'I Just Want To Make Women Wake Up To Their Power': Florence Given On Why You Will Feel Uncomfortable Reading Her New Book

6/12/2020 7:41:00 PM

Grazia's @GeorgiaAspinall speaks to the illustrator-turned-author about her already best-selling book and what's next for the 21-year-old

Grazia's GeorgiaAspinall speaks to the illustrator-turned-author about her already best-selling book and what's next for the 21-year-old

Georgia Aspinall speaks to Florence Given about her already best-selling book and what's next for the 21-year-old. Find out more on Grazia.

. ‘We all know that men, as a whole, don't like passionate women who are intelligent because it threatens their masculinity and they are no longer in a position of my power. So, I think I've had to dampen my passion, vigour and outspokenness about patriarchy and now that I’m no longer in a relationship with a man and I don't care for the opinion of men, I have basically stepped out of fear and into myself.’

I first discovered Florence in 2017, after seeing her ‘Love Sex, Hate Sexism’ t-shirts on social media. At the time, she would’ve been just 18, but her career had started way before then. Like many women, Florence had her first experiences of overt sexism at an early age – but she didn’t take them lying down. At 14, she refused to wear a bra to school and after noting her classmates visceral reaction, started researching how the female body is hyper-sexualised, and began her quest to rid the world of patriarchal norms. Putting her views into her now trademark illustration style, she’s since designed merchandise for Rita Ora’s Girls Tour, created her own

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Posted 3 hours ago ‘I’ve kind of had a life of suppressing my passion in favour of male attention,’ says Florence Given, illustrator and author of the newly-released Women Don’t Owe You Pretty .28 items Ali Pantony The time has finally come, in our supposedly woke wonderland of 2020, to admit that “I’m not racist” simply isn’t good enough, and it might not even be true.beauty standards of our society are racist, fatphobic, ageist and quite frankly, confusing.pansexual .

‘We all know that men, as a whole, don't like passionate women who are intelligent because it threatens their masculinity and they are no longer in a position of my power. So, I think I've had to dampen my passion, vigour and outspokenness about patriarchy and now that I’m no longer in a relationship with a man and I don't care for the opinion of men, I have basically stepped out of fear and into myself. It’s a question I am also asking myself.’ I’m six minutes into my interview with Florence about her new, and first, book and we’re already deep into discussions of the patriarchy and beauty standards. Their skin has been airbrushed, their bodies manipulated and their features enhanced. Two minutes really, because I spent four of those gushing about how much she’s taught me about self-love and feminism in the few years I’ve followed her career online. This was normal to me. Listening to her talk about the inspiration behind her new book, everything she says sounds like it belongs on a canvas or t-shirt - which makes sense, because powerful, palatable quotes are the reason she’s amassed a cult-following of over 400,000 people on Instagram alone. I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female.

I first discovered Florence in 2017, after seeing her ‘Love Sex, Hate Sexism’ t-shirts on social media. "Thank god that doesn't happen here" I would always think, surrounded by my black, white and Asian friends, imagining we lived in a multicultural utopia where everyone got along and everything was fine. We are distracted by capitalism’s ability to manipulate us because it is hidden in the promise of “becoming more beautiful”, which actually just means becoming more desirable for male consumption. At the time, she would’ve been just 18, but her career had started way before then. Like many women, Florence had her first experiences of overt sexism at an early age – but she didn’t take them lying down. 1 hour ago Yet when I went to the University of Cambridge over ten years ago, there was one black person in my year. At 14, she refused to wear a bra to school and after noting her classmates visceral reaction, started researching how the female body is hyper-sexualised, and began her quest to rid the world of patriarchal norms. How can we happily exist in a world which is built on systems that seek to tear us down? 'I love you for who you are': As Emma Watson speaks up for the trans community, activists call for J. Putting her views into her now trademark illustration style, she’s since designed merchandise for Rita Ora’s Girls Tour, created her own company selling her designs and was named Cosmopolitan’s UK Influencer of the Year in 2019. And what shocked me about that, was that no one else seemed bothered by this. "I think that was the first gender-neutral person I’d ever met.

Now, she’s published her first book, described as ‘the ultimate book for anyone who wants to challenge the out-dated narratives supplied to us by the patriarchy’, all at the young age of 21. ‘For me, I understand why people are blown away when I tell them my age but this feels normal,’ she explains. My time there made the divisions in Britain I had been blind to, suddenly sharpen into focus.K. ‘I’ve seen the hard work, I know my life experiences that led me to these conclusions and what’s gone on behind it so for me, seeing the process has been a steady journey. I'm addicted to growth, I hate stagnancy. But what did I do? Did I ever truly get to grips with this? Did I ever do enough, read enough, march enough… care enough? It is arrogant of me to think in my bones I am not racist and yet have precious few receipts to show for the work I have done to be anti-racist . I hate not working on myself. Why? Because I was jealous that they got to live their truth! It was so threatening and frightening to my heteronormative understanding of my own sexuality."I'm married to a woman and I'm very much in love with her but I'm not opposed to a man because to me, I like a person.

And so, I'm addicted to this pace of life. Acknowledging that I don’t think about race enough, that I don’t genuinely consider its ramifications enough – or the part white people play in all of that – is profoundly uncomfortable.’ Creating something that forces women to question ‘all the things we think are normal but are actually just normalised’, the book unpacks everything from rape culture to toxic relationships, setting friendship boundaries to queerness, masturbation to ghosting – all the while blessing readers with 32 of her much-loved illustrations. When people say looks don't matter, it's actually a form of gaslighting. But communities of colour cannot escape these constant thoughts about racial injustice. Instead of dealing with the fact that I was bisexual myself, I projected the shame around my sexuality onto the women who were confident enough to own it. But one of the biggest areas of focus, and what’s dubbed the book ‘The Beauty Myth for the Instagram generation’ is how Florence explains desirability politics. ‘When people say looks don't matter, it's actually a form of gaslighting,’ Florence says. Feeling uncomfortable? Good. It's just people that I am attracted to," he told.

‘It might be well intended, but it gaslights our entire lived experience of being treated better when we do look pretty and the fact that when we do show up in a baggy t shirts and scruffy hair, people don’t even look or talk to us and treat us like a piece of shit. It is through years of retraining that I have minimised the power internalised misogyny has over my thoughts. And this is harder for marginalized women, the experience of a black, transgender, fat woman is completely different to my experience, and they will be expected to perform prettiness 10 times the amount that I am. I’ve heard so many white British people claim that things are different as if racism is something that happens elsewhere.’ ‘It ignores the fact that we do live in a society where there are structures in place that benefit people who do conform people by shaving their legs or wearing makeup to work every day,’ Florence continues. ‘And you pay the cost either way, if you don’t pay literally pay in buying mascara or razors or hair dye, you pay with unsolicited remarks when people say you “look rough” or ask if “you’re okay”. So few in Britain understand the role our nation really played in the slave trade and that shows a profound deficit in our education that many campaigns right and organisations, like The Black Curriculum right now are actively trying to fix. The things that have been planted in our minds keep us competing with each other, preventing us from growing and discovering our innate divine power – this is the patriarchy’s main goal. So women have to pick their poison and make this choice every single day.

Do I be my authentic self or do I perform femininity for patriarchy?’ It’s hard truths like this that make the book an uncomfortable read, Florence admits, because it will challenge everything you know about the world. This is not a US specific issue and that makes us uncomfortable. ‘Especially for people who don’t talk about feminism with their friends, my god, this is going to be so uncomfortable,’ she says. What is it about her that makes you feel so uncomfortable? Perhaps she actually just reminds you of yourself, or the parts of yourself that you are ashamed of. ‘My book is poking holes in the façades of patriarchal society, and that a lot of stuff we engage with is not normal, it's been normalized, there's a difference. We are not innocent in racial dynamics and we need to do better. And particularly, a lot of the stuff we bathe in is perpetuated and marinated in rape culture, abuse, sexism, racism, transphobia and homophobia, so much of the stuff we engage with and think is normal, it’s not normal.’ But it’s a ‘beautiful discomfort’ Florence says, because not only is there ‘power in knowing that you’re powerless’ but for those that choose to take what they learn from this book into their daily lives, ‘it means growth and acknowledging your behaviours and becoming the person you were meant to be. It means doing the. Or perhaps you’re like me – you actually just really fancy her and need to go ask her out.

’ Particularly uncomfortable are the chapters about consent and rape culture, which according to Florence were the hardest for her to write. ‘I realised while writing and talking to friends, “The one thing we all have in common is that almost every single one of us has been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by men.”’ she explains. The girl you’re jealous and hateful of isn’t a “b****”, your internalised misogynist is. ‘And that's a sad truth for women to acknowledge that this is the one thing we all have in common. I never thought that that would be a part of my womanhood experience and even at my age, me and all my friends have this common.

’ It’s what spurred on her future work commitments though, which she says will focus on consent culture inside and out of the bedroom. ‘I'm constantly having to pull myself up and my friends up or our behaviours that are normalized but aren't normal in regards to consent,’ Florence explains. ‘Even down to taking pictures of your friends without asking, you should always ask. ‘It's things like that, if people start doing a friendship groups that will literally change the fucking world because that will flow into the bedroom,’ she continues. ‘Imagine the boys hanging out like “Mate can I take a picture of you?” and the other guy is like “Nah bro, I don’t want that to happen.

” And the mate is like “That’s cool bro, I respect that.” I would love to see that.’ Judging by the reaction to the release of her book, which is already a number one best-seller on Amazon, it will be a worthwhile focus for someone like Florence who can clearly harness the power of thousands of women to not only come together as one, but grow together too. ‘That’s all I want to do in my life,’ she says. ‘I just want to make women feel normal within themselves, question themselves to grow and wake the fuck up to their power.

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3 of 10 Another Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, it surely won't be long before this worldwide publishing hit is on your screens. 4 of 10 Women with a secret in a tight-knit US community – the similarities between Reese Witherspoon's roles (Elena Richardson in Little Fires Everywhere and Madeline Mackenie in Big Little Lies) are stark. 5 of 10 A gripping novel from the master of the dilemma, based during an attack on a US abortion clinic. 6 of 10 Race, motherhood and our relationships with the women we hire to take care of us in our homes – almost all of Little Fires is here, but taking place in the 2010s. 7 of 10 Exploring a much darker side of motherhood and what it means to invite someone into our home to take care of our family.

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