Thursday, 21 November 2013

R&S: The Sexy Shero!

I hate short dresses. To each our own, but I just don't get it y'all! Whenever I walk the dress rides up so high my booty is all kinds of out. Even when my legs are closed there is this insistent gap between the dress and my legs, where no matter how hard I try my underwear (or crotch) always manages to show. And since I don't shave I am greeted by turned up noses and frowning faces at my hairy parts. In my experience, mini dresses have shown me no love. I just don't feel sexy in them despite how hard I have tried to convince myself in the past. I could just shake a rage fist and curse the mini dresses' ambivalence towards my feelings, or go Shero!

I bought this red mini dress about four years ago and took it around the track twice. Both times I wore it I was absolutely mortified! I felt so self conscious and hideous that I had a hard time actually enjoying myself. Why did I buy it? Well, because I thought that this is what I had to do to be 'sexy', but why did being 'sexy' feel so bad? And despite my distaste towards this dress I just couldn't bring myself throw it away, why? Because I am a crafty hoar[der] that's why. So this hate-hate relationship carried on for years where this dress that I swore to never wear again sat in my closet waiting, inevitably, in vain. Until the other day! After a contemplative face off with this dress, I decided that I really wanted to make it into something that I would actually wear! So after bit of altering and some shoddy work on the sewing machine this is what I came up with! A jumper fit for a Shero!


If anything I have learned that while I am still a horader, recycling and saving has also provided me with the opportunity to make things that are better suited to my bootylicious body and has enabled me to take charge of my own sexiness instead of trying to fit my body into what really doesn't work for me. Like a Shero I save myself from unnecessarily feeling like a hot heap of dog mess.

Yeah, I totally transform into a bootylicious crafty hoar supershero after dark.

Smiles :)
Tuly Maimouna

p.s. I would post the how-to for this, but I am so embarrassed of my tailoring skills that I wouldn't dare. They are far from impressive, and are just good enough to get the job done.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ukinzani: Universal Soldier

My Symbol of Identity
I move fluidly and rigidly in and between defined lines, I am. Aspects of my identity do not move in a linear motion existing parallel to once another, but they encompass each other, bleeding into one another, all while feeding off of each others experiences. They can not function individually, but consistently contradict one another through their interactions both internally and externally. I was told I am black, I am learning that I am east African, I am trying to be human & I am embracing my sexuality as a universal soldier. But the hybridity of my layered existence has been challenging. I am trying to find a place where my contradictions can live simultaneously in harmony & peace. But which aspect of me comes first and which one is last? Well I was born as a human, I have lived as a visible black womyn all of my life, I became east African through working toward reconstructing my blackness and I am acknowledging that I have always been a universal soldier...that being the chronological order. More and more I have been thinking, do we create a hierarchy within ourselves where we relate more closely with other parts of ourselves than we do with the rest? And what facilitates the 'orderliness' of identity?

I have spent a lot of my life attempting to function on solely one level of my identity and it has sadly denied me from entirely experiencing myself. In intentionally refusing select aspects of my identity to fulfill the needs of another, I have been lying to myself and instilling a sense of falsehood in my existence and longing for who I want to be. I have come to learn that sometimes the contraction is intentional, for safety purposes. In hopes of blending in and actively avoiding confrontation and conversations which I did not at the time have the language, supports, courage or space to engage in. But that false sense of safety has been no compensation for the shame I have carried for years around my race, ethnicity and universality.

So let us start from the begin assuming the chronological order. I grew up in a white town, and other than my immediate and extended family my everyday life consisted of mostly in engaging with white people.

I remember being at school playing in the school yard and a kid stepped to me and said 'hey, do you know what a ABK is?' I said 'No..' she replied 'an African Butt Kisser!' so I told on the witch, and the teacher made us play together. The threat and discomfort of white people in addressing racism coupled with the ease of brushing it off because we are children, as many other encounters of isms it went unaddressed.

I remember always feeling so angry when other classmates assumed poverty with my ethnicity, and at age 10 having to carry the onus of challenging that alone without the support from teachers or peers.

I remember having  a family party at my house and inviting two of my closet friends, they left my house went down the street to eat food that was 'normal', on a another occasion someone threw up after smelling the food being cooked.

I remember riding my scooter with one of my only friends of colour growing up, and running into one of my closet friends at age 12. She stepped to me with three other white kids and said 'we don't like smelly Africans, do you know what we do to them?' She held up a plastic water bottle a filled with a yellow liquid and opened it. With a sly smile, and affirming laughter from the other kids she continued 'We pour dirty toilet water on them'. She proceeded to pour the water on my head. And as the piss water poured down my face I burst into tears not knowing what had prompted someone who I considered my friend to do such a thing. I was convinced it must have been the fact that I was a dirty African and not that she was racist.

I was absolutely brokenhearted and devastated to hear a childhood friend of mine tell me after over 10 years of friendship that 'growing up we made you feel welcome!' hastily suggesting that I did not belong in that space. 

More recently I was so disappointed having a friend of 13 years refer to me to her white friends as her 'black friend'.

This has been my experience of the ethno/racial aspects of my identity with non-racialized people. As I got older and I started having more black friends I realized that there was an ethnic divide, that even to this day the black 'community' does not address. In being black I was forced to subvert my 'Africanness'. I am choosing to call this my doubled otherness, because not only was I a visible minority among whites, I was also an ethnic minority among blacks. I remember not wanting to carry the food I love and ate at home, and recall being absolutely terrified to talk about my heritage, because it was always understood to be located in a backward, weird, ugly, smelly, desolate, or undesirable place in the world. So for a long time I only assumed a black identity to subvert my ethnicity in hope of to escape being associated with its distorted ideologies.

In accepting my universality I have also chosen to deny myself in identifying my sexuality. In naming who I claim to be within the limiting lables of  sexual identity I become overwhelmed with the inability & space to be anything else. Trapped.  In naming my sexuality I force myself into a rigid place that assumes an unshifting set of desires. In indulging or admitting to the fluctuation of my desires I lose respect from my peers for engaging in them, and through that I somehow delegitimize my sexuality. Then there is the intersection of my universality and my 'Africanness', which at this point I would rather not talk about in depth because I intentionally keep them separate. I can not risk losing support of my extended family, relationships I have for so long been detached from for reasons of physical distance and circumstance, and have grown to value these relationships beyond anything. In this case I also face losing my connections to east Africa and it becomes meaningless a geographical space. For it is not the geographical area that matters, but the connections established with the people who live there that solidifies my attachment to the space. And in growing up as a black person in Canada there has always been the assumption that I do not belong, so If I lose my east African ties then where will I belong? So yet again I find myself having to revert to safety tactics of subverting, prioritizing and lying about my identity to keep a sense of belonging within a 'community' and family that is supposed to act as a support mechanism...simply because if I am rejected then who else will I turn to? My experiences again become void, false and undesirable. I am left floating between who I really am and who I claim to be.

I beg, please disagree with me. The intersections and the complexities of our identities are lived out differently for many reasons not limited to; where we physically are located, how we situate and adapt our selves within that location, how others experience us and we them...and so on. The process of learning and unlearning who I am has proven to me to be circular, I have had to revisit who I was to deepen my understanding of who I believe I am today. My identity contradiction arises from searching and longing for a space to belong. They lie within who I claim myself to be internally and the way it is manifested externally through my identities interaction with everyday life. The challenges in finding this space is heightened by feeling like I have to exist on a parallel level where my identities can not intersectIn my experience, the hierarchy and prioritizing of my identity is deeply influenced by where I am located, and how that identity will be understood externally. Currently, I am searching for a space where I simply just am a hybrid being...if such a place exists...

To end with a quick quote I heard a brilliant mind once share that is constantly on my mind, 'complex not complicated'

Smiles :)
Tuly Maimouna

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Crafty Hoar(ders) Paradise: Winter Head Wrap

This is what happens when hoarders get crafty...or when crafters are hoarders? Which ever, but I yet again have to admit to my hoarding habits. I had had this bag covered in beads sitting in my room that I hadn't used for years and it was funking with my mental vibe for sometime so I had to get rid of it. The clutter has seriously been killing me! Whats worse is even when I manage to throw shit away I somehow get new shit to replace the old shit. I'm over it!  I just need a clear space to have a clear mind. So this project signifies the throwing away of that bag, and subsequently all the other trash in my space.This is a milestone in my life and is a move away from hoarding and finally reclaiming my paradise for myself, and not my stuff. 

I stitched this up last year and forgot to post it. It looks like a mini scarf, but you wrap it on your head instead of your neck! I used some scrap yarn from another project & snatched up this wooden bead off that bag I finally threw away. It is used to button together the two ends of this winter head wrap at the back.

Me probably cutting my eyes @ that bag

Winter Head Wrap!
Double crochet stitch
              I think I am going to start calling myself a crafty hoar, just for the fun of it. 

Smiles :)

Tuly Maimouna

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

R&S: Condom Earrings!

Ever since I was in high school I have been stacked with condoms. I used to keep them in my locker at school and give them out to students when they asked. And despite some peoples total delusion and denial toward young people and sex, there was (and still is) a really positive response to being able to get them in a judgement free way. I have stood out on streets giving out condoms, distributed them at events, parades, house parties, given boxes as house warming gifts to university students, birthday presents, carried bags of them across the world to friends who didn't have any, I even collect condoms from different conferences & places I have been in the world. In short condoms have kind of always been a part of my life both sexually and non-sexually.

Recently I decided that condoms can be, and should be jewelry! This came about as a solution for expired condoms. Condoms should never be used after their expiry date! So I can’t very well give them to people, as the latex from which they are made has more than likely deteriorated making them more susceptible to breakage…ultimately defeating the purpose of using them.

I have worked in several AIDS service organizations (ASO) & community health centers (CHC) and I have seen more condoms thrown in the garbage than I care to acknowledge. So when I was looking through my distribution stash at home for expired condoms, I just couldn't bring myself to throw them all in the trash! So as a recycle & save project (R&S) I decided to re-purpose condoms in a way that they do not have to strictly be used for sexual experiences. They can be used to make a statement, start conversations, or normalize condom carrying in non-threatening, and more importantly fashionable way! They are really easy to make, do not require many materials and since condom packages come in all kinds of fancy colours and designs now a days you can seriously have a lot of inexpensive fun with this! 


1. Assemble materials
2. Poke a hole at the top of condom package
3. Use needle nose pliers to open jump ring
4. insert jump into into hole in condom package
5. Use jewelry cutter to cut desired length of link chain
6. attach cut link chain to jump ring and close
7. Open bottom of fishhook attachment with pliers to attach to unattached end of link chain
8. close bottom of fishhook attachment
Thats it!

even my plants <3 condoms!

xcited about condoms

My approach to sexual health isn't to bombard people with information in a fear mongering way, but to make it fun and accessible. If someone on the street sees me wearing these earrings and it gets them thinking or talking with their social networks then I think that is one step closer to challenging the shame & silence that has so far been of no help.

If you live in the Toronto, Ontario area here are a few places you can get FREE condoms and FREE HIV rapid tests. You do not need to have a health card or be referred to access these services!

West Toronto:
8 Taber Road

Phone: (416) 744-0066

Jane Street Clinic
662 Jane Street

Phone: (416) 338-7272

Crossways Clinic

2340 Dundas Street West

Phone: (416) 392-0999

Central Toronto:
The Talk Shop
5110 Yonge Street

Phone: (416) 338-7000
66 Gerrard St E
Work: 416 922-0566
168 Bathurst Street

(416) 703-8482

                         Women's Health in Women's Hands                          

2 Carlton Street, Suite 500


East Toronto:

Scarborough Sexual Health Clinic
180 Borough Drive

Phone: (416) 338-7438

Very Important Note: Do not poke holes into condoms you want to use for sex...

Smiles :)
Tuly Maimouna