[un]finished body-Tanhnia Getson
Reception Area

01 Oct - 09 Oct

Alberta Culture Days Peace Region Media Arts Collaboration 2021

By Tahnia Getson and Devon Burbank
View new work created by local visual artists and media artists in partnership with The Peace Region Independent Media Artist Association and the Centre for Creative Arts to Celebrate Alberta Culture Days 2021. This project was designed to encourage collaboration between artists working in traditional mediums (like sculpture, painting or other physical media) and media art (like sound, film, video, digital, and other new media).
View the artwork at the Centre for Creative Arts.

TW:// Sexual Assault; Body Image;
I was given a body that didn’t always reflect the mould that was dictated to me the moment I was born. I didn’t look like the models I saw in magazines, the celebrities I saw on TV and the people around me didn’t seem to share my body. I was young when crash diets were first introduced into my life – somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12. I didn’t understand my body, what it was supposed to do and the autonomy that I should have had over it. I know I am not the only female presenting person to have run into this. I was no more than 12 years old when I encountered my first experience of verbal harassment regarding my body. I was barely legal when I became a part of the statistic. I know that I am not the only one. I was barely an adult when I found out that, despite the fact that my reproductive organs didn’t work and put me at a higher risk for cancer, I could not have them removed. The reasoning was ‘what if you want to have kids’ despite being informed that it will never happen biologically. I know that I am not the only one.
In 2021, we are still fighting against negative body stereotypes. In 2021, we are still fighting for the right to be equally researched and listened to in the medical system. In 2021, we are still fighting against an overwhelming statistic of reports regarding sexual assault. I would be remiss if I did not say that these reports disproportionately affect female presenting persons. Female presenting persons who identify as being part of the 2SLGBTQAI+ community face increased incidents of sexual and physical assault – particularly  transgender women, lesbians and bisexual women. Female presenting persons who are a part of the BIPOC community face sexual and physical assault and harassment at a significantly higher statistical rate and are often not reported on in the media.
Somehow, on top of the act of fighting for the rights to make medical decisions that are best for our bodies, fighting stigmas that constantly yell at us to look a certain way and fighting for the right to have the word ‘no’ heard outwardly as loudly as we feel it inwardly, we’ve created bodies and patterns of movement. Beauty becomes clouded by the need for survival, and we hide shards of glass among the nature that built us in order to protect ourselves. Striving for a day where our voices are equitably heard.
Tahnia Getson | she/they

 [un]finished body

by Tahnia Getson

Your words on my mouth. 

Your words on my thigh.

 Your words on my stomach.

Your words trace the folds of lightened skin that indicate my story. You say to me: 

“Your body is a temple and you should treat it better.”

As though my body didn’t carry me to you in the first place. 

As though your words have power over me as though – 

“Your body is a temple” is what you say. 

Your body is a temple is the lie you used to dictate what was deemed a good body. 

Your body is a temple is the lie you used to decide to enforce your own rules. 

Your body is a temple is the lie you told me to force my hand.

Your body is a temple. 

Well, what if I don’t want my body to be a temple? 

My body as a temple allows your religion to make the rules that I am to oblige to. 

My body as a temple means that you get to fill the walls with words of your own choosing.

My body struggles against the confines that dictate what is societally acceptable. My body begs to be released from the grasps of the orange that paints the ceiling of my memory. My body begs to be released from the fingertips that you placed at your will. 

My body as a temple means that you get to demand my silence as 

though you own my tongue. 

What’s wrong? Am I not quiet enough for you now?

My body has no place for your religion. My body has no place for your claim to touch. My body is not yours for the taking. My body is not composed of space for you to decide. My body never asked to be part of the 97%. 

My body as a temple means that you own the walls that I have built. 

For those reasons I have decided that my body is not a temple. 

My body is a garden, full of imperfections that are perfectly perfect to me. My body is the pink tulips that have grown between the cracks of the trauma that you imposed. My body is the thorns on the red roses that sprouted to protect itself. My body is the yellow on the sunflowers that wake up every morning and stretch to reach the rays of the sun with a smile on their face. My body is the green leaves that continue to fill the space between the flowers with an unapologetic desire to dance in the wind. My body is the weeds of uncertainty as one step falls in front of the next knowing that one day I’ll arrive. My body is the blue daisies that know that there’s sunlight between every shower. My body is the garden that I find refuge in.

My garden is held together by two broken pieces of wood because the blueprints that I have been given are for a different body. My garden has been crafted by the very shards of humanity that leave me standing here. 

My body is the vessel that holds my voice. My power. My words. 

You will not silence me because my body is not your temple. 

Tahnia Getson | she/they

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