Accepting Me, My Sexuality, & I

To struggle and struggle about the idea of who you are, and to reject yourself to be like the others, because what you like is not like the others. But, how long can you hide yourself? You are not like the others.

Pan1Age 16. If you looked at me, you would never have known that I struggled with my sense of self, sexuality, confidence, and purpose. During high school, at a party, a girl I knew got pretty drunk. She was laughing and running around. All of a sudden she came and sat on me, looked at me in the eyes and wrapped her arms around me. I felt warm inside and my cheeks warmed too. Lucky my skin has always been darker, so I didn’t blush. She asked me a question as she looked deeply into my eyes. I was so confused at that moment to why I liked this feeling? That was my first nudge.

 

an2Age 20. You still look at me and will believe I was the happiest and straightest person you know. I walked into one of the offices at my university, and saw this beautiful long haired red-headed girl at the front desk, and my body just fluttered. I thought, “Wow Cydi, you have a crush on a girl?” But I tried to play it off. But how do you approach a girl when you’re a girl?

 

 

pan2Age 21. As I continue to pretend, yet I know I’m not like the others. I was at a poetry night. Minneapolis’s first trans-gendered City Councilwoman, walked onto the small intimate stage. She shared a personal poem from her book about her romantic turmoil with a woman she loved who couldn’t accept her for who she was. The poem captivated me. A trans-gendered woman who loved a woman. Wow, that was something beautiful.  I loved the vibe of this human being on stage. I thought, I wouldn’t mind loving someone who was trans-gendered. I have never related to someone as I did with her in that moment. Right there, I made the choice to be open about my romantic partners despite their sex.

I’ve pondered about my sexuality with close family. I even asked my younger cousin who is six years younger than me. “Haven’t you ever questioned whether you like girls?”

“No,” she replies.

“But how do you know that?” I ask

 “You just know,” The answer I’ve gotten from many people I’ve asked. But why did I struggle with the idea that I liked girls?

Why, we live in a place where we are encouraged to hide our true selves. Why we live in a place where the only way to belong is to follow what others do. As we begin to be ourselves and act a little different, they label you as something alien, and unfitting to be part of the whole.

Why can’t we live in a place where we are allowed to be who we are and everyone is accepted?

For so long, I’ve been afraid to come out and say I’m attracted to women. But here. I AM ATTRACTED TO WOMEN. I would say I’m attracted to men too. And I’ve never liked someone who was trans-gendered, but I always had the mindset that I was open. Why stop the possibility to fall in love with awesome human beings? 

 I grew up around a lot of girl cousins. We were like many girls, very close and touchy. We’d slap each other’s butts and grab each other’s boobs for fun. I was very comfortable being around women, and I never felt any type of attraction or anything. When I went dancing with my girls at the club, it was always plain fun. Just because I grind on a girl doesn’t necessarily mean I like or want to have sex with her? I believe it truly depends on the girl. There is a difference between just a friend girl and a girl you like. I also grew up in household where being anything but straight was foreign and odd. So, for the longest time, I tried to be “normal” and be like the other girls. This has been another reason for my span of depression on top of other reasons. But I am now deciding to embrace this part of who I am. 

15094954_1337692939615942_6246743455430347529_n I do it for this little girl, who constantly feared judgment and for this young woman below who works on herself everyday to live her best self no matter who disagrees. People can call me a “pan-sexual”, “sexually-fluid”, or even “weird”, I’m not too hung up on labels. I just like who I like, and I want to allow myself to be liberated. I am excited to venture on my new journey, and my new truth, and yet I will need to take in this truth and also be comfortable with it as well. But every day, I am a step closer to who I am.  I hope the same for you.

panforever

Cydi – Wabi Sabi

 

 

 

Kintsugi Healing Event happening on Saturday May 4th.

Hello lovelies!

I wanted to invite you to an event I will be part of. It is called the Spring and Heal with Kintsugi on Saturday May 4th, from 3-6pm.

Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese pottery art where the pottery maker would make a bowl, break it, and put it back together. Its idea is similar to Wabi Sabi which fits perfectly. I love this idea, because it represents to me a whole person, and in the midst of learning and going through life, broke and shattered, but through healing and her journey through life, has to figure out how to put herself back together.

It is an event of healing through conversations and breaking and mending the all ready made pottery; we just have to break it and put it back together!

If you want to feel empowered, create sisterhood, come to this event and build connections.

Tickets are purchased through the Facebook Event or the direct link.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2276527742587673/

https://cvuevang.wixsite.com/beautybycheechee/book-online/spring-heal-with-kintsugi?fbclid=IwAR0537wEnPSJW_x9D7kS3rzYpLr-cTa9QBHUN2OHIMJjmoiZH95ZvcVRNOY

Hope to see you there!

Wabi Sabi

 

spring and heal

Outcry Scream sessions: A creative project to promote women to use their voices

In response to the long history of silencing women and girls, I make portraits of women screaming. Through this project, I provide women a space where they can practice speaking up and out for themselves. I also provide a space for them to be heard, supported, encouraged and celebrated.

-Whitney Bradshaw (from website)

Stop! No! Why! You! Fuck off! Ahhhhhh!

This past Saturday, I went to an amazing women empowerment event, called The Outcry Scream Session. It popped up on my Facebook feed and the face of the woman screaming intrigued me. I’m one of those people, who scrolls through Facebook events and randomly sign up for things that interests me. So, early Saturday, I woke up at 7:30 am, fed my dog, showered and drove downtown with my cousin to this workshop.

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Screen Shot of Facebook Event

When we first walked into The Show Art Gallery, of course I was a little nervous with all the uncertainty. But, I was quite fascinated. There were all different types of women there.
Women of all ages, ethnicities, and differabilities joined in sisterhood to participate in the powerful Outcry Scream session created by artist and photographer Whitney Bradshaw. She has already held 150 sessions since this project launched back in January 2018. This project was created solely to encourage women to speak up and use their powerful voices in all various situations: when a strange man tells us to be quiet, when we are outraged by something, when we are mistreated in the workplace, and the list goes on.

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Being Beautiful with my Out-Crying Women!

The 2 hour session consisted of an hour of talking, mingling, and sharing experiences, and the second hour was committed to capturing our roaring outcries on camera. We had the choice to scream alone or in support of the group. Many women wanted support, because, honest truth, a scream is quite powerful when all screams together.

After 30 minutes of mingling, Whitney gathered all of us in a circle and introduced herself to us. She started out by telling a story about when she was groped on public transit. She described how she felt an unknown man placing his hand on her ass. Instantly, she grabbed the man’s hand and threw it up in the air yelling “Who’s hand is on my ass!” She also shared about a time when she held a session with a group of Japanese women. They shared how strange men groping them were so common on public transit in Japan because of the crowded-ness. Due to this, pink areas for women only were created in the subways to provide a safe space for them. They also created a secret code to warn other women about handsy men. The women would wear really dark red lipstick and if a man tried to touch them, the women would smear their lipstick all over the man’s shirt to warn other women. The sad fact about these stories in particular is, why do we have to separate women just because men “can’t” control themselves.

I also shared a story about the numerous times men slapped my ass on the streets of downtown Minneapolis, and being groped in the crotch while dancing and never having the courage to use my voice to stand up for myself. I ended my story with a time in Vegas when a man slapped my ass so hard in front of everyone while we were having a no-contact dance off. I walked away at first, but was done shying away, and went back to the dance floor, looked the guy in the eyes and demanded an apology. And yes he did apologize.

As Whitney opened up conversations about uncomfortable and painful topics, and I shared my experience, I felt a tension in the room; the pain and hurt many of these women held. I saw it in their eyes and the way they looked down to the floor as if they were thinking of a time when they’ve been treated inappropriately.

These photography sessions were not your high fashion, super model type. It was made to show the authentic, raw side of a woman that is hidden behind a veil; that women can only scream, and yell when no one’s there. In society, in many women’s upbringing, we have been conditioned to be passive, silent, and to feel powerless. But we are not. These outcry sessions encourage women to let out their inner roar, that burning fire that’s been eating them up inside.

When it was my turn, I made sure to stare right into the camera as if it was the man who I wanted to say it too. “Fuck you asshole!” I needed the support of all the women in the room to tell this man, “Fuck you asshole!”

When we started the screaming session, one woman’s scream stood out to me. She was a petite women. When she approached the camera, she seemed a little shy, speaking softly and clasping her hands in front of her. But when Whitney counted 1,2,3,
she, along with the support of the group screamed at the top of our lungs. As we all stopped. She continued screaming, her eyes shut, her face turning red, as her whole body shook. Her scream, her cry, filled with so much pain and agony, and left me wondering, “What hurt you. Or more like who.” I talked to her afterwards and she said she was a mother of four, and for sure had a lot to scream about, though she doesn’t scream at her kids.

There was a cute young girl with down syndrome who was super excited about the project and being given the opportunity to say bad words, she encouraged many of us to curse our hearts out as these sessions encouraged women to say whatever was on their mind. She took photos with so many women.

What I found so powerful about this event was how the women was quite shy to participate in the beginning, began warming up as everyone took turns to scream in front of the camera. With all the women supporting each other when one needed the presence of the group to scream with her, we all screamed together: A loud divine, feminine, outcry. I felt the empowerment grow. Every woman seemed very comfortable during their second scream. There were laughs, and phone numbers exchanged so the women could stay in touch. Just imagine if women encouraged each other all the time like this. Women would be un-stoppable. Whitney will be showcasing her portraits of this past weekend in June, so please everyone, come join us to observe the raw authentic beauty of women out crying, speaking up, and not being afraid of showing our true authentic selves.

This idea of putting women’s frustration and authenticity on camera is something powerful and unforgettable. It is a great way to heal from trauma, from the times when our voices was taken from us, when our body was violated without our consent, when our voices were drowned in lustful desires of others, when we felt like we were worthless, impure because of what has happened to us. These sessions are to remind us as women, that we have the right to be angry, we have the right to use our voice in the most powerful way. We are worth it, and we as a sisterhood need to support one another through our pain and our trauma in order to raise the positive divine female vibrations.

We will have no fear to let our female-warrior cry. And let the world hear; we are half the sky. To an ever changing world for our strong, beautiful women. Dam* You’re Beautiful.

If you are interested in Whitney’s project, check out her website and follow her on Instagram.

Website:  whitneybradshaw.com

Instagram:  @thewhitneybradshaw

Here is another article about the project in depth. Check it out!

Trump, Kavanaugh and a ‘myriad of reasons’: Local artist captures anger, frustration in women’s screams

Whitney’s empowering vision for this project would not be possible without the help of Women’s March Minnesota! Praise Thanks!

Wabi Sabi

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Me Going Bald

But this is an Act for all my Girls and Women! IT’S A WARRIOR CRY TO RECLAIM OURSELVES in a society that influences us to conform to strict gender roles, ESPECIALLY IN MY HMONG COMMUNITY.  -Cydi

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Me Going Bald

Why did you do it?

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Beautiful and just freshly shaven

I find it hard to explain this to older people or some men sometimes, because it’s so deep. I can’t just come out and say I shaved my head to reclaim myself from society, men, and strict gender expectations (especially in Asian communities) that has been put on women to present themselves in a certain way to be defined as beautiful. But really, that is the gist of it.

I didn’t just wake up one day and decided I was going to shave off my hair. It was a slow process starting from last year. I initially wanted to have a boy cut, but I started seeing how empowered my ladies were cutting their hair that way. I wondered what is something no one dares to do. Ah! Shaving my head! It was on my mind for a few months.

 

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Danai Gurira as Okoye from Black Panther
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Sanaa Latham as Violet Jones in Nappily Ever After

Women figures like Danai Gurira, who played Okoye, a strong bald female warrior in Black Panther, and Sanaa Latham, who played Violet Jones in Nappily Ever After: a seemingly perfect Advertising Executive, who’s life falls apart and shaves her head. And in doing so, she goes on a self-discovery. These were some women who inspired me to step into the strong woman suit I knew I always possessed, and embark on a self-journey to discover who I really was outside of gender expectations. Who am I really?

And secondly, I wanted to create a new beginning for me. 2019 feels so different and new. I want to be as new as the new year has presented itself to me. This is my year to be my most authentic and best self. No holding back.

Here is a video further explaining why I wanted to shave my head on my Dam* You’re Beautiful Talks series on YouTube.

Here are links to articles of Danai Gurira and Sanna Latham and their feelings after shaving their head.

https://ew.com/movies/2018/09/21/sanaa-lathan-interview-nappily-ever-after/

https://hellogiggles.com/news/black-panther-dani-gurira-shave-head/

How did people react?

My mom, well before all of this, I actually asked her first to shave my head. She refused to do it. But, she came and watched.

My dad said, If anyone asks, just say you did it for religion. Say you are Buddha.

Old Hmong grandmas and aunts would gasp and ask why I would cut all my hair off. They also asked if I was turning into a boy.

While I was in the process of shaving my head I said, “Yeah I’ll still look cute!” My six-year-old nephew replied back, “You won’t look cute. You’ll look pretty.”

Many of the women in the late 20s LOVED it! And many of them commented that they considered doing it as well but was never brave enough to do it.

Many young girls gave me heart eyes and encouragement!

Some men talked about how they hoped I donated my hair.

Did you cry?

I did not. Every inch my sister cut was like cutting away all my pain and suffering from my body and soul. It felt liberating. For once, I was able to breathe without the expectations of the world tugging on my strands of hair.

Are you going to stay bald or grow your hair?

Honestly I’m not sure. I was actually super nervous the moment before shaving my head. My sister and I even said a prayer. I was scared I was going to regret it, and wondered what if all the naysayers were right. But I followed my instincts and did it. After it, I actually dig the bald head. Why haven’t I gone bald sooner!

So an answer to this is, I think I want to stay bald for a little bit and see how I feel after.

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Graham Graham photo bombing me.

How does it feel?

I definitely feel much more sensitive on my head without all that hair. Taking a shower is like bathing in 20 hands massaging your scalp. Ladies if you thought showers were good before, it’s 100 times better with a shaved head. I feel so much and it’s like for once my scalp can breathe and take in some air. The prickly hair is also something to get used to but every time I brush my hand against it, it again feels like a nice massage.

It definitely feels much more breezy and my head feels much lighter! Just in time for Spring and Summer!

Until we meet again. Peace and Love

Wabi Sabi

Tenacious Tuesday Heroines – Valentina Tereshkova

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Valentina Tereshkova b. 1937-Current from Maslennikovo, Russia
Tenacious Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova was the very first woman to go into space in 1963, spending approximately three days in space, and orbiting the earth 48 times!
Before volunteerily joining the space program in Russia in 1961, she had no prior piloting experience, but she was accepted because of her 126 successful parachute jumps, which parachute jumping was crucial to piloting the space capsule seconds before it hit the ground back to Earth.
She was one of five women put into an 18 month training program that tested their ability to remain in isolation for long periods of time, and extreme gravity conditions. Only Valentina made it to space.
She was titled, “Hero of the Soviet Union” and received the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal. She only went to space once and after the expedition, she became a spokesperson for the Soviet Union and was awarded the “United Nations Gold Medal of Peace.”
How Tenacious is this Women all the way from Russia! I honor Women from all different parts of the globe, showing us anything is possible only if we believe it and put our work into it!
Wabi Sabi

Tenacious Tuesday Heriones – Katharine Hepburn

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Katharine Hepburn b.1907 – 2003 in Connecticut

Witty, tomboy-ish, and independent, Katharine Hepburn was an actress before her time. She was nominated 11 times for the Oscars and won three of them in her rich 60 year acting career from the 1930s – 1990s. Why is Katharine TENACIOUS!? In her early career, she was labeled “box-office poison” because of her off-screen reputation of having a strong personality and non-conforming to how she should act as a women and in the roles she played in Hollywood. In the times when women were still playing the stereotypical roles, Katharine was playing strong minded women characters who wore slacks, and spoke with a smooth accent.

If you watch her interviews, you can see she is unapologetically herself and speaks her mind. She never hesitates and seems to only speak the truth.

She has become one of my top women role models! Today I honor you Katharine Hepburn for being an example for women!

Watch the 5 minute clip of her interview! She is brillliant and passionate about humankind.

Check out these links if you want more information about her

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000031/bio

https://www.biography.com/people/katharine-hepburn-9335828

Wabi Sabi

Taking Back my Body Series – If You Don’t Stand for Anything, You’ll Fall for Everything

“If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for everything.” –

In searching for love, for someone to understand me, want to spend time with me and give me attention–in searching for someone who could just be “nice” to me, I fell for everything. I fell for beautiful faces with charming smiles who winked and held my hand. It made me feel good inside. It made me feel wanted. But, those were the beautiful faces that were just like me–empty–lost–desperately searching for something to fill those black holes inside them. They fed on naïve girls like me who desperately lost herself in trying to be a rehabilitation center for broken men; when she was so broken herself. Couldn’t he see it? He saw it, but he was too drowned in his pain to care. He just needed a place to rest until he could find a better one.

Well what about those super nice guys that were really just “nice”? I fell for them too. I was a self-absorbed, angry, ya noe. They just were not exciting enough for me, not spontaneous enough. Honestly, I just was not attracted to the “nice” guys I dated.  I had no idea who I was or what I stood for. How could I have possibly known what I liked?

But I knew this for a fact. I was attracted to corruption. I was attracted to handsome and unpredictable boys desperate for affection and attention. I was drawn to brokenness, just like me. I could smell their pain just like they could smell mine. They could see through my highly positive façade; how easy it was to nest in my body, with just a few promises, a few I Love Yous, and a few sweet favors; how easy it was for me to allow them to take my body in exchange for a drug I needed so badly; love.

I knew exactly what I was, an independent strong women, but I couldn’t fully become her yet because I continued to run away from my pain. I filled my black holes with strong arms, sweet words, and empty promises. I couldn’t fully be strong independent Cydi, yet I always felt her trying to climb out of the abyss I pushed her in. I fell into numbing and layering things over my pain. But my true self was under all that pain; true Cydi. It was only when I decided to face my pain and looked it in the eyes that I began to see my authentic self underneath all the layers.

To use love as a drug to numb my pain; to run away from things I wanted to stand for, things I truly was passionate about, but I feared that when I did stand for them, everyone would leave me. So, for the longest time, I chose to fall for everything just to feel something, and feel like I belonged somewhere.

Taking back your body is not easy. Taking back your body means facing your pain first. It means to remove all those cracked layers you toppled over your pain to finally see your beautiful self. If you continue to layer things over your pain and your true self, you will continue to hand yourself, your beautiful body, over to undeserving people. The only one who can claim your body is you. The only one is YOU.

You don’t own anyone but yourself. No one owns you but yourself. The whole idea in a relationship where you claim one another as territory is the most toxic thing I’ve ever come across. Yes, from experience. It’s an idea sprouted from people who layers their pain with material things and quick pleasures. They are the ones don’t understand themselves, attempting to gain control and power. Their insecurity within themselves drives them to dictate and seek to own the other person, because they don’t even own their emotions, their well-being–they don’t even own their own happiness.

The most important thing you own is yourself, your body, and life energy that holds your true self. Let no one take that from you my beautiful girls and women.

To be continued…

Peace and Love

Wabi Sabi

Taking Back my Body Series are posted on Wednesday bi-weekly. Audio version may be posted on the same day or following day. 

Tenacious Tuesday Heroines – Hypatia of Alexandria

 

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Hypatia of Alexandria – N. 355 C.E – 415 C.E Egypt Photo from supressedhistories.net

She is the true mark of Tenacity: A brilliant mind, a fearless women, and great influencer of her time. And because of her powerful presence, she was brutally murdered in the worst way imagined.

In the times of religious divide between Christians, Jews, and Pagans and strict gender roles in Alexandria, Egypt, Hypatia was a strong minded women who was a Greek intellectual that engulfed her life in Neoplatonist philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics. Her father, Theon, a profound teacher in mathematics and astronomy taught his daughter everything he knew and did not reinforce gender expectations. While Greek women of all classes were care takers of the home, Hypatia geared her life towards academics, making her well-respected in a male-dominated world. She was known to be the “earliest female mathematician of whose life and work reasonably detailed knowledge exists” (psu.edu). She continued her father’s works in preserving Greek and mathematical astronomical heritage in times where Christianity was rising and implementing their beliefs as the “true faith.”  Not only did she continue her father’s programs, she discovered her own interests and was named as the world’s leading mathematician and astronomer of her time.

There is not much that is known of her life, and unfortunately her death is more known than any of her works and writing, which was lost in time. It’s highly possible that it was intentionally wiped off the face of the earth due to her strong influence, and because she was a women who surpassed many of her peers, hence showing how capable and intelligent women can be.

She was well liked among the Pagan intellectual elites, and was a popular teacher among students as a professor at the University of Alexandria. She had the ability to explain difficult mathematical concepts, and her perspectives were enlightening and intellectual to all who came to listen.

She taught concepts that contradicted the Christian faith and she harbored the ability to influence people to see a different perspective of life versus the one narrative being told. “Hypatia practiced paganism at a time when Christianity was in its infancy. Still, the burgeoning religion began to grow and as such many pagans had converted to Christianity out of fear of persecution.” (allthatsinteresting.com)

One day, after her usual lectures at the university, Hypatia was kidnapped on the street by a mob of Christian monks who stripped her naked, beat her with roofing tiles. Her body, mutilated as they tore her apart and burned her. But not until they dragged her naked broken body on the streets of Alexandria outside the city walls. This clearly shows what hate and fear can drive human beings to do. They did not stop there. After they murdered Hypatia, they burned down University of Alexandria and Pagan temples to promote the “true” faith.

Her death marked the end of the Classical World. “The death of Hypatia of Alexandria has come to embody all that was lost to civilization in tumult of religious intolerance.” (Ancient History Encyclopedia).

Though people attempted to wipe her out of history by brutally murdering her, and destroying her written work, she lives on. She will never be forgotten and will be an example to all women and girls, that anything is possible if you just believe in the greatness in you. Here today, we Honor Hypatia of Alexandria.

Here is another interesting article about Hypatia. Give it a read!

https://allthatsinteresting.com/hypatia-of-alexandria

Wabi Sabi

Tenacious Tuesday Heroines – Gladys Elphick

 

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Gladys Elphick (1904-1988) Australian Aboriginal (Kaurna tribe) Community Leader

What makes Gladys Elphick TENACIOUS material? When Gladys was 8 months, she was taken to the mission at Point Pearce—“Part of a government initiative aimed at ‘assimilation,’ in which indigenous people were forced onto reserves and children of mixed descent were removed from their families, now referred to as the Stolen Generations,” (Pierpont pg. 111).

Gladys left school at age 12 and worked at the dairy station, and Women Elders trained her as a midwife.

Gladys, sheltered in the mission, finally saw the struggles and lack of services for indigenous people when she stepped outside of Point Pearce. She began to organize and bring people together to make social change.

Also known as Aunty Glad, Gladys Elphick was an Australian aboriginal (Kaurna tribe) women filled with compassion, ambition, and humor. A highly respected elder, she was an Aboriginal community leader in Australia who founded the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, the first Aboriginal women’s body to be formed in Australia. This council was driven to fight and advocate for indigenous rights to services and opportunities. She focused programs around education, medical services, and especially helping the Kaurna women find their voice and power.

She was just like you and me, an ordinary women, driven to do extraordinary things. She did not come from a background of glamour, but created her own destiny through her passion for her people and women.

In 1971 She was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire and in 1984, she was named South Australian of the Year. In 2003, the Aboriginal women’s group created the Gladys Elphick Award to “recognize the significant contribution by South Australian Aboriginal women to their local community,” as stated on their Facebook page.

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Gladys Elphick

Thank you Elphick Gladys for your wonderful work to uplift women and Aboriginal peoples in South Australia. An impact anywhere is an impact everywhere. Like a ripple to a pond, we feel your impact all the way from the U.S.

Peace and Love.

Wabi Sabi

 

 

More links for more information about Gladys Elphick.

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/elphick-gladys-12460

http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/heroes/biogs/gladys_elphick.html

Taking Back my Body Series – I Thought I was Ugly

Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror and dreaded everything you saw? You’re eyes never matched completely. You have scars, pimples, and marks on your skin you find awful. You’re body isn’t tight and curvy like those girls prancing in swim suits in music videos on T.V. I felt this way about myself for 22 years.

I would stare at myself naked for hours, trying to morph and bend my body in a way to find my perfect angles, yet, my butt was never big enough, my boobs were non-existent– “mosquito bites” as one friend in high school called them. Persistent thoughts told me how ugly I was, and how flat my body was with no depth.

My mother consistently told me, “Cydi, your boobs are so small, how could a man ever love you?
My cousin said, “Cydi you have the perfect hour glass body. Only if your boobs were bigger.

At least you have a booty!

Wow, you’re so skinny….

Wow you really have no boobs.

You’re so hairy.

You look like a man.

These messages defined me as a young girl. When others complimented me positively, I stopped believing it.

I never felt comfortable in my body, in my skin, in my own presence. I lied. I did feel comfortable in my skin once upon a time as a child when my body wasn’t developed yet. There was no shame to be naked. No shame or lust around showing my innocent body. But as I grew to be this “girl” with a body I should always hide, I began to drag this body.

I always based my looks on what others thought was beautiful. I always had to ask someone else for confirmation whether I looked good in a dress or not. Honestly, I hated wearing dresses. I felt un-like me. I felt like someone else when I was in a dress. There was always something about open bottoms that made me uncomfortable. How can I spread my legs and be comfortable without looking like a slut?

As a child, I walked around completely naked with only an underwear on, up until I was 8 years old. Even when my sister’s then boyfriend (now husband) came to visit, I never cared. I strutted in my little purple flower briefs as comfortable as ever. But, when my breasts formed, what my grandma called “seeds”, they felt more tender than usual, and my brief days were over. Yet, I still hated wearing clothes; the less the better. It was the freedom to allow my body to breathe, to allow my body to be free, and to show my body I am never ashamed of her.

Feeling so awkward in my own skin, I never fully owned my body; I never fully allowed myself to embrace my body. I always thought my body looked weird, deformed and skinny. Who could really love someone as hideous as me? Thoughts like that filled my mind every time I stared into the mirror, and every time I took photos. The bags under my eyes would horrify me, and my bumpy nose stopped me from taking any profile shots. My mole on my arm was a hassle, because people always asked me if that was a bug. NO it’s my GODDAMM MOLE. I was an anxious child. I hated when people put me on the spot or pointed out my imperfections. I would get super embarrassed. Man I thought I was ugly.

I thought I was so ugly, I always told myself “Okay Cydi, you’re not the prettiest looking girl, so you always have to make sure you have a good heart.” So, I guess I’m actually glad I thought I was ugly, because I focused on my character and what my heart held. I always focused on what I could offer on the inside. I knew that looks could only take me so far, becuase I truly thought I was “ugly.” Yet, I didn’t know I was beautiful all along, inside and out.

To Be Continued —

Wabi Sabi

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