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issue no.1 july 2014

interview: with caryn franklin artwork: validate this

SĂ˜STER

article: let’s subvert beauty editorial: anonymous was a woman

editorial: hairy ideals


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Contents

7

Introduction

10

Let’s subvert beauty

15

Editorial: anonymous was a woman

47

Interview: with Caryn Franklin

55

Hairy ideals

61

End note

63

Acknowledgements


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WELCØME to the first issue of SØSTER magazine, a new and upcoming publication that’s all about the brains, not the beauty. We want to show women a new way to look in the mirror. How often are you validated or do you validate each others’ place in society by how beautiful you appear to be? We want to see more diversity and intellect, and less of the Photoshopped, cut and copy models you see on the pages of contemporary fashion magazines. This issue illustrates how the beauty industry can be a key weapon in the constant attack today’s female insecurities, and how we can overcome them with a little female power! We chat with fashion activist Caryn Franklin, co-founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, to explore her thinking on the beauty industry. And we look at Karen Bradshaw’s view on how we can defeat unachievable beauty 'ideals'. We hope you enjoy it!

S O P H I E R E Y N O L D S | E D I TO R

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Let’s Subvert Beauty

Women are mere beauties… A beautiful heroine is a contradiction in terms since heroism is about individuality, interesting and ever changing, where beauty is boring and inert. (Naomi Wolf)

We need to stop validating a woman’s place in society by how beautiful she is. It’s a social addiction, but we can’t put all the blame on media and the modelling industry. How often do you think you are validated, or do you validate your female friends by how they look? Yes, it may be a kind thing to do in your eyes, but by complimenting someone on the way they look confirms to them they’re doing something right by looking good, but it also confirms that when they’re not looking their best, they’re doing something wrong, that that is a bad thing to not constantly be beautiful. Today, there is the freedom to dress how we like, whether it’s up or down, or to wear lipstick or not, to flaunt or to underdress, and even to lose or gain weight, without fearing that the value of a woman or their seriousness as a person, is at stake. A Suffragist, Lucy Stone, in 1853 stated: ‘it is very little to me to have the right to vote, to own property etc. if I may not keep my body, and its uses, in my own right.’ We may not be taken less seriously if we put on weight, but if we lose it, we’re congratulated, if we dress up, again, we are applauded.

i am not here

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i am here

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Let’s subvert beauty SIMPLY, the supposedly ‘desirable’ size of a woman has always been trend-driven. During the Renaissance era, there was a fashion for large women, as a slender woman indicated poverty, and the larger woman, who would be considered overweight by today’s standards, conveyed wealth and well-being.

“Women are mere ‘beauties’ in men's culture, so that culture can be kept male... A beautiful heroine is a contradiction in terms, since heroism is about individuality, interesting and everchanging, where beauty is boring and inert.” NAOMI WOLF

During the Victorian era, women became increasingly highly body-conscious. Being perceived as ‘attractive’ - and of the correct social status - involved having the tiniest waistline humanly possible, often achieved through the torturous use of corsets. In the early 20th century women’s shape became more androgynous curves were generally hidden - a look typified by the 1920s ‘Flappers’.

We need to stop validating a woman’s place in society by how beautiful she is. It’s a social addiction, but we can’t put all the blame on media and the modelling industry. How often do you think you are validated, or do you validate your female friends by how they look? Yes, it may be a kind thing to do in your eyes, but by complimenting someone on the way they look confirms to them they’re doing something right by looking good, but it also confirms that when they’re not looking their best, they’re doing something wrong, that that is a bad thing to not constantly be beautiful.

The war years brought their own concerns, but as the world recovered into the 1950’s, the ‘desired’ shape for women became the classic ‘hourglass’, epitomised by Hollywood movie stars such as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

Today, there is the freedom to dress how we like, whether it’s up or down, or to wear lipstick or not, to flaunt or to underdress, and even to lose or gain weight, without fearing that the value of a woman or their seriousness as a person, is at stake. Lucy Stone, a Suffragist, stated in 1853 that: ‘It is very little to me to have the right to vote, to own property etc, if I may not keep my body, and its uses, in my own right.’ We may not be taken less seriously if we put on weight, but if we lose it, we’re congratulated, if we dress up, again, we are applauded.

Then, similarly, women became obsessed once more with being stick-thin, mimicking the skinny 1960’s Twiggy; the 1960’s being a pinnacle time in how women viewed their bodies. In terms of body-image, the 1990's of the iconically 'sexy' Kate Moss were in many ways similar to the late 1950’s and early 1960’s era of Brigitte Bardot. Women’s primary goal has always seemed to be to ‘catch’ a man and have a family. Girls and women they were taught to dress to attract. Rule Number One was women should never leave the house looking unkempt, un-made up, sloppily dressed or in any way ‘unattractive’.

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TODAY though, women have more choice. 2013, which has seen a shift in attitude toward curvy bodies, Beyoncé’s and Kim Kardashion’s take centre stage. Women are still expected to live up to these impossible standards. If we don’t have either a skinny or an hourglass body, we feel like we’re doing something wrong, and feel ugly as a result. The fact is that now more than ever, the price of beauty is extremely high. This is evident in the huge surge in plastic surgeries that have taken place in the last decade. Today, there may be more of a range in beauty standards to fit in, but what about the women who don’t fit into that range? Why should women even have to fit in with these impossible beauty standards?

It all comes down to the basics of being ‘sexy’ sequently may feel they should emulate the look bodies of their bodies. Porn is a disprapportionately influential hub that radiates outwards to hugely affect the worlds of fashion, film, TV and music.

Women want to be desired by men. “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relations of women to themselves.” J O H N B E R G E R

“Men act and women appear” J O H N B E R G E R

It is still the norm for girls/women to be raised to achieve the ‘goal’ of marriage and having children. In order to do this, men need to be attracted to them. Men are attracted to women who look fertile. What makes women look fertile? The ‘hourglass’ figure. Oestrogen (a hormone associated with female fertility), encourages fat deposits around the buttocks and thighs to produce this ‘desirable’ hourglass figure. Pornography typically uses women of this desirable shape, and are almost always very much more attractive than their male counterparts. Men (being by far the biggest consumers of pornography) can then somehow more easily identify with the actor. Women can often see female porn stars as being attractive to men and sub-

Even in today’s supposedly enlightened times, less attractive, ‘plain’ women aren’t in glossy magazines, or playing romantic roles. A huge proportion of women’s role models are still classically beautiful. So if we’re ‘normal’, we are often made to feel fat and unattractive. With men, there is very much less of an issue, as most of Hollywood’s and TV’s leading men are ‘normal’ looking. Just as in pornography, averagelooking men get paired up with the world’s most beautiful women. Female Chauvinistic Pigs, written by Ariel Levy, suggests that women almost want to become a porn version of themselves in order to place themselves in the dominant culture.

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ANOTHER In China, plastic surgery accounts for 13% of medical procedures, includes eyelid modification to create an upper lid crease, rhinoplasty to raise the nose, cheek implants and sole implants. In Japan, breast implants are a popular surgery to create the Western ‘ideal’ hourglass figure.

issue within this beauty industry is that we’re not preserving ethnicity (a central theme at the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Procedures in 2011). The beauty industry aggressively promulgates a cultural, economic and ideological scam - self harm being the weapon in chief. Black upward mobility is experienced via stringent self-policing white imitation; the black hair industry is worth $9bn. In Nigeria, 77% of women use some form of skin lightening products. India, 40% of the nation use face whiteners, because it is considered professionally, socially and sexually desirable. This is widespread throughout Asia.

As China and India consolidate their positions as Global Superpowers, who knows - could the the West perhaps embrace Eastern-influence beauty aesthetics and move away from the still prevalent blonde hair and blue eyed ideal in the future?

“The more power women have, the more pressure there is on them to be beautiful, and passive.” N A O M I W O L F

A MAN’S age, it seems, is always ‘OK’ with

Society has a compulsion to comment on the way women in power look. The stronger they are, the heavier the ideals of beauty bare down on them. Female specific content most often focuses on the aesthetics of a person. Articles on weight loss, make-up, skincare tips, fashion pages, celebrity profiles on who wore it best; comparing and contrasting the more attractive women – implying the better looking person has a greater worth.

society. An all-too familiar illustration of this is a woman working on TV. She will inevitably be fired, as and when she is deemed ‘too old’ to be attractive to the male audience, whereas the male presenter will be allowed to age with ‘dignity’ and be paired up with a younger replacement. Yet each year that a woman gains comfort in their own skin, their flesh is worth less. Having plastic surgery and botox treatments to preserve youth may look ‘good’, or at least help maintain a place in ageist capitalism, but why the need to articicially hang on to youth? Age and simply surviving has power and respect. The years should give us a competence, confidence and toughness along with the battle scars - you’ve survived.

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“FOR BEAUTY TO EXIST, WOMEN MUST WANT TO EMBODY IT, AND MEN MUST WANT TO POSSESS A WOMAN WHO EMBODIES IT.” NAOMI WOLF

The beauty industry is a cultural conspiracy, a currency system. It’s BIG money. Women, who are made to feel ugly, old or overweight, are emotionally pressured to buy products that are often ineffective, and which they simply do not need. Products from antiaging creams, or ‘younger’ clothes to faddy diets and cosmetic surgery.

WE shouldn’t just be asking women to focus on just how beautiful they are, or that they are all beautiful in their own individual way, but more that it shouldn’t matter how we look. The goal should be to persuade women to do for ourselves, what we wish the broader culture should be and do.

Judge each other based on intelligence, wit and ethical sensibility, not just our faces and bodies. Noone is ideal, but why does it matter what we look like when we have all these other attributes?

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If there is one thing society won’t stand for, it is for a woman to be content. Anything can be made to be seen as a flaw – so let’s demolish the glorification of the common ‘ideals’ of beauty... now!


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FOR

MOST

OF

ANONYMOUS

O

M

WAS

A

A

N

Virginia Woolf

director + stylist: sophie reynolds hair, make-up + prosthetics: louise strachan photographer: viva arteaga-rynn

W

H I S T O R Y,

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We teach girls to shrink

themselves.

To make themselves smaller. We say to girls, “You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.” Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices, always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors, not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention

of men.

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings, in the way that boys are.

Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

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opposite page: h&m polo neck, zara belted trousers this page: zara belted top

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A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the sur-

veyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman. She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted bya sense of being appreciated as herself by another. One might simplify this by saying:

men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object - and most particularly...

AN OBJECT OF VISION: A SIGHT JOHN BERGER

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acne shirt, model’s own trousers

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ara neoprene top

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“WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY”-MAO ZEDONG

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“The more you tune into it, the more you realise that, as a female, you’ve been excluded and you’re supposed to just paint yourself in to the picture, into the male image.”

opposite page: zara buckle strap dress this page: american apparel leotard, zara cigarette trousers

B I A N C A C A S A D Y, COCOROSIE

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zara buckle belt, top + sandals

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“Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure GERMAINE GREER if she is not beautiful”

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zara belted top

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Fashion Activist, co-founder of All Walks Beyond the Catwalk and co-chair of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, Caryn Franklin talks about the beauty industry, feminism and how...

“WOMEN SEEK EQUALITY THEY DON’T SEEK DOMINANCE.”

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CARYN 48


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SØSTER talks to Caryn Franklin about the beauty industry, feminism and equality between the sexes

of what she feels is success. Similarly, we are all entitled to question that, so I question Miley Cyrus’ belief that she is travelling forward in her life with firm feminist principles. I feel that she is missing a certain understanding of the value of feminism that doesn’t reduce her to a sexual caricature, which is what she is engaging herself with currently.

Sophie: Hello Caryn - you are behind ‘All Walks Beyond the Catwalk’, an initiative that challenges the fashion industry’s dependence on unachievable and limited body and beauty ideals, and wants to see more diversity in imagery. This is definitely a step forward towards a more ethical society, but shouldn’t women be encouraged to be judged on the way she acts, rather than the way she looks?

S: Would you define yourself as a feminist? C: Yes I would.

Caryn: That’s a great question, and of course she S: Society has a compulsion to comment on the way women in power look. Naomi Wolf once stated: “the more power women have, the more pressure there is on them to be beautiful, and passive.” Why do you think that is and how can we change that?

should, but when you have very limited role models within the industry that focus on appearance (and fashion is an industry that I’ve dedicated 33 years to), and I want to make reforms and changes within my own industry, asking the wider media not to make value judgements about a female appearance is a bigger job and not one that I have the ability to change in the way that I can, by engaging with the fashion industry.

C: I think the dominant culture is fearful of powerful women, we have a set up which, at the very least, is 2000 years old where women have been given male gods to worship, all of their female deities that we had in paganism were dethroned and removed. Christianity set up male gods, certainly we also have male prophets in other faiths and women had very little power, and so for the last 2000 years women have been encouraged to see themselves as followers of the male way, and serve masculinity by birthing children, by nurturing, by mothering and by supporting what men need. Women question that because inevitably some of the rules that are made-up, made up for femininity on behalf of women, do not include women’s opinions. Parliament is a very simple example of all kinds of rules that are made-up about women, without any consultation with women, so for hundreds of years we have

S: Do you think that women like Beyoncé who call themselves feminists and say that they are all about empowering women, are good role models for young women and children? C: I think Beyoncé herself is a good role model, I think we can look at her as a woman who has chosen a career direction and who has made choices that are empowering and who seems in media terms, happy with her life, she is not someone who is always lamenting her imperfections or her lack of satisfactory emotional life in the media, she doesn’t do that. So I think you have to take women on a case-by-case basis, every woman is entitled to embody her own definition

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don’t need to undermine each other and that we are much stronger together, supporting each other.

fought to question that, naturally. It didn’t just begin with the suffragettes at the turn of the 19th century. If you read The Women’s History of the World by Rosalind Miles, you’ll be able to see those fights are over 2000 years, which have been written out of history because, after all,

S: Female-specific content most often focuses on personal aesthetics, with articles on weight-loss, beauty, make-up, skincare, celebrity profiles on who wore it best – comparing and contrasting the more attractive woman, in doing so implying the better look person has a greater worth. Do you think these magazines are self destructive towards women?

who writes history? Women have been denied the opportunity to use writing and education; women were often barred from education and places of power. Most recently, women have become stronger and decided, and that is with better health. The biggest thing of all has been with birth control and that we have not been enslaved by birthing the next generation. Women have quickly become powerful, and of course that destabilises a lot of men who feel, that if we gain power that we will want to treat them as badly or as carelessly as they have treated us, that’s not the case. That’s one of the biggest jobs of feminism, is to reassure men that

Women have power, if we didn’t buy these magazines, then publishers wouldn’t be able to rub their hands with glee and know that they could make huge profit out of promoting judgements around body, body insecurity, body hatred, female conflict. But women chose to buy these magazines and I think we all have to say that we are involved in supporting a system that undermines us, we don’t chose to buy magazines that are about female intellect, and there are plenty of those magazines too; magazines like Intelligent Life, New Statesmen, Time Magazine and The Economist. Liberty and The Gentlewoman are both publications that have fashion in them, and they’re fairly fringe, they can’t at the moment make a mainstream offer, but they prioritise female intellect. However, most of us just want to sedate or medicate ourselves with the literary equivalent to a McDonalds burger or a sugary drink, because it immediately gives us some kind of a fix. It’s easier.

C:

women seek equality, they don’t seek dominance. S: Women can be our own worst critics men are often put to blame for the insecurities we have, when actually we put ourselves and other women down more than anyone. What advice would you give to women to help see that there’s more to life than the way we look?

S: Do you think that there is any progress or hope the beauty industry is changing for the better?

C: With the dominant culture being masculine, whenever there is a culture in which the undermined group of people are struggling for power, they will often battle amongst themselves. Because we are divided, we are not so strong.

C: The consumer is the only person who can change the beauty or the fashion industry by voting with their purse; it’s as simple as that. So by supporting and prioritising brands that offers emotionally considerate service, marketing and product, even if it’s not exactly your cup of tea. One brand cannot cure all of the pain by doing one campaign, when hundreds of thousands of brands are undermining women left right and centre. So making the decision that, in order to help shift the paradigm, you will support company’s that are trying, by putting your money into them, it’s an important part of what we can do as a consumer and that’s how we will effect change. Find brands that are delivering a better service and a better vision around femininity.

So women have been given a media which is dominated by men and have been given media messaging that only allows a concentration of information around appearance. We see very few women of power profiled in our media, we see very few physically strong female warriors profiled in our media, you turn to the sporting pages and you get 13 pages of men. So we have very little space in which we feel we have a voice, but one of the areas that we are allowed freedom is where we are attacking other women, where we are undermining ourselves by lamenting about our own vulnerabilities and so that’s encouraged. If we were able to feel comfortable about becoming more politicised through feminism, we would see that it is strategy, we would see it for what it’s worth and we would recognise that we

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S: Do you believe that the beauty industry in general is heading in the right direction in terms of equality and challenging gendered stereotypes?

S: We are living in a digital age - is image manipulation a core problem in creating an unattainable image for women? C: Yes, because of the proliferation that it allows for. I

C: There are some brands that are trying, people like

didn’t grow up seeing anywhere near as many images with unachievable body ideals as you did, and your younger sisters and brothers or indeed your children, if we don’t change things, will receive even more and their self-esteem will take even more of a battering.

Illamasqua, for instance. The promotion of their makeup is around looking at diverse bodies, I loved the one I saw where they had worked with a woman of colour, who had a very beautiful birth mark on her face. They’ve worked with older models, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, some people have looked at the older models and said ‘well they’ve over made-up’, that doesn’t make it unsuccessful.

S: Are you seeing many changes within the fashion industry when it comes to designers using a diverse range of models? C: We are lecturing up and down the country to the

It’s important for us to engage with who we feel are behaving in a more ethically advanced way,

next generation of creatives’s and that’s where we feel we will see the change because we are politicising creative’s like you, who feel comfortable to have an opinion and challenge the formula.

and that is obtaining self- esteem, there are ethics around self-esteem.

S: Where men are concerned within the media and the work place, do you think a man’s age is always right?

S: What piece of advice would you give young women growing up in a world where the beauty standards are so high?

C: There is more support for men to be more diverse. We see men in a wider range of ages in our media, we see a wider range of image ideals in our media of men, and we see a wider opportunity for role models from politicians and business men to sporting heroes for men, and a big part of that is because men often run the media. They are responding to unnamed desires that they have to see women as sexualised, and so young women are for them are the most satisfactory sexualised vehicle, whereas older women don’t work in the same way for them. And so we have to, as women, take ownership of our media and demand to see ourselves in more diverse ways. Also, once we have more diverse opinions and creatives in positions of power that will change. We currently don’t, its still very male dominated everywhere.

C: Find yourself a role model who does not prioritise beauty standards, the unachievable beauty standards. Find yourself somebody who inspires you, because of what they achieve, because of what they stand for, because of what they’re about, and follow the way they live their life. You’ll be able to make the assumption that their happiness comes not because of what they see in the mirror, but because of who they are and the life that they’re living. Recognise that the amount of toxic, value judgements that women receive and the information we are fed around unachievable body ideals is undermining you, and undermines your self esteem in the same way that a diet of cheap, steroid, injected beef that you will find in the fast food industry will undermine your body.

S: Do you believe that the fashion industry’s approach to body image is changing?

S: “Beauty is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance in tact.” Do you agree with this statement?

C: I certainly believe they recognise diverse body ideals

C: Yes I do, men don’t have to work that hard, women

can make a more emotionally considerate message to their customer and may even help them improve business profits, and that’s the only way business will change. It doesn’t give a stuff about self-esteem or how women feel, it cares about its profits. Which is why women can recognise how much power they have, to spend their money with people who are behaving in an ethical way, in an emotionally considerate way.

are only too willing to agree to judge themselves purely on appearance.

And women have to take responsibility for themselves, and make the changes.

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S: With the growth of the male fashion market, will we see more men aspiring to male fashion models? C: We are getting a lot of feedback from young men that they’re under a great deal of pressure and so we are encouraging them to recognise that they are just as vulnerable as young women. We’re encouraging young women to recognise that their young male friends are just as vulnerable as them. This isn’t a male/female fight, patriarchy is the older male, and we look around and middle-aged men run things, and so it’s the job of middle-aged women, young women and young men to try and affect change.

S: Why do you think that other ethnicities try to emulate the western look? C: Because they are shown that society rewards Caucasians with better visibility. The racism we have in our country means that many young black men and women learn from an early age that they will be held back, in terms of visibility and in terms of representation, that they will find it harder to get a foothold, to become a stakeholder within their chosen field, so that’s why All Walks campaigns for diversity, not just in front of the lens, but also behind the lens. interview and illustrations by sophie reynolds

S: Do you think that with the incoming influence from the east, that beauty standards could sway more in that direction? C: Yes business only really cares about profit and there is business research released by the Judge Business School at Cambridge University from a Dr Ben Barry, show that when women make a connection with a model who looks more like them they are 300% more likely to show an increased intention to purchase. S: Thanks Caryn!

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HAIRY IDEALS A collection of images looking to approach the stigma surrounding body hair on women and challenge the hairless cultural norm.

Karen Bradshaw, a professional hair and make-up artist, has hand-made a variety of postiche for the face and body and they are showcased in the following pages.

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The hair on top of women’s heads is valued and admired - spoken, written and sung about as one of the ultimate signs of femininity. Body hair, on the other hand is described as unfeminine, excess, superfluous or unwanted hair. K A R I N L E S N I K- O B E R S T E I N T H E L A S T T A B O O

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end note We hope we’ve empowered you on your journey through the first issue of SØSTER, we now leave you with Lupita Nyong’o:

You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you... Finally I realised that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us, what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty.

SØSTER

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acknowledgements caryn franklin fashion activist + co-founder of all walks www.allwalks.org

chloe reynolds fashion designer www.chloereynolds.co.uk

karen bradshaw hair + make-up artist www.karenbradshaw.4ormat.com

louise strachan hair, make-up + prosthetics artist www.i-m.co/louisestrachan/louisestrachanmua

sophie reynolds editor, art direction, design, stylist, illustration + text www.sophie-reynolds.squarespace.com

viva arteaga-rynn photographer www.genovevaarteagarynn.co.uk

the digital press, poole printing, lamination + binding www.thedigitalpress.co.uk

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