Cass Next Door

I love taking photos. I love it even more when I’m photographing my best friends. Meet Cassandra, the subject of my second photo series.

Best Friends Forever

We take the term “bff” to a whole new level. We met back in junior kindergarten. How we became friends, I’m not quite sure… We were only 5 years old at the time. What I do remember were playdates spent jamming out to Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, ABBA, Paula Abdul, and Cher (Very unusual music taste for young girls). For each birthday, our moms would buy us matching clothing. And, we would plan days where we would actually wear these matching clothes.

Seventeen years later, after attending different high schools and post-secondary schools, we are still the exact same 5-year old best friends we were when we met. Yes, that means we still like to match and listen to questionable music at times. We also love gossiping, going to concerts (OVO forever), shopping, tagging each other in memes, and TAKING PHOTOS!

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The Photos

Once we finally passed that “awkward phase” (Maybe we’re still in it, I don’t know), we started having photoshoot days. I love taking photos with Cass. Partially because she is incredible at makeup and always does mine, but also because she’s so freakin’ photogenic. Not to mention, we are completely comfortable in front of each other and always supportive of each others crazy photo ideas.

Here are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of Cass.

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AGO: Gender Trouble

Alcohol, art, gender equality, and good friends perfectly describes my night at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Every First Thursday of the month, the AGO basically hosts a party after dark, where an older crowd enjoys wonderfully mixed drinks, delicious finger foods, interactive activities, good vibes, and themed artwork. Last night was my first AGO First Thursday, but it definitely will not be my last.

The main exhibit celebrated the influence of Georgia O’Keeffe, who once declared “I am not a woman painter!” As someone who is receiving a Women’s Studies degree, I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Art, whether it be a painting, drawing, poem, song, dance, sculpture, picture, blog post, the list goes on, should not be determined by the gender of its creator. Instead, it should be considered for its merit, influence, and legacy.

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Gendering an art piece, just like gendering an individual, places conventional, gender roles and stereotypes on that thing. These attributed expectations of gender inevitably clasp onto the art work and ultimately guides our understanding of the piece. For example, when we know the given sex and gender of an artist we, even if it’s unintentional, try to understand the piece through that gendered perspective. The same applies to when we view art work through the limited lens of a certain class, [dis]ability, age, race, etc. As a general society we think that viewing an absurd art piece, like a sculpture of a women’s vagina, that was created by a radical feminist woman is “normal” because of her social status and identification. If the same piece was created by a heteronormative, cisgender man, we certainly would be confused and maybe even uncomfortable with the piece.

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I am completely guilty of researching artists and attempting to understand why they created a certain piece. And sometimes, it is necessary to do some research to fully grasp the intended meaning of the work. I often wonder whether their gender, race, class, etc. led to the creation of the piece, but never really appreciated the artwork for being art. What if the artist who made the piece didn’t actually want me to analysis their personal life? Personally, as someone who creates many forms of artwork, I absolute despise it when viewers, readers, and listeners try to analysis my life instead of my art piece.

My observation came directly after bumping into that gorgeous art creature in the above photo. My curious, tipsy self ran up to this individual and without asking any questions just said “You are so beautiful.” Maybe it was because I had a few drinks, but for the first time ever, I did not question the creator of this piece. There was obviously an individual wearing the outfit however, I did not want to know about them. I just stood there, paying attention to all the fine details of this work.

I think “Gender Trouble” successfully completed what it sought out to do. Viewers like me, did not look at the artwork as gendered pieces but instead, appreciated them for being fucking amazing pieces of art. Next time you examine any art piece, take in the actual work first. Understand the time, effort and mindset put into achieving such a beautiful piece. Next, determine your feelings toward the piece, does it make you feel happy, comfortable, awkward, confused, sad, etc. And then, only if you REALLY need to, try to understand the artist. But, when doing so, do not automatically attribute their social status and identity as being the mere reason for the creation of their piece.

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A poem I created from selected lines from a Georgia O’Keefe poem

Will you be my Bro’smaid?

After watching what seemed like 500 consecutive episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress,” I couldn’t help but wonder what my future wedding might be like.

As far as weddings go, I never really envisioned myself having one. Standing at an alter, wearing some poufy, white dress, in front of hundreds of guests completely terrifies me. I always just pictured myself coming home one day with a paper from city hall saying that I was now married.

But, this show got me thinking. What if, I actually had a wedding?

I can already imagine, looking around and seeing all of those attentive eyes beaming at me while I profess my love for my soon-to-be spouse. And my partner, well he’d probably be standing next to me sweating and already regretting his decision to enter into a large and dramatic European family.

I would too if I were him.

But, wedding planning extends far beyond finding a spouse and having a ceremony. According to those tacky TLC wedding shows, years go into planning the “perfect wedding.” Apparently, I should’ve started a “Wedding Ideas” Pinterest board by now.

Being quite unconventional, I would want to do something different with my wedding. Not too extreme where my family would disown me, but unique enough so that my guests would still talk about it for years to come.

Maybe I can wear a colored dress, host the reception at a strange venue, or find some wild entertainment. All this has seemed to be done already.

But then it hit me, I want bro’smaids.

It was when I began thinking about my female friends. Well, the ones I would actually want standing next to me at the alter. I realized my list was quite few. There would likely be a possibility of my husband standing by an infinite number of groomsmen while I have a total of two bridesmaids by my side. But, this wouldn’t be an issue if I had all of my guy friends standing next to me as well.

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So it’s set. My bridal party will consist of all my closest friends regardless of their gender. And yes, my bro’smaids would have to attend my bachelorette party, help me pick out a dress, and get ready with me the day of the wedding.

My husband can pick whoever he wants to be in his wedding party as well. To be honest, I would rather not have his childhood best friend, who he once dated, be part of my party. My bridal party is exclusive to my closest friends only.

And me and my bro’smaids, I mean husband, would live happily ever after.

Disclaimer: To my few, loyal and loving girlfriends, I am forever grateful for all of you! 

My Date with Cait

Photoshoot Date

Caitlin and I have been having “photoshoots” together since grade 8. That’s 7 years ago. They started off as cute, kind of awkward, smiling photos taken all around Toronto. We would pose in malls, by graffiti walls, and even wearing our Catholic school uniforms. As our friendship grew over the past 7 years, so did our comfort with taking photos.

I always had a passion for photography, both as the subject and the shooter. However, I never actually considered turning this hobby into a career. In the past few years, I disregarded my obvious talent for photography to focus on work and school. Caitlin has always been that one friend that has encouraged me to continue this passion. Below are sample photos I took of Caitlin from a recent shoot we did. They’re unedited, but still so fabulous. Enjoy!

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Family Girl: Why Lois Griffin is a Feminist Icon

lois-griffinLois Griffin is good for feminism. Yes, you read that correctly.

You can revoke my feminist card right now but, the extremely offensive animated TV series Family Guy actually helps with the progression of feminism.

Lois isn’t a particularly complex female role. The idea of her character being a committed, sexpot, fun-loving housewife who is notably way hotter than her husband is indeed kind of sexist and degrading. Audiences need to recognize that it is for these same traits that Lois can be viewed as a more positive, especially sex-positive role-model for women.

As far as sitcom women go, a Lois-type character actually challenges some of the oppressive stereotypes associated with TV suburban housewives, like the idea of them being an emotionally needy nag, or a ditzy, hot mess existing solely to create sexual tension with the male characters. Comparatively, Lois’ sexually charged housewife role is far more complex than the classic shrew’s like Peggy Bundy from Married with Children or Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond, who are merely caricatures of their gender.

Feminism needs a clearer definition. In the episode “I Am Peter Hear Me Roar,” Lois made the simplest but most accurate comment regarding the term: “I’m all for equality, but if you ask me, feminism is about choice.” Lois’ choice to be a wife and mother should not be critiqued for abiding by traditional, middle-class, hetero-normative gender roles. Why she chose to marry an arrogant, unmotivated drunk is still beyond me, but her choice to do so will be one that I defend with as much passion as Stewie has for Rupert.

But, what is possibly most empowering is that her primary role as a suburban housewife hasn’t stopped her from executing her dreams.

In fact, throughout the 15 seasons of Family Guy, Lois has taken on a variety of different, and sometimes questionable, roles. Her passion for singing led her to become the star of her husband Peter’s underground bar, she is a badass black belt in Tae-Jitsu, is the director of the stage play “The King and I,” runs for school board president, and even wins mayor of Quahog.

Lois’ mobility has allowed her to turn her political beliefs into actions. In the episode, “It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One,” Lois becomes the mayor of the Rhode Island city in hopes to shut down a number of companies that have been polluting the local lake with toxic waste. She ended up embezzling tax-payer money to buy a designer purse and fur coat but hey, I’m sure we can agree that other politicians have done a lot worse.

It was Lois’ strong will and pure intentions that forced her to realize the error in her ways and eventually resign her position as mayor. Her actions showed that leadership roles and money are not the sole determents of success.

In fact, even though Lois is the epitome of a trust fund baby, coming from a family of rich socialites, she was willing to trade in her extravagant lifestyle for love. There is no better way to be removed from the will of an incredibly wealthy father than to marry a dimwit of a man like Peter Griffin.

And if you need one more reason to love Lois, her exaggerated sexuality is totally hot. Because we no longer live in the 19th century where women are viewed as asexual beings and TV sitcoms really need to include more women who openly embrace their sexuality. Lois’ sexual experiments with sadomasochism, amateur pornography, and bisexual encounters displays sexual fluidity, and control of her own sexual pleasure. In challenging the societal norm of female sexuality, Lois frees women from the shackles of sexual submission and opens up the opportunity for choices.

In a show where every episode includes some sort of Peter-Assment towards minority groups, especially by sexually objectifying women, it can be difficult to accept such crude dark satire as a progression of feminism.

Family Guy helps viewers see past the limited, liberal feminist lens that mainly focuses on equality through placing women in leadership positions. It shows audiences that every woman is different, whether they are a CEO of a successful corporation or a housewife and mother like Lois. Let’s finally recognize the diverse range of opinions and beliefs that fall within the feminist spectrum.

In the spirit of diversity, accepting a woman like Lois Griffin as a role model to the feminist movement shows the variety of artists that represent all forms of feminism.

And if you refuse to accept an embezzling, kleptomaniac, gambling addict as a feminist role model, at least the exaggerated crude humor of Family Guy is a spoof that makes you question exactly how our politically correct state has coddled most of us.

It’s time to show some feminist love for Family Guy.

My Thing

Every blogger kind of has a thing. You know, their niche, voice, hashtag, whatever you may call it. Mine is “Shit that Matters.”

Let me explain…

When I started my blog I didn’t have a focus. I always knew I liked to write. I have countless journal entries, notes on my computer and phone, and stickies all over my room. But a blog was different. It let me share all these thoughts with the world. Woah, for someone pretty closed off this was kind of intimidating. But a few months ago I made “ICON NIC.” Maybe I’ll change the name, maybe I won’t. Yet, I still didn’t have a focus. Like most women in their early 20s, I thought I had wanted something fun, carefree, and well basic. Something that would include culture, fashion, celebrities, beauty products, etc. And yes, I do care about some of those things but not much as I care about SHIT THAT MATTERS.

Everyone who knows me knows I like to bring up, think, and discuss very controversial topics in my everyday discussions. Some people enjoy how I randomly bring up such extreme and diverse ideas and some well, get uncomfortable. But that’s why I decided to make this section of my blog. Because “Shit that Matters” is me. I want people to know my blog for this particular section. Whatever weird thought, question, or discussion I might have, I will post it here.

Welcome everyone! I think this may be, the official launch of ICON NIC.