What is it that empowers you most?
The easy answer is inspiration. But inspiration isn't necessarily easy for me to find. To me, creativity is one of my greatest tools - or weapons. And inspiration unlocks my creativity. If I can't access my creativity, I actually feel weaker and can even feel depressed. So inspiration is key. And I find inspiration in connection, whether it be a connection with my surroundings, with strangers, with friends, with loved ones ... or at times with my own thoughts. Because connection safely grounds us, it also gives us the ability to safely soar. And so now I must change my answer from inspiration to connection. Since I just realized I can't be inspired without a connection.
What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my hair. Not because it's big and bouncy and curly - and more of a landmark than a style. Well, a little bit because of that. But because it represents everything I used to fear, everything I used to hide, everything I used to hate about myself. When I finally embraced my curls, I felt more at home in my own skin - or hair as it were. I discovered my authenticity. And I realized, it wasn't just me who felt this way. People began to recognize me for my hair - or strangers would start conversations with me because of my hair. Yes. There's that connection again. But there's more to it than just compliments or conversations. It's incredible how often those conversations would lead to other people's admissions about their own insecurities. The more you talk openly with others, the more you realize you are not the only one, and the more empowered you become.
Also interesting ... On the rare occasions, when I decide to exhaust myself straightening my hair, while friends may be quick to tell me how good it looks, I've never had a stranger approach me to say anything about my straight hair. But I regularly have strangers approach compliment my curly hair. And it's funny how often people ask if it's my real hair. Some are still skeptical when I say it's real. Honestly, I don't know why it's so hard to believe the words that come out of a 19-year-old girl's mouth. ;)
What makes you feel most beautiful?
Control. But that's not a good thing. When I'm in control of my work, my environment, my circumstances, my body, I generally just feel better about myself - or at least think I do. I can look in the mirror and like the person looking back at me - both inside and out. When elements of my life are out of my control - or not going the way I want, it's interesting how I can see myself as heavier or see myself as uglier - both inside and out. (I was about to write "feel heavier or feel uglier", but those aren't feelings!!)
Now, if we look at this through a lighter lens? I feel most beautiful when I'm in what my mom calls my "uniform": my comfy yoga shorts, a tank top, and a cozy hoodie, with my black, thick-rimmed glasses on (I usually wear contacts), and all makeup scrubbed off. But that doesn't mean I'll get dressed like that to some snazz event. Still, no matter how snazz-mattazz that event was, and how fancy-pantsy I made myself look, coming home and changing into my "uniform" is when I feel most beautiful.
Who is your biggest role model and why?
I know it's an easy way out, but I can't name just one. The same way we need a balanced diet of food to be nourished, I think we need a balanced selection of role models. Which for me is always changing, especially as I meet new people and seek out inspiration. So, this leads me to choose my biggest *role models by naming the only constants - in no particular order:
My mom, whom I call Mumby. I made up a language as a 12-year-old. I called it Pwet-Wet. Mumby is mom in Pwet-Wet. And my Mumby is the most selfless and most unconditionally caring person I've ever encountered.
My late maternal grandmother Rose, whom I called Bubby Booboo, because she always had booboos. She survived the Holocaust. She was always ahead of her time in terms of risk, expression and simply daring to be different - well, daring to be herself. The thing is, she didn't try to be different, she just celebrated and enjoyed her differences. (And like me, she LOVED shoes. Yes. We're both Shoe'ish.)
My dad, Papa. He made tremendous personal sacrifices that have made history in Canada. It was because of these sacrifices he helped influence the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to include the clause prohibiting discrimination, based on race, colour or creed. But you'll never hear him tell people this story. Heroes never seem to talk about their acts of heroism. But I'm not the hero here, so I'll always brag about it for him.
Charlie Chaplin ... The most incredible artist the world has ever seen. And he showed me how you can use art to affect humanity, whether politically, socially, emotionally, spiritually or entertainingly. (Is entertainingly a word?)
My little puppy man, Fozzie Bear ... My delicious mini-Goldendoodle for whom I have a million pet names. Because dogs are my favourite people. And he's just the best person.
*And, oh, each role model has made this list for many more reasons than stated. I just noted the first thing that came to mind when I thought of him or her.
Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Anne Frank. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. So many members of my family were either Holocaust victims or survivors. The gruesome effects linger in my DNA and psyche. So naturally Anne touches me on the deepest level. In a sense, she is the greatest Holocaust survivor. Anne left the world such a powerful gift. Not just in her extraordinary writing, but in her ability to connect us to a horrific time and event like no one else could.
Laura Ingalls Wilder. Remember Little House On The Prairie? Well, when I was a little girl I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Obviously, the character of Laura I watched on the romanticized TV show was not necessarily like the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder. But as an adult, when I re-watched many of those now hokey Little House episodes, I decided to read up on the real life Laura. And holy Half Pint, Pa. Hers is a true story of grit, tenacity, and a real life pioneer - especially in the world of writing for women. Little House needs to be redone as its true story. Because we need to hear and honour more stories of inspiration.
If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
My social media profiles. Now, while I only post true things about myself online, you don't see the whole picture. If you line everything up from Facebook and Instagram and Twitter... my life looks fun, easy and unscathed. And I think far too often, especially these days, not only to do we fool others with our online "branding," whether intentionally or unintentionally, but sometimes we can also fool ourselves.
What is your biggest life goal?
It's a very Miss Universe answer: To have a meaningful and lasting impact on this world, long after I'm gone. But I really don't know the ultimate goal that will get me there. While I do create goals from month-to-month and year-to-year, I think that biggest goal is still a ways away. So naming it now could be limiting. And one of my biggest fears is failing to reach my greatest limits and potential. But, my second biggest goal is to find zero-calorie chocolate cake.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
This is difficult. It could be helping the late Matt Cook leave a legacy. He was a 22-year-old Paralympian with a story similar to Terry Fox's story. And even though the article I wrote ended up going viral, and getting Matt's story attention on Hockey Night In Canada ... And even though I got in touch with the Terry Fox Foundation and was able to connect Matt, shortly before his passing, with his hero's brother Fred Fox ... And even after Matt told me how happy this made him ... And even after his family told me a few years later how much what I did meant to them ... It all still felt anti-climactic. I wish I could have done more. But, writing this out, then re-reading it makes me accept how this must be my biggest accomplishment.
What is your favourite quote?
"Every don't is an invitation to do." - Dahlia Kurtz
Well, that's not necessarily my favourite quote, but I've just said it since I was a little girl. And have often succeeded ... and failed, by this mantra.
If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
You are so much more capable than you think you are and can accomplish so much more than you limit yourself to.
And you can't make your hair look like your friends' hair. So stop brushing your curls!
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is not being a female talk show host ... or a being a male nurse. Feminism is being a talk show host ... or a nurse. To me, despite what a dictionary says, feminism is humanism. And humanism transcends gender, sexual orientation, race, colour, creed ... And ... and this is a big AND ... humanism is not just tolerating others because I don't want someone to tolerate me. Humanism is accepting others and treating others with dignity and respect.
Dahlia Kurtz is a Talk Show Host in Winnipeg, Manitoba