“I Really Don’t Like To Be Labelled”



“I have always been… an expert at making adults feel better about their own shitty behaviour, even as a young child,” Grace Tame writes in her memoir. I have read her book twice now – first as a friend, to help anticipate any ‘shitty behaviour’ that might come from critics, and the second as a journalist attempting to comprehend a young woman who has become an icon.

It is a profound work. Grace’s memoir is no mere compendium of life events – at 27, she has collected material for several lifetimes.  It is a memoir through her mind – one that works circuitously to make sense of the world, traversing the neurodivergent pathways of autism and ADHD. The book reveals many sides of Grace most Australians know little about.

What is perhaps most stark, aside from her moving depictions of family, is that Grace appears to be naturally good at virtually anything she turns her hand to. The elaborate cover of her book was one she drew herself with a cheap pencil; included within are some of her illustrations from the six-year period she spent living in California. One inserts Monty Python characters into The Last Supper, another is a picture she made for Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, of eleven different hands signing ‘We’re Fucked’.

And it was while living in Hollywood and Santa Barbara that she took up yoga – and became a teacher herself. As her memoir relays, she also runs marathons. She has a photographic memory. And then there’s the unforgettable fact that she was groomed and raped repeatedly by a paedophile who took her for maths extension class – a small class for gifted students.

For a 27 year old who has had their life significantly interrupted and redirected by multiple phases of complex trauma, Grace Tame sure does a lot of things very well. But if there’s one talent at which Grace truly excels it is her ability to skillfully communicate ugly and complex concepts in a way that has audiences holding their breath.

"When you tell your story, you have to surrender control and autonomy to the person you tell your story to. They decide what is useful, and the questions aren’t necessarily conducive to telling that key part."

– Grace Tame

That resistance to being labelled is a large part of why Grace wrote this memoir. It was an opportunity, after thousands of analysts poring over her words and actions, for her to pore over her own.

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Sexual abuse survivor. Illustrator. Advocate. Yoga teacher. Grace Tame has experienced enough of life to fill several memoirs. Now, she’s telling her story – her way. Read the complete article by Jess Hill at PRIMER.


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