Interview of Ambivalently Yours by Sophie Pellegrini
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How old are you and where are you from?
I’m a girl, and the name I use for my online art is Ambivalently Yours. I don’t ever divulge much more than that for a few different reasons. At first, I wanted my work to be anonymous out of self-preservation. I felt like I could be braver and more honest if I was writing and making art anonymously. As Ambivalently Yours evolves, my anonymity is less motivated by fear, and more inspired by my desire to make work that is personal but not too much about me as a person. In other words, I want my art to be about all of us boldly undecided girls.
And tell us a little bit about Ambivalently Yours– what’s the idea behind it? What exactly do you do/how does it work?
Ambivalence means simultaneously loving and hating. While these feelings can often lead to passive behaviour, they don’t necessarily have to. Part of being a feminist is about advocating for a woman’s right to choose. This right, however, does not imply there is only one choice, or that a final decision needs to be reached in order to achieve political change. For example, my commitment to feminism could only happen once I gave myself permission to also embrace my love of fashion and the colour pink, two things often associated with the patriarchal domination of women. My choice is not to choose, but to remain in-between, creating a space where conflicting feelings are confronted and reevaluated. Since its inception in 2011, I have explored ambivalence through the online sharing of ambivalent illustrations, sound sketches, videos, blog posts and anonymous notes left in public spaces (hosted online at www.ambivalently-yours.com.) I also started making drawings about my ambivalence (hosted on a Tumblr site: ambivalentlyyours.tumblr.com) and accepting drawing requests submitted from strangers on my Tumblr page. These small acts of pink rebellion are meant as conversation starters, acts of compassion and examples of active yet ambivalent resistance.
How did you get started?
I created Ambivalently Yours when I was in grad school. At the time, I was studying feminist art and also working in the fashion industry, which seemed like a huge contradiction. I felt like if I wanted to be a real feminist artist I had to give up fashion, and if I wanted to be a real fashionista I needed to shut up about my feminist ideals. I eventually decided not to pick one over the other, but rather to embrace the contradictions and remain somewhere in-between. Eventually I turned all these feelings into an art project and titled it Ambivalently Yours.
What do you hope to convey with your work?
Empathy. I think the most important aspect of my work, especially the drawings, is empathy. I don’t think there is anything more comforting than knowing that someone else is able to understand and share your feelings. Once you have that, everything else is a little less scary. That is why I take drawing requests and share my personal stories online: I want other people to know that someone out there get’s it.
How would you define feminism? What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is about advocating for equality. The tricky thing is that the word “equality” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. To some people it means “the same”, so when women ask for equal rights, some people think that women want to be treated like men. For me, equality means that I can still be a woman, no matter what being a woman means to me, and be as valued as a man. In other words, people should be allowed to be different and still be treated equally.
“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.” ― Ernest Hemingway
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by stories, the stories people tell me, the stories I read, the stories I binge watch on Netflix, the stories people share with me online.
List five things that fascinate you.
The Internet: the way it has changed the way we communicate and interact, the way it helps people both find each other and become isolated, the way it fuels my art.
Fictional stories (from movies, books, TV…): what I learn from them, the power they have over me, the way I can get so emotionally invested in them, even when I know they are fictional.
Social interactions: the way we communicate with others, verbally and physically, the awkwardness, the miscommunications, and the messiness of it all.
Colour: the emotional response I have to pretty colours, the way I colour code every thing and person in my brain.
Contradictions: I think it is impossible to just love or just hate something. I think there is always a bit of contradiction in everything we do and feel. I am interested in those contradictions, the way we deal with them, the way we try to hide them, and the way we let them shine.
What is something you are afraid of?
I think I’m pretty much afraid of everything. I’m afraid of my own fear, the power it has over me sometimes, the way it holds me back. Every day is a fight against my own fear.
If you could give your 13-year-old self one piece of wisdom, what would it be?
Learn about Riot Grrrl and feminism, it will change your life. Keep drawing, because eventually people will care. Also, don’t date Simon. You will meet him in a few years, and he is bad news.
What do you believe are some of the hardest things about being a teen girl in today’s society?
I think teenage girls are dismissed too easily in today’s society. People need to learn to listen to teenage girls more, because they have a lot of really important things to say. There is an amazing and radical feminist movement happening online right now, that is lead entirely by teenage girls and no one is really seeing it. I feel like adults keep trying to save teenage girls from the media, from society, from Miley Cyrus, from themselves, but meanwhile, no one is actually listening to teenage girls or taking them seriously.
“Cause there ain’t no flame that can blaze enough To trump being hated for the way you love” -Brother Ali, Tight Rope
Check out Ambivalently Yours’s Tumblr for more of her art and a lot of great advice.[share]