Last modified: February 24th, 2021
Just as gender, cultural identity, and sexuality are critical aspects of a person’s identity, so can what I call monstrousness. Monstrousness affects our relationship with society’s rules regarding self-expression and creativity. Being a monster is a form of rebellion against social conformity and repression of interests. Monstrousness is a call towards the Freudian id: to be unrelentingly, unashamedly expressive about one’s passions and interests. Monstrousness is connected to the idea of being wild, untamed by society, which is why monster-people identify with creatures or aspects of the natural world.
To make it really simple:
Human = part of society, obeys broad social laws, suppresses instincts, socially graceful, easily ashamed, personal interests take a backseat to making sure one fulfills a functional role in society for the benefit of others
Monster = outside of society, follows own personal morals, trusts instincts, not concerned about judgement from others, pursuit and expression of own interests is top priority
Some monster-people have a firm, clear picture of their monster-form, while others are more amorphous and may see themselves as different kinds of monsters at different times. Because monstrousness is inherently creative, monster-people will often feel physically different when in their monster-state, even though they don’t look different to outsiders. They may “feel” the traits of their monster-form or sense a compulsion to act more animalistic. Monster-forms do not need to be clearly frightening or meet the normal definitions of a “monster” – that defeats the whole purpose, anyway. I have personally met monster-people who see themselves as natural-looking dogs, along with dragons, merfolk, cryptid owlmen, winged wolves, undead humans, and even simply humans with horns. They’re all monsters because they actively break the rules of what it means to be human… and also because your average dog can’t talk or draw.
To be very clear, there are not people out there who can actually, physically shape-shift into non-human forms (unfortunately). This “shift” is entirely internal but may be externalized through a change in behavior, clothing choices, and speech patterns. It’s just another facet of the complex “human” personality that holds a very specific role: expressing oneself unashamedly. We all have different “personalities” based on the environment and people we’re around. “Work” personality is very different from “with friends” personality, even though they’re all the same person. I often think of human personalities as different colored lenses or filters over a single lamp – “monster” is just another lens, one that lets more creative “light” through and filters out the fear of judgement.
It can take work to build and utilize one’s monster-self effectively. As anyone creative person knows, inspiration is fickle, and it can take hours to get in the zone to make art. Some monster-people find ways to manually flip the mental switch on their monstrousness which, by association, lets them start being creative faster. Unfortunately, this can also mean you might feel monstrous at times when you don’t want to. It can be very helpful to have small, innocuous ways to express monstrousness when it is not able to be fully unleashed – a tablet for drawing spontaneously, a Google Doc for jotting down ideas, a bracelet or trinket that reminds you of your monster-self’s physical shape. This is true for many identities: there’s not always space to express them, even if they’re crying out to be expressed. Some days you’re simply feeling more monstery, and some days you’re not.
This may all sound very uncomfortably weird. However, having an alter ego for creativity is not a completely unknown concept. Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski, an alter ego with a different gender identity, sexuality, and appearance than Nicki’s “usual” self. Beyoncé is sometimes Sasha Fierce. David Bowie was famous for his many alter egos, including Ziggy Stardust. Today’s digital artists often have multiple characters and personas that they express through art or writing – we even have terms for various specific types, like wolfsona, dragonsona, fursona, and, of course, monstersona. I personally think it’s very important that one’s creative alter-ego is non-human to escape the boundaries and laws of human society and tap into more pure creativity.
Being monstrous is simply being yourself at your most creative, channeling wild and animalistic energy to express yourself without fear for society’s judgement.