Monday, 30 June 2014

Throwing Like a Girl and Wearing Whatever the Hell You Want

Hallo Again!

I'm going to preface with post by telling you all that wearing these tiny little shorts was a big deal for me. I've been self-conscious about my legs (and butt) for a long long time, even in high school when I was about ten kilos lighter. Just recently, my anti-depressants have made me gain even more weight, so walking around the city in these tiny shorts had me trying to cover my bum with my bag at various intervals, or try to walk alongside walls like some kind of ridiculously dressed super-spy.

I was more concerned with the size of my butt than I was about the fact that it was bloody freezing. Every time a passer-by asked if I was cold, what I actually heard them say is "HA HA HA OH MY GOD YOUR LEGS ARE SO FAT HAHA".

And then I just thought, fuck it. I'm going to skip around and have fun, and oh hey that wall looks like it could use a climbing. 

So ha! Sorry random apartment block in the city, but I got my butt all over your front lawn. And it was great. And I actually think I look great. And besides that- my body is god damn strong. I can lift the heavy things and I'm a pretty damn good swimmer. 

So what makes me feel like my body is holding me back? I think it is a combination of feeling self-conscious about weight and size (like many ladies do) and also what Isis Marion Young calls 'inhibited intentionality'. 

She argues that women are handicapped by the way they perceive their bodies. This perception of what the female body is capable of is perpetuated by a sexist world, an environment in which boys are encouraged to engage with their space while girls are spoon-fed the specifics of what their feminine bodies are limited to. And limits are the key. While boys and men are given liberty to stretch, to recline, to reach and to touch, girls become women when the limits and restrictions of their own bodies are realized, making them refined- ‘lady-like’: confined. 

I remember photo day at my school clearly: the girls and boys who sat in the front row were told to sit in different ways. My friend Ryan would be told to sit with his legs parted, palms fisted and firmly positioned by his knees. I was told to sit with my legs closed, shoulders back with my hands folded neatly in my lap. While men seem to have the autonomy to embody their bodies and use it as much as they can in the space around them, sitting with open-legs and reclined, stretching arms, a woman sits with their legs closed, palms folded neatly into her lap, spatially contained by her femininity.

Arguably, men embody their bodies more freely than women who treat their bodies like machines. Women’s machines are supposedly faulty, impaired and in constant state of needing repair. According to Sandra Lee Bartky, modern normative femininity perpetuates this by setting a standard, which is concerned mainly with youth and beauty. Bartky, suggests that ‘the strategy of much beauty-related advertising is to suggest to women that their bodies are deficient’. We see it all the time in the media: anti-aging creams, skin-contouring makeup, product that claim to tame the unruly thing that the body is to a woman.

Growing up, little girls are often encouraged by both their parents and by society to avoid getting dirty, to not play rough.This leads the little girl to grow up with a sense of being enclosed in her own space, defined by her body. She grows into a woman that is aware of her body’s own perceived fragility; like afore mentioned, her body-thing is faulty, and able to break at any moment. 

There is often not a correlation between woman’s intentions and how she will position her body to carry out these intentions. Women are told they throw in a certain way, that they cannot lift the heavy things in the gym, that they cannot run as fast as the boys. So even if a woman’s physicality and bodily makeup actually predisposes her to being able to do these things, she often will not realize that herself. This is because of the inhibitions that hold the feminine body back, which are a byproduct of the implications of gender constraints. A woman’s capacity in her motility is dictated by the social and cultural constructs she exists in; just as her gender is. Gender dictates how we use our bodies in the spaces we inhabit. Isis Marion Young says: 

“The space, that is, physically available to the feminine body is frequently of greater radius than the space that she uses and inhabits”  

(by the way, everything in this post is thrifted- except for the eggs and bacon brooch, which I made. Ha!)

So, where does this all leave me and my poor legs?

I have big legs. They are strong legs. Most of the time, they are ridiculously hairy, scratched and bruised legs. They take me on adventures. They let me run, swim and climb the walls of random apartment block. And regardless of what society has been telling me, and probably you, about our bodies not being good enough, about them needing to be confined, about us not being able to use them properly, about how apparently to 'throw like a girl' is apparently a bad thing- I'm going to keep doing all these things anyway.

And you should too.

As a sidenote, the always amazing Annika put together this outfit for me! And I'm glad she did, because otherwise I never would have worn those bloody tiny shorts. And I'm so glad I did. Giving my leggies a little bit of loving is exactly what I needed. So go ahead and wear whatever the hell you want, and while your at it, throw like a girl.

Here is a fantastic ad circulating the net right now, which tries to flip the 'throwing like a girl' mentality on it's head. It's fantastic, so watch it!

PS. Have some references!

Young, Isis Marion. 1990. Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Bartky, Sandra Lee. 1988. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power” in Feminism and Foucault: Paths of Resistance (Pp. 61-86). Ed. Lee Quinty and Irene Diamond. Northeastern University Press.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Mrs Strong takes on Nutella, Anxiety and Getting Out of Bed


Just--how amazing is this 'Mrs Strong' pinafore that Annika made for me?!

 Last week Annika and I had plans to spend the day crafting together, but I had to pull out last minute because I had a huge anxiety attack. I couldn't even talk- I had to get my boyfriend Oskar to call Annika for me. Hum dum dee dum. Dealing with anxiety and depression makes it so hard to do the things that you love sometimes. It is so hard to get out of your own head. It's pretty much the worst.

But I am absolutely blessed to have the most amazing people around me all the time. Including Annika- who turned up later that evening with this:

She spent the entire day making it- how amazing is it?! She told me that I could put it on any time I am having a hard time. I pretty much just collapsed on the floor and cried like a stupid big (happy) baby. It flipped my day right over, and that night we both wore our matching Mr Men outfits to the Finders Keepers craft markets in Sydney, where we had an amazing time looking at all the wonderful handicrafts, jewellery and clothing. We're considering (not really, maybe) dropping out of uni and becoming full-time crafter cutesters. We got drunk off one cider each (which we drank with a straw) and bought some lovely and ridiculous things.

Day= saved.

(Hand-made mushroom hair clip and cloud brooch by Annika Victoria)

Wearing this pinafore does make me feel strong. I feel the strongest and most confident when I am doing something utterly ridiculous and not taking myself seriously. It makes me feel creative, and open to possibility. Sometimes I wake up and feel like I can absolutely take the day by storm. I walk down the street smiling at strangers, making friends with children and planning adventures. And things seem to fall into place. Sometimes I wake up and I'm terrified and I don't really know why, and then that fear is so exhausting that I can't get out of bed. And that makes me feel worse. It's like imaginary super-glue that you know is imaginary, but that doesn't make it any less sticky.

(Thrifted vintage rainbow converse!)

(Hand-made apple-slicer earring from Finders Keepers craft markets)

But we have a tendency to treat bad thoughts like velcro and good thoughts like teflon. What I mean by this is that we go over and over all the 'bad' things we've done, beating ourselves up about it. And then when something good happens, we feel good. But then we forget. We don't think about it as often. It feels narcissistic, or wrong. But why? 

I am endeavouring to take a little time out of my day each day to remind myself of something cool I have achieved. I think it is something we should all do. It's not the sappy 'love everything about yourself' affirmation technique (which is proven to only work on people who already have high self-esteem), it's simply taking a little time to be honest with yourself. Because you have done something that's made you feel good. You've probably just forgotten about it.

What makes you guys feel strong? Another thing that has been incredibly uplifting for me is being introduced to the blogging world, and the wonderful comments and feedback I get from you guys. So please leave a message- tell me what makes you feel really good about yourself.

Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a healthy amount of chocolate in your life. I am currently desperately scraping the last remnants from a nutella jar. My friend Elsher has been known to dip banana into her nutella, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you all do this immediately. And then sprinkle it with coconut. And then put on some electro-swing, really loudly. And dance.

Here is some afore-mentioned electro-swing. Put on something ridiculous and have a bit of dance to this. I (double) dare you.


Hope you are all having a great week!

Love, Katie xoxo

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Oversized Dresses and Shrinking Women


So this week I have been pretty busy at uni, and I just handed in a massive Gender & Anthropology essay. So when I was finished, I treated myself to some new blog photos with the forever-clever and cute Annika. It was absolutely freezing on this afternoon, but we were so driven to get at least one outfit shot, as I had lugged a whole picnic basket full of clothes on the bus on the way over ( I have been slowly but surely incorporating my new picnic basket into all facets of life).

I love this vintage dress I found at my favourite thrift shop. I have loved wearing long, oversized dresses lately, and generally as a rule I tend to favour large, comfortable floppy clothes over tight ones. I usually want at least one semi-baggy item of clothing nearby at all times. It's like having a safety blanket. I've put a patent on the word 'flopster' to describe my dress style. Like a hipster, only, uh, floppy.

Jacket is thrifted
Dress is thrifted
Shoes are thrifted and falling apart
Picnic basket... Also thrifted 
Thrift all the things!

This dress also has buttons all the way down, so if you like, you can fashion yourself an alluring split to show off those gorgeous gams. In my case, my increasingly hairy, bruised and scratched gams. They are anything but long, slim and striking, but they have a certain charm. 

And I actually really love them just as they are. I prefer my legs with hair, especially because I've discovered that they are a really lovely golden-red colour. I've never seen anyone with leg hairs like mine- they're like sunshine! This isn't to say that you have to grow your hair long or love your body hair-- for starters, I experience privileges of being white that means that I have a different experience of having body hair to some people. I've been bullies for my body hair, sure, but it's never been racialized. Body hair isn't the be all and end all of being a feminist, this is just where I'm at right now.

I also love the print on this dress. It features both tea cups and wine glasses. I love that. I'm famously indecisive, and I'm pretty darn sure I've been in a situation where I have committed myself to drinking a glass of wine and a cup of tea at the same time. What are these rules anyway? Fuck the system! Drink tea out of wine glasses! Drink wine out of tea cups!



I want to leave you today with this wonderful performance poetry piece by Lily Myers. Poetry is one of my biggest loves, and I'm going to slowly work some poetry into this blog, so, disclaimer and stuff. 

I think this is an important poem for all gender identities to read or listen to. Lily Myers talks about the phenomenon of "Shrinking Women"- she talks about body image, self-worth and the spaces that women are allowed to occupy. It's powerful, and also just beautiful. Watch it! I've also included the words, underneath the video.

Have a great week guys! Leave me a comment below, I'd love to read and respond to them.

Love, Katie :-)


Shrinking Women

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn’t deprive herself,
but I’ve learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I’ve realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I’m not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it’s proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she’s “crazy about fruit.”

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, round stomach
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking
making space for the entrance of men into their lives
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
“How can anyone have a relationship to food?” He asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to tell say: we come from difference, Jonas, 
you have been taught to grow out
I have been taught to grow in
you learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much
I learned to absorb
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits

that’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again, 
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don’t want to do either anymore
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry”.
I don’t know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza
a circular obsession I never wanted but

inheritance is accidental
still staring at me with wine-stained lips from across the kitchen table.

  - Lily Myers