SOPHIE SLATER. WHEN YOUNG WOMEN CHANGE THE WORLD

She is a (small) rebellion and this is a good thing. I am talking about the British woman Sophie Slater. She started to study History at Manchester, and became dedicated to women’s rights. One day she had had enough of the way the fashion business treated women. She thought: can fashion be feminist? Are women’s rights considered in the production of clothes? There have been good intentions for years, initiatives for better working conditions in textile factories, campaigns against unnaturally thin models and sexist advertisements. But this has taken much too long for Sophie.

THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN THE FASHION SCENE IS SHOCKINGLY ONE-SIDED

Therefore, the British student founded the company Birdsong with two colleagues in 2014: an internet shop, selling clothes and accessories only made by women in aid projects all over the world. Clothes and style have always fascinated Sophie. As a child she liked to dress up in front of the mirror. During her school-time in the north-east of England, she worked as a shop assistant and model for the American company ‘American Apparel’. Although they claimed not to have their clothes produced by exploitation, the company’s founder Dov Charney had a shockingly one-sided image of women, the young woman remembers. “During my work I was constantly surrounded by posters, showing women’s bottoms.” As it became known that Charney had sexually harassed employees for years, she was sure: the view of women in many fashion companies was still not right.

INTERNET SHOP FOR LONDON WOMEN’S PROJECTS

Sophie worked for an emergency hotline for rape victims, and cared for homeless women. She could see how hard it was for women’s projects when grants were cut back. During a postgraduate programme in London she met Sarah Beckett and Ruba Huleihel, two young women with similar interests. They soon agreed on a study project: they developed an internet shop, offering self-made fashion from several London women’s projects. They took photos of the clothes in parks, and a friend acted as a model. When they went online, they had about 30 products in the shop. After one day they were almost sold out.

Today Birdsong cooperates with 16 women’s projects. Amongst these are six organisations in England, a sewing group of Israeli and Palestinian women, a social enterprise in South Africa, producing necklaces and rings from recycled magazines, and former prostitutes from Thailand, earning their money with self-made jewellery.

NO SWEATSHOPS –  NO PHOTOSHOPS!

About 80% of the proceeds go back to the producers. But the idea of Birdsong goes beyond sales. “We want to remove the male view from fashion”, says Sophie. Therefore, the motto on the website is “No sweatshops, no photoshops” – no exploiting companies and no digitally modified models. The young woman only employs women photographers, and the models have the most different cultural backgrounds. Some women do not shave their underarm hair, some are 86 or transwomen.

THERE IS STILL A BIT OF SEXISM

Birdsong does still not make a profit. The company is supported by private investors and government funding. Therefore, besides her work at Birdsong, Sophie needs three more jobs to pay for her rent: at a school, at a women’s advice centre for rape victims, and as a journalist. But this does not deter her. After all, when she talks with potential investors, she can see how chauvinist not only the fashion business is, but also the scene of social enterprises. She is often seen as a trainee. “There is always some sexism. Only a few investors have the confidence in a young woman to found a company. But every single dress we sell will help to make a change.”

Personal details: Sophie Slater, British and 25 years old, is co-founder of Birdsong (birdsong.london), an internet platform for fashion, produced and sold according to feminist guidelines. She was born in Sheffield, the daughter of a teacher and an administrative officer in the royal household. Besides her job at Birdsong, she gives feminism workshops at schools, works at a social information centre and as a journalist. Here you find an interview with Sophie Slater.

I discovered this article by Sarah Levy in the magazine BRIGITTE 18/2016. I liked this article so much that I copied a large part of it. I assume this is okay for the author and the publisher’s, as I never received a reply to my request for permission to print.

Women

COMMUNICATION: MEN ARE DIFFERENT, WE WOMEN TOO

When it is about the differences between male and female characteristics, we usually come across typical clichés. But this is not what my article is about. I should rather make us women aware that there are sociological differences between the sexes which we should know about. This might help us understand men (even) better.

The sociologist Leonard Benson says that girls are more related to individuals, and boys more to objects. And this is how it continues during adulthood: many men like to talk about the job, finances, cars, sport or politics. We women, however, generally like to talk about things related to other people. As already mentioned, I do not want to reinforce clichés, but we women must not be surprised if we do not always immediately find ourselves in a common basis for conversation with men.

WOMEN COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY AND ABOUT DIFFERENT TOPICS THAN MEN

The linguist Robin Lakoff (1) discovered the following typical differences:

_ women tend to ask more questions to keep conversation flowing; men understand questions more as a direct request for further information

_ women show more interest in their conversation partner than men who aim to prevail more in communication

_ women use more affirming words than men, such as “great!”, “beautiful!”, “wonderful!”, or “amazing!”

_ articles (in women magazines) are somehow always related to psychology in almost every area, from sex to money and nutrition

_ in men’s conversations numbers occur more often than in women’s. Men – even those whose Maths qualification tests are worse than the ones of Rwandan silverback gorillas – appreciate the security of numbers, says Colin McEnroe in the magazine ‘Mirabella’

“AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY …”

If men and women want to develop better communication with the other sex, men should talk more about people, and women more about facts. Maybe men do not find personal topics particularly interesting, and women find facts austere. But as soon as you are aware of the difference, you could at least understand better different needs for communication, accept it more easily, and react to it more ideally.

A series of blogs that can help us to see men with new eyes, understand them (even better). If you want to get more information on this topic, I recommend the book ‘You don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation’ by Deborah Tannen

(1) Lakoff, Robin Tolmach: Talking Power, 1990

Women

WHY IT IS WORTH THINKING ABOUT MINIMALISM IN YOUR OWN WARDROBE

Capsule Wardrobe. And again I have learnt a new word! It is always really amazing for me, and admirable as well, what people come up with. Therefore, I like the idea of a minimalistic wardrobe very much, which, at the same time, aims for sustainability. To have a so-called Capsule Wardrobe means, to manage with less clothing, but nevertheless, to be always well-dressed. And eventually it is about not getting lost looking for the 115th item of clothing in your wardrobe.

I honestly have to admit that I have not tried it myself, but for a few years my focus on buying clothes has clearly been: less is more!

WHAT IS A CAPSULE WARDROBE?

The fashion blogger Caroline Joy Rector (www.un-fancy.com) suggests composing a capsule wardrobe for each season, consisting of 37 items. Namely:

_ 15 tops

_ 9 trousers or skirts

_ 9 pairs of shoes

_ 2 jackets

_ 2 dresses

In addition, handbags, accessories, jewellery, pyjamas, sportswear. Caroline recommends wearing this Capsule Wardrobe for three months, combining the different items, and no shopping. She has even provided a special capsule builder app and a capsule wardrobe planner online for download.

HOW THE BUILDING OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE WORKS

FIRST: Before you start composing your own capsule wardrobe, you need plenty of time and leisure to think about the choice of items of clothing:

_ Do I spend most of the time with children (at home, at the playground, in the kindergarten)?

_ Does my place of work require a business outfit (for example banking, insurance, commercial representation)?

_ Do I spend most of my time in work clothes (as a doctor, midwife, nurse)?

_ Do I work online from home?

_ How often do I have appointments with dress-code?

SECOND: For your capsule wardrobe you define your colour scheme, such as:

_ two (neutral) basic colours, for example, black, dark blue, grey, or brown

_ two contrasting colours, for example, pink and turquoise, and

_ white or light beige.

THIRD: Totally clear out your wardrobe! Only underwear, socks, swimwear and sports gear, as well as accessories (belts, jewellery, bags, scarves, gloves, hats) are allowed back in the wardrobe.

FOURTH: Now you sort the clothing items according to four priorities, labelling them appropriately:

_ ‘FAVOURITES’: clothes you love wearing all the time, which are not too big or too small.

_ ‘MAYBE’: things you do not want to be separated from because they are connected with pleasant memories, or they were very expensive.

_ ‘GET RID OF IT’: clothes you want to sort out (donate them, give them away as presents, or sell them at flea markets, or in vintage stores).

_ ‘NOT NOW’: things you like to wear, but are not appropriate for the current season. They go into a drawer, or a separate part of the wardrobe, waiting for their use in the relevant season.

FIFTH: Eventually you put the ‘FAVOURITE’ pile back into the wardrobe; everything else is stored away.  You only choose from this pile in the next three months.

SIXTH: Briefly before the end of the season, you start planning for the next one. Planning three months in advance can only be a guideline, of course, as the weather is not always respectful of the seasons. But we could divide the year into spring (March to May), summer (June to August), autumn (September to November) and winter (December to February).

SEVENTH: You do not have to stick to it rigidly. If it is 38 instead of 35 items per season, it is okay. Maybe you find a new favourite piece during the season which replaces another one. The main thing is that you only buy things that fit in the ‘FAVOURITE’  pile. And you should have fun doing so. And keep remembering: Less is often really more!

Women

TAKE TIME FOR YOUR FEMININITY. CONNECT WITH YOUR ANCESTORS

“What are my ancestors to me? I live in the here and now!” This might sound like a fair point at first. But only as long as you become aware that everything and everybody, belonging to your family, is energetically connected.

You have your position in the line of ancestors, just like a pearl on a string of pearls. Therefore, you are also part of the energy field of your female ancestors.

The connection with these women – no matter whether you personally know them or not – always contains a great healing potential.  For the entire female energy field of your family. You do not even have to know what sort of lives these women led, what challenges they had to fight, or whether they were strong or weak personalities. It is primarily about realigning the female field of your family.

So take time for your female line of ancestors, connect with them in your thoughts. Send positive and loving thoughts to the women who lived their lives before you. Build a respectful connection to them. You can also use one of my energized symbol cards, or create your own ritual with crystals, flowers or candles. Let yourself be guided by your female intuition. It will show you what to do.

Women

SASKIA BRUYSTEN. WHEN YOUNG WOMEN CHANGE THE WORLD

Saskia Bruysten was only 27, when she reached a turning point in her life. She started to wonder whether she wanted to continue her life in the same way. She was a successful businesswoman, and asked herself:

  • Is the economic system, which I confidently act in, fair?
  • Can’t I do something more important with my knowledge than simply increasing the sales of cosmetic companies?

In 2008 she heard the Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus talk about his concept of ‘social business’ in London. She was so excited that she started her own agency with him, to gain even more publicity for his ideas.

Three years later she still was not happy with herself. Therefore, she suggested that Yunus should create a new concept to develop even more social businesses. This was the start of YSB – Yunus Social Business.

SMALL ENTREPRENEURS INSTEAD OF LARGE CORPORATIONS

Instead of large international corporations, she now consults small entrepreneurs, which, for example, produce chlorine for decontamination of drinking water in Haiti. YSB also brought the Ugandan stove builder Awamu on track. 20 000 low smoke stoves have already been sold.

The start-up of a small company in Africa is not handled any differently to a large one in Germany. What counts is the quality of the concept, not the needs of the founder. The selection process is accordingly strict.

I admire Saskia Bruysten for leaving big business, to realise her talents in a social business concept. I hope there will be many more young women like her, who want to change the world, by supporting small entrepreneurs, and not large companies, with their knowledge.

Women

VANESSA REDGRAVE (79) IS MODELLING. A STATEMENT AGAINST THE OBSESSION WITH YOUTH!

While the majority of fashion magazines are still obsessed with very young and anorexic models, an absolutely relaxed Vanessa Redgrave poses in front of the camera. In her role as a Gucci model she makes a quiet statement, which, however, was followed by a considerable amount of press reaction.

The Italian fashion house could attract the British actress as the figurehead for their 2017 collection, and made her the star of the whole campaign. Chief designer Alessandro Michele approached the actress, who we know from films such as ‘Howards End’ or ‘Foxcatcher’.

ROMANTIC LOOK WAS SHOT IN ROMANTIC ENVIRONMENT

The photo-shootings for the Gucci-cruise-collection 2017 took place in England, at Chatsworth House, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The photos show an extremely romantic environment, which should inspire us to put on one of Grandmother’s skirts, in addition to our own wardrobe.

Whereas more and more curvy models can be seen on the catwalks, there are still only a few models aged 60+ or 70+. There is the strong suspicion that designers’ motivation is not the urge to provide ‘curvy women’ with chic dresses, but to open a new market segment. And this segment seems to be more interesting and promising than the 60+ or 70+ customers.

However, I find it extremely enjoyable that an increasing number of women, no matter whether they are tall or short, well-built or slim, old or young, dress in a feminine style, and according to their personal taste. Thus emphasizing their personality.

Women

WHY GOD THE FATHER NEEDS A MOTHER GODDESS AT HIS SIDE

Right from the start, I want to make it clear that this is no religious article, because I would not be the right person for that. But it gives one cause for thought when we keep hearing about God the Father without any mention of a woman at his side.

Actually it would be logical and would correspond with mankind’s dualistic thinking if there were also a female version of the male-dominated image of God. It was the nature of ancient religions, for instance, for the Greeks and Romans, that there were Goddesses next to the Gods. But now many people think of esoteric fantasy figures when they hear the word Goddess.

THE GREAT GODDESS IS PUSHED OFF THE THRONE

Before the patriarchally oriented religions suppressed the old sanctuaries and traditions of the mother-religions, all over Europe and in the main parts of Asia people worshipped the triune Great Mother as the central deity. She was the Goddess of love, fertility and death in one person. Her heyday was between 10.000 and 2.000 B.C. Huge monuments, temples and temple-like complexes, stone circles, hill mounds, cave-paintings, carved and clay figures with characteristic fertility features, testified to a common worship of the Great Goddess.

Towards the end of this epoch the unthinkable happened. Martial hordes of men ransacked the peaceful peoples, killed men, boys, old people, and took women and girls as their prisoners. They subjugated the people and installed themselves as rulers on the newly-erected throne.  This was the beginning of the end of the mother-religions.

Ironically, in our modern and enlightened times, where religious life has drastically lost its importance, an increasing number of women turn to the Great Goddess again. It does not need a new religion to rediscover and recognize the divine feminine inside us, and integrate it in our everyday life. By allowing the female primordial power in our lives, we connect with all the women of the world through the morphogenetic field (1). And, therefore, with the Goddess aspect which every woman holds.

THE GREAT GODDESS IS INSIDE US

Many women, who have grown up in a patriarchally oriented religion, find it hard to suddenly imagine God as a woman and trust in a female divine source. But this is not really the point. I personally do not believe in a God in heaven and, therefore, will not believe in a Goddess in heaven. Reviving the belief in a Great Goddess contains an important aspect: the divine is inside us, and not outside. Therefore, the Great Goddess is also an aspect of our femininity.

I would like to quote KRYON/Lee Carroll from the book ‘Lifting the Veil’ (2) as something to make us think:

COMMON IDEA OF GOD

“Imagine for a moment that Earth was made up of all dogs. No humans, just dogs. And imagine that dogs had your intelligence. Evolution had somehow gone differently, and intelligent dogs now ran the world, just like you do now. They also have their problems, just like you do now. And dogs, just like you, have their own spiritual thoughts on what God must be like, and naturally they have religion, they pray and ponder and have intellectual ideas, just like you.

Now, if I could take you to this metaphoric place where all of these intelligent dogs lived in their civilisation, let me tell you what their religion would look like. First of all, God would be a dog! And each breed of dog would have a photo of God represented as their own breed, of course. All of the angels would be dogs with wings and one of the things they would do would be to constantly smell each other! How far do you want me to go with this? You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Society’s proof that God is a dog is that the very name of their kind, spelled backwards, is God! Shall I continue? And you know, even though it’s funny, that I’m right.”

Therefore, fellow women, do not look for the Goddess as a female counterpart of God on the outside, but inside yourselves. This is the only place you will find her! Just like Yin would be incomplete without Yang, and Yang without Yin, it needs a male and female aspect of God. The latter all women carry inside us, we only have to rediscover it, and consciously live it!

(1) energetic field of the mass consciousness

(2) Carroll, Lee: Kryon. Lifting the Veil, The Kryon Writings, Inc., p. 65-66

Women