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Issue One

A Body Positive Magazine by Girls for Girls

Issue One


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Issue 1 Silkie magazine is a body positive magazine written for girls, by girls. Counter to the many magazines which depict a ‘standard’ view of the teen girl mind-set, Silkie magazine aims to represent the authentic and diverse identities of teen girls raised in Ireland. This issue contains sharp wit, feminist talk and discussions that may make you feel things.


The Girls

“I find it refreshing that Queen Latifah is comfortable in her own skin and does not let the media’s perception of ‘perfect’ affect her.”

“Activism for education has become remarkably strong over the last decade and is continuing to grow in followers and aware-

—Melissa Hughes

—Sarah Talbot

“With the push for gender equality men will be free to act how they want without seeming to be ‘less of a man.’”

“I love the western culture that I live in, but sometimes it gets to me, the stigma around the LGBTQ+ community.”

—Aisling Carberry

—Emily Peat

“One day, I would love to be able to say that I have the same amount of courage that Emma Sulkowicz does.”

“There’s a reason why there are so many quotes that say ‘you never work a day in your life, doing what you love.’”

—Shona Mynes

—Beibhinn McCarthy

“We all feel down sometimes. There’s no avoiding it. It just happens, and that’s okay. You’re not alone, we all feel like this.”

ness today.”

—Amy Russell

“There is no one feminism, but rather limitless feminisms.”

—Ailbhe McDonald

“The only way we can evolve and grow as a species is if we start supporting each other as equal, deserving human beings.”

—Ciara O’ Síoráin


“A lot of young women and teenagers don’t know what sexual objectification is, and they often do not fully understand how to recognise it.”

—Kerrie Patten

“I wonder how many people have stopped eating red meat because one celebrity had said it helped their weight loss.”

“Personally I think the prettiest thing a girl can wear is not skinny jeans, but a smile with pride about how she looks.”

—Sinita Azubike

—Aoife Hanway

“I was the person that was really self conscious. Then I felt that it was crazy for me to be uncomfortable with myself.”

“As a society we have an unhealthy attitude in which we don’t want to share our problems, even if that helps solve them.”

“Being a girl I know that girls are judged upon a number of things just to name a few; weight, skin, fashion, sexuality: But why do we do this?”

—Emma Hyland

—Aine Marsh

—Maeve McDermott

“I created Silkie magazine in the hope that it would be a source of comfort and inspiration to the girls and women who read it. That it would aid their feelings of empowerment. I never realised that in its creation, it would do the same for me as well.”

—Eleanor Jameson


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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Contributing Illustrators

Fuschia MacAree Clío Meldon Julianna Szabó Shauna Woods Siobhán O Riordan Katie Kidd Luiza Abend Hollie Leddy Flood Louise Smith Lisa McHugo Lauren Tracey Fiona Suttle Leona Gonnelly Mice Hell

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Contents

15.

Silkie Talk

Silkie talk discusses the emotional, the

confusing and the uplifting. The form-

ation of identity and what influences us

Dealing With Negativity 16 Feeling Down 22 The Stigma Around Crying 26 Body Conscious 32 Feeling the Guilt 36 You Are Who You’re Friends Are 42 Beauty is a Concept 46 Self-love 52 Making decisions 58 Don’t Judge 62

72.

Silkie Loves

The Silkie team recommends their

favorite books and films to the Silkie

Readers and also does a body positive

photo shoot.

Silkie Books and Films 70 Silkie Photo Shoot 72


Contents

76.

Silkie Social

Questioning the social norms prevelant

in our society, Silkie Social discusses the

fearless, the prejudiced and the inspiring.

It’s Just Hair 79 Body Taboos 85 Laverne Cox 89 Strength 97 ‘Coming Out’ 101 Ruby Rose 105 Internet Feminism 109 The Internet and Body Image 117 Emma Watson 123 Barbie’s Body 127 Disney Diversity 133 Misty Copeland 139


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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Silkie Talk

Silkie talk discusses the emotional, the confusing and the uplifting. The discussions range from food shaming to feeling down to being body conscious.

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Melissa I really feel it is important to preface this by saying that I am sure that those who do this do not mean to be offensive or disrespectful towards others and I am certain that they would not continue to if they were aware that they did this. To be derogatory means to have a critical or disrespectful attitude towards an entity, which is something that is becoming increasingly more evident in today’s society. ‘Fat-shaming’, ‘skinny-shaming’ and other things of similar nature is a grossly publicised disposition that some people are guilty of presumably unbeknownst as to how it can actually damage another’s self esteem. While we have all, at one time or another, probably been guilty of this, we may have also found ourselves to be a victim of this, and I think it is a subject that we can all relate to and connect with. It is really tough being a teenager. It can be hard dealing with your body changing constantly, your health, school, relationships, accepting yourself


Illustration: Mice Hell


Dealing with Negativity

and upkeeping some sort of social life so that you don’t go crazy from the stress. When you throw dealing with other people’s acrimony and judgement on top of all that, it can be crippling and make things very difficult for you. When faced with such hostility at a vulnerable time, it can lead to low self-esteem. It’s important to take time out for yourself and to put yourself first. Personally, I had never had much experience with negative remarks until I was about 13 years old. I was walking past a group of boys and they laughed and told me that my thighs and belly “jiggled” and that it was “really entertaining to watch.” I’m not going to lie to you, that comment really hurt me at the time. I cried and I convinced myself that I was the size of Jupiter. Looking back, I laugh at how small and silly their comment actually was but I suppose I had never been exposed to such ridicule of my physical appearance before. However, the fact that I laugh at it now is exactly why this convention of shaming people needs to stop. We have been desensitised to any negativity and hurtful comments that are directed towards us because we are either used to it, or told that we ‘need to toughen up’ We need to stop the passivity, or even the acceptance, of being vexed as such as it can have a very negative impact on a person’s psyche. So how do we do this? Well, it begins with how you acknowledge the negative comments you receive. One of the most important things to remember is to remain dignified. Reacting defensively or rashly towards an offensive comment puts you into a negative light that you don’t deserve to be in. It is important to remain calm and composed, and to really process the comment, to try and understand why the person may have said it. Avoid confrontation. I mean, people will appreciate the person who calmly responds more than the person who is red faced and screaming that the other person is this and that. If at all possible, you could remove yourself from the situation in order to give yourself time to form a gracious response. Be a lady, or a gentleman, about the matter - it is not reputable to respond to negativity with negativity. I understand that it may be quite difficult to do this. It can be hard to respond to bitterness with decency, but it is very important in order to rise above the negativity. You cannot change the other person so the most you can do is focus on yourself. Another person’s

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Dealing with Negativity

negative comment has nothing to do with you. It does not define you and is most likely untrue, and if it happens to be true, has been said for no positive outcome or purpose. All that being said, I think that the key to dealing with negative and derogatory comments is to be confident. I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes right now and thinking it’s easier said than done, but trust me. I was a major introvert in my early teens. I was awkward and I kept to myself a lot and had very low self-esteem. I just wasn’t a big communicator. It was around that period of time that I took every negative comment to heart and let it consume me and it made me sadder and sadder, and thats not a healthy way to deal with negativity. It was when I grew older, and came out of my shell a little bit, that I became more confident. I put myself out there more and I did things that scared me, just because I knew it would benefit me. I did more for myself. I started to take care of myself, I realised that I am important and I soon began to care less about what other people said to me. It soon became apparent to me that there is a link between confidence and your ability to deal rationally with others. As my confidence grew, I found myself more able to deal with negativity and my self-esteem gradually grew to match. So why did I write this? I want the social convention of shaming others in order to make them conform to the media’s ‘perfect person’ to stop. People should be free to look whatever way they please without fear of judgment or disapproval. We all have a right to be who we want to be and nobody should tell us that we are wrong or stupid for wanting to be ourselves. There is beauty and perfection in everybody and it’s up to us to make sure that we protect ourselves and don’t let negativity affect us. What some-body else thinks of you is none of your business.

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Amy Okay, let’s start off by being honest. We all feel down sometimes. There’s no avoiding it. It just happens. And that’s okay! You’re not alone, we all feel like this. So now that we know that feeling blue happens every once in a while, now we can look at ways to deal with it. Firstly, I think it’s best to realise that your sadness won’t last forever even if it feels like it might. It’ll go away eventually and we just have to ride the wave until it does. If talking helps, do it! Loads of people don’t like talking about their problems which is okay, as long as it doesn’t get to be too much for them but if you think it’ll help you, I guarantee, you’ll find someone to listen - even if it is your dog! Talking through the feelings and the thoughts behind them can sometimes allow you to find the problem or maybe realise there is no problem at all. And even if you don’t realise anything from it, at least it’s a shoulder to cry on, right? You often hear exercise is a way to escape from


Illustration: Katie Kidd


Feeling Down

your problems. It’s all those endorphins apparently. For me, it would just cause more problems – exercise and I don’t mix! But for others it’s a brilliant way to release stress and clear your head! And knacker you out if you find you’re not sleeping! Distractions are key when feeling down. Netflix! Ah Netflix! Netflix is the perfect distraction for some people (including me!). Or even just TV or a movie. Takes you away for a while, doesn’t it? Baking or cooking is another recipe I’ve heard works when feeling down. Most likely some of us would burn the house down but if you enjoy it, sure why not? Food, glorious food! That’s an amazing distraction. Maybe for you it’s going out to dinner with someone you love or maybe it’s just getting the worst food for you possible and stuffing your face. Mine is Cadbury’s Swiss Gateau cake...I love that stuff. Give me a slice of that when I’m down and the smile will be back on my face in no time! Maybe retail therapy is your thing. Unfortunately, we don’t all have to money to go out buying things every time we’re down but if you’re in the money and it works for you then you might as well! Some people find confronting their problems helps them over come them, others feel hiding from their problems will be better. Both ways have flaws but it’s always up to you and only you how you want to face your problems. Lastly, I think the most important thing we need to realise is that it’s okay to feel down. It’s not strange or a sign of weakness. Allow yourself to be down, to be moody, and to be a bit spoiled and bratty sometimes. You’re fully entitled to it! Now I’m not saying go around and be rude to everyone all the time but allowing yourself one off day every once in a while will not kill you (or those around you!). In fact, it’ll probably give you the chance to see your life more positively. Sunshine isn’t sunshine without a little rain. If all else fails and things are really getting you down maybe it’s best to try talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about. Maybethat’s a parent, a teacher or a counsellor but remember if things really are getting past feeling a bit down every once and a while, address the problem.

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I have hidden all sorts of problems from even my closest friends all because of a random statement once said by someone who probably doesn’t even remember it.

The Stigma Around Crying Written by Aine

From childhood, boys and girls are inundated

not heterosexuality and the idea that people are

with images of what is right or wrong for either

not necessarily the biological gender they were

gender. Before they even begin in school, a line

born. A couple does not have to be a man and

is created separating the idea of a man and a

a woman. Just because someone is born with a

woman, each being vastly different to the other

biologically male body, people are beginning to

and it is only right each takes up the correct,

understand that it does not mean they identify

traditional role. Women are the mothers. They

as male. And yet we still teach children archaic

are passionate, caring and expressive. Men are

and biased gender values.

providers. They are hard working and support the family but they are not ‘emotional’ the way

Dolls are marketed to girls, cars to boys. Blue is

the mother is.

a boy colour and pink is a girl colour. Boys play sports, girls take dance classes or art lessons.

The world is changing. We believe we are be-

Over the Easter break, I worked as an assistant

coming more accepting of sexualities that are

teacher in a children’s art camp, teaching a class


Silkie Talk

of all girls and stopping them from arguing over

emotional issues by oneself or with help, but

who got the pink marker, while in the next room

I cannot imagine how much more difficult it

there was a boys basketball camp. How do we ex-

must be when you are actively discouraged from

pect society to become more open minded if we

sharing feelings. This is more than likely the

continue guiding children towards old-fashioned

reason three times more men died by suicide in

gender standards? If we keep teaching them that

the UK than women in the year 2012. In the US it

a family must have a woman and a man as a

is four times more men than women. Obviously,

mother and a father, then that is what they

there are many factors that contribute towards

will believe as they grow up.

considering killing oneself, but there is clearly a problem if the statistics are so drastically differ-

Since we make such strong distinctions between

ent per gender.

boys and girls, children often do not want to be associated with those of a different gender. Girls

I’d like to step back from our expectations of

don’t want to be friends with boys, for fear that

men and look at the way everybody feels about

others may then identify them as a boy, or at

sharing our inner emotions. I said already that

least as a masculine girl, and vice versa. “You’re

men are discouraged from sharing their emo-

such a girl” becomes a common playground in-

tions in order to appear masculine, but I think

sult when a boy expresses any kind of weakness

that as a society everyone fears sharing their

or fear. Some people say that children grow out

inner negativity. Whenever someone asks how

of this, but I don’t think we really do complete-

you are, one generally says that they are alright,

ly. Girls grow into women believing that they

but this is rarely the case. We don’t want to bur-

should act “feminine” so that people will like

den others with our problems, or we are afraid

them, and boys are urged to act “manly”.

of what people might think if they knew how we might be aching inside.

What is “manly”? When Google defines mas26

culine, some of the synonyms offered include

When I was young, someone once told me that I

“muscular”, “strong” and “powerful”. Men are

shouldn’t cry in public. I don’t remember what

told they must withstand whatever comes at

I was crying about, but that statement has stuck

them with resilience. They are taught that

with me for years. I have played those words

they ought not show that they are suffering

over and over in my head until they have be-

emotionally, because that means that they are

come twisted. I now think that I just shouldn’t

weak. As a result, few men are diagnosed with

show that I am upset at all. I bottle things up un-

mental health disorders such as depression,

til one day everything spills over and I can’t hold

because they do not wish to show vulnerabili-

it back. Things that were a little bad get ampli-

ty by expressing their emotional weaknesses.

fied and snowball together until I just think that

Sharing something this personal is hard enough

everything is going wrong. That one bad grade

for a woman, as well as suffering through these

means that will fail my leaving cert.


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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree Illustration: ClĂ­o Meldon


Silkie Talk

“When I was young, someone once told me that I shouldn’t cry in public. I don’t remember what I was crying about, but that statement has stuck with me for years.” 28

A small misunderstanding with my friends

the only one who feels this way. As a society, we

morphs until I worry that maybe they don’t like

have developed an unhealthy attitude, in which

me at all, maybe they just pity me or maybe I

we don’t want to share our problems, even if

force myself on them. I have hidden all sorts

that helps solve them. We don’t like to believe

of problems from even my closest friends all

that our problems are worth crying over, or

because of a random statement once said by

that we are important enough to anyone that

someone who probably doesn’t even remember

they might want to help us feel better. So many

it. To this day, the only person I told when I was

people have a low sense of self-worth, because

suffering from depression was my mother (and

we condemn those who express pride and con-

now all of you, readers).

fidence in who they are (though, really I think most people are jealous of them). We need to un-

When I’m in a good state of mind (and not in

derstand that being ‘emotional’ isn’t a bad thing.

emotional turmoil) I think that surely I can’t be

Why should we all feel like we have to hide it?


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Aoife Personally, I think the prettiest thing a girl can wear is not skinny jeans, or short skirts, but to wear a smile with pride, and be happy with how they look. If you feel beautiful, you will look beautiful. I’m not saying being confident with yourself is easily achieved,W because it isn’t, but shouldn’t being confident in our own bodies be the norm? Instead of the majority of teenage girls struggling to be happy in their own skin? I’m not saying that I’m 100% confident with my own body, but in recent months I’ve come to realise I have cared too much what other people thought of me, and of what others around me considered to be the ‘perfect look’; tall, big boobs,a skinny, curvy waist and a flat tummy. Being the tiny little kid I was in first year, with my flat chest, zero waist definition and being barely 5ft tall I was far from confident and would constantly find myself crying in the mirror, hating the girl who looked back at me. When I eventually reached puberty, and my body started to change I found I was hating myself even more, even though I was beginning to


Illustration: Siobhรกn O Riordan

Silkie Talk

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Body Conscious

be the girl I so desperately wanted to be. It was a vicious circle of self-hatred, until I eventually realised there is no ‘perfect look’, I am who I am, and I should love myself for that. One major reason girls tend to have a bad image of themselves is that they compare themsleves to other girls. These girls can be in their school, be childhood friends or celebrities in magazines, comparisons are constantly being made. The unrealistic, photoshopped images of women portrayed in magazines is also no help in regaining confidence in ourselves, as we constantly try do anything possible to achieve this ‘perfect look’. Shouldn’t ‘perfection’ really be when we’re truly happy with ourselves? The bottom line is that no one is perfect, but once you’re truly happy with how you look, embrace it.

A really shocking amount of girls are unhappy with how they look; and unfortunately this self-consciousness can lead to self-hatred and going to extreme and unhealthy measures to achieve ‘dream bodies’. Love yourself for who you are girls! This extreme self-consciousness can mean devastating embarrassment when getting changed in front of, (god forbid), another person and potentially overwhelming fear when involved in sexual encounters with a partner. As embarrassing as it may be when someone sees you naked for the first time, don’t let yourself think “Oh they’re definitely silently judging my stretch marks or staring at my oddly shaped bellybutton”, because believe me; they’re not. They’re more than likely in awe of the sheer fact you are naked in front of them, rather than critiquing every inch of your body.

Not caring what anyone thinks of you is easier said than done, I know, but don’t let the fear of negative attention consume you. When I was told I had really stretchy skin on my tummy, it honestly felt like someone had just ripped off my leg and began beating me with it; I was so hurt (not like having stretchy skin is anything to be ashamed of, or really an insult at all). For a solid year I would never show anyone my stomach, and I would wear my Dad’s XL tee’s to the beach while all my friends would be wearing gorgeous bikinis or swimsuits; purely because I was embarrassed of a little excess skin on my tummy. When I finally realised a bit of stretchy skin is nothing to be ashamed of (and actually kind of cool), I stopped wearing my Dad’s tee’s that would be past my knees, and went out and bought plenty of bikinis for the coming summer. Now I will show my stretchy belly to anyone who will watch, and started to consider it my ‘party trick’ when I finally realised it’s my body and I shouldn’t be conscious of it because I am who I am.

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Sintia That was so good, I really want another one. I wonder how many calories it contains. I really shouldn’t have eaten that. I wonder how much exercise I have to do to burn that of. I’m never going to get that thigh gap. Maybe I’ll skip dinner or I could just puke it all out and it will be like I never ate it in the first place. Stop! How can one piece of food make someone feel so bad about themselves? Having one chocolate bar, a packet of crisps or a brownie and feeling like you just gained 3 stone but in reality nothing has happened to your body you are the same weight and you just enjoyed an amazing brownie! It’s okay to have a piece of chocolate, it’s okay to have a packet of crisps or two. Why must you feel so bad for eating something? Why is it bad to eat something that’s not the healthiest of things? It’s because you’ve been told not to eat something unless it’s good for your body or it helps your weight loss. Even though you might not even need to lose


Silkie Talk

any weight, you’ve been told by the media, by magazines, by your peers and even by celebrities with the ‘perfect body’ not to eat certain things that you might personally enjoy so much because “they are not good for your weight loss and that if you have it you will automatically be unhealthy and that its shameful. But what is really good for you? Forget about your body, what would make you happy and make you feel good? Sometimes when feeling down all you need is a small bit of junk food to make you feel all better not worse. To be okay with having a girls night in having a munch (a load of junk food) and happily enjoying it not sitting in the corner dreaming of having some of it. All this is almost like a competition; if you don’t eat healthily you will be shamed by others. I remember once I brought a Caesar salad to school and I said “I love Caesar salad and it’s healthy”. But of course someone had to look over their shoulder to tell me “It’s actually not healthy, Caesar dressing is really fattening.” I’m not going to lie, that made me think twice about eating it, but why should I miss my lunch because someone says it’s not good for me, it’s salad? It contains lettuce therefore its healthy and I will eat it. I enjoyed that salad so much and I don’t regret eating it at all. What would make me happy is having a cup of tea with 4 chocolate digestive biscuits while watching TV and simply relaxing. To do that without feeling like I have to skip lunch or feel guilty for the rest of that week because I just ate a couple of biscuits. I want to be able to have a chocolate bar in front of everyone and not feel like I just ate a giant cake to myself (which I could easily fight through). I want to say that I’m eating healthily and still be able to have a packet of crisps without anyone pointing out 36

“I thought you said you were eating healthy.” It’s a packet of crisps! I recently read an article where a celebrity who lost a lot of weight in a short time said “I have stopped eating red meat.” I wonder how many people have stopped eating red meat because one celebrity has said it helped their weight loss, I wonder how many people have though “Oh I better not have red meat if I want to lose weight.” Red meat is good for you! Please don’t listen to every celebrity out there. It is suggested that dietary restriction increases desire for ‘forbidden’ foods, in the form of craving, and may induce negative emotions in affects such as guilt, anxiety and depression. So let your self have a bit of whatever you’re craving and feel much better.


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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Illustration: Lisa McHugo


Silkie Talk

Please don’t make yourself go through guilt, anxiety or depression because if you eat that one food that you grave so much you won’t achieve ‘the perfect body’ or that thigh gap. What even is the perfect body? The body on the cover of a magazine? Completely photo-shopped! We want something that is non-existent. We are putting ourselves under so much pressure to look like someone in a magazine that doesn’t even look like that in real life. We need to learn how to love our bodies and just because you’re thin or over-weight it doesn’t mean your unhealthy, the media has put a label on those people as unhealthy, but until you are told by your doctor that you should watch out for your health keep enjoying life! I completely agree with healthy eating and that having too much junk food is not good for you and you will eventually gain weight, but what I’m trying to say is that you should be able to go out and if you’re really craving something that’s not the healthiest but will make you happy to go for it. To be able to eat out and just get something that you would enjoy not a plate of lettuce because you think that’s what you should eat to lose weight or to look healthy. And After eating it to feel content, not to feel like you have committed a huge sin and that you have to work out for 3 hours or skip a meal, and starve yourself or think that vomiting it is okay. I want you to sit there with a full stomach and be happy. It’s okay to have unhealthy food, it’s not a sin.


Without them I wouldn’t be the person I have found myself as and I know for sure, after all the instability and chaos riddling my life, I have found a foundation I can depend on in the form of my friends.

You Are Who You’re Friends Are Written by Emily

This time two years ago, I certainly was not

and having to leave them in third year because

the person I am today. As a shadow of myself,

my family moved house was extremely difficult.

I wasn’t filled with much. And although it was

Yet, I feel that the move made me stronger and

the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced,

helped me understand a lot about life. When I

moving schools brought me the best gift life has

came to Holy Faith at the start of third year I was

ever given me; the gift of my friends. They’ve

a seriously bitter person. I didn’t think anything

helped shape and mould me into my true self

in my life was stable, I was angry over the deci-

and bring me an infinite amount of happiness I

sion my parents made to move and of course I

couldn’t find in anything else. Thankfully I have

was lonely. But then I met my friends and every-

a lot of friends, but my close nit group I have in

thing seemed to brighten up.

school are the foundation of my life and I’m forever grateful to them for all they’ve done for me,

Shona Mynes has been a positive motivating

even the things they aren’t aware they’ve done.

force within my life for the past 2 years and I couldn’t be happier about it. With her as a

I started school in 2010. Undoubtedly I had an

crutch when times got bad and a voice of wis-

amazing group of friends who loved me dearly,

dom when my spirits got low, my quality of life


Silkie Talk

“To these two girls, although I see them as my equals, I find myself looking up to them.” has skyrocketed to infinity and beyond with her

ing me of it. She inspires me through her pas-

as a confidant. Shona has helped me come out

sions and her words that I should be the pers-

from the shadow I was hiding behind prior to my

on I want to be, and is consistently someone I

move in third year and has giving me, through

can count on. Sarah has a caring disposition,

words and actions, the support I need to become

and once you earn her trust, you have a spot in

the person I am today. My thoughts, my words

her heart for life. She is completely truthful to

and my happiness are not afraid to show their

herself as well as others, and I look up to her in

faces, my actions are not second guessed and my

many ways. I admire her strong nature, value

smile is genuine with her encouragement and

her weakness and will always cherish her dearly.

support. She is trustworthy with all her heart 42

and kindness is in the marrow of her bones;

To these two girls, although I see them as my

I couldn’t ask for a better friend.

equals, I find myself looking up to them. They are the epitome of good friends, good people

Sarah Talbot and I became friends in the early

and spectacular role models and I find myself

days of forth year, and our friendship has blos-

feeling immensely lucky at the thought of them

somed ever since. Sarah is the first person in

infinitely being part of my life. Without them I

my life who has taught me how to laugh with-

wouldn’t be the person I have found myself as

out inhibition and to live without the restraints

and I know for sure, after all the instability and

of what others might think holding me back.

chaos riddling my life, I have found a foundation

She helped me understand the meaning of being

I can depend on in the form my friends. You are

content with myself, and is constantly remind-

who your friends are.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Ciara In the last few years, an incredible emphasis has been placed on exterior beauty as a way to identify ourselves. We value our looks only for what the media and our society view as ‘beautiful’ and ‘good looking’. We, as women, judge each others looks based on high cheek bones, on tiny waists, on big breasts, on long, slim legs and the list goes on and on. But why do we find these things attractive? Just because we are told to? What benefit is it for us to envision a thin, attractive, blonde bombshell Victoria’s Secret model as our role model and inspiration? In this article, I plan to pick apart what ‘beauty’ means to me, on a completely personal level. First let’s just look on the surface and understand why we look the way we do. It’s genetics right? When I look at myself I know I look just like my mother, who looked just like her mother too. We all share the same high


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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Beauty Is a Concept

cheekbones, the same thin, pink lips, the same brow line and tiny, mouselike nose. But let’s face it, these things aren’t really beautiful on their own or even together. They are just features. So why should I beat myself up because my genetic pool doesn’t allow for Nike tick eyebrows or big, Why should I value something so incredibly useless to me when I get to share genetics with two of the strongest, most wonderful women I’ve ever got the pleasure to meet, let alone call family, so who on Earth has the right to tell me that I am not beautiful for having those things? No one. Not a single person can put an imagined value on perfect, freckle-less skin and a size 0 body when I get to share forever features of this ideal. Do this test for yourself. Pull out the features you share with your favourite aunt, uncle, cousin, grandmother etc. Aren’t you proud to be part of this, to share genetics and features with people as incredible as they are? Even if it’s ‘dull’, mousey brown hair or ‘too’ bushy eyebrows (which are always portrayed as unappealing in media) who can really tell you those traits aren’t beautiful? That these features passed down generation after generation like heirlooms, are not valuable, precious things? Once you start noticing how priceless your looks truly are, without any input from society, you can truly accept that you are incredibly beautiful, and a mix of wonderful people with their own strengths and successes passed down to you. Your exterior identity is an invaluable source of pride and inspiration to be just who you are. When a child is born, the comments made about its looks are usually all based around what features it has inherited from each parent. The mother’s side of the family will all rejoice over the news that the newborn baby has its mother’s, beautiful green eyes, alike to her whole side of the family, whereas the father’s side may celebrate the tuffs of blonde hair on the baby’s head, alike to all of his side of the family. These family characteristics shared in this child now bond two families together. Instantly, this child has a network of family that will adore them, regardless of whether they are deemed beautiful by society, but because they are one of them. I myself have experienced this feeling of immense pride of family and bond between my little cousins and myself. Both my little cousins share my natural dirty blonde hair colour and high cheekbones. When they were born,

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Silkie Talk

I remember looking into their cots and seeing tiny versions of my aunt, my grandmother and myself. I felt an enormous connection to these little, tiny babies, not because they were beautiful, which they were, but because they were family. And now that my cousins are older, both around 8 and 11 years old, they both compare themselves against me, using my features to guess what they might look like at my age. They ask me numerous questions about when I started getting taller, about when I grew hips and all other horribly awkward questions I wish they would save for their mother; but they ask me this, not because they think my being tall or having hips is beautiful, but because they see themselves in me. They are curious as to what they will look like but not out of fear of not being beautiful or perfect. That innocent way of looking at ourselves is enviable but not out of our own reach. By loving our physical appearances purely for the bond they represent between the people who love us, we can throw the media’s representation of what beauty is under a bus or out the window (whichever you prefer), and cherish in ourselves what is truly valuable and precious. Beauty is entirely conceptual. Be the kind of person who is strong enough to reject what society deems as beautiful and find for yourself what you truly consider to be amazing. Life becomes a much simpler, happier place when you cut out the pressure to be ‘perfect’, to be a size 0, to have big breasts or hips, or long, spider legs. Finding what beauty truly means to you is one of the most important and valuable things you can do for yourself. You will be freeing yourself from endless pursuits of perfection, from shackling yourself into fitting in with a flock of sheep, all looking the same and being the same, never becoming more than ‘beautiful’. When you 48

give yourself all the power to define what beauty is to you, You are free. Free to chase dreams more rewarding and precious than being considered good-looking. Free to be whoever you want to be regardless of what you are told, how people might see you. Finding your own definition of beauty allows you to live independent and free from anyone else’s expectations of what you should wear or whom you should look like. To me beauty is self-acceptance and appreciation for family and friends. To me, beauty is what I make of it, not what some trashy magazine cover could ever tell me. Beauty is a concept; own it.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Emma I think it is important for everyone, but especially us girls to be able to say that we love ourselves! In society today there is a lot of competition to be “the one� who everyone looks up too. Yes okay, this can be a motivational thing to some people but on the other hand people can be influenced to put themselves at risk. I think this destroys the mind of young vulnerable girls who have yet to discover who they are. This doesn’t allow people to develop properly into being themselves. They are just a mirror image of someone else. Everyone deserves the chance to be happy. I feel that this can be done by accepting who you are and being comfortable with that. The key to a happy life begins with happiness within yourself. Feeling comfortable in yourself is one of the most important things anyone, male or female can do! In my opinion it is the key to a happy life. No one


Illustration: Shauna Woods


Self-love

should feel uncomfortable in their body. Feeling comfortable in yourself enhances your confidence. Both socially and mentally. Personally I can say that I am a confident person and yes I am comfortable in myself and my body. Although I don’t have the ‘perfect’ body (what ever that perfect body may be), I am still happy with the way I am. Feeling pleased with yourself allows you to do a lot more things than just worry about how to change yourself. It is also key to being comfortable with yourself for your relationships and friendships to be positive (as if been a teenager itself isn’t hard enough). We should not inflict another burden upon ourselves. Ok, I know everything I’m saying is a lot easier said than done, but I was one of them people before. I was the person that was so self conscious about who I was and what other people thought of me. Then one day I felt that it was crazy for me to be uncomfortable with myself. After all I can’t change who I am! Now, to this day I can accept who I am and what I look like and I am happy! Something else that is important when it comes to being comfortable with yourself, is coming to terms with your flaws. If you are able to do this I can guarantee you will already start to be comfortable with you. Everyone has flaws! It is unavoidable in life! The best thing to do is just figure out what your flaws are and to just simply accept them. This will boost your confidence so much. There is no one in the world like you. For things that you think are flaws other people could envy. If everyone was able to accepts their ‘flaws’, the world would be a much positive place. I feel that positivity is exactly what society needs to try to help people to come to terms with being comfortable with themselves. Something that change the way with people feel about themselves is to understand what actually makes you feel comfortable! Whether it would be music, walking, talking to someone, having someone around, hobbies! It really could be anything! For example there are three main things that make me feel comfortable. Having someone around makes me feel at ease. Some people would feel better being by themselves but I am the complete opposite. Having someone around that you are able to talk to and just be normal is the main thing for me! Second would be meditation. Most people wouldn’t turn to this sort of thing but it has really been an eye opener for me. I have become more self aware by meditating and a lot more comfortable with myself. It gives you the chance just to have alone time with

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Self-love

yourself recommend starting meditating. It allows you to be happy with yourself and everyone around you. Lastly, something I think most people should feel comfortable about themselves is because you are unique! I love the feeling of being different from everyone. It allows a sense of happiness because other people could idolise you for embracing your uniqueness. Lastly, I think that being yourself is a very important component in relationships. Through out everyones life time we develop many relationships, whether it be with friends, boyfriends/girlfriends and also family members. Something that plays a huge contributing factor to a healthy relationship is being yourself. This allows for a huge amount of trust to be built, and this is key to any healthy relationship. In relationships if you are constantly trying to be someone else it can cause a lot of stress to build up! Being yourself lets you relax and be stress free. No one wants to have to play an act all the time. It is so much better to just leave all negativity behind and allow who you really are to shine through. People will prefer the honest you to the fake person you try to be. I can honestly say that if people can be comfortable in themselves relationships will build and last strongly!

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Written by Beibhinn As a seventeen year old student I am supposed to be able to decide now what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I can hardly decide what I want to have for lunch! It is an incredibly difficult decision and unfortunately, in this country we have to face it when we are so young and so clueless. There are so many options out there: science, art, English, history, law, politics, the list goes on. The amount of options is bittersweet; there is something out there for everyone, but most people will have more than one thing that they are interested in, and choosing between those is near impossible. Personally I’m stuck between two completely different options: Science and Art. Science is the smart choice, I would go into a general science course, pick what to specialise in, get a steady job in that area, and that would be my

57


Illustration: Fiona Suttle


Making Decisions

life. I know that I would be happy doing this; it would be simple, easy and a lot safer, so why don’t I choose it? I hesitate because choosing art would be so much more exciting. I love art; I love to draw, to paint, to sculpt. Art College sounds perfect for me, drawing every day, learning new skills, being surrounded by people who express themselves and think like me, so why am I finding it so hard to choose? It should be simple, follow what makes you happy right? Do what you want no matter what anyone else says? But it’s not that easy, I find I’m at a crossroads because although I would love to do art, I’m worried that it isn’t as secure as science. It might be surprising to hear that my parents are fully supporting me if I want to choose art; it is from elsewhere that I’m getting my doubts. I have a friend who knows exactly what she wants to do when she finishes secondary school. She wants to go into veterinary, a steady job that will earn her lots of money if she succeeds. She has her whole life planned out and it scares me that I don’t. She has my best interests at heart when she tells me things like “you won’t be able to afford that if you become an artist”. While being an artist is not my goal, and making a lot of money is also definitely not my goal, she has a good point that the job options after Art College are scattered and precarious, so I am back to square one: Science or Art. The reason that I am writing about this is that I know that many people are in the same boat as me, they have more than one option and they have no idea what to choose. It is not an easy decision and not one that should be made lightly, but what I keep saying to myself, whenever I’m unsure or my mind is changing, I think of what I will feel like if I choose the “safer” option. I know I will always be wondering what my life could have been like if I went to art college, To be honest I haven’t made my decision yet, but I know that what I am doing is trying to plan out my life like my friend seems to have hers. But nobody can do that, life is unpredictable and opportunities will arise and change whatever meagre plans you’ve tried desperately to hang on to. My “plan” is (and I know this is grossly cliché but) to make sure that whatever decision I make I will have made it because it’s what I want and like to do, and I am going to work hard to succeed.

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Being a girl I know that girls are judged upon a number of things just to name a few: weight, skin, fashion sense, sexuality, how toned their body is, whether they have cellulite or not, how many likes they get on their profiler on Facebook.

Don’t Judge Written by Maeve

I think we can all agree that being in an all girls

who they are and allow for the expression of

secondary school allows for a lot of bitchiness,

their personality and appearance in general.

drama and unnecessary judgment of one another. I feel we all have been exposed to, been

Being a girl I know that girls are judged upon

the victim of or taken part in this judgment for

a number of things just to name a few: weight,

some reason or another. Which probably leaves

skin, fashion sense, sexuality, how toned their

you asking the question: why is she writing this

body is, whether they have cellulite or not, how

article and contradicting herself ?

many likes they get on their profiler on Facebook, who their friends are and what interests

I think we all can agree that we have taken part

them. But why do we do this? Do boys do the

in judging someone for something, but why do

same? I can remember at a really young age,

we still do it although we know that’s it’s wrong

maybe six or seven, being at a birthday party

and someone is going to end up getting hurt?

and someone passed a remark on the clothes

I think that girls need to accept each other for

a girl was wearing because she stood out from


Illustration: Louise Smith


Don’t Judge

“I find, personally, that this constant feeling of being judged leaves me feeling on edge.” the crowd at this party. Instead of wearing pink

to impress their friends? There are a number of

clothes that included things such as a skirt and

different possibilities that spring to mind but

tights, this girl wore a pair of tracksuit bottoms

nobody can seem to come to a final decision as

and runners which left everyone in shock due to

to why girls judge each other.

the fact she ‘broke’ what was was considered to be the norm. This exposure to judgment of what

I decided to take to my year group to see how

is considered to be out of the ordinary has start-

they feel about being judged, if they are/have

ed from a very young age, in my case anyway.

been judged, what they have been/are judged about and why they think girls judge each other.

I think that nowadays the Internet and the me-

When I asked the question “Do you feel that the

dia has quite a big part to play in all this judg-

girls in this school judge you and your class-

ment. When I’m scrolling down through my feed

mates?”, every girl I asked answered yes. This

on Instagram, particularly on celebrities photos,

saddened me because knowing that a number

there is at least one comment passing judgment

of girls are feeling this way indicates to me that

on how they look, what they’re wearing, how

this answer probably would apply to majority

they seem to have gained weight or how ugly

of the year group. We should feel comfortable,

they look. We can clearly see that judgment is

happy and confident when we’re in school. Not

happening everywhere and everyone knows

insecure, on edge and down in ourselves. When

how wrong it is and how it impacts on the lives

I asked the girls what they think people are/have

of those who are being judged. Which brings

been judged about, they came up with a number

me back to the question: why do we still do it?

of different things: what you wear, who your

Do girls judge each other because they’re bored?

friends are, financial stability, opinions, their

Because they’re insecure? Because they’re trying

makeup (and whether or not they wear it), eating

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Silkie Talk

“I don’t think people reach their full potential due to the looming feeling that they will be judged for putting themselves out there.” habits, body and fitness. The girls also thought

If only it was as easy as that! Even after girls

that when girls are bored all this judging and

saying these things you could clearly see girls

bitchiness happens.

whispering, passing remarks and laughing at girls who were singing and acting. Consider-

64

When I was interviewing my classmates I re-

ing we were all in the same position you would

membered back to 4th Year and came across

assume that we would have been supportive and

the perfect example of everyone judging each

encouraging of one another but it was quite the

other; the auditions for our school play ‘Annie’

opposite. As a result of this I don’t think people

These auditions meant that firstly we had to get

reached their full potential due to the looming

up in groups of ten and sing particular song and

feeling that they would be judged for putting

gradually those groups lessened until you were

themselves out there.

left singing on your own in front of half the year group which would have been around fifty or

I find, personally, that this constant feeling of

sixty people. I remember talking to girls at the

being judged leaves me feeling on edge, intim-

start of the auditions and everyone was saying

idated and insecure and I don’t think that I or

things like “Who cares”, “We’re all in the same

anyone else should ever have to feel that way.

boat”, “Give it your all d ​ on’t judge each other​.”

In more severe cases I think that ‘minor’ prob-


Don’t Judge

lems like this can often lead to bigger and more serious problems and affect people’s mental and physical health. Words are thrown around too easily without understanding the effect they can have on a person’s life. So the message I’m trying to get across is: next time you’re going to pass remarks on what someone is wearing or how they look just stop and think. How would you feel if this was said to you? How would you react? Put yourself in their position for a moment and it might give you a different opinion on what you’re about to say. So let’s start a trend! Break the Internet like Kim K or get it trending on Twitter, anything! Just ​stop judging people.​

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Silkie Loves The Silkie team recommends their favorite books and films to the Silkie readers and also does a Body Positive photo shoot.


Silkie Books Mornings in Jenin more than most of us ever

the kaleidoscopically shifting

Susan Abulhawa’s novel, first

will in a lifetime. Malala’s

landscape of the late sixties.

published in the US in 2006

unwavering support for the

but since reworked, follows

important principles of lib-

the Abulheja family, Yehya

erty, democracy and freedom

and Basima and their two

has inspired many people.

sons, in Ein Hod, a village in Palestine. The pastoral opening crams into 40 pages a cross-faith friendship, a love

Perks of Being a Wallflower

story, the Zionist invasion

Divergent

of the village, and the theft

Charlie is a freshman.

of one of Hasan and Dalia’s

And while he’s not the

sons, the infant Ismael, by an

biggest geek in the school,

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian

Israeli soldier.

he is by no means popular.

Chicago world, society is di-

Shy, introspective, intelligent

vided into five factions, each

beyond his years yet socially

dedicated to the cultivation

awkward, he is a wallflower,

of a particular virtue. Can-

caught between trying to

dor (the honest), Abnegation

live his life and trying to run

(the selfless), Dauntless (the

from it.

brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every

Girl, Interrupted

year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to

Kaysen’s memoir encompass-

which they will devote the

es horror and razor-edged

rest of their lives. For Be-

perception while providing

atrice, the decision is be-

vivid portraits of her fellow

tween staying with her family

Malala Yousafzai is only 16

patients and their keepers.

and being who she really is.

years old. Yet she has already

It is a brilliant evocation of a

She can’t have both, includ-

seen, experienced and done

“parallel universe” set within

ing herself.

I Am Malala


Silkie Films Blue is the Warmest Colour had her memories of their

as I walked down Madison

Big success in the film busi-

tumultuous relationship

Avenue, I realized I was head-

ness often means opening

erased. Out of desperation, he

ed for the big time! The Devil

a can of worms along with

contacts the inventor of the

wears Prada is a humorous

the champagne. The Palme

process, Dr. Howard Mier-

critic of industry.

d’Or at this year’s Cannes

zwiak (Wilkinson), to have

film festival went to the epic

Clementine removed from his

and erotic love story Blue Is

own memory.

the Warmest Colour. But the jury and its president, Steven Spielberg, insisted the prize should be accepted not only

The Devil Wears Prada

by the director, Franco-Tunisian film-maker Abdellatif

“The Devil Wears Prada” is

Kechiche, but also by his two

being positioned as a movie

young stars, Léa Seydoux and

for grown-ups and others

Adèle Exarchopoulos.

who know what, or who, or

Ten Things I Hate About You

when, or where, Prada is. But while watching it I had the

10 Things I Hate About You is

uncanny notion that, at last,

a 1999 American teen roman-

one of those books from my

tic comedy-drama film. It is

childhood had been filmed.

directed by Gil Junger and

Call it Andy Sachs, Girl Edi-

stars Julia Stiles, Heath Led-

tor. Anne Hathaway stars, as

ger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

a fresh-faced Midwesterner

The film, a modernization of

who comes to New York seek-

Shakespeare’s The Taming

ing her first job. “I just grad-

of the Shrew, is titled after

uated from Northwestern,”

a poem written by the film’s

she explains. “I was editor of

female lead (played by Stiles)

Joel (Carrey) is stunned to

the Daily Northwestern!” Yes!

to describe her bittersweet

discover that his girlfriend

It had been a thrill to edit the

romance with the male lead

Clementine (Winslet) has

student newspaper, but now,

(played by Ledger).

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind


Body Positive Photoshoot

Silkie magazine wants to celebrate women for

it comes to dressing preferences – can

who they are. Therefore we conceived the idea to

feel restricting.

have a body positive photo shoot involving some of the team. For the photo shoot the team wore

If a friend shows up looking drastically differ-

attire that reflected an aspect of their identity.

ent from you, that can feel upsetting and cause

The girls, dressed and ready to go were then

anxiety. But that doesn’t mean that one person

given a task. Each member of the team gave the

must change while the other holds her ground.

person beside them a positive word. This word

Finding ways to open up discussions, make

could be anything. The only rule was that it had

compromises, or work within multiple people’s

to relate to the person’s character. That person

comfort zones can go a long way. We need ot

would then write down the word and hold it up

accept each others individual style. See their

during the shoot.

clothes as a expression of that person’s unique identity, By doing this it is impossible to judge

We, here at Silkie, think it’s important to ac-

people on a basis of what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to

knowledge that social pressures to conform espe-

wear. Through photo shoots like this, Silkie aims

cially among friend groups, and especially when

to encourage people to dress how they want.


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Silkie Talk

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

76


Silkie Social Questioning the social norms prevelant in our society, Silkie Social discusses the fearless, the prejudiced and the inspiring. Topics range from pink tax to hairy legs to the ‘time of the month’ taboo.

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

78


Hair on women is considered unattractive and embarrassing. Meanwhile men walk around in their shorts flaunting their leg hair to the world.

Written by Aine We know that all humans have hair growing

I’ll start with how I feel about it. I usually shave

on their bodies. It is a natural occurrence and

my legs. Shaving takes such a long time that I

in theory we should treat body hair like that.

really couldn’t be bothered to do it most of the

But nowadays there is an expectation for all

time. Don’t get me wrong, I love how nice and

wom-en to remove any hair that is not on their

smooth my legs feel afterwards, but that feeling

head. How did this become the normal thing?

doesn’t last long. I often wonder whether the

Why do we shave and wax, what do we really

amount of time it takes to shave my legs is worth

think about doing it? I asked other young wom-

it when I have stubble again so soon after. What

en their thoughts on hair removal and why they

it really boils down to is that I am lazy. If some-

do it, and I thought about my own habits too,

thing will take a certain amount of work, but

hoping I can understand why women are com-

does not urgently need to be done, I will put it

pelled to do it, and do it so often.

off as long as possible. This usually applies to me


Illustration: ClĂ­o Meldon

Silkie Talk

80


It’s Just Hair

“They all said it was because they like how it feels, but I believe something else is at play.” and shaving. I will wear tights or long trousers

lar practice, but if they are playing in a match

if means I don’t have shave. Just the idea of hav-

against another team she feels very self con-

ing to sit in my bathroom for so long doing this

scious if she has any hair on her legs. When we

one thing seems so boring to me that I dislike it.

are with people we know, it doesn’t usually both-

Not to mention that I’m so clumsy that I will

er us whether we’ve shaved or not. In fact, my

probably cut myself as well! This tends to mean

friends often talk about how we haven’t shaved

that during the winter months I barely ever

our legs and show each when we haven’t shaved

shave. I mostly wear jeans in winter anyway,

in a particularly long time. What bothers us is

so who’s even going to see my legs anyway?

what strangers think of us. First impressions matter, and we think if we don’t look ‘perfect’,

This makes me wonder why I really shave my

with nice clothes, great hair and completely

legs. I say it’s because I like how it feels, but if

smooth legs, people will look down on us, or

I think so much about whether people see my

perhaps just outright dislike us because of it.

legs or not, surely that means I’m doing because of what other people think about me. When I

Does anyone have any idea why we think like

asked some other girls from my year what they

this? If body hair is something that occurs

thought, they told me that they wouldn’t ever

naturally, who is it that decided one day that

want to go out if they hadn’t shaved their legs.

everyone should remove it? Evidence of women

They would worry about what other people

removing body hair can be traced back as far as

would think if they came without shaving. How-

ancient Egypt, where women removed hair using

ever when I asked them at first why they shaved,

pumice stones and tweezers made from shells.

none of them said it was for somebody else. They

This may have been in order to make themselves

all said it was because they like how it feels, but I

‘pure’ for the gods, as the priests did. Now we

believe something else is at play.

still keep up the arduous tradition of removing almost all the hair from our bodies, but because

One girl who plays sports said that she doesn’t

the media has deemed it unattractive. I think

mind if she hasn’t shaved her legs for her regu-

that outside of aesthetics, there are very few

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Silkie Social

“All our ‘flaws’ should be hidden, the things that make us unique altered to be like ‘everyone else’. To conform is the norm.”

82

advantages to hair removal. The only example

they have to shave. It should be a person’s own

I can think of where hair removal is helpful is

decision as to how their body looks, and yet all

for athletes. Less hair means less air or water

around us we have the media screaming at us

resistance, so you can run or swim faster. But

that we should be a certain ‘ideal’ and every-

if you are not an athlete, hair removal is just

thing else is wrong. The fact that we live in a

something that takes up your time and money.

world where some women don’t shave as an

Leg waxing in a salon will usually start at around

act of defiance is a sign of how twisted modern

twenty euro per session and, of course, you have

beauty standards have become. All our ‘flaws’

to do it regularly. Removing hair takes a lot of

should be hidden, the things that make us

time, and honestly I personally could think of a

unique altered to be like ‘everyone else’. To

lot of things I would rather do at that time.

conform is the norm.

There is quite a double standard in our society

I am not telling anyone, man or woman, that

about body hair. Hair on women is considered

they should or should not shave. I know I will

unattractive and embarrassing. Meanwhile men

still shave whenever I want to wear a skirt or

walk around in their shorts flaunting their leg

shorts. I wish that we could some day reach a

hair to the world. In fact, some might consider

perspective where people look and dress the

is immasculine for a man to remove his body

way they want to, without being dictated by

hair, which is about as unfair as telling women

what is or isn’t in fashion and what the media.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

84


It’s our job as young women to talk about periods, especially those of us who have younger siblings who will soon be experiencing what we experience every month.

Written by Shona It is evident from Instagram’s latest censorship

communities shun this natural process, although

war that there is a lot of unnecessary stigma

half our population go through it every month.

around the topic of menstruation. When Rupi Kaur decided to highlight this as the theme for

Some are more comfortable with the pornifica-

her university photography project, chaos broke

tion of women, the sexualisation of women, the

loose as Instagram censored this picture.

violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust

She wrote on her Tumblr: “I bleed each month

about all that, but will be angered and bothered

to help make humankind a possibility. My womb

by this. We menstruate and they see it as dirty,

is home to the divine. A source of life for our

attention seeking, sick, a burden as if this pro-

species. Whether I choose to create or not but

cess is less natural than breathing. as if it is not

very few times it is seen that way. In older civili-

a bridge between this universe and the last, as if

zations this blood was considered holy. In some

this process is not love, labour, life, selfless and

it still is, but a majority of people, societies and

strikingly beautiful.”


Illustration: Luiza Abend


Body Taboos

“Girls are taught when they get their period that it’s something you keep a secret and do your utmost best to hide.” Why was this picture censored? I’m sure this

necessary and it should be spoken about. Let’s

comes as a surprise, what the fuss is about this

stop pretending like there’s something wrong

photo is - it’s a bit of blood. But recent events

with the fact that it isn’t. The mere mention of

have made prominent what is wrong with soci-

the word period can sometimes genuinely make

ety today. Periods are not spoken of - ‘She-Who-

girls uncomfortable, there have been many times

Must-Not-Be-Named’, and we need to understand

where I’ve heard (or struggled to hear) women

why. From the minute a girl makes the transition

in bathrooms trying to hide the fact that they’re

into womanhood, this issue is concealed from

on their period when opening their toiletries,

her peers and is seen as embarrassing. Periods

and keeping their pads and tampons disguised in

as a topic of conversation is unheard of. When

their bags. Girls are taught when they get their

this topic actually does arise in conversation, it’s

period that it’s something you keep a secret and

quickly shot down as it’s seen as disgusting and

do your utmost best to hide. It doesn’t help that

too personal for people to comprehend. Why?

brands of toiletries promote this secrecy, intro-

Why do all of these issues arise just from men-

ducing new discrete versions of tampons and

tioning the word period?

pads, as if nobody should know that someone has their period. Far too many girls are taught

That is why I’m writing this article. Millions of

to feel disgusted by their own body, when it’s

women have their period every single day. It’s a

something they cannot help. It seems comp-

common issue for women everywhere, so why

letely unreasonable to me.

should we hide the fact that it happens just because it makes people uncomfortable? Periods

It’s our job as young women to talk about peri-

are a natural bodily function, it is absolutely

ods, especially those of us who having younger

87


88


My Role Model by Ailbhe

Laverne Cox Depictions of people in the media can have an

of the storyline; 20% of transgender characters

enormous impact on the way society views them.

were cast as sex workers. Additionally, 54% of the

Unfortunately, media portrayal of transgender

102 episodes GLAAD has documented were cate-

people ranges from positive to very negative.

gorized as containing negative representations

The transgender community is constantly bat-

of the transgender characters at the time in

tling with the negative image and trying to

which they were aired; transphobic slurs, lan-

overcome stereotypes in television, films and

guage and dialogue was seen in 61% of these

other media. Usually trans people are not the

portrayals. Out of all these appearance, only

main characters, and most of the time fall into

12% were considered “groundbreaking, fair and

the stereotyped supporting characters, or por-

accurate enough to earn a GLAAD Media Award

trayed as a victim or villain. According to infor-

nomination.” Recognition of non-binary gen-

mation collected by GLAAD, which has been

der in media is very rare. In fact, a large deal of

cataloguing the appearance of transgender char-

non-binary gender media representation hap-

acters on scripted television shows since 2002,

pens in communities made by and for people

at least 40% of the time transgender characters

who identify as non-binary, and contain largely

were cast in a “victim” role; transgender charac-

self-made content, often about the content mak-

ters were cast as killers or villains in at least 21%

er. Basically, the majority of transgender repre-


Illustration: Julianna Szab贸


Laverne Cox

been negative, derogatory and just plain offen-

The internet and social media are of great im-

sive. Ignorance towards the full matter although

portance for young people struggling with their

sometimes well meaning are contributers to this.

identity, especially members of the LGBT+ community. She has shown us that it truly is possible

Despite this, there has been a shift in this rep-

to make a difference not only to a community

resentation of transgender characters in the

but to the world also, even when it seems like

past few years. This is most likely due to greater

the whole world is against you.

awareness of transgender rights, and the addition of actual trans people acting in trans roles.

Representation of marginalised groups is so im-

Laverne Cox has heavily influenced how trans

portant, Laverne has a hugely positive impact on

folk are represented in the media. She originally

trans people who feel that they can relate to the

rose to fame playing Sophia Burset on the Netflix

character of Sophia. On the topic of transgender

television series Orange Is the New Black. She

visibility in the media, Laverne says, “So many

then became the first openly transgender person

students have said, trans students have said; now

to be nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award

I can have a point of reference when I talk about

in the acting category. Laverne is also a reality

who I am. My friends are like, ‘Oh, like Sophia

television star, a television producer, writer, and

from ‘Orange is the New Black?’’ and they’re like,

an LGBT advocate. In early 2014, Laverne was

‘yeah,’ and then they just move on and it’s not an

given GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her

issue.” I feel that most people don’t understand

work as an advocate for the transgender commu-

the importance of media. Laverne Cox playing

nity. Despite 91.5% of respondents saying that La-

a multi-dimensional trans woman of colour in

verne should be included, she was omitted from

Orange Is the New Black is ground-breaking.

Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of

It teaches people who aren’t like her to under-

2014. Later that year, she became the first open-

stand and relate to Sophia’s humanity, and it

ly transgender person to grace the cover of the

helps people like her to see that they aren’t

same magazine.

alone in the world and that their lives and stories matter. It helps people to accept all sorts of

Laverne attempted suicide at the age of 11.

definitions of womanhood. The more we under-

She had developed romantic feelings about her

stand the diversity and validity of peoples’ lives

male classmates and had been bullied for sev-

and experiences, the less likely we are to buy

eral years; she refused to act the way someone

into stereotypes and deny people their full hu-

assigned male at birth ‘was supposed to act’.

manity. Stories are incredibly important because

Her mother would chastise Laverne after her

they shape how we see the world.

schoolmates attacked her, and refused to enrol her in ballet because it was ‘too gay’. Laverne

On being a role model, Laverne says, “I would

praises the internet for connecting people strug-

never be so arrogant to think that someone

gling with their sexuality and gender.

should model their life after me. But the idea of

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93


Silkie Social

“We need trans writers and trans actors to create authentic media that is not sensationalized or offensive. We need to be willing to embrace and celebrate our differences.” 94

out in public, hopefully will show to other folks

can become more willing to let go of precon-

that it’s possible. So I prefer the term ‘possibility

ceptions we might have about people who are

model’ to ‘role model’.” Laverne is a down-to-

different from us. It is important to remember

earth, compassionate and vivacious woman. She

to listen to individuals in terms of how they

inspires people from marginalised groups, and

describe themselves. We cannot decide how

shows us that differences should be celebrated.

other people define themselves, so we must take

Laverne teaches love and acceptance, and I feel

people at their word. We need to let trans people

that she could have a positive impact on people

write their own stories, so trans characters and

of all gender identities.

storylines can be most accurately represented. We need trans writers and trans actors to create

Change can’t happen overnight, and behaviours

authentic media that is not sensationalized or

and attitudes take time to shift. However, if we

offensive. We need to be willing to embrace and

listen to trans folks’ stories and experiences, we

celebrate our differences.


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In my opinion the overall statement of “men are stronger than woman” is ridiculous. Strength does not depend on your gender. It’s different for absolutely everyone.

Written by Emma Men and Women are very different in many

statement causes a huge amount of controversy

ways. Not only physically, but also emotionally

worldwide. In my opinion I believe that woman

and mentally. Because of these differences, there

are in fact emotionally, mentally and in some

is also a distinction in the way men or women

cases physically stronger than men. I also think

are treated. When looking at the obvious facts

that the belief above “Men are stronger than

that set males apart from females, it is quite

woman” is very unclear. You are not told wheth-

clear to me that men definitely have the advan-

er it is physically, mentally or emotionally, but

tage. Not only do men have defferent builds

most people act as if it’s physically.

than women, but men also do not have to go through certain changes throughout their lives

Mentally and emotionally I think that woman

like females do, such as menstruation. Also,

are stronger compared to men. I have deep sym-

men and women are treated very differently in

pathy for men when it comes to this topic. Men

society. These differences lead some people to

have been given the label that they have a ‘heart

believe that men are stronger than women. This

of stone’. It is as though they are not accepted if


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98


Strength

they show any sort of emotion whether it’s good

got to do with our gender. It is simply the way

or bad. When it comes to women, we are able to

your body is built and whether you go to the

show any sort of emotion any time of the day. It

gym and build your own muscle. For the people

is just who we are, and I am very proud of this.

who say that men are stronger than women it

In my opinion and also in my past experiences I

really doesn’t make sense to me. I could do the

know that it is much better for your own mind

same project in an all-girls school. A group of

to express how you feel and show your emotion.

girls could be ten times stronger than some girls

Holding things in is never the healthy option.

in the year. These girls could be the fittest girls

This is why I feel sorry for men when it comes

in the year that go to the gym everyday.

to this hard subject. We live in a world where equality is fought for on a day-to-day basis. Yet

The overall statement of “Men are stronger than

no one is willing to reach out to the opposite sex

woman” is ridiculous. Strength does not depend

and help one another. Although men may try

on your gender. It’s different for absolutely

to appear much stronger than woman, we may

everyone! Not just if you’re a boy or girl. A great

have an advantage when it comes to this topic.

example that men are not stronger is the great

Whether every woman feels this is a good thing

success of Irish boxer and Olympic gold medal

I can’t say, but for me I personally think it is one

winner Katie Taylor. In 2012 the Irish Boxing

of our best qualities!

team made headlines nationwide, but only one name was most recognized. This name was Katie

Now, to speak about the dreaded idea that of

Taylor. Katie is a woman from Bray who was the

“Men are stronger than women (physically)”.

only gold medal winner from the Irish team in

I just want to say that this is the one thing that

2012. Four men won medals in the Olympics but

annoys me so much. I am not a ‘man hater’ and

none won gold. Katie’s fellow male boxers did

I definitely am not a ‘die hard’ feminist, but this

not win gold but silver and bronze. This opened

has to be one of the most outrageous statements

up a new era for female boxing to commence.

ever made! Yes okay it has been ‘proven’ that

Although female boxing had been around for

men are physically stronger than women, but

years, after Katie won she brought light to the

hold on. Say I go to a Boys School with boys

female area of boxing. In my opinion Katie Tay-

of the same age as me. I can proudly say that I

lor destroyed this stereotypical world that only

could be stronger than many boys, but of course

men should box when she came home with the

there will be boys that are stronger than me.

gold medal. It gave women everywhere hope that

This isn’t because men are stronger, it’s be-

maybe one day this “Men are stronger than wom-

cause maybe I don’t have the same muscle as

en” statement can be gone for good. If you train

them. So how about I bring in another girl my

your body hard to achieve certain bodily goals

age with the same muscle as these boys. She

they can be reached. It had nothing to do with

will be stronger than the boys I was and just as

whether you are a boy or a girl. Being male or

strong as the ones I wasn’t. To me it has nothing

female is not a contributing factor in my opinion.

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I hope that it gets easier, the stigma wears off and LGBTQ+ kids are finally allowed just be themselves without the need to come out.

Written by Emily Coming out wasn’t exactly a topic of conversa-

twists society into thinking that anyone who’s

tion on the playground when i was 7 years old.

not heterosexual is not ‘normal’. Lucky I was

We were simply born oblivious to certain ele-

brought up in a home that nurtured the idea

ments of life like that, until something happens,

that love is love, no matter what shape or form

and our perception changes. What I want to

it came in, but I must remind myself that not

know is why does the transition between think-

everyone was so fortunate. There are still peo-

ing nothing of liking the same-sex and feeling

ple out there who think being yourself isn’t the

the fear, or disgust, for those coming out hap-

right thing to do.

pen? And what causes this change in our mindset? After thinking about it long and hard I can

My theory about society being the blame for

only blame it on one thing; society.

discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community starts from the very beginning. Because we are

Don’t get me wrong, I love the western culture I

all born brand new, without a perception of

live in. But sometimes it gets to me, the stigma

any- thing in our head, we are shaped by those

around the LGBTQ+ community and the way it

around us through opinions and thoughts to


Silkie Social

“Society has told us for far too long that we need to approach coming out cautiously and that there are certain rules attached to it.”

102

become the person we are today. Rather like a

spectrum to accept it themselves because of the

flower, we blossom differently in whatever envi-

harsh stigma attached to it they grew up know-

ronment we are placed in. Someone brought up

ing. Fortunately I was able to talk to a few people

by homophobic parents, in a homophobic neigh-

who have dealt with coming out, or who have

borhood with homophobic friends are more

avoiding up until this point, and I got to divulge

than likely going to be homophobic themselves,

myself into their mindsets. One girl I inteviewed,

because they know no other way of thinking

who never intends on coming out, states that

about the topic. This is slowly changing, and

although she’s in a stable relationship with her

rising generations are stepping up to the plate

boyfriend, she is still petrified at the thought of

and going against the grain of their ancestors to

her peers and parents knowing she’s bisexual,

think for themselves on the matter, but that is

simply because of the community she lives in.

only taking a small bite out of the problem.

She also states she’s too young to come out, but what is really the right age to come out?

Although it is hard for society to mould itself

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, now referred to as John, is only

to finally accept the LGBTQ+ community in this

eight years old and has decided, with the full

day and age, it’s harder for those in on the queer

support if his parents, that he would wear a suit


‘Coming Out’

to the ‘Unbroken’ premiere and to cut his hair

myself, why must people coming out need a

short. This young hero has become themselves in

crutch to confess who they really are? Why do

the media spotlight with such grace and support

they have to hide behind screens from those

and is a prime example of the fact that ‘coming

they’ve known their whole lives, and why

out’ shouldn’t be something we have to wait un-

must they be drunk to finally feel safe telling

til we’re a certain age to do. This again is a social

people something they’ve hid for so long? I

construct, that a person is ‘too young’ to know

blame this again on society. It teaches us that

what they really are, and that doesn’t justify

coming out is a big deal, through books and

their sexuality or gender.

movies to personal experiences. I feel we can slowly change this for the better, but not with-

I also talked to a boy who told me that he came

out tackling the situation head on. Society has

out to his friends via Whatsapp. He was a ner-

told us for far too long that we need to ap-

vous wreak when he sent the text, but got noth-

proach coming out cautiously and that there

ing but love and support back. Another girl told

are certain rules attached to it. But why even

me she had to be intoxicated to confess her true

come out at all? Why make a big deal over

sexuality to her friend, which causes me to ask

something that should be nothing?

103


My Role Model by Sintia

Ruby Rose Let’s be honest, everyone has a small crush on

Global Vision International. She appeared in

Ruby Rose, especially me, I mean she is beauti-

the episode ‘Media Virgins’, of Australia’s Next

ful! Ruby Rose’s sharp bright eyes grabbed many

Top Model, acting as a guest judge. She also

modelling agencies attention, but a model agen-

worked as a correspondent for the finale of

cies always want something to change. Whether

Australia’s Next Top Model. From July 2009,

they want someone a little bit skinnier, a little

Rose along with Dave Hughes, Charlie Pickering,

bit taller, a little bit prettier, but MTV want you

Carrie Bickmore and James Mathison hosted

to be yourself! Not censoring anything and not

The 7pm Project, an Australian television news talk

conforming to anything. Thank you MTV. Ruby

show produced by Roving Enterprises which airs

Rose then began to flower into the amazing

weeknights on Network Ten.

person she is now, she is open to be who she really is.

Ruby Rose isn’t just hot and talented,she also is a caring and kind person that has been through a

In 2009, Rose won the ASTRA Award for Favou-

lot and wants to help other people. She is a sup-

rite Female Personality. She also travelled to

porter of charities and Issues close to her heart

Kenya to highlight the amazing work done by

include animal welfare, campaigns for anti-bul


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Ruby Rose

“She also is a caring and kind person that has been through a lot and wants to help other people.” lying and youth mental health and works as an

sometimes she got hit by guys. They’d say, “I

ambassador for Headspace. She has also travelled

would never hit a girl, but you’re not a girl.”

to Laos and Africa to volunteer each year.

On July the 14th, 2014 a video called ‘Break Free’ starring Ruby Rose was up loaded by her onto

Rose came out as homosexual when she was 12.

Youtube. In the video you can see a very beauti-

As a teenager, she suffered from verbal taunts,

ful girl with long hair, in a lovely and flattering

physical abuse from her schoolmates i.e. bullies,

dress, but the woman who is wearing it, Ruby

due to her sexuality. As a little kid, Ruby Rose

Rose is not happy with how she looks, because

was convinced that she was a guy. She used to

she is not been herself. She begins to cut all

bind her breasts with ACE bandages, which is

of her hair into a short haircut, then begins to

really, really bad for you. She was really young.

wash all of the makeup covering her tattoos off revealing her true skin. She gets out of the dress

In her teens, she tried to be quite feminine. Her

and gets changed into something that she feels

mother was pushing her to do some modelling,

more like herself in. She changes into a shirt,

as she was a very pretty girl. And then one day

jacket and trousers. At the end of the video she

it just got too much for her. Ruby shaved all of

looks happy, confident and fierce, she is feeling

her hair and just went ‘Fuck you’ to everyone

comfortable and like herself.

who thought she needed to look a certain way. She should do whatever she feels is right doing.

Ruby rose has and still is encouraging and help-

And then she got bullied after that. If a guy said

ing people to be open about their sexuality and

something to her like, “What are you? You’re a

that you don’t need to hide who you are. She is

girl but you’re trying to be a boy.” or “Look at

now so happy doing and proving everyone who

you, you’re disgusting.” If she tried to talk back,

ever doubted her wrong! Rose is an inspiration.

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Because of the internet, we question what we learn in school and what our parents tell us. We don’t rely on a handful of sources to gain information.

Written by Ailbhe Is there one true definition of ‘feminism’? For

what the media wants us to think. Is this not the

most, it is something we define ourselves. It is

same media that benefits from the insecurities

something that can evolve and develop as we

of girls and women? The same companies, say,

become more educated, and sometimes we feel

that make money selling us razors and expen-

more drawn to one particular feminist school of

sive bras and things we don’t necessarily need?

thought. There is no one correct ‘feminism’ but

If feminism could make a profit for big corpora-

rather limitless feminisms. When I was young-

tions, I am sure feminists would not be painted

er, I never related to it. I heard about feminism

in such a bad light. Because our reality is heavily

through my family and my peers, whose prior

influenced by the media, many of us have given

knowledge was influenced by the media. I feel

feminists a bad rep.

that the media deviates from these boundless definitions of feminism, and tells us something

The internet has changed that. By providing

untrue. The media tells us that feminists are

us with a different narrative, we see feminism

angry, hormonal man-haters who burn their bras

without the media’s embellishment. Because of

and refuse to shave. Although there is nothing

the internet, we are offered an alternative defi-

wrong with any of the latter, we are force-fed

nition. I discovered feminism through blogging

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Illustration: Julianna Szab贸


Internet Feminism

“Thin, toned, flawless, blemish free women are idolised by the media, but these images are put through a tedious routine of photoshop in order to be perfect.” websites and feminist zines. I found truth within

Seventeen Magazine to stop using photoshopped

feminism. I stumbled upon people whose words

images. Julia and other teen activists from an

resonated with me, whose ideas fascinated me,

organisation called Spark used Facebook, Twitter,

and whose ideologies I wanted to share. I found

and Tumblr to shed light on the unattainable

concrete evidence of aggressions towards wom-

beauty standards and unrealistic images in the

en, and new points of view I wouldn’t have expe-

magazine. Julia and millions of other girls read

rienced without the internet. These people were

magazines like Seventeen and see these images

not only translating the multi-faceted concept of

of uniformed beauty. Thin, toned, flawless, blem-

feminism into eloquent yet relatable language,

ish-free women are idolised by the media, but

they made me realise that the injustices between

these images are put through a tedious routine

genders didn’t have to be accepted as a way of

of photoshop in order to be perfect. Eventually,

life. Feminism is an easily-reached community

Seventeen magazine listened. They vowed to

because of the internet - you don’t have to be

‘celebrate every kind of beauty’ and feature only

an educated scholar to recognise inequality and

real girls and models who are healthy. This was

spread new ideas. Our voices are not alone.

a huge victory in the fight for gender equality; if the internet can make Seventeen question how

Fortunately, we are not the only ones influenced

their material affects young girls, we can have a

by internet feminism. A fourteen year old girl

better understand of what is truly the norm and

named Julia Bluhm took the internet by storm

learn to love our bodies more.

when she garnered 86,000 signatures on a petition on change.org, in an effort to persuade

People like Julia are using the internet as a

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Silkie Social

“Online feminism is the future of feminism. The internet can keep an issue visible, alive, and evolving so it’s always fresh and relevant. We are able to create a new culture of inclusive and diverse feminism.”

114

weapon in the fight for gender equality. It is

modern feminism’s challenge is to include wom-

giving young girls voices, and making us the

en of all backgrounds and with all experiences,

most educated and connected generation yet.

and not always focus on one dominant voice. We

The leaders of internet feminism are outspoken

must not only include other women, but resist

and eloquent, and give voices to LGBT+ people

the urge to speak for them. We must listen to

and women of colour where the first and sec-

the experiences of people other than ourselves,

ond wave movement hadn’t. One of the original

and the internet helps us do this.

movement’s biggest failings was inclusiveness. Our generation of girls and women are raised in

Online feminism is the future of feminism.

a world where information is free to share and

The internet can keep an issue visible, alive,

receive, and the mistakes of past feminism are

and evolving so it’s always fresh and relevant.

no longer acceptable. Years ago a woman could

We are able to create a new culture of inclusive

argue that she was only able to speak to her own

and diverse feminism. While feminists of the

experience, and as a result, much of the dialogue

past created a dialogue and a culture that has

was about women who looked like them. Now,

led us to these conversations today, it’s up to us


Internet Feminism

to make sure our activism is continually inclu-

the wealth of information available to us on the

sive. The internet has provided a tool to connect-

internet with the click of the mouse. Our phones,

ed us with like-minded people, but also made us

computers, and tablets aid us in questioning the

open to scrutiny if we mess up. Protests and sit-

media and social norms. We now know that our

ins are still important but, thanks to the internet,

voices matter. We can create change. We can

anyone can be a part of the conversation. Be-

make wavelengths from the comfort of our chair,

cause of the internet, we question what we learn

if we have the confidence to share our voice with

in school and what our parents tell us. We don’t

others. Us the next generation, have the power.

rely on a handful of sources to gain information

We must be brave enough to believe that change

and knowledge - we can educate ourselves with

is possible, and that we can spark it.

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If we work hard we may in years to come create a world where everyone, no matter what gender, may stand on the same level.

Written by Kerrie The internet has many positive attributes and

body image. Users of accounts on social media

features for girls. It has completely revolution-

websites such as Instagram and Facebook often

ised the way we communicate with one another,

post pictures of the ‘ideal’ or the ‘perfect’ body

the way we access information and the way we

and tell others that this is how they should be

live our lives. We can follow celebrities and blog-

and look.. These pictures tagged as ‘motivation-

gers we are interested in, keep up to date with

al’ or “inspirational” and designed to make you

news and trends and we can communicate faster

live a healthy lifestyle can sometimes have the

and easier than we have ever before. Despite all

opposite effect on girls. Perhaps this is the rea-

these positive attributes, the internet also has

son that in the UK the number of young people

a dark side in which can effect women directly

seeking help for eating disorders have increased

and indirectly. It can do a lot of damage to the

by one hundred and ten percent in the last three

way we think and also our development into

years. There are also thousands of pro-ana blogs,

adults.

accounts and websites that promote the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, telling others that

The interaction with the internet, especially

its not an illness, but a lifestyle choice to loose

social media, can have a profound effect on our

weight. These websites encourage crash dieting,


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The Internet and Body Image

“Exposure to these kinds of websites especially affects already vulnerable girls who have low confidence while making others feel depressed about their own physique.” the use of laxatives and give tips to girls on how

post and how they look to our friends. A lot of

to hide their eating disorder from parents and

us are even nervous about putting up posts that

doctors. Exposure to these kinds of websites

may prevent us from employment in the future

especially effects already vulnerable girls who

which further adds to anxiety of being accepted.

have low confidence while simply making ot-

A study by the journal Personality and Individ-

hers feel depressed about their own physique.

ual Differences showed that people who scored higher on a narcissism questionnaire are more

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all other social

frequent Facebook posters and photo taggers

media websites are designed for sharing imag-

and had more Facebook friends. Whether we

es, posts and experiences with the people we

want to accept it or not, we upload photos and

love, but its known that it can get competitive.

posts with the intention of drawing attention to

We only put things online that show the best

ourselves and to show the world how great we

of ourselves; the perfect profile picture and a

are, silently competing with everyone else. Ben-

clev-er caption that is almost always re-edited

jamin Grosser, an artist and software developer

more than once before posting. We become

created an open source web browser plug in that

jealous of those who get more likes than we do

stops the user from seeing how many likes they

or who receive more comments on their photo-

have got on a particular post, replacing it with

graphs and we begin to over analyse what we

“people like this”. He found that most people

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Silkie Social

“Online bullying is a huge problem in schools around the country. Cyberbullying is when instant messages, emails, text messages or webpages are used too spread rumours, make threats or harass others.”

120

were less obsessed about checking their posts

Online bullying is a huge problem in schools

while using the plug in and enjoyed the relief

around the country. Cyber bullying is when

from competing for likes. Researchers found that

instant messages, emails, text messages or web-

heavy use of Facebook may make certain people

pages are used too spread rumours, make threats

experience feelings of envy which in turn could

or harass others. It includes written messages,

lead to depression. These tended to be users who

photographs, videos or voice messages. An NUI

compare their own lives to their friends photos

Maynooth study found that seventeen per cent

of luxurious vacations, status updates about

of children had been victims of bullying at some

good news and the amount of likes they receive

point while almost one in ten had admitted

on posts. Like one friend said to me “Everyones

carrying it out. The research found that victims

achievements seem to blend into the one perfect

were most frequently bullied by a single female

person that you can’t live up to”, and this makes

or a small group of females from a different class

us feel depressed and lowers our confidence in

but in the same year as the victim. Girls need to

ourselves.

stand up to cyberbullying immediately if we see


The Internet and Body Image

it happening to others in the year and support

feels like to be unplugged from technology. We

each other against this. So what can we do to

need to find a space that isn’t the web in which

spend time on social media in a healthy, safe

to inform us for example going out an meeting

way while getting the full enjoyment from it?

friends. This is much healthier too. We should

Venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield &

develop our own critical thinking to evaluate

Byers did research which suggested that people

what we see online. Finally, we should take re-

checked their phones 150 time a day. It’s a good

sponsibility from what we say or do online, and

idea to evaluate our own social media use and

to invest more time in things that help build our

determine if its helping us meet goals . Also, it’s

confidence, because at the end of the day, likes

OK to take a break from your phone or laptop

and comments on Instagram and Facebook won’t

once in a while and remind yourself what it

do that for us.

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My Role Model by Aisling

Emma Watson Feminism in recent years has become something

radicalisation and ‘man-hating’ She discusses

of a taboo word, it has become associated with

her struggle with being labeled by others. At the

man-hating and female domination. These views

age of eight she found that when she wanted to

have prevented many people from identifying

be in charge of a school show people called her

themselves as feminists, in particular in the case

“bossy”, but none of this was directed towards

of men. The HeForShe aims to involve more peo-

the boys. She discussed how at the age of 14 she

ple, especially men and boys, in the struggle for

began being sexualised by certain aspects of the

equal rights for women all around the world. UN

media, something that rarely happens to boys

Women have taken this huge step towards mak-

of the same age.

ing a change alongside the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson.

These issues are relevant today, women are expected at a certain age to stop what they feel

This campaign has come to light recently due to

are “boyish” activities because girls are not to act

Emma’s speech at the UN going viral all over the

that way. Most importantly, Emma discusses the

internet. In her speech she addresses the issue

issue of men being unable to express their feel-

surrounding the association of feminism with

ing in fear of appearing ‘weak’ or ‘hunman-like.’


Silkie Social

All of these issues are what drive Emma and

discriminated against every day of their lives.

many other women, such as myself, to become

This campaign is largely to show men that femi-

feminists. The issue of “feminism” becoming an

nism is about them too. Men too are affected by

unpopular word is a large part of the HeForShe

many of the issues HeForShe is fighting against.

campaign, they work to destroy this view of fem-

With the push for gender equality men will

inists and encourage people to look past the ta-

be free to act how they want without seeming

boo and identify themselves as feminists. One of

to be “less of a man” as is insinuated by many

the many important things about this campaign

people today. As the stigma behind men lessens

is that feminism is not a word, it is the solution

the progress for women will be a natural conse-

to gender inequality.

quence. The involvement of men in this campaign is the key to furthering the success of the

In this video Emma talks about how it is right for

gender equality movement.

women to earn the same as men for the same job and how it is only right for women to make deci-

As the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma

sions about their own body. I recall when nudes

has had a huge influence on women and young

of many celebrity women were released around

girls throughout the world. It is well-known that

the time of this speech, Emma was threatened to

Emma played the role of Hermione Granger in

have photos of her they supposedly had leaked.

the film adaption of the Harry Potter book series.

It was an inspiring moment when Emma stood

Hermione as a young girl is also an inspiration

firm against these individuals knowing she had

to children everywhere. This character showed

nothing to hide. Although our country is well de-

young people that not only can you be the smart-

veloped, it is situations like these thathighlight

est person in class but you can also be a loyal

that feminism is still needed in today’s society.

friend and one hell of a badass when needs be. As a child Hermione was my hero and she was

124

The HeForShe campaign is focused on the wom-

to many others like me. I think it is safe to say

en who need it most, in her speech Emma tell

that as I have matured my childhood hero has

us of how lucky she was to not be any less loved

become the hero of my adolescence. Emma has

by her parents or given any less opportunity by

grown up to be a huge inspiration to me and to

her teachers simply because she was a girl. These

many others and it is her work with UN women

feminist campaigns are fighting for the women

and the HeForShe that has helped me to realise

who need feminism, who don’t have the same

that I, myself am a feminist. The ideals that I

privileges that many of us in Ireland and the UK

valued in Hermione as a child shine through in

have. We are the lucky ones, but this campaign

the work Emma is doing for feminism today.

as for any feminist campaign is for the women

Emma Watson not only portrayed the young girl

who don’t have the rights that we do, who are

I looked up to, but she has become the woman I


Emma Watson

“It was an inspiring moment when Emma stood firm against these individuals knowing she had nothing to hide. It is from these situations, that it is evident that feminism is still needed in today’s society.� 125 aspire to be. Through spending all of childhood

amazing work she is doing Emma Watson is my

on a set, being sexualised from the age of 12

role model. This is the case for many women just

and experiencing constant harassment from the

like me who found inspiration in her character

media this woman has maintained her dignity

and in her true self. Having grown up with her

and courage.

as a role model and then to have her influence me in later life as well is fantastic. This influence

Not many people get to say that their childhood

Emma has on so many people is what is needed

hero grows up to be their role model as an adult

to encourage people to join in the HeForShe

but I feel privileged to say that because of the

campaign and the fight for gender equality.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

126


From a young age, the majority of young girls are given Barbie dolls to play with- leaving them to admire these dolls,

Written by Aoife From a young age, the majority of young girls

would only have room for half a liver and a few

are given Barbie dolls to play with- leaving them

inches of intestine. With 3.5 inch wrists, Barbie

to admire these dolls, and aspiring to one day be

would be incapable of doing any heavy lifting.

like their beloved Barbie dolls in ev ery single

Barbie’s extremely long, thin legs are supported

way possible. However, is it right we give young

by child’s size 3 feet and 6 inch ankles, leaving

children dolls to play with that portray women

her only capable of walking on all fours. Barbie’s

in an unrealistic way? Although to many Barbie’s

weight and uneven body distribution would also

body may be ideal, but this ‘ideal body’ is also

leave Barbie without a period and proper

next to impossible to achieve and in no way is

menstrual cycle.

it even remotely healthy. For example, with a neck twice as long and 6inches thinner than

Even with all these factors considered, millions

the average woman’s neck, Barbie would be

of young girls still aspire to be like their beloved

incapable of lifting her head. Her head, 16 inch

Barbie doll physically. There are some girls all

waist (which is smaller than her head), Barbie

around the world who pay hundreds of thou-


Illustration: Siobhรกn O Riordan

Silkie Talk

128


Barbie’s Body

“This ‘ideal body’ is also next to impossible to achieve and in no way is it even remotely healthy.” sands of dollars/euro on cosmetic surgery so

In 1998 the dolls’ waist was expanded and bust

they can resemble this fictional character, like

made smaller, and was said to reflect a more

29 year old Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova.

‘real’ female body type, but still the doll’s body is

Described as the ‘real life Barbie doll’, and the

in no way realistic or in any way helps promote

‘human Barbie’, Valeria undergoes extreme gym

a positive body image as this ‘more real’ female

workouts to keep her slender, slim physique,

body type remains unachievable. Young girls all

has had more than one operation for her breast

around the world look up to Barbie as sort of an

implants, spends an unreal amount of money of

admirable role model, and thrive to succeed in

cosmetics and makeup, and wears contacts to

achieving her ‘perfect body’. Why can’t Barbie

disguise her naturally green eyes just to resem-

be a size 8, 10, 12 or 14 like most other women,

ble this plastic doll.

which will allow children to accept being bigger than what Barbie’s body is, after being left to

As of February 2014, Valeria has converted to a

believe it is perfect?

practice called Breatharianism, where she announced that she would try not to partake food

Not that there is anything wrong with being

or water for an unspecified length of time, in an

slim, but to create a doll for young and impres-

attempt to live exclusively on light and air. But

sionable girls and allow them to think that their

why go through all this trouble just to look like a

loving doll is how women should look (with a

plastic doll? To go without food and water just to

body that’s next to impossible to achieve), is that

look more like Barbie? Is this really the lengths

right? How come there is no dolls to represent

some people will go to in an attempt to be more

bigger women, or women who don’t have a big

like a plastic doll?

bust or long legs? Who’s their representative?

129


Silkie Social

“To be called Barbie is seen as a compliment to many women and girls; but how come we are flattered to be compared to this piece of plastic?”

130

To be called Barbie is seen as a compliment to

In March 2014, a prototype for a doll that is

many women and girls; but how come we are

said to be based on the average 19 year old girl

flattered to be compared to this piece of plastic?

in America was made; complete with acne

Personally, I think as a result of this doll being in

cellulite and stretch marks - totally contrasting

the majority of young girls’ homes and children

to the Barbie we’ve known for so long. Lammily,

being brought up with this doll, we subcon-

the new and improved Barbie, was created by 25

sciously see this doll as ‘perfection’ because we

year old Nickolay Lamm, who himself had his

are so familiar with it, when realistically this

doubts on the success of this more realistic fe-

doll doesn’t portray a real female body type. And

male doll, as he believed not many people would

still there doesn’t seem to be any changes in the

stray away from the ‘perfect’ Barbie we’ve been

manufacturing of this doll to help promote a

familiar with for years. However, Lamm’s story

positive body image for young girls by showing

is a very successful one as he makes hundreds

the more ‘real’ body features women have; like

of thousands of dollars from Lammily (which he

shorter legs, small breasts, or thighs that don’t

reinvests in this project). Lammily also comes

touch off each other. We shouldn’t judge each

with a sticker pack for your doll that gives the

other based on such minute details.

illusion of acne, cellulite, stretch marks, tattoos,


Barbie”s Body

moles, freckles and bruises, among many other things. In an interview following the realease of his doll, Lamm said “Every one of our bodies is different, so we should not be aspiring to some idealized standard”. Personally, I think these dolls promote the beauty of reality. In my opinion, I think from this study it’s clear that these children don’t see Barbie.. One child in this group even said “She, like, isn’t, like, very thin” – even at such a young age these children noticed the extremely thin physique belonging to Barbie. But will Lammily be a beneficial factor as we try change the stereotypical body.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

132


Representation in Disney films will always be important because of the messages they send to children.

Written by Ailbhe Disney plays a huge role in most of our lives. As

beginning of Disney’s issues. Nowadays, parents

kids, we sat in front of the television with wide

want their children’s entertainment to be fun

eyes, enchanted by Disney princesses eluding vil-

and fulfilling. Many may stay away from a movie

lains, dancing in pretty dresses and pursuing ro-

that could promote harmful ideas. The company

mance. But could Disney have a negative impact

has responded to the criticism by creating more

on how we perceive ourselves? It may not seem

diverse storylines of late. This evolution is a

like young people could be effected by simple

welcome one, but there’s still a lot to complain

cartoons, but we often internalise negative mes-

about in today’s animated children’s movies.

sages without realising it. For years, Disney has bared the brunt of criticism for perpetrating ste-

Over the years, Disney has raised many an eye-

reotypes and giving children the wrong message

brow with their gender interpretations and lack

in its films. Perfect princesses lacking in diversi-

of racial diversity. We are forever seeing one type

ty, misrepresentation of different cultures, and

of woman or girl being represented. She is un-

countless perpetrations of sexism are just the

naturally thin, with flawless white skin and Eu-


Illustration: Julianna Szab贸


Disney Diversity

“It tells us that people need to fit a certain criteria to be valuable, and that people who are different don’t matter.” ropean features. Sisters Elsa and Anna from the

do with contemporary objectification of women

Frozen franchise have practically identical fea-

than it does historical accuracy. We even see a

tures to that of Tangled’s Rapunzel. Under-rep-

scantily-clad Princess Jasmine trying to entice the

resentation can impact different ethnic groups

evil Jafar, a far cry from anything demure white

negatively, resulting in the alienation of young

princesses like Cinderella or Snow White would

People of Colour. Only two out of ten Latino and

try. The Huns of Mulan have a much darker

Asian children, and four out of ten African-Amer-

skin tone than the film’s Chinese soldiers. The

ican children say they see people of their race

Chinese soldiers and the emperor - on the ‘good

“very often” on TV, compared to seven out of ten

side’ - have a peach, almost Caucasian skin color,

white children. Four out of every five children

while the Huns have a significantly darker grey-

of colour agreed it was important for kids to

ish-brown skin tone. The Huns are also portrayed

see their race portrayed. These sad statistics are

with more stereotypically Asian features, such

only worsened by the fact that cultures are often

as smaller eyes and wider, flatter noses. On the

misrepresented by Disney, with racial stereo-

other hand, the protagonist, Mulan, and and her

types prevalent. In The Princess and the Frog,

romantic interest, Shang, have extremely light

Disney made a step towards inclusiveness with

skin, small noses, larger eyes, and educated, re-

a black princess named Tiana. Her suitor, Prince

fined voices and vocabularies. They are made to

Naveen, has an ambiguous accent and hails from

appear more familiar and approachable in many

the made-up country of Maldonia. Many critics

ways, and this goodness is purposefully associat-

have argued that Disney would not have made

ed with whiteness in Mulan.

Naveen “identifiably” black, as that would put a black male in a position of power in their films.

Even the way Disney portrays villains perpetrates

In Aladdin, Princess Jasmine’s entire wardrobe

harmful ideas. Antagonists such as Alice in Won-

is socio-historically incorrect, and has more to

derland’s Queen of Hearts, The Little Mermaid’s

135


Illustration: Julianna Szab贸

Silkie Talk

136


Disney Diversity

“They will internalise negative feelings about themselves and feel alienated from the ‘normal’ people represented in these movies.” Ursula and John Ratcliffe of Pocahontas are all

mannerisms and patterns of speech throughout

overweight. Disney demonises these charac-

the film. By sending the message that effeminacy

ters by portraying them as fat, yet there are no

is villainous, these films create an association

fat Disney princesses. There’s no protagonist

between ‘queer’ or ‘feminine’ and ‘bad’. Not

that fat children can identify with. If anything,

only are gay men constantly stereotyped as ef-

the fact that the only fat people in Disney are

feminate by straight people, but the devaluation

villains only encourages fat-shaming at a young

of femininity is also an urgent problem within

age. Little girls see Ursula, see that she’s fat, and

society.

an association is formed between fat girls and “bad“. Ursula doesn’t get respect, therefore fat

Representation in Disney films will always be

girls don’t get respect. They are never the heroes,

important because of the messages they send to

and only the villains. Disney also does a disser-

children. If a child’s body type, orientation, gen-

vice to the LGBTQ+ community by feminizing

der or race is misrepresented, they will internal-

male characters in order to make them seem

ise negative feelings about themselves and feel

even more evil. In The Lion King, for example,

alienated from the ‘normal’ people represented

Scar displays traditionally feminine manerisms

in these movies. The first messages we receive in

before threatening Mufasa. In Hercules, Hades

childhood, things that we may internalise, can

adopts effeminate traits, and can also be seen

affect our point of view for the rest of our lives.

sipping a Cosmo. Governor Ratcliffe of Poca-

We need to strive to create diverse stories. We

hontas wears pink bows in his hair and drinks

need to learn from past mistakes and properly

wine. Aladdin’s Jafar, too, adopts effeminate

represent people diverse identities.

137


My Role Model by Kerrie

Misty Copeland As a dancer, I always look for inspiration from

is shown in the statistics, ballet dancers are ten

others. I aspire to be better than I am, to become

times more likely to develop an eating disorder

technically advanced and to perform well. With

than others.

all the youtube videos, Instagram pictures and Facebook posts its easy to find people around

It is clear that part of the problem of body image

the world who can provide plenty of inspira-

in ballet is that dancers are constantly striving

tion and guidance for young dancers. However

for the perfect “ballet body”; arched feet, long

the dancers we look to can be unhealthy and

lean legs, a short torso and a long neck. Like

underweight. It is well known that in the world

the fashion industry, the business is obsessed

of dance, particularly ballet, there is a huge

with appearance. This can make a dancer scru-

pressure to be thin. According to David Kinsella,

tinise their diets and to do what is necessary to

the director of the documentary “A Beautiful

stay thin and maximise performance onstage.

Tragedy” a ballet dancer in Russia should have a

Because of this some dancers choose extreme

BMI of 14, (under 18.5 is considered to be under-

calorie control and diets to ensure that they do

weight). This pressure on girls to be thin dancers

not put on weight. Gelsey Kirkland, a former


Illustration: Leona Gonnelly

Silkie Talk

140


Misty Copeland

“I think that most girls today, dancers or not, can identify with the struggles she faced with physicality and race” principle dancer of the American Ballet Theatre

cally induced physical maturation, professional

and Royal Ballet, famously turned to cocaine to

pressure to conform to ballet aesthetics which

deal with stress.

then resulted in a binge eating disorder. She was able overcome her difficulties and in 2007 she

However there are some healthy and positive

was promoted to a soloist in the American Ballet

role models in ballet such as Misty Copeland, the

Theatre.

American Ballet Theatres first African-American soloist in over two decades. Copeland seemed to

Copeland aspires to become a principal danc-

beat the ‘ballet odds’, she was old starting dance,

er, and has many goals in terms of performing

she was considered to not have the right figure

leading roles including Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

and there were very few African American danc-

and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. She now has her

ers in US ballet companies. Misty is considered to

own line of dance wear, is an embassador for the

be a “prodigy”, she only began dance when she

sports wear company Under Armour and has re-

was thirteen years old. She was discovered by her

leased a biography Life in Motion. In September

teacher, Cynthia Bradley at a boys and girls club

2013 Misty became a spokesperson for Project

in San Pedrio, California. After auditioning and

Plié, a national initiative to increase racial and

attending ABT’s (American Ballet Theatre) sum-

ethnic representation in ballet. Misty Copeland

mer programme for two years, Misty was offered

is an inspirational person and a role model. She

a place as a corps member with the studio com-

was able to overcome the pressures that she

pany in New York. However Misty was not aware

faced and she kept going with something that

of the role that race played in her career. As the

she loved doing, even though she was judged

only black dancer in ABT, she found it hard to

by others in her profession. I think that most

identify and feel belonged in the company. In her

girls today, dancers or not, can identify with the

second year in the company, she endured medi-

struggles she faced with body image.

141


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

142


The media is abusing Photoshop for it’s own gain and this is having a detrimental effect on people across the world. It’s got to stop.

Written by Aisling Photoshop has become an essential part of the

comical aspect, there have been many occasions

printed media in recent years. Although Photo-

that people have photoshopped their friends

shop is an enhancement tool to be used in an

photos for a comedic effect. However, people

artistic way it is abused by the media in a way

tend to only associate Photoshop with the media

that is detrimental to young adults. In one way

and forget that its original use was to enhance

photoshop has many benefits when used on

photos for a creative purpose. There is a reason

personal or creative photos. Photoshop can be

that it is associated with the detrimental effect

used to add effects to the photos to make it more

that it has on people due to the media more so

desirable to the person who took it. This doesn’t

than the creative aspect of it and it is a problem

have to be to the extent where the photo has

that needs to be addressed.

become so distorted that it is not even the photo the photographer originally took but it allows

There are many examples of Photoshop in the

them to fix the parts of it that don’t satisfy the

media that have sent people all over the internet

look they were going for. It can also be used for a

crazy, many of them have come from simple


Illustration: Lauren Tracey

144


Photoshop

“The altering of women’s bodies using Photoshop is one of the many things that cause women to have low self-esteem and doubt their own bodies.” clothing websites rather than anything else. An

editing technique to further the audience out-

example of this would be the Target models on

reach of the magazine. Not only did the photos

their website where their clothing line photo-

cause an uproar they were “shared” and “liked”

shopped a thigh gap and thinned their models

so that nearly every person with Facebook,

waist to such an extent that the models arm was

Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest or any form of social

disproportionate to her torso. This particular

media saw these photos. With thee trimming of

campaign caused outrage with people through-

Kim Kardashians waistline to the enhancement

out the internet so much so that Target was

of her derriere these photos set a standard no

forced to issue a public apology for that particu-

woman not even Kim herself could achieve, lead-

lar photo. Target Photoshop scandal model:

ing women to believe they need Photoshop on their photos to look as good as Kim did in those

The Target scandal was one that was known

photos that indeed succeeded in “breaking the

worldwide and other forms of media used this

internet”.

idea of major Photoshop to cause a scandal of their own as a publicity stunt. The most well-

It is campaigns such as the Break the Internet

known example of this would be the Kim Kar-

and the Target Model that cause women to

dashian cover for Paper Magazine using the

believe that photos of themselves are not good

caption “Break the Internet Kim Kardashian”.

enough without enhancements. Many young

The purpose of this photo-shoot and the exces-

girls have begun trimming their own waists and

sive Photoshop was to abuse the beauty of the

legs, Photoshopping photos of themselves. As

145


Silkie Social

“These ‘perfect bodies’ we see in the media have set an unrealistic goal for women who feel they need to look exactly like the models and celebrities.” well as this many women have started trying to look like these women in the magazines in real life using devices such as “waist trainers” which have been proven to be very dangerous to a woman’s body. These ‘perfect bodies’ we see in the media have set an unrealistic goal for women who feel they need to look exactly like the models and celebrities. This is the encouragement the media gives to women today instead of the encouragement to accept their own body shape. 146

This is the reason many women feel the need to use extreme tactics and make themselves look like a different person to whom they are. This is extremely harmful to a woman’s self-esteem and is an issue that needs to be dealt with in a cautious yet strict manner. The altering of women’s bodies using Photoshop is one of the many things that cause women to have low self-esteem and doubt their own bodies.


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

148


I learned, with a lot of confusion, there were different rules for boys than there were for girls.

Written by Ciara “Ladies don’t use curse words”, “Be a man and get over

boys than there were for girls. I would get given out

it.” Phrases like these are used every single day in our

to for wearing school trousers and shorts instead of

society. Their negative impact affects us from the day

skirts. I would get in trouble for running and scream-

we are born until the day we die. But it doesn’t have

ing while at play and not sitting with some of the

to be this way. I entirely believe we, as human beings,

other girls in my class who preferred to read during

can achieve complete equality of genders, if only we

their yard-time. I was scolded with the stern voice of

give up our ridiculous expectations and stereotyping

my teacher that it was ‘inappropriate for a girl like

of each other. (And I don’t think that’s too much to

me’ and ‘un-ladylike’ for me to do these things. But for

ask.)

8 year old me, I couldn’t understand this at all. While sitting in a ‘Time-Out’ at the side of the yard watching

When I was growing up, I was constantly absorbing

all my friends run around, having fun without con-

information about social conduct from my parents,

sequence, I wondered: What was it about my gender

teachers and other children in my class. I learned,

that made it ‘bad’ for me to be boisterous and playful,

with a lot of confusion, there were different rules for

like every happy child is? What evil thing about being


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Lad vs Lady

a girl meant I couldn’t dress comfortably or play

should be worried past our 20’s if we haven’t

with my friends? This was the beginning of my

managed to rope down a guy just incase a flat

never-ending battle against gender stereotypes.

pack wardrobe appears and we can’t handle the DIY alone or worse what if we don’t give birth?!

This stereotyping of genders continued into my

This portrayal of women as feeble and dependent

teens, with a lot of new rules and validations

is incredibly damaging, leading strong, indepen-

of identity that I still don’t quite understand.

dent women to be scrutinized and attacked for

Suddenly, I was in a world where women MUST

being able to live their own lives freely. Even

be thin, beautiful, sexy and quiet. The ideal

in lesbian couples, there is ridiculous pressure

image of beauty is splashed onto magazines

for one of the couple to be the more dominant,

and newspapers. When a woman is in control

and therefore male figure in the relationship.

of her sexuality and has many partners happily,

And even when this pressure succeeds, they’ll

she’s seen as negatively sexually promiscuous

still be labeled some new stereotype of ‘butch’,

and they are labeled with ‘Slut’. When a woman

and will be expected to have tattoos, a cropped

gains a few pounds, which is natural and com-

haircut and a whole lot of flannel shirts. And in

pletely healthy as we grow older, she’s labeled as

gay couples alike, society expects one of them

‘Fat.’ Or ‘Ugly.’ This kind of bullying of women

to be the more submissive and therefore female

out side of the ‘perfect woman’ image is incred-

role in the relationship. And this person will be

ibly unhealthy, leading young women and girls

expected to love musicals and theatre, flower

everywhere to hate themselves and their bodies

arranging and drink ‘girly’ drinks like Appletinis.

just because they don’t fit the media’s portrayal

It seems the media and society itself can’t handle

of ‘beauty.’ What happens to the girls who aren’t

the thought of a woman being able to take care

the high-cheekbone-blonde-haired-clear-skinned-

of herself or even more ghastly, being able to

big-breasted-beauty that is portrayed everywhere

take care of both herself and her partner. And

we look? It is insane how tiny that bracket of

the thought of happy relationships outside of the

perfection is, and how we try to squeeze roughly

‘hetero’ bracket must try mirror their image of

3 billion + women into the same small category

perfect love as closely as possible, even at the de-

of ‘beauty’ instead of creating for ourselves our

struction of a person’s true identity and feelings.

own ideas of what beauty really is, and is it even actually important, not just following the me-

And women are not alone in this horrible stereo-

dia’s ridiculous portrayal of women.

typing war against real life and perfect imagery. Men, as a result of needing to be the stronger

We are also told we are ‘the weaker sex.’ We

sex, are under horrible pressure to come out on

are led to believe through TV shows and movies

top, no matter what. They will receive abuse as

that we need a man in our lives to handle all the

kids for showing interest in ‘feminine’ things,

bills that of course a woman wouldn’t be smart

such as dresses or dolls or playing ‘House’ with

enough to figure out. We are led to believe we

the girls. I remember another story from when I

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“When I was growing up, I was constantly absorbing information about social conduct from my parents, teachers and other children in my class. I learned, with a lot of confusion, there were different rules for boys than there were for girls.”

152

them see him playing with girls. What is wrong with

They’re suddenly being judged from every angle;

our society that a young boy can’t show interest in

their hobbies and interests, what they wear, what

family? That a young boy should be so afraid of being

girls they date (especially if they haven’t any interest),

judged and losing his friends all because he wanted

how ‘manly’ they look and how well they can fight.

to play with girls for a while? Why do we pressurize

This ‘Lad Culture’ is incredibly dangerous to young

young boys to fill this insane masculine stereotype

men and how their thoughts and values develop into

when they can’t possibly understand why? This stupid,

adulthood.

unjustifiable pressure on boys carries onto their teens, and sadly, it only gets worse.

It is the most primitive thing I think I have ever witnessed watching two young boys have a fight. Of

As the boys hit their teens, they will be under incred-

course, they have downed about 8 cans each because

ible pressure to succumb to Lad Culture, i.e drink

of the pressure of their sex to drink much more

ridiculous amounts of alcohol, grow facial hair, have

than the girls (to prove their great magnificence of

sex and many sexual partners (and within this brack-

being male) and both will be wearing their XS Top-

et, they can’t dare to treat a woman as anything but

man t-shirts to try show off their muscles as much as

an object for their sexual desires, or else their mascu-

possible, because if a boy dares to look thin or weak

linity is at stake), hide their feelings and play sports.

he is instant prey for bullies and, quite frankly, bone


Lad vs Lady

headed idiots. This fight can occur between two ‘lads’

scrutiny, the most abuse, and for what? Not fitting

from one of two things; they are both chasing the

into the media’s portrayal of ‘What Makes You A Real

same girl (who probably doesn’t want either after see-

Man.’ I watched their identities and comfort in their

ing this display of stupidity.) or they have in some way

genders become completely obliterated as they re-

insulted each other’s masculinity The fight will occur

ceived insult time after time for just being themselves.

exactly as I describe it, I can promise you: They will square up to each other, puffing their chests out like

Gender stereotypes are dangerous. Not only do they

gorillas. . They will start a pathetic; almost rap battle,

destroy personalities as they naturally develop and

where they will scream a slurred line of badly made

factor in the development of mental disorders such

up insults, usually including someone’s mother or

as depression but they also create unhealthy relation-

sister or any female member of their family. The fight

ships between men and women alike. Women com-

usually ends with slightly less drunk, more intelligent

pare each other and themselves and rip each other

creatures pulling both boys back into separate corners

apart to become the Perfect Woman. Men compare

and, of course, reinstating their masculinity by telling

themselves entirely against idiotic stereotypes that

them how they definitely could’ve killed that guy if

‘define’ their masculinity and identity and then tear

they’d been allowed.

each other down if they don’t fit the mould to becoming The Perfect Man’. And both sexes attack each other

Why are the men of our countries raised to believe

in a fight of genders about respect and dominance,

violence is a man’s game and why is their identity of

without realizing if we just allowed each other to cut

self so fragile as men that one slight degradation of

the BS stereotypes and just become honestly who we

their masculinity results in, not being able to talk out

really are, with no consequences, we would not have

a problem like intelligent, mindful human beings, but

the hostility that surrounds and stigmatizes both sexes

instead pummeling each other like wild animals? Why

and creates such a huge gap between our understand-

are we encouraging men to hide their hurt and their

ing of each other.

emotions and channel them into rage instead? And why do we continue to be shocked at the rate of male

I hope in this article I have brought to light for you,

suicide in this country being so incredibly high, when

maybe, many things about gender stereotyping that

we pressurize men to live like this?

you might not have ever thought about before and I really hope it has made you think twice about saying

My heart goes out to all the boys I’ve known who

things like ‘Boys don’t cry’ or ‘Sit like a lady.’ It may

haven’t been able to grow facial hair or chest hair

not seem like these phrases hold any real weight, but

until their mid teens. To the boys who didn’t hit a

in reality, they solidify the stereotypes surrounding,

growth spurt when everyone else was 6ft tall and

and destroying, both genders. The only way we can

growing still. To the boys who liked playing piano

evolve and grow as a species is if we stop treating each

and singing over playing rugby because they just

other as foreign, alien creatures, and start supporting

didn’t see the appeal. Because these were the boys

each other as equal, deserving human beings. Gender

who grew into young men as the subjects of the most

stereotyping has to stop.

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My Role Model by Melissa

Dana Owens

Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Dana Owens, better known by her stage name

courage to speak out against the misogynistic

Queen Latifah, is the woman that I would

representation of women in the majority of rap

consider a positive role model. She was born in

music. Many women considered this a very brave

Newark, New Jersey in 1970. She skyrocketed

action on her behalf as she was one of the few

to fame as a rapper in the late 1980’s and later

females widely recognised in a predominantly

branched out to acting in film and television.

male genre of music. Her songs “U.N.I.T.Y.” and

She was the first female rapper to be nominated

“Ladies First” are centered around the idea that

for an Academy Award and was ranked No 72

women are to be respected as people, rather

on ‘VHI’s Top 100 Greatest Women of Rock &

than only objects to be looked at. Domestic

Roll’ list in 1999. Latifah has used her successful

violence, objectification and the degradation of

career as a platform to speak openly about, and

women are common themes Latifah confronts in

become an advocate for, race, social class and

her music, making her one of the biggest female

gender equality.

role models of the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

As a young rapper in the 1990s’ Latifah was known not only for her music, but for her

Queen Latifah has, on many occasions, stated

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Dana Owens

“She is a strong, established figure in the worldwide struggle for gender and racial equality” that she is very comfortable with her body and

canny valley. Unfortunately, the majority of the

has discussed how she finds the term ‘plus-sized’

population have become desensitised to these

in fashion to be offensive and outdated. She has

images and most teenage girls strive to attain

also voiced her disgust with the unrealistic beau-

the unachievable figures of models in magazine.

ty standards portrayed in the media that destroy

I find it refreshing that Queen Latifah is com-

women’s self esteem worldwide. In 2006, Latifah

fortable in her own skin and does not let the

promoted National Women’s Confidence Day

media’s perception of “perfect” affect her. She

and launched ‘Project Confidence’ in an effort to

proved that the size 0 image isn’t necessary for

promote self-esteem in women and young girls.

women to be successful, intelligent and to be

Latifah has teamed up with ‘Covergirl’ to launch

considered beautiful. She is a strong, established

her own makeup brand ‘The Queen Collection’,

figure in the worldwide struggle for gender and

a collection focused mainly around makeup for

racial equality and is in my opinion, the perfect

darker skin. She also has her own clothing line

example of a woman who stands up for what she

of the same name that is designed “for women of

believes in.

all shapes and sizes”, that was launched in 2011. She had her own experiences with negative I find Queen Latifah inspiring for a number of

body-image and lack of self-worth as a young

reasons. As a teenage girl living in a generation

woman, but has overcome that to become one of

where the media is considered vastly import-

the strongest, most independent and confident

ant, I understand that it is extremely easy to

women in the world, which is a feat I consider

be plagued with the idea that your’re not good

very admirable. In her autobiography “Ladies

enough and to have a very distorted view of your

First: Revelations of a Strong Woman”, she wrote

body. Every day, we are being bombarded with

“I don’t want to be a supermodel. I want to be

harrowing images of unhealthily thin models

a role model”.This quote suggests to me that

who have been photoshopped to the point that

she doesn’t care about being the most beautiful

they almost fall within the domain of the un-

woman in the world, but is interested in being a

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The media is abusing Photoshop for it’s own gain and this is having a detrimental effect on people across the world. It’s got to stop.

Written by Kerrie “Can you put that in the English language?”, was

cation is associated with feminism and is known

the first response I got from a close friend when

to play a big part in gender equality, as ninety

I asked her for her opinion on sexual objectifi-

six per cent of sexually objectified images are

cation of women. When I explained the concept

of women. The opinions of feminists differ in

she replied, “I never really thought about that

where sexual objectification occurs, but some of

before”. Like my friend, a lot of young women

the most common examples would be of main-

and teenagers don’t know what sexual objec-

stream media such as advertising and art where

tification is, and if they do, often do not fully

women are portrayed as sexualised objects or

understand how to recognise it.

commodities instead of human beings. Prostitution, stripping, the presumed need for cosmetic

The term Sexual Objectification means disre-

surgery and men evaluating and judging women

garding the personal and intellectual abilities of

physically or sexually in public spaces and events

a person and treating them as an instrument of

such as beauty contests are other examples of

sexual pleasure. The concept of sexual objectifi-

sexual objectification.


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Objectification

So how can you recognise Sexual Objectification?

rewarded, they learn to sexualise themselves.

Dr Caroline Heldman at a talk at TEDxYouth in

These ads put pressure on women to live up

San Diego, California spoke about the Sex Object

to this unrealistic expectation of beauty and

Test she developed to help her identify sexually

behaviour and leads to constant body monitor-

objectifying images. She said if the answer to any

ing, eating disorders, female competition and

of the seven questions from the test were yes,

depression. Perhaps thats the reason that only

then the image was sexually objectifying. Some

63% of women aged between 18-34 are satisfied

of the questions include, “Does the image show

with their appearance. As women we are con-

only part(s) of a sexualised body?” for example a

stantly trying to improve the way we look and

woman’s legs, “Does the image present a sexu-

we compete with other women for attention

alised person as a stand in for an object?”, Held-

from men. And it’s not just teenagers and adults,

man uses a picture of a table with the legs of a

a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on

woman, and “Does the image affirm the idea of

Body Image found that girls as young as five are

violating the bodily integrity of a sexualised per-

worrying about their appearance and one in four

son that can’t consent?” meaning is the person

seven year old girls have tried to loose weight at

being acted upon as though she is a sexual ob-

least once. Negative body image affects women

ject. Using these rules, you can understand what

throughout their lives, and holds women back

images stand as sexual objectifying images, and

by dissolving their confidence.

what don’t. This in turn will then hopefully aid you in understanding the harmful effects these

So how do we change the way women feel about

images can produce.

their bodies. We can start by educating ourselves on the content that the media bombard us with

On average, a person is exposed to about 5000

and to understand the messages that are behind

adverts a day. The majority of these adverts

them. When we see these messages for what

would have sexually objectified images in them.

they really are we can then make the informed

When exposed to sexually objectifying images

decision to reject them. We need to stand up

of women, men are being sold the idea that they

to the people making these harmful advertise-

are “sexual subjects” and women are being sold

ments and to change the way they portrait wom-

the opposite... that they are the objects. This

en. For example, Julia Bluhm, a fourteen year

means that men are sold the idea that they are

old girl started a protest against photoshopping

in control and this makes them feel powerful

on Seventeen magazine, and with 84,000 signa-

whereas women are sold the idea that the way

tures on change.org, the magazine pledged to

to have value is to become a “sex object”. The

not use photoshopping on girls faces or bodies.

pioneering activist and cultural theorist Jean

Its also time to put an end to the idealisation of

Kilboune says that girls are expected to become

the perfect body type, be it thin or curvy, short

sexualised with little or nothing in return. As

or tall and competing with other women for the

they learn that their sexual behaviour will be

attention of men.

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Idealistically, people will stop judging each other enough and accept what everyone wears and feels comfortable in.

Written by Aisling There is much controversy over the insinuation

multiple occasions. It seems that because of the

throughout the world that the clothing a woman

freedom in society given to men that is not given

wears categorizes her sexual availability. This

to women, to express their sexual lusts men are

problem is known all over the world with many

lead to believe that they can comment on wom-

people being shamed about the clothes they

en’s clothing and sexualise them for it. It also

wear, it being widely suggested that if people

leads some people to believe that the clothes

wear so-called “revealing” clothes that they

others wear are an indication of how “sexually

are “asking to get hit on” or indeed in some

available” they are and indeed in some cases lead

cases it being suggested that the are “asking

people to believe that this is a form of consent

to get raped”. As absurd as it might seem this

and that people are only wearing those clothes

is a problem that is still very much evident in

in order to attract someone’s attention.

today’s society. A person could be walking down the street and be sexualised by strangers as has

The whole idea of what has come to be known

happened to many people, including myself, on

as “rape culture” revolves a lot around “victim


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Clothing Not Consent

blaming”. Rape culture can be defined as “a

out on these sexist dress code rules, many mak-

culture in which dominant cultural ideologies,

ing posters and arranging meetings with princi-

media images, social practices, and societal

pals and some have even staged active protests

institutions support and condone sexual abuse

against the sexist regime. These include Isabella

by normalizing, trivializing and eroticizing male

Ryan from West Shore Middle School who faced

violence against women and blaming victims for

suspension from her school by wear the banned

their own abuse”. It has come to light that vic-

leggings into school, this active protest caused

tims of rape have been asked in court what they

the school to lift the ban. In South-Orange Mid-

were wearing at the time of the attack as some

dle School, New Jersey one girl Frankie Lindsay

sort of “justification” for the rapist’s actions. It is

become an activist against the sexist dress codes

situations such as these that have made people

by meeting with her principal to discuss the

self-conscious about what they wear and become

situation and also campaigning with the help

afraid that if they wear a certain item of clothing

of many of the parents to invoke change in her

they are in danger of being taken advantage of.

school. Lindsay set up a viral campaign #IAmMoreThanADistraction to raise awareness of

It is the society today that gives the freedom of

her cause. This caused young girls throughout

sexual expression to men above women that has

the country to protest and petition for equal

caused many of the problems I have mentioned.

treatment. These girls braver invoked bravery in

This has also led to other issues for young girls,

others and the campaign continues in the US to

dress codes in schools being the main factor.

demolish the sexist rules of many of the schools.

Young women throughout many countries across the globe have been subjected to shame and

The idea of slut shaming and being “prude” is

ridicule and have faced loss of precious educa-

a serious issue today as there is only a fine line

tion for the clothes they choose to wear. In many

between what people think is showing “too

schools throughout the US leggings and sweat-

much” or “too little”. People feel the need to stay

pants have been banned as well as many other

on this line regardless of what they feel comfort-

heinous restrictions to clothing. Sweatpants,

able wearing, in constant fear that they will be

skirts/dresses that are longer than the girls fin-

judged and labelled.

gertips, shorts, off the shoulder tops, tank tops, crop tops, these are all pieces of clothing banned

It is my hope and the hope of many that these is-

from a number of US schools and in most cases

sues come to light, not only do these issues affect

the reason for this is that it “distracts the boys”.

women but men as well, we together experience

Any tight piece of clothing or anything that

these horrendous things as people and in order

shows of a woman’s figure is banned from the

to put a stop to it we need to reform the view

school for the sake of the education of the boys.

of society today and equalize and in some cases contain the amount of sexual expressive free-

There have been many campaigns calling schools

dom given to people. These are the steps need-

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Clothing Not Consent

“There have been many campaigns calling schools out on these sexist dress code rules, many making posters and arranging meetings with principals and some have even staged active protests against the sexist regime.” ed to allow people to feel comfortable in what they wear and not feel afraid that they might be giving the idea that they “consent” or that they will be judged. It is idealistic that people will ever stop judging each other enough and accept what everyone wears and feels comfortable in. One day, none of this will matter and it starts with us being okay with wearing what we want confidently, because if we feel comfortable and beautiful… we are.

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My Role Model by Shona

Emma Sulkowicz

Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Choosing one particular positive female role

attacker. Although two other women also public-

model in my life was an extremely gruelling task.

ly accused the same man of assault, the univer-

After several hours of deliberating I came to the

sity found him not responsible. Understandably,

conclusion that the person I would pick would

Emma was devastated, in response to this she

be Emma Sulkowicz. In my opinion, this young

began carrying a mattress around campus with

woman is extremely inspiring to women across

her. This mattress was similar to the one she

the globe. Her perseverance and unbelievable

was raped on, back in her sophomore year. This

strength made her my number one choice. As

mattress symbolised the daily struggles she dealt

she has nothing but courage to offer females

with as she stayed in college with her exonerated

everywhere.

rapist.

When Emma began her first year of college at Columbia University she was raped, nothing was

“I was raped in my own bed and I carry that

done about this along with 23 other cases in her

weight with me wherever I go.”

university. She says that after she was raped by a classmate in 2012, Columbia failed to punish her

In her final year of her arts degree, Emma

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Emma Sulkowicz

moulded her senior thesis around the horrific

but others are allowed to give help if they come

events that happened and used it to raise aware-

up and offer it. So, I’m hoping that not only do I

ness. Her endurance art performance project

get better at carrying the mattress, but other peo-

was called “Mattress performance: Carry that

ple will learn about the piece… I’m not hoping

weight”. As part of the piece, she vowed to haul

that everyone comes in and helps, but I’m very

her 50-pound univ ersity mattress wherever she

interested in seeing where this piece goes and

went on campus until her alleged rapist, a fellow

what sort of life it takes on.” Emmas evocative

student, left, either by expulsion or his own

creative perspective about what happened to

volition. Emma carried her mattress everyday

her has a lot of influence on people as it causes

throughout campus from 8am to 10pm to class,

them to reflect on her project, sexual assault and

this symbolised the weight she had to carry

peaceful protests. Not only as an activist, but

throughout her college life as she dealt with her

as an artist, Emma demands a policy change in

rapist still living on campus unconvicted. Her

colleges across the board in regards to sexual

discretion and the dark embedded feelings she

assault. “What I’m trying to get at is that people

had towards her bed where she was raped, were

treat what I’m doing as a protest with a set goal

portrayed through her carrying of the mattress.

rather than an art piece that I made out of per-

She accused the administration of her college of

sonal necessity. I make artwork because it’s the

systematic mishandling of sexual assault cases

way I think; it’s the way I digest and metabolize

and her ability to raise awareness about what

all the trauma I’ve experienced for the past two

happened to her deeply inspires me and I find

years of my life.” Her strength has taught me that

her project extremely moving.

it is ok to defend yourself regardless of the situation, and she has definitely had a positive impact

As her task became more difficult, her class-

on my life and many others around the world.

mates began to help her carry her mattress

Without a doubt Emma Sulkowicz is a huge

around. These classmates aren’t only helping

positive female role model in my life and I would

her get from class to class but also sharing in her

love to be able to say one day, that I have the

everyday burden; carrying the weight of her past

same amount of courage as she does, no matter

and present.

what curve-ball life throws at me. Emma continues to inspire myself and many other across the

“One of the rules of the piece is that I am not allowed to ask for help in carrying the mattress,

world everyday and because of this she is the perfect person to write about.

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If we work hard we may in years to come create a world where everyone, no matter what gender, may stand on the same level.

Written by Aine We all know that throughout history, women

for them. Many of the women were from upper

have not often received the same rights and

and middle class backgrounds. These women

privileges as men. Even now, career fields such

were expected to be wives and mothers, and had

as politics and science are dominated by men.

no other impact in society. Unlike women in the

Even today, in the twenty-first century, true

working classes, who often had to work along-

gender equality seems like a nearly impossible

side their husbands to make ends meet, these

achievement. But we have to admit that thanks

women were not allowed to work, since their

to the work of many brave women over that last

households would have had enough money with-

hundred years and more we are much nearer to

out their work. Women were frustrated with the

that goal.

restraints they felt from society and knew that they wanted more.

The Suffragettes were women who fought to gain voting rights for women during the 19th

In 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Wom-

and 20th century. These women risked their

en’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and she

reputations, and often their lives, in a battle for

became an influential leader in the campaign for

something that ought to have been a basic right

women’s suffrage. She was born in 1858 and was

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Fight for the Right

“As women today, we have to thank the brave Suffragettes, as well as many other hard-working women around the world, for our place in society today.” became known as the Cat and Mouse Act. This

women were listened to. In 1928, women over

made the hunger strikes legal, meaning that

the age of 21 were granted the vote in Britain.

a suffragette would be temporarily released

This was only weeks after WSPU founder Emme-

from prison when their health began to dimin-

line Pankhurst, so she never witnessed the full

ish, only to be readmitted to prison when she

victory of what she worked so hard for.

regained her health to finish her sentence. This enabled the British Government to be absolved

As women today, we have to thank the brave

of any blame resulting from death or harm due

Suffragettes, as well as many other hard-work-

to the self-starvation of the striker, in addition

ing women around the world, for our place in

to ensuring that the suffragettes would be too ill

society today. Women are no longer confined to

and too weak to participate in demonstrative ac-

being a mother or a wife, or to working in areas

tivities while not in custody. Dramatic behaviour

such as sewing or washing. We can now achieve

seemed like the only way for the Suffragettes to

anything a man can. Even so, I think it is still

gain attention, however they also had negative

impossible to say that we live in a world with

repercussions. Many believed that the drastic ac-

complete gender equality. Women are expected

tions undertaken by the women showed exactly

to be ‘feminine’ and men ‘masculine’. Career

why they should not be granted an equal vote to

fields such as politics and science are dominated

men. When Emily Davison threw herself under

by men. The world is far more equal than it was

the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, losing her

when Emmeline Pankhurst was growing up, and

life, some believed this expressed that women

it definitely would not be that way without the

were unable to think logically. Eventually the

work of her and many like her.

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Activism for education worldwide has become remarkably a much stronger force over the last decade and is continuing to grow in followers and awareness today.

Written by Sarah Activism for education worldwide has become

Malala the importance of education at a young

remarkably a much stronger force over the last

age. Malala grew up in a safe environment and

decade and is continuing to grow in followers

has called Swat Valley a ‘second paradise’. How-

and awareness today. It is with the help and

ever, since in the year 2011 Swat Valley had been

motivation of women such as Malala Yousafzai

targeted as a base of terrorist attacks, with the

and Michelle Obama that proves this statement

Taliban destroying over 400 schools and cutting

to be true, as they make their own journeys to

off electricity lines, hence the water supplies,

fight for children and women’s right for quality

in many villages and homes. This was devastat-

education

ing for the people of Swat Valley as they were deprived of their power, natural resources,

Malala Yousafai: Malala Yousafzai is a 17 year-

and freedom.

old girl from a small village called Swat Valley in Pakistan. Her father is a Pakistani diplomat

In 2009 Malala first appeared in the public eye

and owns a chain of public schools, and taught

in the New York Times Documentary “Class


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Education

dismissed: The Death of female education”. The

but because it is not’. Malala spoke for the 57mil-

documentary profiled the 57 million children

lion children around the world who are deprived

living without education and girls like Malala’s

of their education every day, and face the same

struggles against education and the Taliban. Af-

challenges that her and her friends had to face.

ter it was broadcasted, The Taliban were enraged

She thanked her family, who had been by her

and issued a death threat against Malala by 2012.

side every step of the way, and her friends who established the Malala Fund, which is an organ-

Malala was unaware at the time of her interview

isation that is helping to reform the 400 schools

with the New York Times that it would lead to

that had been destroyed by the Taliban.

such danger and threat with the Taliban. Then on October 9th 2012, her whole world turned up-

Her voice and strength has inspired millions of

side down. She was commuting to school by bus

people worldwide, particularly teenagers of this

with her schoolmates when the bus driver was

generation. Her iconic journey and bravery has

ordered by the Taliban to pull over. A gunman

shown the world that change is possible with

then boarded the bus and demanded to know

means of hard work and determination. There

which schoolgirl was Malala. When she was

is no sign that Malala is stopping anytime soon

recognised the gunman fired three bullets at her;

without a fight, especially since giving the state-

one hit the right side of her forehead, and the

ment that she will not stop until every child in

two others wounding two of her friends. Malala

the world is given quality education.

was left unconscious and bleeding for two hours until she was finally taken to a military hospital.

Michelle Obama: The First Lady Michelle Obama

Her condition was too critical to be treated there

has previously launched her own campaign

that she was flown to Britain in 8 hours to con-

called ‘Reach Higher’. The campaign involves

tinue surgery. With almost complete heart and

students all across America to receive full edu-

lung failure, Malala’s survival from the shooting

cation all the way through High School and into

is still considered nothing short of miraculous.

the college of their choice. Over the past 5 years

It took Malala three months to recover from

The Obama Administration has been working on

the traumatic incident. She says that the shoot-

giving particular students a ‘Free Application’ to

ing has only strengthened her to continue her

encourage them to reach third level education

campaigning and fighting for quality education

and pursue their goals for the future.

for girls. Michelle’s main objective in this campaign is Malala was given a Nobel Peace Prize in October

to expand opportunity for high school students

2014 and was the first Pakistani and youngest

across America. It is her initiative to help stu-

person ever to receive this award. At the ceremo-

dents with issues such as financial difficulty to

ny she gave an exceptionally moving speech and

receive the kind of college education and career

said ‘I tell my story not because it is different,

they are working towards. She is also working

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“There is no sign that Malala is stopping anytime soon without a fight, especially since giving the statement that she will not stop until every child in the world is given quality education.” on helping various high school counsellors to encourage the high school graduates to continue to third level. By the year 2020 Michelle expects America to reach the top college graduate rate in the world. Over the last two decades the United States had 180

slipped from first in the world all the way down to 12th. Michelle believes that with encouragement, hard work and belief in America’s students that this goal can be achieved for 2020. “Education is the key to success for so many kids. And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond High School” – Michelle Obama, Jan 16th 2014.


Education

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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My Role Model by Sintia

Rosa Parks

Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Rosa Parks is a hero, she is the woman who

the front, they were made sit at the back. As the

inspires all women including myself. Rosa Parks

bus started to fill up, the bus driver told Rosa

was born in Alabama on the 4th of February

Parks to give up her seat to a white man, as part

1913. Both of her parents were born before slav-

of the NAACP (Largest civil rights organization).

ery was banished from the United States. Being

She quietly refused to give up her seat. This was

from a coloured family at this time was not

very spontaneous and not premeditated. People

easy. After her parents had died racism was still

were taken aback at her refusal to give up the

very strong. Black people were still treated as

seat. They were shocked that she would even

worthless and were greatly discriminated against.

dare stand up to the authorities for in their eyes

Rosa Parks is one of the reasons why racism has

she did not have the right. Rosa Parks was then

improved.

arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation, known as “Jim Crow laws�. Rosa

One day Rosa Parks had enough of white people

Parks appealed her conviction and thus formal-

being treated as superior, as the elite. Rosa got

ly challenged the legality of segregation. Rosa

on the bus, paid her fare and sat at the front of

spoke about her time in jail, she said when she

the bus. Black people were not allowed to sit at

stood up to get some water she was told

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Illustration:Lisa McHugo


Rosa Parks

“If one person can make such a statement, just imagine how much a group of people can do.” to sit back down and that the fountain is only

very strong, courageous and wise woman. Rosa

for white people. This made her furious. “They

Parks had a wonderful life as a person and as a

messed with the wrong one now” On the 15th of

noble woman. She inspired everyone to do what

December 1955, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King

is best for everyone. The people who inspired her

Jr. and JoAnn Robinson stood on street corners

were mostly her family and friends, the people

and noticed that there were barely any black

she cared for. Throughout it all, she stuck with

people on the bus since Rosa Parks was arrested.

the people who believed in her and encouraged

Prior to this the bus was mostly filled with black

her to do better in life. To help her by her side

people, they were the majority who would take

was her husband, Raymond Parks. She just want-

the bus so this was a amazing. People stopped

ed to make the world a better place for everyone

riding buses all because Rosa Parks.

to live and enjoy their life. She also taught everyone including me an important lesson on how

Finally the rules for the bus where changed.

to share the world and be thankful that you are

Black people could sit wherever they wanted

still living today. A hero should not be somebody

Black people were able to apply for driver posi-

who has super powers and can fly anywhere

tions. Bus drivers were to respect all passengers

in the world, a hero should be someone who

on the bus. In 1979, Rosa Parks received the

does everyday things to make the world cleaner,

Spingarn medal. In 1980, at the 25th anniversary

happier and safer for everyone. A hero should be

of the bus boycott, Rosa parks was awarded the

a noble woman like Rosa Parks. She has shown

non-violent Peace prize by Martin Luther King

people including me that actions speak louder

Jr. In 1984, she was given the Eleanor Roosevelt

than words. Being a woman she encourages all

Woman of Courage Award. At this point Rosa

women, black and white, to stand up for what

Parks has made it, she is now not just a woman

they believe in and not to be discriminated

but a hero. Rosa Parks started to receive danger-

against. I see this as one of the main reasons to

ous threats from people, aimed towards her and

encourage people to stand up against inequality,

her family. This scared her but it didn’t stop her,

to fight, argue and be heard. If one person can

she continued fighting for her rights.

make such a statement, just imagine how much

Rosa Parks greatly inspires me because she is a

a group of people can do together.

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

Silkie Talk

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Illustration: Fuschia MacAree


Illustration: Fuschia MacAree

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Silkie Magazine  

A Body Positive Magazine by Girls for Girls

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