Vloggers may often veer towards the more annoying, less informative side of the net, but nestled amongst the sea of haul videos and bad Paramore covers is Celia Edell, a philosophy graduate with an A* fashion sense, who’s feminist vlogs exploring issues ranging from anxiety to make up as an art form rack up over 20,000 views. Her Tumblr inbox may be closed, but that’s not to say you can’t contact her for help. Acting as Polyesters resident agony aunt, Celia will be answering all your woes on a bi-monthly basis.
My boyfriend is a lovely feminist man. We both call each other out when we notice we’re being problematic, and take it very well. However, when I begin a discussion with someone else on how they’re problematic he doesn’t try to help me out at all. When his roommate was being a sexist pig he would rather say nothing than confront him, even though it infuriates me. I feel like he would rather run away from a problem then actually try to change things. I also feel like he should have my back when I am calling someone out, but that is not the case. What should I do? Can I do anything?
It’s truly great that you have an open dialogue with your boyfriend about feminist issues. If he usually responds well to being called out, hopefully he will react similarly when you talk to him about this. I think what you should do is tell him that this bothers you. Explain that because he is a man, his alliance to feminism carries different responsibilities from what he might think. To be an ally is to constantly align yourself with the struggles that do not directly affect you, while remaining outside of the center of the debate, (to make room for those who are affected). In this context, it means taking the responsibility of bringing feminism into his space of privilege. So you should tell him that if he identifies as a feminist or feminist ally, he must not expect a place within feminism, but rather to bring his feminism into the space he already occupies in the world. This means calling out his roommate on his sexist bullshit. It means talking to his friends about feminist issues that come up. It also means taking your discomfort in his silence as an indication of how to do better. I wish you the best!
It’s a great chance to write you knowing that you will answer. Firstly, I want to say sorry. Because I’m not an English speaker and that’s why something will be hilarious for you, for example my mistakes and stupid sentences. As I know you are very confident in yourself. And I really want to become confident in myself too… But it’s really difficult. When I see myself in the mirror …I don’t like myself. I can’t imagine what my boyfriend likes on me. And why he is still beside me. Sometimes I think that I look stupid. That my jeans in the mirror are perfect but when somebody takes a photo of me…I look like such a weirdo. And all my fears…all my disasters is this “fear of myself”. I’m afraid that my boyfriend will dump me because he will find a girl who is better and more confident…or her jeans will be perf…just kidding…But yeah! How to be a real girl without fears… How to be me. And how wear jeans which suit me well? And how not to lose my boyfriend? Too much questions…well…I think that’s all.
Thank you very much for such opportunity.
No need to apologize, I understood your question perfectly (I hope)! The media constantly informs us that confidence is beautiful and beauty is important while undermining any attempt to be confident in ourselves just as we are, in order to sell us products to make ourselves ‘better’. With that in mind, the key to becoming more confident is to recognize that you will not always feel like your jeans fit perfect or that you look good in a candid photo – there will always be moments of insecurity and that is entirely normal and healthy. Instead of focusing on those moments though, try to remember that perfection is not the best end-goal. You are beautiful because you are unique, and you are clearly smart and funny and a bunch of other great qualities that are more important and lasting than beauty. Your boyfriend likes you because you are you, not because you are perfect. Perfection is boring, and more importantly it’s unattainable. Focus on becoming more secure in your spirit – whatever it is that makes you feel most like yourself – and you will feel less afraid of unflattering photos. Work on loving yourself in your flaws, which means accepting that some days that will feel impossible. But you are worthy of self-love, and it is the only authentic path to confidence. Lastly, on the road to loving yourself, please do make it about yourself, not your boyfriend – relationships can come and go but you are stuck with yourself forever!
All my best
Hi agony aunt Celia,
I have recently come to the conclusion that I want to rid toxic people from my life. It’s been a slow realization over a year or so. I am also very, very unwilling to hurt people. I will put others’ feelings before my own happiness. But I’ve recently been more willing to hurt others if need be. If it hurts others for me to “do me” so be it, and I don’t know how to not feel guilty. I have progressed in my ability to do what I want or what’s best for me, but the guilt is still overwhelming and it makes me anxious. If you were in a position where you had to cut off ‘friends’, in order to feel safe and more like yourself again, or who you want to be, what do you think would be the best way? And if you felt guilty, what would you tell yourself to kill that dumb shit?
Dear Guilty Gwen,
I can tell this is coming from a genuine place of concern. It says a lot about you that even in ridding toxic people from your life, you want to do so in a way that least harms everyone involved. I don’t think you should lose that empathy, but I do think you need to consider the space they are still occupying in your life through this guilt. It sounds like your guilty feelings are an extension of those toxic relationships. These people may be out of your life, and that’s a good thing- terminating unhealthy relationships for any reason is valid – but they are still haunting you. Assuming these people aren’t actively guilt-tripping you into these thoughts, this is something only you can change. Consider this a continuation of their toxicity, there is no longer space for them in your life and therefore there is no longer space for them in your head. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for cutting out bad relationships. Putting yourself first is not selfish- it is survival. If you feel safer and more like yourself without them, you are certainly doing the right thing and this guilt is just filling the hole where these toxic people once were. Fill it with something that makes you happy. Fill it with people who make you feel safe to be yourself. Soon you’ll no longer have room for these after-thoughts, and those toxic relationships will simply be a lesson learned. Goodluck, Gwen.