Happy International Women’s Day! Women and people of all genders in the world, let’s keep fighting the good fight for feminism, anti-racism, LGTBQ+ rights, and all things intersectional and good. I’ll keep it brief and refer you onto a short #girlpower list which I’ve written, featuring a few of my favourite artist-slash-activists to follow on Instagram (in no particular order!). Let me know whom else I should follow!
1. Naomi Shimada (model/storyteller)
Firstly, we share the same name – which obviously means that I love her. Secondly, Naomi often speaks about really important social issues like body image/sizeism in both the UK and Japan. As a self-identified storyteller, she clearly has a zest for life and expresses this by tossing all of the Insta rules out of the window (expect nine posts per day when she’s travelling and up to fun adventures). Her fashion style and Insta feed are brighter than Blue Ivy Carter’s future and she certainly brings sunshine to my day, which is why I love following her.
I've always considered Japan to be one of the most 'fat' shaming 'fattist' countries I've ever spent time in, where being considered 'overweight' is talked about as the ultimate shame. even though we are known as the kindest of people there is a custom of commenting on your weight here as if they are talking about the weather which used to hurt my feelings so much when I was younger as ive always been someone that always felt too big for Japan. There is a giant eating disorder problem here that is finally getting acknowledged as a real issue and I'm hoping this billboard on the shibuya crossing is a sign that times are changing and Japan's narrow perspective on beauty is finally starting to shift. here's to hoping there's so much more to come and that it's here to stay!
2. Rina Sawayama (singer)
I absolutely adore Rina’s music – her new poppy/R&B single, ‘Valentine’ (an anti-Valentine’s Day song) is spine-tinglingly good and a great dance track. In interviews she talks about her experiences growing up as an immigrant and related identity issues. Her bold Harajuku-esque fashion style is one-of-a-kind and she manages to make Asian cough-masks actually look amazingly cool. (How does she do it?!)
3. Lupita Nyong’o (actor)
Lupita is an amazingly talented actor and she seems so funny and down-to-earth in real life. On Instagram she just generally oozes coolness, and starring in Black Panther has only magnified that, a film which places people of colour’s rights centre-stage. She also spreads awareness about social issues such as young women’s illiteracy. If you haven’t seen her latest film, what are you waiting for?! You should get out there and watch Black Panther asap! You have to give this video below a watch (or ten): if that’s not #powerposegoals then I don’t know what is.
4. Reni Eddo-Lodge (writer)
Reni Eddo-Lodge rose to fame recently because of the publication of her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. Her placard from the women’s march in the picture here explains it all! Inspirational. As she says herself in the audio clip below, her words sparked a national conversation in the UK.
5. Ruby Tandoh (chef/writer)
I loved following Ruby on Insta as she often posted really inspiring messages about ED and eating for the joy of loving food. She also has really interesting things to say about the challenges of being queer and working in a commercialised world centred around a heteronormative, gendered, domestic space: the kitchen. However, it seems like this week she’s taken herself offline so I can’t link you to her account. If/when she returns to the social media world, look her up!
6. Emma Watson (actor)
Emma is a long-established philanthropist and is passionate about women’s rights. Recently, for her book club, Our Shared Shelf, which is part of her work for UN Women, she chose Reni’s book, and I think that this is a pretty exciting move. I like following Emma to see where she’s leaving books for random people to collect on the tube, and also seeing all of the #TimesUp posts which she makes. It’s great to see change happening so visibly in one of the most commercial of all the creative industries. Here’s to a future of diversity and equality in Hollywood!
There is no question that #TIMESUP should be and will be a global movement. A movement that is defined and led by those affected by the problem, not by those in power. Tessa Thompson with Marai Larasi from Imkaan. Gemma Arterton with Eileen Pullen and Gwen Davis, two of the women who staged a three week walk-out from Ford’s Dagenham plant in 1968. Andrea Riseborough with Phyll Opoku-Gyimah from UK Black Pride. Naomie Harris with journalist Afua Hirsch. Gemma Chan with activist Laura Bates.🖤
7. Frances Cannon (artist)
Frances is an artist based in Melbourne, Australia. She promotes self-love, self-care, and mental-health awareness on her Instagram and her feed is filled with the most uplifting illustrations. I’d recommend giving her a follow, too!
I want a world where all women have access to free education. I want a world where all women have job security and are treated with respect in their workplace and are given equal pay and equal access to promotions. I want a world where women have access to safe and legal abortion and sexual healthcare. I want a world where trans women and non-binary people feel safe and accepted and have access to the healthcare they need. I want a world where sex workers are treated with respect. I want a world that includes women with disabilities in the workplace and in the media. I want a world that encourages all girls to reach for their goals. I want a world that teaches boys to respect, rather than teaching girls to fear. I want a world where women encourage each other, not compete with each other. I want a world that celebrates EVERY woman: not just CIS, white, middle-class women. I want a world that LIFTS UP ALL WOMEN.
My friend @_smoss_ took some cute photos of me the other day while we talked about mental health and life with anxiety and depression. Samantha is launching her business @moss_folk soon with a fun workshop where we will hang out, chat mental health and create beautiful things! Check out more on @moss_folk 🍃
As Oscar Wilde says,
In fact, the art does not reflect life, but the viewers.
The more diverse representation there is in art, the more it will reflect and inspire our world. I’ll end with this just for a bit of fun!
Inspired by the chinese artist Yin Xin who sometimes reimagined famous works of art with chinese faces, i too wanted to try my hand at that. Asian representation is so important in popular culture, so I reimagined one of my favourite musical artists Rina Sawayama @rinasonline, as "The girl with the Pearl earring" by Vermeer. I only photo edited it, the painting is still by Vermeer and the image I used of Rina was sourced from the creative agency @bby__fce. I couldnt find any other credit unfortunately. This art isn't that original, plenty of faces have been superimposed onto this painting. The only originality I can claim is from what i could see I was the only person who altered the perceived light source, and I edited the pearl earring to much bolder and actually connected to the ear. Lastly! the next image is the original painting that inspired me. "Botticelli Reimagined" by Yin Xin, a painted interpretation of Botticelli's Venus. Thanks for reading!
I love it. Have a great International Women’s Day!