99 percent of us — I’m sure — have been criticised simply for being ourselves; maybe even 100 percent of us. As burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” Believe me when I say that you don’t have to stop being you just to please others. Regardless of how many times someone has told you to stop being ‘weird,’ to lose or gain weight to meet their desires, to tone down those feminist speeches, or to just meet their standards instead of your own, just keep in mind that it’s up to you how you define yourself, not them.
It’s so easy to tell someone to ignore these people, these bullies, but when has ignoring a problem ever really led to its end?
I’m not saying you should directly engage your bully (it can be dangerous!) but what I am saying is that as a society and a feminist community, we should band together and show those bullies that they can’t get away with what they’re doing, and show them that no matter what they tell us, we are still strong intelligent people, and that they cannot bring us down. This is why it’s important to celebrate oneself, to celebrate who you are and what you’ve done. Self-celebration is one of the best weapons against oppression.
So to all the bullies, the stubborn disorders that act like stubborn people, and abusers out there, this issue is partially for you: every ‘me’ in this issue is sick of your actions, but more importantly this issue is for every ‘me’ out there. This issue celebrates you and your accomplishments, your trials and downfalls, your personality and your body, your experiences and your dreams, your mind and your heart, your interests and your creations. Let’s celebrate your past, present, and future selves.
“I’m me,” is such an important phrase to keep in mind and say aloud. It can answer so many different life questions and assure yourself of where you’re going and where you came from.
So read on for some beautiful prose, photography, and poetry on every ‘me’ topic; on the importance of body positivity, on recovering from abuse, on future dreams and goals, and confidence.
These pieces mean a lot to each author, and I’m sure you’ll also be able to relate. So if you have a comment on any of the pieces, or if you have an anecdote to share on your own ‘me’ topic, then feel free to tweet us @Fembotmag, or drop us an email at email@example.com
And just a heads up: at the end of the zine is more info on how to submit your work to our summer issue!
Co-EIC of Fembot
Curation and Edits by Stephanie Watson
Social Media, Graphic Design, and Edits by Alissa Medina
Having studied an HND in photography, Louise Corcoran has had her camera by her side for most of her life. Her focus is mainly in portraiture, though she also likes to discover new areas for some stunning landscape shots. Check out the rest of her photography here!
Paige Evans is 23 years old and has a Bachelor’s in English from the University of California, Riverside, and a cat named Sam. Formalities aside, she loves poetry in nearly all of its forms so sometimes she attempts to write her own in her spare time. She never submitted anything to any kind of publication and no one, besides a few of her close friends, has read anything she has written. She is largely influenced and inspired by Margaret Atwood, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, and Walt Whitman.
Eva Flores is a 20 year old History major at UCSD. Her passions are soccer, reading, and learning. She hopes to become a lawyer, serving justice like Batman. Although Eva loves to write, this is the first time she shares her work to someone else other than her sister.
Abigail Forney is a freelance writer and editor. She also works at Barnes & Noble and babysits small children in between articles and stories. Her work can be found The Favorite Aunt, and she is always on Twitter @abbsaronius. Abigail attended Saint Mary’s College and the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute. She lives in Northwest Indiana with her two cats, Tonks and Arya.
Nicole Hebdon is a writer with a penchant for literary fiction, fairytales, alternative fashion and occasionally poetry. She has degrees in communications, multi-media journalism and magazine journalism and plans on starting her MFA in creative writing this next fall. She has been published in The Saranac Review, DoNorth Magazine, The Springville Journal, Strange Beauty Magazine, Fembot Magazine, Gothic Noir and several literary magazines.
Andrea Lopez is an undergraduate at the Ateneo de Manila University from the Philippines. 18 years old. She thinks people who shun cartoons as something solely for children are horribly missing out. She loves cats, technopop, chai lattes, and japanese mayo. 2015 will be her brave year, and although she worries she won’t have enough time or talent for all the things she plans on doing in life, she’s decided she’s going to try anyway. People better watch out – that novel idea is coming real soon.
Chloe Seim graduated from the University of Kansas with a BFA in Art history and Studio Art and a minor in English. She spends her time writing fiction and critical feminist essays, creating artwork and illustrations, and hopes to publish free-form illustrated books in the future. Lover of museums, history, art in every form, animals (obsessively), and the outdoors. Shorty short wannabe blogger and cartoonist.
Does language shape our sense of self or does it help define what we already know?
I dismantle my imagination at large;
A collection of eager words drawn from memories that falsely suggest the value of nostalgia,
only to rearrange it once more for my own poetical pleasure.
Because my sense of self wants to take root in fanciful ideas,
no longer blurred and broken by an anxious heart.
The dream of poetry is the dream to escape to a room of my own in a world not my own.
So if dreams are nature’s way of shaping my imagination,
I’ll erase history in favor of a brighter fabrication.
By Eva Flores
My poor mother cried at my impurity,
I confided in her the loss of my virginity
I didn’t want to keep her in the dark
And as consequence I must check in day and night
I was furious and confused, so I let my tears run free
Because when my friend sexually assaulted me,
All she said was “Boys will be boys”
My dad made a joke and all was to be forgotten
When i finally decided I was ready
I said the most confident ‘yes’ I could say
My first time came and went, all was fine
I continued as usual with my life
My mother justified my abuser
And calls me indecent when I choose my lover
If I have to be a victim to be lady-like
I rather be a slut thank you very much.
By Abigail Forney
You are an inspiration. You are a martyr. I will not grow up to be just like you.
My earliest, fragmented memories are when we shared a bed. You were the coolest person I could imagine. I wanted to grow up and be just like you.
I still can’t do a cartwheel. I still want to.
You died on a Sunday, surrounded by family, but you didn’t know any of us were there. Maybe you knew your best friend kept sneaking you candy. I doubt it, but it made us feel better.
Your college years glow in my memory, the golden standard of college life. I was excited, I missed you, and couldn’t wait to walk in your shoes at a great school to do great things.
There’s a scholarship in your name now, helping those students you helped in your career and life. There was a chapel full of people who are forever in your debt, eternally grateful to you, and bound to love you forever.
I look like you, which didn’t happen until I wore your prom dresses to my middle school homecoming dances. I’m smart and driven and organized, but not as much as you. You tried to organize family pictures one time, but it didn’t stick. I think people should clean up their own messes or choose to live in them.
In time, I learned about self-care and self-love, without the labels. I had to believe in myself and make my own decisions. After trial and error I learned my ideals were important, imperfect, and different from yours. I am hyper-aware of my body, and it always comes first. Even if I revert to my six year old self, who is whiny and tired of going to your extra-curricular activities (they were all I knew).
After college, you were always a plane ride away. The good acts you did are told in stories – the children you mentored, the teams you coached, the church choir you sang with every week. The clinics you protested and the people you forgave. You gave so much, keeping none for yourself; left to accept the small amount people gave back.
Your first epiphany came when you saw a candid picture of yourself from the side. You couldn’t believe how fat you were, and you started using a Weight Watchers for the first time – I’ve never really had an epiphany about my weight – I’ve always known, viewing myself as second-rate and not good enough. I know about the shame you face on all sides. I know that even on good days the shame and hate live inside your own heart and mind.
The phone call was part of a series that were never supposed to accelerate so dramatically. Mom heard from the doctor and your friend, he said it was a brain tumor. A few hours later, their flight booked, your surgery discovered they were really blood clots. A section of your brain removed – the actual, final diagnosis came in: leukemia. But you never heard – you were unconscious.
I can’t say that my efforts at weight loss have been more effective than your various attempts. I can say that I’ve made steps toward loving my body as it is right now. I’ve learned that any and all health problems cannot be solved by weight loss. I’ve learned that weight loss doesn’t even guarantee higher self esteem. You succeeded in so many things and had so many people love you it’s hard to imagine you had any insecurities.
When I flew to see you, attached to life support in an unfamiliar learning hospital, I could only think one thing. I needed to tell you that just because you were dying didn’t mean you could have the last word. You were stubborn like that. It’s a family trait. I told you I was still pro-choice and a Catholic, and since I couldn’t explain it to you, I was sure God Could sort you out.
You did go to the doctor. I don’t know how many times, but I know you did. Whatever the problem was, the solution was always: “lose weight.” Sometimes doctors don’t know what’s best for you, and sometimes they ignore the facts so their beliefs still make sense. After hearing enough lazy, judgmental doctors tell you this, the idea that your pain is something else falls into the background. You get on with your life. Of course you need to lose weight. You always need to lose weight.
What I didn’t know at the time is that what really matters, the stubborn message I should have mentioned at your hospital bedside, is that I don’t want anyone else to experience this. It’s not something I can do by walking with Relay for Life, because leukemia is treatable. I have to work on changing people’s minds about fat bodies. They are beautiful and healthy.
You are literally everywhere: in pictures, middle names, in jewelry pendants. You’re always going to be tough to live up to – that’s the thing about martyrs.
I’m not going to “grow up” to be as selfless as you. Maybe I can touch as many people as you did, and be as loved, but I won’t be you. I love you, but I have to love myself more, I have to love me.
You are still my frustrating big sister.
I love you,
Your Baby Sister
By Nicole Hebdon
My body is a piece of paper,
not quite chemically-white,
except for the lines
where stitches have been pulled out,
or guilt has been beaten in
with the smooth side of a belt,
or where skin has grown over skin,
slabs of flesh laid down,
like an art-project made from tracing paper.
My body is full of these lines.
He called it borderline.
But I don’t have that
I’ve been tested.
My lines are too colorless for that.
They don’t bleed often enough.
Instead, they creep out in water,
lighting up like shooting stars
burning across an ugly, grey twilight.
My lines are small
and I can hide them
though I’ve never been good at that.
I think I might add to them,
hold them against me
like a rock warmed from the sun
against my cheek.
They’re pleasant to touch
that I can drop them anytime
I want to.
By Nicole Hebdon
my sense of smell came back.
the way fall-sun dries rained-on pavement.
Peppermint in the hallway.
Cinnamon on a customer’s breathe.
Mead on my skin.
and I could feel cold on my legs,
the cling of wet sheets
and the irritation of unshaved legs.
And sometimes, sometimes, I could be calm.
Sometimes I could feel myself
scratching at my throat,
begging to be let out,
to slip through my teeth
like a vanilla vapor.
I was gone
for so long,
but I’m returning.
like the drop of sun spots on blacktop.
I’m lighting up
waiting for the day
when all of me is warmed again.
one with foreign blood
a birthright of legend
tethered to skin and bone.
when we found out that nicole scherzinger
was part-filipino our throats swelled
with litanies that flooded the fields
for weeks. we were trilling bells and knocking knees
that shuddered themselves into silence, we were
pregnant with prayers
belly-crawling, craning our mouths to
feed on the sunlight of this consecration,
like it could save us.
let me explain:
tomorrow manny pacquiao will walk
into a land of giants. he is a shape too small
and bones too vast for his skin
and we watch his fists bottle rockets.
he has made believers out of the weary and i think
it is no wonder we build homes on the
grooves of his spine. tomorrow
manny pacquiao will walk into a land
of giants and together we let forgetfulness
fold us into bed, smother us in our
sleep: somewhere a woman
washes her mouth in the sea
to rid herself the syllables
hiding between her teeth.
the brine will cleave a new space,
for english to slip neatly where a memory
used to be. meanwhile another tv
delivers its weekly homily of carefully calibrated
hollywood bodies to a girl who
lisps along, learns the geometry of her angles
so as to carve herself pretty.
do not blame us for this.
or perhaps you should. too soon we forget:
we are all still asleep.
we were exiled to look for manna in the desert,
for places to roost among the stars
because we could not accept
how we so resembled the earth
where we grew our crops
and bore our sons and laid our bones
for their final rest.
how brittle our bone.
i look at nicole scherzinger and see
no trace of home in her but the glare
of this ache, this lion-lust—
but what you really want to say is:
jehovah jireh, the body broken
for the multitudes, say how defiled we are
by our own skin, back-bent
with empires we’ve harbored like
barnacles seek boats seek the sea,
making love to their ghosts, say
how i am nothing but a blank shape
from a child’s coloring book waiting
to be filled in. roll me over as i sleep
my sentence, press your venom
to my lips, say:
surely we will not die
but be like the Most High.
we wanted only to be holy
we wanted only to be praised.
By Chloe Seim
“I would move to New York, just for eighteen months, live in Brooklyn, live in a shithole with five other starving artists and twenty pet rats. I’d work at a museum, not the MOMA, not the Met, no no, one of those small tacky galleries where then-nobodies would hang up, skip around in Fluxus fashion, frivolous and without structure. I would paint dicks in multicolor with tulips and thistles, flaccid yet poignant. I’d learn to perform like Marina, build an installation filling a room like a dandelion fills the world seed by seed. I’d visit the MOMA, just once, get up real close to the Thiebaud all coy, make eye contact with the black-suited guard and smile, bring my lips close to the frame, mouth you know I want to touch it, you know you want to touch it. Come, come here and feel it with me. Doesn’t it feel right, under your fingers? Like cool little shells flattened out and bound together.
“I’d learn to paint my toes with finesse. I’d become taller, maybe five or six inches, and wear long skirts without tripping onto the linoleum. I’d stop shaving my legs and pits and dance in city squares to a jazzy flute. I would grow my hair to my wrists and braid them in five plaits, look out for the naysayers, the apathetic, the tight-wound and I’d whip my head about and strike them on the arms and scream ‘complacency is death! complacency is decay! wake up and act for your brothers and sisters and non-binary siblings, my friend!’
“I would be happy one out of three days. I would go out for a drink with a friend twice a week. I would go to art shows and films and poetry readings at least once a week. I would stop drinking coffee dependently. I would drink whiskey dependently, shortly, just for the experience. I would leave the apartment every day.”
“Those are large improvements,” he adds.
“They are,” I say. “High-hoping.
“I would meet, in New York, I would meet a red-haired woman and we’d have wild, respiratorily virile sex for three days. I would find comfort in my hair, my teeth, my areolas, vulva, my tongue and ears and tiny toe hairs. I’d learn to apply lipstick properly, matte, bright reds and purples. I would walk the streets in short shorts with my blubber, carpeted thighs on exhibition and twirl about like a high-end model.
“Not blubber thighs. Thunder thighs, titanium thighs.” He kisses the titanium thighs.
“I would stop thinking about rape when I masturbate.
“I would stop thinking about Willems when I masturbate.
“I would find my niche in porn, web-comics? Those are getting along very well.
“I would adopt a new name, steeped with history and absurdity.
“Eighteen months would turn into twenty-four, but happily so. Then I would move to the country and have seventeen cats and two dogs and many friends but no lovers, for a while. I would paint women with luscious long leg hairs, lounging about in their ripe individual ecstasy. I would take some time to myself. I would lie down in the grass in the woods. I would sleep there some nights, among the tiny world. I would find my mother and take her and lie with her a while, hold her. I would leave flowers at my father’s grave. I would learn to sing, to really sing, you know, in tune.”
He turns dark, going inward and losing my words so they echo and flail about outside his ears.
“What would you do?” I ask him.
His eyes are more green when he’s gone inward.
“I’d have you stay with me. I’d follow you. I would have you engorge me and then swallow me. Have you invest in me.”
“I am invested.”
He wheezes, because it’s summer and allergies.
“They are just fantasies. I’m not going to leave you.”
“Like Willems? Like he was a fantasy?”
“I apologized for Willems. That was different, it was stupid.” He smacks his lips. “You’re the one who wanted to have these conversations,” I say, “you wanted to hear it.”
“I just want to be with you.”
“I am with you.”
“I don’t want to hear about the women you’d fuck if you weren’t with me.”
“You want me to lie?”
His eyes are lily pad green! He grabs a tissue for his allergic nose instead of an answer. I grab the tissue and wipe it for him.
“I would make you go back to school, because I know that’s what you really want. I would follow you. I’d teach at the local art center for a few years, show at a few galleries. Write a book. You would write poetry. We would collaborate, write this book together, full illustrations and all, and, eventually, we’d find a nice home outside Kansas City,” I say, kiss his ear. I keep my face there, whisper into the dark canal so the words don’t echo and escape. “I would marry you and raise little shitheads with you, and learn to sing. You’d learn to play piano and we’d duet ‘My Cherie Amour’ until our mouths sagged and we slipped into the earth, dissolved into the soil and became one and all forever and ever and ever.”
We encourage you to submit your creative writing for consideration to be digitally published in our new monthly literary arts zine, Cyberrriot.
The theme for our Summer issue is “Power.”
What we’d love to see from you:
– Short stories and vignettes
– Fictional and non-fiction monologues
– Fictional and non-fiction letters
– Art (photography, drawings, collages, etc.)
– Open letters/personal narratives
– Mixed media (Vlogs, Instagram pictures, Vimeo, YouTube videos)
– Conversations & Social Media Text (Text message, Twitter replies, Tumblr blog posts, etc.)
The deadline for all zine submissions is July 1st and will be published digitally on our site July 10th.
If you wish to submit a piece of writing to Fembot’s Cyberrriot, please submit your writing to this form. Then, send a picture of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you within 3-4 business days. You can find more information about rules and regulations here.
If you have a piece other than writing, please send us an e-mail with your work.