CAMPAIGN | HER DIFFERENT STORY
Succinct yet eclectic, the campaign, DE-LABEL, heralds a new era of femininity – of nuance, confidence, and agency – amidst the rambunctious veneration of archetypal femininity, while tracing the rumination in empowering oneself out of the typical.
Amid throes of societal trappings and labelling, women have long been – for millennium – an archery target. Though, lately, surge of movements on women’s rights sprang up one after another, such relentless yet somewhat latent pursuance seems to fall short, stuck in limbo.
What is burdensome about the stagnation is not just men-to-women stereotypical judgments, so much as some females more often than not label other women with orthodox ideals. Being judged upon what they wear, how they talk, or even how they walk, women could but endure the practice of women-shaming (for some it happens to be self-shaming). Rare cases of some fighting back indeed do exist, but not omnipresent. They all have to live up to the classic rom-com female lead, if not the archetype of Virgin Mary.
“Every day, women are judged. If we don’t follow suit, we’re the outlaws.”
DE-LABEL is thus a social critique defying such outdated gender-binary mindset. The campaign sees three women juxtaposed with a tableau of words infused with vitriol – caustic criticisms, and far worse – while we watch as they confront disparagements and identify themselves by wiping out the spitefulness gushed towards them.
Lisa has an enchanting way about her, a confident poise, a penetrating stare, and a warm smile. Now aged 63, she took her first breath as a model when she came across an Instagram post about “silver models”. Going out on a limb by pursuing her childhood dream, her age does not undermine, but unleash, her ability. “It’s all about taking risks and keep trying and trying,” her eyes are infused with overflowing passion, “I was hesitant about wearing a back-revealing dress, but the moment I tried it on, I feel like myself.”
“I don’t feel like 60 at all, I’m 6 now!”
By no means are modelling and aging two antithetical ideas. To Lisa, modelling is visceral self-expression,“now there’s a sense of sophistication in my photos, unlike my younger self,” says she. Having suffered with cancer and survived it, Lisa has been driven to the brink of a “second life” – as she calls it – abound with colors. “I don’t feel like 60 at all, I’m 6 now,” she bursts into laughter, “I’m reborn, it’s time to experience life at its fullest.”
With the ticking timer that’s carried in Lisa’s age, she is unafraid of criticisms. Posing elegantly and endorsed by flashing lights and cameras, she is at her most confident stage of life. “I don’t care about what people say; when I wanna do it, I do it.”
Bastardized by her tattoos, Julian, a barber, is often given weird stares on the street. What comes alongside her spectacle of tattoo art is the stigma of the tattoo girl – a perpetuated stereotype wherein women are expected to look pure. To put another way, they should never be covered in tats.
With her smoky eyes and pop red lipstick, Julian oozes out an aura of fierceness. And coupled with her tattoos spanning from her neck to her feet, she is exceptionally fierce. “Yeah, I’m used to the fact that people just give me a look in their eyes, sometimes with a furrowed brow,” says Julian, with a blithe disregard. “I get why they’re like that: curiosity. But to be honest, I don’t give a damn.”
“This is me, and it’s none of your business.”
Julian’s rite of passage into tattoohood happened when she was 16 – a simple, geometrical star made up of triangles inked on her ankle – and thereafter she ventures naturally into covering her body in tattoos. “I don’t regret it, they’re beautiful,” she says, pausing for a moment. ‘I’m lucky that my parents accept who I am, unlike others, they’re really open-minded.” A bold Henna-inspired chest tattoo, delicate red roses on her arms, and her beloved two cats inked on her thigh, altogether, bring Julian’s character to the fore: fearless, unapologetic, and loving.
It’s striking that women have frequently been paralyzed by unrealistic expectations, and more specifically, they have to “be nice” with a nice smile. Jessica, however, dismantles this conventional notion with her RBF (aka resting bitch face). “Women don’t have to be always smiling,” says Jessica, “if I’m not happy, I don’t have to be smiling.”
“Women don’t have to be always smiling.”
Not always putting on a smile, she used to be insecure that people were not accepting of her. “I’ve grown accustomed to it and learnt to accept that’s a part of me,” Jessica explains with an unexpectedly beautiful smile. There’s something beguiling about her; the way she is so comfortable in her own skin, and how she relaxes into her RBF. “There’s a common misconception that people with RBF are unfriendly, uninviting, or unapproachable. But people with RBF are normally the most approachable people.”
Fully aware of how gender stereotypes force women to put on a warm smile, Jessica reckons such conventional thinking should come to an end. “It’s 2021, it’s time to break out of the gender norms, and I think it’s ridiculous to expect people to be smiling 24/7,” she continues, “not all women are going to be happy all the time, and it’s not necessary to expect all girls to be the same as well.”
The three women, Lisa, Julian, and Jessica, then stood behind the glass of criticisms – posing with confidence that reveals their authenticity in the purest form – to reclaim their voices.