I have always grappled with a thought.. A thought on love.

If your parents  say they ‘only want what is best for you’ why do they instill in us from a young age that ‘first comes love, then comes marriage?’

A song that haunts me when I hear it sung by my nephews and niece. A song that I truly believe is designed to brainwash us into heteronormativity and to make us live to our parents true dream for us - to  aspire to be a bride, a groom, to have the white picket fence and 2.5 children - in short- to be just like our parents.  But if our parents truly want what's best for us, why didn’t they ever sing  ‘first love yourself, then love others?’  As a queer person, it has taken me 20-something years to shake off the societal pressure of marriage and children, to be comfortable with myself, by myself and allow love into my life in ways I want to feel it and even in a long term relationship, I feel this pressure arise every year on one day- Valentines Day.  A day designed to celebrate love, historically for heterosexuals to declare their love out love, to celebrate with grandeur.

As I was scrolling through Instagram one day, deep in sponsored Valentines Day content, I stumbled upon queer label Fax Volume by Madison Hewitt, a QLD based designer who views Valentines day a little differently than most. As I clicked on her page I started to see that there is more to her than meets the eye and that  Madison is using her capsule collection, aptly titled ‘Hopeless Romantic’ to reclaim her power and change the stigma of BPD.

Trigger warning: This article talks about sexual assault and mental health disorders.

Tell me more about FAX Volumes

I was at my lowest point mentally when I lost everything due to COVID-19. It became clear to me that I had suppressed so many issues by distracting myself with all of the different variables in my life that I allowed to determine my worth subconsciously. When I was forced to be alone with my own thoughts and left completely raw,  I became overwhelmed with the amount of self worth I really had. I had gone from being non stop to what felt like solitary confinement. I went really manic and lost myself for months and started acting like someone not even my family could recognise because my mind went into survival mode trying to avoid looking in the mirror and finally facing my trauma. I was living my life as a ticking time bomb that had finally exploded. I one day in my height of mania, I decided to post on my personal Instagram what I was facing and be open about my mental health disorders and what I was going through. I was probably too honest but the response I received from people who were going through something so similar or knew someone like me was incredible - I created a platform  by being transparent and I translated it all to my page stating “FACTS” hence the name FAX volumes. I started with t-shirts when I was learning the ropes and building a customer base. The pieces sold out very quickly because I gave the power back to people who had been made to feel less than their worth. I took a break for a while because I wanted to fine tune my brand and elevate. I thought then to isolate each topic and concentrate on one issue at a time to hold space for a broader range of people which is why I decided to create volumes. I wanted to build a brand where I could mix both of my 2 biggest passions and that is fighting the fight for equality and fashion and I have done that.

I have to say Madison, the more we talk the more fascinated I become - tell me more about

Underneath it all, I think I am a lost soul and in reality I am constantly up to no good, but I back myself heavily because my heart is in the right place and that’s a fact.

Is that related to your past, do you think?

Kids weren’t nice to me growing up because I wasn’t classically “cute” nor “pretty” and I was always picked last or by default. I had teeth that looked like dinosaurs. I was taller than every other kid in my grade. I used to lie about silly things to make myself seem cool and constantly tried to fit in making myself so uncomfortable. I always got along with boys better than girls but I was too feminine to always hang out with them and too tomboy to always get along with girls. I felt like such an ugly duckling and didn’t think I belonged anywhere which sucked. I did what every other lonely kid did and built my fantasy life in video games and through drawings. I made friends coming into high school and acted really tough so people wouldn’t tease me like they did in primary school -I always say it's my false shield of armour.

When did you discover you were queer?

I always knew I was queer growing up because I never had crushes on boys and got butterflies over other girls. I actually came out really young at the age of 14. I went to a party and was sexually assaulted and terrorised by a group of boys because my queerness made them uncomfortable.

I am so sorry to hear, you are also not alone and we are with you. Did your parents know?

I came out to my parents and told them what had happened to me at the same time and their initial thought was that I was only gay because I was hurt not that I was hurt for being gay. I grew up having to not only live through my trauma but defend my sexuality. I was conditioned to think I was wrong and damaged and I then lost sight of who I was all together. I let everyone else tell me who I should be and followed accordingly. I resented everyone around me because I never felt true to myself and I felt like I had my authenticity stolen from me. It’s something I still hold very close to me and I’m working through and I know that because I even have tears in my eyes while writing this 15 years later. Having your identity stolen from you is a pain you’ll never lose and I find ways to adapt to that daily. The best strategy I found to be the most successful was to have the mentality of “Madison you have nothing to lose and everything to gain” and I carry that with me with everything I do to this day. I started living for me because I lost everything after Covid and as much as I went through one of my darkest periods of my life it was also what I needed the most for my own self discovery.

I now live a life of taking no prisoners and strive to help others do the same. I am outspoken and annoying but I mean well and I’m so fucking unapologetic for it.

You are in no way annoying and I admire you for being so strong, living through such trauma, what inspired you to create the hopeless romantic collection?

I have a mental health disorder called BorderLine Personality Disorder (BPD). It’s core is fear of abandonment and rejection. From my experience you want to be loved so badly that you’re willing to mould yourself and lower your standards and expectations to please others. You can become who people want you to be so they don’t leave you and exposed to the wrong people can be really dangerous to a person who has this disorder. Essentially you can’t walk away from a relationship whether that’s romantic or just a friendship even if it’s extremely toxic. You’re constantly searching for validation from people who aren’t even worth it. It’s really a struggle because I find that people who have this disorder which is so common romanticise everything. I have had this disorder held against me in multiple relationships and made to feel ashamed of it.

I’ve had my sanity put in question over it and made to feel like no one was ever going to love me the same way as I love in return.

I think the name itself “borderline personality disorder” sounds really negative and doesn’t resonate with the symptoms at all. It in my opinion is giving yourself such a false sense of how you feel about yourself if you’re diagnosed when all we crave is love. I renamed my disorder “Hopeless Romantic” in hopes others would do the same. It was important for me to tear apart the horrible stigma attached to it altogether and I never knew myself how common it was until I spoke openly about my own journey which has helped others who have followed me to do the same. The collection itself is outerwear pyjamas and that idea came from the countless amount of days I have wasted in bed feeling so low by this disorder that I’ve claimed my power back and essentially throwing it in peoples faces and wearing it as a badge of honour.

I love that you are reclaiming your power and taking away the stigma behind such an awful disorder, I dare ask, and only because the collection is being released this day, What are your views on Valentines Day?

I think it’s really stupid and more of a reminder for people who are alone to feel miserable. Can’t couples celebrate their love on their anniversary?

It’s more negative than positive in my eyes because you’re essentially dividing singles from those in relationships and I’m all about equality.

Why should a day exist where it’s inevitably going to make people feel sad?.

I completely agree, not to mention the fact that it’s completely skewed towards heterosexual couples...

For sure! But when it comes to love in general we were taught from babies that love was between a man and a woman. From when we learn about The “birds and the bees” we are taught it is only about men and women, it's about conception only but why can’t kids learn about “birds and birds” or “bees and bees”? I do think Valentines Day symbolises an archaic concept of love and that is primarily the reason I chose Valentines Day to reclaim my power in my own way.

Is that what love means to you in 2021?

Definitely! I am working so hard on loving myself first and foremost because I don’t heal from rejection at the same pace as everyone else. I move on from people and can always see the error in their ways but I find it so hard to live with the question of “what was wrong with me that I wasn’t worth being treated better?”.... I am such an all in person when it comes to finding love and in the past, I’ve created habits of not taking my time getting to know people.

Long story short, for me to be open to love I need to learn how to be more aware of peoples red flags and stop settling just to be loved because it never ends well.

Where do you see your label in a few years time?

This is the first time in my life that I have felt that I am exactly where I need to be in life. It for me makes my entire history make sense and it’s now serving its purpose. I want to see my brand grow  to such a level that I’m able to collaborate with amazing people and show sides of their vulnerability and express it through collections.

I want to really push my limits creatively when it comes to pairing fashion with social causes because I just want minorities to feel seen and spoken for and not treated as novelties.

I really think I have such an eye for filling this gap and what the fashion industry, especially in Australia is missing. I hope to build a foundation now that will not only bring awareness to topics that need to be spoken about but also encourage these communities to speak and express themselves in any way they can.

I always say and will stick by the motto —

‘Being your authentic self makes shit people feel uncomfortable and we love that.’ Self love is the future.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please know help is available via the SASS website: https://www.sass.org.au/ or by phoning their crisis support helpline on 1800 697 877. In addition to publishing this article BOY! Incognito also made a donation to the SASS Organisation.

If you or anyone you know suffers from BPD, please know help is available via the BPD Foundation which supports, promotes and advocates for those with Borderline Personality Disorder. More information can be found on the BPD foundation website, https://bpdfoundation.org.au/ In addition to publishing this article BOY! Incognito also made a donation to the BPD Foundation.

© BOY! Incognito 2020