Cricket

“"Love breeds love."”

Name?

Cricket.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Renfrew, a small town outside Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.

Were you brought up religiously/secularly/other?

I was raised in the Protestant branch of Christianity. I attended church regularly as a child and went to a Christian camp. However, my mother has always been accepting of my ideologies and, despite being a Sunday School teacher in her former years, was never upset when I distanced myself from faith at around age 12. Being Métis, of aboriginal descent, my mother also tried her best to give me the resources to experiment with aboriginal spirituality, which I still connect to more than Christianity. Despite being a devout Christian, my mother remains very open-minded. I grew up surrounded not only by Bibles, but also by Buddha statues, Hindu gods, and even books on witchcraft.

Was there turbulence throughout your childhood/adolescence?

Definitely. My mother raised my two half-brothers and me on her own; I have no memories of my father. He left when I was three years old, and came back once when I was almost five. However, I blocked the memory of him coming back from my mind and have no recollection of the day, all I know is what my mother has shared with me since. Although there were times of trauma – usually stemming from the various mental illness scattered throughout my household – in my eyes we lived an impoverished yet charmed life. My mother is the most caring and supportive individual I’ve ever encountered, and made our poverty-ridden upbringing a lot easier by ensuring we were rich in love. In fact, growing up I didn’t realize we lived in poverty, even though there were times when food got so sparse at the end of the month that, when my brothers and I were hungry, we were told to “drink water” to feel full. My mom would often go days without eating to ensure my siblings and I were fed, which I only became aware of recently. I thought all of this was normal.

Were you ever embarrassed about your development/puberty? If so, why?

Yes. I remember the first time I felt embarrassed was around age 11 when I started growing hair on my legs. For the first time, I didn’t feel feminine, and I begged my mom to let me shave. And then when I started to develop hips and thighs, I began to feel uncomfortable as well. I viewed this change as a negative occurrence and would longingly stare at photos of my pre-pubescent self, missing my thinner body.

Can you remember any key moments in your formative years that shaped you?

Certainly, many. One memory that will forever stick with me as the most challenging day of my life was the day my mother told my siblings and me that she would need to give us away. She told us this in tears and with an empty stomach, for she had not eaten in days to ensure we had enough to eat. I must have been around seven years old, and it was devastating to be told this. But reflecting on the situation now, it’s even more devastating to think of how hard it must have been for my mother to come to that point. I know how much her children mean to her; all she ever wanted was to be a mother. Thankfully, despite that day, we were never given away. We pushed through the hardships and stayed together as a family. I believe that witnessing my mother push through these hardships on her own is why I’m a very independent young woman today.

When did you become aware of your gender?

I don’t think I ever had any revelations about my gender. Being born a cis-gendered woman, and enjoying stereotypically feminine things, I had the privilege of not needing any sort of contemplation about it. I grew up identifying heavily with animated princesses. I could so easily see my physical self represented as a skinny, fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl.

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Photo by Jennifer Toole

When did you become aware of your own sexuality? Were there any key moments?

Sometimes I question whether or not I am aware of my sexuality. I can’t confidently identify with any specific label yet, but I’m also in no rush to do so. I think the understanding will come with age and experience.

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

I think most women go through a terrible and hard journey towards self-acceptance. It’s a challenge to love yourself when the advertisements we see daily are brainwashing us to believe we MUST hate ourselves, and that the only way to attain self-love is through the purchase of temporary commodities.

Have you ever been embarrassed, burdened, or ashamed of your sexuality? If so, why?

Somewhat so. I believe the first world is an extremely sexual and lust-driven world, yet dichotomously plagued with a series of strict rules to be maintained. I think the example that, in my short time as a model, I’m constantly told to “sell sex” despite the fact I’ve never had sex, sums up this ironic polarity nicely. There’s this odd pressure to be a sexual creature, but only in the “correct” way.

What is the image you think you project every day?

I am hopeful that I project a confident and loving energy. I try to make people smile. It’s lovely to break through people’s shells by complimenting them, or smiling at them. You can almost see a person’s entire aura alter just through being kind. Love breeds love, and with so much hate in the world I try to project as much love as I can.

How would you describe your personal experience, existing in the way you do, each day?

Painfully aware. I feel like I know myself very well, almost too well, so that I don’t know myself at all. I am uncomfortably conscious of how people perceive me, therefore am uncomfortably conscious of myself. Sometimes I lose myself by picking at the details of myself.

What is the image you would like to project?

I am constantly attempting to be someone others can look up to; I want to be someone I myself could have looked up to in my formative years. This is why I make a conscious effort to be vocal about my experiences with mental illness and poverty. I know how it feels to discover someone who’s lived through similar hardships as you and remained positive.

What do you think the image other people perceive is?

I think it depends on who is perceiving me. But I think the majority of people perceive me as confident and kind. I hope they do.

What is your political stance on women’s reproductive rights?

I firmly believe a woman is entitled to make decisions in full regarding her reproductive rights. Whether that be to carry out an unexpected pregnancy due to factors such as faith, or aborting an unexpected pregnancy due to factors such as financial instability. A woman should never be policed on what she can do with her body, regardless of what her own reasoning for her choices may be.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

There is no hesitation or question in my mind, I am entirely pro-choice.

What are your feelings about contraceptives? Their availability, cost, stigma, usage?

I believe current sex education is failing everyone in regards to contraceptives (as well as many other topics). I only recently found out about the non-hormonal IUD contraceptive – the fact that this wasn’t presented as an option is absolutely intolerable. In school, all we were educated about were condoms, birth control pills and, of course, repeated many times over, abstinence.

I believe availability of contraceptives and availability of knowledge regarding contraceptives should be more widespread, and both easily attainable.

What is your current relationship to sex?

Considerably non-existent.

Are you in a relationship(s)?

No. The timing has never been correct with the right person. I am an incredibly ambitious, goal-oriented individual. I suppose I’ve been fearful of distraction from my goals. In high school, I stopped yearning for the boyfriend I so often desired in middle school. I became entirely busy with extracurriculars, charities, my studies, and starting my own small business at 15 years old. I am in no way suggesting it’s impossible to balance your ambitions and a relationship, but it’s simply never felt right to me. Due to this, I’ve never had a real relationship.

What are your feelings about marriage?

I believe I will never get married. As a child, I fantasized about my fairytale wedding. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve grown away from this desire, due to the progressive realization of what marriage represents. I feel as though it’s an unneeded and outdated practice kept alive because it’s a capitalist commodity. That said, I have full respect for, and give full support to, those who choose to get married.

What are your most positive relationships with other women?

I think some of the most beautiful relationships with women can come through the support you offer to a stranger. Complimenting a fellow woman you see, assisting an unfamiliar woman in need. Uplifting one another is so crucial, especially within a world that tries so ruthlessly to tear us down.

I have so many beautiful and positive close relationships with women. I am blissfully surrounded by motherly figures in my life, and it’s always been that way – I never really had any father figures. I have always bonded with women so easily. My mother and I have an extremely close relationship. In addition, I refer to my older friend Nikki as my “soul mother”, for she is a beautiful beacon of wisdom I absolutely adore. I also have a lovely closeness with the women I am lucky to call my friends and sisters. My best friend Bailey is constantly coaching me through life, by talking on the phone for hours with me as I cry, laughing with me, listening to my crazy ideas, and so much more. I am truly blessed and thankful for all the lovely lovely women in my life.

 

What are your negative?

Women who have not discovered the revelation of lifting one another up. Women are brought up to view each another as competition. Who can be the prettiest? Who can be the skinniest? Who can be the most charming? It’s sad. These competitive thoughts get locked in our subconscious, making us unknowingly cruel to our competitors. When you’re unaware of this influence, it’s challenging to free yourself from the vicious and patriarchal mindset. It saddens me to witness women who have not yet realized that by uplifting one another, we are uplifting ourselves. The stronger we push, and the higher we lift, the closer we come to breaking glass ceilings for good.

What does the word ‘woman’ mean to you?

The word woman to me means strong. Regardless of the sex assigned to you at birth, your ethnicity, your race, your religion, your sexuality, you are fighting a systemic pull. Of course, the factors stated above can make this pull stronger, and the battle harder. There’s the trickle-down effect of ingrained systemic misogyny, leftover from the fights fought by women before us, and the alive and thriving oppression that we have not yet tackled. We’re all fighting. And it’s important to help each other in our battles. It is especially crucial for woman born with privileges (e.g. white, cis) to assist our sisters in their more heavily-rooted battles.

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Photo by Jennifer Toole

What are your feelings on monogamy?

If it makes you happy then, by all means, continue.

Do you feel your choice to participate or not participate in consensual sex is at all affected by societal influence?

I’m sure everything we do has a societal influence, whether we are conscious of it or not. I can’t think of what the societal influence is motivating my choice to not partake in consensual sex. Because I’m not “saving myself”, nor do I feel as though I’d experience guilt if I did partake in sex.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

Disgusted. Marketing towards women is an industry built on making women hate themselves. Every insecurity I’ve ever had has stemmed from my appearance not directly corresponding with either what was being marketed at me, or what I was seeing in the media. And I’m saying this as someone who does closely align with what the media tells us we “should” look like. I was always white, tall, thin, and blonde. And yet I still hated myself. I had representation, but still sought out flaws in my physicality. This breaks me because I can only imagine what it must feel like for underrepresented people, to look at the media and see few or no people who look like them.

This is why I shaved my head before competing at the Top Model of the World. I might be called reckless, brave, inspiring, etc, but what is truly reckless is cancer, and bravery is the children who lose their hair by no choice of their own and stay positive despite seeing no one in the media who resembles them. Bravery is girls getting suspended from school for wearing their hair in protective hairstyles that don’t coincide with Western ideals. WOC fighting so hard to get to the top of the workforce, yet called “unprofessional” if they too don’t conform to Western ideals, are inspiring. Reckless is the media forcing a slim margin of idealized beauty into our heads, and the millions of individuals who fight to love themselves regardless of not fitting this mould are brave. I am by no means attempting to speak for these individuals, but if I can use my platform to raise the voices of the unheard then I will do everything in my power to do so. People may view my actions as rebellious but it shouldn’t be a rebellious act to be different. It shouldn’t be a rebellious act to be yourself.

Were you always aware of what your body could do sexually & mechanically?

No, and I’m still not sure if I’m completely aware of this.

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not at all. I believe our sexual education system is painfully archaic, and crucially needs an update. Sexual education consists of scaring kids away from sex by explaining, in full detail, the various STIs that can be contracted, while simultaneously trying to instill in us that abstinence is the best and most efficient way of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and STIs. All of this is, of course, wrapped up neatly with a heteronormative ribbon. There’s no mention of the multitude of sexualities that exist; we are solely educated on straight, monogamous sex. There’s no acknowledgement that our world has moved and continues to move away from this as the sole social norm.

Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?

Women are taught to feel unsafe in their own skin and mind. The thing about our minds constantly absorbing media advertisements is that the messages don’t turn off when we’re alone in our rooms. The marketing tactics centered on the idea that you should hate yourself become ingrained in your subconscious brain. When we’re alone, we project these messages we’ve absorbed onto ourselves. Suddenly we don’t need a large capitalist billboard in front of us screaming “get your beach body”, our minds do the marketing themselves.

Where is somewhere you can exist without fear?

Where I’m with people with kind souls and good energies. You can usually sense when you’re with souls who are free of judgement, and it’s such a freeing feeling. To momentarily escape the fear of being a woman. There’s something so beautiful about just sitting with, laughing with, and loving with people.

Do women treat you differently than men?

It’s hard to generalize but so often it can be challenging to have a genuine connection with (straight) men, for they are so often lustful. I find that women are more tender. It’s so much easier for me to have a real connection and judgement-free relationship with women.

In what ways does being a woman make you vulnerable or exposed?

I think just existing as a woman has the potential for this, and so often does make you feel vulnerable and exposed. If you’re not being attacked by marketing strategies, you’re subject to the male gaze or threat.

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Absolutely.

How do you define feminism?

Feminism is a beautiful collection of individuals fighting for the complete equality of women on a global scale.

What do you think are positive ways the world views women?

This is hard to answer because so much of the world’s perception of women has been filtered through the eyes of men, due to the way women are represented in the media. Almost any answer would stem from an archaic archetype, so it’s hard to see or say what is genuine.

And the negative?

Too many to name.

Do you think the world’s perception of women limits or benefits them?

Any benefit is a short-lived one. For example, being an attractive woman may land you a job, but you won’t be as respected as a man. The world’s perception of women heavily limits us, but that’s the point of the patriarchy. It was intended to limit us.

What is your relationship to sex? 

Ignorant.

What does a sexual relationship mean to you? 

I’m uncertain.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

If I didn’t feel comfortable communicating my sexual needs to my partner, they would not be my partner. Communication is important in all aspects of a relationship in order for it to remain healthy and thrive.

Are you fearful of being openly sexual for fear of judgement?

Definitely. This is not, however, the reasoning behind my lack of sexual experience. That aside, there’s still a misogynistic taboo whereby women are “tainted” if they’re sexual beings. It’s such a double standard – women are forced to be sexual objects, yet are shamed for being sexual beings.

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

I have many male friends. There have been rumours surrounding me about my being romantically and/or sexually intimate with nearly every one of them, but no similar rumours about my female friends and me. I have often been accused of “leading men on”, because I so often view men in a platonic way despite, by no means of my own, being seen in an obligatory sexual way in the minds of men.

Have you ever been physically or verbally threatened because of your appearance?

I often get harassed on the street in the form of catcalling. I remember this starting when I was around 12, and at first I took it as a compliment. It made me feel mature and grown-up to attract the gaze of older men. Looking back, I now see how sickening this was and still is.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?

Trust.

Is sex empowering for you?

I suppose it could be. I love the idea of women reaching outside societal norms to be open about their sexuality, after being continuously shunned for discussing this taboo subject for so long. I think having complete control over your sexuality is a very beautiful, crucial, and powerful thing.

Is sex embarrassing for you to discuss?

No, I just don’t have much to say on the topic.

Is there anyone in your world you undermine your principles for?

I suppose sometimes I do in order to avoid a confrontation, particularly in a professional environment. Sometimes I’m willing to engage and debate but other times, depending on the person, place, and circumstances, it’s better to just smile and nod.

In what situations do you feel safe to speak your mind/stand up for yourself?

In most situations I am not fearful to speak my mind.

What do you seek through sex?

I’ll let you know when I find out.

How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of women?

Ha! Where do I begin? The portrayals of women in the media are predominately stock characters from a man’s world. One of the many issues to arise from having nearly exclusively male writers, male directors, male producers, etc, is that all female characters are a watered-down perception of women through a male gaze. Due to this, female characters often lack depth and diversity. This is why I made the decision to shave my head before competing as a national beauty queen. I can’t change the media, but I can change how I specifically am presented in the media. Beauty pageants still have a long way to go in terms of diversity and accepting more than one form of beauty. Pageants have the opportunity to be a great asset to people; they’ve genuinely helped me improve my public speaking abilities and confidence. However, these opportunities shouldn’t just exist to those who fit into an uncomfortably narrow margin of idealized beauty.

Are you satisfied with the women you see depicted in film, television & advertising?

Hell no. Sure, it’s improving, but we still have a long way to go.

How do you think the world at large views women?

As archetypes.

How do you maintain a sense of self?

By checking in with myself often and paying close attention to where my heart lies.

What is something you deeply love about yourself?

My ambition. I have such an extensive list of things I want to accomplish, and I believe I will fulfill them.

Who/what are your biggest motivators?

Cheesy answer, but it’s my mom, wholeheartedly. I just want to make her proud.

Do you have people you look up to?

Absolutely, I could list off so many empowering women, but I would surely forget too many. Audrey Hepburn forever remains one of the people I look up to most, largely due to the fact that we share a lot in common, specifically regarding our upbringing and family.

Do you ever feel overlooked in the workplace because of your gender?

Yes, often.

Because of your appearance?

I’ve often felt I need to work extra hard in order to be taken seriously and be seen as more than just a pretty girl. This is what I mean when I state how harmful the representation of women in the media is. It’s not just an hour on screen, or thirty seconds on a commercial. These painful archetypes carry over into the real world and are projected onto us constantly by real people. Women are too often expected to resemble these one-dimensional characters, lacking any sort of complexity.

Do you find entering the work force as a woman has any bearing on how people will treat you?

Definitely. As stated in the last question, you are bound to have an archaic stock character thrusted upon you.

Have you ever experienced sexism or sexual harassment within a workplace?

Yes, on multiple occasions. I had one boss hire me just because I was pretty. He would touch my ass, text me, and even attempted to get me to drink on the job despite being underage. The horrible thing is I felt as though I needed to play along with his game in order to keep my job.

How have you dealt with conflict?

Usually by either being loud and tempestuous, or simply walking away.

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Photo by Jennifer Toole

Have you ever been verbally abused or threatened because of your gender?

The amount of sexual harassment I experience isn’t for any other reason than just existing as a woman.

If so, how did those in your life respond when you told them about it?

Mostly in a compassionate and sympathetic way. I’ve been accused by men being overdramatic about sexual harassment situations, but they just have no idea.

What are you feelings on motherhood?

I believe motherhood is one of the most beautiful things this world has to offer. However, I’m unsure if I myself want to partake in it. There are many factors that deter me from motherhood, especially birthing my own children. I believe if I am capable, I would rather adopt a child due to the number of children across the world in need of homes.

What are you biggest fears?

Not living up to the expectations I hold for myself.

Your biggest regrets?

I’m unsure if I have any regrets pivotal enough to deem them my “biggest” regret.

Your greatest accomplishments?

Probably this project. I’m answering this question the morning before I fly off to Egypt to compete for Top Model of the World. This head-shaving project started out as a crazy idea in my head nearly a year ago, and it’s never left my mind since. I was fearful that I would back out before making it a reality. And I’m kind of in awe that we managed to pull it off. This project has shattered so many of my comfort zones and continues to do so. I am looking forward to representing a different form of beauty. I have one chance to represent Canada on the international stage, and if I can use my platform to elevate the voices of the unheard, then I will do whatever it takes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Work hard for what you want, but trust that the universe will give you what you need.