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Issue #6: Launch Day

13th June 2016


Last Saturday we celebrated the launch of our sixth issue by hosting a day of talks, workshops and a roof top party at the Ace Hotel. All of the talks were inspired by the content of the sixth issue and looked at a variety of topics including body image, sex, feminism as a trend and everyday activism.

We kick started the day discussing body image on the ‘My Body, My Rules’ panel with esteemed guests including Naomi Shimada, activist & filmmaker; Irene Agbontaen, founder of TTYA; Anna Ginsburg, filmmaker; and Caryn Franklin, Fashion Activist and Professor of Diversity at Kingston University.  Topics included where the pressure for body perfection comes from, how the mainstream media deals with body image, the impact body image has on our sex lives, ownership of pleasure and the impact of the body as a commodity.  Naomi made the great point that “It's not just a size thing it's a race thing, weight thing and more."

"When looking at a team we should be asking ourselves: do we have enough varying opinions?"

The panel moved on to discuss the fashion industry and the lack of diversity not only in front of the camera but also behind. Caryn Franklin noted, “When looking at a team we should be asking ourselves: do we have enough varying opinions? Is this an empathic vehicle?” Caryn went on to raise the point that men are also at risk of isolation and can be hindered by the inability to voice their views and emotions because of the persistent portrayal of men as ‘strong’ figures that aren’t allowed to speak about their feelings. “Women are the talkers,” noted Caryn who encouraged everyone to help their fellow man more. Watching Anna Ginsburg’s film, Private Parts, had everyone is stitches due to her impeccable animation and editing skills where various animated genitals voiced by real people who spoke openly about their views on female masturbation, pleasure, vaginas and pubic hair. If you haven’t seen Anna’s film yet, take a look here it comes highly recommended by everyone who attended the talk!

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The second panel saw chair Nellie Eden of Refinery 29 and co founder of Baby Face discuss the trend around using feminism as a marketing tool with Bertie Brandes, editor of Mushpit Zine and i-D contributor; Ayishat Akanbi, stylist and artist; Ione Gamble, editor of Polyester Zine and Dazed contributor; and Christina Scharff, Kings College London. The meaning and use of the word empowerment was really captured in this hour. Ayishat pointed out that, “the term ‘empowerment’ has started to feel like a marketing gimmick.” There was a real sense that the current version of feminism bandied around by a lot of brands and celebrities focuses too much on the individual. Individual empowerment and individual development is all good so long as we still continue to have conversations and push for change around issues that are key for a wider community. The danger is that the focus shifts too much from real societal issues which deeply affect millions of women to superficial issues like getting naked on Instagram.

However the panel agreed that a gateway to feminism for young girls however they find it - whether through instagram, tumblr or Taylor Swift isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Bertie noted, “It's about getting women in to conversation and then in to legislation.”

Our last talk of the day was on ‘Everyday Activism’ chaired by journalist James Cartwright speaking with Charlie Craggs, Trans activist and founder of Nail Transphobia; Helena Walsh for I.M.E.L.D.A; James Turner from Greenpeace and Glimpse; and Tom Bage, Communications Director at UK Change. They enlightened us on how everyone can do their own piece of activism in their own way. Many still perceive activists as raging placard holders or tree huggers but there are many other ways to come together and make a change in your community such as via social media. James Turner spoke about the advent of Twitter, Instagram etc. being a real positive in getting more people engaged.

"You can engage people to think about things they could have been a bit cagey about"

There was a real sense that a new era of activism was upon us as Helena stated, “You can engage people to think about things they could have been a bit cagey about.” James Turner told the audience about new interventions Greenpeace were undertaking to subvert the traditional news outlets and get them talking about larger environmental issues and Charlie Craggs broke everyone’s heart by sharing her moving and inspiring personal story on the “fabulous activism” trail, “Knowing that you can make a difference is the most empowering thing in the whole world!”

After all that talking drinks were definitely needed and our friends at Tanqueray Gin supplied amazing Summer Bramble cocktails and Smirnoff created the perfect spicy summer Moscow Mules. People of Print kitted us out with a mobile screen-printing set up where our guests could pull their own prints baring the wise words of Gloria Steinem “Don’t trust anybody who doesn’t have a sense of humour!” WAH did manicures and the BORN n BREAD girls brought the party and a DJ set full of classics!

We’d like to thank all of our speakers, the Ace hotel for the amazing venue, all of our partners and everyone who came down on Saturday to celebrate issue 6. It was so lovely to meet both new and old readers and we can’t wait to see you all at our future events. Happy reading!