The Shape Your Culture project started because we were talking about how much better it feels to live life when you are focusing on what you are doing, when you make sure that you find a way to do what you love doing, and when you stop being constantly occupied with what you look like while you are going through life.
We thought: what better way to remind people — including ourselves — of all our amazing potential, than to actually put that potential to use!
We thought: what better way to break the mould of derogatory and two-dimensional representations of women, than by being out there doing what we want to do and what we believe in!
We thought: what better way to show that we have a choice in what we want to see, hear, say and do — than celebrating all kinds of work in which women are three-dimensional, funny, clever, have flaws and desires, are alive!
All around us, awareness is being raised about the negative effects it can have on women and men, and the relations between them, if too much focus is laid on appearance. Especially if the versions of appearance that we are told are ‘good’ are created by companies who have very little interest in all of our well-being, and a great amount of interest in making lots of money from us in whatever way they can.
But of course it isn’t enough to raise awareness that something is wrong. We need to do something about it. And while talking is very important, we want to do something more than talk. We want to stretch and expand the spaces where women can see, hear, speak and do in ways that feel right for them.
There is, however, an important thing to remember here:
It is not a race.
It is not a competition.
When we lay the focus on doing, we do not want to add another pressure to all the pressures that already exist.
We do not want to create a sense that as well as being a good daughter, girlfriend, student, employee, as well as looking a certain way and being fit and healthy and all those other things the world seems to demand of us, we now also have to rush around like crazy doing stuff.
No, we want to find spaces where it is possible to breathe. To step away from others’ expectations and ask yourself what you want and need.
To try out new things and not care if you look ridiculous.
To maybe write a poem, a story, a song of your very own, maybe for noone else to see.
To maybe learn how to knit, to make a messy picture, to cook your favourite meal for yourself.
To start to understand that you can use the things that you are good at confidently: maybe to change the world on a big scale, or maybe to explore and shape your personal world.
To not do any of these things in order for them to be seen and judged by someone else, but purely because it feels good or necessary to do them.
Maybe they won’t go on your Facebook page. Maybe you choose to put them in a blog — maybe not. Maybe they won’t win you a competition.
But maybe they will give you an idea of all the possibilities that are inside you, that some parts of our culture are trying very hard to pretend do not exist.
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