Who We Are #2: Who I Am, and Why We’re Talking About Identity

In Monday’s post, we started discussions about identity and sewing, asking the question, “Does who you are shape your sewing or your experience in the online sewing community?” 

That’s a pretty massive topic, and more than a bit intimidating to introduce. So today I’m going to talk a little about my own personal experiences, and why I think the discussion is worth starting!

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First of all: Hi, I’m Gillian.

I’m a Canadian, a teacher, a crafter, and I run the Sewcialist blog. I’m slightly plus-sized, though I still fit into indie patterns. I’m white and therefore part of the majority in my small Ontario city – though I would be a minority if I drove an hour east to the Toronto area. I’m English-speaking, but I spend my days teaching second-language learners. I’m a cisgendered woman, meaning my birth sex matches the gender identity in my heart. I’m 35, straight and married, with no kids. Oh, and I’m a cat person, which judging from my Instagram feed, many of you are too!

That’s a lot of identities for just one person, isn’t it? And those identities don’t act alone – they overlap to create a complex experience. According to Wikipedia, “Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include genderracesocial classethnicitynationalitysexual orientationreligionagemental disabilityphysical disabilitymental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity.[1] ”

In lots of ways, I think I fit right in to the majority of bloggers… but that does’t mean identity doesn’t play a part in my experiences!

  • I was an Editor at the Curvy Sewing Collective for a year and half, where we got daily messages from people who had regained self-esteem once they started sewing clothes that fit! I like my own body a whole lot more now than I did when I was younger and thinner, and sewing is definitely to thank for that!
  • I’ve worked or studied on 5 continents, so I’m used to looking and feeling out of place. Most recently, I lived in Japan for 5 years, where I was constantly aware of being white, blonde, and too large to fit the clothes in stores!
  • Many of the ESL students I teach are visible minorities in rural communities, who are set apart by ethnicity and faith-based clothing as well as culture and language. The clothing they wear (ranging from hijab to Mennonite dresses) speaks loudly about their identity, and is often handmade.
  • I used to be a knitter, until I got carpal tunnel/tendonitis and had to wear wrist braces for 7 years. Sewing is actually my second-choice craft, because I physically can’t knit anymore. (Don’t worry, Sewing, I love you the most now!)

So, that’s me. I think we’ve all got stories to tell, and I want the Sewcialists to be a place where that conversation is possible. After all, the world can always use more places for open discussion and diversity! And yes, identity can be a touchy subject, and maybe some of you will skip reading this series… but as a teacher I would absolutely dig into intersectionality with a Grade 5 class, and I trust that sewists are smarter than a fifth grader!

Who We Are

So, if you are interested in taking part in our “Who We Are” series, let us know!

There are three ways to participate:

  1. Comment on our posts, and join the discussion!
  2. Starting this Friday, we’ll periodically put out a call for people who identify with a certain category (i.e. petites, plus-sizes, 60+, Latinx, etc.), asking for people who could contribute a few paragraphs to a post. Of course we all fall into lots of groups, so you can contribute to more than one!
  3. If identity is a topic you feel passionately about, we welcome proposals to write a whole post yourself, or coordinate a group post of some kind!

I’d love to know in the comments: Are you in? Are you interested in reading about other Sewcialists experiences, and maybe even sharing your own?