Category Archives: personal


to say this summer went by quickly would be the understatement of the century. you see, i’m still recovering from my post-student days, where things would slow down in the summer rather than speed up. yes, i’ve been working full-time most summers (with one exception) for nearly a decade now, but never as intensely as this year. in june, it really didn’t look like it would be that way… but hey! a summer election campaign and your colleagues taking their summer vacations will give you a lot more to do!

i know, i know, everyone finds the summer goes by too fast. i just wanted to give you a bit of context for these very belated outfit posts. spending far more time at the office did not mean i toned down my warddrobe or forgot to take outfit photos! it simply meant it wasn’t until now that i found the time to share them with you.

let’s begin with june.

as i mentionned earlier, i started the summer with a haircut and a trip overseas. before hopping on a plane, i checked out the

i had the chance to have a sneak peek back in may, but was so excited to see it when it officially opened in june. in the end i visited the museum three times this summer to try and take it all in, and am very glad i did. you can listen to my radio report on it if you missed it.

wearing: thrifted dress from value village, 10$
sandals: hush puppies on sale

the summer also means high-time for yard sales, flea markets and church basement bargains. while riding my bike one sunday i came across a particularly awesome yard sale and picked up this stunning 1960s wiggle dress for a whopping 6 dollars. it is a wee bit snug for me (but aren’t all wiggle dresses?) but i simply could not resist for that price. one of my smaller-hipped vintage-loving friends might be able to give it a good home if i don’t end up wearing it enough.

dress: vintage, thrifted shoes: thrifted ages ago photobooth bag from meags fitzgerald

dress: vintage, thrifted
shoes: thrifted ages ago
photobooth bag from meags fitzgerald

simon and i in his favourite colours: black and white

simon and i in his favourite colours: black and white

even though we live together, simon and i try to make date nights a priority. not just hanging out, but getting decked out to the nines for no particular reason at all and enjoying the sights and sounds of our gorgeous city. i didn’t get the best photos of my outfit, but believe me we turned heads that night.

dress, vintage 1960s from courage my love in toronto. 1960s handbag thrifted.

so there’s june: i’ll be sharing photos from july and august shortly. thanks for looking!


Filed under fashion, personal, vintage, what i wore today

Une garçonne sur la Garonne

photo by pierre planchenault at festival chahuts

photo by pierre planchenault at festival chahuts, bordeaux. june 18th, 2012.

obligatory blogger apologizing for not blogging intro phrase.

just kidding! i earned some well-deserved time off this month. time off from my job, from my beautiful neighbourhood that is populated with one too many jackhammers, time off from “the real world.”

june has been good to me. i hopped across the atlantic into the arms of my love who was all the way in bordeaux, france. simon was presenting some of productions rhizome‘s work at festival chahuts, and we decided to take time for some adventures of our own, too. we met some amazing people while admiring the sights in pamplona, bilbao & la baie d’archachon. i impressed people with my comfort in french and english, prompting many people to make all kinds of wrong guesses on where i’m from. spanish? italian? cosmopolitan globetrotter? one french parent and one canadian parent? nah, just your regular québécois-abénaki-military brat mess of a person with francophile leanings.

photo of simon and julia by annie lafleur

photo of simon and julia in bordeaux by annie lafleur

little snapshots of my daily life here were captured on film, by new friends digital cameras and scribbled handwriting onpostcards. i’ve been letting the digital aspects of my life fall more and more to the wayside these days, and i must admit it’s been doing me some good. this is due, in part, to the death of my laptop (ironically timed just after i wrote the line “i’ve had this image saved on the three computers i’ve owned over the course of the past decade” in my last post) but also to the fun of getting wrapped up in the real world. i’m not yet a member of the constantly-connected cell phone brigade, but just the feeling of being disconnected from my cumbersome laptop has changed the way i spend my days. [sidenote: back in may i even made a tiny zine about attempting to change my internet habits, so it was nice to put those things into practice in a more concrete way.]

a photograph of some postcards

some of the postcards i sent off to friends and family while in bordeaux.

that said, i was still constantly thinking about the stories and ideas i wanted to share with my readers. scrawled in my tiny travel notebook are notes like, “how wierd is it to fit in, style wise, in a city i’ve never been to before, thousands of miles from where i was born and raised?” it’s funny how, with the exact same wardrobe, haircut, and body one can stand out so much in your hometown and blend in in a city you’ve never been to before. another note, scrawled in all caps was “interview old french men about why they are so much more dapper and stylish than north american men!!!” unfortunately i didn’t interview anyone (journalist on vacation!),  but i did admire men in tweed biking around the cobblestone streets of bordeaux. i’d be lying if i said i didn’t find it tempting to make sweeping generalizations about French people based on my ten days in Europe, though.

my vacation wasn’t entirely spent people watching and idea percolating – i did end up reading for pleasure more than i have in years. while waiting in airport lounges, i read my fair share of tattered copies of french newspapers but was also quite happy to have good books and magazines with me along the way.

recommended reading:

Mythologies by Roland Barthes, specifically “The Writer on Holiday” essay:

What proves the wonderful singularity of the writer, is that during the holiday in question, which he takes alongside factory workers and shop assistants, he unlike them does not stop, if not actually working, at least producing. So that he is a false worker, and a false holiday-maker as well. One is writing his memoris, another is correcting proofs, yet another is preparing his next book. And he who does nothing confesses it as truly paradoxical behaviour, an avant-garde exploit, which only someone of exceptional independence can afford to flaunt. One then realizes, thanks to this kind of boast, that it is quite ‘natural’ that the writer should write all the time and in all sorts of situations. First, this treats literary production as a sort of involuntary secretion, which is taboo, since it escapes human determinations: to speak more decorously, the writer is the prey of an inner god who speaks at all times, without bothering, tyrant that he is, with the holidays of his medium. Writers are on holiday, but their Muse is awake, and gives birth non-stop.

Causette – a sassy French magazine that’s similar to Bitch Magazine here in North America. i had to buy it after browsing it at a friend’s house and reading a shocking article about how France has repealed sexual harrassment laws. terrifying to say the least. on a nicer note, how refreshing it to buy a magazine that says “le poids des femmes” (the weight of women) but isn’t talking about pounds or fat, but instead political clout? can i get a fuck yeah?

i also finished a few fiction books i had on the go, namely oryx & crake by margaret atwood. if you’re interested in what i’ve been reading, i’ve been sharing a lot on goodreads these days. i’ve also spent the last week catching up on great articles published during my downtime. if you’ve seen (or written) anything you think is up my alley, please leave links in the comments.

i’ve got lots of other stories and suggestions to share from my time overseas, but i hope that satiates your appetites for now!


Filed under currently, digital/online culture, personal, Uncategorized

a tale of tattoos, zebras, and the importance of context

i’ve had this image saved on the three computers i’ve owned over the course of the past decade. i’ve posted it to livejournal communities, shown it to hairdressers before i knew what “fingerwaves” were, invented stories and lifetimes for her, imagined the details of her tattoos. in the end, all i really knew about her is what my (very tattooed) friend ursula told me in a livejournal comment:

the first pic with the zebra, that girl is a circus freak show girl haha, back in the 20’s and 30’s girls with tattoos were pretty rare…

i always admired this mystery zebra-loving stranger for that, and wouldn’t have thought of it that way if someone had not pointed it out to me. sometimes i daydream of having a tattoo of a tattooed lady on me, and when i do, i still see her face, her cupid’s bows lips. to put it succinctly, this image has been pretty fundamental in helping shape my aesthetics and my imagination from the time i was in my late teens until today.

something that has struck me more recently, however, is how despite the fact that i am seemingly obsessed with this image, it’s ultimately one i know nothing about. absolutely nothing factual, or true, or verifiable – vague inclinations and assumptions at best. does that intrigue me somewhat more than if i knew her name, or at least had a better idea of where and when the photograph was taken?  more than anything, though, it frustrates me. it frustrates me because it’s hardly the only image i’ve had these questions about. it frustrates me because it is indicative of an online culture of circulating and re-circulating images, and stripping them of their original context.

screencap of a search

while i’m critical of it, i’m part of that very same system. i’ve been using the internet, creating and taking content, for more than a decade. i saw this image for the first time probably about 7 or 8 years ago… but where? i saw it somewhere online and “right clicked, save as” to my desktop. of course, we’ve all done that far too many times over the years to possibly remember where we saved it from, even if there was information about the photographer/photographed.

who is she? who took the photo? is it a closeup of a larger photograph? who scanned it and shared it online? these are just some of the questions that are increasingly difficult to answer in the digital age. it’s not as though i came across the photo while browsing in an art book, and could easily solve these riddles by reading a caption or the anotated bibliography.

screencap of the weheartit front page and pinterest front page on may 5th, 2012

the propagation of visual “pinboards” and “inspiration sites” make it effortless for images to be stripped of their context, history, and original sources. never mind crediting the person who originally shared the image online; we can’t even find the person who created the image to begin with. i’ve spent far too much time thinking about how my post-secondary education (especially as a history student) emphasized not only the importance but the necessity of citing your sources, ensuring the people who made those statements or created those images were credited in as much detail as possible. professors and academic advisors drilled it into my brain that one could not simply use an image without ensuring you listed the date, artist, format, etc. they even explained the importance of why: ensuring artists or authors were recognized or even paid for their work, to share knowledge not just images, and so on and so forth.

but with more people using the internet more often than ever before, online culture moving increasingly away from a model which centers images in relation to their creator, towards an orgiastic internet free-for-all.

this all comes back to my tattooed zebra-friendly lady. when this image came across my tumblr dashboard via tangledupinlace in february 2012, i reblogged it saying pretty much what i’ve just told you: “i love this image, i wish i could find out more.” moments after i lamented this, k (lookuplookup on tumblr, who runs a great music blog side ponytail) sent me a message with a guess of who my mystery lady might be. could it be?

May Vandermark (Ada Mae Vandermark Patton) was a tattooed lady from Scranton, Pennsylvania. She came to New York in 1924 to work as a stenographer. It is rumored that she saw a person with a tattoo of a butterfly on their shoulder while swimming and decided she had to have one as well. She got a tattoo of a butterfly on both shoulders. She met Miss Pictoria, or Victoria James, who convinced Vandermark to become a tattooed lady. Vandermark began getting tattooed by Charles Wagner, who gave her a special price of $150 for a full body suit. She started doing Coney Island shows with the name Miss Artorio and eventually worked with the Ringling show in the 1920s

the satisfaction! after years of wondering, finally i have some answers! ironically, the very same internet tools that stripped this image of its original context made it possible for me to plea with the many internet friends i have to work together and share our knowledge. huzzah! the only other photo i’ve been able to find of her was found via bme zine, shown above. since then, i’ve come across a handful of other vague stories regarding may vandermark, including the two or three names she used. i’ve added amelia klem osterud’s book, the tattooed lady: a history to my must-read list.

The Tattooed Lady: A History

i’ve also spent a bit of time thinking about my fascination with circus babes. part of what i’ve always loved about that first photograph, without a name or history attached at all, was how she was stepping outside the boundaries of what was deemed beautiful or socially acceptable at the time – at least visually. to put it succinctly, i have a very special place in my heart for those who presented an alternative version of femininity at a time when women were trying to find not only visual but material ways to reject the prescriptive gender, class, and sexuality boundaries imposed on them. that said, it’s absolutely essential to look at these things aspects critically (many people – especially people of colour and people with disabilities- were forced into almost endentured slavery type situations in circuses and sideshows like the ones may vandermark was featured in) and not simply romanticize the beautiful parts.

an illustration of may vandermark stylized with more tattoos by nicoz balboa

Tattooed Lady by Nicoz Balboa

unsurprisingly, i’m far from the only person to have been inspired by this image of may vandermark. many artists, like nicoz balboa, have paid homage to this woman who seems so strong, so compelling simply based on the one photograph we’ve seen of her and her zebra friend. as much as i feel disappointed that it took me so many years to try and find out more about this image and this woman, it is wonderful that my internet friends were able to help me find her name.

really, the best thing you can do if you find yourself in similar situations is prevent these problems from happening in the first place. nip it in the bud. when you sign up for the latest greatest image sharing service, get informed. learn how to use it. post images or quotes linking back to the original source where you found them. add simple captions with the name of the photographer, the year, and the medium if possible. when you come across images that don’t have any credit, you can ask your fellow internauts to help you find out. ask, who made this?

some of the most often referred tips i get when lamenting how difficult it is to find credit or sources for random images is to use this website. tineye reverse image search is designed to deal with this specific conundrum, and is pretty trusty. it’s how i found the highest-quality version of this may vandermark, in fact.

but what is most important is to keep this in mind: let’s make an effort to be informed of the narratives surrounding the images we put out there. here’s how Hila Shachar puts it in this interesting post:

Maybe it’s a good idea to start approaching images from a photo-journalism perspective where images form a significant part of a wider narrative, and where there is a distinct relationship between images and words, history and the present. I’m afraid that if we don’t do this, all these “inspiration” pin-boards and blogs will just end up being one big vacuum of nothingness.

yes, my story with may vandermark is specifically talking about context and credit in regards to an older photograph. but as shachar points out, it happens even with the most famous of historical figures and can be a great disservice not only to the consumer of the image, but to the person in it.

as our internet culture rapidly changes and we hop on the bandwagon of the next great image sharing website, let us temper our enthusiasm with a smidge of responsibility. let’s foster an internet space where facts and information remain key, not optional. where independent artists are recognized and rewarded for their work. where the hard work librarians and archivists have been doing for decades is not undone in a single click.

Knock Out (flapper boxer tattoo design) by Quyen Dinh

Knock Out (flapper boxer tattoo design) by Quyen Dinh

recommended reading about credit/sourcing online:

recommended reading about tattooed ladies:


Filed under digital/online culture, personal, politics

in my city: naked ladies and student strikes

in mid-april, we had a mini heatwave in québec city and were luckily able to take full advantage of it. simon and i dusted off our bicycles and took a lovely ride around our city. one of our stops was at our favourite québec city art gallery, galerie morgan bridge. their latest expo was in conjunction with festival de la bande dessinée francophone, and featured sketches and drawings by artist jimmy beaulieu.

jimmy beaulieu’s art is right up my alley: his books tend to be filled with colourful pencil crayon sketches…. of lots of gorgeous representations of queer women. i’d browsed some of his books at some of my favourite bookstores, but never had the cash to take them home. this exhibition might be the turning point for me though – there’s something his style and his characters that really draws me in, aesthetically and politically. i was thinking out loud to simon as we admired the art on the walls that even though these were all drawings of naked (mostly lesbian) women, drawn by a straight guy, for some reason it didn’t feel exploitative or lewd. i must admit i don’t have anything to back me up on that other than just my gut feeling, but it’s true. perhaps it’s because, as i’ve been discussing with friends ad nauseum these days, we’re starving for representations of ourselves. perhaps it’s just nice for me to see drawings of people who look like me and my friends. perhaps that’s part of beaulieu’s intentions… perhaps not.

(i’m only posting his slightly less… nsfw sketches here, but check out his website and poke around)

as simon and i enjoyed the exhibition and admired the great fit of pink and black painted on the largest wall space, alex lemay, who runs the galerie morgan bridge, informed us it was a happy accident of sorts: the exhibition beforehand had called for pink walls, and instead of having to paint over it twice, they incorporated it into the expo.

i was tempted to purchase this piece for simon – he kind of has a thing for brunettes with glasses.

but it wasn’t just the framed pieces on the walls that tickled my fancy – it was the whole atmosphere of the space. with so many sexy images on the wall, the cozy cast-iron bed was a wonderful touch.

there was a subtle hint in the expo that beaulieu’s work – although pretty – is not without substance. take a closer look at the bed: a red square pillow placed there hints at political solidarity. you might have no idea what i mean: what the fuck does a red pillow mean, politically? if you haven’t already heard, that red square has become the symbol for support and solidarity with the student strikes in québec. for the past 12 weeks, student unions around the province have been striking in opposition to the provincial government’s proposed university tuition hike of 75% – which works out to 1,625$ – over the next five years. at different points over the last two months, over 300,000 students have been on strike, and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets. but it’s not just students – as police brutality and arrests has increased, so has support for the movement. most wear a small piece of red fabric pinned to their clothes with a safety pin, and others have taken to spraypainting red squares on sidewalks and buildings.

être contre by jimmy beaulieu

the red pillow in beaulieu’s exhibit was not a mere example of tokenism – he’s been busy these days producing art around and in response to the student strikes since february. he’s among one of the many artists who have been speaking out in support of the students and has been highly critical of the incidents of police brutality – as shown in his piece “hâvre de paix” seen below.

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

havre de paix by jimmy beaulieu

as you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, the student strikes – and debates around them – have really heating up here in recently. it’s kind of astounding how many protests (often 2-3 a day), debates, beatings and arrests have happened over the course of the past two months, and it’s only quite recently that the media outside of the province has been covering it.


i must say i’m not the most informed on the events – i’ve been away and unplugged for most of april, taking advantage of not working as a journalist right now – but i’ve had the chance to read a handful of interesting articles on the questions being raised by this movement. check out the zine jimmy beaulieu and many other great québécois artists have contributed to here. and here are some of the best reads i’ve found about the strike. comment and add your own if you’ve seen any great ones!

recommended reading:

in french:

twitter hashtags about student strikes:


Filed under personal, quebec city, self-portraits

a love letter to internet friends

in an era which increasingly gives the impression of connecting people around the world thanks to social media, i often can’t help but wax poetic of the days before the facebook like button. when i say that, i mean i long for a time when you’d actually have to use words and string together a sentence to express affection for someone, or someone’s ideas, online. or hell, let’s not stop there! i know i’m not alone in finding myself longing for the days before facebook, before 140 character limits… we could go on and on, tracing back to myspace-friendster-livejournal-message boards-chat rooms all the way back to the days of chain letters and pen pals. personally, i like to think i’ve kept a relatively healthy mix over the years, keeping my favourite old fashioned traditions alive alongside the latest, greatest social technology innovation.

we don’t call it “social media” for nothin’. while most would think of twitter and facebook as the first time we began to have online access to people they already knew in “the real world,” more seasoned internauts like myself know that there were online communities long before that. finding that balance between mediating (and valuing) online relationships alongside the ‘real’ ones has sometimes meant breaking “the fourth wall” and shifting some of those internet friendships into face-to-face ones. a little known fact (in our “real life” circles) is that i met one of my dearest friends, iris, via livejournal, and knew each other online for probably a good year before we had the chance to meet. and that’s when we lived in the same town!

there are countless examples of friendships that would have never had the chance to exist had it not been for these newfangled technologies. when i travelled to mexico city in july 2010, i told my friends online and asked for recommendations of what i should see and do. teresa, a livejournal friend who has lived there for the better part of her life, suggested we meet up and warmly welcomed me to the city she calls home. i’m also more than thrilled to be meeting one of my longest online friends, andrea, when she comes to visit canada this fall.

but of course, travel budgets remain limited and the fact that many of my favourite people live all around the world will hinder those ambitions. not to mention that not every online friendship can – or should – become a face to face one.

letter to karina

until there’s teleportation, though, there remains the good old fashioned postal service.

there’s something overwhelmingly wonderful – and slightly surreal – about internet friendships that make jump from digital screens to the more tactile “real” world. when short emails and comments evolve into exchanging bonafide letters in the mail, or even sharing things we’ve made especially for each other. yes, an 8tracks mix can be quite convenient, but i will never be as fond of a playlist on something i have to log into as i will be of a handmade mix cd, with a specially selected cover made just for me, the sharpie ink scrawled in unfamiliar handwriting.

photograph of package from emily

this winter i had more than a few lovely people i affectionately refer to as “internet friends” cross that line, in the best possible of ways.

i can’t recall when emily and i crossed the line from mutual online admiration from afar to full-fledged internet friendship, but it’s been a while. i first came across her music selections shared on tumblr, paired with beautiful found photographs always sourced back to various beautiful flickr accounts.

screen cap of anonymous emily's tumblr featuring a film still of louise brooks

screen cap of anonymous emily's tumblr featuring a film still of louise brooks in diary of a lost girl

i fell in love with some new voices, learned everything i know about gospel hymns, and definitely let my imagination carry me away trying to imagine who was behind the blog. an old grey-haired, spectacled archivist who spends his day pushing paper and longing for the days of the dewey decimal system, but sharing his true love of the music he grew up listening to online? or perhaps someone closer to my age, and more closely resembling me: just sharing what they love online in their spare time.

in the end, it turns out it was closer to the latter. after a while my curiosity got the best of me, and i asked her for her personal tumblr and now we’re friends on facebook, follow each other on twitter & 8tracks. she used to live in ottawa, around the same time i visited often since an old lover’s family lived there. i’m sure we haunted the same vintage shops and bookstores. recently, she opened an etsy store and i fawned over so many of the beautiful dresses. when one showed up in my size, i sent her a message letting her know i wanted to buy it. emily, the thoughtful soul, surprised me with it as a gift! not only a vintage dress, but with a wonderful letter and mix cd.

the dress from emily's etsy shop "the patsy" paired with my spats!

the dress from emily's etsy shop "the patsy" paired with my spats!

a lot of what emily had to say in the letter reminded me of this post, “rescuing garments and the history of clothes,” about an etsy store which placed a fair amount of emphasis on the stories behind the vintage dresses they sold.

receiving emily’s package coincided with another piece of mail i had been waiting for: a package from another precious internet friend, mccall. mccall and i have a very long and storied internet friendship. i vividly remember the start: i shared a polaroid in a livejournal polaroid community, and paired it with lyrics to a cocorosie song. she told me she liked it, and added me as a livejournal friend. we were both active members in fashion, photobooth, and polaroid livejournal communities and actively commented on each other’s posts over the years.

i’ve see her hair long, short, i’ve followed her friendships and loved the way she wrote about sylvan, shares her beautiful stories, photographs, drawings, and collages. any way i try to write about our relationship fails to do it justice, but suffice to say we were long overdue to share tactile things with each other.

untitled by mccall johnson

untitled (mixed media collage) by mccall johnson

the overwhelming sense i got from both of these gifts was the equal parts comforting and unnerving feeling that these people truly knew me. whether that is an illusion or not might never be shattered, and that’s okay. it’s something i’ve been conversing with friends about lately, over the pros and cons of sharing your life with strangers online – most remain strangers, but convince themselves that they do know you based on what you chose to share online. that is a whole other can of worms altogether, but definitely something i’ve been thinking about more and more these days.

livejournal icon for friends-only posts

there are countless people whose blogs i follow who i once shared quite intimate online moments with, largely thanks to more private “locked” options. over the years, i witnessed people thousands of miles away from me change and grow, and i revelled in the privilege of being given permission to come along for part of the ride, albeit in a passive role.

moving from our online journals and diaries to very public blogs has often meant severing a lot of those older internet friendships – intentionally or not. some of us have outgrown the novelty of sharing our lives with strangers online, and disappeared without a trace. but most of us will continue to use the internet in some way, shape, or form to share our lives, our stories, our art and our work.
in my case, i feel like my life is so much richer and fuller because of some of the incredible people i had the chance to get to know online. as grateful i am for my “real life” friendships, some interests that couldn’t really have been fostered otherwise flourished online. wherever i was, as long as i had an internet connection i had a community at my fingertips.

they were some of the people who encouraged me most in all different kinds of my endeavors, both “real life” and online. people who have my blog featured on their blog roll, or who’ll mention me in interviews. i think back to the time a still-unknown stranger sent me many thoughtful gifts when i had been elected editor of my university paper. i’ll always remember the mix cds and postcards people from new york, australia, and portugal sent me when i was lonely and heartbroken in the summer of 2007.

so consider this only part of my love letter to you, the digital part.

olivia, i know i still owe you a decent thank you after that gorgeous letter you sent me last winter.

amber, i’ve got a package and long-overdue letter sitting on my desk begging to be stamped and mailed to you, not to mention hopes of a montreal visit this summer.

meredith, i know upstate new york and quebec city aren’t as far as we make it seem.

and if we haven’t met yet, (i’m looking at you maddie) we both know that an opportunity will present itself sooner or later.

and if it doesn’t?

there’s always the internet.



Filed under digital/online culture, fashion, personal, self-portraits, vintage

you look awesome today, by the way: being unapologetically vain

for the longest time, i must admit hated the combination of red and blue. perhaps i was because i associated it with some sort of patriotic undertones, like the union jack or the american flag. but for whatever reason, it rubbed me the wrong way for ages and never really entered my warddrobe. it wasn’t until i was in my early twenties when i saw someone walking down the street in a gorgeous red coat and a turquoise dress that i thought maybe i had wrongfully dismissed this colour combination.

you look awesome today (by the way) by gabrielle matte

back in december, at the salon nouveau genre, i saw these great cards and wanted to buy a million. i think giving (and receiving) compliments is really important, and i feel like the simple but creative design of these cards really does justice to the simple message. i ended up buying three. one sits by my dresser mirror, one by my office desk, and i sent one to a friend after she complained on facebook about looking gorgeous and getting no compliments.

the thing is? i often don’t get compliments. getting dressed up for others was something i did for years while trying to figure out my own sense of style, but i learned after years and years that dressing for yourself is far more satisfying. and you know what? no one takes pictures of me. i master the self-timer to document how badass i think i look, and share it with folks who i think might appreciate it online. even then, however, i wouldn’t say i get floods of compliments.

polka dot shirt, thrifted when i was fifteen! still love it
poodle pin, thrifted
blue tights from simons
red lipstick from rimmel - jet set red
you look awesome card by gabrielle matte
dress from suzy shier
shoes from lisazain on etsy

today, for example. this is what i looked like. i had the day off, took the time to do my makeup, get decked out in a sweet outfit and take a stroll around my neighbourhood before picking up my bike from the repair shop. did one of the dozens of people i passed on the street smile at me? no. did one person tell me how awesome i look? no. but does that really matter so much? i wish i could so no without a doubt, but i’d be lying. i know i look good, and i want to hear it every once in a while. but knowing that, having that confidence, is more important than feeling validated for your appearance in the long run. i have to say i prefer radio silence to harrassing comments, but that’s a whole other post.

my advice to others: appreciate yourself. don’t wait for others to photograph you, photograph yourself. document your outfits. look in the mirror and say damn! you look fine! give compliments to others that you’d like to receive. stop strangers in the street whose outfits make you smile, and tell them.

femmes and family shared this on tumblr the other day, and it really resonated with me:

don’t ever apologize for posting pictures of yourself

Fill your blog with your own face

Show off your arms, thighs, ass, shoulders

Make pages and pages of your own teeth and hair

Dedicate space to loving the cracks in your lips and the chewed parts of your fingers

And if you are called vain, then you have succeeded

In getting others to notice

How fucking beautiful and important you are

i find it strange how absent these conversations are on fashion blogs. so many people preface posts with apologies for long gaps between posts, or for the quality or lack thereof of their images, or how their faces look without makeup or whatever… even if they are perfect. i think a lot of this is tied into a fear of coming off as vain, or “full of yourself.” you know, those shitty accusations slung around in high school? the internet ain’t always so different. i’m also reminded of the conversations about the “internet world” vs. “the real world” readers i have, and my fear that people who know me in real life might think i’m vain for taking hundreds of photographs of myself.

at the end of the day, i tell myself: so what. so what if someone i know in passing comes across my blog and assumes i think i’m all that. because you know what? i am. i am! and i wasn’t able to say that a few years ago. the road to confidence is a long one, let me tell you. it took me probably a decade of unlearning all these beauty myths imposed on me: that i was too tall, too clumsy, too loud, too hairy, too whatever you want to say to dimiss me. but at the end of the day, if i surround myself with people who know that i am not only really awesome looking, but really awesome all around, that’s what counts. fuck the myth that you can’t have style and substance.

this leads me to other words of wisdom from femmes & family:

vanity is a term used to make people feel guilty about loving themselves

so, be vain. celebrate your face, your body, your talent for putting together a fantastic outfit. without further ado, here are a bunch of babes who have done that. other red and blue/turquoise outfits i love:

Kristy Lou of Fatty Unbound

Kristy Lou of Fatty Unbound

actress Priyanka Bose photographed for Wearabout

actress Priyanka Bose photographed for Wearabout

tenue du jour~outfit of the day

Elfee Duquette, StyleLikeU Scout

Elfee Duquette, StyleLikeU Scout via refinery29

and last but not least, a stroll down nostalgia lane (if you’re a former emo kid like myself)


Filed under fashion, personal, self-portraits

following the photobooth faithful

forgive me, this post will hardly be about feminism and/or fashion, but i really wanted to share this with everyone so… consider yourself forewarned!

i don’t talk about my job very much here because… well, all of the usual internet-fearing reasons. as public as i tend to be with my private life online, negotiating career-related things online is a whole new ball game in the digital age. you know, that typical jargony disclaimer people use on twitter and facebook to say “these opinions are my own bla bla bla.” today, i make an exception.

this morning, my short radio documentary on photobooths aired. you can listen to it online here. i had this idea back in january, finally got the nerve to pitch it to my producer in february, and slowly chipped away at it between other assignments and the daily grind. now, it’s ready to share with the world! i’m still quite new to the medium of radio, but i really am starting to feel at home with all the creative ways we can share stories using sound. i’m also ridiculously lucky (and grateful) to have some fantastic co-workers who will let me bounce ideas off of them and help me adjust my skills to the medium of radio.

the reason i’m writing about this radio documentary online is that there are so many other stories i still want to share that i couldn’t fit into that short piece, and there are also so many visual elements! where better to share those than right here?

for decades, we took photobooths for granted. cheap, high-quality instant photography is practical and useful, and will always be around, won’t it? not so certain. this technology, which has been around for a century, is taking a beating now that digital photography has taken up a whole lot of space and taken away some of that “instant” magic. after the almost-death of polaroid film, combined with the introduction of digital booths, photobooth lovers have been given a swift kick in the pants.

what can we do to make sure they stick around?

in short: we use them.

before you can use one, though, you have to kow where they are. of course, i have my trusty stand-by photobooths i’ve used countless times over the years: the one i affectionately called “my” photobooth in the quinte mall, in belleville, ontario; the ones in the greyhound station in montreal and ottawa; and one tucked away in a corner of union station in toronto. but when i moved to quebec city, i noticed there wasn’t one at the train station, or the malls i had been to. i had no idea where to find one. hello‘s locator feature! it’s a great resource.

a screencap from the website's locator feature

i looked for locations in the province of quebec… and lo and behold, all of them listed are in montreal. now, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any in québec city – it simply means they have not been documented and listed by someone for the website. one curious thing i did notice, though, was that for all of the montreal locations… the same face popped up again and again.

meags fitzgerald

that face belongs to halifax-based artist meags fitzgerald. i contacted her when i started researching my story on photobooths back in january, wrongly assuming she was a montrealer and could give me a good quebec-focused angle here. instead, it turns out meags face shows up for most canadian cities you look up on the locator feature, because she is responsible for nearly 90% of all canadian locator contributions. yeah. i know. after a brief phone call, she quickly proved she knows more about photobooths than i thought humanly possible.

she uses photobooth strips and frames in all sorts of artistic projects, in ways i could have never imagined. and i suppose i should retract my earlier statement about this post having nothing to do with fashion… her garden state project clearly begs to differ. she makes her own clothes, and uses the same fabric to wallpaper the background of the photobooth she takes the photos in.

two photobooth strips by artist Meags Fitzgerald from her Garden State project

two colour photobooth strips by artist Meags Fitzgerald

she’s also currently working on an animation project: a stop motion animation shot entirely in a photobooth. it’s kind of mind boggling to think of all the details involved in that process, and you can follow it on her blog. she’s launching an indie go go campaign shortly as well if you want to help make these projects happen!

my own relationship to photobooths is similar to meags at first glance.  i think we both probably started out as teenagers loving photobooth strips just for kicks, a cheap way to pass the time in the mall while waiting for our parents to come pick us up – without any inclination what we were making might one day be considered “art.” where we differ, however, is that photobooths are hardly a big part of my life these days. i can count the number of strips i’ve taken in the last year on one hand, and the nearest one to me is in a part of town very unfriendly to my lack of ability/access to commandeer a motorized vehicle (the fanciest way possible of saying: i hate car culture). this makes no one sadder but myself. that said, i think this is a better opportunity than ever to share some of my favourite photobooth strips.

my own more creative photobooth strips were hardly one of a kind originals, i.e. i blatantly ripped off the concepts that i had seen other people do online, shared with livejournal communities in the early 2000s. my most successful attempt, though, are these two taken in a month apart in 2006.

where is my mind - two photobooth strips by julia caron in 2006

another example would be how i used photobooths more recently. i think part of my admiration for meags is that she actually executes the projects and ideas she gets instead of just letting them fester in her head like i do. i’ve got more ideas for projects than i can count, but i never end up making it happen. more recently though, i was obsessed with documenting how long my hair had grown, to try and visually represent the kind of chaotic surreal aspect of it. while i took dozens of digital photographs trying to show how long it had grown, it is these two photobooth strips that i think best represent how i felt about my long locks in an artistic sense as well as serving the basic purpose of “look! my hair is long!”

photoboothcousin ithairy pits

in this interview i did with karol orzechowski back in april 2009, i did start to reflect a bit on the question of photobooth strips as a form of self-portraits. while with a photobooth there is arguably no photographer (which is also part of my intrigue around jon rafman’s 9-eyes project on google street view) the subject remains the one who chooses how to pose, how to frame – albeit with very strict limitations. meags work plays with that quite well by creating her own environments, and it’s definitely a challenge i’d like to take on one day myself.

and how could i end this post without sharing some of my favourite photobooth strips with friends?

photobooth strips all taken in the quinte mall between 2000 and 2004 (except for the one of me and alex, i think that was taken in a gananoque mall in kingston?)

photobooth strips all taken in the quinte mall between 2000 and 2004 (except for the one of me and alex, i think that was taken in a gananoque mall in kingston?)

salima and julia in a photobooth on coney island, august 2009sves+julia amber and julia

salima and julia in a photobooth on coney island, august 2009. sves & myself, february 2012 in montreal. me and amber (who uses an adorable black & white strip for her website banner) in montreal in may 2011. perhaps when andi comes to visit in the fall it will be a better excuse than any to go on a photobooth date?

here’s to the photobooth strips of yesterday, and the ones to come.

i’d love to see yours: share them in the comments!



Filed under personal, self-portraits