ARMED Jewelry

Notable In Toronto: Vivek Shraya

Desiree Girlato

If you didn't already know, Vivek Shraya, Feist and Drake all have the best Toronto songs of 2017 (NOW magazine), but for Vivek it isn't the only notable feat on her resume.  Vivek has set her sights on gold and is working at a Beyonce level pace to create an impact far beyond the borders of Toronto. Through her art, music and writing she offers a perspective that is rarely shared and invites a dialogue to be had with more than just the queer community.  

I had the pleasure of first meeting Vivek in my store a few years back and we instantly connected over jewelry and style.  I always love seeing how anyone gets ARMED but their is something very special when I get a DM from Vivek.   An especially amazing moment is seeing Vivek on a billboard in the centre of Dundas Square rocking a full stack of ARMED.  

We sat down with Vivek to talk about her new album Part Time Woman.  What follows is what she had to say about her own process.  

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The song that resonated with me the most was ‘Hari Nef’ as a woman we have the ability change our style and looks  to create such an interchangeable evolution with hair, clothing, style and makeup, however sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough.  It feels impossible to not compare yourself to others with the influence of social media in our lives.  Do you feel pressure to conform to every aspect of femininity?

Absolutely. There is an expectation for trans women to perform a hyper-femininity at all times, and any faltering is seen as sloppiness or failure and evidence that I am not actually a girl. This idea of never measuring up is where the album title, Part-Time Woman, comes from. 

I struggle with conforming to every aspect of being a woman and sometimes dwell on how I fit into being a woman in a traditional sense. Do you think it’s possible to ever feel like you completely fit in to the standards set by society?

Given that beauty standards preference white cisgender bodies, I don’t fit in and likely never will. The onus is always is on me to “not care” and to “just be myself.” On my best days, this can be liberating but on many days this work is exhausting and dehumanizing.

Sometimes I feel like inclusivity still has so many exclusions that it’s actually a very lonely place at time. In comparison do you feel more burdened by superficial constructs then you did before?

I spent most of my life trying to prove that I was a man, which involved abiding by a completely different set of superficial constructs, like building muscle mass and taking up physical space. So for me the burden has just been swapped. 

With regards to your style do you have a piece in your wardrobe that exemplifies your femininity?

Truthfully, I feel like my personal style is quite limited because women’s clothing isn’t generally made for my body. This involves being creative with the options I do have. I wear a lot of oversized clothing—often not out of choice but because it’s one of the only ways for me to create a draping, feminine silhouette. 

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When you dress do you choose to put on certain outfits or articles of clothing to be different types of women?

Because of the limitations I mentioned and my recent transition, I am still trying to figure out how to be and like my own woman, as opposed to being different types of women.

What's your favourite accessory that you have in your wardrobe? Or you go to that you can never leave the house without?

A bindi. 

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How important was it for you to share this album with not only your queer audience but also other straight women?

While I do think that trans women’s experiences are specific and heightened, there are also experiences that are universal to all women. So I definitely I hope that straight and cisgender women find resonance in the album too.

What will be your next medium of work? And are you already involved in your next project?

I just completed recording a new album for my band Too Attached which I am so excited about. This will hopefully be out in the next year! I am also working on my second novel.