addition sign gets added between them, and everyone counts on their fingers.  “Twelve kids.  Seven boys and five girls makes twelve kids.”

Now, my ideal kindergarten is gender neutral.  At this age there really is no reason at all to discuss “boy” or “girl”, what each means, and how we each fit into societies gender binary – at least not at school.  At the very least, if it can’t be a neutral space, it should be a equal space.  And these disgustingly stereotypical figures are far from that.  If we must count girls and boys, we need to ask the children “Who identifies as a boy?”  Then count the raised hands, marking the result under the word (no picture) BOY.  “Who feels like a girl?”  Then count those raised hands, marking those results under the word GIRL.  But I think we can do better.  Why reinforce a false binary by bring gender into question at all?  After all, there are more than two sexes, more than two genders (and the terms boy and girl can refer to either gender or sex, which just further muddies the water).

Why not ask “Who likes baseball?” and “Who likes football?” and add those two numbers.  Switch it up, and the next day ask “Who likes veggies?” and “Who likes fruit?”.  Every day of the week could be a different pairing of questions.  After all, we don’t need to come up with the same answer every day.  Some kids may vote yes to both, some may not raise their hand at all.  This way we practice our early math skills, learn something interesting about our friends, AND we don’t reinforce any false notions about gender or sex – which have no place in a kindergarten class to begin with.

I spoke to kid kid’s teacher about my concerns today, and I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure she understood my concerns at all.  She thanked me for bringing them to her attention – but it was very much a canned response…  what one could expect from someone who has never really given much thought to their own gender or sexual identity, someone with CIS privilege, who has lived in a very small, heteronormative box, their entire life.  While I don’t hold this against her, it does mean it may be time for a little educating.  Issues of gender and sexual identity are vitally important to the health and safety of our young people (and the adults they will become), and even something as simple as being told they are BOY…  simply drawn with a baseball cap, bat and ball, coloured blue…  can hurt, when that child knows -inside- it’s not right.

Love Yourself!

It’s no secret that I’m body positive. I think we should love and celebrate ourselves as we are. Fat, scrawny, or anything in between… Love yourself!

"love yourself and you are in for the romance of a lifetime"

Of course, loving yourself doesn’t have to mean you love all your parts equally, and it doesn’t mean you have an unhealthy, romanticized view of yourself, it means that you accept yourself as you are.  You can have parts you don’t adore (heck, if I could get rid of these “wings” quickly and easily, I would) but you can still celebrate and love yourself for who you are without focusing on some other persons view of who you “SHOULD” be.  We need to be gentle with ourselves, and treat ourselves with kindness and love.

Recently I was talking with someone and was trying to celebrate with them on a weightless goal… This individual told me how they’d been several hundred pounds in their teens, and how even though they just celebrated losing another thirty pounds (and are, by many standards, very thin) they are still trying to lose more. When I asked why they were determined to lose even more weight, they explained how awesome it felt to go into stores to buy clothes and have things fit.

I’ll be honest, I felt this weird twinge of twisted self conscious, body awareness – like way back when I suffered from low self esteem and worried constantly about what others thought of me to the point where my assumptions about their views became how I defined myself. And this flash of “what must they think of me???” crossed my mind. It was very fleeting, but I felt it none the less. Looking back, I’m ashamed that it ever entered my consciousness… But it did.

Now as I look back on our conversation I truly feel sadness, not for that brief flicker of self doubt, but for this individual who at our age has such a warped sense of self. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be young, fragile, and to hate your body so very very much…. to the point where it makes you hate yourself.  Then to have it further compounded by the inability to buy clothes at the teen trend stores… and to still be dealing with those same feelings of inadequacy now.

That high from dropping weight and the reward of buying new clothes from a favourite store or designer is huge… But when it gets to the point where it becomes an obsession, like any obsession, it can be dangerous and unhealthy. When are we going to learn to love ourselves? To accept our bodies and our many fabulous flaws?

I mentioned that I’d change my “wings” if I could.  I love my body.  I love my rolls, and my belly button that looks like an upward pointing arrow, my stretch marks…. My body is proof that I have lived and lived well. I have rocked this body, and I love the stories it has to tell.  And while yes, if there was a fast, easy, healthy, and effective way to tame my wings (those hanging bits of skin under my upper arms) I’d do it, but I certainly don’t obsess on them.  In fact, I rarely think of them at all, and when I do, they certainly don’t make me hate myself – ANY part of myself.

We really do need to learn to love ourselves, regardless of our shape. Embrace yourself. Treasure yourself. Honor yourself. Celebrate yourself. No matter your size or shape, treat yourself like the incredible being you are! Sure, there may be something you’d change if given the opportunity, but let that something be about YOU and not some seriously demented standard of beauty the media shoves on you.  Shower yourself with love and affection!

For those of you still holding a mirror up to the world in search of your own personal self worth?  Love yourself first.  Know that you are amazing.  Others will follow your lead.

Our words shape our children, be gentle!

The thing we say to our children now, will impact them for the rest of their lives.  Lily-Ann is five now, but one day she’ll be thirty-five and she’ll hear my words reverberate through her mind.  What I say to her today will one day become her inner dialogue.  It’s a scary and weighty thing.

The one thing I find myself saying, that I try to catch myself on before it slips out, is “How old are you?” in a rather shaming tone.  If she’s acting like a nincompoop, using baby talk, whining, or feigning that something is just too hard (when I’ve seen her do it dozens, if not hundreds, of times before) I’ll ask her how old she is.  If I catch myself after the fact?  I try to goofy it up a bit by wrinkling up my nose and saying in a goofy tone “Are you two?  No…  you’re three.  No, wait, that’s not right…”  I hate the idea that my frustrated “how old are you” may one day be what she hears in her head when she feels needy or stressed.

It’s a heavy thing, knowing the small things we say or do – sometimes out of frustration or exhaustion – may one day shape our children’s inner dialogues.  I do my best to fill her mind with things like “if you work hard enough, you can do anything” or “be gentle to yourself”…  but I’m only human, and, well…  chances are I’ll still mess her up.

Being broken is part of the human condition.  But I’m doing my best to shape my daughter’s view of herself into something positive.  She is strong, she is capable, she is utterly fabulous, and she is deeply and truly loved – THAT is what I want her to remember when she feels weak, when she feels tired, when she feels broken.

Busty Girl Comics – You’re Welcome!

Have you discovered Busty Girl Comics yet?  No?  Ohhhh….  You are in for a treat!

And seriously, even better than the wit and wisdom (yep, there’s a healthy dose of that too)?  She’s totally inclusive and has a great level-headed approach to her work.  She’s trans* friendly, pro-breastfeeding, and all about loving your body – whomever you are.  So yeah.  Definitely worth checking out.  🙂  …and you’re welcome – cause I know you’ll be thanking me afterwards.  😉

Busy Girl Comics is at http://bustygirlcomics.com/

The Power of SHe – Photography Debut

Last night marked the debut of six pieces from my Power of SHe project.  They were premiered at the Mosaic art and fashion show, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Pride in Saskatoon.  It was a sold out event, with spectacular performances, beautiful clothing, and an outstanding array of artistic work.  I was proud to have my work featured at such a fabulous event.  My congratulations to the Saskatoon Diversity Network for putting on this groundbreaking event, and my thanks for all their hard work.

Now, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the six pieces I debuted last night.  As many of you are aware, The Power of SHe is a personal project of mine focusing on how we, as Women, choose to define ourselves vs how society and the media seek to define and confine us.  I hope it forces people to take a closer look at what makes us who we are, and find those things which unite us.  As Women we should be supporting one another in our choices, finding strength within ourselves and helping to empower our sisters.  That is what The Power of SHe is all about.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All six images can be seen in greater detail (and are available for purchase) at:  http://td365.smugmug.com/Art/The-Power-of-SHe/  For information on how you can become involved in this important project, visit http://photography.tobi-dawne.com/Power_of_SHe.html

 

Biting me in the ass: a blessing of pregnancy

People often talk about the joys of pregnancy, birth, and parenting…  very often forgetting the tribulations, pains, and trials of each.  And with good reason.  Those joys far outweigh the negatives in almost every circumstance.  However, some pains deserve mentioning, some pains which get horribly overlooked, and are considered by polite society as being unmentionable.

Yes, this is going to be one of those TMI posts.  So, if you don’t want to read about the gross, the bloody, and the unpleasant?  Stop reading now.  Here.  Here’s a picture of the kid, all sweet and lovely in the new tutu I made for her:

Oh so sweet and darling in her pretty pink and white tutu, I love kid-kid!

 

So now that you’ve had your candy, sweet and full of sugar (but blessedly free of high fructose corn syrup)…  it’s onto the nasties I promised earlier.  That’s right.  Time to look away.  You’ve been warned.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Still with me?

.

.

.

Not sure you should be?

.

.

.

.

Well…  get ready for it…

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Image of Grade Two Hemorrhoids ©Prof. Dr. Alexander Herold, 2012

 

Hemorrhoids.

Yep.  I said it.

I totally dropped the H bomb.

But let’s face it, Moms!  It’s one of the things, that for many, comes along with pregnancy and then sticks around afterwards.

Here are a few articles for those of you who WERE blissfully unaware:

http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/preg_hemorrhoids.htm

http://www.happy-healthy-pregnancy.com/hemorrhoids-in-pregnancy.html

http://www.amazingpregnancy.com/pregnancy-articles/177.html

The only actual USEFUL page I’ve found though, is this one:

http://www.hemorrhoidshemroids.com/pregnancy-prolapse-hemroids-hemorrhoids.html

Generally speaking, these sites make it sounds as though – in spite of these nasty little bastards being COMMON that they are easy to deal with, not really that unpleasant, and they’ll just disappear when the hemorrhoid fairy visits shortly after birth.  Ummm..  NO!

The very first sign that I was pregnant?  Before morning sickness, before a missed period, before anything?  I got hemorrhoids.  Yep.  Welcome to my world!  And yes, here we are, the girl only a month and a half away from her fifth birthday and that lovely little gift she gave me plagues me to this day.  Would I endure this pain every day for the rest of my life for her?  You bet your freakin’ ass (and apparently I have done just that).

What bothers me is that it’s not okay to talk about things like this.  Mommy brain?  Skin tags?  Stretch marks?  Even the dreaded “mother’s apron” are all okay conversation starters.  But don’t dare drop the H bomb.  Forget polite society, even in the dregs it’s unacceptable.  Yet it’s something SOOO many of us suffer in silence with.  Why?  If this is such a common part of motherhood, why is it a forbidden topic?

I’m sick of hushed voices and embarrassed shushes.  This is part of my life as a mom.  It’s a super “crappy” part of it, but it came part and parcel with my little bundle of joy and energy.  And while I am thankful for her every single day, I do look forward to the day this particular bundle of swollen veins stops biting me in the ass.

My thoughts have been focused…

My thoughts, of late, have been focused on the upcoming Mosaics art and fashion show.  Today I finally made my decision on which pieces to debut.  And they will be:

  • Fólkvangr
  • Valkyrie
  • Persephone & Demeter
  • Venus
  • Mass Consumption
  • Packaged4Consumption

So there you have it!  But no, I will not post previews of them here.  LOL  They are DEBUTING at the art show, so if you’d like to witness their debut, you’ll have to go to the show.  😉

However, I will share the self portrait that may also make a showing there.  It, unlike the other six, is not officially a part of my Power of SHe project (which is now posted at my photography website at http://photography.tobi-dawne.com/Power_of_SHe.html).  And you may have seen it before, it’s me.  Yep, a self portrait.  Me at the Pink Prom.

Tobi-Dawne Smith is TD Photography; Saskatoon's Photosmith - at the pink prom

Find out more about the Mosaic art show at these links:

https://www.facebook.com/events/415945375095621/

http://www.saskatoonpride.ca/#!June%2013th/csx5

Advance tickets are only $10, or purchase them at the door for $15.  See you there!

Amazing what a difference half a decade makes!

On Friday, I received my new drivers license in the mail.  A lot has changed since I had taken my previous DL photo.  Not just in my life, but procedurally as well.

Now they require a new photo every five years.  I think it used to be every seven (but don’t quote me on that).  It used to be you could wear glasses, smile, act and be natural in your photo.  Now, even if you wear glasses full time they have to be off, and not only are you not allowed to crack a toothy grin, you aren’t allowed to smile at all.  But, as you’ll note from my new license, a wry smirk is perfect acceptable.

My Driver's License Photo - Old and New

My Driver’s License Photo – Old and New

 

I have to admit…  when I received my new license and pulled the old one from my wallet, I stopped and stared at the photos for a while.  What a difference roughly half a decade makes.  The first photo was before I was married, before Lily-Ann was even a vague idea.  It was before I’d changed focus from my work as an expert in Canine Communication to Professional Photographer.  I voted Green back then, but wasn’t a member of the party, and would never dream I would run the provincial party and run for office during a provincial election, a national election, and a provincial by-election.  It was before I returned to my roots and realized how much I missed working with youth.  I hadn’t outed myself as a former victim of sexual assault, and was ashamed of the fact that I had FMS and IBS.  It was a very different me – who was plagued by social anxiety disorder and had a specially trained Service Dog because I couldn’t leave the house alone.

Now?  Wow.  There really isn’t much of that girl left.

I chose my wording carefully, the use of “girl” wasn’t an accident.  I was a girl.  I was a nervous, scared, girl.  I hid it pretty well from most folk…  but I really did live my life scared that I’d be found out, that someone would realize I wasn’t actually good enough to be worthwhile.

I said it once already, but for emphasis, I’ll say it again:  What a difference roughly half a decade makes.

Now?  I’m probably a little too self-assured…  I’m actually downright cocky.  LOL  I know that who I am matters, and what I do makes a difference.  I’m a proud woman.  Confident and ready to tackle pretty much anything that comes my way.  I live out loud, and tend to over share.  Want to know something about me?  Ask.  I’m not afraid and will happily talk to anyone about anything.  I’m doing some pretty amazing things.

Someone asked me if I felt old now that I’ve turned 35, and you know what?  I totally don’t.  I feel like life is just beginning.  I’ve just hit my stride.

 

A2Z – Queens and the Glorious Art Form that is Drag

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Queens and the Art of Drag

 

There is perhaps, no art form as secretly admired and misunderstood as the art that is drag.  And a glorious art form it is.  For those not familiar with the why’s, it is about celebrating all that is Woman.  It’s not about men becoming women, it is about glorifying all those things men (and women) admire in us (and ourselves).  So one might think the art of a drag king is about celebrating men… but nope.  Kings are about supporting Queens – it’s how some might say life SHOULD be.

One of my favourite movies, if for nothing else than the grand spectacle of it all, is Connie and Carla.  And yes, it’s one flick EVERYONE should watch at least once (but preferably at least once a month).  Many of the Queens in the cast are actually Drag Queens, cast in the roles to do as only they know how to do.  I recommend attending as many drag shows as one possibly can…  but if you are too nervous, or live in an area too remote or podunk, then Connie and Carla becomes even more of a necessity.  Don’t stream it, borrow it, or rent it…  BUY IT!

There really is no art I more admire than the art of drag, and here in Saskatoon we really are blessed with some amazing talent.  With the incredible Crystal Clear, Charity Luncheon, and China White here, what more could we possibly ask for?  And they really are only the tip of the iceberg – a beautiful, jaw-dropping, hilarious, absolutely fabulous iceberg.

The history of Drag in Saskatchewan is a long and proud one.  Yes, we may be a stick in the mud, Prairie Province…  sometimes poked fun of with that exact same stick for being all too podunk…  but we have a wonderfully rich drag history.  In fact, it goes all the way back to the 1920’s and the Empire Theatre’s vaudeville revues and continues today with the Imperial Court of the Golden Wheat Sheaf – Saskatchewan’s royal drag court, which is just one small part of the royal court of Canada.

For more on the history of Drag in Saskatchewan you can’t find a better resource than the Neil Richards collection at the U of S…  a small taste of which can be found online at http://scaa.usask.ca/gallery/allfrockedup/en_intro.shtml

I, for one, am thankful for the incredibly hard work of our many dedicated Queens.  They have paved the way for us in so many ways, and continue to do so with grace, confidence, kindness, and laughter.  Thank you!  For all you do!

The beautiful future of drag in our province... and me.

 

%d bloggers like this: