On Self Love and Testosterone

Halloween was this Friday (as if you didn’t already know that– I know, I’m still recovering from my candy coma, too) and I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection on the past year. Most people do their reflecting in January at the start of the new year, but Halloween is my “new year.” I started my medical transition on October 31, 2013, so as Friday rolled around I began thinking about all the things that have happened and who I’ve become since last Halloween.

guhhh…This Halloween definitely paid for my dentist’s vacation.

I am so much happier than I was 18 months ago. I have a group of very dear friends who care about me. I have made my own family and my own home here in Baltimore, and my family’s house back in Frostburg feels much more welcoming. I feel joy again. I’m doing well in school. I feel validated in my work and I feel like I have the ability to make change not just at UMBC, but in the larger community.

If you had told me all of this before I went on testosterone, I would have said, “Wow! It’s amazing all the things testosterone can do for me!” Now, I’ve realized that the testosterone had nothing to do with it. It wasn’t some magical elixir like a Felix Felicis potion. It didn’t fix something that was broken. It didn’t give me friends or make people like me more. All of that was me. I did that.

“Bottled good fortune. Brewed correctly the drinker of this potion will be lucky in all their endeavors…” –J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It’s amazing the things you can discover about who you are and what you’re capable of once you stop putting all your energy into hating yourself. Being on testosterone didn’t make me hate myself less– just like losing 20 pounds isn’t going to make your body image issues go away. It removed the thing I was using as an excuse for hating myself. It’s easy to say, “I’ll love myself once I’m on testosterone,” but I realized that self love doesn’t come in a 10mL vial. You can’t diet your way to self love, either. You have to work towards it and it’s hard, but it’s totally worth it.

What I’ve learned in the past twelve months is that I am worthy of my love unconditionally and let me tell you, that Halloween candy tastes so much sweeter now.

Halloween Costumes: Looking into the Haunted Mirror of Our Past

A collaborative authorship post from Bria Hamlet and Jess Myers

Jess:
You guessed it! It’s that time of the year when the Women’s Center staff crushes your Halloween costume dreams and makes you feel guilty about your costume decisions. Sexist! Racist! Cultural appropriation! We know, we’re just no fun… but someone’s gotta do it.

A Halloween costume that represented Jess' dreams of becoming the first female baseball player in Major League Baseball.

A Halloween costume that represented Jess’ dreams of becoming the first female baseball player in Major League Baseball.

But in all seriousness, this is an important conversation…. one that I wish I would have had with thoughtful intersectional feminists back in my growing up days. I didn’t know what cultural appropriation was in 3rd grade… or if I’m being honest, in college. Halloween costumes I regret include dressing as a Harem Girl and a nagging wife (ugh, just writing those words breaks my women’s center director heart) among others. I feel guilty about these choices and up until now, I’ve done my best to keep these secrets to myself but somewhere along the way these memories have been shared with Women’s Center staff members and together we’ve walked down memory lane of costumes of Halloween past. We’ve used these conversations as an opportunity for us to hold up the mirror for ourselves and others. We are not exempt from histories of making harmful choices in our Halloween gear. By allowing ourselves to look into the mirror of racism, sexism, and cultural appropriation, we hope to diffuse the guilt and defensive that often comes from having these conversations related to Halloween costumes of choice so we can all dig a bit deeper into that critical thought and dialogue.

Plus… what better way to share some of our childhood photos from Halloweens of the 1980s and 90s!

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Bria:
I was an angel, a princess, and a pink Power Ranger in pursuit of candy. Queen Amidala and Mulan searched for the most haunting home decor while Cleopatra and Tinkerbell prepared for horror movie marathons with friends. It all started out so harmless.

Yoo-Jin takes on the "tweeter" side of being a pirate!

Yoo-Jin takes on the “tweeter” side of being a pirate!

I have never taken the time to reflect on how the intent of celebrating Halloween changes from childhood to adulthood. Historically, All Hallows’ Eve has been about terrifying confrontations with the dead, but these days I have been aghast at the overpriced sexism on Party City’s walls. For just $49.99, you can please the patriarchy and unleash your inner sexist all in one night!

Halloween has become a night for adults to indulge in repressed fantasies through costume. I am cringing as I recall the year I decided to costume as Playboy Bunny (before I could even legally be one). I now believe that if this industry wasn’t so hellbent on supplying women with only “sexy” options for Halloween, then women everywhere could proudly say they wanted to dress like that, not that they were left optionless. It’s bad enough that women are oversexualized everyday, and this ‘tradition’ reinforces the idea that any effort put into appearing sexy is to please men. And thus, we welcome you to the Sexy Halloween Costume Industry!

Megan (on the left) with her Wonder Woman sister.

Megan (on the left) with her Wonder Woman sister.

I chose my own costumes and wore them happily. My only regret is the lack of thought I put into the message I sent to the rest of the world. While I hoped my sexy schoolgirl costume screamed “I am poking fun at my all-girl secondary education and embracing my sexuality all at one time!,” I know that was not the case. Truly feminist costumes should leave you feeling respected, empowered, and happy. Although I am still struggling to settle on a costume idea, I am pleased to have the awesome resources below for some feminist costuming inspiration! Check them out!

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What is cultural appropriation?

On Appropriation vs Appreciation
Costume Fails from @Chescaleigh
What Not to Wear on Halloween… a Stuff Mom Never Told You Podcast

Amelia's love for cats started early on....

Amelia’s love for cats started early on….

Daniel in his blue ant costume.

Daniel  as Flick, the blue ant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Creative!

Feminist Halloween Costumes – a Post from Feministing with so many other cool links
Women in History Halloween Costume Ideas
5 Feminist Halloween Costumes… a video from Stuff Mom Never Told You

Get your Activism On!

Halloween Liberation Kit
We’re a culture, not a costume
How to tell your friend they’re Halloween costume is racist

Oh hey RAs! A Halloween Bulletin Board at your finger tips!

 

It’s that time of year again! Halloween Costumes! by Narges Fekri Ershad, Student Staff

2004_10202146841581348_1327051636_nIt is that time of the year again! Pumpkins are out in the fields and costumes are back in the stores! It is the time of the year that people can wear anything, be anyone or any object and they won’t be judged!

While searching the internet I came across many points about Halloween that just shocked me! Did you know how much money Americans spend during Halloween? Americans spend between $6.5-6.86 billion dollars on costumes, candy, and decorations!

Fruit-Costumes-Sexy

On the other hand pictures of costumes was another “wow” experience for me, like always. During Halloween you can see many different costumes, many of which are problematic costumes. They can be sexist, culturally appropriative, and have many more problems — but most people think there is nothing is wrong with them!

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For the past several weeks I have been looking online and in magazines for Halloween costumes. Many of them have made me stop and think. Try it yourself, think of ANY object or character… search for it on Google and you can probably find the sexy version of it! Be a sexy carrot, a sexy watermelon, and of course, a sexy nurse!

It seems like sexy and offensive costumes are now the norm in our society. Halloween is that one day a year that people can be anyone and anything, with an emphasis on women being a sexual object, and most people will be fine with it!

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Have you ever thought of this? Have you ever thought that something might be wrong here? That maybe we need to rethink this issue, talk and think about it a little more?!

Come to the Women’s Center this Wednesday, October 23rd, during free hour and let’s talk about Halloween Costumes!