Tag: miriam hall

Mirror Images

Posted by – August 16, 2013

My friend Miriam Hall recently wrote about her experience seeing herself in a mirror when she wasn’t expecting to. She didn’t like what she saw:

The mirror showed me my body—stout, short and plump. But what the mirror really showed me is something far deeper. It showed me how much I try and pretend that I don’t look like I do. The mirror showed me I am not who I think I am.

The whole article she’s written for Elephant – a guide to mindful life, as it calls itself – is, to my mind, more about seeing than feeling, seeing what is and not with a critical eye, just with a seeing one.

It made me think even more about my boobs post the other day and the ways we contextualize our own naked selves in ways that make us not right, less attractive, less whole.

There is a problem here, but it’s greater than the commodification of women’s bodies, or bodies in general. It’s more than seeing skinniness as health (when it often isn’t, at all, & is so often the opposite). It’s more than equating fatness to unhealthiness.

It’s more about the way we want to see bodies as objects, as things outside ourselves, not at the vessels we carry our souls in. I saw a few naked photos of myself, taken recently, and like Miriam, actually saw something I was pretending wasn’t there – all of the sadness of the past few years, the losses you all know about, & some you don’t, reflected in my posture and my body – in my everything, in my gestalt, for lack of a better word. And like a woman who might see her post pregnancy belly and post nursing breasts as what they are – vastly perfect because of what they’ve been and done and not because of how they look – I saw a body that had eaten so much emotion I couldn’t otherwise express.

So look at yourself, at your body. Not in the mirror, to see what needs fixing. Just glance at yourself in a mirror, in a shop window’s reflection, to see what’s there that you’re pretending isn’t. We only ever distract ourselves with weight loss and gain, muscle tone and beauty. There is so much more a body is and says than the stupidly limited vocabulary we choose for it.

 

A Few Questions With… Miriam Hall

Posted by – January 3, 2013

Miriam Hall is a partner of a trans person and a contributor to the book Trans Kin: A Guide for Family and Friends of Transgender People. She and I did a reading together for the Wisconsin Book Festival a few months ago at A Room of One’s Own Bookstore in Madison.

1) What encouraged you to create this book?
I always write about what is happening to me – it’s my way of understanding. When I met Dylan I was already writing about my own sexuality, and so writing about our combined sexuality and her gender fit right into what I was writing. When I saw a posting (I don’t remember where!) asking for writings for this anthology, I was excited to know I could put a bit of what I was doing somewhere. I am working on a longer memoir of which this is a part.

2) What, in reading it, is the biggest surprise? What was the most expected?
I was surprised at the large number of people who formerly dated trans people and their incredibly strong advocacy. There’s an unfortunate stereotype, not to mention fear, that people who leave trans folks do it only because they are trans. That they are all bitter or anti-trans. Being really close to someone – like living and sleeping with them – who is transitioning is quite a bit closer than being friends. It’s really intense and not easy – like a “regular” relationship, only pitched up that much higher. I really appreciate allies – really, really appreciate them. But nothing beats the person I am talking to/reading having (or having had) their own heart on the line (ie another partner or former partner).

3) In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about the friends, family, and spouses of trans people?

I think the most common misconception is that you cannot be an ally, much less a partner or even a trans person, without messing up: using the wrong pronoun, etc. People figure if they don’t “have it down yet” they aren’t “doing a good job.” I find this tragic. Like so many things in life, you simply have to jump in with a good heart and try your best, be apologetic when you screw up and let it go and move on.

You can find Miriam Hall’s writing, photography, & practice online: her website.