I AM WOMAN - A one minute response to 'Be A Lady They Said'.
I watched ‘Be A Lady’ with mixed feelings. In one sense, I could relate to all of it. I admired the piece, but it made me uneasy as the images perpetuate the behaviours the words are criticising. There are so many ways apparently to be the wrong kind of woman.
In thinking about the real women in my life, I realised that many of them are not in the least influenced by the media messages portrayed in ‘Be a Lady’. I could argue that many of the women I know, aged 18 to 94, are not victims of subliminal pressure to be thinner, to have cosmetic surgery, or to conform to an objectified sexuality.
Women that inspire me are juggling so much. They may be struggling to put food on the table - to pay a mortgage - to find a job or working out how best to save our planet from climate change. I don’t think the broad group of women I know, of varied ages and from varied economic groups, are in a bubble or are unusual - I believe it is the vast majority of women that do not take all these messages seriously. We know the economy insists that we should all be changed from being citizens into being consumers. We are supposed to be unhappy with ourselves. But we don’t buy it anymore.
I’m not implying that any of the real women I know have perfect lives - quite the contrary. Each of us struggles in our own way whatever our circumstances. Despite the strength of feminism and the slow but sure progress of the #metoo movement - inequality between men and women persists - of course.
But the perpetuated inner dialogue was what troubled me most. The sound track is almost hypnotic. All those images of beautiful models? I caught myself wondering if I should go out and buy lip-stick in a darker shade of red. Why would I do that? According to ‘Be a Lady’ it would be because I want to attract a man. But the last few men I’ve dated hate lipstick.
What is a ‘Lady’ anyway? I’m not one and I don’t think I know any. I’m a woman and I know women. The way we speak to ourselves is important. Language influences us. The words we use matter.
‘Be A Lady’ was written by Camille Rainville a young woman in Canada. I make no claims to creativity - the poem is entirely hers. I hope Camille will see herself in our response. I hope you will too. The photos in the piece are from women who sent me photos because they wanted to be included, making them participants not objects. The video was made simply, in a few days, for next to nothing, because we all felt it was important to reply.
If you want to champion women, start with being kind to yourself. (I’m still working on it.) And please look for inspiration not to any photoshopped images on social media but to the real women in your life. Your mother. Neighbour. Friend. Stranger.
See them. Admire them. Celebrate them.
Extra special thanks to all the women who sent us their photos and videos.
Directed by Emily Lucienne
Exec Producer Emily Rudge
Producers Ester Viana, Suzan Mustafa
Production Assistant Lallie Doyle, David Elliott
Director of Photgraphy Annika Summerson
Focus Puller Maiya Rose
Vegan Makeup Charlotte Kraftman
Sound Recordist Christine Bullock
Edit Ona Bartroli, Flaura Atkinson at Stitch
Grade Holly Greig at Freefolk
Music Composition Hannah V
Sound Mix Sophie-Alice Davies at Vaudeville
Thank you Jennifer Gelin, Becky Mansell, Gemma Gurvitz, Poppy France, Daniel at TripleFiveSeven, Isabel Losada and Liz Walters.
Special thanks to Camille Rainville, Cynthia Nixon, Claire Rothstein and Paul McLean.