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FIERCE /fi(ə)rs/ adjective, fierc·er, fierc·est. 1. having an unrestrained nature


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C0NTRIBUT0RS

WRITERS

.WEBSITE. Kevin Bonnell, Katarina Čiča, Nabiha Chowdhury, Brittany Davis, Srishti Jain, Abi jeeva, Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy, Lyndsey Merry, Nasreen Mody, Abdullah Raja, Aniqah Zowmi .MAGAZINE. Krishanthi Jeyakumar, Sawayra Owais, Krisha Ravikantharaja

FEATURED

.DESIGNER. Brandy Nicole Easter .DIRECTORS. Sara Landas and Holli Rae .PAINTER. IanitzaVassileva .POET. Kate Makkai .MODEL. Cassandera Giasante

LOGISTICS

.CONTENT EDITORS. Hasali Badde., Carissa Gordon, Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy, Adrienne Pham, Abdullah Raja .DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Pranavi Suthagar .FINANCE MANAGER. Mithushaa Berinpalingam .LAYOUT PLANNING. Elaine Westenhoefer .WEB DEVELOPERS. Meaghan Choi and Adi Pruthi

art direction, content curation, magazine design and photography by Whyishnave Suthagar this magazine is an independent publication currently funded by McMaster University © FIERCE media


a letter We chose to theme the second issue Aesthetics because we wanted to use this topic to anchor the discussion of questions like “what is considered beautiful and why?” A person who studies aesthetics, tries to figure out philosophically and psychologically, what the experience of beauty is. The reason why the study of aesthetics is so complicated is because there is a great deal of variation in the things that we call beautiful. So just think of the infinitely long list of beautiful things that would result if we considered that of everyone on the planet. As a consequence to this diversity of what we consider beautiful, over the years, many theories of beauty have been proposed. Plato said that “beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depends on simplicity”. The golden ratio is found in nature in many entities that can be described as beautiful, and has been noted to have been used extensively in the worlds of art and architecture. After fractal geometry was developed, the idea of self-similarity was found to be another characteristic of that which is beautiful. Vitruvius proposed an idea for a universal sense of beauty dealing with certain proportions and symmetry. Many of today’s scholars in the field of aesthetics would say that “beauty is in the culturally conditioned eye of the beholder”, it’s what moves you personally. There’s even the theory that accounts for the cross-cultural aesthetic pleasures and values that exists amongst the human race, detailing that the experience of beauty, with its emotional intensity and pleasure belong to our evolved human psychology, that the experience of beauty is just another example of a darwinian adaptation, and that things of beauty are examples of “fitness signals”. With so many ideas out there over these matters, and surely more to be pondered over in the years to come, I think one the interviews I had with an amazing painter for this issue really summed up what beauty is for me, and that is that you experience beauty “when you see (figuratively or literally) the potential in something to become more than it is”. Sincerely, Whyishnave Suthagar founder / managing editor

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THE CAT RECLAIMER COLLECTION - Talking with designer Brandy Nicole Easter about the creation of her “cat lady” inspired graduate collection for Central Saint Martins.

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PAINTING NATURE - A chat with artist Ianitza Vassileva, recent graduate from the McMaster Arts and Science and Studio Arts Programs about her painting process.

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THE GODDESS PROJECT - An interview with directors Sara Landas and Holli Rae about the trials and tribulations of creating their ambitious women’s empowerment documentary.

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WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL IS GOOD? - A look into the WIBIG (what is good is beautiful) phenomenon, how it can be harmful but also useful.

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WHAT IS AESTHETICS? - Ya, pretty much that. What is it? We’d like to know.

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COMFORT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A POLITICAL STATEMENT - A short piece on the new wave of body hair acknoledgement and embracing happening in social media today.

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1.6180339887... - An editorial featuring model Cassandera Giasante amongst notable proportions and ratios.

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PRETTY - Slam poet Kate Makkai talks to us about her poem “Pretty“ and about today’s beauty ideals.

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a e s t h e t i c s ? What is aesthetics? No, that is not a rhetorical question used in an attempt to capture your attention. Quite plainly, if you are looking for answers from this article, I would wish nothing less than to occupy any more of your time. Equally, if you already know the answer, please stop reading and call everyone you know to tell them; you would be saving several people several hours. However, if you—like myself—fall into neither of these categories, and live to ask questions while understanding that the answers to the majority of these questions will forever escape us, then read on, my friend.

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By Krisha Ravikantharaja


independently produced In its singular concordance, the Oxford English Dictionary informs me that aesthetics is “The philosophy of the beautiful or of art; a system of principles for the appreciation of the beautiful, etc. ; the distinctive underlying principles of a work of art or a genre, the works of an artist, the arts of a culture, etc.” While in its plural concordance, aesthetics are “The (attractive) appearance or sound of something.” While I know that beauty extends beyond any field of vision, for brevity’s sake we shall constrict our definition to that of visual aesthetics.

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I must first consider the notion that my difficulty in grasping aesthetics begins with my personal relationship with my own aesthetics. I know I do not adhere to modern social standards which dictate what it is to be beautiful: my nose is too large, my skin is not clear and my head is simply too close to the ground. Sometimes that bothers me and other times it does not. Sometimes I spend a month choosing an outfit, and other times I find myself realizing I have not looked at my face in the mirror for weeks. Sometimes I am upset that I will never have the option of pursuing a profession in which my appearance is my resume, and other times I am ashamed that I would even entertain the idea of choosing such a career. These hypocrisies have contributed to my struggle in understanding visual art: am I supposed to be appreciating the graduation of the colours and the textures the paintbrush left behind, or should I be looking for the deeper meanings of the juxtaposition of the symbols of the piece and the artist’s intentions? This has contributed to my struggle in understanding my relationship with nature: is it acceptable to spend afternoons watching the clouds redraw their outlines or should I be giving my thanks for the drops that they shed so that the crops which produce the food I eat may grow? This has even contributed to my struggle in understanding love: is love at first sight the ultimate aspiration or is love best when blind? Now that I have revealed much of what I do not know, perhaps it is only fair to articulate what I do know about aesthetics. I know that I love watching snow fall. I know that I love the creases at the corners of my mother’s eyes. I know that I love the appearance of a raw, blank page. And I know that each of these things and the experiences that accompany them are beautiful. But the inherent weakness of my four preceding statements is revealed in a single word. I. Aesthetics are subjective, despite the objectivity that any formal definition of the word may suggest. Further, I cannot quite tell if I love these things or simply the idea of them—and even if that distinction matters. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Is that which is beautiful still beautiful if there are no eyes to see it? I think my deepest discomfort with aesthetics is that in the creation of any form of categorization or systemization, there is inevitable exclusion. The very definition of aesthetics implicates that that which is beautiful can only exist because that which is not beautiful exists, too. Most of the time, I support that we should strive toward a world in which we spend more time reading books than staring at their covers. At the same time, I realize that aesthetics aren’t going anywhere, both in a literal sense and their discursive presence. What I do know, and perhaps the only answer I am allowed, is that I will continue to love watching snow fall, observing the creases at the corners of my mother’s eyes and witnessing the turn to a raw, blank page. I also know that I sometimes find it more appropriate to describe these experiences with the word ‘beautiful’ instead of ‘interesting’, ‘wondrous’ or ‘great.’ But I am still left with questions—the answers to which I simply do not know and expect I will never know. Vitally, I simply do not think I will ever know whether the creation of the construct of aesthetics has done more harm or good for our world. So instead of a coherent response, I leave you with yet another question. If you could go back to the moment that the word ‘aesthetics’ was first written, would the line you drew cross it out or underline it?

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“I AM KIND OF OBSESSED WITH SAVING THINGS SO WHEN I FIND REALLY SPECIAL FABRICS, I WANT TO HONOUR THEM THROUGH INNOVATIVE DESIGNS…”

A chat with Brandy Nicole Easter about her views on aesthetics the design and her graduate collection for Central Saint Martins, “The Cat Reclaimer”.

Why do you design? I grew up with two very creative people and two PhD graduates at home who always inspired me. At school I had no problems with academics or my art classes, to me it was obvious to design as I would utilize both skill sets. In general, I believe people design because they see that things can be better and we can’t help ourselves but to draw and make prototypes until we are burnt out because we become obsessed with making something or many things great. Aside from this kind of obsession, I am also driven by the environment. I use reclaimed fabrics to produce my clothes and accessories in the hopes that I can help divert some materials from landfills. Why fashion design over other design fields? Fashion design seemed natural to me somehow, I learnt how to sew before high school and my grandmother (who made clothes, knitted, crocheted, painted, and more) taught me how to knit and hand sew which had a big influence on me. I would enjoy spending time knitting or embroidering something but I could never be patient enough to make a perfect technical drawing say for product design or architecture. Perhaps I may have had the ability but it never attracted me whereas fashion excited me. I love art very much, however I’ve always wanted to make things that people could use every day, items that could provide some practical use. Who do you design for? My ideal muse is quite simply, someone

who loves colour, clashing prints, and isn’t afraid to stand out but cares more about feeling happy in their clothes. I hope that my clothes can somehow spread positivity, maybe put a few smiles on faces. I also like to think that my clothes are ageless, that anyone who wants to wear them will just wear them because, why not?

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What inspired the Cat Reclaimer Collection? This collection

is very much inspired by it’s title (which is kind of a play on what I do, which is to reclaim fabrics). I am kind of a cat lady myself so I decided to research truly crazy cat ladies, women who had “reclaimed” cats in an effort to “save” them from being homeless I suppose. I watched a documentary called Cat Ladies and overall it appeared that they cared more about the cats than anything else, including what they looked like. I wanted to represent that by odd layering and clothes that kind of didn’t fit right- too big, weird sleeves, etc. Can you explain the aesthetic choices you made for this collection? With all of my collections I can be quite restricted when it comes to fabric choices because I use reclaimed materials. This includes anything from vintage fabrics, old curtains, to surplus fabrics factories are getting rid of. Some people see this as a disadvantage to creativity, however I see it as a design challenge which perhaps forces me to be more creative. I have to be more careful but I still find it fun because rather than picking any fabric in any colour or texture I have to design and then think about what is available to me and how can I mix and match things to make it look like how I had envisioned it. It’s convenient that I love contrasting colours and textures as it is often my only choice! This limitation however does not stop me from taking risks when manipulating the fabric I work with. I have painted on the fabrics, illustrated prints, and embroidered cat eyes to name a few examples. In short I suppose the aesthetic resembles a bright, colourful bag lady or a charming hoarder which probably sounds like a bad thing but I actually really like the look of these eccentric people who perhaps may have just thrown on their clothes at random and possibly put on a few too many layers. What are your views on aesthetics & beauty? Aesthetics to me has two meanings, one that goes along the same lines as taste and another that simply means “the way something looks” and the respective emotions it may evoke. Beauty, I believe is not just about looks. Beauty can be used to describe a sound or even an act of love or kindness. It’s a complicated concept and we all have our own criteria for what makes something beautiful for us, it is completely subjective in my opinion.


THE CAT RECLAIMER COLLECTION by

BRANDY NICOLE EASTER

How important is aesthetics in terms of your design process? How would you describe your personal aesthetic? I would say it’s quite important to me when designing as I

am never designing for pure function but a combination of a good visual and practical design. In some ways it is really crucial for me as a designer who uses reclaimed materials as I would never want my clothes to look obviously like old clothes or reworked, but rather for them to look like new, fresh clothes. I am kind of obsessed with saving things so when I find really special fabrics, I want to honour them in a way that pays reverence to their integrity, and for me that means using them in innovative designs. My personal interests and hobbies play a role in my aesthetics, I grew up watching anime and became really interested in Japanese culture in high school and now having been to Japan twice I absolutely love it! Therefore I would say my aesthetics are always trying to be cute and precious (with reference to Kawaii culture), and making something old look new. Where do you see beauty? I see beauty in nature, in cats, in flowers, in clothes that have been worn to death but so obviously loved, in music, and in people. Though I very rarely seek beauty when designing. My appreciation for these things that I find beautiful comes out when I am drawing, painting or drafting up designs simply by the fact that I am taking the time to actually focus on a certain object or concept that I find resonates with me. Any plans for the future? Yes, I am presently working on another collection, tilted “The Painter’s View” that will be coming out soon!

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*PAINTING

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Ianitza Vassileva ~

Paraphrasing the words said by iconic painters Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock; “painting is a profession for the blind. Those who paint, paint not what they see, but what they feel, what they tell themselves about what that they have seen. Painting is about self-discovery. Every good artist paints who they are.” Ianitza Vassileva, recent graduate of McMaster University’s Studio Arts Program and Arts & Science program walks us through her development as a professional painter, the process of painting and discusses her beliefs on beauty.

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ainting is a way for me to bring together disparate thoughts into something that holds them together in reality. I love colour and its properties and paint allows me to explore and experiment with them. I love the immediacy and tactile feeling of applying paint to a surface. Sometimes I paint to surprise myself. There’s that leap of excitement when something unexpected occurs and satisfaction when I’ve managed to create an illusion. I feel that every time I create a new painting, I am doing something worthwhile. I am learning something new about myself and creating an object that will inspire someone else or make them question, wonder, and talk. The way I paint is intuitive. I use oil because I think it lends itself better to fleshy and earthy tones. I like that it’s a more natural pigment than acrylic. Although I love the immediacy and safety of using acrylic and water, I prefer the colours of oil. Also, oil has a longer dry time so it’s good when my work time is spaced out over several weeks. I love to paint with bright, vibrant colours that remind of a scene of a colourful seaside town in the South of France. Although as I mix them I often mute them a little, with bursts of colour in unexpected moments. I recently saw Francis Bacon’s work at the Art Gallery of Ontario and looking up close, it struck me how similar our palettes were. It was a happy surprise because his work has been influential to me for years.

Every day I see things in our natural and manufactured world that inspire me to paint. Places I visit and faces that stand out to me all make it into my work. If something attracts me, in a photograph or in real life, I take it. If you think of a collage, my ideas often come about pieced together from things that I’ve seen. Though often collage-like, I want my paintings to look like something whole, something that gives the piece the sense that it comes from the real world. In terms of my creative practice at the moment, I am currently developing a business strategy for my art. As creative individuals, artists are in a unique position to develop creative business solutions. I see developing my art practice as a business as just another creative opportunity. There is a lot to learn and I’m excited about it! I am also continuing to work on my underwater series. One of the biggest challenges of the project is finding willing models and appropriate settings to film in. I have some pretty wild ideas for settings but they may be difficult to gain access to… The idea for this series came to me unexpectedly. I was camping over the weekend with some friends at the Bruce Peninsula. We hiked to a grotto in Georgian Bay, and there I saw water of a clear turquoise blue that I didn’t know could exist in Canada. The waves were hitting the rocks near the cave and the sun was creating beautiful glittering reflections in the water. I saw the picture in my head, and asked my friend to go in the water so I could photograph her. The whole series came about as a result of this.

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o you think the notion of aesthetics is an objective or subjective construct? I think they are both because as

much as they are constructed by what we are exposed to, people have their own unique tastes. It’s a circle – people create unique things which then influence other people to create or like those things. Some of those people will put their own unique spin on them and create something new – and on it goes.

How do you make the artistic choices you do in your artwork? For example, in my underwater series, I have

been attempting to capture a particular feeling and the refraction of light through water. It’s important for me to depict it accurately in order to create the optical illusion. As I work from photographs I have taken, I am constantly interpreting colours and shapes to create the bigger picture. I see the colours in my photographs and then choose how to interpret them in a way using paint so that they may coexist on the canvas.

How would you describe your personal aesthetic? I use a lot of blues, especially baby blue and turquoise. I love bright vibrant colours, and tend to stay away from browns and greys. My shadow palette is full of colour. There’s this part of a book I read as a kid, where the author wrote how an egg is not white, but it is all the colours reflected on the surface. This always stuck with me – I paint one colour with many other colours. Do you think that aesthetics is equateable to beauty? I think that they are both subjective constructs. In my opinion aesthetics is a critical reflection of beauty. But I feel that some things can be beautiful without being aesthetically pleasing.

Where do you see beauty? In my practice as an artist, I

seek that which inspires me and attracts me. It could be insignificant to someone else, but it caught my eye. Perhaps the beauty of something for me is in the way that I see the potential in something to become more than it is.

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what is

beautiful isgood ? By Sawayra Owais

allowing them to be discharged faster than ‘less cute’ babies (Badr & Abdallah, 2001). And those attractive individuals at work? Well, not only did they have an easier time getting the job, but they’re earning about 15% more than you are (French, 2002).

I am certain that many of us have come across people who seem to have both the brain and the brawn. And as we look up to the sky, questioning why our nose couldn’t be smaller or our personality larger, we must remember that it is our own doing.

Across cultures, societies’ predilection for paying more attention to physically attractive people has yielded the ‘what is beautiful is good’ (WIBIG) stereotype. A representation of the self-fulfilling prophecy, the WIBIG phenomenon occurs because people hold beliefs that beautiful people must have socially desirable traits and thereby interact with them more than their less attractive counterparts. With increased attention, attractive people, lo and behold, are able to develop social competence and skills such as extroversion, that we envy so much. But, this cyclic effect is not a one-hit wonder. Indeed, from cradle to coffin, society’s sublime and perennial treatment of physically attractive people has contributed to a number of advantages they receive. For instance, studies have revealed that neonatal nurses spend more time with ‘cuter’ babies,

Perhaps the fundamental question to ask is why this stereotype is endemic to the human race? Biological, cognitive and social factors all play a role but arguably, in my opinion, the latter has the greatest impact.

people based on merit and not appearance, as studies have shown that physically attractive people are hired more easily than their counterparts with the same qualifications (Mobius & Rosenblatt, 2006). Another solution is to use the self-fulfilling prophecy to our advantage. If positive attention is paid to any person, won’t that bring out their best qualities? Indeed, this is exactly what studies show – ‘average’ looking folk can be made to feel ‘beautiful’ in a sense (Anderson & Bem, 1981). Though we may all differ in what we bring to the table, I believe that any contribution we make is valuable for society at large. Being conscious of this phenomenon, I believe it’s our responsibility to re-shape the culture that surrounds us so that it is inclusive for all. Sociologists claim that Generation Y, our generation, are agents of change. Let’s prove that and then some.

Regardless of whether we hail from the East or West, the Arctic or Down Under, we have been bred in a culture that promotes the WIBIG stereotype. Children’s movies and television shows readily portray the protagonist as more loyal, trustworthy and generally, more physically attractive (in terms of the beauty standards of a certain time and place) than their antagonistic counterparts. Ariel versus Ursula, Peter Pan versus Captain Hook, Luke versus The Grand High Witch – the list is endless. By coupling undesirable traits with features that society generally dictates as unattractive we have been programmed to promote the beautiful and neglect the average. So, is all hope then lost? Shall we acquiesce to the WIBIG phenomenon and accept it as a normal part of our lives? Yes and no. I don’t believe that ignoring physically attractive people will reverse this phenomenon (and would likely do more harm than good), but this road does not have to lead to only one destination. One way to re-route is to train interviewers to hire

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COMFORT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A POLITICAL STATEMENT BY: KRISHANTHI JEYAKUMAR

Body hair has become a socio­ political statement. It has become a casualty in the beauty industry’s campaign to make the natural “unnatural” by enforcing patriarchal standards of femininity onto the population through mass media and advertising. By equating the highest standard of accepted beauty to the amount of body hair left on a woman, there is an unspoken rule that lingers heavily in society; the less hair you have the more “womanly” you are. This is despite the fact that body hair is entirely natural, while forced removal of it requires artificial creams and gels. A girl allowing her armpit hair to grow out and feeling comfortable with the stubble on her legs,is often synonymous to making a statement about feminism and social constructs. Although, I’m a huge feminist who has problems with the patriarchy and I also have a fine haze of hair across my arms, the two things are not related. My problems with the patriarchy are associated with my feminist views which stem from being a female. The hair on my arms stem from the fact that I have two Asian parents, and I don’t have time every morning to care about the removal of hair. Often it’s tempting to enter the world every morning with a banner saying “My comfort is not a political statement” (though it could well be if I wanted it to). Women should be allowed to have autonomy of their bodies without being told that their natural, untouched, bodies reduce their femininity. In addition, women who choose to shave their body hair should not feel obligated to justify their choices in the face of feminism.

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To have complete autonomy of your body is to decide what happens to it, without having your actions scrutinized. After all, comfort should never be a political statement.

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~Pretty~ When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? will I be pretty… Will I be PRETTY… WILL I BE PRETTY…” What comes next? Oh, right. “Will I be richwhich IS almost pretty depending on where you shop And the pretty question infects from conception passing, blood and breath, into our cells The word hangs from our mothers’ hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry Will I be wanted worthy pretty? But puberty left me this fun-house mirror ogre. Teeth set at science-fiction angles, crooked-nosed, face donkey-long and pock-marked where the hormones went finger-painting My poor Mother HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? “You’ll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb, that’s why your teeth look like THAT. You were hit in the face with a frisbee when you were six, otherwise your NOSE would have been just FINE. Don’t worry. We’ll get it ALL fixed” She would say, grasping my face and twisting it this way then that as though it were a cabbage she might buy. But this is not about her. Not her fault she too was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By sixteen I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides, teeth corralled into steel prongs, laying in a hospital

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bed, face packed with gauze cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved. My belly gorged on two pints of my own blood I had swallowed under anesthesia and every, convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside outWHAT DID YOU LET THEM DO TO YOU All the while, this constant neon sign buzz, droning on and on will I be pretty will I be pretty Like the I.V. needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood will I be pretty will I be pretty Like my mother unwinding the gift-wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her then-thousand dollars bought her pretty pretty pretty and now, I have not seen my own face in 20 years But this is not about me. This is the self-mutilating circus in which we have painted ourselves the clowns, about women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but who haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how to wear joy-wandering through life, shackled to a shopping bag beneath the tyranny of two syllables. about men, wallowing on bar-stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crestfallen, because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable. This is about my own someday-daughter, when you approach me, already stungstained with insecurity, begging ,”Mom, will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question for your mouth like cheap lip-stick and answer. NO The word “pretty” is unworthy of everything you will be and no child of mine will be contained in 6 letters You will be pretty intelligent pretty creative pretty amazing but you will never be merely, pretty.

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What inspired the conception of this poem? When I wrote this poem, I was very much involved with the national poetry slam and so, naturally, I wanted to write a poem with which I could compete. Traditionally, poems about social injustice are favorites in the slam genre. But that wasn’t enough. I always wanted to take my own experience, my own life-long insecurities and open up to the rest of the world- thereby highlighting the commonality of it. I feel like the best poems that you hear are the ones that you feel were written about you… written FOR you. It wasn’t enough to just whine about how I had been taught such profound self-loathing because I was (and am) kind of homely. I wanted to include everyone else and basically say, “Look, this happened to me and I know it happened to you too. Where did it come from and how can we stop it? Because this is a fucking AWFUL way to live”

Do you think the branch of philosophy; Aesthetics, and the notion of “pretty” go hand in hand, or do you feel that there is some distinction between the two? That’s a really tricky question because Aestheticism is so layered. The aesthetics (as far as I know- it’s been a long time since college philosophy) were definitely concerned with what was considered beautiful- but that’s not to say that they were engaged in an analog version of “Hot or Not”. They tried to pick apart the notion of “beauty” and contemplate WHY something was beautiful. Obviously there was an element of taste involved, but they asked questions about whether or not the “beautiful” elevated one’s soul and spirit, did it put one in touch with the divine. Was beauty synonymous with virtue? Did one need to have a deeper knowledge of something in order to find it beautiful? And when they talked bout “beauty” they discussed art, music, nature I think that our modern concept of “pretty” is not quite so elevated. I think “pretty” is a more commodified term and attitude that assigns value to people without ever reflecting on WHY something or someone is attractive or not. I feel “pretty” kind of irons out all the facets that make up a person and boils everything down to dress sizes and hair colors… It’s so obtuse.

3. Do you think, that we as a society place value on that which is pretty? If yes, then why do you think we do this (and vice versa if no)?

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BY KATE MAKKAI Of course we do- pretty sells. Why do we do it? I think it’s perfectly natural to want to surround yourself with that which you find pleasing, so we seek it out. However, I also think the commercialization of “pretty” has comandeered those preferences and that delight that people gain from that which they find beautiful. Pretty is no longer an opinion, it’s a product…. Rather than explore and understand what we find pretty- we’re told from a VERY young age what’s pretty and therefore valuable… and then we spend our lives having it sold to us.

4. Do you think this idea of valuing “being pretty” is gender neutral? I have never been any gender other than my own and so I can’t speak for anyone else regarding the pressures they face. I just know that all people with whom I have come into contact, regardless of how they identify, have felt like they needed to look better than they do- have felt like they were inadequate and unlovable because of their physical appearence. I think it gets to us all, eventually.

5. Do you believe that placing too much value on the notion of pretty is potentially harmful? If so, do you think there are ways that we can change this manner of thinking for the future? Very VERY harmful. Obviously, people inflict horrible injuries on themselves in an attempt to attain physical attractiveness- But also, our emphasis on being pretty robs us of so much life. When you think about it, What is pretty? Who is pretty? We’re led

to believe that we all need to be attractive, but only a few people ever hope to fulfill the general requirements we’re given- the face, the body type, the fashion, the hair etc etc. and the window of time during which people can hope to achieve those goals is so small. You only have a few years, right? From the age of maybe 14 to 30 or 40- such a tiny sliver of a human life. But we’re encouraged to waste decades of our lives chasing that ideal. All that time we could have spent learning to dance or play an instrument or inventing wonderful machines, making world-changing discoveries, finding cures for diseases… but instead we’re piddling away our lives on a treadmill, hoping to squish ourselves into size 4 jeans that cost more than a month’s rent. I think changing this mentality is extremely difficult, but it begins with recognizing the over-emphasis on physical attractiveness and then actively making choices to counter-act. For example, and this is a big one for me, don’t compliment girls (or boys) by making a big, fat stink about how cute they are. Change that conversation and tell them you’re impressed by how strong they are, how smart, how coordinated. Also, make a conscious effort to TALK to people you don’t necessarily find physically attractive- make a conscious effort to discover what else about them is worth noting. I also thing we should surround ourselves with unaltered, images of “regular” people. We need to re-establish that people are allowed to just look like people with their bones and muscles and fat exactly the way they are, and stop presenting a certain ideal as a standard of value.

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THE GODDES

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SS PRO JECT Sara Landas and Holli Rae are two directors with a mission; to broaden the spectrum of what a film production can look like. As part of the next generation of content creators, they feel that it’s their responsibility to create content that educates, uplifts and inspires others to transform themselves and the world around them. So without further a do is their interview with FIERCE on their trials and tribulations of creating their nearly finished documentary. The Goddess Project is a documentary film to show women that they don’t have to be confined to one path! In the summer of 2012 we spent 6 months living out of a school bus and travelling from coast to coast interviewing women from all walks of life about their paths to self discovery. Throughout our 10,000 mile journey, we met amazing women everywhere we went who bravely volunteered to bare their souls in front of our lens. We interviewed artists, mothers, healers, businesswomen and scholars about the life-changing experiences that shaped them to become who they are today. The Goddess Project presents an intimate look at the universal concerns that we face through groundbreaking dialogue about being a woman, overcoming fears, and creating the life of your dreams! The Goddess Project is more than just a film, it is a movement to inspire women of all ages to join together, share their stories, and create space for infinite possibilities. The project was inspired by our desire to see more multi-faceted role models for women and girls in the media. We felt frustrated by the constant bombardment of the same stereotypical roles so we decided to hit the road to document real life stories of women across America. Our goal was to film women of different ages, races, careers, and beliefs in at least 30 states across the country. By sharing the stories of over 100 women in the same film, we aim to bridge the gaps that separate us from one another and show the infinite possibilities that exist when you step into your own power!


How would your team define beauty? And to your team is the definition of beauty similar or different to the idea of Aesthetics? We see beauty everywhere. To us, beauty cannot be defined by any set of standards or measurements. Beauty can’t be defined because it is in everything. It is in the diversity of each being and in the ways we are all connected.

What is your definition of an “empowered woman”? A woman who makes decisions based on her own truth and values. To be empowered is to live the life of your own creation.

Tell us about the logistics and some the most interesting experiences or obstacles you faced throughout your travels, in terms of “couchsurfing”, living out of a vegetable oil powered mini school bus and life on the road in general? Traveling across the United States and living out of a mini school bus for 6 months was both the most liberating and challenging experience of our lives. The bus itself had about 6×10 feet of living space and none of the amenities we had grown accustomed to in our daily lives. All we had was our camera equipment, a bed, two drawers for our clothes, a cabinet to hold food, and a cutting board that doubled as a desk. Most of our showers consisted of baby wipes and Dr. Bronner’s, and we spent a lot of time peeing in cups if there wasn’t a bathroom nearby. It was basically like camping in a tin box. Everyday we found ourselves stepping into the unknown but we always had faith that our intuitions would lead us exactly where we needed to go. We awoke one morning in Texas to a woman outside our bus leaving us an invitation to come stay at her home down the street from where we were parked. We accepted and returned later that evening and ended up staying awake almost all night drinking champagne and having the best conversations! She told us that “Choosing Love” was her life motto, and offered us warm showers and some amazing advice for the film. It was as if we had been friends all of our lives! On another night, we found ourselves trying to get some sleep in our bus in New Orleans when it was just over 100 degrees outside and we we’re in a bad part of town so we had to keep the windows shut. We

laid there pouring water on ourselves wondering if we could survive the night in that kind of heat. Suddenly there was a knock at our door. It was a woman we had met earlier that day who insisted we come stay with her. We followed her back to her place just down the street and had a beautiful night’s sleep in her air conditioned den. These are just two examples, but at nearly every stop we were approached by a kind stranger who wanted to lend a helping hand.

Can you describe some of the women that you were able to interview throughout this journey? We sat down with women from all walks of life and each interview ended up being entirely unique. We discussed everything from social and political issues to self-love and spiritual practices, but really gave each woman the space to voice what they wanted to share. We interviewed all sorts of women, from academic scholars to performance artists, each of their unique stories absolutely blew our minds. Here are just a few examples! In San Francisco we interviewed a Burlesque Dancer & Showgirl who teaches women to overcome obstacles of negative self-image, trauma, and abuse through dancing and embodied movement. In Utah we interviewed a mother who is raising 8 kids, some biological and some adopted from hard places. She has dedicated her life to healing the trauma’s of her children and frequently travels back to Haiti to contribute to the community where they are from. In New Orleans we interviewed a woman who is a 72 year old mime and street performer. She lived through the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and opens her home to teach and host traveling artists from around the world. In Wisconsin we interviewed a Polish woman who came to America as a child with her family after World War II where she had lived in a refugee camp. She shared the importance of connecting with each other and being grateful for all of the opportunities that we have in this country. In New York we interviewed woman who started out as a waitress and became a professional photographer for clients like Converse and The New Yorker. She dedicates her work to empowering and broadening the representation of women in art.


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What was the most powerful part of this experience for your team?

Were there any challenges amongst the team, having been working with and seeing each other so often?

The most powerful part of this process has been learning to have faith in our own abilities and intuition. When we initially came up with this project, we both had our preconceived notions about what to expect from people across the country, but our expectations were blown away as soon as we hit the road. Both before and during our trip, we were surprised by how many people warned us to “be careful” as there is this fear that people cannot be trusted, or that it is unsafe to travel alone as women. We spent almost 200 nights sleeping in parking lots, along mountaintops, and on city streets, but in the end, we were happy to report back that the most notable encounters were love notes on our windshield and invitations for home cooked meals. We learned that people are inherently good, and when you’re working to make the world a better place, someone will always show up to help you out in a time of need.

Before embarking on the trip we shared a room in San Francisco for 2 years, so we had a good idea of what living together in such tight quarters would be like. Times on the road did get tense every so often as we navigated through new cities and had inevitable technical difficulties but worked through problems as they arose and always tried to keep our lines of communication open. This project has made our friendship stronger than ever and each day we push each other to be the best we can be.

Can you describe a typical day of work? We usually start our mornings with a team meeting in the sunshine to gel pen down our “to-do” list and discuss the day’s plan. We then return to The Goddess Project HQ where we spend the rest of the day editing the film, managing our Kickstarter campaign, and planning for the film’s release!

What are some of the latest updates in the making of your documentary right now? Can you tell us anything about your next kickstarter project? After gathering over 300 hours of footage on our cross-country journey, we have spent the past 2 years assembling the film and have reached a point where we must expand our team in order to move forward. We just launched our final Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds we need to hire an assistant editor, sound designer, and a team of mixed media artists to make this film the best it can be! We hope to finish the film by the end of this year and have in screening worldwide in 2015!


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edit0r’s valedicti0n I If you have come this far then I’d like to thank you for reading (or atleast clicking through) this piece in its entirety out of ideally your own will (or perhaps surrendering to the persistence of our contributors requesting that you have look). I hope that all in all it was a good or atleast tolerable viewing experience, and in the case that it wasn’t we do hope our next issue will be more tailored to your tastes. Again thank you for reading the second issue of FIERCE and we hope that you come back for more. To view all the articles for this issue in their entirety, visit the magazine’s website at http://www.fiercemag.co/issue-2/.

*Citations for the articles are found on the FIERCE w e b s i t e .


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The Aesthetics Issue  

The second issue of FIERCE magazine.