Meet the Messes – Maddi!

I knew of Maddi long before I knew her.

She had been in a few of my classes earlier in my University career, but it typical Emerald-fashion, I didn’t begin talking to her and hanging out with her until fourth year. Big mistake, because she’s awesome.

Maddi is one of those people who walks into a room and you immediately think “oh shit, that woman has her life together.” It’s what I thought when I first had a class with her, and it’s what I thought on the first day of every class we’ve had since. Even this year, when I had my Mad Men class and Contemporary Rhetoric class with her, the first day of Mad Men, that was my thought. Then two hours later in Rhetoric, again I thought “She’s in this class too? I really need to up my game!”

Maddi is my real life grown-up friend. She graduated last semester (so grown-up) and works at an insurance company (serious adult), and she even has her shit together enough to have applied and gotten an early acceptance to a Master’s program (*round of applause* teach me your ways). As she’s out of school for the semester, she needs to find a way to fill her time; naturally she began writing essays for fun. She’s currently working on an essay that shows how “coming out in a heteronormative culture perpetuates the queer apologetic such that bisexualtiy becomes an invisible minority and trans identities are often exploited.” Dope right? I want to read it too.

Yes, Maddi is a real adult. Yes, I was super intimidated by her from the start. No, she doesn’t have it as together as I innocently believed. Whether she knows this or not, Maddi indirectly influenced my decision to start this blog. I knew I was a hot mess, but when I actually became good friends with Maddi, I realized that other people who seem to be doing so much better than me, face the same struggles everyday. She was the first person on my list of people to interview, because not only is she a hot mess, but she is damn inspiring as well.

Maddi is funny, intelligent, supportive beyond belief. She is organized when I’m running around like a chicken with its head chopped off (cliche, but true). She is open about her struggles with mental health and body issues. She is here for you. She is the first person to like 99% of my social media posts. Despite not actually seeing her in a few months, she knows exactly when to send me a message and ask how I’m doing. She has shown me what a strong support system can do for one person, and she has voiced on numerous occasions how much her’s means to her.

Maddi is the ultimate badass, and to be honest I still kinda idolize her. I mean she can tell me as many times as she wants that she’s not perfect, but I have a hard time believing it.

Meet Maddi.


Red Hot: So, as always, to start, how do you define a hot mess and would you consider yourself to be one?

Maddi: Let’s go with dysfunctionally appealing. By this, I mean someone who embraces dysfunction with badass swagger. If my constant procrastination and generally weird (yet awesome) personality is a factor in this, then I hope I can consider myself a hot mess.
And by appealing, I think that it’s important to note that I don’t mean that you are dysfunctional to be attractive or whatever. You don’t care if your life of disorder is appealing–which inevitably makes it so.

RH: Badass swagger is now my new favourite way to define a hot mess! I think you offer a really refreshing approach to look at hot messery through personality, rather than strictly appearance, which I think is usually the first thing that comes to mind. If I may, I think you definitely fit into the hot mess category. For the first year that I knew of you, but didn’t truly know you, I was so intimidated by you because you just seemed like such a badass who had all her shit figured out. Even now, you’re my one friend who seems to be a real grown up, and I have to ask, how do you do it? Or how do you trick us all into believing you’re an actual adult?

M: Thank you! I’m flattered, and also I can’t help but giggle. It honestly wasn’t until this past year that I feel I finally got myself together. I still wouldn’t say I’m a fully functioning adult by any means. I think the most important thing in figuring it out is learning to prioritize yourself. You can’t hope to help anyone else if you aren’t helping yourself. And honestly, I will say this until everyone’s ears bleed: Prioritize mental health. I had a mental break down in third year after working three jobs, staying in school full time, and prioritizing things that I shouldn’t have. While it was one of my more terrifying experiences, I am so grateful that it happened when it did. I was able to acknowledge and accept my anxiety and depression, and really address my body image issues as well. To keep it short, I would say that I have not figured it out. I’m a work in progress. Which is exactly what all of us are right now, and hopefully will continue to be. We have this preconditioned notion that we’re supposed to ‘already be’, rather than embracing the fact that life is about pushing forward, in a constant state of figuring it all out.

RH: Prioritizing yourself is incredibly important. It’s something that I am still learning how to do. I’ve noticed that you’ve been posting on instagram a lot recently about body image and mental health. I love that you’re being open about it. Do you think social media is making it easier for us to open up these discussions? As a second part to the question, do you think of yourself as an advocate for mental health and body positivity?

M: Yes and no. I think that social media allows us to open up but I think it also offers an avenue for bullying and more so a place where you can feel super alone among millions of people. That’s the con to technology. We are soaking up false connections rather than embracing actual support systems. I love social media for its ability to connect, but I think it’s equally important to make actual connections. I think that I am an advocate for mental health and body positivity. I think that there is a lot more that needs to be said and a lot more that needs to accepted but we’re on the right track. I want to live in a world where the priority is happiness over appearance.

RH: You make some really great points. I think I, and others, are often so quick to point out how great social media is in connecting people because we don’t want to look at the very real consequence that we don’t know how to connect anymore.

M: Yes, definitely. The thing is that when you spend your life looking at a screen and look up to realize that no one is around, it can be a really lonely, jarring experience. It’s important to create a support system away from the awesomeness that is social media, and actually experience the world and the people around you.

RH: I could honestly interview you all day, and you’re already giving such great responses, but I know that we both have chaotic lives to get back to so I’ll keep it short. My last question is, do you have any advice/words of inspiration for anyone else who may be going through a rough time or feeling like a bit of a mess at the moment?

M: My words of advice are understand your limits and forgive yourself for being human.  People constantly say crap like there is no reset button or live like there’s no tomorrow, and that’s well and good. But the truth is we get to make a million different choices in life and there will more than likely be a tomorrow so take care, and appreciate the fact that it’s okay to take a breather. And more importantly, it’s always okay to be a badass, fabulous, damn hot mess!

RH: Thank you so much – I think those words of advice are perfect to end on!


14 Things Society Told Me; and 15+ Things it told my Friends

  1. When the man I’m not dating mentions another woman’s name, society taught me to release my inner She Demon.
    1. Also society taught me that I have an inner She Demon.
  2. Society taught me that my sexuality is okay….as long as it’s being used to satisfy male desire.
  3. Society taught me that I will be the recipient of many unsolicited dick pics just for existing.
  4. Society taught me that I am inferior to men.
  5. Society taught me how to hold my keys in my hand when I’m walking home alone in the dark.
  6. Society taught me to shut up and let the men speak.
  7. Society taught me that my friends’ success, means my failure.
  8. Society taught me to compete with other women in love, work, personal lives, beauty, and many more components.
  9. When I am assaulted (verbally or physically), society is most concerned with what I was wearing.
  10. Society has labelled me as a psycho bitch because I know what I want and how to get it.
  11. Society taught me how to perfect my “fuck-off” eyes in bars and clubs.
  12. Society has taught me how to manipulate sexism in my favour.
  13. Society has taught me that when a guy sends me a “what’s up stranger?” message, I have to respond nicely, even if I don’t want to.
  14. Society taught me to be weary of fuckboys, but still lets me get hurt by “fuckgirls.”

Society has taught me many things over the years, but the main thing I learned is not to give a fuck. Society has been unfair to women, trans women, women of colour, women who are not straight. Society has been unfair to my grandmothers, my mother, my sister, my cousins, my friends. Society has continually told me what I cannot do, or cannot be.

But the funny thing is, when you tell a woman no, she shows you yes!

I have been so incredibly lucky in my life to meet some of the most amazing women! I’m interviewing them. I go dancing with them. I accompany them to bust casting events. I watch movies with them. I talk to them. I listen to them, and by god, do they have stories.

I asked my friends what society taught them. These were the inspiring, empowering, and very real responses I got.*Will continue adding as my friends keep submitting them*

Happy International Women’s Day. You are all more than society has told you.

  • “Society has taught me that a woman may occupy the space that is conditioned for her. It is therefore our obligation to revolt against and move past this predetermined space, and realize that what society ‘teaches’ us, is often a lesson that we need to reject.” – Maddi
  • “Society has taught me that International Women’s Day is the best & most important day for ridiculous idiots to bemoan “but when is International MEN’S day?!”, despite not actually giving a shit on any other day. Highlighting the fact that some people are incapable of letting anything in the world exist unless it is specifically ABOUT them or FOR them.” – Kate (she also mentioned that International Men’s Day is November 19 and if you actually cared, you would have just googled it)
  • “Society taught me that being fat means I’m ugly and unlovable.” – Shannon
  • “That it’s my responsibility to break and make rules for my own success.”                      – Rameesha
  • “As a woman, society taught me that to be considered feminine, I must be submissive.” – Lori
  • “That my body will always be judged, looked at and scrutinized without my consent. That I exist as an object for others’ pleasure. That I am weaker because I can, and do, display my emotions. And that nothing is stronger than female bonds.” – Brenna
  • “Society has taught me to be confident in myself and become the leader. I automatically become a group leader for school projects almost off default because I’m good at prompting ideas, organizing the group, and managing. However, society has also showed me that my confidence and authority comes off as being bossy to these group members. Even the women group members around me sometimes give me snarky looks when I check in on whether tasks are getting done or I provide constructive feedback.” – Sonia
  • “Society taught me that humans have the potential to be compassionate, adaptable, and open-minded, but that many people are too scared to educate themselves to dig themselves out of their negative mindsets.” – Shannon
  • “Society has taught me that I don’t like it and the position it’s put me in. It’s taught me that I have the determination to change it.” -Brenna
  • “I know that if I need help or want people to come to me to make new friends, all I have to do is dress nicer and wear makeup, try to look pretty, and then look lost -there’s less of a chance of people offering to help me or introduce themselves to me at social events if I don’t put effort into my appearance.” – Juliette
  • “Literally if you do anything, it is unbecoming.” -Anoynmous
  • “Society taught me that my self-expression is meaningless because my femme appearance automatically means I am a woman, and my non-binary identity is fake.” – Shannon
  • “As a woman, you are supposed to be the caregiver; whenever someone is sick, you are supposed to be the one to take care of them.” -Anoynmous
  • “As a women of colour in my family I am expected to go into the arts and leave the science for the brothers. Unless of course you want to be a doctor. That’s something you hear from society but also the University is so stem focused that we have the same pressures. So many men in stem still have huge prejudices.” – Kazma
  • “Society has taught me that as a women I have to constantly justify my actions because I am clearly doing something wrong.” – Brenna
  • “As a woman, society has taught me that I need to wear an appropriate amount of makeup in order to be considered hireable. Not too much, not too little.” – Sonia
  • “Society has taught me that there is often not a place for a woman in the way our systems are set up. but as long as I constantly have to fight for my place, the fight is worth it, knowing that I am paving some kind of future for those who come after. Society has taught me that the fight to be a woman is a fight worth having.” – Theresa

-Red Hot


Meet the Messes – Brenna!

meetthemessesbrennaI was sitting in my third year Contemporary Canadian Literature course, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone. I was ready to work hard. I had goals for the year that I wanted to meet, and after Lori moved to BC a few weeks earlier, I wasn’t in the mindset to meet new people.

Cut to a tall blonde with perfectly applied red lipstick sitting down next to me right as our professor explained that we had to introduce ourselves to people around us. I was intimidated by this blonde, and was not looking forward to trying to convince her to talk to me.

“Hi! I’m Brenna!”

She was cheerful and kind from the start, and with each passing day since I’ve met her she has proved continuously that she is not someone you should judge based on appearances. She is intelligent, caring, a great listener, sarcastic, hilarious, and all around an amazing friend.

We met when we were both at low points in our lives. I didn’t tell anyone about the internal war that was going on in my head, but Brenna just always got it. And when she didn’t make it to class a couple of times in a row, I grabbed assignments for her, took notes, and made sure she was caught up on what was happening. We ended up taking half of our third year courses together. I went from not knowing who she was (though apparently we had already had 4 classes together!) to seeing her everyday.

We leaned on each other; and I don’t think either of us really realized until the summer. Brenna went back home for the first half of summer before heading to work in her hometown for the second half. We snapchatted and talked over facebook all the time; huge deals for both of us considering we’re both terrible at keeping in touch with people.

This fall we started hanging out outside of school too. I would see Brenna everyday at school, get lunch or coffee with her after class, then see movies with her on the weekend. We had a sweet little professor who thought we were dating; she shared my stories about a horrendous professor as if she were in that class too; people would recommend shows and movies for me to watch only for me to say “oh yeah, Brenna told me about that” every damn time.

She quickly became one of my best friends. She has talked me through many anxiety attacks. She has been the only one to respond to an after-midnight text (that I sent to 3 people) about how my life is falling apart. She is so passionate about helping and educating people. She cares about your rights and your life before she has even met you. She’s taking 6 courses this term, volunteering at the Women’s Center, managing our University’s synchro team, looking at post-grad opportunities, and still being an amazing friend to everyone she holds near and dear to her heart.

I may not see her everyday anymore – and the separation anxiety is real, guys – but she’s always there when I need her. To put it simply, she’s incredible. She spends so much time rooting for everyone else, that I want all of us to root for her too. Meet Brenna.

-Red Hot


Red Hot: So the first question is how do you define a “hot mess” and would you consider yourself to be one?

Brenna: A hot mess? Ugh, yeah, totally, definitely one. First off, hot, duh. Secondly, I guess a hot mess is someone who appears to have a lot of confidence and looks like they know what they’re doing. But then is just pretty much like everyone else and is a mess! Stressed, and has their own issues – my way of thinking about people’s issues is that everyone has a backpack, it’s full of crap, but a hot mess is someone that can take it on and off easily.

RH: What’s your hot mess moment?

B: What kind of moments are you thinking of?

RH: I don’t know. No one’s given me a good one yet. Well, Lori gave me a good one, but then wouldn’t let me share it.

B: Hmm… (says some things I can’t share). Slipping on the ice multiple times, and having guys drive by and be like “do you want a ride?” No, I don’t want a ride! Just because I fell on the ground and I’m a woman definitely means I want to get in your car.

RH: Going the opposite way –

B: Going the opposite way we were going!

RH: Yeah, that was both of us. That was a combined Hot Mess Moment.

B: Yeah, that was great. Twice in a row. Like both times fell right in front of a car.

RH: Literally no one else around the rest of our walk. It was just when we fell. Well, you fell.

B: When I fell, and knocked Emerald over. It was icy.

RH: It had just snowed. And we weren’t wearing proper winter footwear.

B: That’s a good one.

RH: Okay, next question – I kinda know what I want you to talk about, but I want to see if you get there yourself.

B: (Laughs)

RH: Okay so, what’s something you’re really passionate about?

B: Like an issue? Women?

RH: There we go!

B: Women. I’m super passionate about women and women’s rights. I’ve always been a feminist, but especially this year, it’s just come as more of a realization that this is something I care so deeply about. It upsets me and I want to make changes; I want to strive towards making changes and differences in women’s lives. I’ve always cared a lot about women. I work in two female-focused organizations with synchronized swimming and Girl Guides. They’re where I’ve spent most of my life; but it’s just now coming to fruition that this is something that I can take further in my life, and I can make changes here and impact.

RH: Was there a specific event that made you realize that [fighting for women’s rights] was more than just a pastime?

B: It kinda came around just through having daily experiences as a woman, on campus, in real life, going out, being about in Waterloo. I grew up in a really small town and I’ve always felt really confident in myself: I’m pretty tall, I have a bitch face. I’m pretty intimidating and I’ve always considered myself to be that way, so I was never concerned for my personal safety or anything, but sometimes things happen. Those ideas of yourself get altered, and you realize there’s a lot more problems in the world than I thought there were. With all the people I’ve met through University, who all have these different stories and it’s a community of people who are oppressed, and it sucks. It’s just not fair at all. Kind of just that, slowly coming to the realization that this was something that I could do something about. I’m not going to change the world – I know that – but I could alter some, one person’s life for the better.

RH: Yeah, it’s nice to be able to make even that one small change. I know something else you’re really passionate about is the environment as well. I also know that the last couple of months have not been great for women or the environment. What keeps you motivated? What keeps you going when the media is basically telling you to “shove it”?

B: Yeah, that’s really tough because sometimes you wake up and some politician has done something super shitty. It was really hard for me about a year ago this time, I was really struggling with issues around the environment because I felt like I couldn’t do anything. It was like the world was crumbling around me and I could do nothing but stand there, which is very disheartening. So I did a lot of research on becoming a vegetarian; almost exactly a year ago I became a vegetarian. That really did help me get through it because I knew I was making a difference, even if it was in a small way.  A lot of environmental change can come from yourself, but it also has to come from policies and stuff like that. Just being aware of what are the main things that cause environmental damage (like water bottles and plastic). I got a sustainably made backpack for Christmas and I was overjoyed. I have a lot of clothes; I never throw away my clothes, I donate them.  It’s just doing things like that. You just have to read up on changes you can make, and read up on the big issues; stand against those policies that threaten the issues you care about.

RH: I think – as many terrible things are happening, it’s also good to remind yourself, occasionally, of all the work that has already been done, and the improvements we’ve made thus far.

B: That’s true.

RH: The last kind of big thing is do you have any tips/advice/words of inspiration for other people who identify as being a hot mess, or someone who has so many ways of how they want to change the world, but don’t always feel like they can achieve that?

B: That’s always tough because it’s always easy to feel overwhelmed by like everything. It’s important to remember that you may seem like a hot mess, but everyone else is too. My mantra with life is “this too shall pass.” So whatever’s going on, will pass. When it comes to big issues, the thing is, it’s not one person that makes change; it’s collectives that make change and there are collectives of people who believe in these things. Being part of them creates more people in that collective and therefore can create more change. As one singular person, yes you can’t achieve everything, but as an individual within a collective, you can create change.

RH: Is there anything else you want to add?

B: No, I think you had good questions.

RH: You had good answers – wait, here, I can stop recording.


*Picture taken by the lovely Theresa ❤

Meet The Messes – Lori!


*Image courtesy of Pinterest*

I first met Lori in my second year of my Undergrad. We had a mandatory class together, during which our (very) old professor would take out a magnifying glass to read notes and auction off his books to us. We sat beside each other everyday. She had really long hair, was quiet in a mysterious way, and had a tattoo behind her ear. I didn’t talk to anyone in that class (I would later find out that one of my other best friends was in the class as well and sat behind me), but I worried when she wasn’t there, and tapped her on the shoulder if she started to doze off.

Near the end of the term, we decided to get together to study. I quickly found out we had a lot in common, and she would be taking one of my classes next term. Perfect. Only two years in, and I had finally made a friend!

The next semester, I showed up to our class to learn Lori had switched majors. I was devastated; I don’t like making new friends and find it difficult to get out of my shell at first.

Within the first few months of knowing Lori she switched majors and applied to a University across the country. On paper it seemed like it would be impossible for us to remain friends, but she was the first person I got close to in University and she seemed to understand me on a whole different level.

Lori is this crazy, inspirational person who changed my life. My writing would not be where it is today without her. I wouldn’t have even continued the short story that will soon be my first novel without her encouragement and suggestions. I see Lori in person once a year, but we Skype whenever we can; whenever one of us has a new idea that we need to develop; or when I’m struggling in the romance department (ie: all the time).

We connected so quickly and so deeply. To this day, I have no idea what force brought her into my life but I am oh so glad. I could go on and on about how fantastic Lori is, but I promised myself I would keep this short.

Lori was the obvious first choice for a segment I am calling “Meet the Messes” – a biweekly installment in which I introduce you to some of the other hot messes in my life. I hope you love Lori as much as I do.

-Red Hot


Red Hot: So how do you define a ‘hot mess’ and what does being a hot mess mean to you?

Lori: Being a hot mess means, first that you’re really hot.

RH: (Laughs) That’s important.

L: And second, the mess part, people feel like you’re all put together but really you’re just a huge bunch of chaos going on inside. Everyone is like “Wow, you’re so calm and collected. She has so many plans!” In reality, you’re just like um, I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I have no idea about anything. Just figuring it out one step at a time.

RH: What’s your hot mess moment?

L: [REDACTED – but I can tell you it was a good one involving champagne and New Year’s! 😉]

RH: Oh my gosh, Lori! Okay, moving on, how do you stay motivated?

L: I think motivation comes from doing something that aligns with your inner self. So, when we do something for a reason outside of us, like finishing school for our parents or doing this thing that will look good for [my future], we tend to get really demotivated. So my motivation is doing things that I love, because I love them.

RH: I like that answer a lot [I paused here because everytime I’m with Lori she says something so amazing that makes me reevaluate my own life.] So what is the best way to procrastinate?

L: Doing other things you love. (Laughs) I have two types of procrastination: I have the habit procrastination of procrastinating because I’m stuck in this routine of doing this, for example, watching a TV show of a series you always watch.

RH: Yup!

L: The second procrastination is when you’re not trying to procrastinate, you just get really caught up in doing something you love and put that before doing something you’re responsible for.

RH: I never actually thought of that as procrastination, to be honest. I don’t know what I thought of it as being, but that’s a good way to put it. That’s probably the best kind of procrastination: to get caught up in something that you love to be doing.

L: And for me, it’s not necessarily getting caught up, but going on these spontaneous tangents of researching certain topics, or learning about certain things that have nothing to do with my courses, but that I love. Your mind is automatically going towards what you love. I also feel like if you just do what you love, that procrastination is going to happen a lot less.

RH: Nice. So this is kinda the big question – and I already know the answer to it, but my readers don’t – are there any projects that you are currently working on?

L: There’s too many things that I love and am passionate about, that it’s too much for me to handle. I am constantly having to choose which things to work on, and picking up something – working on it for a bit, putting it down, finding a new passion and working on it. Things I am passionate about and currently, working on would be, my novel, which is very brief and in its beginning stages like you are aware of.

RH: It’s still a baby.

L: A little infant; a little baby. But that’s a really exciting project. Also, I’ve been thinking of doing a research project and writing a book on that – a nonfiction book as well. There’s too much to put into words – I’m going on this process of uncovering myself. I want to figure out exactly who I am, what my roots are, my origin story, how I progress through this life. A lot of introspection and healing through that.

RH: Alright, well, thank you so much, Lori, for being my first “mess” to interview. Any final comments?

L: Another thing that I forgot to mention about “hot mess” is, when you say “hot” I think it’s like, yeah you’re physically beautiful – and I like the word beautiful a lot more – but it’s more importantly about the sort of confidence, or vibe you give off. It’s being completely and utterly myself and I’m okay with that.

RH: I love that.

L: That’s what I feel being a hot mess is; because if you’re a mess, you’re not lending yourself to being put into a box, or a label, or a neat and discreet category. You’re everything, and yet you’re nothing at the same time. You’re completely your unique self. And no one else is like you.

RH: Awesome. Thank you so much. I briefly had a panic attack where I was like, oh my god, what if that didn’t record any of this, but it got it so it worked.