exploring vulnerability and transparency one bath at a time

Tag: Water

Samantha Yvette

Samantha Yvette


Date of Interview: December 14, 2016

Name: Samantha Yvette

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Washington, DC


How often do you bathe or shower?

Everyday if I’m not being lazy. I start with a shower and almost always end up taking a bath because this is a jacuzzi tub. I like lining the edge with candles and I play music or read until the water turns cold and I’m super pruny.

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

I think I would be a mermaid. I grew up in Florida and I was always swimming or at the beach. Everyone in Florida has a pool, and that’s pretty much the only thing to do because it’s too hot to play or do anything outside for a long time. My grandma used to have to yell at me to come out of the water and I never wanted to, so I learned how to hold my breath for a really long time so I that I could pretend to not hear her ::laughs::. So yes, definitely a mermaid, I already feel like one. I’m most comfortable in water.

What are you passionate about?

Music and movement. I have found it to be really healing, especially now. I was always performing and singing as a child and recently found my latest passion which is fire dancing. It has brought a whole new meaning to my life. Because of it, I’m now a part of a community that feels like home and am able to continue my performance career through this new chapter in my life. I’m also currently in the process of learning how to DJ, so hopefully I can give back the feeling of what music and movement has given me.

How has it been healing?

I… I have been through a lot in my life. My mom was a single mom and my dad wasn’t in the picture. She had my brother and I very young and she most likely had mental health issues she didn’t address before having us. It always seemed like we were a nuisance to her. She refused to get help from anyone even though she needed it. At one point we lived out of the country with my Aunt while she stayed in the states because she couldn’t take care of us. My family would criticize her so she secluded us from them. I guess it was her way to protect us and because of that I never developed strong relationships with most of my family. I kinda…never felt like I was loved by her, so when I met my first boyfriend at 16, he gave me so much attention and took care of me and that felt really good. After a year, the relationship turned abusive. Because of him, I had stopped doing everything that I was passionate about. I stopped dancing, I stopped singing. I had to put him first, you know, he kind of manipulated me. He made me feel like I was nothing without him and that no one else would love me or deal with me. He knew my weaknesses and had me wrapped me around his finger. He ended up convincing me to move to Alabama the second I turned 18 because he was going to school there. We lived together for almost 3 years and he had me enroll in the same classes as him so that he didn’t have to do anything. He also didn’t let me work which was another way for him to control me. He didn’t let me go out, I couldn’t have friends. If I was talking to someone online or in person he would always question me about them and get really jealous regardless of who they were. I felt trapped and was really depressed. My way to cope with my depression was with was food and I ended up gaining over 90 pounds in two years. I couldn’t even walk ten minutes without getting shin splints because all I did was stay at home. It was the worst feeling. Then he started telling me, “Oh, you’re fat now, I have to cheat on you because your body disgusts me, I don’t even want to have sex with you, I wish you were skinny and blonde”. At that point I was 19, and we had been together for 3 years and in those 3 years he had fucked with my head so much that I just did whatever he wanted, let him say whatever he wanted and didn’t fight back so that he wouldn’t leave me. Because I wasn’t close to my mom or family, I didn’t feel like I could reach out to them for help. When I was 20, my mom got engaged and was living in DC, so I came up for the wedding and I didn’t go back. It was still really difficult for the first 2 years living here. I wasn’t used to such a big city and I didn’t even know who I even was as a person anymore so I was extremely insecure when meeting new people. I finally changed my lifestyle and diet and started losing some of the weight I gained and could finally dance again, and it brought me back to myself. It brought me back to everything being okay again and now I can’t stop ::laughs::

What do you feel accomplished with?

I guess, that I’m even here today. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety and always felt that I was fending for myself and that no one else was here for me. There were many times that I just wanted to give up and wondered what is even the point? Who even cares about me? But I’m still here and I’m really happy with my life now and the direction it’s going.

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

I think human connection is really important. I cherish my platonic relationships more than my romantic ones. Dating is hard for me because I still struggle with a lot of my past trauma and because of it, I’m still insecure and hold a lot of my feelings back because I don’t want to get hurt again. Even though I still deal with the trauma, I’m thankful it happened because I’ve been in a couple of romantic relationships where I’ve seen the red flags of abuse and I now have the courage to call them out and end them before it gets worse for myself or for anyone else. I’ve had some beautiful relationships since that ex that have showed me what being in a healthy and loving relationship is like, but right now I have a lot of goals and ambitions and things to work out with myself, so as much as a romantic relationship would be nice, the best thing for me is to be in a relationship with myself and I’m totally okay with that.

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

Angela Lester

Angela Lester


Date of Interview: October 5, 2016

Name: Angela Lester

Age: 25

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: Columbus, Oh


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

Oh man… I really love a lot of underwater sea creatures so that’s kind of hard. I’m gonna say dolphins because they’re very community oriented and they’re very smart and they don’t have a lot of natural predators. So I wouldn’t have to deal with being attacked or eaten which would be good ::laughs::.

Do you enjoy being in bodies of water?

Yes. Yes, actually when I was really young I remember my mom taking me to the pool or the beach and when it would be time for me to come in she would call for me and I would duck underwater to pretend that I didn’t hear her so I could stay in longer. When I’m in water I have this overall feeling of like, safety. It’s a nice, cool or warm blanket that makes me feel good and happy and I’m weightless. There’s not a lot of… I don’t know… There’s just this sense of serenity.

What are you passionate about?

Ooooo, lots of things. Umm, I guess I really love food. My long term goal in life is to be a pastry chef and have my own patisserie. So like cooking for people and making things for my friends or coworkers is a thing I really like doing. I’m also very passionate about people being treated fairly and properly so I try to be as active in the community as possible. Just kind of like, human rights and people’s rights. I think there are a lot of things that have been going on for years, especially with race and police violence and I think it’s very important to be active in that and getting together as a community and doing what we can to fight that or else nothing is going to change.

What are you most afraid of for the world?

That… well just… oh man. That Donald Trump will be president ::laughs:: and that people won’t put aside their differences and come together and I’m just afraid that something similar to WWII will happen and that we’ll use up all of our resources and society will collapse on itself. Which I know we’re already at a point where it’s almost irreversible… The future seems pretty bleak to me ::laughs:: nothing matters. Going to have an existential crisis in the bathtub ::laughs::.

What are you most afraid of for yourself?

I’m… honestly not afraid of many things other than being attacked by a person at night. Which is something that I feel like most female bodied people or actually all female bodied people are worried about whenever they go walking by themselves at any time of day. Umm, that and also, this is so irrational and dumb but falling off of a roller coaster. I’m really afraid of heights so those are my two things.

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

As far as romantic relationships go, I have always been a hopeless romantic. I love falling in love. And I love getting to know people on a romantic level. But it’s also kind of difficult for me because I am a demisexual person, so that has had a lot of people turn themselves away from me because sex isn’t a priority to me unless I have a very strong emotional or intellectual connection to them. Which I guess is good in the long run because it turns away those people who aren’t right for me. I am currently in the best relationship I’ve ever been in ::laughs:: and my partner is really wonderful and we have great communication which I think is the most important, be it a romantic or platonic relationship; you have to talk about things with your partner or friend as soon as you can. If you let something go on and fester, it can become this weird passive aggressive thing and neither of you can grow and develop from that.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Oh man. I recently got published in Vogue International and that was a big step for professionally modeling. Also, I have now been to every state except for Hawaii through modeling and also a recent trip out west. I never thought I could travel for a month at a time due to finances but I was able to do that and spend time in a lot of states that I would have never visited and meet cool people so yeah.

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