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"Every time I’ve had to barricade myself in a bathroom, I feel the space between my body and my femininity... grow wider and wider."

5.12.2017

Thank God for the internet and for the people who share their art on it. I think I first found out about Toronto artist Hana Shafi's work when someone I followed on Instagram reposted this piece of hers:
Clear

My immediate thought was, "I have to embroider this!" And I still probably will someday, though someone beat me to it. So I started following Hana's art Instagram account and I have NOT regretted it. Her affirmation pieces occupy like, a third of my screenshots I keep on my phone to look at when I need to feel better about myself or my life.

The plan is to someday purchase a number of the affirmations in some form off her Redbubble page, and collage them in my home where I can't miss them. Maybe the inside of my front door or something.

Hana not only makes awesome art, she also writes. She wrote an entry for Hazlitt called "You Can't Have Diarrhea Around a Beauty Queen" about living as a woman with IBS. Much like the one-of-a-kind Meaty by Samantha Irby, Hana's article gives voice to social and personal complications of struggling with a disability that the patriarchy (and our culture entwined with it) will tell you is as unfeminine as you can get. Living with chronic bowel-related illnesses and defects is, so often, isolating and confidence-crushing.
I’ve grappled with this feeling of powerlessness, and ugliness. I’ve felt the distance between me and my body and femininity, while people are knocking on the bathroom door asking what’s taking so long. I’ve struggled with those ugly days—not ugly because my hair and makeup was off, but because the growl of my stomach tainted my whole ensemble.
 And the point of the article is to reaffirm that while "beautiful girls do poop," knowing this when you're doing great is one thing, but knowing it in the midst of an accident/episode/searching desperately for a public restroom is very different.
Femininity, outside of a patriarchal mode of thinking, is an abstract idea, which means that health issues shouldn’t detract from our sense of womanhood. While I’ve always seen my IBS as this massive contradiction to my femininity, I’ve also realized that this contrast only exists because I’ve allowed someone else’s definition of femininity to define my own. Women’s bodies are constantly being defined and debated for them. 
What constitutes a “good body” is a set of ideals, often washed over with a facade of so-called morality, chosen by everyone but us—by male politicians, by corporations, by online trolls, etc. I know all of this, but in the midst of an IBS flare-up, when I’m all by myself in some dingy bathroom, I find myself wondering: is my body a “good body”?
I don't have Crohn's or IBS, or any lower GI tract disorder. My own moments of wondering if my body is a 'good body' come from complications with my Spina Bifida, complications I've dealt with since I first learned to walk and talk. Loving and being kind to my body and self isn't always easy, but Hana's words and affirmations certainly help.



And then this last one isn't necessarily an affirmation, but I FUCKING LOVE IT.