Self-Portraits / 2019/ Session Nº3

Last night I went to a live recording of Turn Me On and felt that wonderful spark I remember from my own podcast Impractical Women’s Studies – a spark that signifies liberation, curiosity, and empowerment.

When people say they’re going to be talking about sex its simultaneously exciting and stressful. What will you learn? What are you hiding? What conversations are you still uncomfortable having? What are you scared about other people knowing?

They started the evening off with some audience games, that included having to stand if you answered yes to a question and stay standing until your next no. There were moments that I felt relieved (like when they asked if you like butt stuff, and I gladly sat) and others that made me blush, like when they asked if you spit or swallow. I was sitting next to my boyfriend and our friends, so while we say we are working towards a sex-positive culture I had to question what that really meant for me, including the question “Does sex positive mean I want everyone to know what I like in bed?”.

I’ve realized my biggest insecurity is how I make other people feel. I didn’t want to embarrass my boyfriend, but I wanted to participate in the game. I didn’t want our friends to feel uncomfortable knowing that I prefer to swallow (which you all do now, too… sorry). Sure, I have my own embarrassments. I think for the most part any shame I have comes from how I think it will be perceived more than shame around those “kinks”.

I started thinking about what it is that I find sexy. What do I like doing? When do I feel my best? What fucking turns me on?!

I wore red fishnets under my outfit last night. Partly because I wanted the little peep of them at my ankle for my outfit. But also because it was fun to be secretly dressed up under my sporty-black-kind-of-generic outfit. I like the way I look in them, the way they make me feel, my boyfriends reaction. It is personal empowerment – empowerment that doesn’t ask other people to validate me to feel sexy. In fact, I realized the less people that knew the better I felt. I like being able to choose when I’m seen and how.

To contrast the spice of lingerie, I also love being cozy. I feel most in my element at home in a big sweater and panties. I am the typical girl-next-door and I think thats how I’ve always idealized myself sexually as well. Perceived innocence. The knowing things you’re not supposed to know. The beauty of the mundanities of life.

These themes inspired a fun self-portrait session. I threw on some Blink-182 and danced in my clothes from yesterday as soon as I got home. No showering, no changing my underwear, no props. Just dancing and having fun and remembering that at the end of the day I want to embrace my sexuality for me. I get to choose who I share it with and why. I get to feel powerful in my own skin, clothes, and relationship.

There have been times when my sexuality was something I wasn’t empowered by. I felt crushed under its weight and like it was something I could use to gain power. It was a tool in manipulation and being manipulated. I believed for a long time that my body was the most profitable thing I had to offer and totally disconnected myself emotionally from my sexuality and sexual experiences. Now I thrive on the emotional link, on feeling sexy for myself and knowing that I don’t need anyone else to validate that or put a price on it.

While this only skims the surface of sexuality and my experiences and learning with it, it is still these moments and instances that make me feel powerful and in control. That remind me that I am able to own myself and my body and that power only belongs to those I choose to give it to. My commitment to myself is to choose empowerment.

WILDER CAFE

This is one of those places – those times, memories, experiences that was hell on earth but you didn’t know it until you look back at what you’ve learned from it.

It’s one of those times where life teaches you that you don’t always know what’s best for you, that intuition is fickle, that lessons can’t be avoided, and that sometimes all you get out of something is knowing who you are.

I won’t get into all the gnarly details because that isn’t what this is about, and it’s not what I want to put out there! This is about the work I did do, the opportunities I had and took and was lucky to have at the end of the day despite the rest.

THE ‘GRAM

This was the first workplace I was able to not only fully utilize all my skills, but to give myself opportunities in them as well. One of my first and main tasks working here was to run their social media. In my 3 months working there I had gained over 500 instagram followers organically – I took all of the photos in the above pictures and curated the feed. I made the food presentations in the pictures (although did not make the actual recipes), edited the photos, made the captions and used my handy hashtags to get us noticed authentically in an over-crowded city.

Not only was it a creative outlet in terms of making beautiful food, photographs, and even hand-lettering signs. This was also a place for community.

bottom far right image is not mine! check out Sam Polzin

THE GROWTH

I met one of my now best-friends, then customer at Wilder. I made connections in other industries, with other artists, with a huge community of Junction-iters. I was able to host my first open mic (which also doubled as my first public event) , apply for my first liquor license, and also my first performances of spoken word and even singing.

I was given chance to open up our doors and plan with the Junction BIA for things like their Halloween walk in which I built a spooky sculpture for the window, set up a costume donation drive, decorated the cafe and had fun games for the kids like finding the key in the slime to earn candy. We participated in a holiday market pop-up in which I gathered local makers and artisans to be featured in our shop.

photos above taken by Calm Elliot-Armstrong for our Open Mic – see more here


There were lots of plans that didn’t see the light of day – like a fermentation workshop series. But three months there paved the ground for everything I did in 2018, which brought me to where I am in 2019.

While there are parts of this experience that are raw and painful, looking back on what I garnered from that experience I feel proud of the work and honoured I got to see out some of my dreams. Nothing is without challenges if it comes with growth.