Every day I look in the mirror, and literally every time I do I notice my flaws both inside and out. Not once in my memory have I looked and thought ‘I am a badass’ at my reflection. It’s the way of things though… to notice the bad instead of the good. I think it’s supposed to be some mad survival instinct that’s remained in such a way it’s giving everyone anxiety over trivial things like looking in the mirror.
I find it hard to take ownership of that word really. ‘Badass.’
It makes me think of Buffy or Beyonce. It doesn’t make me think of me. I’ve always seen myself as this strange mixture of adjectives such as boring, sensible, awkward, out of place, nerdy, driven, curious, weird and a bit of a bumbling oaf. I don’t mind being these things, I usually lean into them. But ‘Badass’ has certainly never made the shortlist of words I would use to describe myself. Yet, last week I found myself standing in Twitter London looking at a portrait of myself that said why I’m badass, feeling like I had probably taken the place of someone more deserving of the title…
The reason I was there was for the launch of Badass Because – an exhibition and campaign by Badass.Gal, a platform that was set up to feature a different girl from the creative industry every day of the year and launched on International Women’s Day 2018. I was lucky enough to be on the platform last year, and I have also been working on the Fearless Types project to raise money for them to put on events like this, that help and support women.
Anyway, this exhibition was to celebrate the completion of the first year of Badass.Gal, featuring around 45 of the amazing women who had been on their site, and their reasons for being badass. With Badass Because aiming to break the stigma surrounding self-promotion and to encourage more women to own their achievements… So my feelings of being an imposter are exactly why this is a thing and why it’s important.
I had to ask some friends to help me figure out what to say on my portrait because as mentioned I don’t really feel badass. So my wonderful friend Dan said the following: ‘We need to build on your amazing qualities. You put people at their ease. Right off the bat we have Loyalty. Royalty. Royal tea. Adventurous. Tenacious. Humorous, undeterred by challenge or obstacle. Your rhymes are flavourful. Barrier breaker, carpe diem opportunity taker, freedom instigator. You’ve got the power to lift a heart and make it better. You infect us with your will to create, you gotta a fire in you spirit that will never abate. Peace.’ and of course – a section of this made it into the exhibition.
And being able to see myself through someone else’s eyes I can finally start to feel a little bit badass myself. So here is why I’m badass, in my own words – I work my ass off. I genuinely care. I take opportunities and I run with them despite feeling like I am totally winging it. I am loyal, I am curious and willing to bring on the adventures. I am ridiculously patient and pretty unwavering. I take risks but because I’m sensible they’re always measured. I have sisu, and I have a quiet determination to keep going and never give up. I will never let myself let other people down, and I also won’t compromise who I am for others. I know I am flawed and I am human and I use this understanding of myself to be better at my job, and be a better person. Fear of failure doesn’t stop me from trying, which is why I am setting up my own studio. Ultimately the thing that keeps me going is that I believe in myself and my vision and that makes me unstoppable. That makes me badass.
And if you feel like you aren’t badass, think again. See yourself through someone else’s eyes and don’t dismiss those positives as being false. Own your inner badass and let them out to play.
All the images here are from the Badass Because Exhibition, and you can see all of the portraits and more detail about the project over at badass.gal.
Thank you to Danny Pallett and Charlotte Hugh for starting Badass.Gal, and for pulling together this exhibition. Marc Hayden was the incredible photographer who shot well over 40 women in a single day, making each and every one of them look amazing – despite being 4 days into having a newborn. And Beki Reilly was the illustrator who brought every single statement to life across each photograph.