Phoebe Sherman is the founder of Girl Gang Craft, a community for artists and healers. We are inspired by her devotion to empowering women and supporting other artisans. We asked her to be a guest blogger so that her story can be heard from our platform. We hope you enjoy and find encouragement through Phoebe's story:
Feminism came to me like a close, outraged friend. A feminism you could have coffee with and discuss the implications of the events around you.
I grew up in a privileged family in Marin County, but I understood this idea of justice from a young age.
I was a “bossy” girl, and later a “tease.”
I was taught by my peers that leadership was not welcome in female form. And later, that woman were meant to be looked at and conquered sexually.
I fed into this. I offered my body up to the world, gave this shell of skin to the people around me. I was not me. I was a service, an exhibition, an illusion of what was. I played the part. I was an actress, a chameleon, I could be whatever you wanted me to be.
I learned to throw up at 13. My friend taught me one day in the middle school bathrooms at Hall Middle School. She taught me how to hate myself. How to wear thongs under skirts and spin around on the field so boys could catch a glimpse.
I continued casual bulimia into my freshman year of high school. My body was different than the other girls. I had a tiny little waist and an apple of a butt, two barely there raisins for breasts. The throwing up gave me a sense of control, and was a good “fuck you” to my parents.
As high school continued, I was donned “Blue Balls Queen” by some seemingly nice boys. I was the girl that teased and made-out with boys but said no to sex. I was prodded and poked, boys searched for answers within my insides. They thought the higher and harder you pressed against my cervix, the more fun was to be had by all!
In college, my bulimia returned. This time it was fierce and consuming and completely taxing. I drowned myself in self-hatred and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds. To say my thoughts were repetitive is an understatement. It wasn’t that I was overweight. (Although any or most bulimics will tell you that if you want to lose weight, binge-eating and throwing up is not the way to go about it). Binge-eating was a way to “cure” my loneliness. It was a physical reaction to my depression and anxiety. Oh you had a bad day? Have a box of girl scout cookies. Oh, you ate the whole box and you probably don’t feel that good? Think I’ll throw up now.
It was a vicious cycle.
I think I finally told my roommate. My thoughts were toxic. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was encouraged to get help.
I went to therapy, and read a book called Intuitive Eating, which made so much sense to me. Eating when you’re hungry. Stopping when you’re full. Simple. Yet, revolutionary. A theory I understood in concept, but really am only starting to embody now. I started to recover from the eating pattern itself, but what really saved me was my discovery of yoga.
Yoga cured me. It taught me I was responsible for my own happiness. It taught me my body was meant to move and be treated with respect. It taught me that I didn’t have to be perfect, that I didn’t need to look perfect, and that even the physical practice of yoga was a journey and I needed to have patience. I learned to breathe. I learned to trust my intuition. I learned that my body was not the enemy, and even the world wasn’t, and we had the power to change our own reality, our own relationship the circumstances around us.
During this same period I discovered feminism. I was already an Art Major, but being the Virgo I am I craved a second discipline. I took a World & Sex class and discovered the world sucks especially for women and women of color and women of poverty, and I wanted to help.
There was so much anger in my Feminism program though. And YES obviously there should be anger. There should be lots of anger, the world is a terrible and sucky place. But to me a lot of the feminism was jargon and deconstruction, with not a whole lot of solutions.
I wanted a solution. I wanted hope.
These are still things I want today.
For me, yoga and feminism go hand in hand. We have the power to change our interior. We have the power to change our own heart. We have the power to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and the people that surround us. THIS IS HOW WE CREATE COMMUNITY. To me, this is feminism.
Taking care of ourselves and the world around us is a REVOLUTIONARY ACT.
After school I became a certified yoga teacher, but I knew I also wanted to do something with my art. I was already painting and making prints and selling those a bit. But I knew I wanted more.
I came up with my first uterus print right before the first Women’s March. My first print was a success. I ended up screen-printing my uterus design on fabric and making pouches. I wanted to give 10% to Planned Parenthood. I made patches for jackets, and eventually pins.
Last year I gave over one thousand dollars to Planned Parenthood. That means I sold $10,000 worth of uteruses!! (uteri? Still up for debate). I couldn’t be more proud of myself. My uterus designs continue to sell.
Today I am re-focusing on community. I founded Girl Gang Craft, a resource for women artists, healers, and small business owners. We’ve had two successful craft fairs and have another one scheduled for April 14 in Oakland. This will be our biggest event! We will have 40+ artists, healers, a bar, and a restaurant pop-up. Girl Gang Craft strives to help small business owners brand their businesses and connect to their audiences. Making community is it’s own form of resistance.
Oaklanders, we hope to see you at the Spring Show.
Ladies, you can join our gang here.
Support planned parenthood by buying your bestie a uterus pouch or pin.
Thanks for listening,