NEW WA V E a feminist magazine built on community and creativity
FALL 2019 MASTHEAD Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Quon
Managing Editor Emily Peotto
Lauren Kaminski, Mariam Kasem & Pia Araneta
Zanele Chisholm & Monica Sadowski
Heads of Copy/Fact-Checking Katie Li & Chelsey Gould
Yusra Javed Honorary Editor-in-Chief
gave this magazine a new life & was devoted to publishing thoughtful & creative content. She started as a writer here and quickly moved up to editor in second year, editing and writing insightful and beautifully researched stories. When the magazine was in need of a complete rebuild, Yusra took on that truly difficult task. New Wave was born because of Yusra, and all its best and most innovative parts were because of Yusra. She cared so much about every aspect of the magazine, constantly thinking of new ideas to build New Wave’s brand and reach more students. More than that, she was a kind leader who wanted to see everyone at their best. She personally worked with many new writers who came to our magazine to pitch one of their first stories because they felt they could trust Yusra to walk them through it. Journalism seemed to come naturally to Yusra, but she was also so good at teaching it and guiding writers and editors through all the little intricacies in a way only a practiced journalist like Yusra could do. We feel so lucky to have known her and to have been lead by her. Yusra’s impact lingers all over this magazine, and each writer and editor and fact-checker who has come through this magazine in the past couple years carries a bit of Yusra with them. She was the best EIC, best leader, best person.”
Sherina Harris Former Managing Editor
From left to right: Sherina Harris, Yusra Javed & Julia Mastroianni
LETTERS FROM THE EDITORS I was drawn to New Wave Magazine (known as McClung’s at the time) in my first year of journalism school like a bee to honey. Magazines have always intrigued me: a collection of stories surrounded by captivating illustrations, photography and design, all packaged together to create something bigger than itself. To say the least, magazines are, in a way, magical. (Not to sound cliche.) Stepping into this position was bittersweet. New Wave was created as a renewed feminist vision by a talented and hard-working group of individuals, including the late Yusra Javed, one of our former editors-in-chief. Yusra had an endless amount of drive, dedication and care. I, like many others, looked up to her since our first meeting. She helped create a new life for this magazine, something I hoped to carry on when I took on this role. I believe we have carried on New Wave’s new vision and added onto it in the process. The fall 2019 issue of New Wave holds so many important stories that people have chosen to share with us and the world — stories that are meaningful, personal and courageous. They represent a spectrum of voices and experiences and have blossomed through the hands of our entire team to become what it is right now. Being a part of this publication has taught me more than any class ever could, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I am so deeply thankful to our entire team — to our handling editors, copy-editing and fact-checking team, illustration and layout team and writers. New Wave is a combination of your hard work, creativity and passion. It wouldn’t exist without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
For so long, I have been holding these stories in my hands, running my fingers over their spines, letting them hang in my mind, breathing in their honesty, their vulnerability, their beauty. For myself and our writers, telling these stories can act as a form of therapy. The words help us crawl out of the darkest corners of our minds, wrap themselves around us, carry us into the day. It is a long and sometimes lonely process to figure out how to say everything. To tell the story right, to do ourselves and the people involved justice. But it is worth it, at the end of it all, when it comes together like this. I am proud and honoured to sit here and say this. So grateful for this journey, for all of the writers who so open-heartedly handed their stories to us, to the design team who brought this vision to it’s sparkling, shining life. To the fact-checkers and the copy-editors who did the tedious work of combing through each word, digging in deeper than I ever could. Our handling editors, so generous with their time, who helped the writers convey their thoughts, who became a safe place for them to figure out their words. To all of you: There will never be anything in this universe to describe my appreciation. For now, I hope thank you is enough. And to you, the readers, thank you for being here. Thank you for gathering us in your arms, for giving us a place to rest. I hope this heals you as it healed us.
CONTENTS Finding Community Within How queer artists of colour are turning away from institutional spaces
11 14 14
La Recompensa 11 The Lion Doesn’t Sleep Tonight
16 18 18 20 20 24 24 26 26 27 27 31 31 33 33
At a Crossroads 16
What it’s like to be a Black Muslim woman
Learning to Love: A Guide to Successful Cohabitation Our Hair Journey The Hysterical Woman Clementine Peels Living IRL with the Imagined Audience Dear Kiarra Growing into my Body Hair
FINDING COMMUNITY WITHIN How queer artists of colour are turning away from institutional spaces Words by Vanessa Quon, Illustrations by Cleopatria Peterson
Community is important to Cleopatria Peterson, a queer Black artist, who has never felt quite right in predominantly white, cisgender and heterosexual spaces. In their first class at OCAD University three years ago, they walked into their nano publishing class taught by Sheila Sampath. Peterson sought her out as a professor, primarily because Sampath is a queer woman of colour. Seated in a round circle, Sampath had each student tell the class their pronouns â&#x20AC;&#x201D; something Peterson had to do themselves in their other classes. Sampath and her students then created the classroom with each other. That is, they made rules for how to navigate it together and vocalized their needs for accessibility, safety and whatever else they needed in order to be their whole, authentic selves.
Sampath set the bar high for Peterson, one that no one has been able to reach since. Her class was a safe space within a heavily white art institution. It was somewhere that students could grow together and one that helped Peterson on the path to finding their non-binary identity. For many marginalized artists like Peterson, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rare to feel welcome in spaces that werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t explicitly made for them. Many feel pressured to showcase their identities and traumas through their art in order to be recognized by predominantly white art institutions. Large-scale art institutions have a track record of showcasing art disproportionately made by white male artists. In Canadian galleries, only three per cent of women of colour had their own solo exhibitions compared to 56 per cent of all
solo exhibitions being held by white male artists between 2013 and 2015, according to the Canadian Art Foundation. The National Gallery of Canada had no solo exhibitions by female artists of colour. In permanent collections of 18 U.S. art museums, 85 per cent of artists displayed are white and 87 per cent are men, according to a Public Library of Science study.
communities. They want artists to draw from their personal histories and their connections to their environment and community.
Many marginalized artists have turned to create art spaces that celebrate the work of their own communities and their own stories, rather than applying for mainstream art spaces that aren’t welcoming to artists of colour or that expect them to display art that is solely about their marginalized perspectives.
“There’s a lot of people who make art at zine fairs who are allowed to get away with certain styles, which I don’t think BIPOC are allotted the ability to because they have to work that much harder to showcase work that is at a level that people will notice. It’s systemic,” Peterson says.
“It’s not fair. We should be allowed to be mediocre and work less and be lazy. It’s something I must learn myself. I am just one person and I’m tired.”
As a fourth-year publications student at OCAD, Peterson mainly focuses on illustration-based work. The student creates hand-drawn comics, artwork and zines — like magazines, but smaller, self-published and usually focusing on amplifying the voices and talents of those outside the mainstream. Peterson focuses on detailed nature scenes and queer imagery. Sometimes, they create narratives that deal with healing from trauma and the concept of home and belonging, especially in the colonial, settler landscape.
For Peterson, BIPOC spaces are especially meaningful. They feel these spaces navigate things differently and are more focused on community than individual ego or specific art styles.
Sampath, who comes from a community activist background, has also experienced dismissal from institutions because of her marginalized identity as a queer woman of colour. While Sampath knows the importance of interrogating these spaces and fighting within them, she values
Peterson knows they’re considered an “other” in institutionalized art spaces. They don’t really care. They know these institutions aren’t there to support them and won’t recognize their work the same way they do of white artists. Instead, they focus on finding other ways to get their art out there and finding community among other queer artists of colour. Peterson co-founded Old Growth Press, a Toronto-based publisher that aims to elevate the artistic works of people in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) and 2SLGBTQ+
supportive BIPOC spaces that undo systems of oppression. As the editorial and art director of Shameless magazine, she aims to do the same. Run by a team of volunteer staff members, Shameless is an independent, grassroots publication that aims to uplift the voices of young women and trans youth. They also work to support and empower young artists and writers that are from communities underrepresented in mainstream media.
“It’s not fair. We should be allowed to be mediocre and work less and be lazy. It’s something I must learn myself. I am just one person and I’m tired.” They focus on practicing intersectional feminism, an inclusive form of feminism that takes the various intersecting issues of oppression into consideration — race, class, ability, immigration status, sexual orientation and gender identity. Their narratives are centred around community, with stories about mental health; experiences with racism and misogyny; Indigenous representation and fat positivity.
these two spaces — Shameless and The Public — to be loving and supportive.
When Sampath found mainstream gallery spaces to be alienating, she created her own. She is the principal and creative director at The Public, a community-centred activist design studio. Its street-facing gallery at Lansdowne Ave and Seaforth Ave features art that explores issues of social justice and anti-oppression.
Institutional art spaces should be sharing their power and giving space to BIPOC and queer artists, says Peterson.
Its team believes art should be accessible and should inspire social change. The gallery’s mission is to redefine who gets to call themselves an “artist” and to blur the lines between art, design and community practice. Sampath has created
“It’s the way we communicate,” she says. “We check in with each other, we ask each other what we think. We honour intuition as a very valid and critical way of knowing.”
“Am I talking too much?” they ask. “Am I taking up too much space? It’s fucked up, because you’re never taking up enough space because the space was never yours to begin with. You should take as much as you need.”
La Recompensa By Ana Leal Cornejo My leg nervously bounces as I open up my laptop. I have to apply for scholarships because I need money for school, I need money for rent, I need a TTC pass for next month and I’m running out of groceries. The Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) isn’t providing me with funding this year and my part-time job won’t cover the costs of living in the city while attending university. I log onto AwardSpring, Ryerson University’s new onestop scholarship website, which tells me I’m eligible for multiple scholarships and awards. This seems promising. I scroll through the list and I’m surprised to find one that speaks to my Latinx identity — a renewable award for Hispanic/Latino students. The application asks me if I self-identify as Hispanic or Latino and I enthusiastically check “yes.” I realize this is the first time I’ve come across a scholarship that recognizes my Latinx identity. A few years ago, shortly after having dropped out of my previous university program, I heard from a friend that there was someone interested in speaking to Latina students for a study about their experiences in the Canadian education system. I agreed to meet with her at the time because no one had ever asked me about my experience as Latina student before. The study and the scholarship are the only experiences I can remember where an educational institution considered my Latina identity.
They say Canada is a melting pot of identities, so why did I feel so excluded?
This 2017 study, conducted by education professor Phillipa Myers at Western University, focused on how female Latin American students persist in their academic careers despite barriers such as institutional racism, classism and financial struggles.
According to Myers, the research suggested that Latina students manage to achieve their academic goals because of a sense of recompensa: the motivation that comes from knowing there will be a payoff or reward. Participants also pointed to the importance of family support and sacrifice. Myers says that these family bonds, also known as familialism, “prioritize family interests before individual interests. For most participants, recompensa, or the payoff of parents’ sacrifices, motivated them to do well in school.” When you grow up outside of your native country and everything is new, “home” takes on a new meaning. For Latin Americans in Canada, familia is their home base, their ground zero in all the chaos of adjusting to a new country.
I was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1994. Despite a tumultuous political climate, I was born into a lively, tight-knit and fearless family. I grew up surrounded by my familia watching Colombian TV dramas, known as telenovelas, and eating arepas for breakfast that my mom or grandma would make. I grew up having to greet every person in the room with a kiss on the cheek while salsa music was booming in the background. Despite changing schools every year, home life remained the same. This is what I remember from my childhood — not how poor we were or how difficult things were for my parents who worked multiple jobs. I remember the family gatherings and how much laughter there was in my house. For others who aren’t so lucky, yearning for familia is an everyday struggle. In the case of Debborah Camargo, a recent graduate from Fanshawe College in southwestern Ontario, her family is very important, but it can be distracting while being in Canada, knowing their struggles back in Brazil. Camargo arrived in Canada from Sao Paulo over two years ago with her husband, Alex Camargo. “A phone call is not the same as being present. I miss them all the time. It makes it difficult to focus on my own life,” she says. Despite graduating and finding full-time employment, Camargo is focused on receiving her permanent residency. She wants to begin the immigration process for her twin sister, Deisiane Barbosa.
“It is hard not having someone that really knows me, that I can really open up to.”
Latin American Identity on Campus During my “first try at university” — how I fondly refer to those years of my life — I remember how important it was for me to hang a Colombian flag in my dorm room. One day, a girl from my residence building came into my room and made a nasty comment about my flag. Although I brushed it off in the moment, I began feeling a sense of “otherness” amongst my classmates.
Suddenly, I was looking around to find faces amongst the students, faculty or staff that mirrored my identity. It was a fruitless search and I felt lonely. I couldn’t speak in Spanish to anyone and my references to shows, music and food from my childhood were unrelatable. I questioned my place at the university. Mixed with financial and mental health issues, my grades began to drop until I eventually dropped out. Natalie Enriquez, a master’s student at the University of Toronto, says that she was the only Latin American person in her class of 64 people. “There wasn’t a community that I inherently belonged to,” Enriquez says, ”it was also evident in the lack of scholarships and grants geared towards Latin American students.”
Enriquez recalls how isolating her undergraduate experience was. It was emotional for her to finally see someone with a similar identity in the classroom,
to believe that people like them can be in leadership positions and if the institution supports diversity on campus.”
“I almost cried last week because, for the first time, I saw a lecture by a Latin American professor,” Enriquez. says
The Tri-mentoring program has been facilitating this group for Latinx students on campus for three years. Rendon says most Latin American students are firstgeneration students whose parents did not obtain postsecondary education and that students may not feel their parents can relate to the demands they face every day on campus. Because of this, he says, students tend to keep to themselves when they are having difficulties at school.
Returning to university as a 25-year-old mature student, I am aware that I need to look for a community in order to thrive at Ryerson. In my first month I found support and validation through OLAS, the Organization of Latin American Students, as well as group mentoring for Latinx/Hispanic or Spanish Speaking Students through the Tri-Mentoring program.
I see myself reflected in faces around me. “There is a correlation between students finding a sense of belonging on campus and completing their bachelor’s degree,” says Maricruz Rodriguez Rendon, a Tri-Mentoring Program representative. “Latinx students seek role models, at the institution, that look like them
As I stress about all of my bills stacking up, I get a text from my dad: “Anything you need, let me know, hija. We can sort it out juntos.” I am overcome by the realization that it isn’t just about me — it’s about my big, loud and loving Colombian family. Despite how lonely my first experience in university seemed, I now push forward with my academic career after finding a support system within my school. This time, I also have a clear understanding that la recompensa is not just mine but my family’s as well.
THE LION DOESNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T
BY MONICA SADOWSKI
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A BLACK MUSLIM WOMAN By Dararrtu Abdullahi
I sit on the floor of the mosque with my hijab covering my tightly curled hair. We quietly converse amongst ourselves as the muezzin recites the call to prayer in Arabic. I am a Black Muslim woman, and for most of my life, I have felt misplaced. I’ve never experienced being in a Black church, listening to a choir sing as the attendants clap their hands and stomp their feet to gospel songs while catching the holy ghost. I’ve often had trouble associating my race with my religion because my Blackness didn’t seem to intertwine with Islam. They intersect on the basis of my gender, and I’ve had to deal with explaining the hardships of being a Black Muslim woman, a concept that many don’t seem to grasp. Growing up, it wasn’t easy — when meeting new people, I was always somehow misunderstood. Learning to accept myself became a struggle in itself, not to mention having to find a way to embrace my uniqueness and show my own individuality. But as I grew older, I constantly felt the need to defend these three marginalized identities that I am. I’m the youngest of my family, with three older brothers. There were things they could do and places they could go to that I couldn’t — simply because I was a girl and it was deemed socially unacceptable. My mother, despite being the only other woman in the house, was conditioned to think the same and believed that women had particular roles to fill. I constantly felt challenged in my own household. This sexism prevented me from being adventurous — growing up, I missed out on sleepovers or being out for long hours having fun. It’s hard to live in a world that constantly displaces you. Being a Black Muslim woman, I’ve often grown frustrated when someone does not seem to understand my identity. I’ve always been too Black for Muslim people and too Muslim for Black people. I remember being young, watching Tyler Perry movies and trying to relate to the characters in the films. Yes, we’re all Black. But I never understood all the Christian references like Sunday service, the pastor’s enthusiastic preaching or the concept of turning to your neighbor. Growing up, everything I heard about Islam was negative — the people are terrorists and women are subservient possessions of men. I began to wonder why I was so different as if I wasn’t supposed to be the way I am.
On Eid, we wake up at eight in the morning to catch the 10 a.m. prayer. My family and I drive all the way down to Lawrence Heights, nicknamed the “Jungle” due to its long history of gang activity. We go into the community centre and pray in one of the two gyms that are always full. There’s something about loving through faith that’s so pure, especially in Islam — being able to feel so consumed with gratitude and forgiving of those who have hurt you. The burdens put onto me are a test from Allah to see how I manage threflectionem since he doesn’t give me hardships that I can’t handle or carry. It reminds me that if I do get to see another day, it is always a fresh start — reassuring me that my beliefs are truly beautiful. I feel like Blackness is a spirit, a rebellion against subjugation. It has always been a source of alienation throughout my life. Just by getting onto the TTC, people will sometimes hesitate to sit beside me or think that they’d rather stand. And, as if I am part of an exhibit, random girls will walk up to me to touch my textured hair without permission. But I never let the world’s view of my race deter my self-love. I learned that the only validation I need is from myself. I don’t allow the degrading history and misconceptions around Black people define who I am. I am a human being with dreams and responsibilities, constantly trying to outgrow myself each day. Seeking to be more ambitious as someone who’s admired for more than just her skin tone, but her perseverance. Until recently, I felt as though I couldn’t speak up when I was being mistreated because I’d be viewed as just another “angry” Black woman. Or, when I go out with a hijab fully covering my body, people seem to move away from me because they connote the physical presentation of my beliefs as violent. It’s unfair — the notion of women being inferior to men has repeatedly revealed itself throughout my life. However, I refuse to watch the intersections of my marginalization anymore. I am aware of all the hardships I endure, but I am also cognizant of the magnificence of my identity. I am a proud Black Muslim woman and you’ll never hear that change.
Learning to love: A guide to successful cohabitation by Chloé Rose Whitmore I moved in with my boyfriend a few days after my 24th birthday. Having been together for over six years, navigating long-distances, financial turbulence, and accidentally seeing his mother naked, nobody was surprised to see us take the next step in our relationship.
There was just one problem: I was petrified of commitment. To my engaged and married friends, this seemed inconceivable, and I can hardly blame them. For all the progress we’ve made, narratives still tend to depict women as craving love and security, while men are the ones typically terrified of commitment. Men are lauded for their sexual encounters, while women are puritanically branded ‘sluts’ for short hemlines or drinking alone in bars. Although my starry-eyed teenage years had been punctuated by devastating crushes and bad poetry, I’d never thought of myself as someone in a rush to settle down. Raised by a mother who lived her life with one foot out the door, being a flight-risk was in my blood. It was as inevitable as my blue eyes or my crooked nose. Long-term love was something I would have to learn, like a second language. It didn’t come naturally, and
it certainly wasn’t the path I’d envisioned for my twenties, a decade I assumed would be a low-budget, slightly more upbeat version of Skins. The plan was to move to Paris, have a string of exotic love affairs, and write strained, melancholic stories about this thing called l’amour. When I was done – possibly on the eve of my 30th birthday – I could slot seamlessly into a monogamous existence, knowing that I’d lived my young adulthood out ‘properly’. So, when it came to crossing the threshold of our new apartment, divvying up the keys and choosing a side of the bed, my excitement was tinged by a sickly, subtle current of something that wasn’t quite fear, but wasn’t far from it. It’s the feeling that all fiercely independent people have when they attach themselves to another person. When they have to make a choice between love – proper, fulfilling, bone-deep love – and all the other kinds of love. That type of love you feel for some guy named Brian after you’ve drank an entire bottle of white wine and suddenly, you decide you’ve got a thing for moustaches.
Moving in with someone is held up as a kind of romantic, glittering achievement. A baby step towards marriage and children and the rest of your life. It’s rewarded with cards and champagne like you’ve graduated from relationship college because your toothbrushes now inhabit the same peppermint-crusted holder. Less talked about is how arduous, exhausting and complex the process of moulding two separate lives together is. It’s not sexy to talk about the shit stains in the toilet or the cut-throat, bags-packed argument about the correct way to load a dishwasher. Nobody wants to hear ruminations about the fact that, what was once your wine-stained Friday nights, are now spent binging Netflix with both of you in bed by 10:30 p.m.
In an age where divorce and discontent are rife, it’s important not to gloss over the flaws in relationships – especially in our comparative culture.
don’t exist, and if they do, they’re reserved for men. I’m looking at you, Chandler Bing. If all you consume are stories of fire and intensity, it can be disillusioning to find yourself putting off sex to watch another episode of Queer Eye. Especially when you’re confronted with a mass of gushing Instagram posts depicting perfect, uncomplicated, devastatingly romantic couples. But as surprised as I was to find myself settling into a beige state of monogamy, I was even more surprised to see how our relationship shifted, warmed and grew. For every compromise, every argument, every fleck of piss on the toilet seat, there was some good, light, unexpected thing. Like a warm hug on a bad day, sex with full bellies pressed against each other after takeout, sour morning breaths, or thousands of tiny chores that stitched our lives together in a new, suffocating and wonderful way. Inside jokes that accumulate fast and irrevocably — our shared language — communicating in yawns and groans and finger-light touches. For every time I wanted him out of my space, there was a time I wanted him in it. Relationships, marriage, cohabitation — they’re often treated like the spectacular postcard view at the end of an uphill hike. But, I don’t think that’s accurate. I think relationships are the hike. It’s the long, winding, uneven walk to nowhere, where the destination is obscured by rain clouds and nobody bothered to draw you a map. But you’ll hold hands, share sips of water, pull each other up the steep, muddy slope. It’s painful, breath-stealing, sweaty and only sometimes worth it. It’s love.
A friend of mine recently spoke for hours about her new boyfriend, describing their nights of sex under the stars, only stopping the shag-fest to discuss philosophy and anthropology. Meanwhile, I was internally debating what to put in the casserole I’d make that night. I was fairly certain I’d seen a stick of celery languishing in the back of the fridge. Naturally, I spent that night fretting and chewing my fingernails and wondering whether my relationship lacked passion. Here I think lies the problem. Not only are many women not given the space to hesitate, but we’re sold on volatile, hair-pulling, fiercely passionate love that rarely exists outside of Taylor Swift songs. As if doubts
OUR HAIR JOURNEY CHEYENNE BHOLLA 20
I’ve had a long journey with my hair. Growing up, my Google searches changed from “how to get straight hair” to “hair masks” and finally “best products for curly hair.”
The reason why my hair is important to me is because of the sense of self it gives me. Growing up, my mom always decided which haircut I got and how my hair would be styled. As I grew older, I started growing my hair out longer.
I spend hours a week caring for it and I enjoy every second. Everyone has their own experiences with their hair, and the following sheds light on those experiences as well as the connections they create.
My identity and sense of self was forming at the same time that I got control over my hair.
My hair has become such a big part of my personal expression.
My hair helps me feel confident, beautiful and free, and it allows me to express to the world how I would like to be perceived.
I used to have really long hair. I always felt like cutting it would be some sort of drastic change that would permanently alter the way people perceive me,
I’m really stressed most of the time, whether it’s because of all the work I have or because of everything going on in the world.
but the nice thing about hair is that it always grows back.
Once I cut it, I began experimenting with it more, and with all the different things I tried out, I felt like I was learning more about myself in the process. Once I stopped thinking that it had to look a certain way to be “womanly,” I felt freer to express myself.
I like to express myself through my hair by showing that despite everything, I don’t want to take myself too seriously.
I really want to just enjoy life and try new things.
I was an anxious 14-year-old. My hair was long and went down to my waist, and it felt like a safety blanket. When I cut it short, I really started appreciating it more. It felt light and I began to love how it looked.
Going natural a few years back helped me to identify beauty within myself, the beauty that exists within my Afro-Caribbean roots and the barriers my ancestors went through to give me the freedom to confidently wear my hair in its natural state.
I began to find some sort of power, in genuinely loving the way my hair and I felt. It means so much more knowing that it used to scare me before.
To me, my hair signifies connections with other individuals who also see the beauty in embracing their natural hair.
The longer I had it short, the more confident I felt.
The versatility of my hair allows me to express my creativity and is also a visible reflection of my mood.
The Hysterical Woman by Mahirah Syed
Trigger warning: self-harm and suicidality “Julia doesn’t think you’re okay,” said the psychiatrist about why she was sending me to the hospital against my will. “I don’t think you’re OK. And there’s a part of you that knows you’re not OK, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here today.”
A few days later, I was relocated to a psychiatric ward. After being discharged, I transitioned into one-on-one therapy. It took me attempting suicide to be given the mental health aid I desperately needed.
I was escorted to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in the back of a police cruiser. Being criminalized just because of a mental illness is nothing new to many who experience mental health issues.
One of my diagnoses is borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is described by CAMH as a “serious, long-lasting and complex mental health problem” that is revolved around emotional dysregulation and extreme reactions. Symptoms range from extreme moods and suicidality to impulsive and dangerous behaviour.
I spent that day trying to affirm the psychiatrist that I had no desire to go to the hospital and that I wasn’t a harm to myself or others. But that didn’t stop her from calling three different officers to supervise me on my way to the hospital. That wasn’t the first time a mental health professional disregarded my wishes. I am only 19, but I have seven different clinical diagnoses. My disorders range from bipolar to psychosis to disordered eating. Explaining the history of my mental health to a doctor during our first meeting has always been difficult because of my fear they may react the same way that psychiatrist did. After hearing a list of my clinical disorders and of my previous suicide attempts, I often see therapists and doctors staring at me with skepticism and worry. I’m not the most balanced person, but I’m lucid enough to know how I’m feeling or what I want. My disorders have still often led to me being discredited and patronized by mental health professionals. My first trip to the hospital ER was when I was 14. I chased a bottle of Tylenol with nail polish remover. I can’t recall that night, but the scent of remover still makes my stomach churn.
Women are diagnosed with BPD more often than men. Clearview Hospital states that doctors are more likely to diagnose women with BPD, even if the only difference in patient criteria is gender. This exposes an implicit bias toward diagnosing women with BPD, which could be because symptoms fit tropes and stereotypes that have been perpetuated by our society and culture throughout time. Throughout history, hysteria has been undeniably attached to cisgender women. The term itself came from the word uterus. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, believed hysteria was caused by atypical womb movements which categorized hysteria as exclusive to cisgender women. “Female hysteria” was once a common diagnosis for any woman that didn’t conform to gender stereotypes. The symptoms ranged from lack of appetite, promiscuity and irritability. Normal emotions and feelings were scrutinized as abnormal. Women were taught and socialized to be submissive and subservient, and if they betrayed that behaviour, they were diagnosed with hysteria. “Female hysteria” was dismissed as
a mental illness in the 1980s, but toxic tropes, such as women being “insane,” are still prevalent today. Zelda Fitzgerald, writer and prominent icon during the Roaring ’20s, was repeatedly called crazy for almost a century. Zelda’s husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, plagiarized writings from her journals for his books throughout their marriage. Fitzgerald wrote to Zelda’s doctor depicting Zelda as a failed, deluded artist with recurring breakdowns, nervousness and even cited a shopping problem. Fitzgerald weaponized Zelda’s mental health against her and profited off of her content. Today, many scholars allege that Zelda might have had bipolar disorder, but was never diagnosed. Society finds it easy to demonize and label mentally ill women as “crazy” and unreliable narrators. Whenever we start describing a woman as crazy, we are using it to actively undermine their reactions and feelings. My mental health has improved an exceeding amount in the past year. I take my medication regularly, make appointments with my psychiatrist and employ coping mechanisms from therapy when my mood spirals. This doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly OK, but I’m able to manage my feelings a lot better. In my first semester of university, I was in a bad depressive state where I dropped and barely passed most of my classes, and now I’m able to take a full course load. I would ignore friends for months without telling them a reason, just because I felt slighted. I would cause problems in my romantic relationship just because I was bored. Now, I’m living with one of my best friends and I’m in a supportive relationship. Being mentally ill doesn’t make you “crazy,” hysterical or whatever derogatory word that people use. Having BPD might fill your life with large lows and grandiose moments of elation — but I can tell you, it’s not a death sentence.
By Emily Peotto
The veins of my grandmother’s hands were stark blue against her pale skin. Her hair was grey and wispy, still a bit curly, cut close to her head. When she ate clementines, she pulled the peel off carefully in one piece, and reassembled it back into its previous form. She poured her cereal into plastic containers. She lined the drawers of her fridge with a green mesh she claimed kept her food fresh longer. She kept her rosaries that she brought back from Italy in Wedgwood containers that lay scattered on her windowsills. She was always trying to put things back together: detached buttons, broken vases, her marriage to my grandfather. She loved lavender. She never swore. She was convinced that vinegar could cure anything. As she aged, her memory faded. At 87, she would tell me how just yesterday, she rode her bike along the highway that connected Thunder Bay to Kakabeka Falls. Her past was fogged over by dementia, and she could not distinguish whether these stories were from two weeks or two decades ago. “I bet it was windy,” I would say. She often fell victim to scams from the Shopping Channel. Her green mesh sat in the fridge for years while tomatoes ripened and softened to the point of rot; she never quite understood that time was an unstoppable force. In the middle of the night, she would come into my room and place her hand on my side, snug in the dip between my hip bone and rib cage. My dad told me, years later, that she was making sure I was still breathing. When my cousins and I were younger, we thought this habit was funny.
Looking back, I am crushed to think of the anxiety she must have lived through: a child born during the Great Depression, accustomed to the ritual of keeping the things she loved safe. Learning, slowly, that everything is fragile. As we were leaving a restaurant once, my scarf caught on the back of a chair and slowly started to unravel as I made my way to the door. I didn’t notice the line of wool dragging behind me until my grandmother scooped it up, cradling it in her hands. When we arrived back at her house, she showed me the pile of unspooled fabric. “Here,” she said. “let me fix it.” I watched as she remade my scarf, interweaving each string until the mess of wool became whole again. Like the clementine peels, left standing to hold the ghost of the fruit, my grandmother’s hands were meant to reassemble. Three years later, in her hospital bed, she would tell me the story of Kakabeka Falls again. “It was just beautiful,” she said, “the way the water never stops running.”
WITH THE IMAGINED AUDIENCE
By Pia Araneta My phone is a second set of eyes. It sees everything: the picturesque, Instagram-worthy moments, the stressful late-night study sessions and my face — a lot of my face. If I see anything even remotely interesting, I’m recording it with my iPhone. My boyfriend cooking me pad thai? Great. A guy who can’t parallel park? Sweet. Latte art? Gold, gold and… send. My reality transcends into my phone screen, flies upwards to oblivion and into the iCloud. Returning momentarily onto the screens of others — my friends, my audience, my validation. Giddy and gleaming, my friends become a reaffirming list of notifications stacked one on top of the other — a standing ovation for sharing the content. The term “imaginary audience” refers to unconscious feelings that an individual might have of being watched and listened to eagerly, as though they are at the focus of other people’s attention. Coined by psychologist David Elkind in 1967, it characterizes an egotistical state that is experienced mostly during adolescence. With the advent of iPhones and
Instagram, the online constant “connectivity,” are we still imagining these audiences? Have they been given life, as “friends” and “followers”? As I snap a perfectly angled photo of my eggs benedict at the breakfast spot I found With the on Instagram, I ability to share wonder to what extent I’ve done and document things “for the everything I’ve gram.” With the ability to share experienced, I and document wonder if I ever everything I experienced, I truly feel alone wonder if I ever anymore (the new, truly feel alone anymore (the new, quasi-existential quasi-existential dread). For dread). example, when I sit
down to write creatively, I have difficulty constructing my sentences without thinking about the audience that might later be reading it. I’m no longer writing — I’m “creating content.” I mean, for God’s sake, my diary even has a disclaimer written inside, in the event anyone ever finds it and decides to read it (and if you do, please let me know if it has any literary merit).
Friends, followers, communities, fanbases… the imagined audience can take many forms. With enough audience engagement and interaction, perhaps you will even climb into the VIP section of someone’s finsta (fake Instagram account). Of course, nothing beats the exclusive dopamine rush of seeing the bright green ring that lines a friend’s profile at the top of your feed — a story shared for close friends.
Are we living IRL with the “imagined audience”?
For 24-year-old fashion influencer, Natalie Alysa, she says she sometimes feels conscious of an audience when doing mundane things in public, wondering if a passerby may have seen photos she has posted online. “Having a following here in Toronto, sometimes I question whether someone who follows me is in the same room,” Alysa says. “That feeling is a little weird to me at times, but also really cool.”
Alysa, a Ryerson University business graduate, began her “I can try to imagine an alternate universe where I’ve always career by posting her outfits on Instagram — a platform she roamed free and Instagram-less in pastures untouched by regarded as a fun form of self-expression. With over 31,000 algorithm. But I can’t imagine who that person is inside.” followers, posting on instagram has become her full-time job, including getting paid to wear and promote brands. Gevinson writes about the distrust Instagram has created Social media opened up new possibilities for Alysa, such within her, questioning the intentions of her posts. Were as designing her own fashion they authentic? label set to launch in January. It also connected her to an Our social media profiles In our Western, neoliberalist online community that would have become a representation culture, we are now expected be impossible without the of our own personal to market ourselves not only platform. brands — our identity. In our neoliberalist western as qualified individuals, but “I feel like those who follow culture, we are expected to as well-versed, well-travelled me are ultimately my friends market ourselves not only who also really love fashion and as qualified individuals, but and well-informed beings street style,” Alysa says. “We’re a as well-versed, well-travelled who have quantifiable community.” and informed beings who personalities in the form of have personalities in the form Alysa says there are anxiety and of posts, likes and followers. posts, likes and followers. mental health issues that stem from social media platforms. Gevinson posted a series She says that the creativity and of videos in March community it fosters is what that she captioned makes it great. #myalgorithmjourney, where she walked around Times She says it has even helped her find her “true identity,” adding Square in a humorous attempt to find Instagram’s algorithm that the perception of influencers living “fake” lives can be — or what content would do best in showing up on a person’s unfair. She feels like her content represents her authentic feed. She theorized that the algorithm favoured pictures of self. faces over text. “The line is so blurred as to where social media starts and ends for me since I am essentially sharing my real daily life (constantly),” she says.
The algorithm of authenticity In an essay Tavi Gevinson wrote for New York Magazine titled, “Who would I be without Instagram?” the writer, actress and founder of Rookie Mag pens her relationship with the social media platform, comparing it to a black hole. “Who would I be without Instagram?” she writes. “The fact that it’s impossible to parse its exact influence on me indicates that it runs deep.
After posting these videos, she was invited to learn about the algorithm at Instagram’s office, where she was told by employees that users craved more candid, less polished photos over aspirational ones — authenticity. The existence of algorithms means that social networking sites, to an extent, curate our audiences. It begs the question of how one post is prioritized over another. How does an algorithm define authenticity? If I posted one photo wearing lipstick and glitter, how would it compare to a video of me shaving my armpits? To me, my profile is an extension of myself; another addition to the many personalities and realities I’ve created with each handle. Different versions of ourselves exist online, just as much as they do IRL. Twitter Pia wouldn’t show up to a business meeting, just like how LinkedIn Pia wouldn’t be dancing on the street at 4 a.m. Filters exist both in reality and online.
Instagram and Identity Instagram and social media have helped me make sense of my own authenticity and identity. When I scroll down my feed, I can see the time capsule I’ve built for myself. In comparing myself to the girl in the photo, I can affirm growth and change by our different circumstances. Though I like to look back at my growth, this game of comparison can undoubtedly be the root of many mental health issues. Comparing one curated life to another becomes a vicious cycle, dictated by the praises of our imagined audience. For Rachel Becker, a second-year environment and urban sustainability student at Ryerson, having Instagram is more stressful than beneficial. “Feeling that you have to have an audience for your life… it really takes you out of the moment,” Becker says. “If you’re at a show or at an event, it’s really hard to feel present and engaged in what you’re doing if you’re also thinking you have to be recording it.” Becker deleted her Instagram for numerous reasons, such as time consumption, the negative effects on her self-esteem, and an addictive personality that she says would lead her to overusing the app. After deleting it, she felt a sense of relief, but what also grew was a feeling of disconnect and FOMO (fear of missing out). “I just don’t have it because I don’t use it in a healthy way,” Becker says. A 2019 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that adolescents who spend more than three hours per day on social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems. Although this comes as no surprise considering the complexity of online environments including cyberbullying, internet addiction and unrealistic beauty standards, the reality is that social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives.
Some consider it part of their identity. I am terrified to utilize the “screen time” feature on my iPhone — the update that forces me to look into my own soul, which probably looks something like all the boxes I’ve selected that have images of cars in them. Becker said that she will probably get Instagram again one day, perhaps to display some of her artwork. But only if she maintains a controllable attitude towards the app. “You can curate a little piece of your identity through it,” Becker says, adding that it’s good to consider your identity and how you want people to view you, as long as the compulsion doesn’t become obsessive. Despite the personal brand model that retains authenticity, we ourselves are not personalities confined within the 1080px by 1080px dimensions of our Instagram posts. We are malleable and constantly changing. Our profiles will grow with us.
Dear Kiarra By Kiarra Swaby
Dear Kiarra, It has been a year since that moment changed your life forever. It is something you live with every single day and have never spoken about publicly until now. This is something you have wanted to do for a while, not only to get it off your chest but to share your story and raise awareness. ***
That is when you then felt someone tap your shoulder. You thought nothing of it until you felt another tap. Guessing it was your friend, you turned around and saw a man, leaving you startled. He definitely was not your friend. That week, you were getting compliments from strangers so you thought no different. You paused your music and as suspected, he gave you a compliment. You thanked him and continued walking to school.
Oct. 31, 2018: another typical school day.
That is when he began following you asking more questions.
As per usual, you left your house around 8:40 a.m. to head downtown for 10.
You both reached your school, telling him you were now off to class, expecting him to leave â&#x20AC;&#x201D; he did not.
Often while travelling, you take the time to listen to music and observe your surroundings, but on this day, your head was elsewhere. An unsettling feeling appeared to be looming on the back of your mind, making you oddly anxious and uneasy. Having had this feeling many times before, you knew it could only mean one thing: something was going to happen.
Instead, he followed you, grabbed your hand, and lead you up the school steps
Exiting the subway station, you attempted to block the feeling out of your mind and stay focused on meeting up with your friend who had just texted you, asking where you were.
That is when you froze, feeling powerless. Everything you were ever taught in case you were in danger was forgotten. You could not speak, you could not move, the only thing on your mind was fear. Fear if you spoke up he would hurt you, fear if he had a weapon in his pocket, fear of not seeing your family and friends again. So you obeyed.
He began to lead you through a different part of the school you had rarely ever been. Typically the hallways are constantly congested with student traffic, but ironically on the day you needed someone most, they were empty â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as if this moment was pre-planned.
Immediately, you went to the nearest washroom and began to cry. However, the tears were not because of the assault. You knew the biggest lesson your family had always taught you was to speak up but instead, you did the exact opposite. You felt like a failure.
You remained quiet on the walk, trying to figure out where he was taking you when a washroom appeared. You thought this was your chance to finally get away, but before you knew it, he had pulled you in, locked you in a stall and began kissing you.
Not knowing what to do or who to tell, you called your boyfriend.
Attempting to wiggle free, you felt his hand sliding up your waist, resting on your chest. Pushing him away, you looked down at your watch as a way to stall and plan an escape. That is when you noticed he had pulled his pants down. You insisted you needed to leave right away to make it to class on time. Initially, he did not let you go, but after resisting again, he stopped what he was doing, adjusted himself, and lead you both out of the washroom. He continued to walk with you, hand in hand through the hallway, stopping periodically to kiss you. Finally reaching your class, he asked for your number and made you promise to meet up with him later. Complying, you told him what he wanted to hear and he left, leaving you standing outside your class.
You made him promise not to tell anyone what happened, collected yourself and finished the day as if nothing happened. In my case, the support I received helped me speak up to get my attacker arrested, yet that is not always the outcome. Sharing what happened is by far the hardest thing to do. Not knowing if anyone is going to believe you, getting in trouble for not doing enough, and the probability of the suspect not being caught are some of the most common reason why victims hold back. However, if these fears continue to keep us quiet, we allow criminals to walk free. There truly is no guarantee your attacker will ever be caught, but by speaking up, you may possibly save someone else from becoming the next victim.
Growing Into My Body Hair
By Natalie Michie
rowing up, I never saw imagery of women embracing their body hair in the media. I often wonder how much heartache and self-doubt I would have been spared if I had. The journey to loving my body has been fueled by womxn who have shown me that self-acceptance is beautiful. Through these photos, I hope to portray that same message.
“I think some people view not shaving as radical. Allowing my body hair to grow is an extension of me expressing myself. I don’t condemn shaving; I think if you want to express yourself by shaving you should. But I don’t think I should be condemned for not shaving.”
“I reject the idea that body hair is somehow unfeminine. When I stopped shaving, I made a conscious choice to frame my body hair as feminine in my own mind. Embracing my underarm, pubic and leg hair has been an important step in my own self-love and the love I show my queer female body... If I identify as a woman, then my body is a woman’s body, and my body hair is inherently feminine.”
“I stopped shaving because I realized I was only doing it for everyone else; so I could appear grown-up, sexy, in control. By embracing my body hair, I have learned to love my body and accept it in ways that challenge my absorbed perceptions of beauty and femininity.”
“Whenever my friends and I would talk about sex, preparation always included shaving the pubic region, so it was instilled in me as a necessary step. I later realized that I was doing all this grooming solely for the other person’s satisfaction. Today, I rarely shave my underarm hair, pubic hair and arms. I’m definitely not at the most secure I could be, but I acknowledge that if I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. I’ve come to love my body hair.”
“As I grew into a young adult, it was cemented in me that I could only belong to (the) club (of womanhood) through my body’s baldness. Three years ago, after experiencing a decade of ingrown hairs and a breakup, I’d had enough. I wanted to know what it was to be an empowered hairy woman in a world that has turned the term into an oxymoron. Now that my hair empowers me, why the hell would I spend time and money removing it?”
“My liberation from the disgust (I had towards my body hair) was a slow process, but the process started with feminism. The movement seemed to be growing online, and I started coming across articles with women talking about their experiences learning to embrace their body hair. As much as it inspired me, I felt that I would never learn to be comfortable with it. It planted the idea in my mind, that maybe one day I’d learn to love it too. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve started unlearning all the hatred and disgust I’d internalized when I was younger. I’ve been slowly learning to find power in embracing my body hair in a way I never thought I would.”
C ONTRIB UTORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Vanessa Quon
MANAGING EDITORS Emily Peotto (Print) Shauna Mazenes (Online)
ART DIRECTOR Veronika Wiszniewska
HEADS OF COPY EDITING/FACT-CHECKING Katie Li Chelsey Gould
CREATIVE EDITORS Zanele Chisholm Monica Sadowski
FEATURES EDITORS Lauren Kaminski Mariam Kasem Pia Araneta
PHOTO EDITOR Natalie Michie
EQUITY DIRECTORS Ruby Asgedome Zainab Damji
COPY EDITORS Jessica Mazze Dorsa Rahbar Dehghan Sara Romano Laura Dalton Chloe Cook Annemarie Cutruzzola Aaliyah Dasoo Randeep Mandar Hannah Oh Minh Truong Lisa Lam
FACT CHECKERS Heidi Lee Ram Seshadrii Minh Truong Lisa Lam
LAYOUT ARTISTS Maddy Haggith Serina Choi Kayla Zhu Heidi Lee Sam Nunziato Zuha Waqar Veronika Wiszniewska
ILLUSTRATORS Yvette Sin Iris Kim Heidi Lee Sam Nunziato Zuha Waqar
New Wave Magazine issue four//fall 2019