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.


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.

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 with quote from critic.


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. The age of the bitch is now. 

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

Why we don’t use any retouching in our campaigns? Because bitches don’t need it.

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 stretch marks 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 photo shoots so models feel comfortable.

6. We know that the facts are on our side. There is data about how badly women are memorialised. 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.

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


THE REEK ETHOS

THE REEK ETHOS

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 REEK ethos: feminism, activism, beauty and artisan perfume. 

REEK. was founded to memorialize heroic, unapologetic women through scent. Our ethos is an everyday rebellion. In every area of public life there are fewer women visible and memorialized than men. This means there is huge and often unconscious bias against 50% of the population. It takes radical and rebellious people to change that. History is peppered with stories of heroines to inspire us but often those stories are lost. If we want things to change for our daughters, we need to look to our grandmothers – to show how far we’ve come. In that, our history and how it is told is important.

So we chose to memorialize the heroines of the Jacobite era with our first scent – Damn Rebel Bitches. There are no statues to these women and their heroism. Beyond that, the truth is, there are many more negative words to describe women than positive ones and we wanted to reclaim some. Who says being a bitch is a bad thing? Some of our favourite women are our favourite bitches too.

For centuries perfume has been escapist. The images that surround traditional perfume campaigns don’t remind us of everyday wonders. They don’t have authenticity or meaning. We like escapism, but this will not do. We matter too much. 

What does DAMN REBEL BITCHES smell like? Hints of blood orange, hazelnut, pink peppercorn, clary sage and malt make this undeniably sexy fragrance a must-have for any fierce feminist looking to make that everyday rebellion.

We are proud to be sustainable and cruelty free.

Our products and packaging have no animal products and limited wastage.

Our campaign imager has no retouching. 

Being a bitch doesn’t have to be so cruel after all! 

The REEK ethos? Don’t be forgotten, be a DAMN REBEL BITCH.