magazine

The Edit

Welcome to The Edit, where we round up our favourite fashion picks of the month. All of the clothes featured in The Edit are from brands who have committed to sustainable, ethical and charitable fashion. That’s why you’ll see pieces from H&M Conscious, Mango Committed and ASOS Made in Kenya, along with other lesser known brands that are dedicated to making clothes to make a difference, both to the environment and to women.

This month we feature pieces from Ninety Percent, a London based label that distributes 90% of its profits to charitable causes and makes most of its products from sustainable materials; H&M Conscious, a capsule collection made from organic and recycled materials; Mata Traders, a fair trade clothing company whose products are made by artisanal women in India and Nepal; Mayamiko, an ethical and sustainable brand whose clothes are made by women and girls in Malawi; the ASOS Made in Kenya collection, a partnership with the Kenyan social enterprise SOKO; and Sézane’s DEMAIN collection, a capsule collection whose profits go towards improving access to education for children around the world.

Top left to right:

ASOS Made in Kenya kimono £50

Ninety Percent asymmetric stretch jersey top £35

H&M Conscious girlfriend regular jeans £34.99

Bottom left to right:

H&M Conscious Lyocell paper bag trousers £29.99

Sézane DEMAIN chanson d’été swimsuit £93

Mayamiko Nellie bubble crop top in lake shells £25.20

Mata Traders Studio dress in slate $89

H&M Conscious denim shirt dress £24.99

Let us know what you think of our picks in the comments! Do you feel inspired to shop more consciously?

 

Welcome to the very first issue of She!

I say issue because my initial intention when I came up with the idea was that I wanted to create a magazine – something that is probably much easier said than done. So, I compromised and decided that a website would work equally as well, if not better. And here we are, about two months since I first had the idea and I am so proud of what has been produced in that time.

I firmly believe in the importance of female empowerment – whether it is with regards to fighting for gender equality, becoming informed about important issues or simply having (or developing) the confidence in yourself to know that you are capable of anything.

That’s where She came from; this belief that, as women, we should be helping to build each other up, rooting for each other and championing the important issues that affect us. Only through doing this can we hope to empower and inspire girls and women everywhere.

This first issue is packed with inspiring and thought-provoking content spanning career, wellbeing and lifestyle topics, along with our first book review and Spotlight essay piece. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy our first issue; She is for all of us so please share with your friends, follow us on Instagram and, if you are feeling really inspired, write a piece for one of our upcoming issues – see how you get can involved here.

Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital that women speak up and take their seat at the table. I hope that She will be a source of inspiration to you to start using your voice and to take your seat. I hope we can build a community and lean on each other for support and motivation. Let’s start now.

Ciara

Founder and Editor-In-Chief

 

Don’t Have A Squad? You’re Not Alone

‘Loneliness is one of the most frightening certainties of the human experience. Very few people are immune, and those who claim never to have experienced it are most likely unwilling or unsure how to identify it.’

In her recent book, The Friendship Cure, Kate Leaver argues modern society is making us lonelier, putting stress on our mental health and separating us from real human connection. Moreover, we are ignoring our own loneliness. How could we possibly be lonely when global connectivity literally lies at our fingertips?

This is not a new line of argument; think pieces on the detrimental effect of social media on our health – somewhat ironically – manage to go viral more than almost any other topic. It is understandable, then, that in this climate of anxiety around loneliness we would want to combat being alone with having as many friendship connections as we can.

Female friendship groups have a long history. Modern slang and hashtags are simply new labels for an old phenomenon which can be traced back to the 17th Century; philosopher Mary Astell  wrote that connections between women were purer and more authentic than bonds between men because women were in general “less concern’d in the affairs of the World”. Wives, supposedly, formed friendships with neighbours to replace the bonds they had with mothers and sisters in the households of their childhood and adolescence.

In the late 20th and 21st centuries, modern female friendship is driven by image. Instagram snaps of club nights out are hash tagged with #squad and #tribe. These clichés arrive on t-shirts, making a commodity out of human connection. The iconic visual of Taylor Swift and her clique of supermodels helped to cement the image of the ideal squad – beautiful, badass girls who would walk, fashionably, through fire for each other – that is, until they fall out and go to war. What was that about building each other up?

Modern pop culture has been saturated by both good and bad representations of female friendship, although, disappointingly, these have all too often championed the lives of rich white women devoid of problems beyond extramarital affairs, sex and career progression. Almost every woman in their twenties has been asked which Sex and the City character they identify with and met with derision if they can’t identify themselves as either of the four. Younger millennials will perhaps be more familiar with inquiries into which character they are closest to out of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Broad City, Friends or Girls.

The problem with this is that it implies that a personality type of a fictional character can be easily mapped on to a woman in an attempt to understand her. Women, once again, are reduced to archetypes devoid of real complexity. I have been lonely in squads before simply because groups, whether they’re in fiction or the real world, often eschew individuality. In fact, if you’re a typical introvert, or like to keep things private from all but one or two close people, it’s often difficult to find yourself part of a tight-knit friendship group. This is particularly true if you come into a friendship group after it’s formed. As such, we might move between groups or stick to cultivating meaningful relationships with separate and unrelated people. Jilly Ganon of ELLE Magazine calls this person a ‘floater’ – never committing to a single group.

Social convention might label this behaviour as fickle or flighty, but, in reality, it can be healthy to diversify your friendship groups. In the same way that spending all your time with a partner and their friends can be limiting, it can be similarly limiting to spend your time with the same group of women. Your worldview narrows, you become closed off to making new friends and you can exclude other women from joining the group. It is the real-life version of an echo chamber.

Squads are, by nature, exclusive. Defined by inside jokes, shared experiences and old gossip, they’re not always easy to join, or indeed, be a part of. By nature, the terms ‘squad’ and ‘tribe’ imply an ‘us’ to a vague ‘them’. Squads are marketed as a place to simultaneously bitch about others while remaining ‘non-judgemental’ – a mindboggling contradiction plays into widely circulated stereotypes of womanhood. In reality, squads sometimes achieve little more than a friendship with one or two close friends, aside from cultivating an image of exclusivity.

This is not to attack female friendships which are, of course, incredibly important. There is perhaps nothing more cringe-worthy than hearing the claim “I’m only friends with guys because there’s less drama’ (a note to my past self). In a culture which so often tries to pit women against each other in terms of career success, image and dating, it is a triumph to see women supporting each other, building each other up, and offering comfort when things are hard. Where there are shared experiences of female life, it often feels necessary to talk to your female friends over wine, at the gym or during a cheeky visit to Five Guys.

Yet, hashtag culture, and the pop culture that drives it, is dissociative. It embeds in us an image of what female friendship should look like but misses the complex reality of making friendship last. This matters because the most engaged female consumers of hashtags and trending pop culture tend to be teenagers and women in their early twenties who often follow examples of how to be successful adults through the images they consume of success and happiness. The idea that we might not have a squad can be troubling when it seems everybody else does. As such, we can feel left out, strange, and unsuccessful; these feelings drive down our confidence when really, any attempt to connect to another person is a worthy one. While we choose to try to fit the cultural ideal, we only make ourselves lonelier.

So perhaps the lesson is to diversify – meet new women in different circumstances, and don’t be afraid if they don’t hang out with the other people you know. Look outside your group of Carries and Samanthas. Look to celebrate your individuality. I promise: you don’t need a squad for success.

Written by Ellen Macpherson

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Women in 2018

Before she became the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, in her role as UN Women’s Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership, gave a speech at the UN to mark International Women’s Day 2015. In it, she described being proud to be a woman and a feminist and talked about how far women’s rights have come. But she also hit on an important, and sometimes overlooked, point: we have come so far, but we still have a long way to go.

The landscape of being a woman has changed massively over the last 100 years. In 1918, after years of the suffrage movement, women were finally granted the right to vote. This right was not extended to all women, however, with only those women who were over 30 years old and who owned a house (or who were married to a man who owned a house) being allowed to vote. Still, it was an important and crucial first step towards a more equal society and ten years later, in 1928, the women’s right to vote was extended to all women over 21 years old. In America, developments occurred within a similar timeframe: in 1920 the 19th amendment was passed granting the right to vote to women. However, this right was not extended to all women: it wasn’t until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed that black women were allowed to vote. This period of history represented a turning point in the rights of women both in the UK and in America. Finally, they were being seen as equal members of society, whose voices and political opinions deserved to be heard. But, as Barack Obama so astutely put it, ‘progress doesn’t travel in a straight line’, and this turning point did not immediately lead to the total emancipation of women.

The strident efforts of previous generations of women cannot be understated; it was they who protested against women’s oppression and the roles that had been attributed to them for decades, and they who fought for their right to be seen as equal to men. In 1979, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted by the UN. It was the first treaty that outlined an objective to end discrimination against women. However, progress was still zigging and zagging. For example, rape within a marriage did not become illegal until the 1990s, and in some countries it wasn’t until the early 2000s that marital rape was finally outlawed. Only in 2002 did the UK parliament pass a law which allows lesbian and unmarried couples to adopt children. It wasn’t until 2013 that the ban against women in military combat in America was removed. And it was as recent as May 2018 that Ireland voted to overturn the abortion ban that was put in place in 1983.

In 2018, it is not uncommon for us to be or to know women who run their own business, who pursue higher education, who have children and work outside of the home, who have children and work inside the home, who choose to get married, who choose not to get married, who choose not to have children… The greatest gift that our foremothers gave us, surely, is the gift of choice, the freedom to choose what kind of woman we want to be and the confidence to know we can do whatever we want.

But has wider, global society progressed at the same pace? Can we really say that the battle for equality is won?

One of the UN’s seventeen sustainable development goals is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. Their aim is to have achieved this by 2030, which is just 12 years away.

If we continue as we are going now, it will take another 100 years to close the global gender gap.

But women in Saudia Arabia have only just gained the right to drive in a move that is thought will increase women’s employment in the state, which currently stands at just 20.9%. Worldwide, only 57% of working age women are employed compared to 70% of men. In 2017, progress towards closing the gender gap (which includes factors such as employment, pay, education, health and political empowerment) was at 68%, meaning that, on average worldwide, there is still a gap of 32% between men and women. Western European countries take the lead towards ending the disparity, with a gap of 25%. Middle Eastern and North African regions are lagging behind with a gap of 40%. According to The Global Gender Gap Report 2017, if we continue as we are going now, it will take another 100 years to close the global gender gap. Globally, 76 million young women are illiterate and less than 40% of countries provide girls and boys with equal access to education. 130 million girls are not in education and 15 million girls will never enter a classroom. Period poverty is thought to account for many girls from low income backgrounds missing out on days of school every month. And this is not restricted to developing countries – in the UK some girls miss up to a week of school every month when they are on their period because they cannot afford sanitary products.

The ramifications of simply ‘being a girl’ on education, health, employment and, frankly, the right for women to hold equal status to men is shocking and sad. Worldwide, there are only 14 female heads of state and just 22% of the world’s parliamentarians are women. Women account for less than 30% of the world’s researchers.

Without having women in the position to empower girls and other women, the road to gender equality will continue to be long and bumpy. But how can we improve the situation when it seems like an impossible task? And what difference can one woman make to this global situation? Well, like most things, small efforts lead to big results. Stand up and be counted. Use your voice. Support other women. Talk about the issues. Get educated. Lean in. Whether it is fighting for the pay rise you know you deserve, refusing to stand for sexism or inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, donating to non-profit organisations, being a mentor to other women, following your dream, speaking out or simply not judging other women for their personal choices, you will make a difference. There are numerous initiatives out there that are dedicated to empowering and educating women (and men). Movements such as Plan International, International Women’s Initiative, Lean In, HeForShe, Empower Women, 30% Club and, we hope, She, are dedicated to the cause.

As Meghan Markle said in her closing remarks:

‘It isn’t enough to simply talk about equality – one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it – one must work at it. Let us work at it, together, starting now.’

What are you waiting for?

Written by Ciara Gigleux

The Edit – Home

Welcome to The Edit – Home, where we round up our favourite homeware picks of the month. All of the items featured are from brands who have committed to sourcing sustainable, ethical and charitable products.

This month features products from Le Souque, a curated lifestyle brand that brings together ethically made products from around the world and donates a portion of their profits to the Malala Fund to support the education of girls worldwide; The Little Market, a nonprofit online fair trade shop that features products made by female artisans from across the globe; H&M Conscious, the capsule collection from H&M that uses organic and recycled materials; and Trades of Hope, an online marketplace that works with female artisans and organisations.

Top left to right:

H&M Conscious Leaf Print Duvet Set £39.99 (Editor’s note – I have this, it is so soft!)

Le Souque Stripe Turkish Fouta Towel $34

The Little Market Ceramic Trinket Tray $26

Bottom left to right:

The Little Market Striped Sisal Basket $26

Le Souque Glacier Handpainted Bowl $48

Trades of Hope Wall Hanging $58

Do you ever shop fair trade? Do you know of any other great brands? Let us know in the comments!

3 Tips To Relax And Live In The Moment

It’s true. I definitely categorize myself as a planner. I’m one of those crazy, “Type A” people who loves to buy calendars and office supplies. You’ve probably figured out that being a planner can be a curse and a blessing. We’re always prepared, but sometimes it’s hard to let our hair down and just have fun.

Here are a few tips to help you embrace who you are, while also teaching yourself to let go and relax:

Tip #1: Start Meditating

I know meditation sounds like a weird hippy activity, but it’s actually quite useful for teaching you how to live in the moment. There’s a misconception that you’re either “good” or “bad” at meditation, but that’s not the case.

Meditation is a process of letting your thoughts pass and then bringing yourself back to the present. Some days your thoughts will be overwhelming and it will be hard to concentrate. Other days your mind will be quieter. Regardless, the point of meditation is not to get yourself to stop thinking. The purpose is to bring awareness to your thoughts and how you interact with them. This is important because, as control freaks, we have an especially hard time getting out of our heads. We obsess, stress, and worry because we believe that doing so will somehow protect us from the unknown. But, in reality, it’s ineffective and causes us to be more tense and anxious.

I encourage you to try meditating for just five minutes per day for one week. See if this helps you learn how to live in the moment. If you like it, you can keep it up and do it a few times a week or every day.

Bonus tip: I use this app for my morning meditation!

Tip #2: Strive for Presence Over Perfection

I admit that I stole this phrase from my favorite book, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiquist. I read it last year and it transformed the way I live my life, so I just have to share it with you.

Many of us who struggle to live in the moment also battle with an obsession for perfection.The problem is that perfection doesn’t exist. We can plan and organize all we want, but there will always be bad weather, late people, traffic, or other inconveniences that are out of our control. I’ve learned that rather than trying to stop these things from ruining my plans, it’s better to work with whatever comes my way.

The idea of presence over perfection means letting go of how you think things ought to be and embracing the way things are. (Meditation helps you adopt this mindset!)

So, the next time things don’t go as you expect them to, try to accept your new circumstances and move forward anyway. More importantly, rather than spending time worrying that things won’t go as you expect them to, trust that you are equipped with everything you need to handle whatever is thrown at you.

Tip #3: Journal Before Bed

I find that I do my best worrying right before bed. I obsess over something someone said to me at work. My mind runs through everything I need to get done tomorrow. I also become highly sensitive to the fact that there might be someone trying to break into my apartment. I’m tired all stinkin’ day, then when it’s actually time to fall asleep I can’t turn my mind off.

The other night, I was laying in bed feeling stressed because I had spent the past hour obsessing over what I needed to do the next day. Suddenly, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sick of worrying about things that I had no control over, so I decided to grab my journal and make a list of everything that was giving me anxiety. Five minutes later, I was asleep.

Journaling is massively effective for emptying out your brain. It’s as if you free your mind from having to hold on to all of your worries and anxieties. I encourage you to journal whenever you feel yourself obsessing. Whether it’s before bed or in the middle of the day, writing down your feelings will prevent your thoughts from consuming you.

From one control freak to another, it’s so imperative that you learn to be present and enjoy your life for what it is right now. Remember that perfection is a myth. Planning and organizing are okay, but sometimes life can’t be perfectly calculated and things will happen that are out of your control.

Learn how to roll with the punches. You’re not going to change overnight, and you will never rid yourself of all of your planner tendencies (nor should you!). But, it is possible for you to learn to let go and relax when necessary.

Be patient with yourself, and understand that life is a process. But, it’s well worth it.

What are your tips for letting go and relaxing into life? Leave a comment below!

Written by Alana Chibas. This post was previously featured on Alana’s blog heyalana.com – check it out!

America Day by Day – Simone de Beauvoir

Many books have been labelled the essential American road trip companion. Hundreds of lists cite On the Road, Mason & Dixon, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Travels with Charley and the drug-fuelled Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as mandatory insights into American life. Unsurprisingly, the genre has been largely dominated by white men, although Eddy L. Harris’s Mississippi Solo provides an insightful view into life and racial problems on the Mississippi River. Joan Didion, without journaling the endless highways in front of her, paints one of the best portraits of California in American fiction or non-fiction with Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Yet Simone de Beauvoir predates most of these writers by some distance with her travel memoir America Day by Day, a book full of searing insights into the lifestyle, culture and politics of post-war USA. On its publication in Britain, the book received poor reviews and even poorer sales, but as time has moved on, many have realised the modern prescience of Beauvoir’s observations.

Writing in 1947 as an independent female traveller, she provides a portrait of a nation; one full of hubris and the kind of optimism that warps your world view. Having seen real tragedy in war-torn Paris, Beauvoir seeks to look beyond the shining underbelly to America’s often tragic reality. She finds murderers, gangsters and thieves as easily as she does cocktail party companions, and embraces writing about both provincialism and racism in the north and south.

Over a decade before the Beat Generation adopts ‘Howl’ as their anthem and hippies gather on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, Beauvoir is railing against the myopia of suburban life, seemingly distinct to America. “I dearly hope I’m never fated to live in Rochester,” she sasses. And although the concept of free love has many different permutations history, it is here we witness its most successful form. Beauvoir unashamedly takes advantage of her open relationship with Sartre.

Beauvoir left France with a note from her soulmate, Jean-Paul Sartre, but it was in America where she would meet Nelson Algren, the man whom she would later refer to in letters as “my beloved husband.” At the time of writing America Day by Day, Beauvoir hadn’t yet fully cultivated her image as a feminist trailblazer; she was more known for her participation in Paris’ café society culture, and her intellectual relationship with Sartre (in which, as we would expect of the time, she was always in second place to him). In America, she meets a number of men along the road; Beauvoir enjoys her sexual liberation by engaging in a number of affairs for which she offers no apology. There is a considerable amount of alcohol consumption too, common of the time, but in Beauvoir’s memoir, the single woman drinking alone is unusually visible.

The visibly solitary woman still causes consternation in Western culture, and we are subject to thousands of think pieces on spending time alone. A man can sit alone at a pub, but a woman doing the same will draw a few bemused looks. Shirking convention is therefore a brave and necessary step for us to take. It seems ridiculous, but whether we’re travellers, cinema-goers, concert-goers, ravers, or (God forbid), diners, we could learn a thing or two from Beauvoir’s willingness to embrace her own company:

“Breakfast in the corner drugstore is a celebration. Orange juice, toast, café au laitan unadulterated pleasure. Sitting on my revolving stool, I participate in a moment of American life. My solitude does not separate me from my neighbors, who are also eating alone. Rather, it’s the pleasure I feel that isolates me from them. They are simply eating; they’re not on vacation.”

Shirking almost every chaperone she is provided in New York, she makes her own rules, taking daily walks and going wherever she pleases. When she is told, “you can go through Harlem by car but you must never go on foot,” to stick to the large avenues and “avoid all side streets,” she remarks: “I’ve already come across too many places where right-thinking people declare you could not go that I’m not too impressed. I deliberately walk toward Harlem.” There, alone, she finds the ghettoised life an African-American community, isolated but otherwise no more hostile to her than any other street in New York.

Yet perhaps the most surprising observation in the book is how Americans reacted to the atrocities of the Second World War. Beauvoir detested being condescended to about the state of post-war France and loathed the sense of paternalism that underpinned this condescension:

“The American benevolence attracts me and irritates me at the same time…benevolence is carried so far here that they refuse to believe, for example, in the German atrocities. It’s true that the clumsy propaganda of 1914-18…has inclined Americans to be sceptical,” and yet “They’ll believe anything of the Japanese.”

Already in 1947, with America feeling as blusteringly confident as ever, we see the seeds of near conspiratorial scepticism, with a belief that no-one white could possibly carry out atrocities on this level. We see the seeds of alternative facts. It has been said by several commentators that Trump is the most recent figurehead in a long tradition of populist leaders with white supremacist tendencies. What a modern reading of Beauvoir brings home is that this goes beyond Nixon and Reagan. When America is already ‘great’, at the top of the world, in fact, it is still ignorant, full of wide chasms of misunderstanding and the denial of history.

And all this from a woman alone, travelling for four months across America, falling in love, eating and drinking until she is content. America Day by Day teaches us to be curious, brave, witty and socially conscious. We should not be afraid of spending time with ourselves, of going where others tell us not to go, and questioning the norms that hold women back.

Written by Ellen Macpherson