About the Contributors! Meryl Trussler (Front cover) Meryl is a freelance writer/editor/illustrator/Anxiety Machine living in Sweden. meryltrussler.tumblr.com Mouni Feddag (pg 2 Inset Illustration)
Mouni is a drawing person based in Nottingham. Feel free to contact her for any other commissions and projects or just to say hello! mounifeddag.tumblr.com Chiara Lanzieri (pg 4) Chiara is an illustrator living in Rome, Italy. cargocollective.com/chiaralanzieri facebook.com/ChiaraLanzieriFanPage Rachel Nelson (pg 5+6) Rachel can be found at the glitter stand on a Fan Club night. She loves coffee, reading, friendship, biscuits and glitter. No one could doubt her commitment to Sparkle Motion. @Rachellous Emily Catherine (pg 7) Emily Catherine was born in Wales but has lived in Nottingham for twenty seven years. She likes tea, cigarettes and hip hop. Dislikes; prawns, musicals and bitter ignorance. emilycatherineillustration.com Teafly (pg 8+11) Teafly is an artist living with the tall trees and bright skies of Oregon. She is inspired by cloud parades, people who do brave things that no one notices and Patti Smith. teafly.wordpress.com
Belle Owen (pg 9) Belle is an Australian that currently lives in Toronto, Canada. Belle works for a fashion designer, drinks a lot of whiskey, eats a lot of vegan pizza and watches a lot of documentaries. @bellavenom Nat Box (pg 10) Northern. Femo. Loud. Obv. Amy MacDonald (pg 11)
Amy MacDonald is a PR professional by day and a cat-lady by night. Instagram @missamymacmac INTERVIEW - Passionate Necking (pg 12-13) Passionate Necking is a dead-fun monthly pop/RnB/alternative club night held at the Montague Arms, London. Alanna Chamberlain (pg 13 illustration) Alanna Chamberlain is a freelance illustrator and she’s new in town! She is currently working on lots of editorial, advertising and branding projects as well as contributing to exciting, creative things, like this zine. alannajeanillustration.com Antoinette Thompson-Boateng (pg 14-15) Antoinette is currently busy trying to live her life in technicolour and encouraging others to do the same. She is both fabulous and hilarious and can be found tweeting at @quidditchballs Steph Senyszyn (Words) Melly Em Clarke (Illustrations) (pg 16 - 17) Melly Em Clark is an Illustrator and Body Positive Artist @mellyemclark Aïcha Daffé (pg 18) Aïcha Daffé is the director of 100% natural, vegan hair and beauty business Sunu Kër (sunuker.co.uk). Her key interests include the politics of beauty concerning black women, examining and questioning accepted standards of beauty, and the positive representation of under-represented groups. Vartika Sharma (pg 19) Vartika Sharma is an illustrator and collage artist based in New Delhi, India. She is inspired by cinema, old encyclopaedias and supernatural phenomena. vartikasharma.format.com
Fan Club’s focus is to promote female-identifying artists, designers, musicians and creatives, whilst hanging out and making friends in a safe space, dancing and drinking to a female-influenced soundtrack. We strive to be completely accessible in all of the events that we put on, we’re not-for-profit and put 100% of money made from our events back into future events. UPCOMING EVENTS: 3rd September - Fan Club - Rough Trade 9th October - Hockley Hustle - Rough Trade - Times TBC Johnny Foreigner / Fists / Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam / Babe Punch / Kermes / Queen Zee & the Sasstones / Pet Crow / Twin Kidd / PLUS -A badass female artist song cover from each band <3
Jennifer Manalili (pg 20-21) Jennifer Manalili is an aspiring Filipino writer from San Diego, California. She is passionate about horror and science-fiction, feminism, and spreading the word about being body positive. Jessica Woodhouse (pg 21 sun illustration) @jennyhorror Jessica is based in Chesterfield and loves to draw and create. She also enjoys chocolate, George Orwell and red lipstick. jessicawoodhouse.com Rachel Parry /GAL (pg 22) Rachel Parry is a part of GAL/ GuerillaArtLab; a multi-changing space for artists who make politically-charged art in Nottingham. twitter.com/guerillaartlab
Alanna Chamberlain (pg 23 ‘I Heart My Scar’) ‘I heart my scar’ is actually a self portrait. I underwent emergency surgery to remove a really poorly bit of my digestive system, caused by Crohn’s Disease. I’m now left with this scar, but I’m so proud of it now because it means that I fought to enjoy my life. I drew what I know about body positivity and this is it :)
INTERVIEW - Misty Miller by Amelia Daiz (pg 24-25)
Lauren Mitchell (pg 26-27) Lauren is a biracial writer and social media manager from London who enjoys long, romantic walks on the beach, dirty dancing, singing show tunes and feminist rants. @ElohElae (Twitter) / @lolavictrola (Instagram) Teafly (pg 27 illustration) Rose Robbins (pg 28-29) More of Rose’s work can be found at: roserobbins.co.uk Karen Blower (pg 30-31) Jessica Woodhouse (pg 30-31 Bikini Body illustration)
Event Production/Zine and Design Kaylea Mitchem Zine Managing Editors/Event Support Rachel Nelson @FANCLUBNOTTS Francesca Vaney FACEBOOK.COM/FANCLUBNOTTS
by Chiara Lanzieri
A Revolutionary Contentment
by Rachel Nelson
There was a time when I did not exist below the neck. I was a mind and voice box and I could not consider myself anything else. I don’t remember the day I got up and left my body behind; I don’t remember the words or the actions that encouraged the exodus of mind and spirit from physical embodiment. All I know is that my body had become a burden, and that I felt lighter when I existed without it. With only my mind, I felt I could be accurately judged. I could think through my words; I could encourage action through persuasion instead of physics. I couldn’t take action myself of course, but I did not need to. My body had only ever caused me despair. I used it in a perfunctory way that no doubt I would not have taken for granted were I not able-bodied. My body felt like an awful secret that everyone knew and tried to pretend they didn’t. It felt like an unspoken tragedy, a topic that everyone avoided to preserve my feelings. It was an embarrassment. The ugliness of my body did not feel like a matter of opinion. It did not ‘feel’ like a ‘feeling’ at all; it was a matter of fact: a scientific truth. There was no singular moment that told me ‘you are disgusting’; there did not need to be, the evidence was everywhere. It was in every advert I saw, every television programme I watched, every aisle of the supermarket I walked down, every magazine cover I saw. It was in the language of society, spoken by parents, friends, teachers and authors. No one wanted what I had.
“I was in awe; I wanted to be them, I wanted to be so proud of my physical existence. I wanted to say ‘fuck you’ to society with my body, not just my words”. Despite what I intuitively knew about myself, I also truly believed that all of my friends were beautiful and incredible and I strongly argued the case for their self-esteem. I felt angry when they complained about their body; I counselled them, I used logic to untie the knots of rope society had used to bind their hands. But I could not apply the same rational and empathetic thinking to myself. This cognitive dissonance would trouble me, appearing every now and then to remind me that as well as being ugly, I was also a hypocrite. I first encountered the body positivity movement on tumblr. Fat women were joyously claiming the word fat and applying it unashamedly to themselves. They wore it on t-shirts, on necklaces; they even tattooed it on their bodies. They posted photos of themselves and wrote about their love for their body and their right to celebrate their own existence on earth. This felt radical to me. I had never seen photos of fat thighs, stretch-marks, or bodily hair, unless they were being used as a weapon to shame women. I had never seen the owners of these bodies share photos as a form of pride and celebration. It felt like true rebellion. There is a huge difference between intellectually knowing that the bodies in magazines are Photoshopped and actually seeing real bodies. I was in awe; I wanted to be them, I wanted to be so proud of my physical existence. I wanted to say ‘fuck you’ to society with my body, not just my words. The body positivity movement taught me that being openly content with your body is a radical act. Women are taught to be forever discontent with their bodies; taught to always be trying to lose weight or look younger or change their shape in some way. There is an unspoken understanding that women are on a forever-diet, and that
happiness can be found at the end of a weight-loss rainbow. It is a radical act not to engage in ‘diet talk’ in the workplace. It is a radical act to say ‘no, I don’t want to lose any weight’. Sometimes I wonder if diet culture is just another way to control the amount of space women can take up in society. But I don’t want to become smaller and smaller until I eventually disappear. This world is my world too, and I deserve to take up some space in it. I deserve to be seen and acknowledged in the body I was born into. I deserve to be content.
by Rachel Nelson
Emily Catherine’s body-positive illustration series explores the the negative association of women having ‘problem’ bodies and being told ‘how’ to dress them by comparing them to ridiculous shapes, like pears, ovals, spoons etc. This terminology will be sadly familiar to women and girls around the world from fashion and lifestyle magazines, television makeover programmes and even well-meaning advice from family to near-strangers. Emily’s series shows the diversity of women’s bodies and conveys the message that whatever shape your body, it is the correct one.
When my niece was almost two, I noticed I used the word pretty a lot when I talked to her, which horrified me. I knew better and yet here I was, sharing my lifelong programming about how you need to be pretty to be a girl of value. I certainly didnâ€™t believe that, but it was in me still. So, I created these Amazing Girls to remind myself, her, and others, that we are more than just pretty. And that we are more than just one thing. You might be pretty, but you are also smart. You might be brave and you are also creative. I like drawing women and girls that reflect the various beauty I see in women all over the world. I do not see all of these incredible, inspiring faces being represented in our media regularly and I believe that everyone deserves to see images that look like them. And everyone deserves to get to see how beautiful we all are.
Representation of Disability
by Belle Owen
By now you probably have heard about the movie (and book), Me Before You, and hopefully you’ve also heard the vocal disappointment from the disability community about its damaging message and its reinforcement of negative stereotypes. Lots of eloquent people have written and spoken lots of important words on the topic of just why this particular movie is so problematic- many more qualified than myself. The main character in MBY uses a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury later in life; I use my wheelchair for a disability I have had since birth. For a great, spoiler-filled video regarding the problems with MBY, watch “Ableist, Stereotypical, and Offensive or: Why I Hate Me Before You”, which was created by my friend Dan. However, the movie and its current hype is really just a fragment of the real issue: that in Hollywood, recent pushes towards ‘diversity’ don’t include disability. Many, many groups are underrepresented in the mainstream media; women, people of colour, the LGBTQI community. The erasure of a marginalised community is nothing new, however the extent to which disability is still ignored or exploited is still largely unchecked. During my childhood and especially in my teenage years, I struggled with self identity, internalised ablism and the assumption by my peers of needing to strive for normality. I never found a role model in media, fiction or celebrity that reflected me, that I could relate to. Now, with my high school ten-year reunion well in my rearview mirror, barely anything has changed. There are two roles that the mainstream entertainment industry, and to a similar extent society, allows us as wheelchair users to occupy. The victim or the hero. We can be one or the other, even both but (almost) never neither. Disability, and more specifically, reliance on a wheelchair, exists as a plot device to instil fear, invoke tragedy and serve as a precautionary deterrent. We are shown through stories, language and attitudes that being a wheelchair user is something we should fight to overcome. We are shown wheelchairs as a symbol of defeat, depression, something people are bound to. Not the tool of liberation they are. The ‘hero’ leaves their wheelchair behind to walk down the aisle at their wedding. The ‘victim’, usually depressed, reminds able-bodied people of everything they have to lose and what they should not take for granted. These tropes aren’t only damaging, they’re boring - they’re done. It’s not just the representation that is offensive and demeaning either, the few roles that do exist are predominantly awarded to able bodied actors with no lived experience of disability and no perception of the disabled actors that could have played the part. People with varying disabilities make up towards 20% of the population, and the broader disability community is arguably the only minority group that anyone could join at any moment, so why is there such resistance to portray real, nuanced people with disabilities? Why is it 2016 and I still struggle to call to
mind any portrayal of a wheelchair user as desirable, sexy, even masculine? With almost one-in-five people identifying as having a disability, if you aren’t a member of the community, you know and most likely care about someone who is. The only way things will change is if people demand better. Better roles, better representation. We as a community can also challenge these stereotypes at a grassroots level, leveraging our social media and publications (like this zine), to take control of our own representation, though this brings about another set of challenges. When we don’t see ourselves represented positively, or even neutrally, how do we find the passion and endurance to not only put ourselves out there, but deal with the criticism of people who don’t understand or aren’t familiar with disabled bodies, largely because they haven’t been exposed to them? Body positivity is harder to achieve when according to mainstream media, bodies like yours don’t exist (unless they’re in medical pamphlets). Pushing for positive representation of disability in media isn’t just a tokenistic gesture or the means to an end. These representations have the power to change societal attitudes and have the potential to influence laws, employment opportunities and people’s lives in a profound and meaningful way. This is crucial, so that the next generation of teenagers might find themselves sooner, and feel greater confidence about their bodies because they never have to ask these questions or look for someone to relate to, only to come up wanting.
by Nat Box
OMG – ONE TRICK TO MAKE YOU PRETTIER** I consume so much and cry when my brain is bloated. Yes, I said brain not tummy; I am talking about all those images, Instagram posts and media we consume daily that punch giant holes in our self-confidence. Body positivity is a much-needed movement and it should not be underestimated or overlooked, however many of us just don’t know how to embrace it. Speaking rationally, I know my body is just a body: it helps me do things like dancing, travelling and running, it works just fine and I’m lucky. My party line is: “it’s a body” (seriously, listen to Be a Body by Grimes)… yet it is so much easier said than done, especially when you follow beautiful people online and wish you could sprout long limbs like Taylor Swift. I feel like a fraud half the time, I say: “you are beautiful”, “you are an amazing human”, “you are clever and Goddess-like”, to my friends, but cannot say the same to myself. It’s not that I don’t mean these things when speaking to my friends, I do, I think all of my friends and family (and even that random person I met in Tesco) are beautiful, but I just find it hard to identify that spark when looking at myself. Because of this, I am focusing on experiences rather than how I look and it is helping me so much. I wish I could become a body-positive wizard, showering everyone I meet with good vibes only, but I can’t and there is no Hogwarts for the magic of self-love. This summer set yourself a list of experiences rather than aesthetic goals, things that will enrich your life. Here are some examples: - Read a new book (or an old book, just read)! - Try something new, such as: drawing, sewing or dancing. - Learn a new word every day, do you know what clairaudience means? - Find a new musician every week and listen to their deep cuts. - Plan daytrips with your lover, best friend or on your own! - Have themed parties, evenings or movie nights.
Words by Amy MacDonald
There are so many things you can do without looking perfect all of the time, you don’t need to be a construct of beauty to enjoy things. There is no beauty product or filter which can replace memories, friends or an achievement, so you need to embrace every moment and make the most of it. **one trick to maybe make yourself a little happier.
Passionate Necking is a monthly club night held at The Montague Arms in South East London. In their own words...
Who are Passionate Necking? Passionate Necking is a fairly large group of friends/siblings/housemates that run a monthly night in south east London. We let DJs play their favourite songs and that tends to be pop, RnB, riot grrrl and other stuff. We try to be an inclusive and safe space for anyone who comes along. How did you begin? It began with an email sent with pessimism on a Sunday night. We figured that we wouldn’t actually get a response. However, the Montague Arms were keen and let us give one night a go. We then pestered some pals to also DJ, sorted out posters/ flyers, and figured that if we just wouldn’t shut up about it, we’d at least get a few friends along. It ended up more popular than expected, and so the Montague gave us a monthly slot and we’ve been growing since. What inspired you to do what you do? (Was there an event that was the catalyst?) We wish we could cite a sudden moment of beautiful inspiration, but it was more a collection of tedious/long-running things that finally culminated in us starting something. Some of these things were: - Enjoying the bit at the end of parties when everyone gathers around and dances to their favourite songs and wanting to recreate this in a larger space - Discovering that a lot of the nights we loved were either far away, ending, or becoming a lot less regular (loads of good new nights seem to be popping up lately though, which is ace) - Finding the cultural elitism of some of the nights we were going to a bit alienating - One of us going through an extended post-break up mard and being forced to do something productive by their flatmate
Are there any other female groups/collectives you love? Sisters Uncut is an amazing feminist direct-action collective. The group campaigns for better domestic and sexual violence services and raises awareness of and fights back against the government cuts that are harmful to women. There’s lots of female musicians we love, obviously, and 2015 was a dead good year. Carly Rae Jepsen released the best pop album of the year. Mitski played in London for the first time, which was nice because her most recent album Bury Me At Makeout Creek is wonderful. Little Mix released a string of singles that got nowhere near enough credit. Grimes’ album was loved by everyone involved in Pash Neck. Girlpool, Eskimeaux, Sleater-Kinney and Waxahatchee all released albums, Missy Elliot released a new single, and there was a bunch of other amazing stuff that we just can’t concisely fit into a list. Tell us about a female (musician, artist, politician, anything you want!) who you think is underrated, or that everyone should know about! Chrissy Barnacle is a Glaswegian musician who writes beautiful and relatable songs, but also puts on one of the best live shows around by combining these songs with amazing and funny story telling. If you get the chance to see her live, go along. Can we sneak in two more? Meredith Graves and Mitski are also both amazing. Listen to and read everything by both of them! Anything upcoming you’d like to promote? Some of the Passionate Necking gang are in the band Wolf Girl, who are playing at the Nottingham Pop All Dayer on 1st October! A bit more local to us, DIY Space for London is having its first birthday party in September and anyone nearby should go to that because the space is really great and valuable and run by a lovely bunch of people.
By Alanna Chamberlain
I love summer.
Okay, maybe I don’t love the perspiration or the rise of our insect overlords, but the longer days, barbeques, beer gardens and sunshine always put a smile on my face. Plus, I love being able to wear shorts and dresses without the nylon prison of tights. However, I do accept that donning summer wear is not an enjoyable experience for everyone. A good number of women I know absolutely dread the rising temperatures and wish the summer months away so they can return to the loving embrace of their autumnal attire. It’s easy to understand why – coats, thick tights and knitwear are by their very nature comforting and warm, and stepping away from that can be anything but. Clothing has always been a way through which I expressed my personality. As a teenager who discovered rainbow-patterned knee-high socks, studded belts
Celebrate Summer by
and fingerless gloves, I’ve always veered toward the audacious. Bright colours, bold prints, tight garments, shorts and miniskirts do not intimidate me, in a world where the “rules” of fashion dictate that someone like me, whose body can definitely be described as “lumpy,” should definitely not wear. But why shouldn’t I? Why should some arbitrary rules made up by people I’ve never met control my choices? I bet you’re thinking that it’s easy for me to say that. The truth of the matter is that it is and it isn’t. I still get the same wobbles and doubts as everyone else. I have the areas of my body that I think “if this was smaller, I’d be much happier.” If you’ve had a lifetime of this kind of propaganda it can be difficult to think another way, and perhaps the body demons will be with me for the rest of my life, but I refuse to let those demons win. I’ve found that the only way to make this kind of personal progress is to make a conscious decision to not care so much about what might happen if I wear something, or what other people may think and to just wear it, and I do my best to pay that idea forward. I’m not saying that I always believe I don’t care what other people think, but I always say it. Body confidence is often about faking it. Perhaps there is no “making it” at the end and it’s a constant journey but the
effort has to be made to think “I am how I am, and I could waste my entire life wishing to be something or someone else, but I refuse.” It has to the first step on the road. An important factor in personal body positivity is your environment, which will enable you to take further steps towards body acceptance. This may well mean creating or finding your own safe space. It could be tuning out or changing the subject when the office conversation goes toward diets and weight loss. It could be following some of the body positive blogs, Instagrams and Twitters out there, or joining a group or two on Facebook – although these can be difficult waters to navigate. You may even need to distance yourself from people who make you feel terrible about yourself. You do whatever it takes to keep yourself moving forward.
By Antoinette Thompson-Boateng
In a way “body confidence” is a misnomer and maybe it’s more about “body acceptance.” Your body is the only one you’ve got, so you have to reach some level of peace with it. You can make alterations if you’d like, but make sure you’re doing them because you want to and not because it’s what you think you have to do for any other reason. Try looking in the mirror every day, and choosing a different thing you love about how you look. Repeat to yourself that you are beautiful. Again and again. Perhaps try a selfie challenge, where you take a selfie every day or week or month, and actually stop and look at yourself. Whether you then choose to share that with others is your decision – but why would you want to deprive the world of seeing your beautiful face? Or maybe you can put on those shorts and hold your head high as you wear them. The word “revolution” means “a dramatic and wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operation.” It is typically thought of in political terms, but revolution is an important term to apply to the self. Revolutions can be very personal. Start a personal revolution to alter the way you think of yourself and I think you’ll find that the seeds of revolution spread to those around you. Maybe all it takes to start that change is putting on a pair of shorts.
On our first family holiday since puberty had swung my way, my mother decided I needed a tankini. Now I was all puppy-fat and awkward proportions, she argued that a high-waisted aquamarine two-piece would be “more flattering” than my trusty swimsuit. I wasn’t convinced, but she was adamant. “Try it,” she said. “Go on! It’ll hide your belly!” 16 years later, those words still ring in my ears every time I try on a new item of clothing. Hide Your Belly. Fat bodies are constantly subjected to unsolicited ‘advice’. Many would argue that it comes from a well-meaning place, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re usually opinions that we never asked for. I’m sure my mum thought she was saving me from embarrassing holiday photos, or maybe from being teased by the pool by bored teenage boys. Instead, she just made me conscious of something I’d never really considered before. To the world, fat bodies are a work in progress - a before photo waiting for its glossy, slimmer after shot. We’re the cautionary tale; a glimpse into your fat future should that slice of cake sneak past your lips and take up residency on your hips. I’ve been mulling over a personal body positive manifesto for a while - a mani-fatso, if you will because as someone who has been fat for most for most of her life, I’ve come to realise that I need a game plan, a mission statement. Something to counteract the years of hearing my mother’s Hide Your Belly mantra as I glare at fitting-room mirrors. I no longer want to be hiding my belly - I just want to be. It takes work to love yourself no matter what your circumstances, but there are extra hurdles to navigate when you’re fat. From the seemingly trivial problem of finding pretty clothes that fit, to the bonus anxiety of boarding a plane and worrying about the seatbelt fitting, or waiting to see if your doctor is going to dismiss your health concerns as being weight-related rather than treating their actual cause. Sometimes even just daring to be in a fat body can be mentally exhausting. Fat bodies are not allowed to exist in the way other bodies are. We are policed, and ordered to improve. We are judged and pointed at, poked and prodded by doctors and family and strangers alike. We’re filmed for the 6 o’clock news, heads and dignity chopped away to illustrate media panics - often without our consent. We’re mocked by teenagers in fast-food restaurants, looked down on by shop assistants, harassed by strangers on social media. As women, we are constantly told to take up less space. We’re expected to shrink into seats on the tube, to tuck our ankles behind one another, keep our arms close to our sides. As fat women, we’re further instructed to eat less until we’re smaller, to wrap ourselves in optical illusions to appear to shrink even more. We’re sold shapewear, slimming groups, diet pills. It’s a multi-million pound industry dedicated to eradicating our fat selves.
It apparently gives acquaintances permission to ask what my target weight is if I mention I’ve been to the gym. It makes strangers think it’s okay to ask how the diet is going if I happen to order a salad for lunch. Constant presumptions that I can’t be happy the way I am; I must be striving to be smaller. Sometimes people claim to be worrying about me - do I not want to have children? Do I not want to live to see my nieces get married? Am I not scared I’ll drop dead walking up a hill? As though you can tell a single thing about someone’s health by looking at them. I’m tired of the bullshit faux-concern, of a western patriarchy that tries to tell me that my health and happiness hinge on the number on a set of scales, or the label on my jeans. Body positivity is about more than just wearing a fatkini on Instagram, or defying ‘flattering’ fashion. It’s about radically challenging how we think about the bodies that don’t align with the arbitrary criteria society has decided to prioritise. It’s about reinforcing the fact that all bodies are valid - not just cisgender, white, thin ones. All the things they try to pretend aren’t for fat girls - fashion, sex, love, travel, fitness - are actually things I can have right now. I don’t have to wait until I reach a meaningless milestone, or deny myself pleasure until I reach a mystery goal weight - and nor do you. This is my mani-fatso, my pledge to keep working on unlearning stereotypes and internalised prejudices. To keep reminding people that fat bodies can be healthy bodies - that fat people can climb mountains, run marathons, swim channels. Body positivity is more than a buzzword on a magazine cover. It’s about challenging assumptions, embracing individuality. It’s recognising my own privileges, and working to ensure different kinds of bodies are represented, different voices are given a platform to speak from. It’s about remembering that being negative about my body in turn means I am being negative about other bodies, and working to nip those thoughts in the bud. It’s remembering that health and ability are not prerequisites for respect. It’s about being kinder to myself, and to everyone else. It’s supporting the choices of others, and expressing my own in a constructive way. It’s about listening to my body, its needs and its wants, and remembering the importance of protecting my mental health in all of this too. As trite as it sounds, learning to love your body is a never-ending journey. There will always be days where you don’t love what you see, or get frustrated with the things you can’t do. But I figure that if I can work on those things, they’ll hopefully be fewer and further between. That seems like a pretty good place to start. Words by Steph Senyszyn Illustrations by Melly Em Clarke
Alicia Keys: #nomakeup and its Relationship to Blackness and Feminism If you haven’t heard, Alicia Keys has returned to music AND stopped wearing makeup entirely, including for photoshoots and performances. She has established a movement she is calling #nomakeup. In her essay for Lenny Letter, Keys explained: Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. She went on to say:
I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.
Alicia has undoubtedly reached a place where she is comfortable and secure with herself and this is a great achievement . Her career so far has been filled with comments on her lack of femininity and boyish outward appearance, so finally deciding to be herself and putting away the makeup she saw as something to hide behind is a bold and inspiring move particularly for a woman of colour. For countless years, black women have struggled with a beauty industry that does not embrace or accept them. In 2016 the struggle for black women’s acceptance is at the forefront of the black community and is feeding through into wider contemporary culture; Alicia’s sentiments forming just a small part of a wider dialogue around the beauty and value of black women of all shades and body types. However not everybody looks like the conventionally attractive Alicia Keys or indeed will share her sentiments, and #nomakeup is not going to be relatable or empowering to everybody. One thing that shouldn’t be taken from Keys’ revelations or her movement is that there is anything wrong or indeed anti-feminist about wearing makeup. Psychological and social empowerment can be gained through cosmetics; allowing women and men to unashamedly embrace their individuality, style or sexuality. Cosmetics can be traced back as far as Ancient Egypt as a unisex symbol of spirituality. Although the beauty industry perpetuates an unattainable standard designed to inspire insecurity to increase sales, this should not be confused as an inherent problem with makeup itself. Big up Alicia! by Aïcha Daffe
by Vartika Sharma
can be anything. But far from my bookshelf, my voice wavers like the end of an ellipsis. My body is an enigma.
I was eleven, the first time I ever wished I could cut myself in half. My mother’s voice, boomed over the boyband singing on the loudspeakers: “How can you not fit this? It’s in their largest size.” And in the darkness of an auditorium, colors flashing like Christmas lights on the floor, my confidence abandoned me for the first time. Listening to my friend trying to bribe a somebody, anybody, to dance with me. I wilted, in my clothes, the armor I’d salvaged from the section of a department store, for women twice my age. I learned what it’s like to be something someone else is ashamed of. When the only boy who ever liked me went to great measures to cover up his feelings, so no one else would know. Like blood at a murder scene. I tried to laugh, I tried not to cry. It was the first time I learned to hold my sense of humor up like a shield. I’m still trying to put it down. I learned to bury myself in stories, disappearing into different characters. Skinny girls are allowed to believe they
My inbox is filled with men who list “Fat Asian girl” high on their list of fetishes. Who think I’m beautiful “in spite of,” not “because of.” And hand me lines, like business cards. Like I should collect “You know, I like thick girls” as a compliment, like they deserve a medal for finding me pretty. They tell me to settle for anyone that can stomach me. And my self-esteem, sometimes is stretched so thin. Thin, like the elastic on my skirts, the fading X on the tag on the back of my dresses: X. Extra large. Extra-extra. You are too much for this world. Where do you fit in? Because I turn on the TV knowing I’ll never see my representation. And at the movies, I am lucky if I’m reduced to the sidekick, the best friend, the last billing. They tell me, I should feel lucky to see the closest thing to my brown reflection, in the body of a middle aged white woman, throwing herself down stairs. Why do you not teach skinny girls to settle in the same way? Do you know? It took crawling on my knees, to collect back page, after page, of my self-esteem from the girls who stole it from me, in sandboxes and playgrounds?
It took me years, to feel worthy, of eating more than once a day. How long? Even more time to stop drowning myself in baggy sweaters, to stop telling myself it wasn’t worth it when I got dizzy. When I was trying to spare everyone the depravity of having to look at me with the lights on. Every day, I wish I could go back and talk to that awkward little girl, fighting back tears in the dressing room over the zipper that will not budge. I would tell her, Do not weigh your worth with the same scale they use to judge you. You are fat, you are worthy, and one day tying those words together will not feel so foreign to you. Stop apologising. When they sharpen their insults like harpoons. Stop trying to beat them to the punchline. As if hating you is a contest and you just want to make sure you win first. When they turn your body into a warzone. Stop trying to set fire to the one place you call home. You can afford the dreams they told you, you were too big for. So go ahead. Raise your standards like picket signs, do not take them down. Burn the white flags in your closet, wear the colors you want, and dream about the man you love leaping from the page. How you’ll purchase real estate in his thoughts, And live there, painted
on the back of his eyelids. But until he comes, fall in love with yourself first. And remember to count your worth by the handfuls, and not teaspoons. Even on the days when it’s hard. You are meant to be seen. Stop trying to disappear.
Fat Girl’s Happily Ever After
Words by Jennifer Manalili Sun illustration by Jessica Woodhouse
Photo by Mikey Wheeler Rachel Parry supported Dream Wife at Rough Trade on 26th May. The show was organised by the Shady Cow collective, a Notts LGBTQueer music night, exhibition, film screening, performance and a collective for LGBTQIA artists, musicians, performers and venues. Shady Cow were kind enough to ask Fan Club to DJ the event- we had a blast!
Rachel Parry arrives at Rough Trade nervous but smiling. She chats to us about the ‘walk of shame’ (or stride of pride, as we prefer to call it) she will have to do after her performance, assuring us she will be very messy and did not bring a change of clothes. We’re intrigued but still clueless as to what is about to happen when she takes the stage. The crowd watches in silence as a doctor/scientist/expert in etiquette teaches Rachel all the things she must do in order to be seen as ‘pretty’. She learns to always smile, staring out at the audience with a manic gleam in her eye and a fixed grin, asking “Am I pretty yet? Am I pretty yet mummy?”. The result is unsettling and uncomfortable; I find myself avoiding eye-contact in case I become involved, in case I become an accessory. Beginning in a simple beige under-dress, she slaps on self-tanning liquid, powder, shaving foam, lipstick, glitter, sweets... most of the products used appear to be edible, fusing the idea of creating beauty with baking a cake. A wooden spoon is used; flour and a sieve make an appearance; we are left to wonder how long it will take Rachel to bake and rise into the perfect cupcake that ‘mummy’ is asking her to be. At one point a wine glass is broken accidentally; it lays on the floor amongst the flour, paint, and whipped cream, and Rachel is mere inches from crawling all over it, fearlessly involved in her performance. Although unplanned, the broken glass only adds to the metaphor: if the expert told her crawling over broken glass would make her pretty, she’d be doing it. By the end of the performance, we have watched Rachel transform from herself into something grotesque, all in the quest for ‘pretty’. Afterwards I wonder to myself whether the audience unknowingly played their part perfectly - how often do we watch silently as women are told to strive for beauty above all else? How often do we avert our eyes? twitter.com/guerillaartlab
Rachel Parry is a part of GAL/ GuerillArtLab; a multi-changing space for artists who make politically charged art in Nottingham. Words by Rachel Nelson
‘I heart my scar’ by Alanna Chamberlain
INTERVIEW: Misty Miller by Amelia Daiz
I saw Misty Miller play at Rescue Rooms as part of her tour to promote her recently released and eagerly awaited new album ‘The whole family is worried’. She sends out waves of good old indie grunge punk and cavorts like the rebel girl you want to be friends with in school, in DIY arty music videos. She appears on stage looking effortlessly cool with an un-contrived confidence that says ‘this is me’ with a shrug and a smile. She and the band throw the music over us and we all just soak it up in awe. Her lyrics have a dark, subtle humour and wit to them, making you match her sly smile as you sing them back to her. The riffs lift you up and push you to do your very best mad bedroom dancing that only usually sees the light of day after a few drinks with your best friends, but then again it doesn’t feel too far away from that when you’re at a Misty Miller gig. I caught up with her before the gig, and she was generous enough to give me this interview. There’s a really big difference from your earlier acoustic stuff to your sound now, and from the audience’s perspective it’s quite a dramatic change. However in terms of how you view your own musical practice; does it seem like a gradual progression or was there a particular moment where it changed for you? For me, after I recorded the first album I didn’t actually like the style of music I was doing, so I was always trying to do other things. From the age of about 17 I started developing my sound. It’s been very gradual, it’s been a progression, but I guess for people looking from the outside who’ve seen the first stuff and the recent stuff it looks like a big jump, but because I’ve lived it, it doesn’t to me, if that makes sense. Who currently inspires you musically? A lot of people that I know around South London; South East London to be specific, the people that inspire me most are the people that do exactly what they want, even if it doesn’t seem like its going to do
well, even if they haven’t got a huge backing, they still have the passion just to do what they want. I really like that because you think that everyone is going to be like that but actually a lot of people aren’t and people get stuck doing things they don’t really enjoy any more. I always try and make sure I’m still enjoying what I do. People that live their lives and musical careers that way really inspire me. Are there any particular female artists or any from the riot grrrl movement that inspire you? To be honest I didn’t get into any specific bands from the riot grrrl movement; I liked Bikini Kill for a while, and I think it’s more the scene that came from that. I don’t really think that they were all amazing song writers, but it was the fact that they were doing what they want as female musicians without any sort of pop sensibility, without having to be any sort of way. Patti Smith really inspires me, I also think Kim Deal’s really cool.
So that leads nicely onto the last question of how you view feminism, and how do you see yourself as a feminist in the context of the music industry? I think it’s still really difficult, especially if you’re working with a major label, which I am, I think if I was with an indie label it would be a lot easier, because they just work in different ways. In terms of the word feminist; it’s a shame that a lot of women feel it’s such a tarnished word, but that’s just because of the way, sadly, men reacted towards it. I think there’s still a struggle in the music industry - which is why it’s so important to have all-female shows.
Thank you very much to Misty Miller and her band. Her album ‘The Whole Family Is Worried’ is out now and catch her in smaller venues whilst you still can!
** This interview has been edited for clarity.
When I first heard about the body positivity movement, I was 21. I had lost a considerable amount of weight through disordered eating and I wasn’t fully comfortable in my new, slender body. I still saw myself as overweight, still pulled at my flesh wishing it was tauter, sleeker. A friend of mine, on her own fat acceptance journey, sent me blog posts by Marianne Kirby. She begged me to read them and realise that fat wasn’t bad. “This woman is crazy,” I remember thinking. “Fat is bad, it’s unhealthy. All fat people are greedy, I’m greedy.” But my fat was never as bad as negative thoughts, actions and mindsets: my own and others. ￼ Every day I hear from people stuff that makes me wonder how they view me. Around 25 I put all the weight I’d lost back on, and then some. I’m a fat girl. I’m clinically ‘obese’. When I call myself fat people say
caveat to every meal I eat that isn’t vegetables. To quote Bridget Jones – ￼ “I realized that I have spent so many years being on a diet that the idea that you might actually need calories to survive has been completely wiped out of my consciousness. Have reached point where believe nutritional ideal is to eat nothing at all and that the only reason people eat is because they are so greedy they cannot stop themselves from breaking out and ruining their diets.” My goal is to increase my fitness levels at the moment, with a secondary goal to lose some weight, but I remind myself it is not for beauty reasons but very specific reasons such as “I’d like to spend a summer without my chub rub, and wearing sweaty spandex shorts under all my dresses” and “I’d like to not want to die when walking up stairs and hills”. Is that all fat peoples’ deal? No - I know women bigger than me with better lungs, stronger muscles, and less sensitive thigh skin. Do these things
I’m a human being and I deserve to love myself. “Oh you’re not really fat, that’s a horrible thing to say”, or “You don’t look like a size 18”, but I hear what they say about other people. The woman on the bus who eats a family sized packet of crisps, the lady at work who is surely always sick because she has a sandwich for lunch every day and never a salad, the jiggling moobs of a bloke running to get the bus. “They’re obese, not you.” But I am. Why is that person so different from me? It’s partly people trying to be nice to me, and partly because I’m a good fatty. Around these people I play the game; I acknowledge my ‘bad choices’, I berate myself for going ‘off plan’, and I make a vocal deal about going to the gym and changing my eating habits. But I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t want to. Those people, whether they mean to or not, have made me feel like I should be ashamed of myself; ashamed of eating anything at all. I feel like I have to add a
make me ugly? No - I am beautiful. My partner thinks I’m beautiful, my family thinks I’m beautiful, I think it too. When I feel ugly because of my size, it is mostly because clothes don’t fit me. Clothes don’t not fit me because I’m fat. Clothes can be made in any size, however they do not grow on trees. Clothes are not made for fat bodies, because our society thinks fat is the devil. Fat-friendly, fashionable clothes are in low supply, and are mostly sold online where sizing fluctuates massively. I’m a 16 top and waist, but I can go up to a 20 on the bottom because I have a (fantastic) large bottom, and the tour of my thigh is bigger than most women my size. In my experience, nearly every fat store cuts for apple shaped women. Necklines are high, armholes are curiously￼ missing, necessitating cardigans and the like even in the heat, and nearly every dress is a loose, formless swing.
Thank god for women like Tess Holiday. The body positivity movement has helped me to enjoy wearing what I want to wear, given me the confidence to exercise without feeling ashamed of my size, and let me find the beauty in my body. There is nothing wrong with loving your body because of how it looks, not despite it. You are no less beautiful as a size 20 than a size 10. You are no less healthy at a size 20 than a size 10. Fitness does not equal thinness. Shaming and hating yourself wont leave you happy. ￼ I’m a human being and I deserve to love myself. I owe it to my body to love myself and not tear it down anymore. I’ve struggled with disordered eating, depression, anxiety and self harm all due to my relationship with my body and none of it ever helped. Now I am trying to practice self love. This year I am 30 and hopefully by then I will be able to look in the mirror and be satisfied. I go to the gym, I exercise, I hate it, but I remind myself whatever the outcome, I’m only doing it to be more active and strong. If I don’t lose weight, if my body doesn’t change, I must accept that and love it still. If I eat vegetables all week long then get drunk and eat a lobster covered in butter - well, I had a damn good meal. Who cares? by Lauren Mitchell
by Rose Robbins
Throughout my childhood and teenage years I soaked up the opinions of others, believing them to be fact - especially the opinions on my body. And let me tell you, it seemed like everyone had an opinion on my body. When I was 15 years old my dad scoffed at my childish crush on a male pop singer, telling me that no one would ever look at me twice. Bullies made my secondary school years a living nightmare, because I was fat. These days, despite 16 years passing by, I still carry the ghosts of these myths around with me every day. On bad days they can influence my behaviour, how I dress and how I feel about myself. However, whereas once they felt all consuming and prophetic in magnitude, I can now view them from a distance of age and experience. Oh, and with a shed load of concrete proof of their total inaccuracy. Body myths I learned as a teenager:
BODY MYTH 1: THESE ARE THINGS YOU’LL NEVER EXPERIENCE UNLESS YOU’RE THIN Sex
I have had plenty thank you very much. And not once has my partner commented on my rounded stomach mostly because they’ve been too preoccupied with other areas of interest! We’re all different, and the qualities that each of us finds attractive in another person differs.
A happy life
With hindsight this assertion is ridiculous because a person’s size does not automatically guarantee happiness in all aspects of life. But as a young woman I believed that I could not be happy because I wasn’t a size 8. Now I realise that I can’t be firing on all cylinders in every area of my life all of the time - for one thing it would be exhausting! For me, a happier life is influenced by how I feel about my body. If I’ve made an effort to eat healthily and do some sort of exercise, I tend to feel more at ease with my body because it performs better.
I have a small group of friends, who share a similar outlook. We bond over a shared obsession with books and coffee. Over the years I’ve learned to surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself. What we look like doesn’t come into it, we’re friends and that’s that. words by Karen Blower illustration by Jessica Woodhouse
Let me tell you what’s fundamentally wrong with this body myth. The definition of thin is subjective as well as relative. Believing you’ll never achieve in life unless you’re a certain weight forces comparison with others. And that is a waste of time. Would you decide not to buy an apple because it didn’t look like an orange? No, because although apples and oranges are fruits, they are not the same. Why then can we not view our bodies with the same rationality? It isn’t as easy to view our bodies with this detachment because with bodies come emotions, feelings, identity and a sense of self. But what we can do is challenge the negative comments and choose to feel differently about our bodies.
BODY MYTH 2: YOUR BODY IS WRONG By judging negatively a person’s body through insults like ‘she’s too skinny’, ‘he’s so fat’, or ‘she shouldn’t wear that with a body like hers,’ you’re telling someone that their body is wrong. As a teenager I interpreted insults as proof that it was wrong to be me. So I walked a little faster past strangers on the street, I lowered my head and fixed my gaze on the ground, hoping that this would render me invisible. Slowly, and without realising, my world shrank. In doing this, I offered up my power and control to the bullies. My behaviour told the world that, yes, I agreed that there was something wrong with my body. It was only years later, when I began to achieve things at work and in my personal life, that I realised that this body, this person, was capable of doing so many things. I didn’t look like a supermodel, but my body took me on walks, enabled me to hug my friend through her difficult times, and recovered from the worst of the flu a total of three times in my lifetime. Placing so much importance on what your body looks like fosters a disconnection with what your body can do. Its purpose is much more than looking good in a selfie. With evidence of the power of my body I began to question whose standards I was using to judge myself so negatively. I saw that I’d inherited the views of others. These days I’m not as quick to accept these body labels. No one tells you this, but you don’t have to accept the opinions of others as fact. There’s something liberating about this! Recently I attended an author book signing. Being the book geek that I am, I was ecstatic when I managed to get a photo with the author, which was then added to the bookshop’s Twitter page. However, I was dismayed to see that I had my eyes closed in the photo and that the angle showed my stomach. In a second, my happiness was wiped out by a sinking sense of shame. Seconds before, I’d been elated. Seeing my abrupt change in mood, a wise person told me, ‘it’s not how the moment looks but how the moment feels.’ And this body feels good!
This is our first bumper zine with 32 pages - double the size of all of our others! We were taken aback by how many incredible women from ac...
Published on Aug 6, 2016
This is our first bumper zine with 32 pages - double the size of all of our others! We were taken aback by how many incredible women from ac...