Meet Our Muse: Courtney
You work in the creative industries – as a photographer, and with Refinery 29, how did you decide you wanted to work in the creative sector?
I spent a lot of my youth figuring out why I felt on the outside of everything and why I had so many feelings of failure when I was in school, academically and socially. Finding photography in 7th grade did a lot for me in terms of defining my own worth outside of grades and friends. Photo has become a part of my heart and brain, I am constantly thinking about the images I will make. And fashion has been a huge avenue for escape and confidence that was often absent for me in a school setting. But in the practical sense, I firmly dedicated myself to the creative industries just a few days before I graduated college. Because I grew up in an academic family, I was always convinced that my creativity was an extracurricular and not potential for substantial income or success. I remember one night during my freshman year in college I stayed in just to research art and fashion schools I could transfer to which I never ended up doing. So, by the time graduation came around there was no other thought in my mind except “now, now, now is the time”— something that still runs in my mind every day.
We know that breaking into a sector that struggles with diversity can be trying – what has your experience been like?
In my personal journey, what’s been most challenging in terms of “breaking in” is fighting the forces that can keep jobs and opportunities within certain social circles which make it difficult for people coming from other parts of the world or different sectors of the economy. I’ve been really blessed in my life for the opportunities that have presented themselves and I believe you should always utilize your network but it can be frustrating to see the same people get all of the opportunities. At the moment, I’m thinking more about what we as WOC and POC deal with and what we do about the things we see, hear and experience once we’ve broken in. The microaggressions are deafening and they weigh heavily on those who bear them, making it that much harder to excel or feel in partnership with those we’re working with. Overall, my experience has been void of overt bigotry acted onto me but I operate with a lot of privilege as brown person. I want us to think from a higher level in the institutions we work in about why we are not finding and offering more opportunities to our trans sisters and brothers, to those who speak differently than us and to those whose experiences we cannot relate to on every level. Their presence and power are needed. For myself, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is being heard and not just seen.
Your online identity comes across self-expressive – how do you incorporate personal identity into your online identity? Where do you draw the line and what are some restraints you feel?
I mean, what else is there? I have always been fueled my social content with emotion and passion starting back with Xanga, LiveJournal and MySpace— platforms that were really all about pouring out your soul publicly. That being said, there’s always been an awareness I’ve had about reserving parts of my life from the Internet. I think that comes from my need for control as well as a fear of reprimand from "the powers that be". As my generation has grown up on the Internet we’ve all seen each other falter, suffer, or gain success from how we present ourselves on these platforms. I know that rawness and the careless attitude is really cathartic for some people just the way the filtered and posed approach is for others. There’s no crackable code for how you’re going to get what you need out of the Internet. Post about the economic theories you’re reading about, post your painful body, or post about whatever. And shoutout to the women around me who are building their own legitimate businesses by using these tools better than anyone else. There's magic in that and it comes from not fearing honesty on public platforms. Do what feels good and if you want to build something out of it, let no one deter you.
If you could tell others one thing in regards to self-love, what would it be?
There’s no love with anyone else, friends or partners, without loving at least a piece of your own core— treat yourself and be devoted to getting there.
Which of your physical attributes do you love the most?
I am trying to love my feet more!!! They are in so much pain all of the time. My Piscean energy has cursed me. Other than that, I love my hands because they look like my dad’s.