I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

October 2013 Book Review

October was the month for hits and misses-some books were fabulous and some books were absolutely awful!
Graceling was the book my feminist book club picked out for October and it was fabulous!  It’s the first book of a trilogy and I will definitely read the other two.  I so enjoyed watching the tale unfold that I will actually try not to spoil the story too much for you.  It is the story of Katsa who was born with the grace, which is like a special talent, for killing and fighting.  She meets the prince Po, who become friends and together leave to save his cousin Bitterblue from the clutches of King Leck.  The book is a feminist allegory, which makes it a delight to read, in my opinion.  My book club thought King Randa represents the patriarchy in the way that he controls Katsa in the beginning of the book and I think they’re right, but I also think King Leck could also represent the patriarchy, but I won’t say why, because that would spoil too much of the book.  (Look at that, me being all nice!)  I fell in love with the book on page 79 when Po and Katsa fight together-they are both graced in fighting and so they fight as equals.  I wrote down in my notes that it was, “satisfying and refreshing” and that was how I felt reading the whole book.  It was refreshing to see a relationship between a man and a woman where they viewed each other as equals.  It was refreshing and satisfying for the male to be the one in the sensitive, more emotional role and the female to be more impulsive.  Po, the male, was the one who appreciated beauty.  I thought the book was very effective in teaching feminist lessons to teens, much more effective than probably a scholarly lecture ever would be.  Probably the most effective lesson taught was that every woman should know self-defense and it really would have been appropriate for my book club to have ended the night by looking up a self-defense class.  In fact, as I write that, I realize that that is still not bad idea.  It is a sad fact that we live in an extremely dangerous world and one way to not let the patriarchy have power over us is to feel more confident about our ability to defend ourselves.  I’ve felt a little intimidated about signing up for a self-defense class before but after reading Graceling I realized that that is a very foolish way to live and I just might sign up for the next class that comes along and that, my friends, is how you write an effective feminist book!  Towards the end, the book even brings up the point that one can have a disability and still be a whole person, which is incredibly progressive and lovely.  I cried a little when I finished the book, which was only unfortunate, because I was at Starbucks.


This one was a complete miss!  DO NOT buy it or even borrow it from the library!  My nutritionist recommended that I read some books on the subject of mindful eating and she said that any book that was on a certain website would probably be good.   I picked this book out, because it was available at the library, but apparently that was not a good enough reason.  Mindful eating is a practice that I believe in, but like all practices there are those practitioners who err on all or nothing thinking.  Jan Chozen Bays is one of those people and my nutritionist and I agreed that she seems fanatical and extreme.  The first time I tried to read the book it majorly triggered me and brought out my perfectionist tendencies.  Fortunately, the second time I started to read it I realized that the problem was hers and not mine.  I say that because while in mindful eating a person is supposed to ask themselves how hungry they are before and after they eat, Bays wants a person to ask themselves how hungry they are in seven different ways before they eat!  That is ridiculous!  That is perfectionistic!  And for someone who claims that they are going to have a person rediscover a healthy and joyful relationship with food-what she is suggesting seems awfully obsessive and eating disorder-y and I cannot support that.  I expressed my concerns to my nutritionist and was quite relieved that she agreed with me and even apologized she had somewhat encouraged me to read that book.  There was only one point she made that I liked and that she replaces the stigmatizing term “emotional eating” with “heart hunger” and says that it is okay in moderation-that while we cannot eat enough to fill the hole inside if what we are yearning for is really comfort, love, affection, or touch, but we should take care to listen to our hearts and what it is really hungry for-does it long for a food that reminds you of home?  Then mindfully eat it.  Does it need a hug?  Then hug a friend or stuffed animal.  (By the way, I got most of this from the blog, A Weight Lifted – I still wouldn’t read the book.)


I only very, very cautiously recommend this book.   I found this book also on the mindful eating website and yes, the book is on mindful eating, but it was not the type of book that my nutritionist wanted me to read about, but about being conscious of where your food comes from and whether it was treated/raised ethically or not.  Once I realized that I was a little annoyed, but it was a subject that I was already interested in, so I continued reading.  I found Jane Goodall to be presumptuous and classist and arrogant, which sadly, did not surprise me too much.  It did make me very sad though, because I have always been fascinated by her work with animals.  She made great points and I recommend it, because it really did convince me to change some of my habits.  I only cautiously recommend it though, because the graphic explanations about the violence towards animals could be triggering to people and her classist attitude may be more than some are willing to read.  For instance, she is vegetarian and even though she would repeatedly talk about ethical ways to eat meat, she almost always would follow it up with some form of comment about how it would still be better to be vegetarian.   There were subtle and some not-so-subtle classist digs all over the book.  I nearly threw the book down in disgust when she showed a picture of a nameless fat boy eating a big sandwich over the words similar to, “the obesity crisis is happening to our children.”  The nerve, she didn’t even let the kid keep his own name, but took away his agency and turned him into a symbolic fat child.  I think that is incredibly, incredibly disgusting and dehumanizing behavior.  So yes, read it to learn about where your food comes from and then write a letter to Jane Goodall expressing what was so problematic with her book from a humanistic standpoint. (Please let me be clear-I still enormously admire Jane Goodall, I just think she is out of touch with the common person and especially with the problems of poor people.)


I love good children’s books and am in the process of reading all the books I should have read as a child.  My mom says that I did read the book and that I didn’t like it then, but I don’t remember that at all.  I find it hard to believe, considering that I do remember that I liked the 1988 movie.  I found the book fascinating, especially since the book was written in the 1940s.  Pippi is great!  Okay, so sometimes she seems a little bratty to my adult sensibilities, but overall she’s fabulous.  I love that she has superhuman strength, stands up to bullies, and thinks outside the box.  There’s no princess-girlie crap, but a strong girl descended from pirates who can take care of herself, which makes her appeal to both boys and girls and a strong role model.  Pippi is very sure of herself, which is very nice in this age where I feel like girls are constantly pressured to please everyone else and so do not have the foundations for strong and stable self- images.  I also liked that there were several passages where the children (Pippi spends a lot of time with her two next-door-neighbors) are so full from eating that they lie down, satisfied in being stuffed.  There can hardly be any better measure of perfect childhood than that!  It’s not that we shouldn’t teach our children about mindful eating and listening to our bodies, but I think in our anxious, body-conscious culture we often go too far.  Most little girls are not happy with their bodies.  From the National Eating Disorders Association website, “81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat” and that was way back in 1991-unfortunately, I’m sure it’s gotten worse.  That is why the thin-girlie-princess motif needs to go and the strong girls like Pippi need to come back-and why the fat acceptance movement is so important!  Fat ain’t something to fear, it’s a part of our body and I shouldn’t have had to find that out in an inpatient unit, sick with ED-NOS.   Also, I hope you followed the author's link-it turns out that in her later life, she became an awesome activist speaking out on issues related to economics, ethical treatment of animals, and against corporal punishment for children. Speaking out for others is another lesson that our children should learn.
A Great Picture of Astrid Lindgren

Link Love:
RD Magazine-"Flipping the Script" to Win Gays Back to the Evangelical Church
If God declares that it is not good for the human being to be alone, if God says we should have a partner who fulfils us, then surely condemning gay people to lives of singleness and celibacy opposes divine will. (Amy-Jill Levine)

 What do you have to say to naysayers out there who say things like "Stop being so sensitive!" and "It's just a word!" 
I have no interest in addressing them. My energy is limited—I am raising a kid, I have a job, I write, I have a life. My energy is for moving the conversation forward with whoever I think can help me. The reality—the word is a reflection of how we view "these people." That is true whether someone means that when they use the word or not.This sounds very grand but my goal is to help change the world in favor of people like my son. I cannot be pulled down by people who want to plant their flag on saving a hateful word.

This is a pivotal time in LGBT history, one in which transgender people need our support. The outdated bigotry we see on TV, particularly on some of CBS’ comedies, gets in the way of progress for everyone.

Why does tagging someone as “probably queer” automatically mean that if they’re dating someone of the opposite gender, they’re deceiving themselves or flat-out lying?

I can remember being in Oklahoma amongst a lot of different tribal people when I was in junior college and Thanksgiving was coming around and I couldn’t come home—it was too far and too expensive—and people were talking about, Thanksgiving, and, yeah, the Indians! And I said, yeah, we’re the Wampanoags. They didn’t know! We’re not even taught what kind of Indians, Hopefully, in the future, at least for Americans, we do need to get a lot brighter about other people.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Still Remember...On Forgiveness and Mental Hospitals


"I still remember..." every condescending remark or insensitive joke that a staff member made while I was inpatient or outpatient at a mental health hospital.  Fortunately, there haven't been too incredibly many, but what with how sensitive I was feeling at the time due to my illnesses and due to the enormous stigma, especially during the time when I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, every remark was like rubbing salt on a wound.  One of my biggest resentments that I've had to work on was on forgiving staff members for less than stellar treatment and it has taken many therapy sessions until I finally believed that hospital staff are people too and so are prone to mistakes just like everybody else.

Being in the hospital is tough, tougher than "regular" people will ever know.  There is stigma that follows it, sometimes even inside it, and each time a person comes out, while hopefully there are improvements in the person's well-being, there is usually some kind of emotional damage also.  It's sad, but true.

Of course, different treatment centers will do better and worse at handling this, but in any case, as long as our society stigmatizes mental illness so much, going to any hospital will remain a traumatizing experience.  That is why it is so important for staff to be on their best behavior and to always try to treat their patients with respect and care.  I think it should be mandatory for all mental hospitals to require all staff, even doctors, to complete periodic sensitivity training where they would practice putting themselves in the patient's shoes and imagining what it would be like to live in a world that still considers mental illness to mean one is lazy or "crazy."  In my ideal world, staff would get better pay and vacation time to help prevent burnout.  I believe a hospital that values its workers values its patients.

I wish there was a way that I could go back in time and talk to my sickest self and try to convince her not to hold a grudge, not so much that she could be a better person, but so that she could have a freer mind.  That is something that I have learned in recovery: forgiveness is something we do for ourselves to liberate ourselves from personal bondage.  Deep, isn't it?  Think on it for a while.  The first time I heard that it really changed my life.  I've also learned that forgiveness, acceptance, and letting go is something that I have to do over and over again.

I will always remember those caustic jokes and remarks, but now they no longer cause me any suffering-they are now a reminder to be kinder to the people I meet and to myself.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Most Embarrassing Mania - It Gets Better

Today's prompt asks me what my most embarrassing moment since being diagnosed and I would say that it would be the times when I have not been able to stop talking during periods of mania.

I have bipolar II. Fortunately, my symptoms are pretty well managed now with medication and a regular sleep schedule, but this was not always so.  Bipolar II does not have the kind of mania that you hear about in the news or that makes for a good, dramatic movie-instead, it has hypomania, which gives you a nice kind of energy that can be quite beneficial.  Hypomania can be great, especially for someone who has periods of depression, because it gives one productive motivation and energy.  I've even had doctors that try to keep people with bipolar II at a slightly hypomanic state, so that they will be able to stay productive and motivated, instead of depressed and avoidant.

 I've often heard people that only know what depression is like remark that they wish they could experience mania.  I can understand why they would wish that, but there is a misconception among people that have not experienced it that mania is all roses and happy times and it is not.  At its best, hypomania makes one productive and motivated, but go a little past that and one is uncomfortably restless and talkative, with energy that embarrassingly cannot be stopped.  I can remember several manic incidents where I embarrassed myself and while they are funny now that they are over, they are a good reminder to others that no mental illness is to be envied.  

My Two Most Embarrassing Manic Moments:

I had many struggles with mood swings at Berry College, as that was when I was first diagnosed and so I was not on the right medication, had enough therapy, or knew how to take proper care of my body.  Plus, college is stressful.

1. There was the time when I first started working at food service and I was working with a guy who was very quiet-I had a mood swing and could not shut-up.  I had nothing of value to say to him, so I just kept on introducing myself ("Hello, My name is K.C.Jones, Hello, My name is K.C.Jones, Hello..." you get the point), which I knew was a stupid thing to do and so I felt very embarrassed-self-awareness was always the worst part of mania for me.  Fortunately, when I later told him how ridiculous I realized I had sounded, he said that it was fine, he thought it was funny, and he still liked being my friend.  From that time forward, I realized that it is better to be a embarrassingly talkative hypomanic than an irritable one.

2. There was another time when I started talking in rhyme-this is actually a common symptom of mania!  I remember I kept on calling this guy, who I didn't know very well, "kangaroo with a didgeridoo!" and laughing hysterically. And I had seen him play a didgeridoo a few days before, so I wasn't completely out of it, but he avoided me after that.  I still don't think he had a good sense of humor...

Many years later when I was attending a different college, I had a short bout of hypomania where I started talking really fast, laughing louder than usual, and rhyming a little bit again return.  Fortunately, I realized what was happening a lot sooner and as soon as I did I left the area. That way, I could be alone and wait out the mania until the potential for embarrassment passed.   I also immediately called my doctor and made an appointment to see what could be done medication-wise.  Regular hypomania is nice, but talking in rhyme is closer to true mania than I'd like to be.

That's what experience has taught me-a return of symptoms doesn't have to mean the end of the world.  If I notice a return of troubling symptoms, I call my therapist, make an appointment with my doctor, and talk to my sponsor or a close friend if need be.  Then I wait it out.  I use my DBT skills. I didn't always believe it to be true, but all things do in fact pass, even mania, and even embarrassment.

Link Love:


11 Indispensable Life Lessons Every Woman Can Learn From 'Anne Of Green Gables'


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who Do I Follow?

Wego Health has declared November National Health Blog Post Month, with topics for us healthcare activists to write about every day.  I have not been participating, because many of the topics have been repeats from past years, but I will put more effort into writing about them.  Today's topic is what social media people and sites do I most follow?  The last time I did this topic was in April, so some of these sources will be repeats, but there will be some new ones too!  The sources are grouped by topic.

Borderline

Healing from BPD This is a blog written by Debbie Corso, a young woman who is in recovery from BPD.  She is a wonderful success story, because by practicing dialectical behavior therapy for two years, she no longer has the diagnosis of BPD.  Her articles are about using DBT skills and you can even purchase two books that she has written on the subject.  Her blog post, An Open Letter from Those of Us with BPD is a must read for loved ones that want to understand more about BPD.  My mom read it and she said it was very helpful.  Her website also has a good list of BPD resources.  I find Debbie Corso to be incredibly inspirational and a great writer!

My Recovery from BPD - Another DBT blog by a person in recovery from BPD!  Aeshe is a trans woman and a sexuality educator, who writes practical tips about using DBT. 

Schizophrenia

Overcoming Schizophrenia - This is a blog written by my friend Ashley Simpson.  She also has an inspirational story, because even though she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in prison, she now is an advocate with her own nonprofit spreading the word that people with schizophrenia can lead a successful and productive life.

Suicidal No More: Choosing to Live with Schizoaffective Disorder - Jen Daisybee writes about how hard it is to live with a schizoaffective disorder and trauma that isn't completely controlled by medications and yet she continues to put one foot in front of the other.  I find that inspiring too.

Fat Acceptance

Dances with Fat - Fat acceptance has helped me come to terms with my body and accept other's bodies.  It has helped me become a much, much kinder and compassionate person all around and I strongly urge everyone to become familiar with the fat acceptance movement no matter your size.  Sadly, many of my favorite fat acceptance blogs are no longer being produced, but at least Ragen Chastain still writes.

Feminism

Shakesville - This is the go-to blog for all feminists.

This Ain't Livin - S.E. Smith is a great writer and doesn't always write about the usual topics.

The Crunk Feminist Collective - This is a great site on feminism and how it pertains to race and pop culture.  Sometimes they even talk at Charis Books and More in Atlanta, although I have yet to see one of their talks-I'll make it, one of these days!

Mental Health Spirituality

The Beautiful Mind Blog - This is written by my friend, Monica A Coleman, a theologian who also sometimes struggles with depression.  She's the one who introduced me to process theology and I love her writing on spirituality and mental health.

The Naked Pastor - David Hayward used to be a pastor and now he writes biting Christian political cartoons.  He also developed his own online spiritual community called The Lasting Supper.

Those are just a few of the blogs that I frequent - have fun and let me know your favorite blogs in the comments section below!

Link Love:




A report released by the Defense Department earlier this year estimated that more than 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and assault occurred in 2012. In at least half of these cases, female survivors indicated they did not report the crime because they feared nothing would be done. What’s even more alarming is that in the first three quarters of the current fiscal year, the rate of sexual assaults has increased by nearly 46 percent over the same period last year. The problem has gotten worse, not better

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Removing Stigmatizing Language Part III: Heeding Godde's Call to "Holy Adventure"

Growing up, my dream was to be a concert pianist and then to be an opera star-I was going to be The Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute!

I took both piano and voice lessons and I was well on my way when emotionally unsafe collegiate surroundings triggered my already misfiring neurons to cause me to fall victim to severe mental illness.  Did I fall sick with severe mental illness, because Godde needed a way to put me on the right path?!

 Not my Godde, because my Godde is not one who manipulates!

 Instead, I believe that Godde mourned with me when we realized that I was too sick for performance art. (Eventually I will get around to reading my copy of God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse by Slajov Zizak and Boris Gunjevic, which I believe will shed some light on this topic.) And so, my Godde gently urged me towards other doors that might be more beneficial and more loving to myself and others as we dealt with this new information.  I do not believe in a Godde that is omniscient, but rather is wise and full of compassion.  A "wise" person is humble and knows they do not have the answers to life and so Sophia, I believe, is the same-She humbly lifts us up when we feel we have failed, She grieves with us, and yet reminds us of who we are-Her loving children, perpetually loved and called on to better ways of being.

As both Godde and I worked on accepting my situation, Godde continued to urge me towards different callings.  Since my Godde is not a manipulator, She has to continually present me with different opportunities as my life changes for me to choose.  Did I misinterpret previous God's Call?  No, but my circumstances in life changed as they do for us all.  Besides, at the core of this Mystery, what does Godde really call for us to do anyway, but "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8)  That's it.  That's all.  It is up to us to trust our intuition and grab on and hold on and believe that whatever the next right thing we tried to do was following Godde's Call for us at the time whether it works out or not.

When I realized that I am too anxious to perform without music I felt resentful and cheated for a long time.  "Why has Godde given me mental illness when it disrupts pursuing my passion?" I would cry inside.  Gradually I came to realize that I wanted to use music to help people and believed my Call was to become a music therapist and work with the elderly-most likely as an activities coordinator at a nursing home.

  How cheated and like a failure I felt when my mental illness caused me to have to quit music therapy school!!!  

But my Godde is a Godde of Redemption and I realized that when I started to see ways in which my schooling helped me in life after all.  Imagine my surprise when I was informed that I did not even need a degree to be an activities coordinator at most places and that my two years of music therapy school were an advantage, not a hindrance to my dream!  Now I am looking for a job as an activities assistant and I plan to work my way up to that of an activity director of a nursing home-at least that is my dream, my following of Godde's call in my life today.

But my journey with mental illness has shown me that that plan may need to be changed as soon as tomorrow.  If it does, is it because I did not have a good grasp of Godde's Calling before?  My Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) training urges me to get out of that all or nothing thinking pattern and move instead into a faith where I embrace the fact that there are no sure answers, that Godde's Holy Wisdom in all of Her glory offers me not a comfort based on surety, but based on the knowledge that we are loved and that we are Enough. I can have a new calling without debasing, degrading or invalidating the old one.  They are both true, for they were and are both the legitimate responses of the Divine to my circumstances at the time and in the present.

Let us be willing to let go of our need to label and instead dive into Godde's Mysterious Power and trust that as long as we do the next right thing, then we are where we are supposed to be-in serenity co-creating with Godde.   I will leave you with these words from Bruce Epperly's book, Holy Adventure:
Divine wisdom called each one of us into existence and invites us to choose our own adventures as the world unfolds in surprising ways each new day.  Our everyday lives are part of a multibillion-year cosmic adventure that is still evolving in our ongoing partnerships with the Holy Adventure that we call God" (9).

Removing Stigmatizing Language Part II: God's Will

There is Christian language that can be deeply problematic and I believe needs to be re-examined too.  I am thinking of the language of "God's Will" or "Call," which is so often heard in recovery twelve-step groups and in traditional churches.  

I don't believe in a God of manipulation, but it can be hard to stay true to that belief when the language of manipulation is used so often in our Christian culture-or when a perfectly open word like "call" is used to passively aggressively manipulate us into fear.  

I believe that God calls us to be a people that seek justice and follow the way of loving kindness.  

What that means is then up to us.  In short, all I believe is that Godde calls us to do "the next right thing."  Is that generic and vague?  Yes.  The statement is purposely so, because our Godde is a Godde who lives in the Mystery and we must step in the Mystery to meet Her.  We state that Godde's "ways are mysterious," but then state that we must be absolutely, fully sure of Godde's Intricate Will or Call for us.  I say that is B.S.  We can never be certain of anything in this life except for a few simple truths.  Some of mine are that God is Love and that following the Call of Divine Love is never a wrong choice, even if it does not turn out as we had planned. 

 What are some of yours?

The popular doctrine of trying to be so sure about the specifics of a "Call" is a doctrine centered, it seems to me, on fear and Bruce Epperly in his book Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living agrees.  On the back of his book it says, "You've probably heard it before: God has a plan for your life, and it's up to you to discover it, or you may miss out on God's will for you."  Isn't that thought terrifying?  At least in the American South, it's a common thought process when hearing words like call or God's will. Even though I don't believe in that sentiment, I still find myself worrying sometimes over whether I have missed my one chance to please or fulfill Godde's plan for myself. Fortunately the next line then states: "Bruce Epperly counteracts this idea, asserting that God invites us to companions with the divine in creating our future."    

An affirmation I came up with that really helps me when I feel the anxiety rising about Godde's Will and possible missed opportunities is that "I believe in a Godde of second chances!" 

We think that if we can just figure out exactly what Godde wants us to do, then we can be safe in the security of knowing that everything will work out, but that just is not so.  People follow the call of Godde all the time and then something horrible happens and they must change their course and they must figure out next where God is calling them to be.

Those who grow up in the church know that the pressure to know the call of God for sure is the ultimate worst for the person who gets "called" to ministry.  What if we were a little more compassionate with ourselves and this need to know God's Call?    

This is an extreme example, but say a person who felt called to ministry got cancer during their schooling or during their career and had to stop in order to take care of their physical and mental health, would we say that Godde must not have really been calling them to the ministry in the first place?  What if they died?  (Like we all will one day...)  Some people would actually say yes, but I hope you would agree with me that no, horrible changes in life happen to us even when we are doing everything right.  I have had callings interrupted by my mental illness, but after much thought I do not think that my diagnosis and need to change plans made them a calling any less.

Just because we are following Godde's Call does not mean that everything will work out, even though we are following the correct call.  Why?  The flippant answer is that life is unfair.  Another, wiser answer is that the only thing constant in this life is change.  To quote Octavia E. Butler in her book Parable of the Sower, "God is Change."  

My Godde continually urges me to follow a better way, the way of Self-Love and Lovingkindness towards others and this better way changes as our relationship with Godde changes and as our own needs change with each new life circumstance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Removing Stigmatizing Language Part I: Mainstream Media and Mental Health Stigma

My family subscribes to Reader's Digest and the caption on their November 2013 cover makes me very sad.
"Are you normal or nuts? Your quirks, dreams, anxieties explained."

And then a few days ago I watched a Mike and Molly episode in a which a character's possible mental illness was horribly made fun of.  I am sure that Molly was called "nuts" or something very similar. 

Both of these things are recent evidences of how far we still have to go in our society towards removing stigmatizing language.  

Calling someone "nuts" is stigmatizing, because it others them, draws upon their natural reservoirs of shame and fear, and makes it hard for those that are already struggling with those feelings of shame and guilt that often follow mental illness that much harder to seek help and treatment.  How are we, those with mental illness, supposed to trust a world that considers us "nuts?"

Link Love: 

This ain’t livin’ - REDEMPTION AS A PRIMARILY MALE JOURNEY

Making good on past harm should be about the here and now, rather than the possibility of an afterlife, though. And it should be about the general balance of good in the world rather than your personal benefit; apologies, and addressing your harm in the face, aren’t about deriving a personal reward but rather about breaking down harmful structures and admitting your complicity in them. Themes of redemption and atonement often don’t touch upon this in pop culture. It’s about the character’s personal journey and characterisation, about who the character is and will be rather than about society at large.


Rick’s models were college-age American women, coming from four different step dance teams. Owens invited the women to Paris to help him express his personal aesthetic – and his commitment to nontraditional beauty, confidence and power.