Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

ROSALIND

REEK MODEL INTERVIEW: ROSALIND SHRINIVAS

Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.
Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.
Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.
Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

Model, Rosalind, on her life, beauty, aesthetics, feminism, fragrance and sense of self.

What women have inspired you most in your life?  

I think it’s natural to say that my mother and sister have been most inspiring for me. We have a very female-power family, since my parents spilt up when I was 11. My father lived abroad so my mother was the sole person bringing us up, teaching us the ways of life. I would look up to her and how she stayed strong and empowered even at times when she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Her guidance, support and selflessness has given me an amazing role model.  She inspires me to be caring and respectful to others and shows how nothing fills your heart more than making someone else smile. My sister is 3 years older and is more of the risktaker in the family. She taught me to be more carefree and to embrace my creativity. She also always makes sure I am comfortable in myself by celebrating who I am. She’s my ultimate life cheerleader!

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day?  

I would say I have a constant craving for the new and the future so I resonate more with current iconic women, but no one can fault the incredible political and cultural advances women from the past have made for women today! I have always admired is Frida Kahlo. For me she was a woman whose beauty didn’t follow the typical form, and whose strength made her even more of an infatuation. I also find her to be one of the first women to embody a slight androgyny through her style and her natural genetic make up. She also represents the quote ‘Mind over Matter’ for me and didn’t let her unfortunate circumstances impede her creativity, but rather celebrated and expressed her life.

What are your most important female causes?  

One female cause that is important to me, especially studying design, is to challenge women who feel they have to dress a certain way for the ‘male gaze’ or are afraid to step out of the box and wear something that is deemed masculine. Culture is becoming more accepting of all sexualtiies and there is a surge in unisex brands but I feel there is still an overall understanding that women look “sexiest” wearing clothing that show off the female body.  One of my favourite designers is Haider Ackermann for the sole reason that he dresses women with a masculine and feminine blended sensibility. His muse is Tilda Swinton, who has a otherworldy, unconventional beauty and ambiguous strength that is empowering to all women without being stereotypical. I also think there’s a line between sultry and sexy. Getting the right balance can be empowering – women should dress for their own self esteem.

Why were these three images from the campaign your chosen favourites of yourself?

I chose these images because I feel they represent the different sides of me. My craving to embrace my weird side, an androgyny I feel I have and my natural genetic make up. I am half Indian and have more body hair than some girls and this was something that made me feel ugly and was a topic of humiliation for me when I was younger. Something that didn’t make me feel desirable or attractive in anyway because of how other people perceived it. When I got older I started to let go of these feelings linked to my appearance and just be myself. I love how these are part of the images in the campaign. Thank you for making me feel even more empowered to be myself!

Have you ever felt threatened because you are a woman?

I had a time where I was told by a male friend that I was ‘overwhelming’ because of my general interest in him and when all I wanted to do was to support him through a stressful time as I had just gone through a stressful time myself. This made me question who I was because it came across that I would have to change to keep this friendship. I worried  that I was just annoying – that I was an annoyance to anyone and everyone I had come in contact with. There is a stereotype that women are ‘too emotional’ and  guys don’t like talking about ’emotional things.’ When he said that to me, I felt as if I had somehow done something bad. Now, though, I feel you should be as emotional as you like. Women’s interest and support can be thrown by the way side when it should be cherished. There is nothing more empowering that feeling cared for and I find women enjoy this – perhaps it’s a maternal instinct that’s programmed into us all.

What smells remind you of femininity?  

For me sweet smells always do, coconut, rose,fruit scents but I always enjoy a scent that juxtaposes this with a sharpness like pepper, sandalwood or cedar.

How does beauty industry advertising make you feel about yourself?  

I definitely feel images are overedited, which makes some women feel “ugly” if they don’t look flawless! One of the reasons I love being involved in this campaign, is that you can see pores, blemishes, hair. These are NATURAL and real and as a human race it is comforting to know you aren’t alone when it comes to feeling like you have flaws but also your ‘so called’ flaws can be celebrated and are really beautiful. Sometimes I find certain brands encourage a mask with makeup, when I think makeup should be used to naturally compliment what your DNA has given you!

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty?  

I used too. 100%. As I’m sure everyone has. When I was at school I got bullied for my appearance – I think it was especially because I was a different race and didn’t look like the stereotype or the ‘norm’. But now I feel the complete opposite. I feel freedom to be me and it empowers me when I’ve thought about how I dress/present myself and picked or mixed pieces that make the look original. Same with my mentality. I prefer being a minority because sometimes in the majority certain people are judgemental. It’s wrong to have to try to fit into a status or reputation but some people get irritated when you don’t. Life becomes a facade and I don’t think I could live life without honesty!

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?   

I feel honoured being part of this campaign and chosen as a Damn Rebel Bitch. I wouldn’t say I’m your obvious rebel, but I think people associate carnage and recklessness sometimes with that word. For me what makes me a Damn Rebel Bitch is my knowledge of the power of kindness and honesty. Through the years I’ve realised the beauty you can feel through supporting others and the lessons you can learn yourself. And there is nothing better than making someone feel appreciated. Uplift others and you will be uplifted yourself!


Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

UNRETOUCHED PHOTO SHOCK

Molly Sheridan: Unretouched Photo Shock

Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign with quote from critic.
Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign with quote from critic.

What happened when one of the REEK perfume team posted our unretouched beauty images to a beauty group on FB? It wasn’t pretty! 

At REEK. perfume we like to push the boundaries, not only with our product and brand development but within our team as well.  So when I announced I had published images, from our recent unretouched campaign, of myself completely nude with no retouching all over my own social media, there was little reaction at HQ.

The campaign imagery was already being used on our website and social media, so we didn’t think it could cause much of a stir as it was already out there. We had already shown hundreds of people who had reactions good and bad. All of us work in the creative industry and so we see this type of imagery a lot, especially in portraiture. We had models simply wanting to scowl, show off their furrowed brow, give us the finger, reveal their arm hair or uncover their scars. It was a mix of imagery, all within the models’ comfort zone. We only had two rules, all natural lighting and no post-shoot retouching.

Not retouching images isn’t a revolutionary concept within the beauty industry but it is, let’s say, refreshing. The industry is famous for selling customers an unattainable and often, unhealthy idea of what a product can achieve physically/psychologically. Can this lipstick make my lips a different colour? Yes. Can they make them into someone else’s lips? No. Then there is the larger issue, that most beauty advertising features women seeking or attaining the attention of men. This often comes across as looking gorgeous, but in an unachievable-and-unrealistic-2 hours-in-hair-and-make-up-50-light-boxes-and-20-hours-in-post-editing sort of way.

Now would be a good time to bring up my other job, I am a freelance make-up artist so I work with a lot of high-end brands to create this unachievable look. As REEK. perfume’s art director I was determined to strike a balance. Our campaign wasn’t to put down women wearing a full face of make up or wanting to achieve that coveted perfect winged eyeliner. It had to be about celebrating all women and making the hundreds, thousands, no millions of different styles and ideas of beauty the norm.

The first reactions I got from the deep dark web were mixed. Here are some of the comments posted along with the pictures. The question I asked was if people could identify with our campaign and how the current standard of beauty industry advertisement made them feel. It makes me sad to see only one kind of beauty represented when there is so much more to celebrate. I’m ready for the challenge of change. I hope some of you Damn Rebel Bitches are with me.


Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

THE AGE OF THE BITCH

Vonny Moyes: The Age of the Bitch – time for misogynists to feel our anger

Journalist, feminist and activist, Vonny Moyes, on reclaiming the word bitch as a positive thing.

There are lots of things going on in the world right now, but it feels rather like we’ve been flipped inside out. There has been a lot to get mad about for quite some time, but this week The Bucket of Ignorance truly hath runneth over with grade-A sexist bunk. The fact that the negative stereotypes of the gender binary intersect with everything – politics, sport, journalism and beyond – mean that they are impossible to ignore. Now seems like a prudent point to stop and cogitate on the absurdity of where we find ourselves, as a supposedly advanced civilisation. If you want to quickly take the temperature of the current conversation, just type Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton into any social media platform. If you need something a little closer to home, try Ched Evans, and marvel at the number of men offering to rape women as punishment. This sort of on-the-sleeve vitriol has become normal.

Yet this – the sexual assault stuff – is the only thing so far that seems to have dented the Trump train in any way. Why? Because enough of us have reach the tipping point. This is one feather too many on the scale. For a lot of us,

2016 is the year the passivity bandwidth has maxed out. The year the patience well has run dry. We’re finally finding our ovaries and saying “this is not okay”. And yes, we really have to say this out loud, because even though it’s blindingly obvious to every woman out there, people still think calling it a joke vindicates it in some way. A prime example from just last week was Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates having to underline to Radio 4’s Justin Webb the danger of conflating sexual assault with compliments.

We’re all thinking how absurd it is that we need to keep having this conversation. We all know we’re conditioned to minimise and de-escalate, but somehow seeing this play out on such an enormous, hyperreal scale has prompted many women to speak up. This week Michelle Obama perfectly verbalised what we’ve all been screaming internally. If you haven’t seen her speech, I suggest you watch it – that your spouses and children watch it – because nothing has more elegantly vocalised the frustration of being female bodied and watching this car-crash play out. And not just the presidential election campaign, I’m talking about the culture of plain-sight misogyny this campaign has come to typify.

For most of my adult life, aside from on paper, I’ve played my feminism cool. The desire to be socially accepted has meant I’ve pushed down bits of me that would disrupt the niceties if I were to speak my mind. The thoughts and feelings have always been there, but I haven’t necessarily felt like I could bring them out. It’s a product of being shy-ish in person and the social conditioning that every little girl is taught. That subtle from-birth training to adhere to cultural and social norms. Be deferential. Be polite. Do your best to be liked.

But all the while, even though it’s against my natural instincts, I’ve found it harder and harder to bite my tongue. Every news story. Every microaggression. Every violent tweet. Every unwanted grab. Every loaded “sweetheart” or “darling” or “snowflake”. Every time my daughter is complimented for her looks and my sons for their intellect. Each has glaciated the surface of my personality, to the extent that I’ve moved from being the uncomfortable eyebrow raiser, to someone happy to pierce the atmosphere with a “no”. Significant when you’ve spent your life trying to be quiet and good.

Lots of other women feel this way. I refuse to believe any well-minded woman hears that sort of bilge 2016 has exposed us to and feels 100 per cent okay with it. Even if she’s trying to be a The Cool Girl or The Quiet Girl or The Good Wife. Feminists are not fringe. We’re just not easy to spot because of the caricature we’ve been given. The paint-by-numbers feminist who doesn’t wear makeup, probably has a raging bush, and wanders around screaming “I HATE MEN” while slapping them with Simone de Beauvoir books.

That’s so far removed from the truth. So many are only beginning to find their voices as a consequence of others speaking out. It’s a safety in numbers thing. As Caitlin Moran says: if you have a vagina and want to be able to decide what to do with it, congratulations – you’re a feminist. That matters whether you want to keep that vagina at home, or share it with others, or put it in The White House, or do whatever you like with it, while being free of aggression or expectation. Yes, as western women we’ve got a sweet deal by comparison. We can get an education. We can go to work. We can get an abortion. We’re probably not going to be forced into a child marriage. We’re fairly unlikely to be trafficked or have our children abducted by Boko Haram. We’re at little risk from female genital mutilation. We don’t face the threat of honour killings or acid attacks. So while here in the west, we’re mostly not dying, plenty of women elsewhere are. Plenty of women who can’t tell you how inconvenient it is to be raped or beaten or cut or killed. Even when they do tell you, we’ve created a culture where gender bias is so naturalised, they’re not always believed. So we need to be loud. And yes – we are angry. Anger is an appropriate response to the non-exhaustive list above.

THAT’S why I’m done with speaking out being an added-extra. I’m done with hidden feminism. I’m finished with being the plainclothes officer who only flashes the badge when it counts. I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Right now it counts. Society tells us to be quiet and pliant. We laugh off the dude that stands too close to us. We don’t smack away the wandering digits of the creepy guy on the bus. Instead of finding our voices, we freeze and accept, and feel dirty afterwards.

Enough.

This is bigger than us. We know feminism isn’t just for women, but we need to keep saying this aloud until it’s crystal clear. The fortification of the gender binary hurts all of us. It’s about freeing everyone from the expectations and inequalities of each, and creating the freedom to be yourself – despite what society tells you you should be because of your assigned gender.

This week I heard a brilliant phrase. Cheryl Strayed, the award-winning American author, described this growing refusal to comply as “The Age of The Bitch”. How perfect is that? This dismantling of the need to be liked that bridles us to keeping things palatable for others is what we need to embrace.

So ladies, it’s time to unhook ourselves from that conditioning. Your voices of dissent are needed more than ever, because it’s about to get worse. Now is the time for us to take action that will shape the future.

As The Atlantic’s Michelle Cottle points out, however the US election goes, it’ll open the floodgates of misogyny that will reverberate far beyond politics, and far beyond the US. If Hillary Clinton wins, we all know the sort of language that will colour the political grievances. And if Trump wins, we have a man in the highest and perhaps most visible office in the world saying it’s okay to assault women.

Today I called something sexist bullshit in the street, much louder than a whisper, and you know what? The sky didn’t fall on my head. And what’s even better, it felt honest and real. So let’s be loud. Let’s be abrasive. Let’s dig our heels in and be that bitch.

 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OCTOBER 2016


Flashing image of models for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, no-retouching campaign featuring Damn Rebel Bitches, a fragrance for women.

THE MAKING OF

THE MAKING OF

THE REEK CAMPAIGN

How do we make our fabulous artisan scents and how do we promote them? Here’s how.

At REEK we consciously challenge the ethos of the beauty industry as it stands. Women deserve products that mean something – not just an endless parade of sanitized pictures.

So we have rules at REEK HQ when it comes to our campaigns.

1 We never retouch photographs of our models. Not because it’s trending, not because it’s edgy, but because who needs it?

2 We choose models of different ages, different ethnicities and different sexualities. It’s like life. Everyone matters.

3 Standing up for women does not mean denegrating men. Some of our favourite feminists are men. Feminism is not a gender.

4 We kick out against accepted and unreasonable ideas of what’s beautiful. We like hair, We like moles. We’re proud of our folds, creases, curves and imperfections. Bring us your scars and stretchmarks so we can share the beauty of your story shown on your skin. And lots of smiles, cos we’re celebrating.

5 We offer an all-female team on photoshoots so models feel comfortable.

6 We know that the facts are on our side. There is data about how badly women are memorialized. How badly they are represented and treated. We are committed to sharing those facts as a way of changing them. New facts are long overdue.

7 We celebrate the Damn Rebel Bitch inside all of us. Join us. Don’t be forgotten.