Okay, so here’s the big news (a few hours too late, but it’s here nonetheless)…
That’s right guys, the Taboo Tab has its very own roof now at tabootab.com. It will hang out on Shaunanagins too, of course…this blog isn’t going anywhere, I will certainly be using it to share those brainwaves you know and (hopefully) love. I just wanted the Taboo Tab to have more space to expand and maximize its awesomeness.
And it looks pretty freakin’ decent, if I do say so myself. Clean, readable, visual…definitely worth taking a look and diving into.
(I am so excited, you guys. SO excited. This is going to be awesome.)
Want to keep up/get involved with the Taboo Tab project?
Submit your story: We are currently seeking articles on the subject of Mental Health (submission deadline: February 15). We would also to hear about your experiences in the areas of Death & Grieving, Sexuality, and Body Image. If you have any experiences related to those categories, give me a shout here.
Give it a read: Even if you don’t want to submit your own articles, the Taboo Tab has some phenomenal stories that are well worth exploring. Check it out, drop a couple comments, and let me know what you think!
For those of you that are new to the blog, the Taboo Tab section on shaunanagins.com is dedicated to showcasing individual stories on subjects deemed “taboo” in polite conversation. With the help of storytellers willing to share their experiences, we have been able to help people relate to each other better, build awareness, and create compassion. It’s place for listening, for reminding one another that we aren’t alone…and that, whatever our stories are, we aren’t broken.
On the surface, it was just another way to separate myself from other teenage girls (I watch Die Hard! I wear shorts! I watch hockey! I can pretend to be funny! [please love me?]). My high school mall hatred was different, though. It was more passionate. Yes, I could find joy in Christmas lists and record store bargain bins. But “clothes shopping”? The mall rat scene? The bad music, the money, the lights, the mirrors, mirrors, mirrors.
Even the idea made me kind of queasy.
I hated the mall because it was the home of destructive analysis. In middle school, I learned it was a place for measuring yourself. The food court featured conversations about calories. Conversations which eventually turned to numbers and sizes, then to vomiting techniques. I sat and listened. I ate more Taco Bell, silently trying to compensate for my friends who (proudly) weren’t eating.
Then I weighed myself, because that’s what they were doing.
I put an abhorrent amount of value in those numbers. I cried when I saw them rise. I didn’t know that growing teenagers gain weight, that it’s normal. I didn’t know that girls with eating disorders were sick, that I shouldn’t measure myself against their reality. That “being skinny” and “being fat” were stupid over-simplifications.
I didn’t know that. I was thirteen. But man, I hated that mall.
I don’t think much about my body anymore, not like that. My own personal body image just sorta…is, unless I have something to compare it to. I’m pretty sure I look bloated when I feel bloated, and I look healthy when I feel healthy. I love the mirror some days, I hate it other days. Sometimes I care more than usual. I have bad hair days and good hair days, wish-I-were-a-little-more moments, this-outfit-is-cute moments, and (this just in) I-am-way-too-busy-to-care moments.
But I have banned bathroom scales from my home.
There aren’t many rules in this apartment, but that one has stuck.
Body Image is the next Taboo Tab topic, by very popular demand.
Whenever we talk about money, the people involved immediately become either spoiled brats or charity cases. It’s ridiculous, really. Read any article on student debt, homelessness, mortgage woes, or minimum wage. Read the comments. In the end, the conversation about anyone who struggles financially comes down to this: Are they spoiled brats, or charity cases?
…actually, they’re people. Just people. Thanks for playing, though.
When it comes to money, folks get defensive, critical, and oh-so-secretive…mostly because we’re terrified. There’s a lot to be scared of. And there’s a lot to talk about. But we never, ever do it in real terms. Not unless we want to illicit pity or judgment.
In her article C.R.E.A.M., Nicole C. explains how this difficulty translates in her personal life:
Friends either empathize because they’re struggling, too, or they squirm whenever the subject of money is brought up, which tends to happen in the form of complaints after a few drinks. Parents try to help out, but how can you truly offer advice when you’re in a bad financial situation as well? And that’s what people don’t see: When I complain about money, I don’t want sympathy. I want someone to tell me what to do.
So, sure, for every overtime shift you’ve worked, maybe I’ve worked two. Or for every tuition fee keeping me up at night, maybe you have double the bill—and are raising a kid. Say Johnny moved back in with his parents, while the Janey moved deeper into debt.
And say we actually talked about people as individuals with options and futures, instead of as spoiled brats and charity cases.
The fact is, we need to be truly willing to discuss the reality of these situations. Click the four pictures below to discover four writers who have started the conversation. It’s up to us to keep it going.
Because honestly? At this point, we can’t afford the alternative.
Whew. Well. There’s something I don’t say every day (though I really, really ought to. Who doesn’t need a little help sometimes/always?).
I have a goal for this blog. I do. I have an agenda, like anyone else. It’s written at the very top, full disclosure style, and it’s pretty straight forward: Keep it real.
Leave the judgement at the door; Keep those brainwaves flowing; Express yourself before you wreck yourself.
A lot of you agree with this goal (or you just like to read, or you’re interested in seeing the world through someone else’s eyes). I am even more convinced of this after seeing the overwhelming response to the Taboo Tab: over 100 Facebook shares and interactions. Thousands of hits. Emails in my inbox confirming just how many people felt/cried/laughed alongside the contributors, and had that same profound response: “Wow, that’s so me,” or “Wow, that’s so someone else. And I get them now.”
We ought to keep this going, don’t you think? Keep it going for the people who need to know they aren’t alone. For the teachers bringing the Taboo Tab into their classrooms, showing the next generation what happens when creative writing meets community meets compassion. Ministers sharing the series with their affiliates, and considering it as they provide guidance during life’s most pivotal moments.
This is working. The Taboo Tab is working. We are learning about each other. We are hearing each other. Finally, finally, finally.
To keep it going, however, I need your help (and no, I am not asking for money. Just a couple minutes of your time & talent.):
Firstly, I am seeking contributors for the next Taboo Tab. The subject is “Sex, Lies, and, Storytime.” I want to hear your story, if you’re willing to share. I can’t publish everything, but I am looking for a diverse and powerful group of stories that together show the complexity, diversity, and experiences of judgement in the challenging area of sexuality.
Why does this fit on the Taboo Tab? Admittedly, sex is everywhere. We talk about it all the time. The problem is that we rarely discuss it in real, human terms. Conversations about sexuality aren’t always sensitive to the diversity of emotionally loaded experiences, of decisions made, of confusion felt. And how can they be, if we never hear stories which differ from our own?
I know this resonates with people, and am excited to go all out in addressing it. We’ll do it together, just as we did with Death and Grieving a few weeks ago.
Secondly, I really need your vote for my Community Achievement Award/scholarship nomination. This award recognizes Canadian young people who use media to support and bring together their communities in a creative way. If that sounds like what you see happening here, I urge you to take a minute to show your support: sign on, and click “Support this Nomination” on the CampusPerks website: http://awards.campusperks.ca/en/entries/czr6u . Leave a note about your personal experience of the project if you would like.
The minute you take to lend your support means so, so much to me.
Okay. I did it. I asked for help. The Taboo Tab and shaunanagins.com is a big project, and I am forever grateful for your readership, you comments, your contributions, your emails, and your openness.
And yes, I have a real-deal post coming for you tomorrow. Much love.
We don’t talk about death and grieving much, do we?
Spoiler alert #1: Everyone dies, eventually. And most leave loved ones behind when they do.
Spoiler alert #2: Sometimes, things happen that we can’t explain, control, or “move on” from on command. Sometimes, the worst happens. Sometimes, it’s not okay right now. We need to be allowed to share that.
People die. People grieve. People break down at inopportune times. But, as they struggle their way back up, some people share their stories. These are some of those people.
As contributor Caitlin Corbett says in her article “Better“:
“We should not wallow in our sadness, but we should not deny it either. I know that I’m damaged and I make no secret of it, and by accepting this and moving on from it I understand that everyone is damaged in their own way. And that’s okay. It is my hope that I will always be open to accepting other peoples’ damage and that I can give them a safe space to be damaged. That is what we owe each other.”
Some of the most beautiful and insightful pieces on death and grieving I have ever read. Join the conversation.