Izzy McLeod is a fresh, unfiltered quirky persona from the UK who transcends what being true to yourself to the next level. She doesn't hide or give false meaning to what she really loves.From what I've read, when it comes to subjects close to her heart she delivers the truth with ultra-fine gracefulness. Izzy is what I call a true bona fide charismatic blogger.
On her good-natured blog, The Quirky Queer, she up-skills her readers on a handful of important issues from mental health to gender issues and more.Created on the 29th March 2013 her platform has ever since been her instrument of self-expression and activism.
So, let's take a deep breath and immerse oneself in this little ride down Izzy's unfettered world.
I am what I am
Everyone knows that gender box where you have to tick male or female, right? Within these two lies a vast spectrum of other gender identities. On her blog, Quirky Queer, Izzy McLeod expatiates her thoughts on this theme.
Reading your blog was very interesting especially when I've immersed myself into the topic which is gender neutrality.For those who aren't aware, gender neutrality is about not adhering to the labels girls or boys should or shouldn't do and being label-less or freed from gender conformity is what gender non-binary people fight for.For uninitiated people, the subject of gender identity and what defines someone's gender can be quite daunting and Intricate.
Izzy: '' ..... yeah I still fit within “female box” to most people but I am trying to get out of it, I'm just having a little trouble.''
Izzy, as someone who does not identify its gender within the binary, how do you perceive yourself through your own eyes and what makes it difficult to get out of the ''female box''?
My perception of myself depends on the day, most of the time I just see myself as “me” and don’t really feel the need to attach a gender to myself. Sometimes I feel more masculine and want to be seen as that, which can be really frustrating because I find it hard to present as masculine without just being seen as a tomboy or dyke rather than “not actually a woman”. Other days I feel more feminine and completely at home in the way I present myself, but generally, it’s just “I’m Izzy” and that is that.
Getting out of the “female box” is difficult, mainly because I’m never perceived as anything but female by other people, and I don’t think this is going to change. I’m very happy in my skin most of the time, I have my own style, I enjoy wearing the clothes I do, having the hair I do, and wearing makeup, all of which are seen as “female”. And so my life experience is that of a woman because that’s how people treat me. I do identify strongly with being a woman because that’s the way I experience life, mainly because of perceptions of gender, I just don’t identify as a woman, and for the most part, I’m fine with this little box. That being said I do want to one day be able to go out presenting masculine and actually have people perceive me as something other than a woman, I just have to experiment a bit more first.
Izzy:''It’s time to speak up and stand up for what I believe in rather than just thinking it and being too scared of how others might perceive me.''
Fear, fear is just an illusion but so many times it's the root of all problems. We let fear restrain us from doing new things, accepting new progress but most of all it stops us from embracing all these little changes that can impact us as a whole. It holds us back from making our community, our society, and our world just one. Just one little Big family. Hence, all the little dots remain unconnected and refrain the basic principle of mankind which is living. We live according to the rule of the majority. Thus the subsets are doomed to be repressed or ostracized.
Imagine you were Aladdin and the magic lamp, what would be your three wishes?
Is there an option to ask for three more wishes?
Gosh, this is a hard question, I’d want to just go with the obvious and ask for the ceasing of world suffering! For everyone to be happy! But that wouldn’t actually work because without some form of suffering we can’t actually experience happiness.
I would definitely ask for the ceasing of wars though, they are completely unnecessary forms of suffering, maybe also to end the gender binary and have people of all genders treated equally, and (because I have to have one just for me) to be able to speak every language in the world, that would make travelling easier!
What is your relationship with fear?
This is a weird one for me because I’m both constantly in fear and also not really scared of anything? I have anxiety and spend most of my time stressing and worrying about the unknown, and it’s always about the little things. And yet I’ve traveled the world on my own and haven’t been phased really, would love to go skydiving, bungee jumping, try the world's biggest roller coaster. I’m generally the one out of my friends who will take on the responsibility of making important phone calls or asking questions other people don’t want to. So my relationship with fear is, complicated? I can feel both fearless and completely paralyzed with fear all in the same day sometimes. I think what I’m most fearful of is failure, and having a negative impact on other people, so if I’m doing something to help someone else or something that I can’t “fail” I have no fear at all.
The plaster on her hip is not just a mere tattoo, it holds a deeper signification, it represents healing. It's a plaster which covers a scar that she inflicted on herself.
Izzy:''So if you’re reading this and you’ve even thought about harming yourself, just don’t, it’s not worth it. It doesn’t help you and in the long run, it will just make you feel so much worse. It sometimes feels stupid to call it an addiction, like alcohol or drugs, but that’s what it is and it stays with you.''
You are so admirable to acknowledge your struggle with self-harm.Thank you for talking about this sensitive and taboo subject. Speaking about your pain and struggles is like giving an outstretched hand to someone in the same position, this act is priceless. Being true to oneself is a thing but laying oneself bare in the eyes of others is a true sign of genuineness.As someone who has been through a lot, you emanate an amazing aura which transpires through the screen.How important is it for you to share your experience?
For me sharing my experience was almost like a “fuck you” to my struggles with mental health. I was writing the post and my brain was going “no don’t publish this, people don’t want to know” and I pressed publish and put a middle finger up to the voice doubting in my head. I didn’t want to feel like I had anything to hide anymore because I’d been hiding it from most people for almost eight years.
It’s also important because I know that it’s something that has so much stigma around it, no one seems to “understand why anyone would want to do that to themselves” and it’s something that comes with a lot of shame. So I wanted to put my post out there and say that people don’t have to be ashamed. Even if one person ended up reading it and feeling better about their own struggles it was worth it.
What message would you like to share so as to change people's preconceived ideas about self-harm?
I mainly just want people to stop seeing self-harm as something that’s something that you should be ashamed of, or disgusted by. I would love a world where nobody felt the need to self-harm, but it’s an addiction that people are always going to suffer with, and so I want to remove this idea that people are doing it “just for attention” when it’s so much more complicated than that.
Izzy:''If you’re struggling mentally, whether you’re self-harming or not, please seek help. It took me four years to properly tell anyone how much I was struggling and that’s one of my biggest regrets, life’s too short to live it hating yourself. And though I still struggle sometimes, and probably will for the rest of my life, I am far beyond what I ever dreamed and could be in terms of my life and happiness right now.''
The pathway towards happiness is about loving and accepting ourselves beyond others opinion and judgment.Easy said than done!
But little steps are worth the journey because you'll get to savour every moment of it. The struggles, the self-doubt all that seems to be negative are crucial to personal growth.
The gift of life is about discovering the treasures that encapsulate our being through adversity. Flowers blossoms through seeds just as growth blossoms from pain.
From the time you’ve started blogging till now your self-confidence has increased considerably. From being self-conscious to take photos in public, little by little you've worked on what was at first an Achilles' heel.What would be your personal advice for those struggling with low self-esteem?
Start with baby steps, and be kind to yourself, you’re not going to go from someone with extremely low self-esteem to the most confident version of yourself overnight. You have to acknowledge the problems you have without judging them and little by little find ways to overcome those problems.
You also need to challenge yourself, a lot, you won’t get that far if you stay within your comfort zone. As scary as it is, sometimes you have to take a leap and do something that terrifies you, but afterwards you feel like you’ve suddenly leveled up, it’s extremely freeing.
Oh and there will be setbacks, but don’t let that completely discourage you. I’m worlds away in confidence from where I was four or five years ago but I still have days where I don’t believe in myself and where I feel like I’m back at square one, but really I’m just having a bad day. Those happen, and they pass.
How do you challenge your self-doubting thoughts?
I have a couple of different ways of dealing with self-doubt, depending on how I’m feeling.
On my best days, I challenge the thoughts head on and tell them they’re wrong, if they’re telling me I’m ugly I say “no I’m damn cute shut up”, if they tell me I’m not good enough I say I’ll prove them wrong. But this isn’t always something I have the energy for.
On other days I just acknowledge them as just thoughts, that don’t serve me and don’t need to be dwell on. In this case, I’ll have a self-doubt thought come up and just think “this does me no good” and I’ll let go, stop focusing on it. This is easier said than done and takes a lot of practice, but things like meditation can help with letting go of thoughts that aren’t helpful.
And on my worst days I distract, when I have no energy and am having my worst days in terms of self-doubt, where I can't bring myself to challenge the thoughts, or even just to let them go, I occupy myself with something else. Ideally something productive/creative like going to take pictures, doing yoga, or painting, but other times I’ll just watch documentaries on you-tube about cuttlefish, or dinosaurs, and wait it out until they pass. This last one isn’t an effective solution in the long term, but sometimes it’s the best I can do, which is OK.
Your personality is embedded in your gestures, copy and paste does not form part of your lexicon, you are your own kind of authenticity and you're not afraid to showcase to the world who you are. One of your signature pose, the one falling off the ground. I am just flabbergasted on how you transfigure the little things into subtle meaningful one. Izzy: '' Falling over in a field is how I spend my time, I like this set of fields because not many people walk through and you can always hear them before they can see you.I'm not as shy as I used to be but still me with my blue hair stood in a field with her camera is weird enough let alone if I start taking pictures of myself face planting the ground.'' I have a sensation that photography is your way of evasion, hours of Photoshop to photography experiments. You are creativity and creativity makes you whole & just as Will Durant once said ''we are what we repeatedly do.'' what kind of sentiments do you share with your art? A lot of time there’s nothing deep and meaningful behind taking my photos (though I do want to do more deep, artsy stuff in the future), most of the time what comes out the best was a happy accident, an experiment. For me, it’s about having fun and just creating something and saying “yeah I did that” more than anything. I love to just play around and lose myself in taking pictures, even if I am just running around on a beach or falling over in fields taking photos I do always lose myself and feel a sense of achievement afterwards. It’s also nice to see improvements in art, because I may not be the best photographer in the world but I’m a lot better than when I first started and that feels good, it feels good having put the hours into something that I love and to have gotten something back from it. Recently I’ve been enjoying playing with color, I like art that feel slightly surreal, but not over the top, and so I incorporate that into my own. And I think that’s what I like to share, just having fun, experimenting, doing your own thing, and continually learning.
If you want to know more about going ethical on a budget Izzy's blog is the perfect platform to get started.She shares the pernicious effect of modern consumption and suggest us to go ethical. I myself learned a lot more than I would imagine, who knew that using a t-shirt for a month and throwing it away can produce 550% more carbon dioxide than if you were to use that same shirt for a year, that's a lot of %.
By sharing the ABC of ethical and sustainable fashion, she takes a step in making this world a better place.She instills a drive in her audience to be more conscientious of what they consume and buy.How did your journey towards a more ethical lifestyle started, what was the spark that lit this desire of yours?
I can't remember where exactly it sprung from, I think it was a mixture of things. Partly it was travelling and fully taking in and experiencing how different people live, and also realizing how much, in wealthier parts of the world, we exploit poorer people so that we can live more comfortably. Travelling really helped me realize what a privilege I have and how my actions can impact on people on the other side of the world, and I didn’t want that impact to be a negative one.
So I wanted to change my consumption for the better, and a few of the blogs I followed at the time started becoming more ethical too, which made me see it as a lifestyle that I’d never considered before.
Izzy:''But heaven isn't complete without astrophysics.''
Why do you love astrophysics?
Ah, me answering this question three days before my astrophysics exam I’m thinking “do I love astrophysics?”.
I think for me it’s about the surreal again, and the unknown. So much about the universe is a complete mystery, there’s so much out there that we can’t even comprehend, and that fascinates me. I’ll learn something new and my brain’s automatic response is “nope, can’t be real, doesn’t make sense” yet, as far as we currently know, it is real. And I love that, I love the mindfuckery and the challenge that comes with trying to understand something we’re probably never going to fully understand.
Hong Kong, Norway, India, Thailand, Costa Rica, Belize, Paris, Greece and more you are the true definition of a globetrotter. Izzy:''So in one day a lot of things finally hit home for me, my privilege, my wish to do something meaningful, but also my cluelessness as to how, I gained a true appreciation for life I've never had before, and realized how much bad there still is in the world.'' ( her talking about her trip to Cambodia) Life’s simplest pleasures are life’s greatest joys and through travelling, you’ve discovered important aspects of life, ones that enrich and sustain us.No matter how our life is, we all have a wealth of simple blessings around us waiting to be counted.Besides travelling, photography, blogging share with us one little thing that makes you HAPPY? Making other people laugh always makes me ridiculously happy!
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Thanks for reading this interview!
(Repost: This interview was published on my blog on the 3rd February 2018)