Trigger warning: This post has mentions of sexual harassment and abuse. If you are not comfortable with such content, please exit this page.
This International Women’s Day is special for us. Instead of just celebrating women and all our wonderful strengths, we want to get you thinking. We’re thankful for this opportunity, to meet up with six women whose unique perspective and experiences have allowed us to bring this to you.
So let’s just dive into this head first.
We’ll start off with Nina. Why? Because without Nina, we wouldn’t have this beautiful campaign. We love spontaneity - so when she came to us and pitched the idea of women coming together and sharing their stories for International Women’s Day, we said yes immediately.
You know how when you walk into a gathering and there are hundreds of people beckoning for your attention, yet somehow your eyes set on that one person with a boisterous laughter and larger than life personality? That’s Nina.
She’s unabashedly honest yet wholeheartedly kind and giving. She tackles hard truths with candidness, yet maintains an optimism that’s contagious. So when she sits down in front of the camera and opens up about her history as a victim of sexual abuse, we listen.
Despite everything she’s gone through, Nina exudes confidence and strength. We see her whooping out encouragement when our models are posing. She’s generous with her compliments, her laughter and her smile.
“We are not defined by our past or our hurt.” Nina says to us during the interview. “We are defined by what’s in our hearts.” And isn’t that true?
A lot of the time, we don’t see the challenges that women face in their daily lives because we are so privileged to be around people who support women. But Naomi brings up a great point during our interview with her.
When we talk about women, we’re not just talking about those who are assigned at birth. And for those who present as female, or identify as female - it’s important that we are allies for them as well.
“I’m here as an ally. Not just for cis-women, but for everyone who identifies as women.
And also, the male identifying allies that we have out there, who help fight the gender inequality.”
From birth, we are swaddled in colours that shape the way we think about genders - blue for the boys and pink for the girls. But it’s more than that, there are no rules and there shouldn’t be generalizations when it comes to gender. Women can wear blue, the same way men can wear pink. And the recognition of women on a specific day like this, doesn’t mean we put ourselves before men. It’s about achieving equality - where all genders are equally recognized, represented and respected.
What would you do if being true to yourself means that you are constantly objectified by the people around you?
Despite requiring her to strip down into just a bodysuit during our first meeting, Amirah doesn’t shy away. In fact, she carries with her a level of confidence that’s infectious. She’s bubbly, lively and a star in front of the camera.
“This is who I am.” She says during her interview. “Despite being objectified by so many men around me, I refuse to yield. This is what makes me feel powerful and makes me feel like myself.”
It’s a well told tale really. We see it all the time. When victims of sexual harassment or assault come forward, the first question that usually follows is “What were you wearing at the time?” - like it really matters.
“My message to women out there is that you don’t have to take anyone’s advice if you don’t want to. Do whatever you need to be yourself.”
If we were given a dollar for every time someone told us that a woman’s place is in the kitchen (or cleaning), perhaps we’d be millionaires by now.
Rachel was brought up in an environment where she was taught to believe that there’s a prescribed manner in which women should behave. What we love about our chat with Rachel, is understanding that while we might not always be able to change the minds of others around us, it doesn’t mean that we have lost the fight.
Tradition exists for a reason - it’s years of repetition and rites that form a pillar of beliefs that can sometimes be hard to break. And that’s alright, as long as we continue to challenge them and question them.
“Be the person you want to look up to. Fight the fight, question the tradition.” Sometimes changing the world isn’t about the big final showdown or the heroic acts. Sometimes, changing the world for the better is the constant, repetitive motion of learning, questioning and challenging traditions until what takes its place is a better one.
Mia sits down in front of the camera and we can tell she’s vibrating with excitement. When we ask her a little bit more about herself, she tells us about her intuitive art and how she’s an empath. She calls herself superstitious, over the top and describes herself as being “a lot”.
But the best thing is that Mia doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about what you think about her, and wears her personality like a badge of honour.
When asked what she wants to tell everyone, she says “My message to everyone is that you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and have anything you want.”
“You deserve all the joy, happiness and love in the world.” she says into the camera with so much conviction, that in that moment, I completely believe it as true.
Everyone needs someone like Mia in our lives. It reminds us of the phrase that Tumblr and Pinterest likes to put in our face so much - that other women are not my competition. I stand with them, not against them. And in the face of adversity, I see myself holding on to Mia’s words over and over - that I can be who I am and still be worthy of all the love in the world.
“I’m a contractor! I can hack, I can drill, I can fix pipes!” Nabillah laughs as we are all left shocked by the revelation of her job. “People think that I’m a girly girl, and that women are weak, but we can get shit done.”
Speaking with Nabillah is like witnessing true strength. She shares about her divorce, the passing of her mother and having to shoulder the weight of her family on her shoulders - all while keeping a smile on her face. But it’s not just the optimism that’s testament to the strength she carries.
“I’m surrounded by men all the time thanks to my job, and it’s then that I realise, girls can do it too.” Nabillah isn’t strong just because she’s a woman taking on typically male dominated jobs or roles - it’s because she doesn’t see gender as a determinant to her success. We think of jobs and assign them to certain genders - like women as nurses and teachers, men as police or military - but that’s just really old fashioned you know?
Challenging norms is scary, unsettling, makes you have to rethink stuff that you thought you’ve already mastered since you were a kid (like the pink-blue, girl-boy kind of thing). Sometimes you’ll reach a point where you feel like you can’t keep up with the “woke” crowd, sometimes you’ll feel like everything is a contradiction.
But you know what? Thinking about it is better than not thinking about it. You might not master the whole gender equality thing, you might always just barely brush the surface of it before it evolves and changes into something you’re completely foreign to again. But that’s ok.
Continue to challenge the norms, think about things beyond your own perspective. Step into someone else’s shoes, listen to other people’s stories. This International Women’s Day, we want you to think about things you haven’t thought about before. Examine what it’s like to be woman, and what you want for women in generations to come.
There’s no product plug in this article, heck, the bodysuits these models are wearing are from a 2017 launch. This is not a product campaign. This is a women’s campaign, a campaign for equality, for knowledge and a campaign to get you thinking.