Photographer: Aljed Solis @aljedxo
Wardrobe stylist: Lauren Farnoosh @Laurenfarn__sh
Hair and Make up: Lauren Richardson @Laurenartistry
Story written by Lauren Farnoosh
There's just this underlying numbness of empathy and understanding in our society. As a woman I feel as though this persistent whisper has followed me since the time of puberty. When I say whisper, it's because no one has come outright and said it to me but the thoughts and messages are implied in actions and passive statements made in typical settings of everyday life. It's this whisper that so subtly reminds me that as a woman I have to constantly prove my intelligence, my worth, my reason for taking up space and breathing; otherwise I don't have any. It's this feeling of being seen as having no other purpose in this world but as a submissive sexual object.
I heard the whisper when I was 10 years old walking through a drugstore and seeing adult men stare at my breasts through my elementary school's spirit t-shirt.
I heard it when I was 14 walking home from the. bus with one of my friends and a group of men drove by to honk and whistle at us. My reaction was to flip them off and as a result this car full of 20-40 year olds turned around and proceeded to chase us down. We got away but I shudder to think of what may have happened had they caught us.
I heard it a few months ago when an acquaintance of mine casually mentioned he went to get a "massage".
I heard it earlier this week, when I was frantically trying to figure out how to avoid the older man at my coffee shop who has previously implied he'd like to take me shopping in exchange for sex.
I've heard it every day I've been scared to walk somewhere by myself.
I hear it when I turn on the tv. It's having to hear another story of a girl getting raped by man who just wanted 20 minutes of fun. It's knowing that a large percentage of people call the equality of men and women a radical feminist movement. Its knowing that the second largest industry after drugs is human trafficking.
When I flip through a magazine or walk passed a billboard I hear the same whisper again. The female body is so overtly sexualized for marketing products that people don't see it as having any other purpose beyond sex. My worth as women according to our popular culture is equated to how sexually desirable I am. I can see this by how many girls, even before they hit puberty deal with eating disorders. It's those same girls who buy extremely padded push-up bras and wear them to school. These girls grow up to be women who inject themselves with unknown substances to have bigger asses and breasts. They risk their lives to feel worthy of acceptance, love and appreciation. They have learned to value being sexually desirable over their own health, because in their mind that's the only way they will find value.
I don't blame a lot of men for maybe not understanding where I'm coming from, but what I've found is not just a lack of understanding but simply a sense of indifference to what their own sisters, girlfriends, wives and mothers face each day. I just don't understand why so many don't care. Even if it is not their pain, it is the pain of so many they hold close and near to their hearts.
More men and women need to wake up and see how much we have to offer each other beyond physicality and sex. There is feminine and masculine energy within every person, and to deny women acceptance and understanding as worthy and equal people is to reject the feminine nature that lays within every man as well. Any man or women who rejects the value and worth of women, can not do so with out ultimately rejecting themselves first. That is why this annoying whisper that has followed myself and every other woman that has ever lived needs to die. We can not fully evolve as human beings until it does. We can not fully love and understand one another until it does. Most importantly, we can not love and understand ourselves until it does.