The other day I wrote about the need to see more plus size women represented in the media. It always excites me when I see plus size women being included in projects and campaigns without having a song and dance from a company about “look at us being all diverse and inclusive”. And that’s one of the things that got me excited about the book 200 Women. It features women who are famous and unknown; celebrated and marginalised; of many cultures, ages, sizes, and backgrounds.
Now, a bit of a back story if you’re not too familiar with my background – I used to work as a photographer, mostly in fashion and beauty. In my late 20’s, I went to uni to study design and visual art (I was a photography major) and it was there that I fell in love with portraiture. I combined fashion and portraiture with my final year project, which is how a lot of people came to hear of my blog, and am always inspired when I see other photographers making cool portraits. That’s what made me really excited to read this book – because like my own project, it was sharing the stories of women.
Anyway, back to 200 Women. Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday interviewed 200 women from around the world (some of whom I recognise, either from their picture or by name, but also many that are new to me). Inspired by a belief that you can’t empower women without listening to their stories, they asked the women the same five questions that, on the surface seem really simple, but the responses are a real insight as to who the person is and what really matters to them.
What really matters to you?
What brings you happiness?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What would you change in the world if you could?
Which single word do you most identify with?
The women were also photographed by Kieran E. Scott (this is where the portraiture part comes in!), and the result is this absolutely stunning book. I’ve picked this book up so many times over the last month, each time I read one or two of the women’s stories and it leaves me feeling so inspired.
There are some amazing plus size women featured, including names I’m sure you’re familiar with – actors Gabourey Sidibe and Danielle Brooks, and author Roxane Gay. I want to share their pictures and a little bit of their interviews (you’ll need to read the book to check out the rest for yourselves!).
“Today, my happiness and my comfort – being able to love myself and see that I am deserving of love – really matter to me. I think that’s an issue a lot of women battle with, and I think women of colour battle it a little more.” – Gabourey Sidibe, 200 Women
Q. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
“Self-hate. I know I have a lot more to learn, but, in the twenty-seven years that I’ve been on this earth, a core lesson has been being able to identify self-hate. When you don’t love yourself enough, or you don’t feel like you have a reason to live, that’s misery.” – Danielle Brooks, 200 Women
Q. What single word do you most identify with?
“Fuck. It can be used in so many ways. I’m sure there are fancier options, but that’s not me. I love it because I identify with it on so many levels. And I love how it starts out soft and ends hard.” – Roxane Gay, 200 Women
Roxane Gay’s portrait is the one that stands out the most to me in this book, it’s incredibly engaging and I feel like I’m connecting with her, especially when I look at it while reading her interview. The interviews make me want to know more about the women featured, so I’m looking forward to checking out some of Roxane’s own writing.
I had planned to share my own answers to the five questions asked, but I feel like I could talk for so long about my answers. The questions seem so simple, but the answers are so involved, so multi-faceted, that I feel like this blog post would end up taking forever to write. And honestly, that’s what keeps making me pick up the book – wanting to see how the women answer those questions, and thinking about what my own answers would be. So instead I decided that I’ll share my answer to just one of the questions – I’d love to know your answer too so make sure you tell me in the comments!
Q. Which single word do you most identify with?
A. Empowered. I feel like over the last few years I’ve worked really hard to set myself free of so many things in my life that resulted in me lacking confidence, feeling like I wasn’t good enough, clever enough, pretty enough, just … enough. Now I feel empowered and like I’ve given myself permission to embrace myself fully and to be the brightest shiniest version of myself (even when I’m dressed all in black). That realisation has meant that I am now in a position to help others to be stronger and more confident in themselves, and hopefully help them feel empowered as well.
SHOP IT: 200 Women is available for $75.00 RRP – you can order your copy here. Side note, this could make an amazing holiday gift for one of the amazing women in your life! I know I can’t wait to share this with some of the mana wahine in mine!
WIN IT: I have one copy of 200 Women to give away! To enter, let me know which single word you most identify with, then click here to subscribe to our free fortnightly updates. You can unsubscribe at any time if you change your mind – it just makes it easy for us to contact you if you win (plus it means that you get style, self love and other awesomeness directly to your inbox!). If you’re already a subscriber then great – all you need to do is comment below. The winner will be drawn on 15th November 2017.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER CASEY LOWE.
Please note that you must have a New Zealand postal address to enter this giveaway. If you’re not in New Zealand, never fear – good things will come your way soon enough.