What level of self-esteem from 1-10 do you have?
I’d say like an eight.
Are you nervous? Why or why not?
I don’t think I’m nervous. I feel really naked without earrings. We were talking on the way up here. I do a lot of nude artwork. I’m not so much nervous as I am interested in how my body looks ten years ago versus now and my emotional reaction to that.
How do you think you’ll react?
I don’t know. A lot of the changes, including weight gain and mobility that stem from disability issues. Medication that makes my weight fluctuate. Sometimes I’m really good about being gentle with myself around that and what my body can do. Sometimes theres some internal ableism that really frustrated me about where I am with my body right now.
Probably about a nine. I like the sun, I like being naked outside.
I wasn’t nervous so much as anxiety/wonderment about the change. I pose differently than I do now partially because of pain and body changes. It was nice, validating.
Least favorite body part?
I have a love hate relationship with my knees. Had my first surgery at sixteen. It started being problematic four years before that. They cause a lot of pain, frustration around what I can and can’t do. I’m now four surgeries in and I’d like to have them cooperate by now.
What is your favorite body part?
My back. Both physically the appearance of it but also with all my other health issues it keeps me functional.
How has your problem with your knee affected your self-esteem?
I think being a young person who is disabled and has progressive disabilities has always been apart of my self-esteem. My self-awareness. My body awareness. I dated a lot of people who wound up being ableist assholes. But I also think the disability justice and crip communities have done some amazing things around my self-esteem and taking my body for what it is and celebrating it for what it can do..and what I can do.
What is ableism?
Ablelism is the valuing of bodies that meet ability expectations and are neurotypical, above disabled bodies. That looks like problematic language, words like lame and crazy, it looks like inaccessible venues. And it looks like partners + friends who don’t get migraines or chronic illness. I recommended looking up Spoon Theory (butyoudontlooksick.com)
What is your biggest pet peeve with ableism?
I think particularly in light of this project, disabled people get read as asexual all the time. Or particularly those with intellectual and developmental disabilities get read as hypersexual. So, while it’s important to desexualize women’s bodies as inherently sexual, it’s also important to recognize people with disabilities can be and are sexual beings. My other big issue is it often goes hand in hand with sexism and racism and heterocentrism and transphobia and classism. So, to truly transform our communities and society, we can’t just look at one facet of oppression but need an intersectional approach.
Tell me about a time you’ve faced sexism.
I’m going to expand it as sexism and genderism. I think as a cis-white woman with a transgender partner who gets read as straight even though I’m queer, there are so many assumptions made around my gender identity. My gender presentation. And gender roles I may or may not fulfil. My partner does the laundry and the dishes, I tend to take care of financial things and the cars. Because of this, my gender is viewed very differently regardless of how I identify. Including men always look at my partner when we talk about anything masculine, like cars. We just went to buy a car and anything related to engines was directed to my partner and anything safety was directed towards me. Even though safety was his number one concern.
Are your a feminist?
I am. Although, I struggle with how that term is used. It’s been used to marginalize women of color and transgender people. I think the quote that best describes it is, “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be nothing”.
Can you go more into detail about how that term marginalizes women of color and transgender people?
There is currently a subset of feminists who, we call TERF. It stands for trans exclusionary radical feminists. They don’t believe trans women belong in feminist spaces. Additionally, much feminism ignores people like Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Angela Davis–who are women of color doing incredible work around dismantling systems of oppression. When feminism ignores communities that helped create and sustain it…to me it’s no longer feminism but a tool of the patriarchy.
Why is project important to you?
Something I love about this concept is it really supports body positivity and often body positivity is corrupted to police other peoples bodies. The inclusion of people of all sizes, abilities, races, gender presentations…really goes to demonstrate there really is no way to have a wrong body. And you can love your body, and still have moments you’re frustrated with it. And that’s okay.
Any last words for the readers?
It’s so easy to focus on the negative in our society. Negative body experiences, frustrations, that’s the lens in which we view our lives. Consider intentionally working to reframe. Some days it feels hopeless and painful and exhausting, and the fact that some days I can drive up a mountain and drive to a photo shoot is also amazing. I need to focus on things like that to balance.