The Wonder Women festival kicked off last night at their launch What IS She Wearing, an event by Instigate Arts which explored the link between fashion and protest. Highlighting the theme of fashion and beauty and how women are defined by their looks and what they wear.
“HairStories” was an exhibit based on the feminist term “HerStories”. As part of Digital Women’s Archive North, an arts and heritage enterprise, the exhibition was all about opening up women’s narratives and stories through their hair.
At the stand they were taking polaroids of different women’s hair and getting them to write on a label their hair story. It was a really beautiful thing to do, I read many stories about women who had felt trapped by their hair and would hide behind it until the day they found the courage to chop it all off resulting in them finally feeling free.
Women are so defined by their looks, in particular their hair. It isn’t seen as feminine to have short hair and the “HairStories” exhibition fought against gender stereotypes.
Jennifer Reid gave a superb performance of “Broadside Balladress”, she explored how long women have been criticised for their appearance through song.
Using spoken word poetry she portrayed the darker side of the fashion industry and it’s roots that formed in the mid 1700s. It was an expressive performance with a strong message at the core, she emphasised her strength in terms of wearing whatever she wanted to wear.
Displayed upstairs was an piece of art channeling women’s body shame by Harriet Williamson, inside the open wardrobe were a collection of clothes which had notes hand stitched onto them of statements from women who have been victim to slut shaming, eating disorders and personality disorders.
There was a stunning and thought provoking performance titled Through Our Lives In These Threads from Stirred Poetry Feminist Collective, whom in amoungst a bundle of clothes, pulled out items to tell the stories of women who endured discrimination because of the clothes they were wearing. There were a mixture of clothes that were worn in moments of happiness and sadness.
The collection of poetry is inspiring, empowering and brave as they rip apart heteronormative patriarchal rules. They can wear clothes that make them feel comfortable or make them feel beautiful and they fight against the expectations forced upon women in terms of how they dress.
The most shocking and controversial performance came from Louise Woodcock, a performance interview with “Trish Dee” an ex glamour model, mother and business woman. This performance revealed the raw truths, it was an innovative performance which conveyed stark revelations about the glamour model industry and the lengths women have to go to in order to reach the top.
**A full listing of Wonder Women events can be found on the website here**