exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Bodies




Date of Interview: January 4, 2017

Name: Sandy

Age: 42

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Rockville, MD


How often do you bathe or shower?

That depends… I cycle through depression. If I am in a depressed mode, it’s more likely that I’m not going bathe. However, I have this really weird “thing”.  I will always make sure my puss and my butt are clean. SO those get cleaned every day. If I’m in an accident and something happens, my junk is cleaned up. The rest of me might not be ::laughs::. However, when I’m in a good phase, let’s say every day.

Do you feel like mental health correlates with your life in ways outside of bathing?

Yes, it does. I think that’s what helps me… it’s funny, I used to hate that I have depression. I also have a disorder called  trichotillomania. It’s a hair pulling disorder. Two in 50 people have it and it used to be the worst thing ever for me.  I used it unknowingly  to push people away, but now it seems to be the thing that can connect me to people. People come to me with their “stuff.” Even if it is different from my stuff, on some level I might get what they are going through. I feel all emotions really big and I like that. When I’m sad it can be awful and deep. However, I get the equivalent amount of feelings and depth when I’m happy. I appreciate that I can feel that fucking happy. Most people don’t feel as happy as I feel when I’m happy since many people tend to mute their emotions. It is impossible to mute just one emotion. When one mutes one, they mute them all. Feeling them so big  can be a gift and a curse. It can take up & impact a lot of my life. That said, when I see something beautiful, like when you came in and I was watching that gorgeous scene from American Beauty, I cry. I’m just so moved it can bring me to tears in a good way. I like it and I hate it.

What are you passionate about?

That’s a good question… Nature. I wasn’t raised that way but I always liked being outside. One day I saw a deer on the side of the road that was hit by a car. I did not see it get it. It was still alive. I ended up helping to save it. After we got it to safety in the woods, hours later I could not help but go back and check on it.  I slept in the woods with it for awhile. It was 1 in the morning but I needed to know that it was okay, which it was. It was this beautiful moment… there was a full moon. It was summer. He let me pet him and feed him….and the breeze… that moment was my most favorite, perfect moment in my life. After that, I became even more connected to nature. There’s just something there.  When I’m not feeling good, I can go out and ground myself and feel I’m a part of something. The world makes sense, and I make sense when I’m out there. I feel people don’t appreciate nature as much as they should. I hate that it’s being destroyed and I don’t think people get how important nature is.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

Honestly, just embracing me and who I am as much as possible, as well as being okay with it. I feel when I’m out in the world with people I’m both extroverted and introverted. That said, there are many people when I am around them, I get the feeling I do not quite fit it. Most of the time it is something they said to me and I get they just do not get me, who I am, how I live my life, as well as what I stand for. I’m waiting to find a zipper on my body because I feel like an alien a lot of times when I don’t fit in. I can imagine finding the zipper and pulling off my human skin and underneath there is this other alien body exposed.  I can see myself saying, “This is why I don’t make sense to all of you!!” But there’s something about that. I feel accomplished because I have this inner part of me that’s beautiful, awesome, and makes sense to me. It doesn’t need to make sense to anyone else as long as it makes sense to me. I think that has allowed me to love myself. That’s a big fucking deal. Especially since I spent a lot of my time hating myself for many years. I worked hard for that.

What supported you with getting more comfortable with yourself?

I wonder if part of it was getting older and growing up.  I also took many self-development courses, was a coach, and I have a coach myself. Sometimes, we all get in our own way. When I do, sometimes I need someone to ask “what’s that about?” I needed guides to help me… ask questions I couldn’t ask or see what I couldn’t, or see what was in my way. Meditating in the woods helped me a great deal. A lot of amazing people showed up for me.  I feel like they had little red bows on them. They were gifts to me, even if they were temporary gifts. I had a lot of good supportive people. I still do.  I think that, as well as being ready. I was ready or it would not have happened otherwise.

What is something you still struggle with?

Probably my body. I’m working very hard at accepting where it is at. I have been a lot bigger than I am now, 35-40 lbs bigger. I do get some of our bodies shift due to age. ::laughs:: Intellectually I get it.  I was sick on and off for two years and my body is the product of that.  I was honoring where it was at by allowing it to rest a lot more, and work out less. It’s still a beautiful body… it’s just a little bit different than it was and it may not go back. I struggle with that.  For instance, these are my big boobs now and I don’t like them this big. I like smaller breasts.  However, this is where they are at and it is what it is.

What do you want to do this year?

I want to create positive energy this year. I’m looking forward to being outside more. I want to be in the woods more. I’m looking forward to that. I feel this is a scary time for a lot of people. I would love to collectively create something that would feel supportive and positive for others, a safe space. Or even myself if I should need it. I want to have fun too. I want to have fucking fun! I want to see live music, embrace my inner child and go roller skating! I want to create adventure, love, self-love, support, health, prosperity, and so much more.

Brittany IRL


Date of Interview: Oct 8, 2016

Name: Brittany IRL

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Toledo, OH


How often do you bathe or shower?

I try to take a bathe at least 3 times a week. I shower sometimes every day, depending on if I go to yoga or no But yeah I try to take a bath 3 times a week, its really important for my mental health to be in water. In the past I lived in crummy college apartments that didn’t have bathtubs. I definitely felt like I was missing something from my life.

Do you feel like there is a ritual with mental health and bathing for you?

Yes. Even though I do keep my phone near, I find that it’s a good space for me to sort through whatever it is that’s bothering me. I also really like, you know, aromatherapy, essential oils, Epsom salts, that sort of stuff. I find that it’s clearing for me.

What are you passionate about?

Hmm… that should be an easier question than I’m making it. I’m passionate about embracing and reclaiming femininity as a source of strength. I think that when I was younger I did a lot of things to sort of cover up or ignore my femininity. I used to be very insecure and uncertain about my, you know, my secondary sex characteristics. And simple things like umm, I didn’t think it was cool to like flowers, to have long hair, or to like little things that because they were quote-unquote “girly.” I thought I had to sort of squash that part of myself to be cool and for whatever reason being cool equaled being accepted by the boys in the music scene or whatever. So I’ve become passionate about like reclaiming those parts of myself that I have previously ignored or shut away because of a fear of not being taken seriously. Femininity or being girly was seen as childish, which I think is unfair.

What do you mean by secondary sex?

Oh secondary sex characteristics? You know like when I hit puberty and got boobs. I used to be this really rail thin little stick-figure kid, so when I got hips and boobs I felt awkward like all teens to. But I tried really hard to conceal everything. I wore only boys’ clothes. I used to like essentially strap my chest down. I would wear like sports bras and really tight t-shirts and conceal everything and wrap everything up, partially because I was uncomfortable with it, and then partially because of reactions to it. I had a large chest when I was like 14. And people in my school spread rumors that I had like a boob job and stuff. It was really bizarre because I was this poor kid that lived in a trailer, but somehow I came up with eight grand or whatever to get a tit job. So I just tried to conceal that sort of stuff, because I wanted to be the like waif-thin 90’s heroin-chic model thing, like that was what seemed admirable to me and being curvy wasn’t really part of that ideal.

Do you think your passion for feminism and reclaiming spaces goes into your art?

Yes, because along with previously being uncomfortable claiming femininity in general, I used to also be uncomfortable embracing feminism and associating myself with feminist theory. When I was in college- I studied literary theory in grad school- I was really self-conscious about not being pigeon-holed as a feminist literary critic. Because that ends up being kind of like this ghettoized, like kind of you’re put in a corner with those theorists and you expected to only go to certain conferences, and like it’s not integrated fully into mainstream academia. So when I was creating stuff too, at that time, I was really careful and purposefully did not proclaim anything as “feminist.” I was really trying to be as androgynous as possible in my approach to everything. And that involved like, suppressing like emotional responses, and things that are like typically, traditionally, stereotypically feminine… So with trying to take all of that back and trying to be comfortable being femme, I really brazenly try to involve my feminist politics into the zines that I produce, my social media personalities, any art that I’m doing, and I mean daily life in general. I think of myself when I was 20 and I was so disinterested in feminism and I thought it would make me less interesting to other people, and now I’m like, what would 20 year old me think of what I’m doing now? And I don’t know, but 20 year old me was also very insecure and small. And I think that embracing femininity and learning what femininity is has made me more comfortable and I can exist and have a presence without feeling like I have to apologize for it.

What do you feel accomplished with in your life?

So I did this exercise, two days ago actually, where I was dealing with this like inferiority complex stuff. And I was thinking, “OK, if I wasn’t me, what are the things I’ve done that I would think are cool?” Because since it’s me I don’t think they’re cool, so like I started this as like a twitter thread and then some other people like jumped at it, they were like, “Oh this is a great idea”, it’s self-affirmative and you know it’s like a good perspective test. Because I’m afraid of bragging, afraid of seeming full of myself or whatever, and that all serves to make me feel bad about myself unnecessarily. So some of the accomplishments that I wrote were like, “I have a masters degree,” which I used to be really proud of, but now I realize that school isn’t really that… I mean I don’t want to lean on that. I self-publish zines, I travel for zine fest. And that is probably the most important thing that I’ve done in the past couple years. Because I think it getting over the hurdle of being afraid of someone else consuming your work without you there, putting out a finished product, that was like a big mental block I had for a while, so that’s like my most badass accomplishment. That was a really long-winded way of getting to that, but yeah.

What are you afraid of for yourself?

Oh shit. For myself at my core, I am afraid of being alone. I mean even in physical spaces I don’t really like being by myself for long, and that is something that I’ve worked on. I do everything I do because I want to connect with other people. So my writing and my art, my goal is to hopefully connect with someone who’s felt the same way, and that makes me feel less alone. Even if it’s someone in Chicago who picked up a zine of mine at Quimby’s and wrote me a nice email like, “Wow you hit me with that line.” That makes me feel less alone, even though I’ve never met the person. But also I’m afraid of being alone in like, a long term relationship sense. The fear of dying alone, that kind of shit…

What is something beautiful you’ve seen this week?

So… Tuesday night, it was uh, I think we had a dense fog warning for the next day. And across the street is this community garden, and across the street from that is the river. I mean, it’s the port authority, but it’s the river. And I took my dog out at like three in the morning so there’s only moonlight and the fog was like creeping in from the river. And it was cool like the light play with the fog and the open space, it felt like kind of like… kind of like Silent Hill, but you know it was really quiet and there was a stillness, and it was beautiful

Sadie Leigh

Sadie Leigh


Date of Interview: September 21, 2016

Name: Sadie Leigh

Age: 26

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Location: Washington, DC


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

Probably a dolphin. I feel like that’s a fairly standard answer, everyone likes dolphins but I’m part of everyone and I like dolphins too. And they’re smart and they can do fun tricks and stuff, and they have relationships with each other, which I think is nice.

What are you passionate about?

Well… A lot of things. I’m a dancer and a yoga teacher, and I work with a theater company that’s super awesome and I think it’s easy for me to say I’m super passionate about art. I love going to concerts and seeing live shows and going to the museums in DC. So sort of across the spectrum of art, I’m here for it. Also DC as a city, I grew up in Takoma Park, so right outside the line, so I feel really… like people often, really often have this conversation about DC being so square, there are so many politicians, it’s so corporate or whatever and I’m like… what do you do? And not like “what do you do” quintessential DC question but what do you actually do? If they think it’s so boring and they aren’t happy what are they doing? What are you going to do about it, who do you spend time with? So I feel really passionate about kind of doing weird shit in DC. Like this! This is happening right here, right now and I have no idea how people want this and don’t know  that it exists, I’m passionate about helping them find it. That’s something.

Do you feel like the way you use your body in art translates to other aspects of your life?

Yeah. I’m a very physical person and I really like to cuddle and hold hands, with my friends and with my family and partners and whatnot. So I think there’s a lot of different kinds of physicality and different kinds of touch and I think it’s important to make that distinguishing boundary. When I’m teaching and assisting people in yoga classes there’s nothing sexy about it at all. Even though human bodies are fucking amazing and incredible, it’s like this very specific kind of gentle but firm leading, guiding, teacher-student relationships versus my housemates, who I’m really close with and love so much, we often are sitting on the couch watching TV with someones legs in my lap and my head is on another persons shoulder and there’s a lot of affection and love there. And I think that growing up as a dancer and over the past several years getting deeper into the yoga practice, I love my body and it does almost all the things I want it to do for me, and it’s really nice and I appreciate that and I feel really comfortable in my skin. So I think that affects the way I move through life in general.

What do you think of relationships? Romantic, sexual or otherwise?

It’s one of the most important things. I have a lot of acquaintances and many friends and several VERY close friends and I have a really good relationship with my family. I think it’s also important to have a good relationship with yourself, which I try to do also. Yeah, it’s sort of a similar answer right, there are all these different relationships and they’re all important in different ways. And being open to the shifting nature of relationships is something to consider I think. I was with my brother last night, and we were talking about relationships, mainly romantic and sexual which is an interesting thing that I can talk about with my brother, and we were talking about something and I reveled something and his response was “Oh, you know, I don’t want to think about that, that crosses a line for me in my brain” and I think that’s so interesting to see where those lines are now for us because we aren’t just siblings but we’re also friends and where are those lines? And he made the point that this is the first time we’ve both been single adults in the same city, which is kind of fun and has lead to a lot of interesting conversations. But like, so we are family and I’ve known him as long as I’ve known anyone, my parents you know, but we have a really different relationship now than we did when we were say like, five and seven, and being open and comfortable with that makes life better. And conversely, I’ve had some friendships that were really really important to me but became clear over time that it wasn’t good for whatever reason. Somebody was deeper in it than somebody else or there became distance that was to much to make it worth it or something. And knowing when to let things go to, that’s important. Also, my best friend lives in Thailand and we’re still super close, so sometimes geography doesn’t matter that much I guess. Convenience is pretty sexy when it comes to friendships and romantic relationships.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?

My biggest accomplishment… I think it depends on your definition of the word accomplishment. Like, did I have to work for it? I don’t know. Somethings that popped into my head is my relationship with my siblings. All three of them, I love and respect and I know that they feel the same way about me, and I think we have an unusually close and good relationship which is something to be pretty proud of. Umm, the theater company that I work with, I’ve been with for five, nearly six years. Everyone else in this house is involved too, I’m so proud of the work we’ve made over the past several years. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself and like, again, relationships that we’ve built and we are a family now. There’s this house and two blocks away there’s another house, and three blocks away there’s another house full of us so like, I think finding and nurturing and living in those friendships and those relationships, not just as friends but as artistic collaborators and growing together in that. I think that’s an accomplishment but it’s not just mine, it’s all of ours.

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