The Color of Our Feathers #1: Vanessa
Spending an afternoon with Vanessa Saccone in downtown Vancouver, exploring the graffitied alleys of Gastown, I soon realized this is not just a kid with a camera. With an eye as keen as a professional Vanessa brings more than just a pretty picture to the table. A teenager with 12k followers on instagram is either faking it until they make it or is the real deal, and this 16 year old is nothing if not a genuine soul.
“There are statistics that say androgynous people are more likely to succeed.” If this is the case, Vanessa is off to a great start. In the last two years she decided to abandon all preconceived notions of how she “should” look and shifted her style to how she wanted to look. “My mom didn’t understand what the word androgynous meant,” Vanessa told me, sitting handsomely across from me in a crisp teal shirt and one of my ties. “I had to look it up in a psychology book and show her.” The kids in her high school seemed to have had a similiar reaction. “They don’t like it when something’s different,” Vanessa explains. Name calling is something Vanessa deals with on a frequent basis but doesn’t let it get her down. “There are always going to be people who have a negative reaction. You just have to block them out.”
On the other hand, there are the younger kids at Vanessa’s school who look to her and see possibility. Wow, I can look like that too! Which is Vanessa’s view on androgynous culture in general. “It could be bigger,” she says. “The more people dress the way they want and express themselves… the more people will be happy in general.”
An all around creative person, Vanessa writes poetry and is a photographer both for leisure and for work. At only 16 she works as a photographer for her aunt’s marketing firm. That’s pretty cool, right? The more time I spent with this person the more envy I felt, wishing I could turn back time and take her little nuggets of wisdom back to my teenage years. Her optimistic spirit has reminded me that when you cut down the shallow aesthetics of worrying about what peers, parents and society think of you, you wind up being a happier and more successful being. She attributes her happiness to all she’s experienced, good and bad, over the past couple of years; through the storms of coming out, to the acceptance she’s felt from friends and family, to realizing that it’s most important to be yourself. I think we can all take a chapter from Vanessa’s book.
A video profile of Vanessa based on the interview I had with her will be released soon.
[A note: I did ask what her pronoun preference was. She didn’t have one and is referred to as “she” by those around her.
You can view Vanessa’s photography in these three places: