Thursday, December 19, 2013

The exhausted activist keeps going

I realised that ignoring the problems of the world won't make them go away. I need to go on fighting. I can, however, change my attitude to a more self-loving one. I can congratulate myself more on the things I do well, and be kinder to myself when I stuff up.

I was just reading a post from The Militant Baker in which she admits that she is always fighting an uphill battle ("just to feel okay"), but that she knows that if she doesn't do it, no-one else will. I can relate to this... I may take medication which "stabilises" my mood (oh, the horrors) and acts as a mild antidepressant, and my experience with the mental health system has self-censoring my rebellious urges all over the place (don't worry, I still manage to be very non-conformist ;) ), but activism makes my life more meaningful, and isn't the thing to excise from it.

Incidentally, I made a new friend over the past few months, which has lifted my spirits. The benefits of this are impossible to overstate. I have also gotten back in touch with an old friend who lives in another country, but we find the time to communicate via Facebook or Skype and he is an inspiration to me. Add an old high school friend whose irrepressible energy is a delight to be around on those occasions that I do see her, and my life is looking better these days than it did at the start of the year, when I made my lonely journey to Bulgaria in an attempt to start a new life.

Life in Sofia consisted of a very closed social circle consisting of my grandmother, uncle and a friendly neighbour. None of these connections were particularly robust, and so it is perhaps not surprising that I fell apart.

Earlier today I was watching Pantene's feminist commercial for the Philippines -


- and I realised that I had let a neighbour in my old block shame me for my confidence. Upon getting a new haircut, she tried to make me feel bad about going about the world with my level of self-esteem by exclaiming: "I know you! You're going to go out there and show it off, aren't you?"

Yet I deserve to feel good about myself, appearance and the ideas that zigzag underneath it, from the tips of my Adidas or Diana Ferrari shoes to the hint of a fringe that the Taiwanese hairdresser gave me which sometimes curls high above my hairline. I'm going to keep respecting the way I look and what I wear. I'm not going to let other people undermine my confidence.

The internet keeps surprising me with its choices of which injustice to draw out next, especially in the field of feminism. There are some issues which feel very familiar, and others which catch me unawares. For example, did you know that female characters are grossly underrepresented in crowd scenes? That's what Geena Davis taught me here: 


I never, ever would have thought to analyse crowd scenes in animations for gender imbalances, but there you go. It's a testament to the multiple talents of the people who are making the feminist movement come alive today that they approach the empowerment of women and men in such diverse and interesting ways. We are much stronger together than alone.

Hope you're having a happy holiday season! :)

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