Bringing Identity into Tangibility

Mapping is a way for non-passive learners to absorb information. It’s an activity that allows people to take up space while they learn, something that there’s not a lot of opportunity for that in traditional educational settings. This is especially important in feminist spaces, because women and girls are often socialized to not take up space and therefore will benefit from being encouraged/ given the opportunity to do so.

Mapping is a means of articulation and expression of a concept. As a part of their preparation to be facilitators for The Girlhood Project college students work both together and independently to create identity maps and girlhood maps. These maps take on a variety of different forms, but all serve the same purpose. That purpose is to display in a concise manner whatever a particular individual or group wants to convey about themselves or their experiences, in this case with girlhood. Identity mapping may consist of roles that an individual plays, adjectives that they would describe themself with, or anything else that they feel represents them. Creating girlhood maps is something we typically do in groups rather than as individuals. Girlhood maps are representations of the experience of female adolescence; the consist of experiences, memories, feelings. We traditionally include the means through which we discovered a thing to be a part of the girlhood experience along with it on these maps. Most maps end up being divided up based on what their contributors lean red from books, what they learned from experience, what what they just instinctually knew. Both girlhood and identity maps are most impactful when they avoid presenting themselves as exclusively positive or exclusively negative displays; they benefit from balance.

Girlhood mapping helps college students to rekindle their connection to the experience of girlhood, and girlhood and identity mappings play off of each other very effectively. The connection of the two projects to each other reflects the vital connection of the personal to the interpersonal. Girlhood is at once a deeply personal and a widely shared experience. And fittingly most women tend to learn and develop most effectively through socialization and with the aid of group process.

A few students currently enrolled in the Girlhood Identity and Girl Culture class chose to create their personal identity maps out of words, and have agreed to share their pieces.

By Erin Moloney:

When I look into a mirror,

I usually don’t see past

my own flesh.

I am trapped in a prison of imperfections.

I poke and prod forgetting I am

a friend, a lover.

I suck in my stomach

forgetting that in the early morning

my cat curled up there.

I can only remember the berating of my body,

not how the rain felt on my skin.

When I look in the mirror

I see a vessel for my insides.

Everything I am cannot be

seen in a mirror.

I am more than what can be written down

on this page.

Artist, educator,

sister, daughter

listener, feminist,

creator, destroyer

and a million other things just as valid.

By Rianne Elsadig:

6th grade:

It was 2008 and my second day of middle school. My heartbeat matched the tick of the clock. Tick bah boom tock bah boom bah boom. It is first period. Scared of the pulls of this new concept wrapped around me when I walked into gym class. Chatter and sweat consuming the hot air. Afraid of the "she is a terrorist" jokes because i was accustomed to "she is latina " and although hablo un poco de español , i was nowhere near that. But for the first time ever, I experienced what real really felt like. It came in the form of a tall curvy Half Dominican/Puerto Rican girl. She taught me to be a dory in the sea of nemos. Taught me that this is your crown, and they are your peasants. So now 9 years with power held oh so tightly.

7th grade:

Easily the best and worst time of my life. And i know what y'all are thinking, she is so young, what worries could she possibly have? So let me introduce my friend here. She is the type of friend that makes you feel sooo good, but you know is so bad for you. Her name is Depression, but I called her DP. She was my best friend. Let me sleep endlessly with no interruption, let me watch the silent but beautiful waterfalls that fell into the abyss of numbness. I loved her. People started to noticed this love affair, where the eyes of my sister cut through my skin and i was drowning in my own blood of disappointment. You see "loved" is past tense because it never came easy for me. I finally decided to let her go. She wanted the moon but I craved the sun. Always bright, blinding w positivity.

9th grade:

I was that small girl in the classroom; big voice but always silenced. In Ms. Mulligan's 9th grade English class; Head down, doodling the indifference of the class onto my notebook and embracing the smell of chalk and chatter that consumed the air. My eyes fell onto the board. Seeing those words that were foreign to me; "Write your own poem", reading from Billy Collins to Emily Dickinson but never that ink to paper type shit. So i started... and shit flew like a kite on a windy summer day. I showed my dad my first time, and his eyes sparkled and the words: "I'm proud of you" flew out like sweet nothings to your loved one; but this wasn't nothing, this was everything. It was my first love. There when I always needed it with open arms. Unsilencing the silent "angry" black girl. Breaking chains i never knew I had.

10th grade:

9/11. Voices speaking about experiences while clenched fists rose from my body and tears fell down my brown skinned face. You know blurred vision was never my thing. Never being that "token" Muslim girl, but I was outnumbered. This was like geometry all over again,

always trying do proofs but always failing. Every year the same pattern, but I was tired, tired of the white man punching me in throat and K'Oing me in the ring of life. So I screamed, louder than ever "I am not your token, I am not your punching bag, bitch I’m a queen" and the stares were magnetic. Respect was given and that was the end of it.

Nov, 8th 2016:

I hate orange.

I hate the way the lips curve when he speaks about my people.

What do you know about the 600 years of suffering they had to face?

I hate that.

I hate the way men now think my pussy is their business, because honey the only thing you will be licking is that sticky hand.

You know, I am everything he hated. Black.Muslim.Woman; but the biggest smile came on my face because Bad and Boujee is what I am.

Maybe I don’t have a University or immigrants working for me, but i do have a few things: Parents that never let me feed the ignorance of the white man, my hijab being tighter, and my theme song: Bad and Boujee playing in the background. 

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© The Girlhood Project 2016