Monday, 30 July 2018

Ariana Grande Has Portrayed Women In The Most Beautiful Way In Her New Music Video

Ariana Grande has always been an unapologetic, badass, feminist woman for as long as I've been following her. With Sweetner, her 4th album soon to be released, the star has been more strong and beautiful than ever. In the past few years, Ariana has really come into her own which is amazing to watch, and you can tell she has embraced her femininity - especially in her new music video for 'God is a Woman'.

After all the promo done for this video, I was really excited to see what it would be like. I thought we'd get the usual (but still great), classic pop/r&b video, but Ariana has seriously stepped up her game. The video is a beautiful mix of different visuals, references and meanings behind the phrase 'God is a Woman'.

The video begins with Ariana in a dreamy cosmic space which looks like the creation of the universe, alluding to the thought that everything we know, was in fact created by a woman. I love the concept of God being female, as it's often seen as a masculine entity, so I adore the thought of embracing feminine energy as strong and powerful.

Strong, yet soft and beautiful visuals remain throughout, my favourites being Ariana leading a pack of wolves, the reference to Georgia O Keefe's feminist art, and last but not least, the reimagining of Michelangelo's painting 'The Creation of Adam', which is flipped completely into Ariana as God, creating Eve.

The diversity in this video is perfectly done, and sets the standard for how woman should be represented in music videos and just film in general. There's a long way to go, but I think for someone as influential as Miss Grande to show different types of women in equal stature, grace and strength, it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

4 Feminist Photographers You Need To Know About

I've always been drawn to photography that represented women in a powerful and strong way, rather than being photographed for the male gaze, for someone to look at them like a piece of meat rather than a human being.
These photographers represent the new wave of feminist photography, proving that it doesn't all have to fall under the same aesthetic.

Maisie Cousins

If I could describe Maisie's photography style in 3 words it would be honest, natural... and a little grotesque - and I mean that in the best way possible. Her work consists of naked female bodies, and still life of flowers and food, which is drawn together through her concept of femininity. Her use of cropping and close ups along with bright colours usually associated with femininity make a really interesting contrast with the mood conveyed by her imagery. It's raw and real, and doesn't try and distort the female body into looking 'pretty' or 'delicate'. I love that by using natural materials, she makes a link between women and nature, and represents the natural female body without any shame. There's a sense of power in her photography, like the women are taking control of their bodies - they are not put there for the male gaze.


Ashley Armitage

Ashley is one of the first fashion photographers who really caught my eye. She is a 23 year old feminist photographer and her instagram account, @ladyist, showcases her work in which she photographs the reality of being a female. She doesn't filter femininity, which I find so refreshing in a world where all girls are made to feel ashamed of their body and the hair that grows on it. Ashley uses photography as a medium to diminish these social constructs, in the most visually pleasing way possible. Drawing mainly from personal experience, Ashley documents the journey from girlhood to womanhood, from tampons to pubic hair. Her bubblegum aesthetic mixed with real women and girls is the essence of her work, as she aims to promote body positivity. What I find most interesting about her photos is that she only really takes pictures of her friends, adding to the authenticity and intimacy of her pictures. Although relatively new on the block, she has an impressive track record, having already worked with companies such as Nordstrom, Chanel, Refinery 29, Dazed and so on.

Petra Collins

Capturing youth through pink tinted visuals is probably what Petra’s most known for, but her work showcases so much more than this. Her personal projects capture the female experience and focus on aspects of growing up such as social media, friendships and body image issues. The thing I love about her photographs are that they express the reality of adolescence but in a surreal, hazy aesthetic, making her work the perfect dose of nostalgia we all need in our lives. Her boudoir picture diaries are my favourite, where she photographs the things that go on behind a teenage girl’s bedroom door, highlighting the models faces with neon pink, blue or orange lights. Petra only shoots on film cameras, adding to the vintage vibes of her soft focus, highly saturated pictures. I think what makes her pictures so relatable and appealing is that the models are real girls. Petra embraces their natural appearance rather than blurring out imperfections, and her pictures evoke a sense of embracing and celebrating female sexuality, rather than exploiting it.

Zanele Muholi

As well as being an extremely talented photographer and visual artist, Zanele is an incredible activist who uses her platform to give a voice to the LGBTQIA community in Africa, and captures their experience through her photography. Her photography is beautifully emotive and powerful, and all her subjects look the camera right in the eye, and it appears like they are addressing you directly which I think is something that is really hard to do successfully. She's challenging perceptions and using her creativity to express her reaction towards racism and violence is South Africa. Her visual communication is a mix between documentary and fine art, and shows the diversity and beauty in the community that she is representing. One of my favourite projects that she done was 'Faces and Phases', in which she captured the experience of the black lesbian and transgender community in Africa. I'd never seen anything like it before, and it brought the problem of homophobic crimes in Africa to my attention. I love and appreciate when people use art to speak up and explore issues that they face and that others face on a daily basis. Zanele's photographers are beautifully simple yet speak a thousand words.

Which photographer is your favourite? Let me know!

Much love,

Orlagh xx


Friday, 13 July 2018

Why We Need To Discuss Period Poverty

(art by @jessicasharvilleillustration)

Getting your period is a weird, confusing experience. You're confused, freaked out, empowered and over emotional all at the same time. There are a lot of different feelings happening, which can make it quite difficult to deal with in the beginning. For most of us, we tell our mum what happened and she knows exactly what to do. She'll tell you it's perfectly normal, stick the kettle on for a hot water bottle, and bombard you with all the sanitary products anyone could ever need.

However, this unfortunately isn't always the case. For some young people, getting their period is an extremely scary time, something they've dreaded because they know that either their parents can't afford sanitary products, or they feel like they have no one to go to for support. When we first hear the term 'period poverty', our minds automatically go to the poor girls out in third world countries such as Kenya and India, where young girls are usually made to feel ashamed of getting their period, and are seen as dirty and unsanitary as they have nothing to use to collect their period blood and are forced to free bleed as a result. 

Although this is a serious problem in poor countries, it is surprisingly more common in the UK than you would think. When I was made aware of this issue, the statistics shocked me and broke my heart. Currently, 1 in 10 girls aged 14-21 can't afford sanitary products to deal with their period, and this in turn effects their education, as young people are forced to skip school and stay at home during their period as they have no way of dealing with it. 

Not being able to afford these product is bad enough, but what makes it worse is the taboo that surrounds something as natural and as normal as your period. Young girls, trans and non-binary people are made to feel embarrassed by their period due to many different reasons, and I think we should all start actively trying to break this taboo and help people facing period poverty in the UK and beyond. There are already some incredible organisations that you can support who are really helping raise awareness about this issue. 

Bloody Good Period are a group of people who aim to 'take the financial burden out of the most annoying time of the month by providing supplies to those who need them'. They give donated period products to asylum seeker centers across London and Leeds, but they also have an amazing blog where they aim to break period taboos. You can donate or read articles on their website - .  

As well as donating to charities, there are many things you can do to help the problem. Every time you buy, for example, a packet of pads or tampons, buy another packet with the intention of giving them to either a homeless person, a homeless shelter, a women's shelter, or even just leaving them in a public bathroom which I often do. You might feel like doing something as small as this won't help the problem, but that small gesture could really help someone out.

You can also join many people in the campaign for the government to provide free period products to any school children who are entitled to free school meals. Join the fight against period poverty! 

Much love,

Orlagh xx

Monday, 9 July 2018

'The Girl of Your Dreams' by Niamh Stewart

The Girl of Your Dreams 

She’s right there. Right in front of your eyes. Flesh and bone. Sun glints on her hair and her eyes are wide - but maybe a little tired. She’s always spending her nights dreaming without sleeping, and the day time the same. You’ve thought about her since you knew what beauty was. Since you first caught a glimpse of a magazine cover, and saw that supermodel with the shining white smile and flawless tanned skin. 

She’s walking closer now, and you can see the smattering of freckles hiding beneath her makeup a faint white mark on her forehead from that time she fell as a kid. But it just proves she’s human, she’s actually real. There’s a red cut in the perfect pink of her lips that give away the anxious tick of biting at them. Her hair frames her face in a way that makes you want to sit down and draw her, even when you’re not a great artist. But clearly someone was, to have sculpted her out from cheek bones to legs. To have found that shade that glows in her eyes. To have taken the care with each line and curve and put it all together in front of you. 

Of course she’s not perfect. But it all makes her, her. The white bumpy scars that tell you a story; like the first time she tried to cook, now marked in her hand forever. Or the shadows under her eyes cause she’s addicted to her tv shows and just had to watch one more episode before bed. That stain on her t-shirt when she was trying to tell a joke whilst eating her lunch - a streak of brown gravy against the creamy white cotton. But the joke was still good. She can make you and your friends laugh. And she looks so content when she does, glad to bring some light to people. Her teeth take over her face in joy; not the dazzling white of the supermodel, but her smile is real and it’s then she’s at her prettiest. She isn’t the perfect beautiful you’d dreamt when you were younger. Her skin is isn’t perfectly bronzed and smooth, but you can see she’s comfortable in it. And there’s that tummy sneaking over her waistband that tells you she loves ice cream too much to care - tummy or not. 

Of course she isn’t that beautiful. Your dreams were always changing. In the moment before you saw her you still weren’t sure what you wanted. But she’s as close as you’ve ever gotten. But you have to ask yourself, what’s changed? She’s the same girl that appears in the mirror every morning. I think you’re just learning to love her.

- Niamh Stewart

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Female Empowerment Playlist You Didn't Know You Needed In Your Life

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sick of hearing songs that are all about pining over a boy! I've made this playlist out of all my fav tunes that I listen to when I want to feel empowered and good in my skin. Whether you're in the car with your friends, getting ready for a night out, or just having a solo dance party (I don't judge), this playlist is the perfect pick me up!


Monday, 2 July 2018

Meet Lucie Blissett, The Photographer Capturing Women's Issues In Society

"I am BA photography student who is currently in my third year at Leeds Art University. My work tackles women's issues in society and I am submitting three of my series I have worked on while being at university.

'Invisible Pain' a body of work that explores the unseen agony that 1 in 10 women suffer with in the UK. Both my sister and cousin have the condition Endometriosis, and my work demonstrates the unbearable pain they go though which makes for a complicated lifestyle. Endometriosis is a condition where tissues that behave like the lining of the womb, is found outside in places such as the ovaries,the bowel or bladder. To create these photographs, I asked my sister and cousin to manipulate the coloured paper to show what is feels like to have this condition. They ripped, screwed, cut and stuck a knife into the paper to crate these beautiful paper sculptures. The quotes underneath the images are taken from a diary my mum kept in the three years my sister struggled to handle her condition. 

'Self Portraits of My Gendered Objects,' which was developed during writing my dissertation this year. The photographs are examining my own material culture. The belongings I own display my female gender thought colour, texture and the relation it has to society exceptions of gender roles. Each photograph shows my own objects taken from my home and placed in a studio environment. The investigation is to question, how femininity is seen in our contemporary society and how it still hasn't changed. 

'Forbidden Fruits' explore the ideas of the heterosexual male gaze. In these photographs, the fruit appear sexualised and alluring representing the male ideal of the female body. For centuries, men have viewed women as erotic objects in high art and popular culture. The model's contrast this as they look straight at the viewer, they are in control. The women appear confident in their sexuality whilst we are objectifying them. They recognise how they are observed as a vision. They steal back the power of the gaze."

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