How would you rate your self-esteem from 1 to 10?
Overall I usually feel about an 8 or a 9.
What goes into that rating?
I feel pretty confident in my body a good majority of the time. During middle and high school I was a pretty small girl, and felt very confident especially throughout high school. Once I started college I gained a bit of weight and I just changed the way I dressed with clothes that fit better. I think that helps me a lot. As long as I have clothes that I think look great on me and fit well, then I feel awesome about myself. This happened again recently, I’ve gained a good bit in the last year or so. I started feeling kind bad about myself because my clothes weren’t fitting right, but as soon as I found some new clothes that fit, all of a sudden I feel like myself again.
What positive influences have you had in your life to create such a healthy self-esteem level?
Well, like I said before, I truly had a wonderful childhood. I was not bullied or made fun of really. I learned from my Mom how powerful women can be. She's gorgeous and I feel like I have an idea of what it will be for me to get older looking at her. She is really strong, mentally AND physically and doesn't let what other people think phase her, so I think that rubbed off on me a bit.
Also, you know I've genuinely liked the way I look. I feel really fortunate about that. I love my teeth and my face and my hands. My hands are my favorite body part because I create art with them. I am also really enjoying watching my own slow aging process through them. Ten years ago, they were soft and almost pillowy. Now i can see my bones and veins appear and I watch as they slowly gather freckles.
What was your middle school experience and how did it affect your self-esteem?
Ugh, I think middle school is just an awful experience for everyone. I certainly felt huge pressure to fit in because I wanted everyone to like me. I wanted to wear the same clothes, listen to the same music, you know? It wasn’t until high school I started to show my true self a bit and stop worrying about what everyone else thought, and I think I actually ended up having more friends because of that.
Tell me about a time you faced sexism.
A lot of older dudes that come into my workplace think I’m dumb since I am the receptionist. Or that I’m not an interesting person, or I have nothing important to say, or that I can’t be trusted with certain information. Sometimes It’s very frustrating. These same people often assume certain things about my marriage. You know, that I do all the cooking and cleaning for my husband and such. I just think that’s a ridiculous thing to assume. I have a wonderful partner who does just as much around our home as I do.
Are you a feminist? Why or why not?
Absolutely! Feminism is incredibly important, and doesn’t just benefit women. It’s about equal respect for all people. If everyone was just treated with the same amount of respect given to cisgender white men the world would be an amazing place.
What does body positivity mean to you?
Feeling comfortable in you own skin. Confidence is key! If I’m not feeling confident in myself I like to ‘fake it til I make it’ you know? It actually really helps me. I also look at myself in the mirror every morning and tell myself how awesome I look. My husband also helps, he truly tells me every day how beautiful he thinks I am and how much he appreciates me, and that means the world. Having a partner that is so loving and supportive is a wonderful thing!
When did you first become aware of gender expectations?
This has not been a big problem for me personally, really. When I was a kid I played with all kinds of toys, was really into being outside in the dirt and also interested in tea parties and such. I had a really awesome childhood. My parents have never told me I shouldn’t do something I am passionate about and were both really supportive when I went to art school. Then college was pretty awesome, I made some great friends that were supportive and accepting as well. I think creating a community of like-minded people who support and believe in you is so, so important to how you view yourself. Although I guess now that I’m married, I do get the constant questions of ‘when are you having babies?’
Which gender expectations put the most pressure on you?
Well, I guess the main thing for me would be people being concerned that I have short hair. I get a lot of bewildered comments, mostly from old men on why on earth would I do this to myself. A few weeks ago, and guy that comes into my office frequently actually SHOOK HIS HEAD when he looked at me and said “Why do you always want to look like a boy?” I told him it was none of his business and he got embarrassed and hasn’t said a word since.
Any last words for the audience?
I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and appreciate you. Always try to love yourself, and if you don’t, focus on the things you DO like and go from there. Give yourself a big ol hug!