Writer & activist Farzana talks to REEK Perfume about smells, beauty and gender equality after interning with head bitch of REEK Perfume, Sara Sheridan.

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?

As cliché as it may sound, the woman who inspires me the most is my mum. She is someone who has always worked hard to progress, to satisfy her career goals, support herself and her children. She is very to the point, some would say stubborn, but she knows what she wants and that has definitely had an influence on me.  In high school I had a big friendship group of both males and females. The girls were all very strong willed, independent, driven and very bossy. The boys were just as strong and we always supported one another equally (and still do to this day). Equality was definitely encouraged and embraced through this group of very important people who have shaped my life.

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

I don’t associate any smells with femininity, I associate certain smells with certain females – if that makes sense. Everyone has their own smell that reflects their personality, from Marc Jacobs to Chanel. I love the wide range of females smells there are instead of all being of flowers or vanilla – classic female associations, right. There are varieties of female smells just like there are varieties of females, I love that.

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

When my course ends in August, I hope to enter the publishing world. The top jobs within the industry are dominated by white males – a stark reality that is in the process of changing by building inclusivity.  Women are very much employed within the industry but it is men who pull the strings. I have not experienced any discrimination in the industry, I have only done interning, but I hope that I never will.  

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?

When I was younger I felt pressure to look a certain way to fit the ideals of beauty, but as I have grown up this pressure has gone. I look to my younger sister who is going through the ‘plucking your eyebrows to death then filling them in’ stage, after just having come out of the ‘put as much black eyeliner around your eyes as physically possible’ stage, and I see my younger self. We’ve all been there… But now most days I don’t wear make-up if I can’t be bothered. I don’t feel the pressure anymore, I like seeing my face without all the paint on it and it’s a breath of fresh air.

What pushed you to get involved with this movement in such an active way?   

I intern for Sara in her writing life, so I’m around the REEK office. Sometimes I listen in on meetings between Sara and Bethany. I had never heard of REEK beforehand but inspiration behind the company is interesting and admirable and so I have spread the word to my friends and family. I love the promotion of strong, unapologetic women – qualities that we should all embody. 

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

I’m a ‘go for it’ bitch. Sometimes this is a bad thing, I listen to my friends and family in their opinions but at the end of the day, I do what I feel is right and what I want to do. I’m a damn rebel bitch because everything I’ve done is my own choice, my own mistakes and my own triumphs. The ability to control your own life and find your own way signifies strength to me (male and female strength), and that’s the kind of person that I am trying to be.