THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Month: February, 2017

Mary-Berkley Gaines

Mary-Berkley Gains

 

Date of Interview: January 29, 2017

Name: Mary-Berkley Gaines

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Birmingham, AL

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

Probably… every other day, every day. Trying to cut back ::laughs::.

If you were an underwater creature, what would you be?

Mermaid. For sure. For sure, I’m a mermaid, most definitely. Ariel was my favorite when I was little, I love the ocean, I’m a Pisces. I’m a water baby, it’s just me. I actually had a fashion blog that was called the Teal Siren. I’m such a mermaid. And now it’s a thing so I have to chill on that because everyone wants to be a mermaid and I am one. I was one first, just so we all know the deal ::laughs::.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about radical self love. Being body positive. Self acceptance. Growth, just like, progressing as a human. Making my world and my community better. I feel like we can always push ourselves to be better. It’s my life, starting my organization and now we’re an official non-profit… Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham started as just a website and it’s now it’s own entity. It’s crazy! I’m a founder and I started it, but now it has this own life. It’s amazing.The people… we wouldn’t be anything without the community and the people and having people identify with it. We have followers from all over the country and even some people from different parts of the world. I think that in Birmingham we are the heart of the civil rights movement. We are where things went down, so it’s only natural that we have this project that we can be progressive with and move forward with in a different way. There’s always been that history, I think people forget that we are a city of activists. There’s still a strong community of people. There are all these protests for different things every other week, especially now and we can’t forget what our history is. It only makes us better and stronger. I think people connect it with a lot of negative things but it’s positive in some ways because we can continue to better ourselves. Being in the Bible Belt is really hard but we’re a pretty progressive city and we are a city in a very conservative place.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Well! I think giving myself a break. I’ve always been really hard on myself and being a bigger person, being a plus size girl and having eating disorders and struggling with that and body dysmorphia and going through a lot of stuff and having PTSD and depression, anxiety, mental illness, having a learning disability growing up. Going through all this stuff, I never gave myself a break. It’s a lot going on and I never gave myself credit and was really hard on myself. So now, I can push myself forward and progress but I still have those checks and balances of telling myself, “you can’t do anything but take it one day at a time”. So giving myself a break is my biggest accomplishment.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably still struggling with trying to get over that thing of being a human and that I’ll fuck up and that it’s okay. Being flawed and knowing it’s okay for me to be… that I’ll fuck up and it’s okay for me to be on this journey.

What do you think of relationships? Platonic, sexual or otherwise.

I think they’re really important. You can learn something from every relationship and I feel like we need to be more intimate with people and that intimacy isn’t just a sexual thing. I love that I have friends that I can be like that with, that we can cuddle and hold hands and love on each other without it being a sexual thing. I love that I have sexual relationships where I’m respected enough that I can explore them. I’m queer and I’m noticing as I explore what queer means to me, I’m finding out so much more about myself and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can do that. It was hard growing up queer in Alabama. I always knew I had an attraction to women, that’s how it started, but I never was really comfortable with that. Well, I was comfortable with it but you know, when you’re younger it’s kind of weird to come out. You don’t really know how to navigate that. So, I only came out a few years ago. I struggled with that because there’s not really a gay scene here and it was kind of what’s the point if I’m going through all this shit if I can’t go out and express it or meet people. But then, as I got older I realized that I wasn’t the only one. It just took me going through college and having those experiences to finally figure out that I’m queer! And like, it’s a thing and I can experience it. It’s been about three years. It’s been great!

Court

Court

 

Date of Interview: January 26, 2017

Name: Court

Age: 24

Pronouns: Court

Location: Washington, DC

 

If you were an underwater creature which one would you be?

This is a tricky one. Because I very strongly identify with rodents and I’m also terrified of the sea. It’s one of my biggest.. well I respect it, but I’m just so scared of it that I don’t think I can be involved with the sea in any way. So I’m just a rodent. Rodent, you know.

How do you describe yourself?

OH boy, okay. Court. Number one, just Court. I am Court, I go through so many phases of thinking and existing and wanting to exist and dressing because gender… ::laughs::. Gender is a lot. It’s fun and exciting. I think of myself very strongly as kind and anxious and a Libra. I can’t go a day without talking and thinking about how being a Libra affects so much of my life. With striving for balance between wanting justice and harmony all the time… I can’t be in any situation, including being by myself without always trying to achieve a harmony. And you can’t achieve harmony between all things all at once, you can’t even do it for 20 things all at once so I’m very dreamy and distractible and optimistic despite how I feel sometimes. And also, just… I’m very proud of myself. That’s been something I’ve been feeling lately so my words to describe myself have become more plentiful as well as more confident.

What are you proud of?

I have Lyme disease and a lot of other health problems, including concussions. A lot of them. And I have been through so much and I have done so much to keep myself going. I have taken care of myself SO well. I have fought a fucking battle within my body, so many battles because once again, gender. It’s always there. And I am getting better! I have had three doctors in the past day, all tell me that I am on the mend, that they can feel my spirit inside of me again, well not that, that just came out of my mouth ::laughs::. Um, I’m getting better and I fucking did it.

What are you passionate about?

This is also something I think about all the time. I’m passionate about animals. Forever and always, that is the most solid part of me, at the core of who I am. But real quick, I must mention that I’m passionate about people too. It’s something I’ve been realizing lately and I’ve become more compassionate about other people’s passions. That is, a lot of times, something I do already love- what other people love, who I am close to. But my own passions involve animals and building and creating communities and connections. And fucking with gender. Yeah.

What is something you struggle with?

Surviving and helping other people survive patriarchy and capitalism and white supremacy. That’s become the core, well, it’s always been at the core of my struggles and everybody’s struggles. But that one right now in particular is eclipsing my ability to look at personal struggles. Including staying in touch with myself, maintaining connections to my past selves and building the ones with my future selves. So yeah, balancing the horrors of capitalism. And also my own uhh… the self-growth that I want in a world that isn’t within capitalism.

What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise.

I mean my thoughts are basically in line with the hope for the community I want. I really try to break down hierarchies in relationships and also in that, embracing fluidity in romance, platonic relationships and sexual ones and just… I mean, physical and non-sexual and romantic as a friend! You can experience relationships in so many different ways and in individual ways. Every person I meet, I am excited to embark upon discovering a relationship with them. They’re all different for me and I think so much that we have to recognize is that each relationship should be healing. That’s what I want out of a relationship.

What is something you’re hopeful for?

Okay, I’m going to take a break from talking about capitalism and gender because we can have entire lives that have nothing to do with that. Roll my eyes at myself… Um. What am I hopeful for… I am hopeful for the community that I really want to build, specifically in D.C. I just want to be a part of people recognizing what they need, and have others recognize what they need and being able to help one another reach those needs. Giving people attention and love and space to dump what they need to, talk about what they need to. I am hopeful for the chance to be a part of a community that values practices of intentionality and communication and care.

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