Turnings on Edges #effyourbeautystandards


Originally published by the Skin Deep Project May 2014


Last month I said I’d talk about the ‘turning point’ for me in learning to love and accept my body. But I actually told a bit of a fib. That’s not *exactly* what I’m going to share. I can’t talk about the turning point, because I didn’t win the war with my body.


My body is not a static, unchanging experience.


My body has grown two children. It has fluctuated in dress size, in fitness, in muscle tone, in appearance. I have new scars, freckles and moles. My dress sense has changed as my life (and confidence) has changed. My hair colour and style is an ongoing party.


I didn’t win the war against my body because I am my body. Because my body changes and so do I. Instead, I have (tried to) embraced honesty with myself. I have (tried to) embraced self-reflection and the process of asking myself – why?


Why do I find my body lacking?

Why do I measure my body against a narrow and media defined beauty standard?

Why do I tie my body to the sexual desire of others?

Why do I punish my body and soul for failing these arbitrary standards?

Why do I de-value the experience and strength of my body?

Why have I sought aesthetic beauty and in doing so made my body, heart and soul sick on many occasions?


Why? Why? Why?


And somewhere within exploring these whys, I’ve found a healthy tension between seeking improvement and loving what is – and discovering that I want and need both. And that’s okay. It really is okay. My body is not a static, unchanging experience. My body is a lesson. A lesson in gratitude. A lesson in humility. A lesson in honesty. A lesson in love. There are days when I love my body, it’s shapes and curves and aesthetics. There are days when all I can see is how far I am from the ideal presented to us in the media. There are days when I don’t even really notice my body.

Mummy with Amaya

Image: with Amaya, one day old 2014.

My daughter will be six weeks old this Saturday. She came into the world on Easter Saturday after a very painful but uncomplicated labour. My strong, powerful and healthy body brought both of us safely through that experience. And as I’ve nursed her over the last few weeks, I’ve thought a lot about the body messages I want to give her. The way she’ll feel when she looks in the mirror. I have years to figure out what I want to say to her and years to continue shaping how I role model the lessons I hope she learns but here are some early thoughts for her (and for you, reading this):


  • You are glorious. Glorious and powerful beyond your believed boundaries.
  • Your body (and your life) belongs to you. Keep exploring and decide which adventures you want to deepen. And which you want to discard. Choose deliberately.
  • Whatever else you do, care for your body, it is the vessel carrying you through your life. Make it last and enjoy what it can do – if you let it – bodies are fun!
  • I cannot give you the answers. I cannot erase the doubts, the fears, the pain you will encounter – but I will be here. To hold you. To listen. To make you cups of tea.



Turn these corners.

Fold them in to,

New mirrors,

Blank pages,

Deep dreams.


What’s your favourite body positive message or piece of advice?








Fatty Number Two


Originally published by the Skin Deep Project April 2014


Fatty Number Two

*My body did nothing to you.



Does anyone else remember being weighed in PE class at school? Do they still do that?


I’m not sure, but I think this is where one of my high school nicknames began.


Fatty Number Two.


I still don’t know who Fatty Number One was.


Although I don’t remember what I weighed and therefore can’t tell you my BMI or any surface indicator like that – I can tell you that I walked to school every day and I was the second fastest in my class in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. And looking back on photos from that period – I wasn’t fat at all** – I was healthy and beautiful.



Image: aged 12, attending a school formal


(**And even if I had been, clearly Fatty Number Two was not an appropriate nickname for anyone to be gifted with!!)


Yet I believed I was fat, because I’d been labelled fat and therefore fat I was. My relationship with food quickly became an unhealthy dance between eating nothing and shovelling in a chocolate bar where no one could see me. My body was a source of shame, something to be covered, hidden and punished.


As I entered the official ‘teen’ years, I hit puberty early and was one of the first girls in my class to have breasts. And even once the other girls joined me, I remained one of the bustier in my age group throughout high school. Cue bra strap pulling and another new nickname ‘socks’. I had a boy in Year 9 date me for a week just because he wanted to confirm that my breasts were real and not a bra full of socks/tissues.




My body just refused to conform. Refused to let me disappear into the background, however much I wanted it to. I spent less time eating and more time pretending to eat. The secret chocolate bars disappeared. Yet rather than becoming smaller, my body betrayed me and I actually started to gain weight.


I felt trapped. Trapped and fat and ugly. Undesirable. Undesirable in a world which told me being desirable was the road to love. My body had become a battleground, though I don’t remember ever signing up for the war.


Your name, here.

Ready to stand

Arms raised

Songs spilled

Border to border

With shaking hands.


We march, together

Apart, separate

From the skin we live within

The smile lines that coat hands

Faces, familiar spaces.


We sing,

Histories into scars

Bodies into boxes

Heroes into holes.


We speak,

With lips that shake

Eyes that remake

These models,

To measure by.


I intend to write about the turning point in my war with my body next month – but I wanted to ask you all, what has been the turning point for you or someone you know? And if you haven’t found the turning point yet, what do you think would help?


A Caring Portrait – 2015

Four artists. Ten carers.
Many stories. One exhibition.
Weight I’m trying to hold for you/
a gift I’m trying to save for you/
these words I try to tame for you//
poem by @lylyee
A Caring Portrait was a micro community arts and cultural development project bringing together individuals with a caring role as a collaborating partner with professional artists. Together the artists and participants created fantasy portraits, which celebrate and share the diversity and strength of what lays beneath the exterior of individuals in a caring role. The project was commissioned by Carer Support and proudly supported by the Australian Government HACC (Home and Community Care) Program.

As an artist and maker and as a person I’m particularly fascinated by the secret dreams everyone has for themselves and how these dreams influence our daily lives and stories. And the tension between who we are inside and who we sometimes need to be for others which is especially relevant when you have a caring role. And so with A Caring Portrait I really hoped that the project could be an invitation for the participating carers to share their stories and hopes with us and that in some small way the end product would celebrate and document the diversity and strength of the amazing carers that are part of the Carer Support community.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“It reminded me of what is important and what I would like to achieve for myself,” she said.
By shifting the focus from her family to herself, Danielle felt the process began to motivate her to think about areas of her life that she may have previously not been able to make time for.
“It was empowering,” Danielle said.
My cake collection baked a fierce feminist/
I am she/
she is me/
I accept//
poem by @lylyee
Artist Team
L – R: Siobhan, Alysha, Vanessa, Brianna
A Caring Portrait
February to May 2015
Alysha Herrmann – Creative Producer and Poet (@lylyee)
Vanessa Kalderovskis –Body and Face Artist
Siobhan Fearon – Photographer
Brianna Obst – Assistant artist
Collaborating Carers:
Marissa Wilkinson
Jessica Scoble
Penelope Monk
Vanessa Kalderovskis
Danielle Crew
Jade Teigeler
Dianne Hill
Mark Woodhouse
Jacinta Woodhouse
Joshua Stokes
Thank you to all of the fantastic staff at Carer Support who supported this project and for their ongoing passion for the work they do of caring for carers.
In particular thank you to Carer Support staff Marg, Tina, Julie and Josh for initiating the project with Alysha and Vanessa and collaborating with the artists to see it come to life.
You can see the final exhibition of photography and poetry at the Southern Carer Support Centre, 241B Main South Road Morphett Vale during office hours.
Photographer Siobhan Fearon shared some beautiful blog thoughts into the process along the way, which you can find here: http://siobhanfearon.weebly.com/blog/category/acaringportrait


Protected: The Third Place, Creative Producer

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Another Elusive Maybe

AEM promo image 1

“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.” Jen St Jack, Great Scott


Every show performed in a different lounge room. A one woman theatre experiment asking “How can we feel so alone surrounded by people who love us?”


“The sound of a baby crying

The sound of a kettle boiling

The sound of a dog howling

The sound of a closing door”



Another Elusive Maybe was a performance experiment presented as part of the Adelaide Fringe 2016. Each ‘show’ was presented in a different (real life) lounge-room for a maximum of 8 people per show. The performance incorporated poetry & soundscape (via silent disco headsets), live text message conversations (with each individual audience member) and expressing breast milk.


What does motherhood, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and mummy worries have to say about how we all connect in a world overloaded with sorrow?


“Nine people – performer and audience – sit in a suburban lounge room. We are ostensibly together, hearing the same words and seeing and doing the same things. We are intimate, and yet, we are isolated.” – Jenn St Jack, Great Scott


“There are so many simple, yet sophisticated layers to this wonderfully human work providing deep food for thought about the issues Herrmann set out to explore and experiment on. You feel comforted by what you hear, because the delivery takes the sting out of the real struggle those words are dealing with, as much as you love the genuine warmth and joy there too. Equally, because of this, you feel at ease anonymously having a frank and honest discussion about some deep things. You are in a comforting place known to most, a lounge room.” – David O’Brien, The Barefoot Review


Anonymous audience feedback (via text message)

“A BIG WoW!!! Thankyou!!! Really made me think….and feel! x”

“Wow. I’m literally blown away by how you guys create art. Like what makes you think this is the way I want to perform this story!! Yes well job well done!!! I hope you feel proud to try and make your way through this fucked up beautiful world!!”

“I really enjoyed it and I think I talked to my partner about it longer than it went for. I read the whole leaflet afterwards. Even yesterday. And that’s the thing with art and with what you did, you don’t know how long it lasts or when it takes hold. (….) I like that you talked about what we (I) think about. (…) Thanks again, so much for the inspiration. You at least made a difference here.”

“How do you this with kids? It must nearly break you surely. I feel like crying right now. From inspiration and appreciation, sadness for what I’m not doing. (….) Thank you for sharing. I loved and appreciated it. Hugely.”

“Impressed with your ability to maintain mulit threads of convo. I keep forgetting to listen while typing/reading. Which in itself is interesting..”

“This (your performance) is the strangest combination of intimate yet distant, personal yet remote, familiar yet unusual. Fascinating.”

“Very tightly structured, rich, densely packed with poetic fantasy and reality.”


audience feedback image


Another Elusive Maybe

By Alysha Herrmann & Ryan Morrison

Public season, Adelaide Fringe 2016

16 & 23rd February, 8th March

Various lounge rooms.

Another Elusive Maybe Program Zine PDF

Listen to the headset audio from AEM: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2q9aa1fwf80rmvo/Another%20Elusive%20Maybe%20%28Final%20Draft%29.mp3?dl=0


Interview with The Upside News, which sheds light on the impetus and ideas behind Another Elusive Maybe: https://theupsidenews.com/2016/02/11/interview-another-elusive-maybe-the-fringe-show-in-your-lounge-room/

Great Scott Review by Jen St Jack: http://greatscott.media/2016/03/09/another-elusive-maybe/

The Barefoot Review by David O’Brien:http://www.thebarefootreview.com.au/menu/theatre/119-2014-adelaide-reviews/1292-another-elusive-maybe.html


A gathering of sticks and stones #poetry #thedirtythirtychallenge #fire


A gathering of sticks and stones:


I see the strain in your hunched shoulders little love

Your crouched knees show me everything

Eye to eye we curl into each other

My fingers reach towards you

Flickering and clean

But you –





Dirty Thirty Day 23 Prompt:

Write a poem from the perspective of a natural element ie. water, fire, earth etc., or a force of nature, for instance, a hurricane, earthquake, tornado etc.
The clincher: the poem gets shorter with each line.


The Dirty Thirty Challenge is one poem a day for the thirty days of April. Dirty Thirty prompts are from ‘The Dirty Thirty Challenge’ facebook group (admins). Poems published here are my own unless otherwise specified.

Light #poetry #lovestory #marriage #home


It spreads.
Inching it’s way across my smile. Across the lines around my mouth and the old tightness in my jaw. Curling into the moment of skin where my ears touch my face. Tickling its way up into my hair, ghost fingers of joy. Undeniable.
It spreads.
Whenever I look at you. Whenever you look at me.
It spreads.
In time. In space. In this.
It spreads.




Prompt – ‘freewrite friday”