Garçonnière is Pregnant


7 months pregnant on the Plains of Abraham. Photo by Amélie Laurence Fortin

I’m pregnant. In fact, as I write this, I am very pregnant. 41 weeks to be precise. To say that I am looking forward to meeting this baby is an understatement, and I am suppressing every exclamation mark, every all caps, every desire to underline and bold these words. I haven’t written about it much online, but given that baby is proving to be pretty happy in utero and in no rush to come out, I have a bit more time on my hands than I expected. This means an unexpected (perhaps temporary) revival of this dormant blog with some outfit photos.

I feel like I’ve forgotten how to “blog,” or rather, how people blog has changed so much in the two+ years I’ve stopped posting here, so I’m channelling the early ‘oughts and going back to how we used to share outfit photos in the early Internet days – think newestwrinkle or thriftwhore on livejournal, or dailywear on Flickr.


Before we get to the eye-candy, some caveats. I have been reticent to write about this for many reasons, namely because I have been overwhelmed by the massive amounts of judgemental, condescending information out there targeted at pregnant people and every element of their pregnancy. What to eat, what not to eat, how to feel, what is normal, and of course what to wear and how one should look. In my experience, the multiplicity of experiences that the women I know who have been pregnant is hardly reflected at all online, even if it has changed a bit with blogs and message boards.

Do not consider this a “what to wear while pregnant” guide by any stretch of the imagination. Wear whatever the fuck you want while pregnant! That’s about all the advice I have to offer.


A tag that reads “Service prénatal Colette Québec”

There are a lot of things I’ve really loved about getting dressed while pregnant: namely, it gave me a reason to revive my thrifting, which had all but come to a halt. It’s the first time my body has dramatically changed in shape or size in over a decade, and I love the thrill of the “hunt.” Plus, thrifting for maternity clothes meant I also started checking the racks of baby clothes… and I have found some phenomenal little vintage baby outfits, quilts, and toys while looking for clothes for myself.

That said, I shouldn’t have been surprised to leave so many stores and websites… angry. Angry at the high cost of modern mainstream maternity wear, angry at the lack of ethically or locally-made options, and angry at the fact that I often fit into the largest size available. Every person’s body changes differently while pregnant, which is why I have been baffled by chain stores like Thyme Maternity whose salespeople claim certain pieces will last you your “entire pregnancy.” I’m also angered that the few pieces of modern maternity wear I did buy was overpriced, made in shitty conditions, and not made to last at all. Not to mention sizing – I’ve been wearing their XL pants for my last trimester, and I’m a 12. XL is their largest size. Where does that leave anyone bigger than me? What a joke. And do not get this dress-wearing tall person started on maternity tights.

A smiling pregnant woman looks at the camera as her sleepy partner hugs her and places his hand on her belly.

But let’s get to the good stuff! I’ve broken down my outfits into eras, all an approximation based on what I could gander from tags and styles and the little bit of information out there. 

I promise this doesn’t mean à l’allure garçonnière is necessarily becoming a Mom Blog! If you want to follow more of my pregnancy-related and baby-related content, I’ve been sharing a lot on Instagram and a bit on Pinterest.

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Filed under maternity, Uncategorized, vintage

2015: Year in Review

The round rear-view mirror of a 1963 Mercury Meteor

This year everything changed. The way I write, the way I think, the way I see the world. I say this with authority partly due to the fact that I spent the better part of the last week of 2015 going through all of the photos I took this year, and that’s what they tell me now. What struck me most was how few of them I had even looked at again since I first took them.

Which leads to my next big 2015 change: I purchased a smart phone mid-year, which completely changed the way I communicate with my loved ones and altered my relationship to the Internet. It changed the way I take photos (IN SHORT: I take far more pictures, far less interesting ones, and never take the time to delete/edit). It wasn’t until I started searching for online traces and hints of what my life was like this past year, how I recorded the year in photographs or words, that I realized I hadn’t shared much; hardly anything at all. In all of 2015, I posted two photographs of myself to Tumblr. I posted in my livejournal account 6 times. Twitter, suprisingly, was the space that most reflected my realities, my ups and downs, mon quotidien en 2015.

This winter was the longest, with record-breaking cold snaps. This summer was the antidote, a joyful sun-filled summer which I celebrated from June 21st through ’til September 21st, fully. The digital documents reflect that: I took twice as many photos in the month of June as I did in the entire preceding five months. #calmdownparty was my mantra, and Instagram was the place where I shared selfies of my shadow, the view from our 1963 Mercury Meteor, the moments I chose to relish in after a winter and spring filled with (useless) anger and stress.

I did not leave the country once, after years filled with at least one plane trip and many, many long drives. I embraced my membership in the stay home club, socializing almost exclusively on my own terms. I made few new friends, but cherish the ones I did. I tried to not spend too much time pining for the wonderful friends I have across Canada/the world and instead made plans to see them. Montreal, 3 hours west of my home, 3 hours closer to many people I love, became a place of reunions in 2015. Travellers from Ottawa, Petawawa, Aurora, Seattle converged there.

Professionally, I accomplished things that would have seemed outlandish and absurd to me even just a year ago. Simultaneously, I dealt with the reality of an institution I love being slowly – and often, not so slowly – chipped away at. I cried a lot. I tried to channel my anger into productivity (keyword: tried), and learned to accept things as they were, and more importantly, slowly learned to let go. I thought of escape routes, but didn’t take action. I adjusted.

I indulged myself. Said fuck it, decided *I earned it* instead of steeping in old guilt-soaked habits. I became harsher, more demanding, of myself but more importantly of others. Ten years ago these thoughts and actions would have been unheard of. I think this could use some softening but overall I think this has been an evolution in the right direction.

Things will change even more in 2016, which I will only allude to in vague terms because that’s how I roll these days. I am fucking excited.

You know the drill: here’s a selection of key moments, readings, and music I experienced or enjoyed throughout the year. Since there are so many, you’ll often find a broken link or two, so please let me know if you encounter one. If you’re feelin’ like woah, holy shit Julia, that’s a lot of links, can you select just a handful for me? Check out the entirely bolded selections. Recommended readings in italics are audio/radio. Without further ado:


01 - jan

  • I can’t remember much.
  • Was blown away by Selma.
  • Was sick, read this book in 3 days.
  • Discovered and became obsessed with Geneviève Castrée, her art, her music.
  • Hosted/produced a one-hour radio show.
  • Read a lot.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Ô Paon – Fleuve


02 - feb

  • Maddy invited me to be a part of Femina Ridens, one of the best things I decided to do in 2015.
  • Simon et moi, nous avons tenu salon.
  • Played with robots at Mois Multi.
  • Started reading Sontag’s diaries.
  • My eyelashes froze.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker the Berry

War on Women


03 - march

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best

Laura Marling – Short Movie

Young Marble Giants – Brand New Life


04 - april

  • CBC cuts, again. They never get easier.
  • By virtue, got sadder. Saw people lose their jobs. Lost mine, but ended up replacing other people. Hard.
  • Mourned the loss of Taueret.
  • Had a nervous breakdown.
  • Did some pretty nice journalism with some cool kids.
  • Was angry about racism in America, in Canada.
  • Was sad about movie theatres/drive-ins closing.
  • Saw my friend Jaime, too briefly.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Fiver – Dayton

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell


05 - may-edit

  • Bare legs! The snow finally left!
  • Turned a corner emotionally, work wise.
  • Rewarded myself by surviving winter 2015 with the most gorgeous, wonderful bicycle. First new bike of MY LIFE!
  • Discovered No Better than Apples, the best zine I’ve come across in years.
  • Went to see DEERHOOF at the FIMAV and cannot put it into words how fucking awesome that was.
  • My best friend Karina got married! It was amazing! I was the officiant! We spent a whole week together beforehand!
  • Montreal was a nice distraction but I was still sad, as you can tell in these photobooths.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Yamantaka/Sonic Titan – Hoshi Neko

Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj – Feelin’ Myself

Adult Mom – Survival



  • Lilacs, love and laziness

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Frazey Ford – Done

Leon Bridges – Coming Home

The Weather Station – The Way It Is, The Way it Could Be


07 - july

  • Did my final arts report, a weekly look at contemporary art across Quebec, which was my favourite journalism/what I think I am/was best at. I think I’m the only one who misses it, though.
  • Interviewed Douglas Coupland which was fun
  • The aforementioned cuts slowly came into effect.
  • Said some goodbyes, and good riddance.
  • Saw Future Islands/Operators and Owen Pallet. Samuel Herring is a BEAST. Amazing dancing.
  • Spent every weekend in the summer sun, dodging thunderstorms.
  • Lost my glasses while swimming in a river.
  • Simon bought a 1976 Dodge Tradesman camper van. She is named Nuage. She has her own hashtag.
  • We went on a 10-day roadtrip through Quebec and Ontario, with nice stays in Prince Edward County and good quality family time.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: A Tribe Called Red and Buffy Ste. Marie – Working For the Government

Rihanna – Bitch Betta Have My Money


08 - august

  • Saw belugas, whales and seals. For real. I gasped aloud.
  • Met up with Iris and Duncan in Montreal
  • Admired sunsets, skies, clouds, late night bike rides.
  • Hosted the morning show I’ve been working for for nearly 5 years. Did it for a whole week. Surprised myself.
  • Was sad to hear of the untimely death of Svetlana Boym
  • Was the happiest I had been in a long time.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats – I Need Never Get Old

Hell You Talmbout featuring Janelle Monáe, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, and George 2.0.


09 - Sept

  • Went swimming in rivers, lakes, in September.
  • Saw Garbageface on the last super hot day of the year.
  • Read a lot of poetry.
  • Tried to adjust to big changes at work.

Recommended reading:

 On repeat: Katie Moore – Fooled by the Fun


10 - oct

  • Was “diagnosed” with stage 3 burnout. Started working 4 day weeks. That ended up lasting… a month. And didn’t change much.
  • Went to see Roxane Gay in Montreal with Rachel.
  • Rachel made her cookies. They were amazing. We gave them to her. She loved them.
  • Elections elections elections all the feelings thank god its over.
  • Started contributing to Songs You Need to Hear, stretched my writing muscles.
  • The world lost Chantal Akerman.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: The Burning Hell – Fuck the Government, I Love You

Laura Sauvage – You’ve Changed

Lianne LaHavas’ Tiny Desk Concert


10 - october

  • Shared joyful news.
  • Took a much-needed break from Facebook.
  • Visited my family in Petawawa.
  • Contributed to this.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Steve Lambke – Days of Heaven


12 - dec

  • My friend Steph came back to Quebec City briefly, after spending most of the year in Chile. So good to have a friend in the city.
  • Really enjoyed Spotlight, which featured one of the best representations of a female journalist I’ve ever seen onscreen (which is kind of fucking sad)
  • Maddy came to Quebec City!
  • I took time off (aka demanded, insisted) during the holidays for the 1st time in FIVE YEARS.
  • Celebrated by 30th birthday.
  • Contributed to this.

Recommended reading:

On repeat: Arlt – Deableries

Anna B. Savage

C’est tout. Maybe I’ll have more to share in this space in 2016. Thanks for reading.

[url=][img][/img][/url][url=]Grange fest, août 2015-21.jpg[/url] by [url=]Simon Dumas[/url], on Flickr


Filed under Uncategorized

2014: Year in Review

Phew. This one’s a doozy.

Some standout things from 2014: I travelled more than I ever have before – a trip to Copenhagen in the spring, Gaspé in the summer, and Paris in the fall. I also spent more time alone in my own city, and think I got better at finding the joy in that.

I saw three of my all-time favourite artists – Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Knife, St. Vincent – and enjoyed each performance in different ways. I was reinvigorated by live music in a way I hadn’t been in years. It felt good.

As I noted earlier, I also spent far less time online. I’ve pretty much stopped talking outfit photos altogether – which may not sound like such a big deal, but this is coming from someone who used to faithfully contribute to #ootd groups, almost daily, for months. That takes dedication and diligence! It’s just not my thing anymore.

Now for the nitty gritty. If you’re a longtime reader, you know how this goes. If not, it’s pretty straightforward: scroll to see 12 pictures of my face, accompanied by a brief summary of what went on in my life that month, paired with recommended reading/listening.

If you’re new here, here’s 2013 – 2012 – 2011.

I put three stars next to the pieces I find ***Flawless.


A woman wearing glasses looks upwards. A banner painted on the wall reads FEMME, which means woman in French but also femme as in queer as in gay ;)

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Sylvan Esso – Coffee


A selfie of the author wearing a Doctorak t-shirt that is a punk design of Deleuze and Guattari

  • Mourned the loss of Stuart Hall, revisited some of my foundational texts/artworks
  • Was pretty shaken up by the murder of Loretta Saunders
  • Was pretty enraged by Woody Allen apologists

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover) by Benoit Pioulard and The Body Electric by Hurray for the Riff Raff


A selfie taken in my living room, with the opening credits from Věra Chytilová's 1966 film Sedmikrásky

A selfie taken in my living room, with the opening credits from Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Sedmikrásky

  • Vera Chitlova died. Rewatched her films.
  • Went to meet up with best friend Morgan in Copenhagen
  • Went to see Angel Olsen together ❤
  • Started using Instagram
  • Was pretty overwhelmed by stories of murdered and missing Indigenous women across Canada
  • Loved the resistance online that took shape in the form of #sealfies

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Perfect Pussy (also listen to this interview with the Arcade, so good!)


The author posing at Le Knock-Out on Record Store Day 2014 with her copy of Singer Songer by Michael Feuerstack

  • Saw and loved Come Worry With Us!
  • Was completely obsessed with Nathanael’s Sisyphus, Outdone.: Theatres of the Catastrophal like nobody’s business
  • Made a short film
  • Wanted the endless winter to end

Recommended Reading

On Repeat: Babylon by SZA (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – We Fuckin’ Rule by By Divine Right – Real Thing by tUnE-yArDs



Recommended Reading

On repeat: Sharon Van Etten – Are We There (and for most of 2014) – Sylvan Esso – S/T – Downtown Boys


  • Fell back in love with my bike. Adventured.
  • Celebrated summer! Swimming! Outside!

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Habit by Ought



  • Biked to Wendake! (which is like 50 km aka impressive for me)
  • Went to see a lot of great live music – namely St. Vincent
  • Wrote this.
  • Thought a lot about this photograph, about violence. Read too much Sontag.

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Shinedoe feat. Karin Dreijer – Discourse My New Romance



  • Took care of myself by taking a summer vacation for the first time in 4 years. Summer! Vacation!
  • My heart broke for Tina Fontaine. Then again for Michael Brown.
  • Thought a lot about smashing the state. Read a lot to keep the bad feelings at bay.

Recommended Reading:

On repeat: Lauryn Hill – Black Rage


Julia posing next to her 1963 Mercury Meteor

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Ibeyi – River

Mirel Wagner – No Death

Tanya Tagaq – Animism

Jennifer Castle – Pink City


A film photograph taken of the author in CImetière St. Matthews in Quebec City

  • No getting around it, October was a no-good awful month.
  • Only good things I can think of include reading Men Explain Things To Me, loved it, wanted to lend it to everyone right away.
  • Left the country and the dread and joined my love in Paris.

Recommended Reading

On repeat: Grouper – Ruins – Ruth – Polaroid Roman Photo



  • Found the joy in solitude
  • Saw Mike Brodie’s photographs in Paris
  • Thought about Retheah Parsons.
  • Was infuriated by Eric Garner’s murderer going free, listened to the outragerelated to this.
  • Saw Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band I had wanted to see for over a decade.
  • Felt mostly like there were so many things to be angry about.

Recommended Reading:

On repeat: The Weather Station – What Am I Going to do with Everything I Know



  • Won small successes at work
  • Relished in compliments
  • Started working on some long-term projects I have high hopes for in 2015

Recommended Reading:

On repeat: Seasons Change (Waiting on You) – Future Islands (Badbadnotgood reinterpretation)

Michael Feuerstack – Clackity Clack

julia-sunset summer-meteor-2014

Happy New Year.


Filed under Uncategorized

2014: Standing out from the pack

I reminisce that I was once a novelty. A novelty, at least, when it came to the fact that I shared my life on the Internet. I remember, over a decade ago, being the only person with a digital camera at a party in our parent’s basement. I remember the MSN messenger noises that would ping when people asked me when I was going to share the photos they saw me took, the ones they posed for. And I remember Photobucket (or shutterfly, or snapfish, or whatever now defunct photo hosting website I used at the time) crashing from the traffic. The dozen or so teenagers wanting to laugh at the digital photos I had taken only hours earlier, emailing them to the people who weren’t there, look at this, the novelty of the instantaneousness of the thing.

I also remember my sisters asking me after having read my blog, “how can you share so much of yourself with strangers?” The concerned voice of my parents, the emails from strangers about the audaciousness of it all. It felt harmless for the most part, but so good, too.

A screenshot of an old blog description, an awkwardly written teenage biography. The text shows broken links and broken image links.

Re-reading those dead blogs now, I can remember the feelings even more vividly, as the heat of embarrassment fades from my face. Fuck, it felt brash, it felt good, it felt original to a certain extent. And it felt necessary.

Things have shifted since then. For me, and for the Internet. Since 2010, at least, I have been joking about being the last of my friends (my generation? insert relevant emoji here) to not have a smart phone, and this remains true today. In recent years, I decided I didn’t want to swim in The Stream, as it had been dubbed. An apt term in many ways, but I often imagined it more as tsunami than a peaceful babbling brook.

I used to blame these factors – no cell phone, nostalgic almost luddite-leaning tendencies – for the disconnect. How maddening it is for me to try and understand virality as a measure of merit or quality, the thinkpieces… if you could call such thoughtless things something with the word think in the title, the megaphones for the masses which instead of fostering fruitful discussions often felt like a cacophony of idiocy. I would find solace in the idea that maybe I just didn’t “get it” because the Beast of the Internet had grown and evolved so much, and because my online habits, in many ways, hadn’t. I worried that maybe I had become the curmudgeon, shaking his fist at a screen because it didn’t reflect him, his face, his ideas, his values or beliefs.

A bright red megaphone emiting cursors (representing clicks) on a yellow background

Image by Oliver Munday for the New Yorker

Whereas I once felt like I was the first of my IRL friends to be on X platform (myspace, friendster come to mind), now I feel late to the party. Late to a party I wasn’t invited to, yet still I often found myself feeling beholden, obliged.

I didn’t like where I saw the Internet going, how I saw it being transformed as a tool. But I’m hardly above it all, and had grown so dependent.

So I shifted. I put my guard up. I succumbed, in many ways, to what is expected of online behaviour. I resisted in others. I typed out – and swiftly deleted – status updates about food or cats or overly emotional moments (positive and negative). I shared fewer and fewer of the thousands of photographs I take.

Instead, I put on an online game face. A mostly faceless online game face, really.

This is what I read, what I liked.

This is an image that strikes me, that I want to reblog.

This is a song that moves me, here are the lyrics (I needed this, I often say).

Here, here is a like or heart or a favourite to let you know I am reading, I am watching, I am here.


2014 is easily the year I shared the least of myself online. The fewest photographs, the lowest word count, the least personal. I measure this idea, this “sharing” of myself online, mostly in the public sense – the things I shared open and accessible to anyone who wants to see them. But the same could be said of the amount of emails sent, photos shared within smaller, more personal networks. (I was shocked to find I had only uploaded 36 photos from the year on Flickr, and those, namely for a dear friend who lives halfway across the country and doesn’t use Facebook.)

A screenshot of open tabs on a Google Chrome browser

This is the one thing that stands out to me, that creates a gulf, a rift, between all the other years I’ve stepped back from and taken the time to reflected on online. The lack. How hard it is to piece it all together, to map it out.

In past years, every December, I would spend hours poring over old livejournal or blogger entries, back when I used to write in my livejournal at least once (ONCE!) a day. It was a simple one stop shop for me. Not today. Today it is five or six tabs open, it is instagram/twitter/tumblr/facebook/soundcloud/etc. It is work email accounts, it is split personalities. Livejournal instead feels like a graveyard now. Mine, filled with the names of friends I no longer know, photographs of old lovers, the corpses of questions I asked myself, I asked out loud that have since been answered. In this, I am not alone. It has felt like a graveyard to many twenty somethings for more than half a decade now, so much so that we often joke about it on newer social media platforms, using hashtags, a tool that did not exist back when we used to email each other invite codes to create our very own novelty livejournal accounts.

These are among the multitude of things that struck me as I tried to map out 2014.

No, these feeling of not being able to/not wanting to keep up are not new.

But the feeling of repetitiveness, of sameness, of lost novelty, is.

A film still from Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times (1936) showing Chaplin's character stuck in the gears of a giant machine

Sometimes I feel complicit. Complicit in the self-serving navel-gazing break-neck speed at which the Internet whirrs these days. The term “digital native” has dropped out of view but I think of how it felt like me, like a key aspect of my identity even though I’m not technically part of that generation. Sometimes I step back and look at the long term impact of the way the Internet has changed the way we communicate, the way we work, and how we are paid for that work. And when I do, I feel like I’m part of the machine, the same machine mocked by these satirical pieces.

I find solace in the way Jes Skolnik puts their finger on it here, articulating some of my apprehensions:

I am exhausted by clickbait media seeking to capitalize on the frustration of the marginalized by churning out thinkpieces (by often-terribly-paid freelancers, the labor exploitation of which is its own thing and has been elegantly written about by many; it is a seriously complicated issue, as any labor issue is, particularly in this economic context) which we are urged to share over and over until the next incident happens and then we share and share until we forget about the last thing and nothing gets solved. It is only reactive, only consumer-based (see: why talking about what cultural product is or isn’t feminist is exhausting too) and very little structural inequity often gets challenged.

Hearing someone else say it feels like a weight off my shoulders.

These reflections were all spurred on by the daunting task that has been looming these past few weeks: tomorrow’s year in review, recommended reading, which songs I was listening to. This ends up being more of a digital version of a diary, a filtered one but very diary-esque in spirit. This is what happened, these were the images and sounds and ideas I consumed, but this is how I felt, this is who I was, as well.

Selectively filtering through, pinpointing the things I want to remember and hold on to. Even though the links will die, the digital platforms they are hosted on will decay. Unendingly nostalgic Julia wants to remember, reminisce, before things have even ended/happened.

A screencap of the author's old livejournal account

What was new about 2014? What did I learn that I didn’t know before? At this distance, my nose still pressed against the glass, my head groggy from lack of sleep, it all feels like a foggy mess. When moments do come into view, when I look at images of police officers wearing shirts that read “I can breathe” – oblivious to the physical and psychological violence they enact – when I read about the most underreported horrors of the year… it all feels the same. Déjà-vu broken record cliché as fuck the same. The propaganda machine, distractify, how the social media sites feel even more effective at the spin of it all than old posters and radio broadcasts. The world is an awful place but a place where I have to live just the same. The sameness.

It makes me angry that the same issues, the same stories, the same dead bodies are the ones that stand out to me about this year. In August, I tweeted that this essay “broke my heart and haunted my dreams.” Sometimes I feel like that’s what the world did to me this year. By the same token, though, I rediscovered rage. The power of it, the empowerment of it. Rage expressed in music with voices like Perfect Pussy, New Fries, Run the Jewels. Rage expressed in art, in a rambling email to your best friend, in an essay you boldly share with millions of strangers on the Internet.

It’s all a balance, right?

Earlier this week, Nathan Jurgenson tweeted this which put some of this mess in perspective:

In my own attempt at slowing the blur, focusing in, some truths have emerged. In 2014, I shared very little of myself online – representations of my visual self. But I did not become cold. I was more frank face to face than I have been in years. I shared, I tried to amplify who was saying it better than I could. I was more intentional. I tried to take more time. I spoke less, I listened more. That’s really not so bad when you look at it.

A self-portrait of the author taken in a mirror. A half-dozen old alarm clocks are in the foreground.

Hopefully reading this, and tomorrow’s year in review, will make you feel like the world has slowed down just a bit.


Filed under digital/online culture, personal, Uncategorized

We don’t want your summer music festival fashion tips

I like music. I enjoy live music. I go to see concerts. I’ve been to more than a few music festivals over the years.

I’m also pretty stylish and interested in fashion.

So why is it that every music festival related fashion story makes my blood boil? Why are they all so soaked in vacuous sexist assumptions? Why does every “festival fashion round-up” present a very limited spectrum of body types, and tend to be overwhelmingly female?

I’m thinking about this now because it’s the summer and it is everywhere. Osheaga is kicking off this weekend in Montreal, and here’s just a sampling of headlines:

Link after link, are we really encouraging women and girls to think more about what they look like than about the experience of enjoying music performed live? For real? I’m not surprised by fashion brands hopping on the “female music fan” bandwagon when festival season comes around, but I am dismayed by the tone employed by so many fashion writers.

This isn’t even about telling women how to dress – I really could go on and on about how impractical many of the suggested “looks” are, but that’s not what this is about. For years, I’ve been ranting about the ridiculousness of white girls wearing headdresses (from Halloween costumes to music festival “accessory”) and more recently bindis. But now that it seems we’re slowly starting to be on the same page (see link above) about how shitty those “music festival fashion choices” are, now I’m reminded of the bullshit female music fans have to put up with any time they decide to go to shell out hard-earned cash to go to a music festival.

First things first: you do not have to gender this shit.

If you’re hell-bent on taking photographs of fans at music festivals, include dudes. Better yet, try and reflect the crowd in your selection of 5-10 outfit photos. Are fashion writers, photographers, even considering about how they are representing communities by only highlighting a handful of conventionally attractive tall skinny white girls in their round-ups? The ever-amazing Jes Skolnik mentionned how fat people are rarely ever featured earlier this summer, and it has really stayed with me.

Yearly reminder to festival fashion photographers to include some fatties in your roundups. We, too, look cute as shit (and we have to work harder at it because of how society views chubby/fat bodies as inherently slobby). modernistwitch

But there’s something more that gets under my skin about these “festival fashion round-ups”: it’s one of the exceedingly rare mainstream moments where I see women represented as music fans, included as part of the conversation as music lovers. Why does it have to be all flower crowns and denim cut-offs?

Perhaps it’s because I feel these issues are so conflated with other sexist bullshit that permeates the music industry. Underscored by experiences I’ve had as a teenager who started going to punk rock shows at 15, 16, and never really wondering why I wanted to dress like the boys, meld in with the boys, to be seen as anything other than a girl. Because I knew what being seen as a girl could mean. Maybe it’s because I’ve been, and I’ve known many other young women, who have been sexually harassed at shows. Maybe it’s because I took to wearing steel-toed boots, not because of how they looked, but because it made me feel like I had a weapon on my feet if the wrong guy decided to touch me the wrong way, again and again, in the mosh pit. Maybe it’s because I’ve overheard one too many bro dudes tell me how the band on stage is “pretty good… for a girl band.” Maybe it’s because I’ve read one too many concert review which spilled far more ink on how a female performer was dressed rather than how she played her instrument, how she sang her songs, how she connected with the crowd.

Now that I’m older I care less. I care less about what people might assume about me, about my knowledge of bands because I don’t wear band t-shirts, because I don’t look like I would have band x in my record collection. I care less, mainly because of the people I surround myself with. I’ve made really great friends – hell, I even met the love of my life in line for a concert I impulsively went to by myself. Because it’s easy to make friends when you’re there because you genuinely want to be there. I don’t go to music festivals to socialize, to impress strangers, I go to enjoy live music, to support the artists who tour their butts off, and to have fun.

A selfie of the writer, garconniere, on her way to see Sylvan Esso in Montreal on June 18, 2014

Just last month, I ended up at the wrong venue in a city I still manage to get lost in even though I’ve visited more than a dozen times. Instead of at La Tulipe to go see Sylvan Esso and tUnE-yArDs, I ended up faced by a long line of mostly tall lanky long-haired white dudes dressed in all black. The clock was ticking and I realized I was at the wrong venue, but briefly debated going to see Xiu Xiu and Swans instead. As I was getting my bearings, I overheard one of the men in the crowd say “Someone’s lost.” It might have had nothing to do with how I was dressed. It probably had more to do with the bewildered, slightly frantic look on my face as the feeling of being lost sunk in. But it felt like a jab. It felt like a judgement, an assumption about what kind of music I would go to see live… because I was a girl in a dress.

It was a reminder, though, that even though I don’t particularly care, I’m lucky because I don’t have to care. I’m privileged not just because of my size and gender, my confidence and my friends, but because of where I live. Because the music scene I’m a part of in Quebec City is really exceptional. Because the music scene I used to be a part of in Peterborough was pretty awesome too. Because I don’t have to worry about being harassed or touched without permission in a concert crowd. Because there are festivals and off-shoots run by badass people who think about gender diversity in their programming, on their stages, and in their crowds. Because my record store is co-owned by a cool couple who never make me feel like they are judging me when I go up to the cash register with my choices.

Photograph of crowd at Festival OFF

Photograph by Maryon Desjardins

I found myself reflecting on that privilege I have after I saw this photograph Maryon Desjardins took of me, as Viet Cong wrapped up their set at Festival OFF. I didn’t know there was a camera there. I didn’t know someone had taken a photograph. And when I saw it, I loved seeing the look on my face. Remembering the feeling of that long drawn out song, the jangling guitars, the intensity of the room. Remembering that I went to this show by myself, who cares, because I wanted to see good live music and it was so fucking good and you can see how good I thought it was because I’m there, in the moment. And it was a reminder that I live in a place where I’m lucky enough to do that without worrying about what people might think of what I’m wearing, or far more importantly, worrying about my physical safety.

It strikes me more when I’m online, when I see these click-bait garbage lists over and over. It makes me worry about the young girl I used to be, the young people not entirely unlike the person I used to be, insecure and thirsting for community, for something to give them a sense of purpose, peppered in small towns around the world. It makes me worry about the young people whose access to music and the communities that build around them are limited or filtered by what they can find online. I worry they might think there’s only one way of looking like a music fan, and it involves wasting your money on destructive fast fashion.

Can we stop this ridiculously reductive way of speaking to young female music fans? I want to be part of a music scene that fosters, encourages, and creates spaces for young women, for diversity, for accessibility, for safe spaces. No one should be left feeling like they have something to prove. I shouldn’t envy the experiences of so many of my straight male friends who get to go to shows, be as enthused or unenthused as they want to be, without wondering if people are making assumptions about their knowledge or taste in music based solely on their gender or race or size or style.

Why waste our time with these stupid lists every festival season; let’s invest our time in more worthwhile battles. What are some of the festivals with the highest rates of gender diversity on stages and in the crowds? How do we create cultures at music festivals where we are working to prevent harassment, rape, and offering resources and support to people who find themselves in unsafe situations? What are some of the music festivals that make diversity part of their mandate? What are some of the most wheelchair accessible outdoor music festivals in the world? Who are the singers, the activists, the guitarists pushing for fostering creative spaces for growth and expression through music, like rock camp for girls? How do we empower young music fans to create the kind of music scenes they want to be a part of, instead of encouraging them to spend money on clothes for a 3-day music festival that will hopefully be more memorable because of the amazing music you got to hear?

So thank you to the people who smash this shit down on the daily. Thanks to the people writing about the latent sexism present in a plethora of music scenes. Fuck your condescending capitalist bullshit disguised as festival fashion tips. I’ll save my money for the merch table instead of your shitty magazine.




Filed under music, personal