One of the oddest things I find about “being a feminist” is the amount of difficulty and debate such a label tends to conjure up. There are thousands of variations, but three key problems seem to always rear their spiky heads:
1. Many women are reluctant to identify as feminists, even though if you ask them their thoughts on specific issues they’ll respond with feminist ideas. There’s a certain ugliness associated with the label that a lot of us grow up learning to be wary of. Take this Maxim “cure a feminist” feature as exhibit A. This article from Mama Mia a few days ago also captures some of the frustrations of this situation.
2.Some feminists believe there should be a core set of bullet-points that a person must subscribe to in order to call themselves feminists. A lot of us do this even subconsciously, because it’s hard to understand how someone who agrees with us on one point could offend us so much on another. We question whether Cosmopolitan should be allowed to call itself feminist, whether Melinda Tankard Reist should be allowed to call herself a feminist.
3. The flipside of the point above is that many women feel like they’re not allowed to be part of the discussion, because they don’t meet the criteria they believe has been set out.
My thoughts keep going back to something Julia Kristeva wrote about in Women’s Time. Okay, I know it might be a bit naff or maybe just pretentious to reference Kristeva, but listen for a minute: in Women’s Time, she makes a case for a new generation of feminism (where ‘generation’ refers not necessarily to a period in linear time, but rather a signifying mental, emotional and intellectual space) that focuses on the multiplicity of individual experience. That means not only accepting that everyone will have different views and ideas, but that within each person exist myriad possible identifications, some of which might seem contradictory.
How to be nice. It’s not so hard. Rookie mag gives a pretty great outline of different kinds of being nice, and the pros and cons of each.
New Yorkers have all the fun, and now they’re getting cupcake ATMs. Like actual ATMs that dispense cupcakes! 24/7!
How do we feel about Holden Caulfield? A list of the most divisive characters in literary history.
This guy lived in a pretend space capsule for almost 18 months. For serious!
If you love awesome people you probably love Andy Warhol. And you should probably read this awesome interview from 1977.
If you didn’t already think Andrej Pejic was incredible, this swimwear shoot for Nathan Paul will convince you.
Also, I don’t even care if he can act or not – this movie would be very cool if it happens. (more…)
Why you should marry the Beast, but not Prince Eric. In case you were wondering which Disney Prince you should marry, Thought Catalogue provides a pretty convincing guide.
Timeless Bad Advice: Hugo Schwyzer presents the case against settling for Mr Good Enough.
Taylor Swift is all kinds of beautiful in US Vogue.Read the profile feature and you’ll probably understand why I think she’s such a cool girl.
How to be a productivity unicorn, and why that’s so much more chic than being a productivity ninja.
On that note, how to hold a Ladies Working Brunch. Also, me and some of my most brilliant friends are holding one soon, so get in touch to get in on that awesomeness.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s Men’s RTW Fall 2012 show (starring Andrej Pejic, naturally) makes me want to wear menswear, and you’ll probably want to too. Is there anything cooler than the picture above??
Eating disorders and the fear of the ordinary. Imposter syndrome, perfectionism, eating disorders, and how they’re all tied up together. (more…)
This year, I will be like Taylor Swift
It’s that time of year, when I’m filled with aspirations and the best of intentions and ideas about the sort of person I want to be. I hate New Years Eve, for obvious reasons (although I did just have a pretty fun night: a cute boy, a bunch of nice strangers, beautiful hot weather, a spa, lots of wine, walking home while the sun was coming up – definitely the best New Years in a while) but I love the symbolism of a fresh start. A blank page, new diaries and calendars, days that I can make turn out however I want them to.
I always make an incredibly idealistic list of things I’m going to do and who I’m going to be, and of course I’ll never even really attempt half of them. But having lofty ambitions is better than having none at all right?
2012 is going to be amazing, because I’m going to make it that way. 2011 was actually pretty great, especially the second half of it. I’ve had a few bad years, but I think my time is finally starting. Last year I went to India, I went to New York, I joined the Voiceworks editorial committee, I got a wonderful new job, I moved apartments, I was published in Kill Your Darlings, I made lots of wonderful and talented new friends, I started running again… and I’m finally feeling pretty good.
And this year is going to be the best ever. This is going to be MY year. Here are some of the things I’m going to do: (more…)
(Edit July 2014: This was written when Andreja was going by Andrej and using male pronouns. At the time, it was to the best of my knowledge that she identified as male. Any essay I would write about her today would look very different, though still celebrating how amazing she is.)
Andrej Pejic modelling bras for Hema, and why I think he is just the coolest
Okay, so anyone who has spent any time with me in the past six months or so will know that I’m completely enthralled by Andrej Pejic. I think he’s an absolute genius, and he inspires me in a lot of ways. Firstly, in the obvious sense – he inspires me because of his utterly captivating, otherworldly beauty, the way he challenges boundary after boundary, the way he continues to take everyone’s breath away with every new outfit, every new runway show, every fashion editorial.
But maybe more than that, he inspires me because he just seems so completely serene while he does it all. Obviously I have no idea how he really feels inside – but you get the sense that he’s genuinely just really comfortable with who he is, that he actually doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He just does his own thing, and he does it without being all defensive and “hey fuck you man!” about it. He’s only just turned 20, but there’s something really mature about they way he seems to really know himself.
Anyway. So this week he’s making headlines for one of his latest gigs - modelling push-up bras for Hema lingerie. Which is pure genius, and with Andrej’s sassy, sardonic sense of humour you can just tell he loves the whole idea of it. A lot of the things he says or does, it’s like he’s secretly laughing, and you can just tell he kind of thinks this is a scream. It’s kind of on the same wavelength as the incredibly clever Dermablend concealer ad Rico Genest (better known as Zombie Boy) starred in, and I think it’s very cool. (more…)
Here are a few articles I read this week that got me thinking, and I’d implore you to click on through.
One major problem with the whole “real women have curves” thing is that it still places female body types in adversity with one another. Instead of saying it’s okay to be any size, it just reverses the typical preference for super-skinny types and disparages those women. Saying that having curves is “better” or “more real” and “more womanly” than being skinny doesn’t help anyone. This is such an interesting and complex issue, and Clementine Ford expresses all these ideas quite eloquently. Importantly, she points out something that is easy to miss, but that’s pretty salient to the whole issue: the “men prefer curves anyway” argument that always comes up just reinforces the idea that male desire should be integral to the way we feel about our bodies.
Over at Killings, the blog of the wonderful Kill Your Darlings journal, I wrote about a day I spent with my brilliant and delightful new pal Jon-Jon Goulian, author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt…
The first time I heard of Jon-Jon Goulian, I was flipping through US Vogue, and a personal essay called Fish Out of Water caught my eye. I’d already become fascinated by androgyny in men’s fashion – from the ethereal beauty of Andrej Pejic to Marc Jacobs in his trademark kilt – so this nostalgic story of an anxious and insecure teenager finding solace by dressing in sarongs and high heels naturally caught my attention.
Set against the romantically retro backdrop of California in the 1980s, the essay centres around the writer’s unlikely friendship with a gorgeous and popular girl called Courtney. Jon-Jon – a nickname I already felt entitled to use – remembers afternoons they spent at the beach after school in matching seashell necklaces, giggling in a shared changing room as they tried on leggings and halter-tops. With my love for the dramatic and people with more courage than me to be themselves, the story made my little heart leap. How could I not be entranced by a guy who would show up to his high school prom in a skirt, tights, high heels and red lipstick – with the hottest girl at school on his arm?
In my latest ‘Flotsam and Feminism’ column (published in Farrago magazine), I talked about 10-year-old fashion muse Thylane Blondeau and The Beauty Myth.
Her name is Thylane Loubry Blondeau, and she’s one of the new muses of the fashion world. She’s graced the cover of high-end magazines, starred in ad campaigns for major designers, and regularly works with top fashion photographers. With her long limbs, chestnut-coloured hair and piercing blue eyes, it’s easy to see why—she’s incredibly, almost eerily beautiful. But she’s also 10 years old—and to even think of her as beautiful is to frame her within the context of adult constructs of beauty, and that has some troubling implications.
The sexualisation of young girls has been talked about to death—and while it’s definitely a serious issue, in cases like this it almost seems to miss the point. The issue is really more about objectification, rather than sexualisation. It’s about what happens if little girls are brought up to believe that their prettiness is what makes them special, that their worth is measured not in a small part by their beauty. And it’s an intrinsically gendered issue, because it emphasises the very different way we view boys and girls, even from that very young age. (more…)
(Published on Lipmag.com)
It’s something most of us just sort of take as a given: beautiful people have it easier. This video has been floating around for the past week or so and getting quite a bit of attention for its comment on the privileges pretty women appear to get on a day-to-day basis. As an experiment, Caroline, a British journalist, hits the town dressed up in two different personas- Plain Caroline, with no makeup and her hair pulled back, dressed in conservative, unremarkable clothing, and Sexy Caroline, dolled up with red lips, curled hair, high heels and a short, tight dress. The methodology is simple- as both characters, she goes around asking for free stuff.
Not surprisingly, Sexy Caroline gets a much more favourable response, and ends up with free bus trips, taxi rides, ice creams, cakes and drinks. It reminds me of on the Simple Life when Paris and Nicole would walk into bottle shops or convenience stores or whatever and just say ‘Can we have this for free?’ and they were always, always indulged. Plain Caroline, on the other hand, finally ends up with a free drink, but spends most of the day being ignored and sent away. (more…)
In my ‘Flotsam and Feminism’ column for Farrago magazine this month, I talked about why calling ourselves fat is a feminist issue.
Sometimes I think my body is growing and shrinking all the time. I was a chubby child, but somewhere between Sclub7 days and my debutante ball I slimmed down. Now, a few love-and-heartbreak-induced-ups-and-downs later, I honestly cannot tell if I am fat or thin anymore. Sometimes I’ll see a photo of myself and be surprised by how small I look. Other times I’ll catch a glimpse in the mirror and be horrified by the enormous, lumbering heffalump I see looking back at me. So I’m always moaning about the “food baby” in my belly, complaining about how I’m too fat for my skinny jeans. And more often than not, someone will respond with, “What about me? I’m the fat one.”
Cosmopolitan is currently running a campaign against this sort of “fat-talk.” Following in the footsteps of many similar projects in the US, the “Say No to Fat-Talk” campaign urges women to replace all that verbalised body-hate with a healthy self-appreciation, or- as they rather cringingly call it- “fab-talk.” Despite whatever other issues Cosmo might bring up, I think it’s kind of refreshing to see a body image campaign that focuses on real life and the things we control, not just representations in the media. We know all about digital retouching and starving celebrities, and that’s important- but body-dissatisfaction is influenced by more than just supermodels and women’s magazines. (more…)