You’re Only Happy When I Lie
When I started my cosplay page, I did it putting my identity front and center. Not my politics, my IDENTITY, as in all the ways I define myself along with all the ways people choose to define me. My reason was simple – this society likes to fragment our identities and identifiers into things that make it easy to ignore the shit they don’t like. That way they never have to confront the fullness of who there are and how their choices impact others. We live in a society that thrives on feel-good marketing where we tap into the shit the makes you feel good and then funnel it to you directly again and again and again so that you stay distracted by feeling good and don’t worry about the awful shit we do to make you feel good.
It’s so effective that few people give a fuck about the sweatshops that get you your $12 t-shirt or the children murdered for you engagement ring or cell phone. In fact, great marketing keeps that shit hidden so you never have to deal with guilt, accountability, or shame for the ways you contribute to and promote exploitation and murder.
When I developed my website and my page, I decided to keep that shit firmly front and center. So, when you rock with me, you rock with my anxiety, anger, sadness, shame, as well as my joy and sense of accomplishment. You experience my struggle and my ease. You get to see behind the curtain and muck around in the fuckshit as I’m working through it. And you get to sit in the unresolved muck when there aren’t any straightforward answers, which is often. While there are things that make life easier, there are a ton of things that are not easy. Standing up for yourself and owning your shit are two of them.
I refuse to make it easy for people to deny aspects of my humanity. I refuse to make it fucking convenient for people to compartmentalize me and keep the “easy” parts. You don’t get to reshape me into the image of who you think I should be. When you rock with me, you rock with the complicated and sometimes contradictory realities of what it is to live in this world. You get to see the shit that helps and the shit that hurts. You also get to learn a lot about yourself cuz something I say or do is going to speak to the hidden aspects of your segmented and compartmentalized life and causes you to pull some shit out that you thought you’d dealt with.
I make people uncomfortable because I sit in the truth of me and it exposes the lie of you.
Virtually every dead artist you admire lived complicated and difficult lives because they either didn’t or couldn’t segment themselves to be palatable for people. Everyone loves the art but refuses the humanity of the artist. Because embracing the humanity of people requires accepting a perspective that not only may you never understand, but you cannot rewrite to be about you. You’ll try, cuz centering yourself in someone else’s narrative is the reality of the now. We strip ourselves of all the things that make us real and then share that curated version with the world, a curated version that is easy to rewrite and revise until it becomes everything to everyone, and you are just the face of an ever-mutating identity that means nothing. And you do it by choice because for some, it’s a way of life and for others it’s a way to survive.
In real life, I wear a mask to survive. Online, I wear a mask to be real. They spill over into each other constantly because both are always me. Online I share the responses I can’t always give to keep my job. Online, I share the stories that are my reality. I share the lessons and the turmoil. I share how shit affects me and how I deal with it. I am so aware of people’s motives and shifting power dynamics and I talk about that. I talk about what it means to be a fat, Black womxn, vocal and visible. I talk about my journey as I keep deciding whether I want to keep doing this and the emotional cost that is part of this choice.
And yes, there are people who just want me to post pictures of my cosplay and nothing else. Just like there are people who want me to talk about social justice and nothing else. People want me to teach them how to stop being racist or they want me to teach them how to customize a cosplay. Some days I do none of that and others I do all of that, but the key part is that I decide. I decide what I say or do and how I say or do it. Regardless of what you want to see, you get to see what I decide to show you and you get to see the great, the awful, and everything in between. While it is curated for privacy, it is not curated to minimize my humanity and that’s not debatable.
So if you don’t like that I talk about misogynoir, you can deal or you can bounce. If you don’t like the shit I say about white people, same deal. If you got issues with my refusal to co-sign on diet culture, or my willingness to speak on racism while in an interracial relationship, you can roll out, too.
I am a fat, Black womxn living in a white, sizeist, patriarchal supremacist society. My life is messy and complicated and full of unexpected fuckshit. I share it unapologetically and if you don’t like it, it’s really none of my business so feel free to keep it that way.
Happy 2019, y’all. It’s gonna be a fun one.
If you appreciate or learned from this essay, please feel free to compensate me by contributing to my Paypal. You can contribute any amount you want at any time: https://www.paypal.me/TaLynnKel
If you like my work, you can support me by subscribing to my Patreon which is a monthly payment that helps support my creative efforts and labor. Every tier gives you some behind the scenes content and the $10 tier lets you see work that will probably never be publicly released.