Hi, everyone! Here are some digitally colored versions of drawings I made for Inktober. My idea for the month was to draw only girls. I love creating images of women and exploring different facial features, hair types, and ornamentation. I see endless possibilities and would like to continue this project into the new year– let’s fill 2015 with more girls!
Lindsey Averill is a feminist blogger and activist headquartered in south Florida. Averill juggles several projects including Bitchtopia, her weblog Feminist Cupcake, and her coaching service Extraordinary Being. She is currently teaching at Florida Atlantic University in the Women, Gender and Sexuality department while she pursues her PhD in Women’s Studies. Averill’s most current project is a movie-length documentary called Fattitude: A Body Positive Documentary which aims to break down the cultural and medical demonization of fat bodies. Fattitude is currently in it’s developing stages with a projected release of late 2015.
What made you become interested in Women’s Studies and Feminism?
I don’t remember when or where feminism dawned on me, but by the time I started college I was comfortable calling myself a feminist. That said, I don’t think I realized that my life was going to be about women’s studies and feminism until I was in the second year of my Ph. D. program. Just by chance, I took a class with Jane Caputi. (I liked the title of the class: Women, Myth and Reality). Jane was thrilling. She shattered the ground beneath my feet and made me truly see how much of what I had been taught to believe about women, women’s lives, women’s roles and women’s desires was not actually fact but deep-rooted sexist assumption. She also made me realize the connections between our cultural demonization of women, our bodies and the earth. (Jane is fucking amazing. If you don’t know of her then go google her. Life changer.)
After being introduced to the theoretical feminism I started to recognize that my body was a sight of ‘intimate terrorism,’ as were the bodies of many others I knew. (Intimate Terrorism term I stole from Gloria Anzaldua – meaning the brutalities and oppressions that are so close they are self-inflicted.) I had to change that.
That’s why I started Extraordinary Being. That’s why I write Feminist Cupcake. That’s why I am making Fattitude. Because it’s time to stop hating bodies, particularly fat ones, but all bodies, really.
Have your experiences directly inspired your body-positive activism?
Absolutely, my life experience inspired my activism. Like most people whose body weight is more than her peers, I spent years being bullied and bullying myself because I genuinely believed that my fat body wasn’t good enough.
When I think about my childhood, I remember crying a lot about my body. I remember feeling like a failure and not understanding why I wasn’t thin like my friends. I would have given anything to be thin, and I tried everything to be thin. I’m not going to lie to you. I have always loved food, but honestly I wanted thin way more than I ever wanted food. I dieted constantly. Each time I was thinner I loved being thinner, and I desperately wanted to stay thinner but as soon as I stopped starving myself and started eating normally I gained the weight back. Thin was/is not in the cards for me.
Today, I work out regularly and eat healthy but I don’t lose weight. At least I think I don’t lose weight because at this point in my life I never get on a scale but my clothes keep fitting so…
Honestly, I genuinely believe that constant dieting made me fatter. I think that if I had accepted my body rather than diet I might have been a bit bigger than others but I never would have been as big as I am now. Diets failed me. They haunted me – they filled my life with failure because no matter how many times I dieted, I never stayed thin.
We often hear people say that diets don’t work, and there are a lot of articles and research out there that explain why this is true, for example this, this, and this. And yet, so many people continue to believe that if you have a fat body, then you can make ‘choices’ which will result in you having a body that is less fat. In other words, despite the research, we continue to believe that diets do work.
We are making Fattitude and I run Extraordinary Being and blog at feminist cupcake because I am trying to educate people about fatness. I am trying to get them to see that bodies are individual, some are fat, some are thin, some are healthy, some are unhealthy, some are short, some are tall, some are gay, black, white, brown, hetero, trans – it doesn’t matter. All bodies deserve kindness and respect.
There are a lot of incredible people coming together to Make Fattitude happen: What are your methods of networking to organize change?
To be honest, I just emailed or facebooked lots of people in the social justice/feminist/fat activist community. I know that sounds way too simple, but the these communities are open to supporting most projects that look to help educate the populace about fat shame and fat hatred. Occasionally – before the trailer was complete people were a little wary, supportive but wary. Now that we have finished the trailer most activists get right back to us.
That said, when we were filming the initial interviews we were not able to secure any interviews with male scholars or activists. This is one of our main goals for our next round of interviews. We absolutely want to have men in Fattitude and we will.
What advice do you have for beginning activists who are looking for their voices?
Find a mentor. Read everything. Start a blog. Write for established blogs. Comment on the work of others and listen when they comment back. Apply for scholarships to amazing programs for rising feminists, like those offered by Soapbox, Inc. Get out there and get learning because finding your voice is about knowing what you stand for.
What can we, the readers, do to help you make Fattitude happen?
1.) If you can, please donate to our Kickstarter. Every dollar counts.
2.) Share the Kickstarter on your social media feeds – facebook, twitter, personal blogs, etc. The more you post it the more likely we are to get exposure – and obviously, the more traffic we get, the more funds we can raise.
3.) Invite your friends to like our facebook page or tell your followers to like our facebook page. The facebook page is located at www.facebook.com/fattitudethemovie. On the right hand side of the page is a panel that says, “Invite Your Friends to like this page.” You click the words “see all” on the right hand side of the panel. A new box will open up and then you can click “invite” to invite anyone you feel comfortable inviting. Honestly, this is a tedious process, as you have to invite each friend individually – but we would be ever so thankful if you help us grow our community.
4.) Check out our web page and sign up for our mailing list: www.fattitudethemovie.com.
5.) If you know anyone you can contact or who you think we should contact about the kickstarter, please let us know. This could be anyone from a great blogger to a mainstream media outlet to a friend who you think might be interested. Raising this money is an important part of this process and we need all the exposure we can get!
Fattutude’s Kickstarter campaign will continue until Sun, May 25 2014 1:52 PM EDT.
Would you like to share the story of a feminist in your life? Email Btopia.Mag@gmail.com for more information.
Kiki Nicole (Kiarra) is a first-year at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Originally from Baltimore, she currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kiki is a poet whose work stems mostly from personal experience. She is a regular contributor of Bitchtopia and The Pulp Zine. Kiki describes writing poetry as a method of self-care: “The poetry I publish to Bitchtopia always has a foundation in the concepts of feminism and social justice; I use my poetry to express commentary I can’t always say aloud.”
Kiki graciously answered some questions about her poetry and her experiences being a feminist for Bitchtopia:
How did you become involved with Feminism/Bitchtopia/Pulp Girls?
My intro to feminism came about when I made a tumblr in ninth grade and was able to have access to resources to concepts and ideas that was never open to me previously, although I think I grew up in a very feminist household, consisting of mainly women and maybe a male cousin or two, who never put any limits on my dreams. I felt very restless and pathetic in Senior Year when I realized I wasn’t really doing anything or going anywhere with my work. I started looking for places to submit my poems other than Rookie Mag (who I never heard back from) and stumbled upon the magnificence that is Bitchtopia and The Pulp Zine. I emailed both asking to be a regular contributor and here I am!
Where do you go to find poetry/who are some of your inspirations?
I spend a lot of time loitering in the buttonpoetry and brave new voices/youthspeaks channels on Youtube and I grew up listening to the Def Poetry Jam episodes my mother played on repeat. Whenever I had an assigned English textbook in school, I would copy down the poems I found that I liked on my own ( I now cultivate a love for the poetry that came out of the English Romanticism movement; I love me some John Keats) and I like to read free eBooks of poems on Scribd in my spare time. Right now, I feel really inspired by Warsan Shire, Nayyirah Waheed and Saul Williams.
Most of your work for Bitchtopia centers on Intersectional Feminism. How would you define a good Intersectional Feminist/Ally?
To me, Intersectionalist Feminists/Womanists should allow safe spaces for anyone, regardless of their identities, to be open about their oppression/injustice where it rightfully exists. Allies, or even those who identify as Intersectional Feminists/Womanists, should never be dismissive and should strive to be open, accepting, and willing to understand. We should recognize that differences exist and that we cannot eliminate them, rather we can actively work to recognize the disparities that exist and work within them.
What are some of your biggest challenges you have come across as a Feminist and a writer?
The biggest challenge I face daily, it seems, is trying to overcome all of my internalized oppression. It seems to be more apparent whenever I’m writing fiction for my Intro to Creative Writing course and I want there to be a subtle influence of a current social issue or I want there to be an underlying message. I believe writers have a lot of power in their pens and that is a lot to handle. Often, I find myself beginning stories about thin, heterosexual, White women and men and on second thought, I add a token (heterosexual) Person of Color in, as habit. We live in a world where this is a norm and as a writer and a Feminist, I know there is so much more out there and I’m just adding to the invisibility of people like me. That being said, I often find myself being the only one in the class to incorporate race/gender/class issues into my writing, but I feel as if it is entirely too important not to do so.
Are there any other poets or artists that you feel deserve more exposure, and you would like to shout out?
I’d like to shout out some fellow Pulp Babes: artists Paam Sustaita, Saffa Khan, Essine Kilpatrick-Boe, and Molly McAlea and poet Chey Addison. Also, shout out to both Kate Monica and Alysia Harris and their poems!
What are your plans for your poetry in the future?
I really want to never stop writing, which is a pit I fall into quite often. I want to continue challenging myself and what I can write but I also want my poems to become more and more visible and recognized. I want my words to start to make a difference.
Would you like to share the story of a feminist in your life? Email Btopia.Mag@gmail.com for more information.
This is a series I collaborated on with Stephen Kelly. All three were approached “seamlessly” where both artists equally contributed to the lineart and coloring without it being apparent who did what. We focused on interactions between pairs of people.
— Lee Anna
I’m writing this, because as we enter September, I’m beginning to see the freshly-graduated class of 2013 take a critical look at where they are in regards to their life goals. They may not have thought about it much over the summer, while they ran around with friends or took time off to travel. Now, they might be watching their younger peers return to school. They might have gone shopping, and been assaulted with a barrage of Back to School promotions. They might have gotten an email blast from their Alma Mater celebrating the new school year. All of a sudden it’s undeniable: “I’m not going back”.
I was a sophomore in college when the 2008 economic crash occurred. I studied Illustration with hopes of a career in publishing. When I started school the tone was very optimistic. Our teachers were excited to tell us all about the opportunities we had when we would be released into the real world. When the market crashed, that tone reversed. The day before I graduated in 2011, our head left us with “You are graduating today, and that is unfortunate.” The roles for us had vanished, but we were still here.
What’s toxic about my field of study (fine arts) is that it’s not seen as legitimate unless you are successful. A professional in the field commands respect; a hopeful is a fool who is making a poor economic decision. Now that I have completed my degree and begun repaying my 20k of debt, people love to inform me about which paths I should have taken instead.
I understand the other person is usually trying to help, but my decisions are my own. This is what I want to do regardless of the challenges I face. Given the challenges that most millenials face, it is easy to look on the past with regret. Don’t do it. Your only option is to move forward.
The first summer I spent out of school I found myself scouring job websites, and bending my experience to fit any mildly relevant job in a cover letter. 200-something applications and three rejection letters later, I gave up. It felt like there was no place for me. I spent the next year in a depression, wondering what I could have done better, while worrying about dying in a ditch someday. I juggled bills and struggled with hurtful comments.
What was most unsettling was how alone I felt. My relationships dramatically changed after graduating. The question, “how is the job search going” was guaranteed to come up, and it was guaranteed to lead to a frustrating conversation. It became impossible to spend time with friends and family without the topic turning to my problems.
Underemployment trickles into other areas of life too, because money is required to do everything that is expected of us. Without the income, you can’t go down life’s checklist–Get married, have kids, buy a house, buy two cars, host big thanksgiving dinners. The kind of things your parents want photos in a scrapbook of.
I remember my boyfriend and I celebrating our fourth anniversary while my parents rolled their eyes. “Being with someone that long without getting married is nothing to celebrate. Wait until he puts a ring on that finger, then it will mean something.”
“I just wish you two would get normal jobs so you can afford a wedding.”
Meaning something meant the world at a time when my existence felt meaningless. Comments like these hurt especially because it felt like there was no denying them. So I looked forward to the “future” for what I thought was when my life would begin.
“I can’t wait for it all to start.” I would say.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that this beginning was imaginary; I was a person who was already living a life. Even though I hadn’t “made it” yet, I was still a person worthy of respect. The parameters of a respectful job and a respectful life were entirely made up.
Talking to peers, it became apparent that many felt this way. Everyone felt like they didn’t fit in one way or another. That they were wasting time, that they weren’t doing enough, that they weren’t living up to expectations. Nobody talked about themselves in terms of the present, and focused on things they were going to do. We were at a stepping stone.
You might be juggling work, portfolio-building, resume building, and networking. This might be the only thing on your mind. Everything might come crashing down at any given time when someone declares your efforts not enough. Not yielding results is viewed as not even trying at all.
Let me tell you that this isn’t true.
Nobody is clear on what we are supposed to be doing. People that I would look up to as the “winners” had their dark moments too. The ones who had it together would have outbursts. Millenials still looking for jobs will wonder if they’ll ever “make it”, but millenials who “made it” will wonder if they made the right choice. Would it still feel like something was missing if the success came?
Don’t view your success as a finish line. Don’t trip yourself by becoming consumed with the big picture. Your life story is the result of many smaller factors. What you can control, and what you can be happy about. If you can focus on the present, if you can allow yourself breaks, if you can allow yourself to believe that everything will be okay, it will.
That finished project that left you feeling good is a success. That phone number in your hand from a new partner is a success. That day you spent napping to regain your energy to do it all over again is a success.
A friend asked, “Do you identify with your day job or your art?” I identify with my art, and I encourage you to identify with whatever it is you do. Your passion will always be there. Nobody can say “you’re fired” and take your entire identity away. Nobody can say “we are not hiring at this time” and leave you without purpose.
So to the class of 2013, it might make you nostalgic or sad to watch your friends return to school. You might look back on it as a time when things made sense, and think that was as good as it gets. Know that you can find happiness right now in today. You might be sad right now, but I bet you that in 2014, that sadness will be replaced with a “Good riddance!”.
Your life isn’t over, and it is not something yet to be found. It is happening right now.