Activist Interview: Angela Towers – Forward Thinking Fashion

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Angela Towers:

Feminist tee shirt maker and No More Page Three activist since 2012. Angela is the Director of Forward Thinking Fashion, a non-profit organisation aiming to support Feminist Charities and Campaigns in awareness raising through Fashion, and co-founder of Woman Up! Events, a series of events exploring what it means to be a Woman in the 21st Century.

What has been your favourite response to your work?

The ‘I love my Cunt’ tee shirt was a very interesting one in which I’ve never seen such a polarised response to. On the day I launched it I got two types of emails from people, those who were singing it’s praises, and in some cases thanking me! Or those who were disgusted and really angry at me for creating it. Which for me confirmed it’s power as a word, the very idea I had wanted to explore.

When I was at University the reaction to my final collection is something that changed me as a person and will stay with me forever. I wanted to create a collection in response to the way I felt about the representation of women in the media. The question I wanted to ask was is the Vagina the last bastion of women’s bodies yet to receive mainstream media scrutiny, and if so when will that change? I wondered whether we were likely to start seeing vulvas spread open on music videos, on Page 3 perhaps, or on the front of women’s magazines. Would we see pictures of women post-surgery and be asked to judge whether they had ‘gone too far’ or would we start seeing the post-baby vag… etc. Anyway throughout the whole process of my work people would recoil whenever I used the words Vagina or Vulva and eventually it was stricken from my work as requested by my tutors and in all honesty I was made to feel like I had been doing something vulgar; rich coming from the Fashion industry I know! It left me utterly perplexed and with lots of questions, why is it we are drowning in pictures of women’s bodies and yet we are not allowed to actually say ‘Vagina’? So not exactly a good response, but one that educated me! The reaction to the words ‘Vagina’ and ‘Cunt’ are very telling I think in terms of the acceptance of women’s bodies.

Challenging body oppression in all forms is hugely important. But it can be taxing, how do you keep going?

For the most part my daughter is what keeps my desire to change things alive, and simply hoping that she can grow up in a world that is not so hostile to women. Specifically what keeps me going is being surrounded by amazing Women and friends who are working their asses off to change things as well, who I know I can pick up the phone to at any minute and regularly do.

What is your favourite thing about the activism you do?

Seeing and meeting young women, who have no idea that they are allowed to have an opinion on the world around them, much less change it. Being able to open heir minds to the idea that they have an absolute right to speak their minds and that their voices matter.