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- Mary & Lily
In the eye of society, I would be portrayed as a strong woman, a high executive working in finance but a few years ago I was a victim of violence and it shattered my world. Coming from the background I was and the ecosystem in which I was evolving, I always thought I would be protected from violence and always felt naively safe.
I spent my queer teenage years in Russia, where looking gay was both an act of resistance and a sign of conformity. It was a rebellion because wearing short hair and boy clothes were like screaming “yes, we exist, we are here, we are taking up space, despite all the fear and violence we deal with”. It was conformity because at the time there was only one way to be a “good queer” – you had to have short hair and boy clothes if you wanted to be taken seriously by the community.
By PaulaLike many people, I have felt the burden of perfection for most of my life. I was raised in a cult and we were taught to be on a constant quest for spiritual and emotional perfection. Oddly, physical perfection was discounted and we were strictly prohibited from wearing makeup, or dressing anything but modestly.
By DorothyI’ve struggled with my body image for a long time, mainly because I never felt like I truly inhabited it. When people would comment on my physical appearance I wouldn’t understand – it felt like something detached from myself. Especially when I was 15-19, I really struggled to actually SEE my body, I didn’t have a relationship with it.
Everyone with Crohns Disease has a story to tell. For me, it had a fairly tight grip until I was 30 and was a very private illness. I’m a woman, and however wrong it may have been, it made me feel less feminine to discuss the symptoms. Everything took planning, even facing a plate of food. I was conflicted by hunger and fear. The potential for pain and embarrassment in getting it wrong was too great not to consider.
I was always a tomboy and I still think boys had more fun going on a pirate’s treasure hunts or pretending to fly to the moon or be a superhero while girls would pretend to be grownups raising families and paying bills on our pink calculators, or be princesses or hairdressers!
Since I shaved my head I’ve found times when I’ve really not felt feminine. I stopped shaving and that made me feel unfeminine at times too. I realised (and am still realising) that femininity is not defined by how I look or act and that being a woman can’t be boxed.
When my son was born, he gave me the dirtiest look as if to say ' was that really necessary, I wasn't ready to be born! I knew he was a special child! I am the only girl and the youngest of all my brothers, all 4 of them.
Often when I relay this to people, they think I must have been spoilt but life was pretty lonely.