Maiden Name Project: Anzie Dasabe

What exactly is a maiden name? Yes, it’s the security question your bank asks you when you keep forgetting your password. And yes, more factually, it is what females in various cultures call their birthname before they marry and take their husbands’ surnames.

But this is 2017. I mean, come the fuck on. Why should women give up such a large chunk of their identity for the sake of their husbands? What about the gays and lesbians and everything in between? What about Feminism? More importantly, how much history have we erased by stripping women of their last names for centuries upon centuries?

Fact: In the United States, only eight states have regulated an official process for a man to change his name during the whole marriage thing. To us, that says it all.
So sat down with three of our favorite creatives to talk about their mothers and their mothers’ lineage, celebrating that half of their heritage just in time for Mother’s Day, which, as we all come to realize with age, should be every day. We also reimagined their identity as if they’d taken their mothers’ maiden names as their own last names. Finally, we had Historian Michael Rayhill give us a little background on each person’s mother. First off, we have Anzie Dasabe, whose mother is Pamela Foto, born in Kumba, Cameroon in May of 1975. She graduated the University of Nevada in 1996 with a degree in Business Adminstration. Anzie’s maternal grandparents’ names are Martina Foto and Everistus Foto (which, btw, is officially the coolest name we’ve ever heard).

Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with your mother and growing up with her?

My relationship with my mom is complicated. When I was younger, my mom and I were really, really close. Then I got older, and got into a really rebellious, angsty phase, but I started early, I was like 11. I got really distant from my mom, but she’s always been very supportive of my dream, and even now, she tries to be. She has always been the buffer, really, like if I wanted to go out or do anything, I’d ask my mom and she’d ask my dad.

What does she do career wise?

My mom is a physical therapist, she does home health and stuff. She also works for nursing homes sometimes. She used to drag me along to home health to take care of people in their houses. I resented it, because I did it a lot in the summer. But I got a lot of pies from sweet old ladies who had really bad arthritis, so it worked out. She also has another business, which is her passion. She has an event venue, and that’s now where we spend all of our weekends and summers, in Texas.

Kind of corny, but growing up did you consider her a role model? Or was it more like seeing her and thinking I don’t want to be anything like you?

It was kind of mixed. I wanted to be the young version of my mother, like I really really enjoy going through my parents’ photos when they were younger, which is where I get a lot of inspiration for everything I do—my style, the style photography, videography, where I want to travel. I’d look at pictures of her and think “Wow, I want to be just like her,” then I’d see present version of my mom and “I want to be nothing like her!”

Do you know what her relationship with her mother was like?
Um, she told me thatwe were actually in the middle of an argument–and she told me I’m really, really lucky to have her, because she didn’t get to talk about her feelings with her mom, or how she felt about what her mom would say or do. So she tries really, really hard, even though we’re mad or in an argument, to let me talk about how I feel. Because her mom didn’t do that for her.

And you don’t know why that was necessarily, it’s just kind of how it was?

Yeah, it’s like a foreign mom thing, “Don’t talk back!” And opening your mouth is talking back, basically.

If you ever talked to your mom about being a woman in this world, do you speak ever about feminism or being a woman? I don’t know if her industry is male-dominated, but I guess it is a male-dominated world. Is it something you’ve ever talked about?

My mom has never, ever plainly talked about feminism, but she’s always told me, “Make sure you always have your own.” Don’t depend on a man for anything. You do you. You get your degree. Go to school first. Do you what you want to do first. And then find a man. Don’t find a man first, and don’t depend on him for anything.

Do you agree with that?

I definitely do. It’s definitely made me a workaholic and very independent.

My mom has never, ever plainly talked about feminism, but she’s always told me, “Make sure you always have your own.”

So you took it to heart and followed it. Do you think that was easier said than done?

Well with the partners I’ve chosen in the past, they’ve always been people who have their own passions, who also respect my passions, and push me to follow mine, while I push them to follow theirs in return. It’s never been like “Oh, I’m infatuated with you, I want to only be around you.” I don’t know, I guess it’s just been my mom teaching me how to choose partners. She’s always said choose somebody who’s going to lift you up and not drag you down.

How do you empower yourself as a woman in your career or day-to-day life?

I try to not make myself small, and not say sorry as much. I also encourage other women to say the same. I noticed that we’ve been taught to be not loud, very soft, very sweet, do this, do that, cross your legs, smile this way, and I’ve always encouraged other women to take up space, be loud, spread your legs like a man if you want to, do whatever you want. It’s about asserting your own dominance because so many times, we’re put in this little box where we have to be quiet and be sweet and be docile, because that’s what women are and that’s what it means to be feminine.

Yeah, and it shouldn’t be that way. Last question: with Mother’s Day rolling up and with that being the focus here, is there anything you want to thank your mother for?

I’m thankful to my mom for giving me opportunity. I said before that she’s my buffer, for talking to my dad and she really helped me convince my dad to let me move to New York and do this by myself. Also, just giving me the opportunity by leaving her home super young, and coming to Europe, and working crappy jobs cleaning offices and houses until she had enough money to come here and go to school so that she could give me a good life. I’m just thankful to my mom for giving me opportunity. Aw, I’m going to cry…

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