I Am Canadian

I remember my grade five teacher telling us it was Multiculturalism Day in my elementary school as she handed out sheets of paper to my class. “Now on this piece of paper,” she addressed us. “I want you to write down your nationality. Where are you and your family from?”

Now side from my dad’s mother, who was born and raised in England, my family has lived in Canada for over a hundred years, possibly over two. So I thought about it briefly before writing, “I am Canadian” on the sheet of paper.

My teacher then asked us to read aloud the notes we had written. Sri Lanka, India, Scotland, Egypt, Bosnia, Norway and Venezuela were some of the countries people said they were from. Not a single person in my class had said they were from Canada when it was my turn to read what I had written. I stood up.

“I am Canadian,” I informed the class.

A few kids snickered and my teacher looked uncomfortable. “Tara,” she told me. “Canada doesn’t have it’s own cultural identity. You are Canadian but your family didn’t originate from here unless you’re Aboriginal.”

Bless my ten year-old soul for not having a single clue what she meant. I was Canadian, wasn’t I? Why couldn’t I just say I was?

Fast forward to university, when the idea of cultural identity arose a second time in my life. Again, my profs and TA’s tried to tell me that Canada was too young a country to have it’s own identity. Again, I was told that Canada was a mosaic of cultures and that I had to pick one.

So I asked my parents for their birth information and decided to trace back my family tree to see just exactly how “Canadian” I was. Guess what I found.

Not only has my family been here for hundreds of years, but I am equal parts Indonesian and British if you go back far enough (i.e. right before my ancestors moved to Canada). SIDE NOTE: if you don’t know what I look like, I’m naturally blonde and green-eyed and very pale.

So considering that I am neither Indonesian or English (aside from the fact I call my mother “Mum”) I just have one question: CAN I PLEASE BE CONSIDERED CANADIAN NOW?

No, I don’t like hockey. No, I don’t pour maple syrup on everything. No, I don’t have a pet moose. No, I do not make my own moccasins. No, I’ve never seen a wild polar bear. No, I’ve NEVER pronounced it “a-boot”.

Yes, I drink Tim Hortons daily. Yes, I’ve seen the northern lights. Yes, I’ve built an inuksuk with my Inuit cousin. Yes, I treat people very politely. Yes, I’ve seen wild wolves and moose and foxes and beaver and muskrats and boy this list can get long.

Yes, I support multiculturalism.

And to me, multiculturalism is what makes Canada so Canadian. So how come all us “foreigners” aren’t Canadian enough for our own country?

Next time someone asks me where my family’s from, I think I’ll just reply with, “The greatest country on earth” and I’ll let them guess.


Music Snobs

Assuming the theories proposed by Adorno and Horkheimer are correct, there is no such thing as “high quality pop culture”. Let me first explain that according to these two German dead guys, (okay, so they are a bit more important than I make them out to seem. Google their work if you’re interested – I have no compulsion to fill in your blanks considering I just wrote a paper on them last week) something exists called the culture industry, which makes out to cheapen works of art (i.e. a song) and turn it into an easily repeatable formula for the sake of entertaining the masses.
The best example I can think of is EVERY SINGLE SONG PLAYED ON THE RADIO THESE DAYS.
Now being in the mid-nineties generation, I can clearly see that while every single one of my friends enjoys pop culture and the culture industry, myself included, we are complete snobs about it.
We look down on those who enjoy songs written by Justin Bieber and Iggy Azalea. We pretend that we are above the considered “cheap” works of “art” that flood our radio stations and crowd our news feeds. We tell people “Oh no, I am above listening to that crap. I only listen to ___”. But let’s face it, unless you’re listening to the works of Bach, the chances are that regardless of genre, you’re still listening to a song created in the midst of pop culture, and that means that the artist typically made this song for money, not art.
Now let me talk about something that has recently hit close to home for me; I am a diehard Taylor Swift fan (always have been, always will be, and I’m not sorry) and yesterday she released her new album, 1989. I took one listen and started to weep for the loss of real instruments in her songs. I took one listen and was repulsed by the similarity between her songs and every single song playing on the radio on my way to work. I took one listen and found myself thinking, “What happened to her GOOD music?”
And that’s when it hit me: I was a music snob. Because Swifts new music was following the pop culture industry (which admittedly was a good business – if nothing more – decision on her part), I decided immediately that I hated it without even finishing the songs.
But who was I to say that these songs were terrible? I am not a music critic, I did not study the art of musical composition in university … Who the hell am I to say that this music, or any music, is bad? Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean others won’t.
And to you out there who loves pop culture music, don’t let anyone tell you your taste in music sucks. It may differ from other people’s taste in music, but it’s YOUR opinion and it can’t be right or wrong.
And to those of you who are so self-righteous that you think you’re the absolute bomb for listening to The Beatles on a gramophone while wearing hipster glasses and drinking tea imported from Thailand and look down on those who do not. . . you, my friends, are music snobs.

Why I’m Mad

The title read “5 Reasons to Date Someone With an Eating Disorder”. I saw the post while scrolling on Facebook and no, this was not satire. I barely glanced at the sexist and frankly ridiculous article but rather decided to share a link leading to a beautiful spoken poem about this very article. Because of my comment, I received a notification when a young man left a comment on the same thread.

“Why are you all so mad?” his comment read.

Huh. Let’s think about that for a second here.

Maybe I’m so mad because when I was twelve, I hated my thighs for touching. At an age where I should have been playing basketball with my brother or staying up late at sleepovers with my friends or stuffing my face full of popcorn at the movies, I was wondering why the scale read a “whopping” 140 pounds when all of my friends barely weighed 100.

Maybe I’m so mad because of that time I was at a runway show and a producer told me to put my sandwich down because I “just barely fit into my dress as it was”.

Maybe I’m so mad because of the time my dad told me I was out of shape when I ran down the street and was panting. But I was panting because I hadn’t eaten anything all day and I was exhausted.

But mostly, I think I was mad because of my beautiful friend who hurts herself by refusing to give her body the nourishment it needs on a regular basis because she thinks she’s fat. When I look at her, all I see is beauty and strength, but she doesn’t, and I think I was mad because she’s being hurt because of a society that thinks like the author of this fucking “article”.

Eating disorders are DEADLY. In the USA, 20 million women are currently suffering from an eating disorder – that’s more than double the amount of men.

Widely, society still portrays women as weak both physically and mentally, and this article did nothing but advertise this fact to men, trying to convince the men of this world that they should want a docile and sick partner. No man should ever want that.

So ask me again why this article makes me mad. Ask me why it makes me mad to see nine year old girls on diets because they want to be skinny. Ask me why it makes me sad to watch my friends pick apart their bodies in a mirror.

Ask your daughter one day when she’s in her preteens why she suddenly no longer eats desserts. Ask your girlfriend while she lies in her coffin why dating her wasn’t as easy as this article had made it seem. Ask yourself how you could love a living skeleton.