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"Torment yourself as little as possible, then you’ll torment me less."
- Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena
"Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."
- Franz Kafka
I’ve been quiet and closed off on this blog (and the internet) in general for too long. I’m hoping that these posts will now serve a larger purpose as i’ve been grateful to have some pretty amazing friends and followers.
I’ve been thinking a lot this morning about growing up and knowing that my calling was to make artwork and that that was the only option for me. Amongst that was all that doubt and deprecation that came with the people around me during that period of time living in California. Nobody would take what I was doing seriously and it made me depressed and question myself and my own identity.
During my senior year in high school, I had a digital art teacher who made me insecure about what I was creating. We had a project at the beginning of the year that involved us photographing some work over the weekend to bring in to manipulate during the next week. Since I was lazy and forgot, I just brought back some incredibly amateur documentary photography from my vacation in Vietnam the previous summer. The cheesy kind of work that I used to watermark. She doubted my photos and thought that I had plagiarized. The teacher called me out in the middle of the class trying to shame me of what she had thought I’d done. She couldn’t believe that I shot them even though they were terrible photos. Also the fact that i’m Vietnamese didn’t phase her at all. My friend and classmate had to back me up in order to get out of it. Ever since that happened, she was just uptight and treated me like trash for the rest of the school year.
At the end of the year I had asked for a scholarship letter of recommendation from her (I needed an art related teacher, and she was literally my only option). She wouldn’t sign it for a month up until the deadline and kept saying maybe, holding it above my head as if she were to decide if I was worth it or not. It was hard for me because at the time, I was deciding whether or not I was going to pursue art or business school. If I got the scholarship, I would go to art school. If I didn’t receive it, I would go to a public college. When the time finally came she wrote a letter that was half-assed and contrived. I couldn’t believe that I was getting this kind of treatment from an art teacher. Someone who is supposed to encourage me to work in this field, almost made me completely abandon it. Luckily I did get the scholarship and moved on with my life only to put her negativity behind.
I’ve learned a lot from these kinds of experiences and reflect on them from time to time. I hope that people can treat artists with love and respect. If there is room for criticism, then make it constructive. Art is ESSENTIAL. Inspire others to create and push themselves further. If you are being criticized for what you are doing, be honest to yourself and continue doing it because you enjoy it. If there are people doing what they love and what makes them happy then that’s brave and we should all celebrate that.
How much fun did I have with this? A lot. Maybe too much… I had their whole fight ready to redo… and this shot was just too big to put with the rest of the scenes. Sooo yay, it gets a set by itself!
by Jeanann Verlee
loosen and your face
unravels and your
lips fall to the tiles
and your tongue
dries to dust and your
fingers unhinge and
your chest sinks
and your mother
forgets you and your
lover takes a new
name and your desk
is given to your
assistant and your
niece asks where
you’ve gone and
subway doors close
on your ghost
shoulders and dogs
pee on your ankles
and your last meal
remains on the plate
and your wine glass
sits full and your
napkin folded and
your best friend never
calls again and your
and the letters you
on my shelf and the
photos of us melt
into small puddles
along the baseboard
and your closetful
of good shoes go
stiff and your father
remembers you by
a different name
and the children
we never had stop
whispering I love
you in my ear."
- "Unwriting You" by Jeanann Verlee, originally published at failbetter: http://www.failbetter.com/42/VerleeUnwriting.php (via jeanannverlee)
You are 12. You’re at the library looking for some generic young adult fiction novel about a girl who falls for her best friend. Your dad makes a disgusted face. “This is about lesbians,” he says. The word falls out of his mouth as though it pains him. You check out a different book and cry when you get home, but you aren’t sure why. You learn that this is not a story about you, and if it is, you are disgusting.
You are 15. Your relatives are fawning over your cousin’s new boyfriend. “When will you have a boyfriend?” they ask. You shrug. “Maybe she’s one of those lesbians,” your grandpa says. You don’t say anything. You learn that to find love and acceptance from your family, you need a boyfriend who thinks you are worthy of love and acceptance.
You are 18. Your first boyfriend demands to know why you never want to have sex with him. He tells you that sex is normal and healthy. You learn that something is wrong with you.
You are 13. You’re at a pool party with a relative’s friend’s daughter. “There’s this lesbian in my gym class. It’s so gross,” she says. “Ugh, that’s disgusting,” another girl adds. They ask you, “do you have any lesbians at your school?” You tell them no and they say you are lucky. You learn to stay away from people.
You are 20. You have coffee with a girl and you can’t stop thinking about her for days afterwards. You learn the difference between a new friendship and new feelings for a person.
You are 13. Your mom is watching a movie. You see two girls kiss on screen. You feel butterflies and this sense that you identify with the girls on the screen. Your mom gets up and covers the screen. You learn that if you are like those girls, no one wants to see it.
You are 20. You and your friends are drunk and your ex-boyfriend dares you to make out with your friend. You both agree. You touch her face. It feels soft and warm. Her lips are small and her hands feel soft on your back. You learn the difference between being attracted to someone and recognizing that someone you care about is attractive.
You are 16. You find lesbian porn online. Their eyes look dead and their bodies are positioned in a way that you had never imagined. You learn that liking girls is acceptable if straight men can decide the terms.
You are 20. You are lying next to a beautiful girl and talking about everything. You tell her things that you don’t usually tell anyone. You learn how it feels not to want to go to sleep because you don’t want to miss out on any time with someone.
You are 15. Your parents are talking about a celebrity. Your dad has a grin on his face and says, “her girlfriend says that she’s having the best sex of her life with her!” You learn that being a lesbian is about the kind of sex you have and not how you love.
You are 18. You are in intro to women’s and gender studies. “Not all feminists are lesbians- I love my husband! Most of the feminists on our leadership team are straight! It’s just a stereotype,” the professor exclaims. You learn that lesbianism is something to separate yourself from.
You are 21 and you are kissing a beautiful girl and she’s your girlfriend and you understand why people write songs and make movies and stupid facebook statuses about this and time around you just seems to stop and you could spend forever like this and you learn that there is nothing wrong with you and you are falling in love.
You are 21. And you are okay."
- a thing I wrote after arguing with an insensitive dude on facebook all day or Things Other People Taught me about Liking Girls (via samanticshift)
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is eight years old, she’s got pink cheeks that her grandmother calls chubby. She wants a second cookie but her aunt says “you’ll get huge if you keep eating.” She wants a dress and the woman in the changing room says “she’ll probably need a large in that.” She wants to have dessert and her waiter says “After all that dinner you just had? You must be really hungry!” and her parents laugh.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is eleven and she is picked second-to-last in gym class. She watches a cartoon and sees that everyone who is annoying is drawn with a big wide body, all sweaty and panting. At night she dreams she is swelling like the ocean over seabeds. When she wakes up, she skips school.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is thirteen and her friends are stick-thin ballerinas with valleys between their hipbones. She is instead developing the wide curves of her mother. She says she is thick but her friends argue that she’s “muscular” and for some reason this hurts worse than just admitting that she jiggles when she walks and she’ll never be a dancer. Eating seconds of anything feels like she’s breaking some unspoken rule. The word “indulgent” starts to go along with “food.”
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is fourteen and she has stopped drinking soda and juice because they bloat you. She always takes the stairs. She fidgets when she has to sit still. Whenever she goes out for ice cream, she leaves half at the bottom - but someone else always leaves more and she feels like she’s falling. She pretends to like salad more than she does. She feels eyes burrowing through her body while she eats lunch. Kate Moss tells her nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but she just feels like she is wilting.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is fifteen the first time her father says “you’re getting gaunt.” She rolls her eyes. She eats one meal a day but thinks she stays the same size. Every time she picks up a brownie she thinks of the people she sees on t.v. and every time she has cake, she thinks of the one million magazine articles on restricting calories. She used to have no idea a flat stomach was supposed to be beautiful until she saw advice on how to achieve it. She cuts back on everything. She controls. They tell her she’s getting too thin but she doesn’t believe it.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is sixteen and tearing herself into shreds in order for a thigh gap big enough to hush the screams in her head. She doesn’t “indulge,” ever. She can’t go out with friends, they expect her to eat. She damns her sweet tooth directly to hell. It’s coffee for breakfast and tea for lunch and if there’s dance that evening, two cups of water and then maybe an apple. She lies all the time until she thinks the words will rot her teeth. She dreams about food when she sleeps. Her aunt begs her to eat anything, even just a small cookie. They say, “One bite won’t make you fat, will it, darling?”
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is seventeen and too sick to go to prom because she can’t stand up for very long. She thinks she wouldn’t look good in a dress anyway. Her nails are blue and not because they are painted. Her hair is too thin to do anything with. She’s tired all the time and always distracted. She once absently mentions the caloric value of grapes to the boy she is with and he looks at her like she’s gone insane and in that moment she realizes most people don’t have numbers constantly scrolling in their heads. She swallows hard and tries to figure out where it all went wrong, why more than a granola bar for a meal makes her feel sick, why she tastes disease and courts with death. She misses sleep. She misses being able to dream. She misses being herself instead of just being empty.
A FAT LITTLE GIRL
is twenty and writes poetry and is a healthy weight and still fights down the voices every single day. She puts food in her mouth and sometimes cries about it but more and more often feels good, feels balanced. Her cheeks are pink and they are chubby and soft and no longer growing slight fur. Her hair is long and it is beautiful. She still picks herself apart in the mirror, but she’s starting to get better about it. She wears the dress she likes even if it only fits her in a large and she doesn’t feel like a failure for it. She is falling in love with the fat on her hips.
She is eating out with friends and not worrying about finding the lowest calorie item on the menu when she hears a mother tell her four year old daughter “You can’t have ice cream, we just had dinner."
You don’t want to end up as a fat little girl.”
"It’s okay,’ you know? It’s okay to be you. It’s okay to just not be okay. It’s okay to not be okay."