An interview given by Annie Taylor founder of the Profanity Embroidery Group (PEG) caught my eye recently.
PEG is a group for women who come together to swear via the creative art of embroidery. It was inspired by a cartoon of an older woman who was sitting, stitching covering everything with hearts and flowers together with the subversive phrase ‘fuck the world’. The catch line is “ Mrs Winchester finds a positive outlet for frustrated negative energy”.
Before you start protesting that this all sounds a bit unnecessarily vulgar, you should really STFU because it has been proven that swearing is good for you.
In fact, author Emma Byrne explains that ” research shows that swearing also helps productivity, creates greater unity, eases pain and is so deeply embedded in our brains that profanities are often the last bits of language that stroke victims can use”.
The Profanity Embroidery Group has helped those who can stitch to swear and those who can swear to stitch and feeds into a long tradition of women’s communal work which provides a creative and safe space for self- expression, affiliation and laughter. It also challenges ideas of what is considered acceptable lady-like behaviour and rejects what can seem like a relentless message embedded in a lot of self-help material that the central purpose of activities should be personal growth. This is the exact opposite reason for getting involved given by one member who said they wanted to do something that was in no way ‘self-improving’ and it was this sentiment that caught my eye.
Having recently taken part in a podcast with CBT Therapist Jim Lucas exploring self-help encouraged me to think about the genre and the difficulties it can present. I challenge the idea that it is possible to overcome psychological distress by diligently employing the tools and strategies outlined in the literature. It seems to me that the task of keeping yourself psychologically healthy is a full-time job, a bit like housework. You can let it slide for a few days/weeks but at some point, you’re going to need to get stuck in and start sorting stuff out. You’ll never completely overcome it because humans are messy but you will have a clean pair of pants when required. The key thing is not to get too down on yourself when you find yourself looking in the laundry basket for something to recycle. Life is hard and cruel and unpredictable and sometimes just running out of clean pants will make you lose your stack. It’s OK to vent.
Frankie Boyle the comedian recently tweeted,”Life ’s biggest lie is that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. A lot of days you’ll struggle just to make yourself a sandwich.”. I couldn’t agree more and on those days if you just want to prettily embroider the word ‘twat’ on a piece of calico, knock yourself out. You have my permission.