[Cover Photo: A person wearing a shirt saying ‘I am my own advocate, because I have to be’ drawn by Mimi, @cantgoout_imsick; Source]
Article by Emily Bourne.
‘Girls On the Rise’ is a series here at Risen Zine, where we interview wxman we think are inspirational and deserve recognition. Previous installments include amazing womxn, like Lauren Beatty, Paige Wold and Gabrielle Narcisse.
I decided to interview Mimi because I find her work incredibly uplifting for the chronic illness community, especially since it spreads awareness of illnesses that aren’t always taken seriously or even heard of.
You can find the other ‘Girls on the Rise’ posts on this here.
What was the intention starting your Instagram account, @cantgoout_imsick?
The account was initially set up as an art account where I would post paintings of celebrities with chronic illnesses. It then became something more when my follower count started to increase and I wanted to expand it into doing a series of drawings/paintings of just ‘ordinary’ women suffering from illness. To me, it is important that I direct it to women because I think being ill as a woman is a whole different issue: we deal with so much sexism in the medical industry and I want to draw attention to this.
Here are some examples of illustrations from Mimi’s Instagram:
[12 different drawings of womxn with chronic illnesses. The most common phrase is ‘believe me’, referring to how people with chronic illnesses/pain are often told ‘it’s all in their head’; Source.]
That’s amazing! What inspired you to focus on this subject matter specifically?
Well, really it’s the women who I decide to draw who inspire me in some way or another, most especially their ability to still pursue their dreams and ambitions despite their chronic illnesses. I know it’s simply just not as easy as that for many of us, but it still keeps me driven in trying to achieve something in my life, even if it’s as small as just drawing something that makes someone else happy. I choose to draw women/people who identify as female because I am particularly interested in sexism in the medical industry and how much of a problem that is. It takes us even longer to get diagnosed as we are always seen to be ‘overreacting’ or ‘being dramatic’ when it comes to our health and for some reason our opinions on what’s happening within our own body doesn’t seem to matter. I became a feminist when I became unwell because for the first time really I felt that being a woman was one of the main reasons I wasn’t being taken seriously.
That’s really interesting! What do you think can be done to stop sexism in the medical industry?
I honestly do not know. I think it’s something that has been ingrained into our culture and society that women are always seen as dramatic and emotional and therefore we can not be trusted when it comes to bigger matters like our health; I think there is still this idea of the ‘hysterical woman.’ Hopefully, as the feminist movement keeps rising and equality improves, that will also improve how women are treated by doctors.
Definitely! Charlotte Perkins Gilman had the same view and challenged this idea with her book, The Yellow Wallpaper. I think your work challenges the medical industry in the same way! Proving that 'women's illnesses' are very real and should be taken seriously. In conclusion, I’d like to ask you if are there any chronically ill people that inspire you & you'd like to shout out?
Ooo, I haven't heard of this book.
Gosh, there are so many amazing sick girls who inspire me that I feel I can’t list them all! But I will try list a few. Firstly, Mary, whose account is @invalidart, is my go to girl when it comes to anything illness related (and just to catch up). She has so much knowledge on a lot of things that I am just starting to get my head around.
Claudia who runs @ablezine is amazing. Her confidence is infectious, so I leave our conversations thinking ‘YES I got this!!’ Claudia is also really aware of inclusivity within the chronic illness community and making sure that all people who are sick can relate to content and feel included. Whether it’s race, sexuality, gender and also the spectrum of severity in illness or disability. I think that’s so important.
Georgia who has @theendojournal is just a babe and so supportive, I also love her content on her page it’s the sort of colour palette I love.
We’ll definitely give them a follow! Thank you so much for allowing us to interview you. All the best!
Other articles about Mimi: