christiane spangsberg The File

Happy International Women’s Day!

To all our readers, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, best friends, and any woman past and present that has helped to make the world a better place, Happy International Women’s Day! There’s something undeniably magic about sisterhood, and so to celebrate the cultural, social and political achievements of women across the world, we had a chat to four of our favourite creative women about what feminism means to them, what they are most excited about in 2017, and what their views on beauty are. Here goes!

  • Editor-In-Chief, The Ladies Network

    Arabella Peterson

    What does beauty mean to you?
    So many things! It’s internal and subjective. Beauty is so much fun to me and I really love makeup, dressing up and using products that make me feel confident and comfortable. As women, I think we need to be kinder to ourselves and each other when it comes to our physical appearance. I believe that beauty comes from how you treat people and how you make others feel, and as painfully corny as this sounds, a beautiful person isn’t only seen but felt too.

    What are you most excited about this year?
    I’m optimistic about 2017! I’m excited to see where The Ladies Network takes me as well as focusing more on my personal writing and projects. I’m pretty keen to have a little sea change and spend a while in Melbourne as well. One of the best things about 2016 for me was connecting with and learning from so many creative and lovely people — I hope 2017 is the same.

    When do you feel your best?
    I feel my best when I’m surrounded by my family and loved ones. That’s when I’m wearing what I want, looking how I want and acting how I want. I often feel quite nervous in social situations and things like social media as well as career and life goals can be pretty stressful. But when I’m with my close circle of friends, I can be myself, free from pretence and with unclouded perspective — that’s when I feel happy and fulfilled.

    Do you identify as a feminist? Please explain.
    I do! I believe that everyone deserves complete equality regardless of what gender they identify with and in this regard, we still have so far to go. While it’s nice to have a blanket term to relate to and I do feel connected to other people who identify with this label, I also feel like it’s a privilege to be able to identify as a feminist. I realise that the term holds different weight and means different things to everyone – depending on how their identities intersect and their own lived experiences – which is why I think intersectional feminism is really the only way forward. In my personal experience, feminism is synonymous with compassion and progress; it’s an open and evolving dialogue.

    Who are your biggest idols?
    From a writer’s perspective, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is pretty inspirational, or on a more local level maybe someone like Tara Moss. More personally though, my mum, dad, brother, sisters and boyfriend are a constant source of love, support and motivation for me. They’re smart, understanding, empathetic and always willing to listen, so they’re my ultimate idols!

    What product makes you feel especially great?
    A night in by myself doing a face mask or hair treatment makes me feel pretty special, so I’m tempted to say my Kevin Murphy Hydrate-Me Masque or a Lush Mask of Magnaminty. But when I wear red lipstick I feel more bold and confident, so I’ll choose YSL Rouge Pur Couture Satin Radiance in Le Rouge. It’s bright and hydrating and suits fair skin and auburn hair!


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    Mel Kenny

    What does beauty mean to you?
    Feeling happy without effort + nice skin.

    What are you most excited about this year?
    New places, new things and new people. Nouns.

    When do you feel your best?
    Walking home in fresh air following intense cardio.

    Do you identify as a feminist? Please explain.
    The word itself is less important than the attitude. In 2017 the word is really great for SEO and selling magazines but it should connect to something bigger in order to evolve.

    Fundamentally there are flaws in our collective thinking – there is plenty to be uncomfortable about! I read an interesting article recently; an author was ruminating that her subconscious thoughts were sexist, though she was an honest and outward feminist. Something I do often is subvert or dilute my emotional tendencies because I think they’re unwelcome by men, and I think this is one way of understanding how systemic and autonomous the disparities are for both men and women.

    Who are your biggest idols?
    I don’t think I have an answer for this!

    What’s the one product makes you feel especially great?
    Thanks for asking! This is a really new thing for me – I’m only two or three days in actually – but MANUKA HONEY is something I deeply believe in. I’m wearing some right now, can you believe? I have a jar of NPA15+ which I slather all over face and leave for a few hours. Witness the magic yourself as it dries up very big zits in just a few hours. It’s a medical-grade antibacterial agent, moisture-rich and is said to fade dark spots (hopefully I can testify about this one very soon).


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    Amrita Hepi

    What does beauty mean to you?
    It means being as interested as you are interesting, it means resilience, it means baby hair and all the bits of fluff and wobble in your existence, it means hoop earrings, it means a multitude of things depending on where in my month I’m at. Beauty is — like Adele and Beyonce at the Grammy’s were — honest, shiny, at times with tears and wetness, but mostly it’s being as generous as you can afford to be/show.

    What are you most excited about this year?
    I’m excited about the prospect of more people understanding that intersectionality is a thing. I’m also going to go see Princess Nokia in the EU in April and that’s very exciting for me.

    When do you feel your best?
    When I have slept deeply and gone for a swim!

    Do you identify as a feminist? Please explain.
    Yes, and for me this isn’t radical. What amazes me is people’s feminism in places where the patriarchy and class systems have a hold and they are still doing their bit — you want equality, you want to get rid of the damage of the patriarchy (which BTW is not getting rid of dudes?). You want the best for your wife, friends, daughters, grandmothers? Like, what is there not to get behind?

    Who are your biggest idols?
    Belle Hooks, Angela Davis, Katherine Dunham.

    What’s the one product that makes you feel especially great?
    All the products from Par Femme, and ‘specially the sexy ones.


  • 3


    Christiane Spangsberg

    What does beauty mean to you?
    When kindness, authenticity and love for yourself and others is reflected on the outside. When you have filled your own cup so you can give to others without expecting anything in return. These people radiate beauty to me. They stand tall and walk with a glimmer in their eyes and a sincere smile.

    What are you most excited about this year?
    Good question. I havent thought that far ahead, but thinking about it Im getting pretty excited about getting home to Copenhagen and hugging all my friends! And hopefully the exhibition in NYC will happen, which I am really excited about too! And the shoot with you guys!

    When do you feel your best?
    I think I feel my best pretty much all day everyday. I aim at doing my best all the time. I picked up a quote once by the lovely wise Coach John Wooden who in a Ted Talk gave his definition of success: Peace of mind, attained only through self satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best of which youre capable.I believe this to be very true, and that doing my best is the only thing I have actual control over in this world.

    Do you identify as a feminist? Please explain.
    I know I will fail to give a short answer to this question, I will do my best to explain, and know that this is my subjective opinion. A feminist. Do I believe that men and woman should all be treated equally? Yes. I believe all human beings should be treated equally, despite money, age, hierarchy, illness etc. Maybe I live with the hopes of an ideal fairytale world, but I believe we are all the same. Do I identity as a feminist? I guess a part of this word is connected to be feminine. The word feminine contains, to me, words such as vulnerable, empathy, soft, emotional”, among many others. Though being feminine is not only a part of being woman. Feminine is found in all of us. Man and woman. We both share the capability to access this place within ourselves. For years I have seen myself as masculine: strong, hard, carefree. Nothing could get to me and yet, at some point this image of myself crashed. I felt lonely as if I disconnected myself from the whole world. On purpose. I thought masculine was the good, the strongway to be. I spent some years in therapy. I dont remember much, but one thing I remember, every session my therapist would ask How do you feel today? In the beginning I had no idea, always justfine, but one day I added I think this is such an irrelevant question — like — I dont know what I feel!? and then she replied ah, I see, you feel angry.

    I have spent years denying my feelings, as they were my worst enemy. I have taught myself that people cant handle my feelings if they were below the degree of goodor alright. Perhaps this was a story I wanted to believe which I therefore created, so I stopped feeling, until that moment in the session. Or I guess it took me a bit longer than that. But over the years I have realised many things. One is this: the world is not black and white. A friend once told me when discussing this subject that she saw the world in nuances of lilac. To me the same is for the word feminine. Some women are more feminine than others. Some men are more feminine than others. The great misunderstanding lies in perceiving feminine as weakness and masculine as power. I would argue this as a phenomenal misconception and that the truth is the exact opposite. To be feminine; to be vulnerable, emotional and softis the essence of being strong and powerful. To believe that discarding one’s feelings in the favor of being strongand ‘masculine’ is a misunderstood concept which we have wrongly passed down through generations. To love is power. To be woman is power. To be man is power. We need each other to create a balance in such a turbulent world. Maybe since man has been taught that feeling is bad, they have become afraid of woman? To give the woman too much power. I feel with them in a way, I understand why they are afraid — when you have lived in your head a while, detached from what you feel, you start to fear it. You start to fear what it can do to you. And to chance this we need to chance ourselves. We need to find the feminine within us and we need to teach our children that feelings are okay. Whatever that feeling may be, then we will realize that we are all just the same and we are equally needed.

    Do I identify as a feminist? First I believe it is as important to stress that I believe this is a wrong word, because as mentioned both men and women are feminine. I believe we are all one and I believe we should treat each other as such. I have never seen myself as a feminist though — maybe I need to understand the word better.

    Who are your biggest idols?
    Old people. They know better.

    @christianespangsberg. Photography, Frederikke Nørgård.

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    Words, Madeleine Woon.