When I was young, I shaved my legs every day; EVERY day. Spring, Summer, Autumn, AND Winter; every day. The media told me that having smooth, moisturized, soft legs was an important part of being pretty – and as a teenager and young person I bought into it. I believed the myth of beauty society fed me.
As I came into adulthood, I still shaved – though not with the same frequency. I spent a great deal of my time as a young adult sick and in pain… pretty just wasn’t as important when you hurt so bad that you can’t get up and down stairs without dissolving into tears. But I still shaved and moisturized. It was part of being a girl. We couldn’t have people thinking I actually grew hair on my legs.
Then I became a Mom. And yes, even then I shaved my legs. By then it was just one of those chores you do. Going swimming? Better shave. Wearing shorts or a skirt? Better shave. Just part of the self-grooming routine. Something I didn’t think about. Something I did in a rather robotic fashion, another member of the trained masses.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing these things are choices – even if we don’t always feel they are. Not all Women shave. In some parts of the world it would seem odd to do so. My daughter believed this until she was three. Then one day she laughed, astonished, at the ridiculous notion that a Woman could choose not to shave. That was the day I stopped shaving my legs.
Lily-Ann has other Women in her life who are non-shavers, my sister for one. But clearly this was something she needed to see with more frequency. It may seem like a small thing, but I needed her to know that we have a choice. We don’t have to shave. We don’t have to buy into the view of beauty that the media is selling, we can choose something different.
I may be the odd Woman out here in North America, sporting hairy legs all year long – without shame and, quite frankly, with a little pride. And yes, it may seem like a strange thing to take a stand on… but I couldn’t let my daughter grow up thinking she has no choice, that she has to go along with whatever ideals society sets before her.
She has options and choices. We all do.
Sure, I could have kept on shaving – but she shocked me out of it. Sometimes, that’s what we need. Something to shock us out of that robotic state we get lulled into. Something to bring us back into personhood. A sudden splash of cold water, a bucketfull dumped on us while we lay half asleep, lounging in the sun. Something to remind us we’re alive, and we have the right to make these seemingly small, seemingly insignificant, choices for ourselves. And sometimes, those small choices end up being some of the biggest.
As of yesterday afternoon, my Power of SHe project has made it’s way onto facebook. This? This is your official invitation. 🙂
For those of you who’ve been following this blog for some time know all about the Power of SHe, for those who don’t, here’s the press bio for my little art instillation: The Power of SHe is about how we, as self-identified Women, define ourselves in light of how society and the media seek to define and confine us.
I’ve been working on the Power of SHe for some time now. It’s been exhibited twice, and continues to grow. I believe it is a very important body of work, and something we desperately need. So I hope you’ll join us as the journey continues. The more the merrier. Let’s force a shift from art project to movement. We can make change happen!
Well, we’re here! The sixteenth annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan is tomorrow! There is still time to register – though not much. So if you haven’t done so, get’r done! There really is no time left. Get your registration done tonight! All the details are here: http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.php
And because you asked for it, I’ll be doing my session on understanding sex, gender, and orientation TWICE. That means you’ve got an extra opportunity to get in on this discussion if you missed it last year. And even if you did get in last year, because I conduct it as a discussion, it will never be the same as where we go is truly directed by YOU.
Okay… now for a few fun pictures. 😉
It was 80’s day at Kid kid’s school today. Normally I’m all for spirit days and getting dressed up. But an 80’s day? Two thirds of everything that the cool kids are wearing these days are totally 80’s inspired – which means every day is 80’s day. Seriously, every item the girl wore was out of her usual wardrobe.
That said… the 80’s were about excess… so we loaded on the bangles, we loaded on the belts, we loaded on the hair spray… and we added slouch socks – because that’s one style that didn’t make it back. And because it’s Thursday, that meant that I had to get dressed up too, after all I couldn’t spend the afternoon at school and NOT take part in 80’s day. LOL So I found the perfect jacket (and stuffed socks under my bra straps to mimic shoulder pads), pulled on some black leggings, a gold lamé skirt, and again with the slouch socks. Then we did our hair and make-up… everything in excess! It was great. 😀
I’ve posted before about the glorious art form that is DRAG, so consider this post The Art of Drag – The Next Generation.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of being the official photographer at a rather phenomenal event here in Saskatoon. It was the True Colours Drag Show hosted by the Avenue Community Center. All sorts of performers, from current Drag Superstars to those who are the future of the art, all performing together in a grand spectacle. It really was a brilliant night, and I am so thrilled to have played a part – even just a small one. So here are a few names to remember:
Though our sky was dark and dreary for much of the day today, my heart was happy as I look forward. We are coming into crunch time for planning this years Breaking the Silence conference. This conference is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I am so blessed to be on the board. And while our key theme this year is a sporting one (focusing on issues in the locker room and beyond) it will deal with the same truths we all care so much about, bullying and living as our authentic selves. I’m looking forward to another highly successful conference this March.
The website still contains information from 2012, but it should be updated shortly with information on our keynote and registration for 2013: http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/
And join me tomorrow as we take a look at my “daily routine” in another exciting photo a day challenge post:
Hey! Remember me?
Yeah, it’s been a while. I know. Things have been a little crazy hectic here. But we finally got everything moved out of the old house and into our new home (and the garage and shed). No, we aren’t actually unpacked yet… but I’m making slow progress.
We have our computer/crafting nook set up. Which, let’s face it, is of prime importance in this family – and I’d suspect many more others than will admit to it. The girl has already been busy at work both on the computer and sitting at her own little craft station, making all sorts of things.
The girl’s bedroom is MOSTLY set up. For now her mattress is on the floor and she does have some boxes still that need unpacking. She has usable space though, and her clothes are all accessible in her closet. So I’m happy with where we’re at there (for now).
We moved in our little antique “three bears” kitchen table and chairs yesterday so finally got to use them. If you remember way back when, I blogged about them when we first bought them. 🙂 They’re super cute, but I’ll be honest… while their style fit in perfectly at our old place? They don’t match quite as well here. So I’m open for suggestions on how to paint/stain/refinish them to help them blend a little better in a European kitchen.
Our bedroom is partially put together. Still a long way to go in here… but we have a bed, a closet, and a tv (as well as a butt load of boxes). I know it will come together yet, but yeah. Our room isn’t exactly the priority.
The bathroom requires some work… new tub, new vanity, new counter top, new light fixture(s), new floor. Honestly? I think the only things I’m okay with keeping are the toilet and the sink. So we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us in there.
So yeah… exhausted. But I am slowly putting things together.
Damon had taken the last two weeks off to help pack up the old place, move, and get started on the unpacking. Today was his first day back at work. It feels kinda odd not having him around. I’d gotten used to it.
Today was also the first day I used my new key fob for our alarm system. I’ve never had an alarm system, so it does take some getting used to. Gotta get in the habit of pushing those buttons when I’m supposed to. LOL
Today the girl had her school photo retakes too. And yes, I’m sure this one will turn out MUCH better. She was just too darn busy playing with her friends in line to want to bother with the picture last time. Where today it was just her in the room, so it went much easier.
Further, today marks the International Day of Remembrance. A couple years ago I had organized a candlelight vigil down at the memorial bandshell beside the North Saskatchewan River. This year I’ll mark it quietly at home with my family. And I do ask that those of you who aren’t doing something en mass do the same. Just take a moment to remember all those amazing people who lost their lives simply for having the courage to live authentically. It is simply not right that so very many *trans women and men are murdered EVERY YEAR for being themselves. It is so beyond a time for change. Some Women have penises, and some Men have a vagina – get over it. People should not have to die because they don’t fit into some other persons idea of what “man” or “woman” means. My *trans sisters and brothers are incredible, strong, brave, compassionate individuals and they should not have to fear for their safety every time they leave their homes. So yes, if you do nothing else, take a few minutes out of your day to remember the many, many men and women who have been brutally murdered for the crime of being who they genuinely are.
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.
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.
I had to share a recent project by an artist whose work I really enjoy. It’s not their usual medium, however they were inspired by a find at the family cottage and so set to work. She is refinishing a dollhouse originally built by her Grandfather and played with by her mother, and is sharing the progress on her Deviant Art account. Why do I feel the need to share this? Well, the most recent addition to her tiny home is a Transgender doll that began it’s existence as female, but has transitioned to male… right down to the binder (worn a little low, but still poignant).
I’d like to introduce you to this bibliophile of a doll, who is yet unnamed, but seems quite happy in his new life:
You can check out more of Ulla Thynell’s work at DA, where her username is ullakko. Here is a direct link to her journal, where she first introduced us to our unnamed friend and shared a little about his transition: http://my.deviantart.com/messages/#/d595iqi And while he was not created with the intent of any kind of deeper meaning, I believe there is some truth to be found in how his physical self had to be ground down to find his final and true form.