THEBATHTUBPROJECT

exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Growth

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!

Megan

Megan Larson

Date of Interview: January 7, 2017

Name: Megan

Age: 28

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC

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

So, I actually don’t love the ocean, but I did some research on this question.  I looked up creatures that are solitary in nature, and the first thing to come up was an octopus. Yeah, I guess I would be an octopus. They’re considered one of the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse creatures in the ocean, which I thought was really cool.

What are you passionate about?

The word passionate is kind of tricky to me, because I feel like there has to be a monumental action that follows it. So if I say “I’m passionate about music”, I should be making it. If I say “I’m passionate about literature”, I should be writing it.  If I say “I’m passionate about equality or human rights”, I should be marching for it. But I don’t… and that doesn’t mean I’m not passionate about those things, because I am – my actions are just not as monumental. I’m passionate about music, so I listen to it. I’m passionate about literature, so I read it. I’m passionate about equality and human rights, so I believe in it and I stand with my friends in support. I will say something that has become more important to me that I’ve become passionate about is  self awareness and… I feel like I’ve always been self aware of things that I want out of this life, but I don’t think, until very recently, I’ve been aware about my worth. I’m a catch. I hate saying that because it sounds like such a conceited thing to say, but I really don’t think it is. Recently I’ve been like fuck yeah, I’m a catch and I’m a queen and you’re a queen and we should be going after relationships that back that up. That’s something that I’ve become extremely passionate about, is this self awareness discovery. I feel like I’ve been on it for awhile now I guess.

What was the catalyst for that discovery?

So I’ve been single for a year and a half and before my previous relationship I was single for three years. I’ve spent a lot of my 20’s being single and number one; I think that’s fantastic. But I’m just like every other person, I want to be able to find whomever my person is and live whatever life we’re destined to live. In the summer I met this guy and we had this amazing connection and this chemistry was undeniable. I immediately realized that… this could be it. I thought that relatively soon. It ended up that I was wrong, of course. He would disappear, and then kept coming back, saying things that made it seem like he wanted all of these things with me. And we kept doing this cycle. This last time he disappeared again, which was not too long ago, I realized I felt really good. Like so good about this. Because I’ve given it three chances and it’s obviously not gonna work out. Immediately I was like, “what the fuck am I doing?” I realized that I deserve so much better than this. I deserve someone who actually wants to be with me, and that his actions match his words. So, it’s been pretty recent that I’ve had this total epiphany, but I think it’s been something I’ve been working towards the past few years.

What do you think of platonic relationships?

I think platonic relationships are so important. I’m not going to say I’m “blessed” because I don’t like saying that word in general. But I do feel like I’m so extremely lucky, and I don’t know what I did right in my life to deserve the people that I have in it. One of my closest friends, she also lives here and we went to high school together. We weren’t close in high school, but now we are and… she’s one of the best people that I know! I don’t think I would be able to enjoy my time as much if she wasn’t here. There’s a handful of people in my life that I’m so lucky to have. Those relationships are super important, when you’re single and even when you’re with someone in a romantic way.

Maya

Maya

 

Date of Interview: December 4, 2016

Name: Maya

Age: 22

Pronouns: She/Her or They/Them

Location: Washington, DC

 

How often do you bathe or shower?

I almost never bathe, I’m not a big bath person. Showering really depends, like almost everything else in my life, on how I feel that day. So it’s like, everyday, twice in one day, way too many days in between ::laughs::. It really depends.

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

That’s a really hard question. I love the ocean, but I’m not a huge fan of the things in the ocean ::laughs::. It’s ’cause they really freak me out, I had too many nightmares as a kid about things in the ocean. But I do remember, when I was at the beach when I was young, there were these jellyfish blobs and they’re called moon jellies and I loved that name! They’re clear and they’re squishy and soft so I feel like I would be a moon jellyfish.

What are you passionate about?

Oh my god, too many things. But all of them have one thing in common which is growing. I’m passionate about helping people grow and about relationships and the ways that things interact with one another and the way that things shift over time and how we make space for those kinds of changes. So I guess that roughly translates to… I teach. I make art. I make space for relationships. What am I passionate about… Yeah, growing.

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

They’re the most important thing to me. All kinds of relationships have equal value to me. Relationships are all about love and love is all about cultivation, so relationships are about growing with one another, tending to one another’s gardens and making space to be beautiful. I think back to this article my friend sent me a long time ago from Dean Spade, something that always stuck out to me is they said to treat your friends as your lovers and to treat your lovers as your friends. I think that sort of symbiotic relationship where everyone is getting the care and attention and investment that they deserve, that’s what relationships are all about to me.

Does that backdrop come from familial ties?

In some ways. I think family is so huge for me, I’ve got this big, huge family and it’s not just my mother and my sister, it’s my housemates, my soul mates, my teammates who are all there for me. All of those who have seen me grow and have grown with me. I’ve been really lucky to meet people who are committed to being there. And to sharing in whatever way they can share. There’s this word, compañerismo, and to be a compañerx to me means to be committed to love and to justice and to dignity. Compañerismo is this tie that holds you, as in a hug, but also holds you accountable to what you believe in and holds your community accountable to that and I think that is where my ideas of community comes from.

What does community mean to you?

Oh man, I just did a whole huge art project around that. I asked so many people what community meant to them and I still don’t know. For myself, what community means… community means… community means… all I have is this feeling. I don’t have the words big enough to explain this deep rootedness of what community means. It’s so within me that words will never bring them out. Yeah ::laughs::.

%d bloggers like this: