In Conversation with Jasmine McPhee
The Future: Sustainable Class of 2020
Lets Discuss Drew & Disability
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
As I sit here and write this... We are nearing the end of lockdown, and the world has changed since I began this journey creating M-PWR. I am a different person, and my peers are different people. Unity has become a core attitude getting us through a dark time, and into the Summer months, with hope that 2021 will be a better year. We now see the world in a way that pushes us towards a more sustainable future and slower pace of life, appreciating the little things in life while we still have them. I set out to create a magazine that was above all things inclusive, a magazine that invited the readers to explore disability, body positivity and inclusivity in a visual and sometimes written way, which is why you’ll find S K I N, a look at the beauty of a woman’s body and the stories she tells through it. Volume one’s theme is ‘Heavenly Bodies’, inspired by my son, and the life we have lived over the last 5 years, Seth has shown me that I am more than my physical form, just as he is more than his Downs Syndrome. The theme goes beyond our bodies and what we know and into the ideas we put into this world. As we have encountered a pandemic and entered lockdown, M-PWR has evolved to be more than I could have ever imagined, I have tried to maintain M-PWR’s manifesto and adapt it to our current situation. I wanted this magazine to be about everyday people, doing everyday things, trying to make the world a better place. In this issue, you will meet the young future makers quietly working in the background doing just that. Drew White, the 24-year-old teacher who is bringing the disabled and the abled together to help each other work towards a more inclusive future in the workplace. Jasmine McPhee the brains and the brawn behind Find Your Intern, a platform for students and graduates to gain paid employment and a brand-new community bringing creatives together to help each other and network. The most important thing for me was, that, I wanted to give a space for future creatives to show off their talent, especially with the loss of GFW (Graduate Fashion Week) and Universities Exhibitions; which is why in this issue you’ll meet 9 graduates from the class of 2020 - the designers making sustainable collections, with hopes of changing the fashion industry. A cause I strongly believe in. It was a privilege to collaborate and interview these 9 young women. Simone Field, a talented artist now turned illustrator shares her favourite pieces, and Chloe Catalina Miranda talks about what it’s like to be different in the world we live in now. Lastly, my hope is that M-PWR brings you some joy in this time of the unknown. I hope it helps you find acceptance in who are you within this world filled with confusion and pressure. I have loved putting this together and loved sharing my ideas with the world. I hope that as the reader you learn something new.
M-PWR Editor in Chief:
Elizabeth James Butler
Cristine Dyer Ryan Justin Dyer Ashlyn Kate Dyer Ashley Charles Burr Simone Field Rose Langis Chloe Catalina Miranda Seth Joshua Butler David Tran Colleen Considine Eliot Roberts Karim Younis Vanessa Mulumbala Livia Zhane Jewelle Amy Claxton Simone Field
Elizabeth James Butler
With Special thanks to: Terry Newman for having the patience to help me during my situation Urjua-n Toosy For helping me put together this magazine Nick Maroudias for being there to answer any photography questions I had My parents Trevor and Lyn Butler who took care of my son when they could so that I could do my work To The Gradutexs who I interviewed for sharing their work with M-PWR Thank you!
CONTENTS 8-21 skin 22-23 lets discuss drew 24-33 mother daughter 34-35 in conversation with Jasmin McPhee 36 - 41 rivers run deep 42 - 51 golden men 52 - 55 moans designs 56 - 65 come dine with me 66-67 Q&A : Helen De Wilde (OvoBloom) 68 - 71 Ashley Chrles Burr “a touch of arrogance” 72 - 77 Akhila Kuma Sustainable Pre-Collection 78 - 79 lock down abuse 80 - 85 secret life of autism 86 - 87 take back the hair 88 - The Future : 90 - 93 Grace Williamson 94 - 97 Gracie D’Silva 98 - 101 Emma Pepperdine 102 - 105 Akhila Kumar 106 - 109 Masie Leigh Gale 110 - 113 Jamie Baldrick 114 - 117 Eva Smith 118 - 121 Danielle Tonge 122 - 125 Elena Birch 126 - 132 lost dreams 134 - 135 living in silence 140 - 143 Eco Period. 144 - 146 Self Awareness instagram round up
n A celebration of the female body & the stories they tell
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler Ryan Justin Dyer Cristine Dyer Simone Field 9
le t ’s d is c u s s d re w Drew White is a 24 year old with spina bifida making waves in the disability community, we sat down and talked about his humble beginnings and the future of his charity. Words By: Elizabeth James Butler
Drew White is a 24-year-old Special Education teacher, with Spina Bifida, a condition that affects the spinal cord in the womb, causing partial or total paralysis in the legs. Drew loves trees and nature, he has a heart for bringing people together, and a positive outlook on life despite his disability. This lead to Drew starting a blog called ‘Lets Discuss Disability’ which then lead to a discussion panel being formed, inviting both able and disabled people to come and ask questions and work together, from there Drew started creating workshops for schools and the work place, with the idea that, thoughts on the disabled are formed in the school years, so teaching kids about acceptance will help them in their work place in the future.
“I was hoping to tell them about me and I had prepared all these topics and questions, and when I sat down with them, they said they wanted to do a month long art exhibition and a conference”
From 2015 to 2017 Drew played Disability cricket for England, and while he was proud of that, he still felt lost and aimless. His journey with his faith and disability lead him to where he is now. Drew recounts the beginnings of Lets Discuss disability; Drew started to go to church 3 years ago “never thought I would be, I started going to Hillsong Newcastle” He has never had a problem discussing his disability with people who are curious, “it didn’t bother me. They both said it was really cool and that I should write about it somewhere, and I had never written about it” Neither of them knew that in his spare time, he enjoyed writing poems and in journals. He started off with a blog with just one story, his own. Without thinking much of it, within a few days his blog and story had reached 5000 views in 41 different countries, and he realised that having this online platform was important and meant he could reach a wider audience. Drew really felt connected to people he’d never met, through readers commenting on his story, and sharing their stories and how inspired they’d felt. Drew wanted to do more “It’s like when you’re texting someone, you can’t get your tone across, or your emotions, there’s a huge part of connection removed” Drew began to reach out to others within the disability community and invited them to share their stories on the blog but as time went on he lost the momentum that he initially started with. Drew moved on to university to study to be a Special education teacher and put the blog on the back burner.
18 months after starting the blog, he was up late one night thinking about it, and where he could take it, he approached his friend Lindsey, about an art gallery or space where he could hold a discussion, She put him in touch with The Thought Foundation who quickly arranged a meeting with him. “I was hoping to tell them about me, and I had prepared all these topics and questions, and when I sat down with them, they said they wanted to do a month long art exhibition and a conference, and I just sat there like what! I hadn’t bothered to do anything for ages, and they had read the blog and loved it so much and that’s how the panel started” Drew had a clear vision for his Lets Discuss Disability panel, he didn’t want it to be a statistic and tell off for the abled bodied, but rather an open space to bring both abled and disabled together to work together and educate each other. Let’s Discuss Disability has grown significantly and this year they hope to become an official charity. They are currently creating programmes for schools to teach kids the importance of acceptance, Let’s Discuss Disability were supposed to meet for their second panel this year, but given the current situation, plans have been put on hold, but the hope to return to return with a better panel and workshops ready for schools. You can find the stories of those with disabilities at letsdiscussdisability.wordpress.com
mother a look at the fun a mother & daughter can have
daughter Photography By: Ryan Justin Dyer Cristine Dyer
As for my girls, Iâ€™ll raise them to think they breathe fire. Jessica Kirkland
In c o nv e r s a t i o n Jasmine McPhee Jasmine tells all about beginnings of FYI, Covid-19 and all things she loves.
Words by Elizabeth James Butler
“You just have to endure and enjoy the process, you know it’s not going to happen overnight, when you see these people with these amazing businesses and products, they’ve been slaving away. for years.” Well known within fashion circles, Jasmine is the brains and the brawn behind FYI (find your intern) – the platform connecting students and graduates with paid opportunities and jobs within an already overcrowded industry. For many years the fight for the fashion industry to pay their interns and graduates has been quietly going on being one of the few industries who don’t pay, when you compare it to an internship in IT, which according to LinkedIn offer a base salary of anywhere between £18,000 - £32,000 a year. Here she tells about FYI beginnings, Covid-19 and all things she loves. My first experience with FYI and interaction with Jasmine was in 2019 when I was looking for a way to complete my second-year work placement unit. As a single parent unable to complete an unpaid internship was not an option for me, by chance I found FYI on Instagram, and purchased a CV and Cover Letter review to help me find a paid internship and lay the foundation for my career, I was looking forward to talking to her again; Jasmine is full of great ideas and able to think outside of the box. Jasmine answered the phone, her bright and energetic personality shines through immediately, with a hint of wisdom in her voice, Jasmine remarks at how there is always something to develop when you’re building an empire “it’s not there yet, I still haven’t solved a problem, I’m hoping what I’m working on is going to solve that. Like yourself you just have to endure and enjoy the process, you know it’s not going to happen overnight, when you see these people with these amazing businesses and products, they’ve been slaving away. for years.” FYI has been slowly building rather large following, because Rome wasn’t built in a day, and despite this Jasmine is always engaging with her followers and making time for them to answer questions and help them with their problems. It wasn’t always like this though; FYI began as an FMP just like Fashion Workie. Jasmine continued to work on it after graduating “So FYI my final major project, I, myself was trying to solve the problem, initially of there not being a powerful enough website for finding internships, So I sought to change this, my specialty is Graphic Design, so I thought I’d design an app. It wasn’t going to be a website, I wanted to create this amazing platform to help people get paid roles etc. It just kind of developed from there.” After Jasmine graduated she secured a job full time, she kept working on an app on the side lines “I always advise people that a good FMP or business idea is always trying to solve a problem” Eventually Jasmine has been able to make FYI her main priority, while freelancing on the side. The unique aspect of FYI is that it offers products that are entirely digital and immediately at your fingertips. Jasmine wanted to make it as accessible for students and graduates all over the UK, having a digital business also gives her the freedom to stay on top of everything, including some of the more personalised services she offers, like phone calls, and video chats “ the good thing about the products in the shop are that they are digital, you make them once, you put them on the site, you sell them, that’s the beauty of digital products, I don’t have to go to the post office to post them, I try to stream line the CV reviews with zoom calls as opposed to written reviews, it’s all about juggling” For a brief moment we talk about how hard it is to be a freelancer and move onto the current topic on everyone’s mind, how the pandemic is changing the fashion industry, I asked Jasmine to share her opinion “ I think it’s’ going to make us more aware, I like to think it will change us in the way we value other people, but I don’t think that will last that long in the industry. “ I agree with her, the fashion industry can be so fickle at times, and we’re always faced with something being a trend and give the impression it’s here to stay only for it to quickly die out, we might think of more ways to do something in a sustainable way, as in do we need a fashion show? Or can we just stream this? I think there might be a more positive impact on the environment and for cost purposes”. I think we can all agree we have formed some kind of “lockdown style” I for one live in linen trousers and loose tops and cardigans and jumpers, we get to talking about how we would describe our style in the current situation, for Jasmine this has mostly stayed the same because she works from her home, “comfort over anything, I like to be comfy but still with a bit of glam, so I’d wear trackies with a nice top or something, so I think that really depicts me, I like to be comfortable with a bit of glam. I like to break the rules a little bit. I wear pink a lot, I’m a bit flamboyant, I don’t like to be run of the mill, I think that’s a good place to me.” It’s all about the comfort and being happy, especially during lockdown. “I just want to have a bit of fun, everything is so cliché about learning, but let’s
push the boundaries ( I hate that term) let’s think outside the box, I just did a series of profession videos, where I was probably swearing a lot, but it’s just about how can I keep my community engaged? And that’s not just about me talking about CV basics or the cover letter workshops, it’s about homing in on your community and audience” Jasmine loves what she does, and loves learning new things, and keeping her community engaged with her page. “What books would you recommend to anyone starting out?” I ask eager to find something to read to help me get my foot in the door, “I just have so many books!” She exclaims. “ Don’t get a job, make a job, definitely recommend this, it’s not fashion based, but it has loads of cool case studies, it’s more of a pick me up, put me down book, next I would recommend Life Honesty – strong opinions by smart women. Lastly the Idea in You, I haven’t finished this one yet, but I’ve heard great things about it” We move onto a more serious tone, and discuss how she’s been affected by the pandemic, like most people who run small businesses or freelance, there has been a slowing down in work that is being done, “ at the start of this, things really slowed down from a freelance perspective, but things seem to be picking up, and I’m getting creative briefs in and some people are starting to take advantage of this time and redo their websites, or make their logo look good. In terms of FYI, it’s kind of been a positive for me, I’m working on a new site, but I’ve always been running around so now I’m home and able to focus on it” With very few internships and jobs to post on the site, Jasmine uses her current lockdown time to push FYI to the next level, a membership, offering exclusive insides, a community to lean on and exclusive content to help students and grads get ahead in their career. “People are still buying the products to work on their CVs and cover letters, and I’m trying to do thing along the way to help, like interviews and going live” however with the majority of it like everything else on pause at the current moment, there’s not a lot else to be done. We get talking about productivity, I ask her 3 things she does to help her stay productive especially in this current situation “ Sleep, Seriously!” she goes onto to talk about how she’s had a week of very little sleep, and she’s been struggling to do tasks that require immediate attention, “apart from the obvious, exercise really helps me, I’m also a big, big list fan! I have a trelay bored, a dairy, a paper dairy, a phone calendar, a laptop and notes on my phone” it’s evident that Jasmine utilises everything at her dispose to keep her productive and keep FYI running to its best. “It’s good to be productive, when you think about how much money you need to make this week, how can I drive up sales etc, the only way to do it is to stay productive” When working for yourself it’s prudent to have a routine and life, Jasmine has been working for herself for just over a year now. “I second guess myself quite a lot, I’m a perfectionist, but done is better than perfect keeping myself motivated through quarantine is, knowing exactly what I need to do, I’ve learnt that quite well” We can all agree that we can feel quite guilty because we haven’t sat down to do 7 hours of work non-stop “If you think about the work place, you have cups of tea, you have a chat with your teammates, going into 1:1s and meetings, so if you think about it, no one is ever doing a solid 7 hours of work, so you need to learn not to be so hard on yourself, it’s a learning curve” She has her own process, she gets up early in the morning and exercises, she starts at 9, has lunch at 1 and finishes at 5 “That the way it works for me, it’s not necessarily going to work for everyone else, so it’s important to find what works for you. For Jasmine, her biggest inspiration is the feedback she gets from her much loved FYI, “I think “oh my god I need to keep going” that in itself is inspirational and motivational, it just gives me this buzz to keep going, to give everyone more content or work on products that are going to help people, it’s also talking to different people, doing lives and interviews.” Jasmine continues to help other students with their FMPs and graduates through lockdown. FYI continues to grow, with the official release of the FYI membership platform at the beginning of May, in addition to the website, FYI membership offers a community of people in the same boat, with skills sharing and Friday zoom calls. FYI has more to come later in the year, although for now it’s all hush hush. Jasmine is a great inspiration for those wanting to step out and become freelance or start a business and can always be found to offer some advice or help with a need.
Rivers Run Deep The beauty in healed surgical scars
Men a celebration of mens beautiful faces and features
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
s n g si
Words by: Simone Field Edited: Elizabeth James Butler
I am Simone, I was born in South Africa and I’m a wannabe illustrator/artist and founder of Moans Designs. I have been teaching myself the art of how to turn life into illustrations that people could find joy in or brighten their lives a little bit. The following pieces are some of my favourite pieces, to be perfectly honest each piece was spur of the moment. I find that the best artwork that I do is not thought out or planned, but rather when I think of it I do it, if I try to plan something then it just goes to shit pretty quickly, as I’m sure any creative will tell you. I started to really take this seriously after I stated bullet journaling about 3 years ago now. I then had some Calligraphy lessons and that was it, I was hooked. That’s when I started Moans Designs and I now do illustrations/cards and crafts for people. It is a slow process getting something off the ground, but I am slowly working towards it, good things take time, and I have such great support from my family and friends. I have found that the best way to make it work is to do as much as you can yourself, when you introduce a third party like Redbubble/Society 6 the prices shoot up and no one wants to buy your stuff. Enough of my rambling, hope you enjoy a snippet of my artwork! My favourite of the bunch is the abstract face, because honestly, I can never really draw faces so was surprised when this happened…
h Photographed : Elizabeth James Butler Jewelley Accessorize & Primark
n i d
Jewellery provided by Acessorize, Primark and Family Eirlooms
Q&A : Helen De Wilde of Ovobloom What drew you to embroidery? Embroidery had been part of my degree, so I always enjoyed it but it wasn’t until a bout of the ‘flu that I picked up a needle and created a piece that started this entire journey. Where do you find your inspiration from? The natural world, oceanic landscapes and I’m particularly interested in the tropical modernism movement & the work of Geoffrey Bawa. How long does it take to complete one piece? Some take days, some take weeks and some, they take months. Scale is certainly a determining factor. What are your 5 favourite pieces? Why? If I didn’t love the work I release I wouldn’t ever sell anything, so it’s hard to choose 5 I definitely have one though and that would be ‘Bawa’. That’s the one I couldn’t part with. How do you pick the colours to use in a piece? I’m drawn to certain colour palettes, tend to start with one And then will use apps like Pantone to find complimentary colours then it’s a case of putting them together to see if they work! Did you always know you want to go into textiles? If not, when did you realise you had a talent for it? My family background is very textile orientated, both parents worked with sewing needles so it was almost expected that I would do something. I’ve worked in many different industries from snowboarding to art galleries in the past, then I just started creating for the sake of creating, it snowballed & there have been some lovely articles published that have made me think “you know, I might be quite good at this?!” How have you coped with the pandemic? Has it affected your work in the sense of inspiring new things? My lifestyle is suddenly quarantine ;) I can’t say it’s really had that much of an impact, we live in a small village, I work from home. I’ve possibly spoken to friends & family more, the community is very supportive of each other so in one sense it’s been a positive! I wouldn’t say it’s inspired my work - other than making a very lovely instagram friend a rainbow to say thank you for just being lovely - I’m still all about the coral reefs. Do you hold any convictions that you’d be willing to die for? My dogs? Does that count? What’s the first thing you’ll do when lockdown has ended? Take my eldest dog to the beach, she had to have emergency surgery second week of lockdown and I think she deserves a treat/paddle. Are you a glass half empty or glass half full kind of person? Glass half full. Always, completely, rainbows after rain, it’s not that bad, it could be worse type of person. (Athens best kind) What’s your favourite self care tip? Be yourself. What’s your go to breakfast? Coffee. Favourite colour? Green and black and coral orange. Ha ha,
Designer: Ashley Charles Burr Photography: Ashley Charles Burr Model: Ashley Charles Burr The collection is called a touch of arrogance, from the collage I used. My research mainly comes from chauvinistic (or misogynistic) advertising, in this case it was from the 70s while adverts still fell into that bracket, the advert I used in the collage print was a direct photocopy of some text for a mens fragrance ad, I wanted to turn it around and use it for womenswear and also mix it with an advert targeted towards a female audience. I find it interesting because women in these ads are often told to look appealing for men and often weren’t encouraged to do it for themselves. I take most of my inspiration from menswear and women’s lingerie, I like 70s/80s because of the strong cuts in mens business wear. When I combined lingerie and strong men’s cuts in my last project it changed the power relation between the voyeur and the exhibitionist. This project wasn’t really meant to be political it was more about fun and using inspirations from studio 54, all of my research comes from a printed format authentic to the period, I barely use the internet.
abuse & lockdown A survivors thoughts on abuse during lockdown Words By : Elizabeth James Butler
As I write this, 5 women have suffered deaths at the hands of their abusers since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, and many more suffer abuse on a daily basis trapped in homes they cannot escape. With the charity Refuge reporting a 700% increase in daily phone calls from women seeking help and safety. When this goes to print the number will have likely risen, and there’s no counting the countless deaths that have gone unnoticed or buried elsewhere in secret, as dramatic as it sounds, this is the extent an abuser will go to when they are denied. A new paper published recently by Emily Leslie and Riley Wilson from the Birmingham Young University in the US, outlines and highlights the impact of lockdown and social distancing on domestic violence while I am no psychologist of police detective, women who go through this are women I stand in solidarity with because I was one of them 6 years ago. While I was fortunate to have friends and family who helped me escape a situation, I had been praying night and day to get out of, other women do not get that luxury. An overwhelming 85% of abuse cases do not go prosecuted according to Refuge, a domestic violence charity, at the forefront of helping victims of domestic violence. While domestic violence is already at crisis level in the UK with 2 women being murdered every week according to the charity Refuge, there was no doubt that it would get worse during the lockdown, but it seems that maybe this group of vulnerable was not thought about. While 73 million has been set aside to help the vulnerable “this doesn’t nearly cover the cost of what domestic violence charities need, which has double from 173 million since lockdown” according to a spokesperson of Refuge.
“An overwhelming 85% of abuse cases do not go prosecuted according to Refuge, a domestic violence charity, at the forefront of helping victims of domestic violence.”
The question I find myself asking is how this pandemic will shape the future for the women and men in these situations, will it change anything at all, and why is this not being spoken about as loudly as other topics we see in the news. While the Domestic Violence Bill was put on hold due to Brexit and elections, the bill was debated at second reading on the 28th of April 2020 and was sent to the Public Bill Committee. The Domestic Violence Bill will enable the definition of abuse to take on a statutory meaning, and will emphasise that abuse is not just physical, but also emotional, coercive, and can be financial. It will establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to stand for victims and raise awareness, monitor response of authorities and the justice system. While the bill goes on to do a whole lot more than mentioned, how often are these bills taken seriously? And will we see a change in how the government and society view domestic violence survivors and victims’? We cannot know the outcome and the real statistics until we come to the end of our lockdown period. Although I am lucky ones to come out of a domestic violence relationship alive, it took me years to overcome the trauma, and even now it still haunts me from time to time. I still look over my shoulder, and have had to change my number and name several times, I am careful about what I put online, because my abuser was never charged and sent to prison for what he did to me, and no one deserves to live a life like that.
If you or someone you know need to seek refuge, there are several charities and helplines you can contact: National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247 (www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/) – who offer an online chat service Women’s aid will also connect you to a support worker on their website, Women’s aid will also be able to direct you to a local shelter, as will the NDAH The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327 The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994 National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428 Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
A look at the bond between mother, son & autism
the secret life of autism
t a k e b a c k t h e h a i r. . . Is choosing not shave the new norm? or will women continue to conform to society? Words By: Elizabeth James Butler
“As a young woman I never questioned this, I never understood what it meant, I grew up in a country where women were not allowed out after the sun went down because they could be raped.” However, a new generation of women have risen up, a generation of women who question the patriarchy on many things including why we shave our body hair. A recent survey on Survey Monkey, showed 91% of the women who answered felt that to some extent society had been conditioned to believe that body hair on women was unattractive, while only 9% believed that it wasn’t. 95% of these women shave, and 5% of the women I asked did not shave, however 4% of them didn’t shave due to sensitive skin and allergies. This goes a long with market research analysts Mintel results showing that 1 in 4 women didn’t shave.
Women not shaving is not a new concept. Far from it, is it the norm? However, in the last few years it has made its way into the norm. Who could forget Julia Roberts waving at the crowds at the premier of ‘Notting Hill’ showing off her unshaved armpits in all their glory? Fast forward to the present, and celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, and social media influencers like Januhairy are showing us that shaving should be your choice. You just have to search the #bodyhair and you’ll be greeted by over 92,000 posts of beautiful body hair on beautiful women. I was six years old when I first picked up a razor blade, I grew up with a mother and my sister who is 8 years older than me, from what I knew this is what women did. My mom never sat me down to explain what was going on, she just lectured me about not touching them. The next time I picked up a razor blade I was 10 years old; I started shaving my armpits behind my mom’s back, I was an early bloomer and they were hairy. The following year my mom saw my legs and told me ‘that it was time for me to start shaving them’. As a young 11 year old girl, it was the moment I had been waiting for and boy did I feel liberated, but as I’ve grown up, I look back and feel more repressed than liberated for spending my youth prescribing to what the world told me was the “ideal beauty.”
This is not an entirely new concept for us. The iconic Patti Smith can be seen on one of her more infamous albums ‘Easter’ displaying her armpit hair in all it’s beautiful glory and Harriet Lyons and Rebecca Rosenblatt who first published their manifesto for anti-shaving called ‘Body Hair: The Last Frontier’ in 1972. Almost 50 years later, we have influencers and authors such as Florence Given encouraging people to embrace themselves as natural human beings, body hair is a natural and normal thing to have.
As a young woman I never questioned this, I never understood what it meant, I grew up in a country where women were not allowed out after the sun went down because they could be raped. However, I was excited, I felt like I was on my way to being an adult; I also have dark hair so it was my chance to feel less like a freak and more like the girls I went to school with, (you know the blonde hair, blue eyed beachy girls) I never had boys swooning over me, yet I cared so much about their opinions on my hairy legs, and whether they could see my pubes poking out from my bikini bottoms. In hindsight, I was far from the freak they called me, and having now been educated on feminism, I came to the conclusion that they were the problem and despite this as the years have gone by, I found myself slave to the idea that women should not have any hair on their bodies, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, not eat spaghetti on a first date, or be anything different without being labelled a freak or a weirdo.
On the plus side, not shaving will probably not change your life as much as you think it would, I mean how often do we really shave? It’s easy to get lazy with your leg hair. For me it can take up to two and a half hours for a full body shave. In recent months I have begun to embrace my body hair in my own way. The cons, however, are itchy crotch, people who will inevitable disapprove, calling you a “smelly feminist” because they will assume you don’t wear deodorant, I have personally bare witnessed to this exact scenario on a train platform in the height of summer in 2017. In the end, no matter what you choose, someone will make a judgement on your habits. The most important thing to do is to choose something you feel comfortable with, you can shave and still respect the women who don’t shave, and are confident about it, you can also reduce how often you shave and what, or you can still be as smooth as a dolphin, but own it, be honest about why you do it, there is no shame in who you are as a woman.
Words By: Elizabeth James Butler
For most of us starting 2020, it was an exciting time, the start of a new decade, it felt like this year was going to be the most amazing year, there was a energy of great things to come. For those of us graduating this summer, it was going to be a great last year at university, one last summer, getting a job, moving into our own places. Things began to go the opposite way when, the UK announced that cvoid-19 had reach our shores and all the universities in the UK were shut due to lockdown which began in the middle of March. For some students like Grace from Northumberland University ended up having her collection was locked away at her university for safe keeping with hope of opening after a 3 week lockdown, however, her and her classmates were unable to complete them due to the extension, however Grace said that it had given her time to develop her collaborative collections and in turn gave her a chance to design and entirely sustainable collection in collaboration with Patagonia’s worn wear scheme. While elsewhere in the UK other students like Akhila Kumar had a short period of time to clear out their stations and finish their work at home. For most of us the loss of GFW in June and our institutions own shows and graduations being cancelled or put on hold for the unforeseeable future due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has had a huge impact on our opportunities to network, show off our hard work, and gaining employment through GFW connections. Although understandably we’re unable to gather in one area, the GFF have tried their best to give us as much opportunity to showcase of work digitally through a platform created by GFF. Newspapers and magazines have also jumped in to showcase graduates work by creating ‘graduate issues’ of their publications, but obviously with limited pages not everyone has their work showcased. In WGSN’s Covid-19 Global change accelerators report, the covid pandemic has accelerated an evolution in consumer beliefs, buying habits and attitudes towards brands and their spending habits. With a huge shift to sustainable brands and products that have a longer life and make them feel secure. This push was caused by the anxiety and fear that came with the pandemic and panic buying increase.
Grace Williamson Grace is a final year final year BA (hons) Fashion Design student, focusing on print design in womenswear at Northumbria University. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and lock down, Grace’s university decided that their best course of action would be to keep their collections locked up, so Grace and her peers will never be able to finish them. “I was part way through making my third look and planning and preparing for the university show (that would have been the 30th March), however all that stopped. I never got the opportunity to celebrate my achievements, say goodbye to the people I’d spent the last 4 years with, or finish the project id poured my (literal) blood sweat and tears into” says Grace. The inspiration behind both Grace’s final and collaborative collection is Grannies, her collection emits nostalgia, a sense of warmth and comfort. She looked into grandmother’s clothing’s, and their unique style, taking inspiration from everything including; floral printed dresses and pearl covered jewellery. She found inspiration in the interior decoration and furnishings of grandmother’s homes. Her unique colour pallet, patchwork, quilting, and pleating inspired by the faded furnishings and dated designs. “I wanted to tell a story with my main collection and bring narrative to the prints, influenced by vintage Lara Ashley florals, the prints to this collection inspired by family and genes that are passed down from grandparents to us” For this collection Grace used classic, natural fibre fabrics which we usually associate with grandmothers, plain weave cotton for print and corduroy for trousers. Grace used Scraps of fabric and remnants to create the two look with patchwork, inspired by granny quilts, which were usually made from whatever scraps were lying around. For Grace’s collaborative project with Patagonia, she carried on the vintage theme, of florals and granny designs, and paired it with a sustainable design. Her collection is crated entirely from recycled garments donated through the Patagonia Worn wear scheme. “This collection reworks outdoor, technical designs and fabrics to create elegant, feminine and modern designs” The fabrics for her collaborative collection were sourced from recycled garments. “I want to prove that technical fabrics like outerwear and high-performance fabrics such as nylon-based fabrics could be used to create feminine and elegant designs.” After graduating Grace hopes to find a career in womenswear or womenswear print, the most important thing for her will be finding a company that holds the values of sustainability and sustainable design at its core, “I believe this is the only way the fashion industry will have a future” Grace hopes her career can take her to new places across the world. After graduating Grace hopes to find a career in womenswear or womenswear print, the most important thing for her will be finding a company that holds the values of sustainability and sustainable design at its core, “I believe this is the only way the fashion industry will have a future” Grace hopes her career can take her to new places across the world.
Gracie D’Silva Grace D’Silva a final year Leeds Arts University has had her final year dramatically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and changed the way the final outcome of her work completely. Despite the fact that it’s been frustrating due to the lack of access to the machinery she needs, having to finish it in her bedroom has opened up other opportunities, such as taking over Graduate Fashion Weeks Instagram to its 55.3K following, and being scout by Fashion Crossover London for their designer gallery, “I think it’s great that so many organisations have switched their opportunities online in order to still showcase the talent of 2020 graduates when the future is so uncertain” Grace’s final collection is designed to bring realisation that for the fashion industry to survive, it will need to change to create a more sustainable and transparent product. “I felt a moral duty not to add to this with my own collection but to use it to highlight the shortcomings within the industry; expose its reputation as the second most polluting industry in the world, I wanted to draw attention to its use of slave labour, the over production and consumerism it generates”. Grace became aware of these themes/problems while she was contemplating internships at Fashion Revolution and Oxfam. “I was shocked to see first-hand; how much clothing had been overproduced and overconsumed, and how much of it was being discarded and being shipped to developing countries for recycling.” Fashion revolution and its brand transparency played into my collection by asking consumers to make a connection between their clothing and the people who make them. “At the moment consumers have no idea about the cycle of clothing before they get to the shop, with no knowledge of the person who made them, the working conditions they are subjected to or the factories that the clothing has been made in” For her collection Grace sourced materials from Oxfam’s rejected stock, after coming across a large amount of damaged Cashmere. Cashmere was once a luxury natural fibre seen as sustainable because of its ability to decompose but is now gaining more popularity and becoming more accessible, being readily available due to larger scale production due to fast fashion. “Bags of rejected cashmere items all washed incorrectly were available for me to buy. Damaged cashmere was the only material I bought for my collection, I also used embroidery threads to hand sew my collection together, but I already owned those” For Grace her original aspirations prior to the Covid-19 pandemic were for her to gain as much exposure from her collection from GFW to promote herself as a designer, she wanted to travel to Australia and East Asia after the completion of her degree, meet up with friends she met whilst studying abroad in Slovenia. Her new plans, however, include continuing to grow her brand and start producing clothing that she can sell online. “A friend and I have dreamed about setting up a studio together abroad so we could support each other and share the studio equipment costs. This was very much inspired from the atmosphere and creativity we encountered at our time at university. I think that is something we are looking to recreate as professional designers surrounded by other creatives.”
Emma Pepp erdine Emma a BA (hons) final year student at Coventry University was set to make 6 outfits for their final showcase in May, luckily, she had complete 3 outfits before the lockdown began, and the resources to make her fourth outfit from home. She is still aiming to create her 6 outfits in the near future, but due to the Covid-19 the showcase has been cancelled. Due to covid-19 she has also been unable to complete her final two outfits because she cannot purchase things like old jeans. “throughout my collection, I have been purchasing these from charity shops, with shops now being closed, the remaining denim garments have come to a standstill” With the ever growing importance of digital work in our current situation, and it being the only way students can showcase their work, and what Emma has achieved over the last 4 years, her focus has had to shift to her social media present, her portfolio and website, with digital imagery becoming even more important now than it was before. Emma’s final collection titled ‘Oxidise’ was inspired by abandoned architecture and redemption buildings, her idea came from a trip to Rome, where she was inspired by the buildings that surrounded her; with their crumbling bricks, distressed paintwork and worn away colour, she soon found herself drawn towards the beauty within decay. “To help me develop my work further I undertook research trips around various other stimulating buildings. Whilst there, I discovered how each and every building, whether new or old has a story to tell. In abandoned buildings this is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed” Emma wanted to take this idea and breathe new life into something old for her collection. The name inspired by oxidised metal and peeling paint gave her inspiration for her print designs, developed by hand painting. “I wanted to show sustainability is achievable for everyone, that you should choose a sustainable method that works for your designs rather than designing to fit into a certain type of method, when you look at my collection, yes it’s obvious the denim is recycled, but you would know that they were designer cut offs, for me this was the best way to incorporate sustainability into my work while still being very flexible with that I was able to use” For Emma the pandemic has meant the cancellation of all the shows, so she is using this time to explore other creative outlets, although she is eager to get back to working in Central London, she hopes to work in a studio environment; which helped her to excel, and brought her skills to life.
Akhila Kumar Akhila is a final year fashion student from UCA Epsom, Covid-19 has meant she has lost access to the studios and facilities that are essential in creating garments, due to the virus they had to evacuate the studios last minute and take as much as they could with them, it was chaotic and stressful for everyone, especially with the unsurety of what they might need for the rest of the collection. “the uncertainty surrounding the whole situation meant we had to pause out creative processes. Not having the facilities to the garments at home means the garments had to be altered and the quality compromised” for a course like fashion, where the students need to see their technicians, pattern cutters physically examine their garments or have them there to help them to the fullest of knowledge. With the closing down of fabric stores once lockdown was imposed this posed a huge obstacle, “we were on the week of starting the first outfit of the 6 collection and sourcing the fabrics and Haberdashery, with majority of shops shutting online as well, I has to find other ways to source the materials and had to make amends and changes of materials that I was not able to source.” UCA was forced to change the assessment criteria for all the courses, including fashion meaning that all the students are only expected to produce one garment, and the rest of the assessment would be done digitally. Akhila also felt the loss of GFW and the university showcase hit her hard, “it means we have lost out on opportunities” Akhilas final collection is titled “The Ocean Riders – Upcycling Nautical traditions” it is a further experimentation and continuation of her pre-collection, “it is a continuation of techniques, I started my research by looking at fishermen, but this time looking at the western world. The inspiration behind this collection stems from Irish Fishermen, and men whose professions linked to that of the oceans” Akhila was drawn to Irish nautical heritage, focusing Galway especially Claddagh the Aran Islands, famous for its Aran sweaters. “Knitting was a communal thing, for the wives and daughters of the fishermen, it has very specific design details, like diamante and honeycomb frequenting a lot, I dwelled more into the meaning behind the stitches, each one had a story to tell and from there I found more elements to bring into my collection concepts such as basket weaving based on the baskets the women of Galway carried the fish and wood in” Akhila used the traditional clothing from Claddagh women as her inspiration, and looked into marine workers, taking inspiration from the protective clothing they work in during their time at sea, like cork life vests. Akhila is very conscious of the materials she uses, and very keen on sustainability which both heavily influenced her collection, being inspired by ancient traditions and customs, “I’m always thriving to preserve the traditional techniques and materials, I decided to reuse and recycle as much as I can as my source of material” Akhila was able to find lots of vintage Aran sweaters thrift stores and online, “they were hand made the traditional Aran way, I continued using PVC and Tarpaulin materials that I sourced from Etsy, gumtree, and eBay, as well as from my uncle in India who is an architect and had access to used tarps from buildings and weddings, used to create outdoor cooking roofs” the rest of her materials were inspired by the everyday clothing of Claddagh women and fishermen, and sourced most her natural fabrics like hessian and recycled material like cotton and linen canvas from the Cloth House in Soho, London. “I always had a thing for recycled stuff and materials knowing it has served a purpose and history before being put to another use. In my pre-collection I used plastic bags and rubber gloves leftovers for design details and some bags from my friends’ shops” After graduation Akhila hopes to take some time to figure out her design direction and travel back to India to learn more about the traditional fabrics of Kerala “I want to learn Indian tailoring, which is very different to western tailoring. This started me on the path to Fashion as a career from a young age. I noticed that fabric and garments were always reused in the family or they were all made form natural materials, My mums Sarees from her early 20s were all recycled into garments for me and my siblings by my aunt and all my Indian garments were hand tailored” Akhilas mother grew up having handloom fabrics that her father would weave for her mother. “As a designer in the future I want to follow my grandpa’s footsteps and have handloomed fabrics at the core of my designs.” Being brought up in London, Akhilas hopes to give traditional handloom fabrics a western aspect and use them to create western garments. “I aim to take a year or two off and dedicate it to me finding my identity as a designer and brushing up on skills and experiences before enrolling in my MA in Fashion. During this I will keep working at the V&A which has enriched my knowledge in Fashion and gave me many opportunities.”
Maisie Leigh Gale
Maisie is a final year BA (hons) Fashion student at the Cardiff School of Art & Design. The biggest effect covid-19 has had her final hear collection is her work on textiles. Maisie had design and sampled large-scale digital prints and digital embroidery based on her own drawings and inspirations “as we saw lockdown looming, I was frantically printing as much fabric as I possibly could to ensure had enough for all my pieces, I then spent days and house stitching all my embroidery freehand” With social media being a huge part of how students promote their work and themselves, covid-19 drastically changed this “I think the community of final year fashion students across Instagram and other platforms is unbelievable, all of us from different universities are supporting and promoting each other in a way that wouldn’t have happened before” For Maisie’s final collection her inspiration came from Glastonbury 2020, with it being the 50th anniversary, Maisie took the opportunity to look back at inspirational stories of the last 50s years “it was the perfect opportunity to look back at inspirational stories of the last 50 years and everything they are doing to be environmentally conscious at each festival” This heavily influenced her colour palette, textile prints, artwork and unique embroidery to embellish her designs on top of the fabrics. She was always influenced by the global maps of travellers to the festivals “Places and people who would have owned these re-used tenth, leaving their DNA and marks inherent in the fabrics, it’s gives my collection that authenticity with each garment being an individual and unique piece with a story to tell”. Maisie’s final year collection is 100% recycled with a huge focus on the three R’s Re-CYCLE, RE-USE, RE-MAKE. “My collection is made from waterproof materials used in outer body of discarded tents from festivals and holidays campers.” Maisie’s designs reuse the functional features and attributes of a tent; the ties, ropes, zips and eyelet D rings. “These components are key details with the new garments features” Each of her pieces is designed and made directly from tents, manipulating the large pieces around the dress stand was key to her designs. Maisie creatively cut the existing tent features to guide the design process and achieve the garment shapes organically from the stand. Maisie admires designers Bethany Williams, Nicole McLaughlin and Helen Kirkum who makes use of rubbish and unwanted good to create their beautiful and unique pieces and her long-term aspirations are that one day she will design and make lasting clothing from unwanted products like the designers she admires. “In the current circumstances we are in at the moment, the industry is changing and there is a place for a slower fashion calendar and a more sustainable future, I aspire to be a part of that movement”.
Jamie Baldrick For Jamie’s Baldrick an final year knitwear designer from UU (university of Ulster) covid1-9 completely transformed her collection, “my work has now become about what I can physically make in these circumstances, rather than the head turning collection I had originally envisioned, this, however has led to some fantastic creative results.” As Jamie says “Necessity is the mother of invention, and I’ve been enjoying finding alternative ways to recreate my collection ideas without my university facilities” The title of Jamie’s final year collection is “I Look Forward to Your Reply” and is inspired by the pen pal letters she’s accumulated of the years. “This has fully fashioned my knitwear collection, my work usually derives from my admiration of other women and the narrative of the female voice, so being able to use the written conversations between myself the women in my life was amazing, I enjoy the stream of consciousness element that comes with a letter” For Jamie, when writing a letter to someone you love, means not caring about the mistakes you make, “you carry on with your message and this is the approach I have taken with my textile pieces” Jamie goes on to say the she believes if we learn to the rethink what counts as a fault or a mistake in our textile and fashion production, we could reduce the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills across the world. “Our planet needs us to create textiles that don’t come with an environmental cost”. Another major source of inspiration for Jamie’s final collection was the female voice within heritage knitwear techniques, particularly in Ireland. “I was fortunate to live on the Aran Islands where I learned first-hand how to make Aran Knitwear” Here she also learned how valuable this work is for the financial independence of the women of the islands, as well as for the historical preservation of their culture and community. “I want my appreciation for Irish knitwear to be reflected in my collection whilst also bringing these skills into a contemporary context through my use of bold, bright colours and androgynous silhouettes”. Jamie uses factory waste yarn that was previously set to be sent to landfill to create her contemporary knitwear designs. “The yarns I primarily are organic cotton, linen and wool. There materials are 100% natural and therefore making my work biodegradable, rather than existing forever in a landfill.” Although knitwear is already a sustainable way of creating garments, they have to be shaped to exact measurements rather than cut to size “I chose these materials as I wanted my work to be as sustainable as it could possibly be” When asked about her aspirations for after graduation, Jamie’s said “my aim is to continue with my practice and create my own brand producing sustainable and original knitwear pieces. When I buy clothing, I struggle to find garments that are both sustainable and fun. I want to help bridge that gap.” Jamie’s long-term plans are to be involved in community enterprise and help other women achieve financial independence and personal fulfilment through fashion and knitwear workshops.
Eva Smith Eva Smith is a Fashion Promotion grad and the brains behind Seekology, an app she has create to help customers find sustainable fashion, organic food, and body care store by connecting with your location and chosen sustainable store category in the area. Seekology uses a promotional strategy combining online and offline tracking in order to promote independent sustainable stores. Seekology works through Instagram promoting and bringing together sustainable stores to create and eco-friendly community. Eva’s inspiration behind the app came from her research during her dissertation “Can We Change the Perception That Fast Fashion is Disposable?” Eva says “while researching I realised that sustainability is not promoted as much as a mainstream market, and while I was doing focus groups I found evidence that consumers don’t actually know where to buy sustainable goods” When she was thinking about her final major project she want to create Seekology in order to fulfil a gap in the market she found, “I wanted to help independent sustainable stores gain visibility and also help consumers to easily reach via an APP service and Instagram” After studying the fast fashion business model, consumption problems and social behaviour Eva says she finally came to a conclusion, “the consumption of fashion is totally out of control and it will take decades and government support to change. We must educate our society that has the responsibility to become sustainably conscious” Eva has come to realise that a vast majority of younger generations accept that organizations have an obligation to address environmental and social issues. “As a generation Y buying, I have personally become more conscious about my way of buying clothes and it is slowly changing.” Concluding her research Eva appreciates more sustainable clothing and is learning to value her wardrobe more so than ever because there is no “planet-B” Eva’s hopes for after graduating is that she gets to work for a sustainable brand and gain the necessary experience, but her main aspiration is to launch Seekology on the market and start creating a sustainable community for all.
D a n i e l l e To n g e Danielle Tonge is a Textile and fashion graduate from Ulster University in Belfast, specialising in Knitwear design. Her original final collection will not be completed due to not have access to the machines she needs that she can only access through her university. “Although this is disappointing, it has enabled me to stay motivated and adapt my collection to something that I can make during lockdown.” Danielle feels that although this lockdown has stopped her original vision, it hasn’t stopped her creativity and has enabled her to adapt to the changes and come up with brand new ideas to take her collection forward. Danielle’s collection is inspired by her childhood memories “of living by Moray Coast and how and care-free I was able to be as a child.” Danielle found herself fascinated with the colours in the of the sky at sunset, and the norther lights she was able to see, which is where her colour palette inspiration came from. “I combined this with the textures found along the beach and created a girls knitwear collection.” Danielle’s collection is intended to be expressive, bright and fun “which I feel we should all be able to do through fashion” Danielle wanted young girls to be able to express themselves through her bright collection. Sustainability played a big role in her research and design development “I used yarns such as lambswool and merino which are both high quality, biodegradable and renewable, I also spent quite a lot of time developing my own yarns on the Lilliput using recycled waste yarns to create melange and solid colours.” Danielle had intended to use the yarns she created herself for accessories for her final collection, but due to covid-19 it has been postponed for now. Danielle hopes to gain employment within a slow fashion company or brand as a designer or maker. “At the moment I am continuing to design during lockdown and hope that for Autumn/Winter 20’ I will be able to launch my own womenswear collection which would enable me to further my career as an independent designer.”
Elena Branch Elena Birch is a BA textile and business studies student specialising in print from The University of Brighton. The majority of Elena’s collection was meant to consist of screen-printed samples, but due to her university closing and having to move home quickly, this is no longer the case. “As I had no access to printing facilities, I threw myself into learning more about Adobe illustrator and Photoshop in order to create the rest of my collection digitally.” Elena feels that this has been a blessing in disguise and looks at the positives to come out of the pandemic. “It has allowed me to refine these skills, which I may not have done otherwise.” She goes on to say that “I have become confident in creating digital illustrations and graphics; I really enjoy the process and the freedom which you have when designing digitally.” The inspiration behind Elena’s collection titled “Tip of The Iceberg” and is a nod to the crucial tipping point we are at with our environment. The collection uses natural and biodegradable fabric, such as sustainable cotton, bamboo, linen and hemp. “I feel this was an important choice for the message of my collection” Elena answers when asked about her use of materials. “Materials with a ‘circular life’. I believe that the future of fashion and textiles must head in a more sustainable direction, and fabric and fibre choice is vital to this.” The inspiration for her collection came from wanting to highlight various aspects of climate change in relation to the oceans, and the impact of environmental damage is having on the marine-life and animals that depend on the waters. “This is a subject that has always interested me, and something which I believe is incredibly relevant right now.” Elena saw her Final Major Project the perfect outlet to express this. “I undertook research on the melting ice, plastic waster, the change in migratory routes, shipping and water pollution, and the various forms of energy production – both sustainable and unsustainable” Through this research Elena discovered the inspiration to design from, and leading to a varied collection, but still maintaining a narrative thread throughout. To accompany Elena’s collection, she designs a range of swing-tags “they consist of a group of statistical prints and graphs.” These are accompanied by a zine, with the three elements; they explain the narrative behind the collection, giving informative context to the print designs. “We are able to bring the environment back to a sustainable level, but we are also very close to doing irreversible damage” It is Elena’s hope that people who view her designs think about their collective actions, and how they are having a negative impact in ways we may not know. Elena would love to work in Graphic Design or Illustration and given the current pandemic she feels it will make finding a graduate job more difficult than before. “Creating the zine and graph collection which accompanies my fashion prints was really fun; I found incorporating facts and information into design really engaging, and something I hope to do again.” Elena would love a job where she can combine her interest in statistics and data with design.
dreams Lost summer dreams, abstract
Photography by: Elizabeth James Butler
living in silence Thoughts and experience living with a deaf parent Words By Elizabeth James Butler
“maybe I’m just used to the fact that she deaf, and she’s a creature of habit and comfort.”
In the UK alone, it estimated that 9 million people are deaf, or suffer from some kind of hearing impairment. The impact of Covid-19 on the deaf community is not widely spoken about, while people have begun hearing the birds in the city singing a sweet morning tune, the deaf community is not. For some of us who are social butterflies, isolation and loneliness is a new experience, for those who cannot hear, it is far more so, being entirely isolated from the only community that can understand their own. Hearing loss can cause detachment from surroundings and people, causes a loss of human understanding and makes a conversation virtually impossible, especially with the world built around human interaction. My mother sums it up well “I feel isolated, I miss out on the mundane conversations which I took for granted, the things you don’t realise you’ll miss are the things you do”
As the years went on, the house became louder, and we naturally adjusted, I’m pretty sure we were only officially told in our teens, I can’t recall a time when we asked questions about her hearing. Long before the days of subtitles, the TV would be on the loudest possible volume, and to be heard we had to shout incredibly loudly. We tried to encourage her to learn sign language as a family so at least we could communicate, but my mom still tells us she “doesn’t need it because I can read your lips very well”. Her life has been a percentage of hearing loss, and at the current moment, 98% of her hearing has gone, and she lives in a world of silence, she lives in isolation because we take for granted our ability to hear, so she often misses jokes and discussions that she would find interesting, she has utilised technology and holds whatsapp messages and facebook messages close to her hear as her way of communicating with her family and friends. She is well loved among her tribe, and people adjust to helping her, and talking to her.
It’s a sunny day, as my mother and I sit in the park enjoying the rare warm spring day. I turn to her, and remark on how the weather is lovely and the day is beautiful, she smiles at me and nods and then looks out on the pond at the ducks paddling around. I know she didn’t hear me, because whenever she doesn’t hear someone, she smiles and nods, but her eyes give it up, or maybe I’m just used to the fact that she deaf, and she’s a creature of habit and comfort.
Many people with hearing problems are unable to work in secular jobs that require interactions with those of us that can hear. They BSL or Makaton are not taught in mainstream schools, so kids who are not deaf do not benefit from interacting with someone who has a disability. There are no plans to change this, and the U.K government are cutting Disability Allowance every year, making it harder to get. For many who live outside of deaf communities’ lockdown is lonely, for those who live with family who aren’t deaf. When I asked my mother how she felt about being in lockdown her response was “For me lockdown hasn’t changed how isolated I feel, I do a lot of communication through technology, so I don’t feel isolated from my friends, but I do feel isolated from my family unable to interact with them face to face is hard”.
My mom lost her hearing at the age of 4, when she caught German Measles, one night, her fever was so high it perforated her ear drums, she was never able to ride a bike or a motorbike, or dance ballet like she dreamed. For a time, it didn’t affect her life as much, but as she grew, it worsened. My mom eventually went on to study to be an actress, and she found some fame in South Africa on stage, she headed up a studio, and taught drama to high school kids, till eventually her hearing began to deteriorate at a rapid rate. The first memory I have of being told my mother as deaf, was around the age of 6, it was a summers day, as we drove home from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, with all the car windows open and the air blowing loudly through, my mom removed her hearing aids from her ears and told my dad that her ears were hurting, she carefully placed them in a little black case and tucked them in her handbag and watched the green and brown hills flowing for miles as we continued our journey home.
For me, hearing Is a privilege, my mother has longed to hear birds chirp in the morning, or the dustbin men at 6am, the jokes her grandchildren make, and the sound of a dog barking next door. The little things in this life I take for granted.
Thoughts on: The Pressure of Being Different Words By: Chloe Catalina Miranda As we all know, the pressure to fit into a box is something we all must fight against while growing up. The saddest thing is, people who are different, unique, stand out, are still facing challenges even currently. As I learn more and more about the history of makeup and fashion, (I am currently studying my Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Theatrical, SFX and media makeup including hair artistry). Doing this course, I had to research into many centuries. I would even visit museums and art galleries. I always had a unique eye for fashion and music etc, but the thing that I found out with doing this course is there is more uniqueness in this world then I believed. The challenges all different, unique people had to fight through the years. Of course, nowadays it’s more accepted to dress different and stand out, but there is still challenges we must face. Sexuality, Cultures, Sizes and Social media pressure. The problem I had growing up was always trying to get my mother to accept me for who I was. She is Chilean and although I am so proud to be half Chilean, she would always say she wished I was like a Chilean child, someone who would listen to her and be exactly who she wanted me to be. Although, my uniqueness with eye to detail and fashion started ever so young and having an older brother and sister meant I was greatly influenced by them. I once wore some ‘greebo’ trousers to a mufti day in middle school that I had begged my dad to buy me, I never forgot how much I loved them! They had a chain from the pocket to the extra-large pocket that was halfway down the left leg. The kids laughed at me and to be honest, that was a pretty normal experience for me. Growing up I had no friends, I always felt alone and that is all I remember from middle school. Just standing out, being different and alone. When I started Secondary school, I thought it would be a fresh start as I would be meeting new people and in a way it was. Although I did have friends, I still never felt like I was accepted. This was when I tried to copy the ‘popular girls’ to try fit in and yet again I was not allowed to get things that other popular kids would wear or use. I was a bigger girl growing up and I hated not looking like the other girls in school. Eventually because I was bullied and that caused depression, I was able to move schools and get a fresh start starting somewhere new, where no one knew me.
The journey started around 3 years ago and I am still growing every day, I found god and found light with the help of my amazing daughter. Being a single mother gave me the push I needed, to be myself 100%, be confident and be bold and not give a fuck about social media and trying to be what social defined as beautiful. Raising a beautiful mixed-race daughter, was always a worry for me. I have always heard girls define themselves as ‘black’ or ‘white’. The pressure for her ethnicity always makes me nervous but, as she grows up I promised myself that I will always tell her she is mixed race and not one or another because she is beautiful how she is and should appreciate all ethnicities that flow through her blood that make her, her. My style now is something unique, I could not even come up with any ‘label’ for it. I love everything fashion, BUT, from all the eras of the past, present and future. I like to be bold. In September I will be going to UCA Rochester to study make-up and hair in fashion and this journey has been so long. My only concern is my makeup is not what people would call pretty. I do not see what social define as pretty makeup, I see the body as a blank canvas, I like to just express myself in my work, and has been described as ‘out of the box’ and that is all I ever want my work to be. My own experience is that being single and being the person, I am, I feel pressure to be ‘one type of woman’, but fuck that shit I am happy to be who I am, 1000000 different ‘labels’ in one and I wouldn’t change for anyone now because I am who I am and I’ve finally found love in myself, accepted myself. I am just different. I want to share some stories shared to me from others. I did a poll on my Instagram @chloecatalinamiranda which was: ‘Have you ever felt like you couldn’t fit in? Have you ever felt that your love for all things creative made you feel weird because you had to like one thing or another and made you feel alone? Have you ever felt that you could not be accepted into any “crowd” because you liked something that they may have been against? You’ve been told your TOO wild, TOO bold, you need to tone it down or roll it in?’ 88% said yes and 12% said no I was shocked to find these results, I am someone rather different, I did not think I had followers who weren’t so bold would be interested in watching my moves. The saddest thing for me was a large majority of the people who voted yes were men, I know for a fact that men are forced to be masculine and only be this type of way by society. It saddened me that I forgot all about this and I only focused on my pain and what I went through. I now have a newfound love and respect for men who don’t give a fuck. Expressing their creativity in the way they dress and everything else they do. We can’t argue for someone to accept us women for who we are if we can’t accept a man for being his unique self. Remember that. Practice what you preach.
The best thing for me at this new school was a lot of students were transferred from a school and my older cousins were the ones who I guess you could say had influence in the school, if you catch my drift. This was a great for me, they had a word with the popular girls and that is when I finally felt ‘cool and accepted. I cannot remember why I stopped hanging with them exactly, but I do remember I felt my happiest when I became friends with two girls who were best friends. Although I felt like I was a 3rd wheel. I was happy and felt accepted. I experienced being a chav, emo, scene kid through these days which as you can imagine the music that came with these ‘labels’ was vastly different. To be honest, my first love for rock music came about at a much younger age, I can remember my brother listening to System of a Down – Chop Suey. However, I fondly remember the 90s; my parents were always listening to the latest and best tunes, which helped me to develop a appreciating for a variety of genres.
I asked people, ‘what is it in society that made you feel uncomfortable? What was the challenges you had to face? And why did you feel you couldn’t be accepted?’ The answers I received astounded me. Brenda who is Mexican, and born in the USA said “It is honestly the weirdest thing I’d ever been through, throughout life. I hung out with people who accepted me as I am only to try to mould me into what they wanted me to be in order to remain friends. It’s wasn’t until I hit 23 that I could say I got my identity back. It a huge cost though, I dropped everyone that was in my life that drive me away from being myself.”
After I left school, I found a love for Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Fortunately, my dad introduced me to brit pop and the original true artists; Joy Division, The Smiths, The Cure and David Bowie. After being ‘Indie’, I became a Skinhead after watching the movie ‘This Is England’. It was not about racism, but what I loved about it so much was that the girls had a similar style to the men and they looked so beautiful, I guess I was never really “girly” and I always liked the style of males rather than females. I was always the ‘black sheep’ in the family and to be honest, my favourite Uncle, Ian was the only one who I ever felt comfortable around. It seemed like he never gave a shit about how I looked because, in all honesty he was always a ‘I don’t give a shit’ kind of bloke. He had old school tattoos, which became a love of mine. At one point I became a Modette I bloody love that style still to this day.
Others like Farhan who has a background of Punjab and Gujarati said “I’ve normally been too ethnic or not ethnic enough, too old or not old enough, too hairy or not hairy enough, my skin condition really messed things up for me at various points in my life too. But, I still have some amazing people around me besides that.”
I loved every style I ever had and even into all the different music genres it gave me a great appreciation in music. Being a single mother to a beautiful mixedrace daughter (her father Jamaican), I felt I had to look like all the women online who were defined as beautiful by society like Khloe Kardashian, I even dyed my hair like hers. There came a point I was sick and tired of constantly changing myself to get my daughters fathers attention as he always cheated. But enough was enough. I lost who I was, which was this awesome, out of the box, unique, different woman by the name of Chloe Catalina, this is when I found my way back to who I used to be.
I’m not the only one who’s faced these challenges and I want you to understand its ok to be different. Being different and unique, can make you feel alone, and you can enter a dark place. But to be different is the bravest thing you can do. You are loved, accepted and special. Everything will be ok. You don’t need to change who you are, because trust me, it’s a much darker place and so hard to find your true self again. If you are in a dark place and feeling alone, this moment is not forever. Every day is a blessing and you are beautiful for who you are. Keep shining like the brightest star you are. Religion, who you love, the colour of your skin, the way you wear your hair, your style, your height, your weight, your disability (I have epilepsy and because it’s not visible people don’t believe me or understand how severe it can be. People will always judge you no matter what, it’s important to be true to yourself.
E c o Pe r i o d . words by Rose Langis
As we begin a new decade, sustainability is undoubtedly at the forefront of all conversations - ocean, air and plastic pollution have become one of the human race’s largest threats, compromising our health, that of our planet, and the survival of all living things. Of course, the meat and dairy industries, as well as the fashion industry, find themselves at the top of the list of the world’s top polluters; however, there is one culprit contributing largely to the problem, although it is not often named: the feminine hygiene industry. A study followed by National Geographic revealed that in her lifetime alone, a woman will use between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons - many designed with plastic, all destined to end up in landfill. However, they’re not just an unsustainable and polluting option - most period products contain toxic properties such as bleach, dioxides, and dyes, readily absorbed by your body and filtering their way directly into your bloodstream - yikes! Before you reach out for a paper bag and start hyperventilating, fear not. Many companies have chosen to go against the flow and change the norm: by creating and selling sustainable, reusable and non-toxic products, as well as making a difference in the feminine hygiene industry. Here are our top 5 picks for a healthier, cleaner period:
The Mooncup What is it? A silicone and flexible cup that sits in the vagina and collects the menstrual blood. How does it work? Simply fold the cup and insert into the vaginal canal. When you want to change it, gently and carefully tug at the “string” located underneath the cup to remove it. To clean, simply boil in hot water. Pros: Easily found online or in drugstores, and allows full freedom of bodily movement when in use. Can be changed as little as two times a day, removing the hassle of needing to change your tampon/pad every hour. It can also last up to 10 years (or more!) when properly cared for, meaning it’s more cost efficient than buying conventional tampons and pads. Cons: It can be a tricky situation to deal with when you’re out and about, need to change it and no sink anywhere in sight. Counteract this by putting it in just before leaving the house, or if you’re really in a pickle, by bringing a reusable pad or wearing period-proof underwear just in case. It can also take a couple cycles to get the swing of things, but once you’re used to it, the cup is life-changing! Link: https://www.mooncup.co.uk
2. THINX menstrual underwear What is it? A classic pair of knickers with a built-in pad, ranging from up to 5 different absorbency levels and styles to suit any cycle. How does it work? Made up of four layers of super absorbent fabric made from THINX signature technology, one pair of Hip-huggers can hold up to four tampons-worth of blood, with no leaks. Moisture-wicking and antibacterial properties protect you against any feeling of wetness and any chance of getting a yeast infection, so you can go about your daily life with no extra worries. Pros: THINX can be worn any time of the day, no matter the level of physical activity the wearer partakes in. They’re also super easy to clean just chuck them in with the rest of your laundry, wash at 30 degrees, and leave to air-dry. Cons: Each pair ranges between £20-32, depending on the level of absorbency, making for a steep initial investment. However, you’ll never have to buy a box of pads ever again - making them very cost-effective. Link: https://www.shethinx.com
3. Callaly Organic Cotton Tampon Subscription What is it? A monthly subscription of organic cotton pads and tampons, featuring Callaly’s redesigned take on a classic tampon format, the Tampliner; a fusion between a pad and a tampon to provide a solid protection against leaks. How does it work? Through the site’s “Build your own box” system, you have freedom to create your own personalized mix of period products, suited to your body’s needs. Add to cart, select your preferred delivery schedule, and you’re all set! Pros: The organic cotton means your body won’t be exposed to bleach, pesticides and dioxins, and the products are entirely biodegradable contrary to conventional period products. Callaly also produces different sized boxes, specifically tailored to your flow and needs. What’s more, you’ll never have to run to the shops for pads or tampons again, since they’ll be delivered right to your door! Cons: Due to the products being produced from organic cotton, it’s a touch pricier than your basic tampon pack - one box of 16 Tampliners retails for the price of £8. Link: https://www.calla.ly/gb/home
DAME Reusable Tampon Applicator
What is it? A reusable tampon applicator made up of a lid, an applicator and plunger, all containing sanipolymers to guarantee a completely antimicrobial surface. How does it work? Simply insert a tampon into the applicator and pop it in like you would any store-bought tampon. Pros: If taken care of properly, this bad boy can last up to 10 years or more! Works with any standard tampon, no matter the size. The applicator comes in a set with a free tampon box, and a monthly subscription of 8.50 for a box of 34 organic cotton, 100% biodegradable tampons completely free of chemicals, can be added onto your purchase. Cons: The Dame tampon subscription can be quite pricey in the long run - but if you aren’t too fussed about using conventional tampons, you can easily use any brand tampon with the Dame applicator. Link: https://wearedame.co
Flex Menstrual Disc
What is it? A flexible, round disk with a sac attached to capture any blood. How does it work? Once inserted, the Flex Disc rests in the widest part of the vaginal canal, just above the cervix, and prevents blood from entering the vagina. Pros: Being placed so high up in your vaginal canal means you are free to swim, run, and be as active as you want - even have sex! - without any fears of leaking. It can be worn for up to 12 hours, and is made up of 100% medical grade polymers, meaning your vagina’s pH balance and flora won’t be affected. Because of its particular placement in the vaginal fornix, where there are less nerve endings, the wearer can’t feel the Flex Disc once it’s inside, removing any form of discomfort sometimes felt by classic tampons and pads. It can also hold up to 3 tampons worth of liquid. Cons: Similarly to the Mooncup, finding a spot to change and rinse it out during the day might not always be the easiest - so maybe insert it in function of when you are leaving the house. Link: https://flexfits.com
Who to follow : Self Awareness edition @Lalalaletmeexplain – The Relationship Guru An anonymous qualified Sex, Relationship and Social worker, who goes by the name of ‘Lala’ is on Instagram trying to change the narrative on dating, sex and things we accept as women when it comes to men, and men from women. Using her platform to debunk myths (like believe that age old myth; when a boy is mean to you he likes you) and memes that float around, she gives professional, neutral and honest advice when it comes to a variety of problems including sex, and abuse, not just for cis straight people but LGBTQ Community.
@The.Vulva.Gallery – Vagina Power The Vulva Gallery, is exactly as it’s named, is run by non-binary artist Hilde Atalanta, to celebrate vulva diversity, Hilde has also recently released a book of their vulva drawings. It’s fairly simple, but so important, a taboo topic discussed through visuals. If you’re curious or feeling as if your vulva doesn’t like normal, I implore you to take a scroll through the vulva gallery.
@GirlGaze – the network for women GirlGaze is an all woman and non-binary creative network, with the goal of shinning the spotlight on them and to close the gender gap that many face when working in creative industries. The network is primarily for directors and photographers. Founded by Amanda de Cadenet, when she was struggling to get paid for jobs directing in TV, GirlGaze is now in their fourth year of running, and their Instagram is a place to see some beautiful work from their network of people, GirlGaze has helped creatives get involved with big name projects including, Nike and Google, and curated an entire issue of Teen Vogue. It’s all about empowerment.
@Bonniedoman – the tasteful nude If you’re partial to taking a nude, or you can just appreciate the body, then this is definitely an account you’ll love, run by London based Photographer Bonnie Doman, what started as an ‘ongoing intimate photo series of women and sexuality through the female gaze’ turned into a hashtag #nudesintheirhoods and soon not just women were sending Bonnie their artistic nudes. When telling friends about this, they found it hard to believe that the nudes she posts, were in fact artistic and beautiful. Bonnies Instagram has become a beautiful homage to the beauty of the human body.
@Kennyethanjones – Activist and Trans Model Kenny is the boyfriend of Megan Jayne Crabbe (@ bodyposipanda) his activism focuses on: menstruation, body politics, mental health and intimacy. He is also a model, and ‘made history fronting a period campaign’. As a trans man, Kenny openly talks and discusses all things trans, in the hope for equality, positive change and creating allies for trans people. He shares his day to day life, documenting his relationship with Megan, and educating curious minds on everything trans.
@Katestanforth Kate Stanforth is a 25 year old ballet dancer from Northumberland, who was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 14, but pursued her dream to be a dancer. Kate uses a wheelchair, and was recently featured in a mainstream DENIM advert. Kate uses her platform to inspire and as a tool to make herself known. She is showing the world that having a chronic disease doesn’t mean that your life has to stop moving. She often shares other stories on her platform. She inspirational and absolutely beautiful dancing with a wheelchair.
@Mattxiv Matt Bernstein is a NY native make up artist who’s bio reads ‘beauty but make it political’. Matt is a making waves with his platform, by creating LGBTQ make up looks with written facts and statements and debunking LGBTQ myths along side the look. His grid is a candyland of beautiful imagery, helping those who question their sexuality.
@FlorenceGiven Florence is a queer London based Artist, Author and feminist Normalising the things we experience when it comes to curiosity about sex. Florence is helping young women realise they don’t need a man, being single is okay, to love life and that you don’t owe men a damn thing. Her book “Women Don’t Owe You Pretty” is set to be released on June 11th and is available for pre-order.
@Thebirdspapaya Is a body positive Instagram account, run by Sarah Nicole Landry. Sarah used to be fitness crazy, but then after having three children, he body changed and she struggled to come to terms with it, she lost 100lbs and went through a divorce. Her platform, blog and podcast are now dedicated to body positivity, and being comfortable with the normal changes your body goes through.
@CharlieCraggs Charlie is a trans activist, author, speaker and founder of Nail Transphobia. Charlie is honest and kicking ass when it comes to outing people who are transphobic or just plain rude. In 2017 Charlie published a book called ‘To My Trans Sisters’ a collection if inspirational letters written by successful trans women, for those who are transitioning or thinking about it. Since then she has continued her work through social media platforms and her podcast, educating those who don’t know anything about the transgender community.