💖 You had a really interesting story about your past experience with MTV, what can you tell us about that & how did it impact you as a female journalist?
After several toxic years navigating the fashion industry, I made the move into music journalism, which was tough given that a) although I was already a journalist, writing about music is a whole other business & b) I was a girl in a super male-dominated world. Every day was a super fun challenge of attempting to be taken seriously by patronising male colleagues, or convincing editors of magazines that my opinion was valid. I had a boss once put his hand in my face & ‘shhh’ me during a meeting. However, I also worked with some incredible, inspiring women who all supported each other’s creative ideas, so I wasn’t alone… I also took all the rage that the casual sexism ignited in me & turned it into fuel for my fire to do better work, every damn day.
I had a boss once put his hand in my face & ‘shhh’ me during a meeting. I took all the rage that the casual sexism ignited in me & turned it into fuel for my fire to do better work, every damn day.
💖 What advice would you give to other women facing the same kind of issues?
Speak out, & rise up. Don’t ignore discrimination, but make sure the way you handle it is watertight, because that’s how it’s gonna be stamped out. Also: be the best you can be at your job, & no-one can take you down.
💖 You decided to come back to writing with the birth of Unpretty, what made you feel it was time to come back?
I’ve never stopped writing, but until recently it’s only been private scrawling in notebooks. I felt like I never wanted to write ‘for’ anyone else ever again after being burned by the media industry. It was a weird feeling, introducing the people who now follow my tattooing, to the fact that there’s this whole other side to me, but it felt necessary & urgent, because writing has always been the way I can most effectively instigate change.
I felt like I never wanted to write ‘for’ anyone else ever again after being burned by the media industry. But it felt necessary & urgent, because writing has always been the way I can most effectively instigate change.
💖 What can you tell us about Ace? How did you 2 meet? & at what point did you decide that you were destined to work together?
Ace is just about the coolest person I have ever known. She worked in the coffee house round the corner from my tattoo shop, which is where we met.
She’s a really open & wise person & I’m a chatty cathy, so pretty much every morning we’d fall into some intense feminist discussion. Once I discovered her beautiful photography via Instagram, I felt so inspired to work with her. An initial photoshoot idea very quickly escalated into her suggesting we make a whole zine. It was 1000% destiny. The Goddess, the universe, whatever witch powers are out there definitely brought us together.
💖 What is your mission with Unpretty/what’s the zine all about?
We began making Unpretty with the mission to inspire & empower anyone who identifies as female, to reject the current social pressures which are destroying our collective self esteem, to deny all forms of discrimination & to end self hatred in young people, especially young women. We don’t recognise the word ‘perfect’, we embrace & adore the complex & contradictory experience of being a woman. Most of all, we made Unpretty as a way of liberating & encouraging our younger sisters; to give them the courage to flourish into whoever they want to be.
We don’t recognise the word ‘perfect’, we embrace & adore the complex & contradictory experience of being a woman.
💖 What about the name? Tell us about your affinity to TLC.
I mean, TLC is ALWAYS a good idea. The lyrics to Unpretty have been lodged in my brain since I heard them as a kid, especially the chorus: ‘But if you can’t look inside you / Find out who am I too / Be in the position to make me feel so / Damn unpretty’. That message of never changing to fit other people’s ideals & self acceptance is still as relevant today as it was twenty years ago – we still have a hell of a lot of work to do. TLC were fucking badass, though.
💖 Despite the name, Unpretty is actually hella pretty – who does the design work?
Thank you. Ace creates most of the imagery, which I’m in awe of – she shoots film, & all the photos are intentionally unedited. I did the graphic design for issue 1, but it’s going to be a joint effort on issue 2.
Ace is super minimalist, & I’m a disgusting maximalist, so Issue 2 will have a slightly different vibe…simple, but probably still a bit extra.
💖 You covered some pretty heavy themes in Unpretty, how did it feel opening up so much publicly?
Terrifying. Truth has always been the most important thing in my life, but this was life-changing. Some of the things I wrote about for the first issue have changed my relationship with my family and friends. I have zero regrets about that.
Some of the things I wrote about for the first issue have changed my relationship with my family and friends. I have zero regrets about that.
💖 What kind of response did you get?
Overwhelming, & really supportive. Also intense, in terms of some of the conversations with people who had read the issue & how it had impacted their lives. We had no idea how much of a huge thing it was going to be & how it might actually influence the decisions readers would go on to make. But that’s why we made it, & why we are making issue 2.
💖 Who inspires you the most?
There is a core group of women who will forever inspire me to keep creating, keep moving this forward; Kathleen Hanna, Tavi Gevinson, Claire Boucher, Florence Welch, so many more.
But the person who definitely sparked the fire is my nan, Penny, who has lived a crazy, difficult life. She is extremely compassionate & kind, but also sassy; she takes zero nonsense, & looks fabulous doing so. Definitely a feminist, even if she doesn’t necessarily realise it.
💖 What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism means freedom, both for me, & for the next generation. Which has to be the ultimate goal. I can’t live in a world where women are controlled… for being women. I refuse to be controlled.
💖 Last but 100% not least, what can we expect in the next instalment of Unpretty?
MORE. More honesty, more voices, & a broader perspective on all aspects of intersectional feminism. Also: music, glitter, analysis of historical oppression, sexuality & some s i c k e n i n g looks… in no particular order.
💖 I want more Interviews
💖 I want more Behind the Scene
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