I can't take it anymore. I have to get something off my chest. There's this term in the sewing world that has been bothering me since the very first time I heard it. The use of this term is epidemic, sanctioned and used by almost every seamstress I know. I've often wondered who first coined this term, and how it so quickly became a part of the accepted lexicon of the sewing public when it is so, well...ugly. I've even used it myself, sadly, and each time I did, I felt this little twinge in my heart alerting me to the fact that I was in the wrong to use it. It has appeared in this blog more times than I care to admit, but as long as we are being honest, I'll tell you- 11 times in just 9 months. Ugh.
What sewing term could possibly be so revolting that it keeps me up at night?
Maybe you're thinking, "What's the big deal? That's not so bad". Like most of you, I was summoned by a small child long before I was ready to wake this morning. I stumbled out of bed and greeted the three shining faces of my little ones, bleary- eyed. I changed dirty diapers, made breakfast, cleaned house, did laundry, washed dishes, ran errands, made lunch, read books, played dress up, did hair, washed faces, did more dishes, picked up toys, made snack, built a snowman, changed more dirty diapers, made dinner, washed more dishes, gave baths, read more books, and finally sang "just one more" lullaby. I could count on one hand the things this day I actually did for myself...most days I feel like a rockstar if I can get a cup of fresh coffee, a shower, and clean teeth.
I am not selfish. I am a hardworking, dedicated, loving wife and mother, and I bet you are too. If I eek out 20 minutes or even (gasp!) an hour of time in my day during the baby's nap, or after the kids are in bed to sew something for myself, that is not selfish. And yet, for some reason, when I share about the work I've done for myself, I feel compelled to call it "selfish sewing".
Why is that?
I guess my excuse is the same one my kids use, "Everybody else is doing it". And it's true--everybody is doing it. I just ran a search in a large sewing group for the term "selfish" and hundreds upon hundred of results were returned. I scanned the results and saw posters that were my dear friends, my team members on Pattern Revolution, popular pattern designers, and plenty of women I do not even know, but they all had one thing in common, they were posting about sewing something for themselves. Google yields results from countless bloggers proclaiming the same, that they are selfish; I know many of these bloggers, and that is a LIE! Apparently, there is no other adjective currently in use to describe sewing for oneself other than "selfish". We have been socialized in a culture of female martyrdom, one that has obviously impressed upon us that we should feel guilty, we are bad, we are selfish if ever we bring our own needs/wishes/ desires to the (sewing) table.
What's the big deal? It's just a word.
Any child who has chanted on the playground "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" knows the aching truth about the power of words. Words can hurt. And while some will argue that words can only wield their power against you if you allow them, the simple truth is that we live in a culture in which every word is assigned a moral value, and in popular usage, the word "selfish" is aligned with the ideologies of egoism, conceit and indulgence.
There is no reason that we need to frame our sewing with such negative terms; why are we chastising ourselves with these loaded words as if we are naughty little children? For me, sewing is often a desperate act of self preservation, the one thing I can do to keep a grasp on that thin thread of sanity I so desperately cling to. Sewing is therapy. Sewing is healing. Sewing is a creative outlet. Sewing is my time to shine. Sewing is a gift. Sewing is a craft. Sewing is a skill. Sewing is a lifeline. Sewing is so many things...but it is not selfish.
It's time for a change!
Will you join me in a revolution? I propose a permanent conscious ban on the term "Selfish Sewing". We will no longer be using the term on this site or any other to describe our much deserved sewing time or any project we make for ourselves. We are worthy. We deserve this. We need this.
If not that, then what?
A new term is born today: "Self Care Sewing." Self care is something you do to maintain your personal well being, increase your value and preserve your dignity. Fit's perfectly, doesn't it? Self Care Sewing is sewing for yourself because you care about yourself. Because you love yourself. Because you work hard all day meeting the needs of every other member of your household. Because you deserve to do something for yourself without being labeled as selfish. Because you are worth it.
Stop using that old nasty word and simply replace it with the new one. It's actually pretty easy because it has the same number of syllables and the same root and ending. Be conscious of what is coming out of your mouth and out of your fingers as you type.
Take the Pledge.