SMELLY LITTLE LIES

SMELLY LITTLE LIES

Little Lies founder and full time lady boss Jade Beatson about female entrepreneurs, feminine smells and start ups.

What smells remind you of femininity? What are your favourite smells and why?

For me, femininity is soft, delicate and romantic … but altogether separate to being a Woman. So, smells that remind me of women would be strong and bold, like rich coffee, cinnamon, or fresh lilies. However, smells that cast up femininity in my mind are dainty, sweet and floral, like roses, honey and peaches.

My favourite smell has to be that one when you climb into bed with fresh sheets dried out in the sunshine. No matter what washing powder you use, that smell of fresh air is the best.

Do you feel pressure to act / look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty? How do you combat or comply with these pressures?

I think, like everybody, I feel pressure when it comes to my appearance. But I don’t really care what other people think, it’s more that I put that pressure on myself; it’s about being the best version of me. If I’m happy with my outfit, how my dress hangs or how clear my skin is, then I go about my day with more confidence and positivity. But, if I feel my look is drab, my jeans are too tight and I’ve got spots, I’ll generally be so much more introverted and will take on tasks with less gusto. So my approach and advice to everyone when it comes to appearance is definitely to dress for yourself and have fun. If over time you notice your jeans don’t fit any more, I say buy a new pair. Struggling to fit into the same ones will only make you feel miserable. Wearing something that fits great and you love will help you to radiate positivity, and we all know that good shit happens when you send good vibes out to the world.

Do you feel there is enough support for female entrepreneurs?

Absolutely not. I find that a lot of the usual business startup assistance really only apply to small ideas and very basic set up advice. If you know how to create a brand and launch a business but are looking for support to develop it or do anything remotely outside the box, then these places aren’t much use.

This is partly why one of the motives of Little Lies was to create a platform where girl bosses can work together to help each other out. Whether that be us providing a retail platform for an indie brand, helping a small maker or crafter to develop a wholesale side to their business, or our blog being a place for creative women to have a voice – we’re all about strong women supporting strong women. We’ve been so lucky already to meet other likeminded women who love other people’s success and are excited by new ideas and collaborations. Because of these partnerships, beautiful things are made.  

What was the concept and ethos behind starting up Little Lies?

I wanted to bring the things I love together into one online location. There’s a heavy influence from the 70s music scene, with a mix of products across homeware, clothing + accessories. We’re a place to find the little possessions you adore owning, we’re not just another ‘fast fashion’ store where it’s all about getting a new outfit for the weekend. Our products are selected not only their style, but their versatility; we want people to buy garments with the intent of experimenting with ways of styling them and loving them for a very long time.

As well as being a retailer, people come for cool clothes and gifts, I strive for our customers to feel included by Little Lies; like part of a movement toward supporting women in business. When our customers shop, everything is done with the utmost care and attention, from their item being folded and wrapped beautifully, to the notes we write or the leaflet we include that we reckon they’ll like the most. This ensures our customers not only get an item they are happy with, but that they enjoy their Little Lies experience. This allows us to continue to grow the venture. We have now set out to offer internships and job opportunities to give our Scottish Bitches an exciting place to work in fashion, to create more badass collaborations like this one with REEK, and to reach out to other total Girl Bosses to unify and build a network of strong women who support, nurture and god damn glorify each other. My gut feeling has always been that the more people creating cool shit, the better. Creativity is not a competition. It’s a journey we can all take together.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

If I’m being completely honest, the whole conversation around equality completely baffles me. I mean, how the fuck is this still a thing? No matter what form your body takes, be it male, female, tall, fat, black, white, unicorn shaped or whatever else it may be; we all have the same going on inside. Life is about learning about that soul inside people and celebrating the good that’s going on in there. An ideal world would allow every human to have the same opportunities, and success would be gained by merit and kindness. I could dive into this topic and never come out, but my motto is and always has been simple; treat others as you’d like to be treated.

What signifies female strength to you?

There are a whole host of things that make women badass, but I would say that pushing a brand new human out of a tiny hole has to be the most badass of them all. Cause if that’s not strength, I sure as shit don’t know what is.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

In the days of obsessive Instagram culture and Kardashian psychosis, I guess I’m a Damn Rebel Bitch because that totally makes my eyes glaze over. So much of today’s female culture involves comparing yourself to others and tearing them down if they have something you’re jealous of. But, I’m genuinely happy for other people and always have been. It has helped me to see the good in others and allowed me to form friendships and partnerships with some seriously inspiring people. Aside from that, I guess my most Damn Rebel Bitch moment, and the reason I’m here with you guys, has to be bowing out from a safe career route and carving my own path with nothing but an idea and a shit tonne of determination.


An unretouched image of Damn Rebel Bitch Simone Murphy to accompany an interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

SIMONE MURPHY

SIMONE MURPHY

Simone Murphy Britain’s Next Top Model contestant and full-time Damn Rebel Bitch speaks to REEK Perfume about her experiences on the show, in the industry and all things smelly.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day that have also inspired you to push further in your career or your personal life?

I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong, outspoken, forward-thinking women – my family and friends. Their strength and kindness is what inspires me – we rely on each other, support each other and celebrate achievements together. Being on Britain’s Next Top Model I got a lot of experience in the fashion industry – and those women were behind me.

What would your top advice be for aspiring models and for those who see the final results of fashion imagery?

I would encourage any woman to pursue what motivates them and makes them happy. To succeed as a model, as with most careers, you need to be prepared to work hard, to believe in yourself, be determined to succeed and to grasp every opportunity. On a more ‘model-specific’ note there isn’t anything I can tell you that hasn’t been said before; drink plenty of water, eat well, get enough sleep and work respectfully with the people you meet. I love fashion and am drawn to more conceptual images – like art, it isn’t always raw and honest, you have take it with a pinch of salt and appreciate it for what it is.

What smells remind you of femininity? What are your favourite smells and why?

I think a lot of my female identity comes from my mother and two grandmothers. They are extremely different people but wear clean and floral scents. I know my Grannie wears ‘Un Jardin En Mediterranee’ by Hermes which is a smell I love because it reminds me of her instantly. I also love the smell of being in a humid climate just as it starts to get dark because it reminds me of exciting summer nights in Ibiza.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

It’s absurd that women still have to fight for equality… but we do and we must. Our anger and outrage at misogyny must be heard and it needs to be heard by an often complacent society. I’m constantly disgusted that I still experience sexism on a day to day basis. As an older sister I’m often inspired by the type of world I would like my younger sister to live in.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are?

I’ve never thought of being a bitch as a bad thing… It’s a derogatory word used to belittle women but in my experience people only need to put you down when you’re on your way up so I’m more than happy to take the title. To me being a bitch means you are confident, strong-willed and speak your mind which I’m sure can been seen as intimidating.

Tell us why you picked these images from our REEK shoot and was it difficult as a professional model to know there would be no retouching?

I had an absolute whale of a time at our REEK shoot and I think going into the shoot knowing the images wouldn’t be retouched gave me even more motivation to show my body in a very human way. We are so far removed from what is natural that I understand why unretouched campaigns have shock value. I love what REEK is doing to normalise the female form in all shapes and sizes and I’m beyond proud of my pictures.


An unretouched image of Damn Rebel Bitch Alex Bruni to accompany an interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

ALEX BRUNI

ALEX BRUNI

REEK model Alex Bruni gives her take on activism and working in fashion as a woman is her 60s. And you young ones watch out, she’ll give you a run for your money.

Is scent important to you and why?

I  think that scent is important, because we often associate smells with specific memories and people. We recognise the smell of a loved one, for example, and I remember reading that babies can recognise the scent of their mother’s milk even before they see her. I recently watched a French movie, The Past, in which a man whose wife was in a coma and had turned into a vegetable, would put on his aftershave, which she liked very much, and then bending to kiss her, he would tell her to squeeze his hand if she knew who he was, in the hope she might recognise him. It was such a moving scene! Smell is often a significant part of falling in love, we are often attracted to the smell of a particular person.

So what are the evocative smells in your life?

Oooh, where shall I start? Freshly laundered sheets, which conjure up memories of home and summer, the gorgeous scent of jasmine which always reminds of my travels through southern India, the smell of oranges which also reminds me of home as we used to have orange trees in our garden. I love vanilla, always did, so I guess vanilla reminds me of childhood and delicious ice creams. I often put it in my coffee, just love to inhale the aroma. Smells are very important to me and I am very sensitive to them. It is not always a good thing, I can easily be offended by a bad odour ie unwashed people. Travelling on the tube in summer during rush hours can be a nightmare – it seems to me that far too many people do not shower at all.

Perfumes are one of my weaknesses, a major one. I love full, rich ones, with a hint of a bergamot fragrance thrown in. There is a strong link between taste and smell, think of wines. You both taste and smell them.

What do you think about growing old and ideas of beauty?

Growing old is inevitable so best reconcile yourself to it. Sometimes I regret not being young anymore, who doesn’t,  but in truth I don’t dwell on it, I tend to accept myself and always look to the future because I have a zest for life. To my mind age is never a major drawback. As you grow older I think it’s very important to take care of yourself, mentally, psychologically, emotionally and physically. Self care and self love are important.  Giving yourself little treats, such as buying a nice perfume, has a rejuvenating effect, I mean it!

As for beauty, I really do believe beauty has no age, nor is beauty dependent on measurements and specific proportions or a particular look. I am always amazed at how diverse beauty is! Somehow this is not reflected in our beauty industry which would like us to look all the same, in a very arbitrary way.

Tell us a bit about your modelling

Well I model because I am, really, a campaigner. I want people to change their perceptions of older people and of older women in particular, and of ageing. I want to eliminate all the negative ‘isms’ from ageism to racism and, of course, discriminatory attitudes to women. Deep down I am passionate about politics, have always been politically aware and at various points in my life I have seriously considered becoming a politician. I care about community, about society, and most of all, about people.

So watch this space. I might relinquish modelling to become fully involved in politics. That may be my next step.


An Image of Damn Rebel Bitch Ellie to accompany her interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

WOMEN IN THE ARMED FORCES

WOMEN IN THE ARMED FORCES

REEK INTERVIEW: ELLIE

Feminist and former military officer, Ellie, on perfume, bravery, beauty and gender equality.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

Communities of any kind where there are human beings, in all their glorious rainbow of differences, who have no voice, no vote, and no ability to decide their own future. Equality, in the right to vote, in employment; in terms of opportunity, job safety, security, and remuneration is of the greatest importance. My strong feeling is that people can and should only be seen as human beings and that race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and colour are all false qualifiers and no sane measure of humankind. I am passionate that every person must have the right to choose the person they are, not for it to be chosen for them.

Girls in areas like Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa missing a week of school a month because they have no access to basic sanitation/underwear/sanitary towels, and so can’t go to school during menstruation. Without education the cycle of poverty cannot end.

Curiously also the right for mothers to be just mothers, where they wish to. I chose, very early on, not to have children, but I see raising children as the most important job, it has such a huge effect on what shape the next generation takes. In this sense mothers make the world. It seems to have become the norm for mothers to be expected to be back at their desks 6 months after childbirth or they somehow haven’t been tough enough. So many of my friends feel they must be mothers, have careers and run the home, and I am yet to meet one who is finding that experience satisfying or fulfilling. I know a lot of burnt out career mothers who are struggling to prove they are happy or ‘tough enough’, and putting a brave face on it, but in reality aren’t doing more than just about coping.

I feel we must get better at integrating motherhood and childcare with high-ranking professional positions. Many of my friends have left promising careers in the military because it proved impossible to balance the demands of raising children with professional careers.

Do you think female success differs from male success and if so how? Have you experienced this in your own career?  

It is my experience that male success comes with congratulations and female success comes with criticism. A man getting a promotion is a ‘Good chap’, his female counterpart clearly slept her way there, bent equal opportunities and diversity policy to her benefit or had an easier time of it because she fluttered her eyelashes. Rarely does it seem that we commend women for their success, because they have just been good at their job. When a woman succeeds, there always seems to be a question mark held over that success, with an implication that it was somehow easier for her. My experience of working in a very male dominated world as a military engineer, is that the knives come out for a successful female’s reputation in a way that I haven’t seen with men, even when particular men are well-known for using unacceptable means such as bullying or cheating to achieve their success. I have been a called a ball-busting bitch, too soft on my troops, frigid and a whore all in the same sentence, upon outperforming a male counterpart.

I can recall several times in the military where I excelled in a major project or particularly difficult task, I rarely recall being commended for intelligence, hard work and planning, but I can remember many inferences that I somehow got an easy ride because I was a woman, or used feminine wiles to achieve a goal. On the occasions at which I excelled, being good at my job, was almost never considered the reason for my success.

I want to clarify that there are some amazing leaders of all genders in the military and I had the pleasure of working for an incredible feminist in my first job, and I know he would be proud to hear me refer to him that way, but it was my broad experience that sexism was prevalent.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day that have also inspired you to push further in your career or your personal life?

Undoubtedly Her Majesty the Queen, whose unfaltering service to her country has given me greater inspiration than any other, to continue where I would otherwise have given up. She has never faltered under the enormity of her task, has maintained a strong moral compass, has not been swayed by fashions in clothes or politics and still maintains great charisma, intelligence, elegance and a sense of self. She is incredibly wise and I feel one of history’s greatest leaders.

Women like Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher, strong women who ignored criticism and forged ahead. I didn’t always agree with their policies or methods, but I wholly admire their strength. My old office cleaner, now into her 80’s, was in the Met police for 30 years, I can’t imagine what she must have been through, just to be allowed to do her job. She’s my hero. Another friend who was the lead hostage negotiator at Scotland Yard. Amazing tough, bright and brilliant women, who maintain their sense of self, moral compass and personal style.

What smells remind you of femininity? What are your favourite smells and why?

My grandmother’s perfume. If I happen upon the smell of it today I find myself instinctively sitting more elegantly! She was a beautifully put-together woman and had a fantastic eye for style.

My favourite smells are amber and tobacco, warm notes. I also love fresh smells like lime, neroli and orange. I have different scents depending on what the day calls for. Damn Rebel Bitches is my ‘going to war’ scent and I feel more confident when I walk into the boardroom wearing it, it reminds me that I don’t need to lose my femininity, to do battle.

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty? How do you combat or comply with these pressures?  

I used to! I really don’t know when I decided to throw off the mantle of that expectation, but somewhere along the line I decided I preferred elegance to fashion. I love diversity, I love to show character through a scarf or a hat. I love to dress well paying attention to individual details, and I despise looking like a High Street window.

I don’t seek compliments, I dress to feel fabulous for myself, but I note that I receive most compliments, including those from strangers, when I dress for myself, rather than for convention or fashion. Coco Chanel is quoted as saying ‘Don’t be like the rest of them darling,’ and I think she had that right.

I love hats and scarves and gloves. With these items you can make any outfit special.

You should also know that I spend a lot of time in sports kit with my hair scraped back in a scrunchie, because adventures and experiences mean more to me than how I look. I am at my happiest in my overalls, fixing things or out on the river in my kayak.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?

I applied.

At Public Speaking engagements I meet so many women who tell me that they wanted to do things I have done. I ask them why they didn’t. Mostly they say because of convention and that other people’s expectations prevented them from trying. Try. My mantra when applying for sponsorship to be an Engineering Officer was to push forward and keep pushing forward until something or someone actually stopped me, not theoretically made it difficult or put a hurdle in my way, there were plenty of those, but I mean actually stopped me. No one ever did.

I was awarded a Commander-in-Chief’s Commendation for Bravery in the London Bombings (a story for another time), a number of my peers were caustic and jealous of the award. I happened to be in London during the bombings because volunteers had been requested to act as Media Handlers at a major commemoration event. A lot of my peers talked about applying, but I was the only one who did. Apply. Don’t wait for permission.

I notice often that women wait to be given permission in all sorts of areas that men don’t. It’s a learned behaviour. Learn to decide, to assess for yourself whether you need permission, and not to assume you must wait for it or have it, or that it will be denied. No one decides your future but you.

Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

I am the Damn Rebel Bitch who just came back from working with Syrian Refugees in Northern Greece where I was volunteering for a charity as an engineer, carrying out works in the Camps, AND will be drinking cocktails in a 1950s dress at the Rivoli Bar at The Ritz tomorrow. I don’t wish to sound arrogant, but I want to introduce the concept of a part of feminism that I feel is lacking. AND not OR.

I spent so much of my time in the Forces believing I somehow had to apologise for my womanhood in my chosen profession. I wore my uniform too big to hide my female form and tried to be one of the boys. I got so good at it that my own troops didn’t recognize me, when dressed as a civilian at my leaving party, assuming I must be someone’s wife when I walked in. I look back on that with great regret. It’s important to be relevant, putting on lipstick while digging a trench isn’t sensible, but I played the concept of being one of the boys too hard. In my day, being a feminist was twisted to mean you were a problem-maker, whistleblower, not someone anyone would want on the team. I let countless, incredibly damaging, sexist remarks slip in the name of ‘acceptance’.

It took me a long time to reclaim the word feminist. I have zero of the current proliferation of prejudices and find the moral courage to stand up to intolerance, whenever and wherever I meet them. I thought that would cost me friends, I thought I’d become the dinner party bore no-one wanted to sit next to, but felt it was the path I must follow. I was wrong. It made me more friends than I could ever have imagined. When one person speaks out, it can be a great source of strength to others.

So I am the kind of Damn Rebel Bitch who tore down the walls of her pigeon hole. I don’t pretend it was simple and it took more than one attempt but I love having bright red nails and having qualified as an Explosives Engineer. By that I mean I have been and done many of the things that women from my background aren’t supposed to, and learned along the way that capable does not have to be at the sacrifice of feminine (and I am by no means suggesting that a woman must be feminine – a woman must be whatever she chooses is right for her, but that was the battle I had to fight.)

My all time favourite picture is the one here of my wrist, wearing jewellry I inherited from my immigrant grandparents, with a decent manicure and my work watch, which I still use, and bought when serving in the military. Of any photograph that has ever been taken, it best captures the essence of Me.

What signifies female strength to you?

Doing it anyway. Even when people tell you you will fail/ shouldn’t try/don’t have a right. Do it anyway. Forge ahead, be the woman your soul tells you to be.


An image of Damn Rebel Bitch Julian Kynaston, founder of Illamasqua, to accompany an interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

JULIAN KYNASTON

REEK INTERVIEW: JULIAN KYNASTON

Julian Kynaston is a legend in the beauty business. As Marketing Director he led hair beauty brand, ghd, to become the UK’s fastest growing private company in 2005. Following its management buy-out in 2006, Julian left ghd to establish Illamasqua, a global cosmetics brand, which is already breaking industry sales records. He sat down with us to talk perfume, beauty and gender politics.

Which women have inspired you most in your life?

It’s got to be Kate Bush. I love her voice, her attitude, her spirit, and her sheer stage presence. She’s one of the most influential singers of all time, and to cap it off she was so incredibly young when she started out.

Do you think female success differs from male success and, if so, how?

I do, yes. The word equality gets thrown around so much these days, but realistically, for a woman to be considered anywhere close to being equal with a man, she’s going to have had to work ten times harder than him to get close – and she probably still won’t get recognised for it.

What smells do you consider feminine?

I particularly like Habanita de Molinard, the fragrance created by Richard Burton for Liz Taylor, and the original Fendi perfume from 1985.

How do you feel about beauty industry advertising? What would you like to see change?

Quite honestly, I think it’s stereotypical, condescending and damaging to society. It feels like we’re seeing an accountant’s tunnel-vision of what he thinks advertising should be – it’s unachievable and unfulfilling. But I’m trying to change this with Illamasqua. We were one of the first brands to use men in makeup adverts and celebrate models with skin imperfections, all to try and break down these barriers and social norms we’ve become accustomed to.

What are the challenges of being a male feminist?

The biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with is society’s preconceptions. I’m really proud to be a feminist and to break the traditional stereotype. I’ve got tonnes of really ‘laddie’ mates who I go to the football with and as a group, they’ll say loads of stupid things – but when we’re alone, or I’m with one or two of them, they take pride in telling me how much they love what I do.

You were involved from the beginning with Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Tell us about your work there.

I can remember the exact moment – I was drafting my mission statement for Illamasqua. I’d written the words “I want women to wear their makeup bolder and prouder, and I want to help men rediscover makeup,” and Sophie’s story broke on the news. As you know, Sophie was killed by a group of feral youths simply for looking different (part of this difference being the edgy way that she wore her makeup). And this was the very thing I was fighting for – self-expression and acceptance. In that split second, I knew I was prepared to do everything I could to stop this from happening again.

Is there too much pressure in the beauty industry to conform to a single ideal of female beauty?

There are so many different kinds of beauty. I think it’s disgusting that the industry has tried to shoehorn one particular kind of beauty into the mass market. But, that said, I think it’s finally starting to change quite rapidly. We have this saying at Illamasqua, “no amount of makeup can make a person beautiful on the inside.”

What does beauty look like?

Like I’ve already said, beauty looks like many different things to many different people. At Illamasqua, we use an analogy of a snail; some people will look at one and think, “Urgh, that’s disgusting.” Other people, like myself, will see the beauty of it, and think, ‘Wow. That’s totally and utterly incredible,’ and we’ll admire everything about it, from its shell to the way its trail glistens.


An Image of Damn Rebel Bitch Chiara Hunter to accompany her interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

CHIARA HUNTER

REEK INTERVIEW: CHIARA HUNTER

An Image of Damn Rebel Bitch Chiara Hunter to accompany her interview for REEK Perfume's platform 'Bitches Unite.'

Musical artist, Chiara Hunter, on heroines, perfume, the music industry and female beauty.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day that have also inspired you to push further in your music career? 

The most important one is Joni Mitchell. Listening to her music is the earliest memory I have of connecting to the lyrics and thinking of songs as works of art. She’s obviously an incredible writer but also the way she quite clearly doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks and just gets on with her art. Some of her records are so out there and wild, and she’s held her own with some of the best players in the world. She is a true renaissance woman who’s carved her own path. I love her.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why? 

Equal pay. The idea that we are still fighting for this in 2017 is mind boggling to me. Women are still facing a stark gap in their earnings compared to men’s and in the UK we have one of the highest pay gaps in the EU. I feel lucky to have been dating a Dane for 4 years, and spending time in Denmark has inspired me to stand up even taller for equality. It’s deeply woven into their society – everything from their healthcare, workplace laws, maternity rights and general attitudes exemplifies a strong and passionate belief in gender equality. It’s not even spoken about there, it is just considered obvious and a given that males and females should be treated equal and deserve equal rights.

Do you think female success differs from male success in the music industry, and if so how? Have you experienced this in your own career? 

I tend to spend the majority of my time with men. Most of the producers and engineers are men, although lately I’ve noticed a bit of a shift towards more female producers coming up. I mean, I love dudes, but I get really excited when I get to work with a female producer. I can’t wait until it just feels like the norm. And it’s sad – there are still hardly any female CEO’s of major labels and still very few at the higher levels in business. But it feels like it’s getting better, slowly. I think the biggest area I feel it is in expressing my opinions, especially to men. I’m a pretty assertive person, and I don’t hold back nor feel like I should have to just because I’m a woman and I might scare someone or challenge them. You are just aware that sometimes that can be perceived as ‘bossy’ or a ‘bit much’ when you are just trying to express yourself and fight for your ideas.

What are the big differences for you between working as a female musician in comparison to your career is song writing? 

As a songwriter, sometimes I feel able to express myself more freely because there isn’t as much of a perceived notion about who I am or who I have to be. I have to be a lot of different things for a lot of different people, so it allows me to explore different sides of my creativity that I wouldn’t otherwise. As an artist, it kinda feels like the opposite – it’s essential that you are able to tap into an identity that can be defined, both through your music and your image. That can feel pretty limiting sometimes, especially when you don’t feel like you always fit into just one perfectly condensed version of yourself, but if you do it right it’s thrilling when you connect with people through that music and vision.

What smells remind you of femininity? 

I’m obsessed with spice and wood. Amber, patchouli (done well), sandalwood. Anything that smells like incense. My mum grew up in India and we always had incense and spice smells in the house, so it reminds me of her.

Are there any big cultural differences you notice between Australia and the UK as a working women or in day to day life?

Not really, I think they are pretty similar. In both countries I feel like the genders can be very defined and seperate – the men fit into one role and the women another. But what’s great about both countries is that if we don’t feel like we fit into those stereotypes, we are pretty free to express our individuality and find a way to carve our own spot in society. Obviously, some communities are harder than others to do that, but at least here in London you are free to pretty much be anyone you want to be and no one really gives a fuck.

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty? How do you combat or comply with these pressures?

Yeah of course. If you let it, it can overwhelm you and make you feel shit about yourself. But you gotta keep it in check and just be proud of who you are and what you’re bringing to the table. It feels like especially in the last year there’s been a wave of ladies with real, strong bodies who are rejecting the stereotype and just being fabulous and not giving a fuck. I’m obsessed with the choreographer Paris Goebbels, who did the video for Sorry amongst other amazing things. I watch videos of her dancing and I’m just like yeahhh – you got thighs and ass and you are hot as fuck! Me too! I can do that! It’s very empowering and that’s why we ladies need these role-models and why we ourselves need to be role-models of self love. Also – ladies, DO YOGA. That has been the number one thing for me this past year. You can’t hate a body that is strong and that can do amazing things for you. Yoga is all about that self love and appreciation.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch are you.

I reckon I’m a damn rebel bitch because I speak my mind and express myself with honesty and strength, yet I am also an emotional and sensitive being. I am comfortable and at peace with that duality.

Chiara Hunter’s STRANGE RELATIONSHIPS EP is OUT NOW on Spotify & iTunes.


JOSEPHINE SILLARS

REEK INTERVIEW: JOSEPHINE SILLARS

Musician and singer, Josephine Sillars on perfume, female strength, how she looks and her new release, Problems with Power.

What smells remind you of femininity? What are your favourite smells and why?

Obvious answer, but flowers definitely! Obviously they are a traditional symbol of femininity, but I love them. Flowers are definitely among my favourite smells.

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty? How do you combat or comply with these pressures?

Yes, I definitely do and I would honestly be surprised to find someone who doesn’t feel that pressure. Especially in an industry like the music industry. So much of music isn’t even about the music, it’s about how you present yourself both on stage and off stage. I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at pictures and videos of myself, because the ones that I present to press and the public will be judged, and it can be so, so difficult because the majority of pictures I have of me playing (especially playing live) are awful. I used to get worked up about it when I was younger, and would try almost too hard to present myself as what I deemed to be a ‘prettier’ version of myself, but ultimately that would always result in me trying to make myself smaller. Which isn’t a great attitude to have. Women should never make themselves smaller. This is one of the main topics I’m trying to combat in my new song, ‘Problems With Power’. The song is written partly from my own experiences with power and partly from friends, but the sections of the song from my perspective do directly deal with the ideals and pressures of female beauty in the industry I work in.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day that have also inspired you to push further in your career or your personal life?

Probably my grandmother, Margo MacDonald. She’s an inspiring lady.

Do you think female success differs from male success in your industry, and if so how? Have you experienced this in your own career?

The majority of people I know in the music industry are male – and that’s just a fact. The majority of people who have booked me for gigs, or for festivals or featured my music somewhere have been male. I literally only know a handful of women who work in the industry. This definitely doesn’t mean there aren’t more, I perhaps just haven’t met them yet, but at the moment, the majority of people in my circle are male. Even the female musicians I know, seem to work primarily with men. Looking at this in terms of success – I don’t think there’s necessarily a way to gender the idea of success, and in music, I imagine the goals that I have would be similar to the goals that a male musician would have, and that we would view our successes in similar ways. However, it’s definitely harder for female musicians to succeed – and this isn’t because people in the music scene are inherently sexist, but when you have an industry built with a patriarchal structure, subconscious sexism does happen. Saying the music industry is sexist isn’t exactly groundbreaking, and obviously the Scottish scene has seen great things from female musicians in the past few years (Honeyblood, Kathryn Joseph etc), but in order for female and male successes to even out, the industry needs to admit to its sexism. People need to stop taking it personally, because yeah, most individuals aren’t sexist – but the industry is. In my experience I’ve been the only woman on a bill with several men countless times, and I have also predominantly worked with men. Even when I’m not booked on the bill for something, 9/10 there will only be one or two women among a sea of male musicians. It’s definitely not because women aren’t up to it – it’s just harder for us to succeed. And this isn’t me complaining that I’d be doing X, Y and Z if I were male and I’m definitely not saying that any of my failures are down to my gender, but ultimately, women have a tougher time in this industry. And I mean, I’m a white woman. I can’t imagine the difficulties that women of colour have.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

It’s definitely a woman’s right to an abortion. I think this one is important to me because I am lucky enough to live here in Scotland, where you can get an abortion safely if you feel you need one. While it’s not a right that I’ve ever exercised personally, the fact that this isn’t the case in places as close to home such as Northern Ireland is something I find extremely difficult to digest. I’m very much a my-body-my-choice type of person.

What signifies female strength to you?

Crying. I don’t like to gender the idea of strength, but if I had to, I would say crying because showing emotions in that respect is something men are taught not to do. I definitely don’t agree with that – men should be taught to express their emotions as freely as women. I hate the idea that crying is a weak thing. I cry about everything! I think expressing emotions is incredibly strong, and I think crying in particular signifies female strength because I like the idea of inverting a presumed weakness as a strength. So many things that women do are labelled weak, and I’m totally in favour of reclaiming those things as strengths.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

Hmmm…. I am a thoughtful bitch. I tend to think over everything I say before I say it (which is why it takes me so long to write new songs), but then I am always very strong in my opinions when I form them. And I think that makes me powerful – I think I’m a damn rebel bitch because I use my thoughts as wisely as I can.

You can find Josephine’s song “Problems with Power” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9J77FRpBc4


MINERVA

REEK ACTIVIST INTERVIEW: MINERVA

Model, Minerva on her female inspiration, gender equality, her disability and her sexuality.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day that have also inspired you to push further in your career or your personal life?

Madonna is my queen when it comes to inspiring and empowering me to be strong. She has battled with the horrendous patriarchy of the music industry and didn’t change herself. I can identify with this hugely with many sufferings at the hands of the abusive man. She had to experience hardship to get where she is and yet she still fights alongside us, with her incredible speeches at very important recent award ceremonies and protests. She is always someone to aspire to.

What female or gender equality causes mean the most to you and why?

At this moment it’s not about female or gender equality for me. My mind has been focused on the broader spectrum of minority equality. As a disabled, queer female I am a large part of our society’s punching bag. That’s not to say I don’t care about each minority separately, it’s just very difficult not to think about everyone who is suffering from inequality.

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty? How do you combat or comply with these pressures?

Not really, as a young teen I was considered incredibly unattractive and was called Manerva… lol. After years of hating the way I looked and trying so hard to keep reminding myself that I didn’t care what people think and I actually got to the point where I didn’t. I dress and act the way I feel and I’ve got so used to being objectified I don’t even realise it most of the time, which of course doesn’t make it okay. I am beautiful and I am a good person. For me the ideal of female beauty is completely within. The media has polluted our minds with the reminder that we are not “perfect”, but I am perfect and so are all of you – that’s my real ideal of female beauty. Not to say I’m not shallow ha but I just remind myself daily that I am an individual that is like no other and we are all human, all the same in such different ways and in my world, there is no perfect, just real beauty.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

I am a damn rebel bitch because I do what I like when I like how I like with who I like where I like. I live completely outside of social norms and stand up for what I feel and believe. Life hasn’t been incredibly kind to me but I will not be letting anything stop me from fulfilling my true potential, one day. You don’t owe the world anything, and all I’m trying to do is remind everyone that they are special and wanted.

What are your favourite images from your REEK photo shoot and why?

I like the two smiling images because I am happy and gorgeous and I love my make up and it just truly shows how happy I was in that moment, being a part of something important and feeling female empowerment and solidarity with two Scottish babes, especially as we shared beautiful moments at the Women’s march.


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.