GET TO THE MORAL HIGH GROUND, AND BE CRUELTY FREE, BITCHES

GET TO THE MORAL HIGH GROUND, AND BE CRUELTY FREE, BITCHES

The REEK ethos on cruelty free, animal products and use of synthetics in scent.

At REEK. we are cruelty free but that’s not that big a deal – in the EU it’s illegal for cosmetics to be tested on animals, so ours aren’t. China insists on animal testing cosmetics so we don’t and won’t sell our perfumes there. That’s a promise.

Damn Rebel Bitches also doesn’t use any animal products. Sarah McCartney, the award-winning indie perfumer who makes our eau de parfum uses natural and synthetic perfumery materials and follows IFRA (International Fragrance Association) guidelines and EU regulations. The EU has banned or restricted anything that harms the skin or the environment, so no worries there.

Shocked at us using synthetics as well as naturals? Turns out that the materials most likely to give you a rash are the naturals, because they contain 300 to 600 different chemicals – they’re naturally occurring ones. So Damn Rebel Bitches is chock full of dangerous ideas, but nobody and nothing has got hurt making it or wearing it.

We include delivery because why would we add that on? It’s not a special offer or an inducement, it’s just the way we think things should be. We deliver via the Royal Mail and Interlink. We particularly like Interlink because they are carbon neutral.

Last of all we pay everyone the living wage. When it comes down to it we’re happy to charge more to ensure no animals are harmed or perfumers underpaid. That’s us all set to make a bitch feel good and you can take that to the bank.


OSATO EMUMWEN

REEK MODEL INTERVIEW: OSATO

Model, Osato on history, heroines and how the beauty industry treats women of colour.

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

I think, as I’ve grown older and come to terms with who I am and who I want to be, I identify with women like Maya Angelou and how focused and dedicated she was to speaking out women and how we should be seen. The idea of ‘the feminist’ is kind of frowned upon in today’s society. And in the present day I identify with the messages women like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are speaking about for young girls. We have to be the writers of our own stories and it’s important for all women to understand this message from a young age. ‘The sky is the limit’ that kind of thing.

Tell us about a time you have felt threatened because you are a women?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt threatened, just uncomfortable. Especially when you’re in a predominantly male environment and you’re the only female you’re hyper sensitive and aware of everything you do and how you’re coming across. I tend to shrink myself down to look smaller so no one will pay any attention to me and you don’t get unwanted advances from guys.

Do you feel that brands aimed at women represent you? 

Not at all. Being a woman of colour with a different look to most of the models in the industry, as a young girl you go through a kind of identity crisis. I’m from Nigeria originally but I’ve grown up in a Western environment. So you start to lose a bit of yourself and your culture. So as I’ve grown up it’s been important for me to embrace that culture and who I am. But it’s been difficult because the girls in the magazines or the movies all look the same; tall, skinny, most of the time Caucasian and nothing like me. I can’t relate to a girl like that. So it was really nice shooting for REEK, where the brand is aimed at every type of woman or gender, in all different shapes and sizes. Because that’s the reality of the world we live in. No two people look the same so I think that’s an important message to push to people especially young girls.

How does beauty industry advertising make you feel about yourself?

I used to feel like I had to change myself to look like those girls. It makes you question your beauty, because the girls they are using for these campaigns never look like you. Half the time they don’t look like themselves either because they’re so airbrushed. It would be amazing if there was more diversity. Nowadays fashion brands etc think diversity means adding one black or Asian model to their fashion show and all of a sudden they’re ‘revolutionary’ and paving the way for more diversity in fashion. Which is clearly not the case at all. And there are so many beautiful women out there who should be included in the messages these brands are trying to portray to help all women understand that not one size fits all kind of thing.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?

I think because I’m confident. I can be in a room full of people I don’t know and I’m able to have a conversation and get to know people.  And my mentality makes me a damn Rebel Bitch. I’ve got a very ‘take me as you see me’ attitude to life.


SGÀIRE WOOD

REEK MODEL INTERVIEW: SGÀIRE

We talk to REEK model Sgaire, on femininity, favourite smells and inspiration.

What women have inspired you most in your life?  

The older I get the more I realise how similar I am to my mother and my sister. I learned a lot of what it was to a be a woman from them and we have so many shared experiences, feelings, opinions and genes, so I suppose that makes sense. I’m always inspired by their strength and kindness. They also have a very low tolerance for bullshit which I find particularly admirable.

 

What smells remind you of femininity?  

I don’t know if I associate femininity or masculinity with any particular smells, but I think I feel most feminine when I’m wearing a scent that connects me to the earth or my own creative energy. Patchouli, olibanum, oud, myrrh, labdanum. Anything natural and earthy and woody. My parents are big patchouli-wearers/incense-burners so maybe feeling feminine and the strength of feeling in touch with my roots go hand in hand. That sounds so pretentious!

Do you feel that brands aimed at women represent you? 

Not really, but that doesn’t bother me too much. A lot of products aimed at women rely on the assumption that we all have one of three or four body shapes or skin tones or that we are all full-time homemakers/mothers or even that we all menstruate. These assumptions are categorically untrue and often really problematic because women are much more diverse than this branding gives us credit for.

That said, I don’t expect anything else from big companies trying to shift as much stock as possible to make as much profit as possible, so I think I’ve come to accept that women like me won’t be represented by woman-directed branding. I’m aware also that representation is a really intersectional issue and despite my obvious trans-ness, as a young, thin, white, able-bodied person, I have much more access to representation than a lot of other people.

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

Yes, definitely, but again I think I’m getting better at reacting to that feeling in a healthy way the older I get! Now more than ever there’s this pressure from the media to be physically perfect (whatever that means…) and in a society where women are constantly objectified and having their worth measured by physical attractiveness, the pursuit for perfection is unrealistic and really damaging to the body and mind.

I try to hold myself to my own, more accessible, realistic standards, but as a transgender woman, Western beauty ideals can make me feel like my physical self isn’t beautiful or that my existence isn’t recognised as valid by society, and that hurts.

Obviously, I have internalised so many of these standards and they still effect how I subconsciously judge myself and other people sometimes, so I can’t claim to be above them, but true beauty is so subjective and we shouldn’t let patriarchy or industries define it for us.

Western definitions of female beauty are based on years of oppression and hegemony so for a lot of people, the current ideal just isn’t achievable. For the most part, women of colour, disabled women, trans or gender non-conforming women, older women or women of any shape or size that don’t see themselves represented positively in the media are left out of the pictures we’re inundated with every day. It’s no wonder that standards of beauty make most of us feel horrible about ourselves!

I think wisdom, compassion, uniqueness, creativity and honesty are all beautiful, whether they manifest themselves physically or not, so I try to act accordingly.


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

VANILLA WARDS & GHOSTED OLFACTION

The Silver Fox: Vanilla Wards & Ghosted Olfaction

Beyond Fragrance for Women

Brilliant bitch and perfume blogger, the Silver Fox, writing about fragrance memories and the moving experience of being ill for someone to whom scent is everything.

The ability of our brains to recall memories from the archive of our collected lives is a wondrous and sometimes haunting thing.  In this social media saturated age, many of us are aware of the nostalgic recall power of scent, not only fragrance for women but perfumed waters, oils, woods, smoke and balms suffusing our days and nights with faces, places, and alumni that our brains have stored and associated with certain aromatic frissons. A zephyr of Ma Griffe by Carven, vintage YSL Opium, Dior’s violent and violet-soaked Fahrenheit, the swooning majesty of buttery, vanillic Shalimar, the orchard lure of mulled cider, anisic smears of chopped tarragon, crisp glossy magazines, dying books, just-popped toast, petrichor, apricot jam, cherry flavoured pipe tobacco, Imperial Leather soap, fading honeysuckle, ripe strawberries, tomato leaves, shimmering petrol on garage forecourts, tar and freshly cut lilac. Such diversity in things that dazzle and stimulate the limbic system, the area of brain, directly responsible for memory.

Sometimes the associations are not always what we desire: the melancholy odour of violets in a widower’s empty house, invisible tendrils of daddy’s cigar smoke that drift down through the years or the powdered aldehydes of Chanel No 5 that conjure up a beloved mother. A scarf plucked from a wardrobe can be haunted by roses, a sudden jolt back to a holiday when you were happy, laughing in unexpected rain, surrounded by love before he walked away with someone else, pulling the oxygen from your world. The resurrected roses embedded deep in merino and cashmere fibres are plain witness to the reality of that day he held your face in the rain and kissed you.  

I am often shocked and moved by olfaction, be it created, curated aromatics or the world moving around me. Bouts of illness have removed my sense of smell from time to time and this has been unnerving and disorientating. We breathe to live therefore we inhale and smell all the time. Actually pausing, to wonder, contemplate and take a little extra time to interpret and quantify our continual interactions with environmental pungencies. This I think is something we have lost or no longer care to do. We have forgotten how to interpret our surroundings properly and smell our own lives.

We all have our own distinctive odour profiles, gathered and nurtured as we live, mature, love, travel, suffer, fuck, hate, care, mourn, envy, crave, pity, cherish and touch. Everything we come into contact with will mark us. Some of us are more absorbent than others, soaking up odours like cacti in the deserts of our worlds. Others are more selective, sparse perhaps in their absorption, only occasionally registering olfactory hits. But as life’s weather rolls over us, we gather extraordinary amounts of emanations and whiffs that we catalogue subconsciously, sorting them into a system that suits our individual histories and lifestyles.     

Now, it is no secret to those who know me how much I love the scent of vanilla, in fragrances, food and as objects in themselves. Have you ever really taken time to look at the sensual mahogany sheaths that hide the delicious sticky paste of black seeds? They are beautiful works of natural art, redolent with sugared, warm sun and sweet tobacco rub. My mother put drops of quality vanilla extract on baking trays in low heated ovens so the scent of soothing nectarous vanilla would radiate into the kitchen and beyond.  When my brother and I were kids, she used to make a lot of chocolate chip cookies with brown sugar and walnuts; we loved them still warm and supple from the oven, chocolate oozing. That particular scent of vanillic cookie dough and golden sweetness is a defiant odiferous thread that has followed me into adulthood and my obsessive relationship with genuine vanilla base notes in quality perfumes.

Sadly my health is not terribly robust and I have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the years. This year I have had two bouts of surgery that forced my body and senses into strange and unfamiliar territories.  My sensory systems felt hacked.  For the first time in years I came to a complete halt. Strangely, these hospitals sojourns while traumatic were in their own way oddly consoling. I found the routine and surrounding colour palette of blues and whites immensely soothing and the demanded regime of analgesics and organised care seemed to assuage a troubled mind.  Throughout my stay I wore a vanilla scent, to anchor me, the solacing Cierge du Lune by Aedes Perfume, a composition inspired by a night blooming desert cactus, conjuring up the ghosts of votive beeswax candles burning in French night churches.  My stays were infused with this gossamer vanilla wonder, but despite the daily obsession with sterility I found the panoply of hospital scents fascinating and greatly soothing.  Pre-bloods swabbing, the cold rub of hand steriliser, the lactonic scent of wound dressings and iodine.   

The oddest thing of all was the shock of rubbered vanilla amid the sterile chill and plasticity of ward aromatics; manifest in the form of brightly coloured latex-free tourniquets scented strongly with some sort of artificial vanilla compound. Apparently flavoured to divert kids who might find blood taking distressing.  The odour from the slithering neon purple, pink and blue tourniquets was really hefty, a warm, dry powdered custardy vanilla with whiffs of play dough and fresh cardboard.  The scent was incredibly intense and lingered on my arm for hours afterwards. I would find myself drifting into opiate oblivion, curtains flickering like soft blue flames, my skin stained with a rubbery, weird sniff of vanillic dust reminding me of cookie dough air and warm distant kitchens, a baking tray with amber tears of vanilla extract; a faraway me hoping a golden scent might heal all ills.

By The Silver Fox
www.ascentofelegance.com


Image from a photographic series by Alex Storm Hague discussing the link between latex and sexuality.

ALEX STORM HAGUE

Interview: Alex Storm Hague

Artist Alex Storm Hague on her art, perceptions of beauty, feminism and being a bitch.

What inspired this series of images?
The photographs you see happened quite early on in my investigation as I was already aware of the connections between latex as a material and sexuality. I deliberately used pink to show a softer more feminine form which hopefully makes the images more approachable. I feel that pink is synonymous with femininity but I could easily visualise custom shades to represent a broader variety of skin tones rather than only intimating gender (which could be another project in itself). I’m also interested in art direction so focussing on female body parts with this in mind, particularly around how we are used to seeing the female form displayed in an objectified way and its expectations. (Trying to make the balloon conform to how I wanted it to look wasn’t lost on me in relation to this.)

What kind of reception have you had?
The main reaction has been positive, I’ve actually had no negative feedback and perhaps thats down to the way in which the images come across. I’ve left it open to interpretation and haven’t attached an agenda to them so for the time being they’ve remained unchallenged. Like I say, they came about early on in my work so they are by no means an end result but I’m happy that they symbolise an aspect of feminism.

Bitch. What does this word mean to you?
To me ‘bitch’ used to mean a girl/woman that was independent enough to stop at nothing to get what she wanted, she wasn’t bothered by peoples opinion, she was doing her own thing, she was straight forward and transparent even if that rubbed people the wrong way (expectation versus reality) – That’s the mentality I grew up with in the 90s, girl power n’ all that, perhaps being a ‘bitch’ was something that was embraced to an extent. I know its been a derogatory term from those that are threatened by a woman and want to bring her down. Nowadays I think there are much stronger elements of sex and oppression of gender tied to it and I’m surprised when rappers use it but are quick to defend their own daughters in respect of that. My feeling of how its used today doesn’t sit well by comparison.

Does feminism inspire your work?
Yeah definitely I’ve always admired female artists and designers that were trying to carve a career for themselves and be taken seriously, especially those from a period that everything was against them. For me feminism isn’t always present in my finished work but in the kind of work I undertake. I’ve always been told that I can be/do whatever I want to be/do and have truly believed that. For example, a few years ago I became an instrument maker which is predominately a male occupation, I thoroughly enjoyed it and never felt like I didn’t belong, it was such a supportive environment to work in without being seen as ‘the little lady’ so to speak.

What are your own ideals of feminism?
It would be great if we didn’t need feminism, that people were treated equally as a political, economic and societal standard, that would be my ideal.

You can find more of Alex’s work at www.alexstormhague.com or follow her instagram @alexstormhague


Image of a nude woman by Edward Weston accompanying guest article

BEAUTY THROUGH THE LENS

Alan McCredie: Beauty through the lens

Beauty through the lens. Photographer and male feminist, Alan McCredie talks about his experience of the artificial creation of traditional beauty campaigns.

“No – spray more of the glycerine! On her cleavage – spray more of it!”

I’d only been out of Photography college a few weeks and was at the start of my first job as a photographer’s assistant. Here I was, with dreams of being the next Capa, or Brandt, or Liebowitz, pumping a glycerine and water solution over the cleavage of a model, dressed as Lara Croft, for what can only really be described as a vanity project for the client. This was my first, and defining, experience of the world of beauty and photography. I didn’t like it, and every squirt of glycerine only made things worse.

Photography and female beauty have always had a symbiotic relationship. From almost the earliest days of photography the examination of female beauty has been a constant. As (male) perceptions of female beauty have changed photography has been there to record the changes. Edward Weston’s nudes are some of my favourite work, and still, years after I first saw it, I am still in awe of Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (to the left) which is as far as I’m concerned not only one of the finest examples of female beauty, it is one of the finest examples of any kind of beauty. The power, humanity and feeling in the photograph is almost unrivalled. Both Weston and Lange have photographed female beauty in starkly different ways, yet both are perfect examples of it.

One needs only to watch any advert break, or pick up a glossy magazine to see the power of female beauty in the quest for advertising revenue. Female beauty is, in the hands of the advertisers and the photographers/filmmakers they employ nothing more than a commodity: a way to sell an idea, and ideal and product. It has always been like this and for all I know always will be. Female beauty has been used as a cultural touchstone since the dawn of history and this, whatever we may think, is unlikely to change soon. As a photographer, it is almost impossible to avoid this. If beauty is always going to be packaged and sold then the best way to subvert this is to change what beauty means, and what beauty is.

Beauty in advertising and photography goes almost always hand in hand with affluence. There is nothing wrong with either, although to promote them as ‘the answer’ doesn’t seem right to me. There are many paths through life and the majority of us will never be “model beautiful” or so well-off that money is not an issue. I understand why it happens, I’m just not sure it should.

What I cannot deal with, and what makes me really troubled is the manipulation of the female image in print. I understand the power of aspirational advertising, but to make that image physically unattainable is both reckless and dangerous. It also implies that simply being naturally ‘beautiful’ (whatever that means) is no longer enough, and that physical alteration is to be applauded. Don’t get me wrong, if people wish to physically alter themselves that is rightly their choice, but they should not be forced to do it in the quest for some impossible ideal, foisted upon them in the quest to make them buy more shampoo.

As a photographer I quickly lost interest in the world of advertising photography, which is unfortunate as that is where most of the money is. There are photographers with far more talent than me who do some wonderful work in this area and I wouldn’t dream of belittling them. That world is not for me. Personally I don’t find it rewarding although I understand why some do. There is scope for much creativity, but ultimately it just leaves me cold.

I now deal mostly with documentary and editorial work and my main aim now is to try and uncover truths, or at least some manifestation of truths. Once, deep in the middle of a long form photostory I was carrying out, I took a wrong turn in the car. There was a woman, battering the living daylights out of a car bumper outside her metal polishing workshop. I stopped and she kindly let me take her photo (pictured to the left). For me, there is more beauty in that photo than all my glossy advertising shots put together. And not one single squirt of glycerine solution was needed.

 

Check out Alan’s new book, Scotland the Dreich.


Image of perfume bottles used in a blog post by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays.

NON-ASPIRATIONAL SCENTS

Sarah McCartney: Non-Aspirational Scents

Image of perfume bottles used in a blog post by Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays.

Perfumer, Sarah McCartney’s observations on mainstream perfume advertising and how it plays on women’s desires and their insecurities.

Perfume advertising and branding is – 95% of the time – aspirational. Fragrances are attached to designers or to a celebrities and imply that if we just had this bottle, then we’d be a little more like a rich person, one step closer to their success.

Perfume companies rely on customers’ aspirations – their hopes that wearing a scent which is advertised by Johnny, or created for Justin or was once worn by Cary or designed with Tom in the room – will rub off on them. Brand owners launch a fragrance which is an abstract embodiment of their spirit. Spray on their scents and a sniff of their success comes as part of the package.

However, those perfumes’ sales are slowly but inexorably falling. Perhaps there are just too many. Perhaps they are gradually disconnecting from their customers’ worlds.

Then there are the niche brands whose perfume designers bang on about using terrifically expensive ingredients, or about their rich famous customers (who are quite often dead and unable to argue the facts, or royalty – Hollywood or traditional – and won’t stoop to argue), or rely on astonishingly costly packaging to get the point over. For the moment, these are growing.

Perfume houses with a history saw niche fragrance prices going up and decided to have a share of it; now you can find limited editions in smart stores of ranges which cost four or five times more than the same brands’ high street offerings. Either that or they buy their competitors. Often, niche brands are set up using venture capital funding with the intention of building a brand (without actually having to make any perfume themselves) and being bought out.

Designer and celeb brands tend to go in for fanciful, emotional persuasion: Truth or Dare, Sauvage, Twilight, Realities or Romance anyone? My absolute favourite abstractly named aspirational perfume is Marry Me.

Every now and again descriptive perfumes come into fashion again. Taking the gourmande trend to the max, we have Prada’s crossover from abstract to practical: Candy; it smells like sweeties. It’s popular because it smells familiar, and it absolutely nails it.

Gourmande fragrances smell like deserts. Why not? We like puddings. The rise and rise of the salted caramel fragrance has been an interesting trend to watch. (Salt has no smell, by the way, but salted caramel sounds groovier, don’t you think?)

Demeter / The Library of Fragrance has led the way in affordable “smells like the name” fragrances since in 1990s, some great (Playdoh), some middling (Jasmine) and one or two are appalling! (Pizza anyone?) Some border on novelty – Baby Powder, Waffles, and Dirt – but what they do is marvellous. You should all have some.

There are celebrity and designer fragrances which smell like puddings too, but they don’t go all out and say what they mean. They stick with the abstract aspirational names: Forever Glowing – a honey toffee from Jennifer Lopez, Fame – honey apricot from Lady Gaga in a bottle that looked like an alien egg, Royal Desire – mandarin, blackberry, marshmallow from Christina Aguilera.

This article first appeared on http://www.4160tuesdays.com/blog/ in May 2016.


Image of Damn Rebel Bitches Stickers by artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume on a model.

PAINT THE TOWN WITH BITCHES

Tara Nowy: Paint the Town with Bitches

Image of Damn Rebel Bitches Stickers by artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume on location in Lyon, France.

Tara Nowy on inspirational fragrances, stickers and breaking the rules.

Damn Rebel Bitches immediately spoke to me. Not only because of the name but the history and story behind it. Stories of historical heroines breaking the rules. I loved the fact it paid homage to females in past and present. As a brand, it makes a stand, recently releasing an unedited, unretouched campaign that received a lot of attention both good and bad. It has been declared the “first feminist fragrance” – that definitely appeals to me.

After working in the fashion industry for almost 10 years, I found it refreshing to see images of women smiling. To see the lumps, bumps and scars that define our lives, although many of us hide them. Dove had previously tried something like this (I am sure people have seen the ads) but it came to light that they actually cast their models and retouched the images before they went out. Which again created an uproar. Damn Rebel Bitches goes against the grain – it stays away from the half-naked supermodels running through the streets – a more traditional way to sell perfume! There will always be division in opinion but I have to admit some of the remarks made about the natural campaign saddened me and made me realise how disgusting the advertising industry can be. Warping our minds and giving many of us a false sense of beauty, it’s clear “feminism” and “self love” still has a long way to go. This made me even prouder to be part of the supportive Damn Rebel Bitch gang and I wanted to do my bit. I wanted to help spread the word.

Inspired by the images on REEK’s Instagram, I took to the streets of Lyon, stickers in hand, with one mission. Paint the town with bitches. I felt like a true rebel but one with a good cause. As I wandered around I noticed that a lot of the graffiti in Lyon incorporated women and not men, fair enough many were fictitious but why didn’t we celebrate the heroines of the past who fought for the rights we have now? Real women. When I first came across Damn Rebel Bitches I was told a fascinating yet disgusting fact that stuck in my mind. “There are more statues of men and animals in the UK than there are women”. How did this make any sense? Totally outraged I decided to make my own mark on these murals and I was doing so when a well dressed man stopped and asked what I was up to. In a panic and broken French I tried to explain (he didn’t look thrilled) but luckily he detected my accent and switched to English promptly. In a fluster I explained it was a perfume from Scotland, my home. I told him the history behind it and the valid reason for my vandalising what was, in effect, other vandalism. He was nodding with great approval and his stern face soon switched to a smile. I offered him a sticker and gave him the website details to which he said “my wife is a bit of a rebel, I’ll pass this on”. It filled my heart with joy at the notion that we may have a French lady joining the DRB gang. This small Scottish brand was already pushing boundaries and changing minds – not only of women but clearly of men too.

The REEK website says be heroic, unapologetic and passionate. Coming from a long line of outspoken, strong and forward thinking women, I feel I have found the perfume that represents me. The morals and ethics behind Damn Rebel Bitches are to be admired. The image it portrays is powerful and the scent, well it’s not only delicious with hints of blood orange and hazelnut but it reminds me of home. I wear it with pride as I establish a new home in France.

Image of Damn Rebel Bitches Stickers by artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume on location in Lyon, France.


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

SHAHEEDA SINCKLER

REEK MODEL FEATURE: SHAHEEDA SINCKLER

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

Model, Shaheeda, on self-worth, gender, new relationships and being a DAMN REBEL BITCH

The setting in which I feel most threatened my gender and self worth at this stage in my life is upon entering a new romantic/sexual relationship. I have had as many negative experiences with the opposite sex as the next girl, and when I get close to someone new I tend to feel plagued by all the what ifs. Last time I came out of a relationship I was upset and a friend told me, ‘fuckboys are just a part of life’ which made me feel depressed and hopeless about the future of my love life. However when I thought about it more, I chose to devalue this statement. Firstly, I’d like to publicly reject the term ‘fuckboy’ as I feel it is regressive and divisive. If we are pushing for equality I feel like we should avoid new terminology that categorises and degrades. Secondly, I feel like a crucial part in combatting my fear of intimacy is to have an understanding that my relationships pan out the way that they do, not because the people I share myself with are men, but because they are people, with their own self-interests and insecurities, and their own agendas, just like everyone else – myself included. For me, being empowered means acting out of knowledge, experience and understanding, rather than acting out of fear. So, as a young woman, I force myself to be thoughtful about these concepts, to reject the idea that I have been ‘fucked over’, to accept that my emotions are real and not just a part of my gender and to try my hardest to maintain  perspective over the things that happen to me. Ultimately, that’s what makes me a DAMN REBEL BITCH.


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

ROSALIND SHRINIVAS

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.

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