exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Beauty

Zsameria AKA Ziggy

Zsameria AKA Ziggy


Date of Interview: November 20, 2016

Name: Zsameria AKA Ziggy

Age: 30

Pronouns: Zsameria

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

Usually… daily. Mostly in the morning, that’s what wakes me up. I’m not a morning person, so for me to get up I need that water.

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

A dolphin. I would totally be a dolphin or an emu. One of the above. Yeah. Dolphins because they’re so loving and they are very family oriented and so are emus. They’re so big, I have a big personality and I’m somewhat tall, I’m 5’6 so I can usually walk into a room and I’m noticed. But I’m such a love bug at the same time.

Are you family oriented?

I am, I am. Even my friends, they become family, very much so. Yeah.

What are you passionate about?

Currently I’m passionate about spreading more love… every where I go. We’re in this state of shock, I believe, after the elections and a lot of people are frightened, scared, terrified, but some people are also elated but in a harmful way. So every morning my, not even mantra, but what I want to put out into the world, is just spreading more love to people no matter what. And also for myself.

Does that correlate with community and family ties?

It correlates with community on the ground level, yes. Since the election I’ve spoken more to youth about what they want to do and the DC protests when it was actually broadcasted I sent it out to all of my friends who are teachers just so they could support the students on that Tuesday or Monday before. I sent it out when I found out on Sunday and a friend of mine, she works directly with high school students and she told me how they were making posters on Monday, they were really able to support the kids because of what I told her, what I sent to her. So I think right now it’s more of focusing on the youth and the elderly and not just being frustrated, but doing something about it. Yeah.

What are you afraid of for the world?

Judgement. For people to be able to judge people without knowing their fucking name. For people to be so angry with external things that they become angry with the people who are just like them but they don’t even fucking know it because their guard is up, or because they see someone’s color or someone’s gender as a weapon. Yeah, definitely.

What do you feel accomplished with?

That I can communicate with people! I have a sense of like, being strong, but I have a humbleness about me. I’m from DC so, we didn’t grow up with much and I’ve been through struggle so I can relate with a whole bunch of people. I’ve had sorrows and hardships and just like… having to grow the fuck up. So I can relate to so many people on that level, so I guess, being compassionate with people. And hopefully they’ll give me the same respect, but if not I’m still gonna have that.

What is something you struggle with?

Hmm… forgiving. Forgiving. I do have that quality of all love, blah blah blah, but once you do some damaged shit I’m like, fuck you, fuck your mother, fuck your grandmother, that whole thing. So I think forgiveness for me and moving past certain things that I have to do the forgiving for myself and not for that other being or for that energy and not taking is so personal. I think that’s it.

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

What do I think of them? I think they make the world go round. I think it’s very important when you are able to be vulnerable with somebody or intimate with someone. It shows your growth. I don’t think you can grow truly by yourself. By holding on or by always thinking one way and not having that other person or other beings, not even in a sexual thing, just a friendship, having that genuine friendship is very important for growth. And in life, I think we ultimately need growth. Yeah, and each other. I’m an avid believer that hurt people, hurt people and that lovers, love endlessly.

What is something beautiful that you saw today?

Mmmm today… your artwork. Your artwork is very vulnerable and the fact that you want to help people heal and grow through it and show them in a different light and like… draw them, and you be vulnerable yourself with it. That’s beautiful, I’ve been asleep pretty much all day and I had to go to this brunch, I felt like I was rushing all day then I get here and you’re like, “No problem! Hey! Here’s my work”, that was very beautiful.


Cullan Bonilla

Cullen Bonilla


Date of Interview: November 8, 2016

Name: Cullan Bonilla

Age: 21

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: West Chester, PA


How often do you bathe or shower?

I would say I shower once a day and I would also say I take a bath once a day ::laughs::. I hate that I use so much water but it’s the only thing that really helps with chronic joint and nerve pain. I think my life would be better if I was surrounded by hot water all the time.

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

I think I would be a manatee. I think I identify with them because they’re gentle and they move really slowly and they spend most of their time eating or resting… So, I’m going to go with manatee.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things. I’m really interested in cooking and food and the cultural aspects of it. I’m very interested in social justice issues because I have a lot of intersecting identities and they impact the way I relate to the world around me. I’m very passionate about being a mom to everyone around me, basically, making sure that all of my friends are taking care of themselves and everyone is happy and healthy. I’m also passionate about animals, I really love animals.

What do you mean by “intersecting identity?”

Because there’s not just one kind of oppressed identity, you know, things can intersect on different levels. Different manifestations of oppression, in race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc., they can happen simultaneously and reinforce one another. So for example, for me, I’m a non-binary, queer, disabled/chronically ill Afroborinqueñx, and my experience is different from that of a non-binary white person or an able-bodied person of color. I am half white but I’m also half Afroborinqueñx, which is a big… Big issue for me that I’m focusing a lot on right now. But that’s what I mean, there are varying levels of oppression depending on your various identities and how they intersect with or reinforce each other.

How are you focusing on your heritage?

Well, with this election, it’s been almost a source of stress for me. Even the Afroborinqueñx side of my family, my father and his father, are voting for Donald Trump. They live in a pretty racist part of Maryland and that’s unfortunately, understandably shaped a lot of their feelings on their own identity. Neither of them will acknowledge or affirm that they are Afroborinqueñx and my dad isn’t really proud of being Puerto Rican, he subscribes pretty heavily to respectability politics. When I was 18 I took a month off from high school and lived in Puerto Rico with my family there, because I basically was told my whole life that my white half is the desirable half and that I should always act whiter and neglect the other side of my identity. No matter how hard I tried, I never was treated like the white people around me so once I started to smarten up about it, I decided that my Puerto Rican identity was something I really wanted to look into and connect with. I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to do that in my life before cuz no one in my family has taught me to do that or to be proud of who I am. My interest in cooking is a part of that, too, for sure. My abuela, my Puerto Rican mom-mom, she was an incredible cook. She actually died about… A year and a half ago at this point, but she took her cooking secrets to the grave. We all wanted her recipes and she purposely left out ingredients from her recipes so that she could go to the grave being the best cook in our family. So ::laughs:: I started learning about cooking after she died, that was another way for me to connect with her and with my identity.

What is something you still struggle with?

Ooooooh… I still struggle with being a mentally ill person and being a chronically ill person and trying to re-enter the work place now after two years of not having a full time job while in treatment for my illness and trying to deal with normal stuff that able-bodied people deal with on a daily basis when I never really know how I’m going to feel on any given day. I still struggle with dealing with that racism especially within my family, especially during this election, I’ve had to unfriend my whole white family on Facebook. I still struggle with feeling “less than” my white peers or my able-bodied peers. I still struggle with self-worth and self-love. I still struggle with existing in the world knowing that my abusers also exist in the world. So I feel like… I guess it could be narrowed down to me struggling with learning how to navigate the world again while taking care of myself and keeping myself vulnerable and soft and positive in spite of everything.

What is something beautiful that you saw today?

Something beautiful that I saw today… I saw a lady at the grocery store who looked exactly like Taraji P. Henson. She was drop-dead beautiful.

Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Mykalee McGowan


Date of Interview: November 4, 2016

Name: Mykalee “Mykie” McGowan

Age: 23

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to do it like, twice a day. That’s showering, baths, I want to start doing that once a week and things of that nature with spiritual baths. So, alright, so I say that I’m a witch and I feel that baths are very healing and it’s very calm. And you know, sometimes showers just don’t do it for me. So I want to take spiritual baths once a week to unwind, get the stress out, relax as well as doing some witchy shit like setting intentions and doing spells. Yeah.

If you were an underwater creature which one would you be? Mythical or real.

Cool beans, cuz the first thing that popped in my head is a mermaid. I would be a mermaid! Yeah, I feel like the human form sometimes is not negative, but it’s whatever while still being cool. You can have the fishy aspect and the human aspect, I wouldn’t want to get totally rid of the human part.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about creating, I’m passionate about expressing myself as well as showing people dope shit. And dope events. And bringing dope people to dope people. I am kind of known as the person who knows everybody, that knows everything that’s going on. I have my friends telling me “GIRL! You should have told me about that event, what the hell!” Because I just like what people do and I just want to show that to the world and help people express that and help them express themselves. But right now I’m trying to learn to express myself cuz I’m dope too ::laughs::.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business. My biggest accomplishment is starting my own business because I’m the only one in my family that has done that. I think about where I was in 2015, I was broke as fuck, my father had just passed away, dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety and stuff like that. To now, when I started my business in July, to know that I’m the only person in my family to have done that. It just feels really really good, it feels really sweet ::laughs::. Especially because I’m the black sheep of my family and a lot of times, my mom asks “what are you doing?”. It just feels good to have something that I own.

What do you mean by black sheep?

I mean I’m the black sheep cuz I’m the one… So my sister was in the army. My other sister graduated college on time and she’s the youngest, she’s a year younger than I am, she has a job and a car and a house. And here I am trying to figure it all out in this very small room, in this house in DC. When you’re raised by Jamaican parents, having a secure and normal career is what they want for you. But I can’t physically, mentally, or emotionally get a “normal” job. Whenever I try, It always backfires. Like, God won’t let me. So to be outside of a having a car/house/job, that’s me being a black sheep. Yeah. And I’m still doing okay!

What is something that you still struggle with?

Accepting myself, and all of myself. Expressing myself and all of myself too, I tend to try to form myself in the way that I think people will like me to be. I felt that my past self was like a parasite. When it came to lovers, when it came to friends, I felt like I would try to stick on to them because I think they’re amazing and that I wasn’t amazing enough. I would try to form to be like, the sassy side chick or the bomb ass lover and now I’m in a space where I have to be me. So I’m alone a lot of the time and I force myself to be alone to see myself and deal with myself alone so I can be like, “Mykalee, you are cool and you do have flaws but everybody has flaws”. And yeah. That’s how things are right now.

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

Oh my God. Ohhhhh okay ::laughs:: SO relationships! Oh my God, platonic ones. I’m actually learning to express myself and be out there more. A challenge I had in the beginning of summer was to see more people. Talk to more people and stuff, so I think that’s really good. But when it comes to romantic relationships I’m not the one. I’ve tried polyamory, I’ve tried monogamy, now it’s just plain old I don’t want to talk to nobody ::laughs::. At this moment in time, ya know, there are times because it’s people, times that it’s myself, it’s a way to protect myself. I haven’t successfully navigated romantic relationships at this moment. Gotta find my way, I know I’ll get there one day. And regardless of if I’m with many people or with one or by myself, I’m gonna be fine. Sexually, I love sex. I love sex, even though I’ve been celibate for a year to protect myself, and try to shed some energy that’s been old and needs to be moved, sex is good. Sex is alright by me. That’s it ::laughs::.

What are you afraid of for the world?

I’m afraid that people will just not… I feel like people already don’t accept each other. And if you say you’re something, I should just acknowledge it instead of being like, WELL this states or that states, you know, if I’m saying I’m a certain thing you need to respect that. Just do that! I don’t think it’s a hard thing to do. A lot of the time I do feel that, but there is such a division going on. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid to be homeless, I’m afraid to succumb to my depression and anxieties. I think about that a lot. But I’m also afraid to succeed because success draws more responsibility and I’m someone who is easily overwhelmed and I don’t want that to take over.

What did you see today that was beautiful?

I saw a couple at my favorite cafe. They were just… So sweet together. I thought about my mom and my stepfather, it was just those candid tiny moments, those beautiful moments.


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