Hello again! So even though I am currently voiceless and SFC September tutorials are taking a tiny hiatus, I still have tons of awesome interviews to share with you! This interview with Faith Cameletti is so exciting to put up because a) she is amazing and b) she is a Guelphite like myself! YAY for local strong women! Thank you so much to Faith for being a part of this months series, and if you want to see more of Faith and the work she does, I will have her stuff linked below. Enjoy!
(Interviewed on September 22nd, 2015)
Tell the readers a bit about yourself.
I’m a storyteller and social justice seeker from Guelph, Ontario. I run an arts site called Lamp in Hand (www.lampinhand.com). Our site hosts essays and art on critical thinking, social justice and living with passion & intention.
I’m multi-passionate which means I split my time among many different projects and creative mediums. At any given time you can find me: writing an article, volunteering at a Community garden, working with clients on a freelance videography or graphic design project, or marbling for Lamp in Hand’s new Etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/lampinhand).
Aside from being creative, a big part of my life is my chronic illness. I have rheumatoid arthritis in over 40 joints. RA is an autoimmune disease, which basically means that on top of having stiff and painful joints, my body attacks itself. This means I fatigue easily and get sick often. Above all, living with a disability has completely changed my paradigm and influences how I live on a daily basis.
What do you think is the greatest strength you have, and how do you bring that out in the work you do?
I would say my greatest strengths are my observation skills. I find I often notice what others don’t and that’s been a real asset to me in my work as a writer. Although we all may be a little different in how we choose to live our lives, we’re all motivated by the same things: fear, love, doubt, emotional deficits, etc.
When you pay close attention you can see how people are influenced not only by external factors, but by internal factors. I find it especially interesting – and applicable to both my writing and personal life – to observe the discrepancy between what people do and what they say they do. Most often, this discrepancy isn’t malicious. It’s a defence mechanism – it protects us from feeling shame over our mess-ups. At Lamp in Hand, we call saying/doing the same thing “living with intention.”
Everyday, I try to put my observation skills to use by looking inward. I always want to make sure that what I say and believe lines up with what I do. It’s so important that your life be a reflection of what you believe in. Jon Stewart has a great expression. He says, “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.”
What do you “geek out” over?
I geek out over so many things. In general, I go bananas over a lot of “book stuff” like: Canlit, libraries, feminist theory, philosophy, world religions, writing craft theory, and pre-modern history. I was actually a Medieval History major at University – I find what I learned really applicable to 2015 ;).
I’m also prescribe to a variety of other fan clubs like: Sense8, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Betty Page, Jared Padalecki’s abs, etc.
How do you express your femininity on a daily basis?
I express my femininity mostly through clothes and makeup. In 2013, I produced and directed a documentary called Women, Worth and Wardrobe (http://www.lampinhand.com/womenworthandwardrobe/). The documentary was all about how women in North America are judged based off how they look and what they wear. Great evidence for this is MissRepresentation’s #AskHerMore campaign.
But despite the sexism we still live with, a woman’s worth is not defined by clothing. That’s why our clothes and makeup are a great tool for self-expression. People’s opinions on your clothes don’t say anything about you, they say something about them. If you want to wear a tight shirt, a baggy shirt or no shirt, you do you girl.
Personally, I like to wear my hair naturally curly, instead of straightening it with flat iron. I also have an affinity for red lipstick and pattern blocking. I wear contacts most of the time, but when I do wear my glasses, you should know I was inspired by Cary Grant’s portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Do you find you are treated differently when you act more feminine? As if you can’t be strong and powerful?
For me, I find my experience as a woman intersects with my experience as a “young person.” As a young woman, I find I’m often told to “smile” by older men or to “cheer up” by senior citizens. I’ve noticed that my male peers are not given the same messaging when their actions/frowns mirror mine. When this happens I remind myself of Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s powerful art series, “Stop Telling Women to Smile.”
Who are your biggest female role models? How have they helped shape who you are today?
My biggest female role model is without a doubt my mom. She’s the reason I am the person I am today. I’ve learned so much from her and gained so much from her insight, wisdom and support. Above all, I admire her compassion and the way she treats other people. At the end of the day, people feel better for having spent time with her.
How do you deal with people you can’t like things “because you are a girl”? Have you encountered this?
Usually I get in a really awkward twitter convo with them and we both leave not agreeing with each other.
What advice would you give to young women who are afraid to express who feel like they can’t be a strong female?
I think something that’s helped me over the years is having developed an attitude of “gleeful dissonance.” When someone says something prejudice or ignorant towards me or tell me I should act differently or be a “certain way” – instead of getting angry or telling them off – I like to smile and then do the opposite of what they said. It’s my version of “killing with kindness.” I find it really emboldening.
So next time you feel cornered or nervous about doing something that feels authentic to who you are – try smiling, make a game out of proving them wrong, figuratively “laugh while you burn the house down.” Acting a little eccentric might just be the “spark” you need.
Isn’t she fantastic? If you want to see more of Faith and the work she does, links for both her AND Lamp in Hand are here: