November 13, 2013

Zine: Girls Get Busy #20
A Princess trapped in a castle must stay busy to stay sane.

At first glance, Girls Get Busy #20 looks like the journals of some long-lost fairytale heroine; a girl whose mind was free to wander in her captivity, creating beauty out of her suppression. Everything from the beautiful lavender and green layout, to the handwritten font its entries are written in, gives you the feeling this is a work of soul; of genuine, firsthand experience, rather than some sterile compilation of worthy prose and verse. As you look closer, the politics woven through GGB become clearer. Issues around body-image, the objectification of women, the insidious double standards and ways of keeping femininity pigeonholed that are woven through our society are all called into question.

"We built you a cradle
they said,
is it not comfortable enough for you?
Take off your bra
cover your face
dance dirty and eat
but just

-Rachel Grace Williams, "We've given yourselves another task. (For Samantha Brick)"

There is a kind of delicate beauty about the zine as a physical object and an intellectual landscape that makes the content of some of its entries all the more striking and powerful; a lush, youthful defiance. I found myself coming back time and again to that image of a Princess, locked away inside a kingdom by malign forces, looking outwards, staying busy and longing for escape. A feeling of some hidden femininity held hostage behind a wall of many different kinds of thorns.

There are two poems submitted by Evelyn Deshane as part of The Diana Prince Project, a joint creative and academic production of the work of a teenage girl living under medical care. The project aims to shine light on how girls and women with mental health issues are treated and represented by the health authorities and society in general.

"We play the guessing game
While the shrinks are on summer vacation
Guessing our diseases name and our psychiatric destinations
As we watch House and wait to go home"

-Evelyn Deshane, "Chasing Zebras"

I was also surprised and excited to find an essay by one of my favorite artists, the photographer Eleanor Hardwick, detailing her long-standing desire to make music, her interest in the Riot Grrrl movement and the thoughts and pressures that have stopped her from exploring it in the past; that pressure to be perfect before we even begin, which can be so destructive to our creativity. Throughout Girls Get Busy #20, there was to me an overriding tone of defiant individuality, of self-acceptance, of confidence. I felt more confident in my own abilities after reading it, and I felt more willing to make mistakes on the off chance that I might get something right, or create something worthwhile. Or, as it says in the second poem from The Diana Prince Project, "To Someone on the Internet, Late at Night"--

You only need to be human. To feel and think and breath and cry, but you never owe anyone an explanation."

Read the full issue of Girls Get Busy #20 here.

Holly Cassell, an artist and blogger that loves to travel and has a long-standing love affair with hotels. Her floor is always covered in glitter. She writes about her world here.