We spoke to super rad feminist Molly Warren about body hair, blood, and why its okay to fuck stuff up.
We love your series “Girl Flu”- what a great name! Can you talk us through it?
Well I chose the name for two reasons. The first being that it is a slang term for menstruation and the second is the connotations of sickness. A large part of the work is about the shaming of menstruation and back in the day, men considered it to be an illness and shunned women away. As if women were ‘sick with femaleness’. This term brings up transgender issues; the transgendered men who live with this unwanted bodily function, that they themselves are sick with femaleness which then also raises the issue of the transphobic nature of sanitary product advertisement.
What is the relevance of the very particular shade of blue you have used in these images?
The blue I used was in reference to sanitary product advertisements where blue is used to demonstrate the absorbing qualities of the product. I focused on this as I felt the clinical nature of the colour added to the connotations of sickness but also how the colour blue is stereotypically associated with cis men and within this male driven advertising industry, is a satirical comment on how the colour blue makes the subject easier to deal with rather than red which holds connotations of blood which, let’s face it, is too realistic for them to handle.
What led to you use an alternate process in the series “Hair”?
Hair was one of my first projects were I was trying out alternative photographic processes. Again, it was the blue nature of the chemistry which drew me to it. Creating ungendered images of hair and creating these blue cyanotypes on pink card was a satirical comment on gender roles and gendered grooming expectations.
You have chosen to address the issue of female body hair in this series. Can you tell us your stance on the matter?
I was so excited when I hit puberty and started to grow body hair. I wasn’t excited that I was becoming a women, I was excited to start shaving because ‘that’s what women do’. For Hair I decided to let my body hair grow for 3 months. I was nearly 20 and my eyes where beginning to open up to the world of feminism and feminist art. I feel that people should do what they want with their body hair but that they should be doing it for themselves and not because it is expected of them. I love my armpit hair, I feel sexy with it, but I like to grow my leg hair for a while then take it off because I like the feeling of smooth legs. To many times have I seen girls and women shaming each other for not shaving or even shaving and I feel this needs to stop because attacking each other is getting us nowhere.
Your work seems to strive to send a message to females- what do you hope to convey with your work?
I think my main focus is to try get the audience to open up and let them question social norms and why they are in fact ‘norms’. For example, if women aren’t meant to have hair on their legs then why do we grow hair on our legs? I just hope to open their minds to question the social conventions we live in and unquestionably follow.
And what advice would you give to any young girls on the brink of creative greatness?
Be fearless. Take risks and experiment as much as possible. You may fuck up nine out of ten times but one of those times may come a break through and it’ll all be worth it in the end.
Lastly, can you tell us #whatfemalemeans to you?
Being honest and true to oneself and doing what is right by you.