INTERVIEW: SGÀIRE WOOD
We talk to REEK model Sgaire, on femininity, favourite smells and inspiration.
What women have inspired you most in your life?
The older I get the more I realise how similar I am to my mother and my sister. I learned a lot of what it was to a be a woman from them and we have so many shared experiences, feelings, opinions and genes, so I suppose that makes sense. I’m always inspired by their strength and kindness. They also have a very low tolerance for bullshit which I find particularly admirable.
What smells remind you of femininity?
I don’t know if I associate femininity or masculinity with any particular smells, but I think I feel most feminine when I’m wearing a scent that connects me to the earth or my own creative energy. Patchouli, olibanum, oud, myrrh, labdanum. Anything natural and earthy and woody. My parents are big patchouli-wearers/incense-burners so maybe feeling feminine and the strength of feeling in touch with my roots go hand in hand. That sounds so pretentious!
Do you feel that brands aimed at women represent you?
Not really, but that doesn’t bother me too much. A lot of products aimed at women rely on the assumption that we all have one of three or four body shapes or skin tones or that we are all full-time homemakers/mothers or even that we all menstruate. These assumptions are categorically untrue and often really problematic because women are much more diverse than this branding gives us credit for.
That said, I don’t expect anything else from big companies trying to shift as much stock as possible to make as much profit as possible, so I think I’ve come to accept that women like me won’t be represented by woman-directed branding. I’m aware also that representation is a really intersectional issue and despite my obvious trans-ness, as a young, thin, white, able-bodied person, I have much more access to representation than a lot of other people.
Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty?
Yes, definitely, but again I think I’m getting better at reacting to that feeling in a healthy way the older I get! Now more than ever there’s this pressure from the media to be physically perfect (whatever that means…) and in a society where women are constantly objectified and having their worth measured by physical attractiveness, the pursuit for perfection is unrealistic and really damaging to the body and mind.
I try to hold myself to my own, more accessible, realistic standards, but as a transgender woman, Western beauty ideals can make me feel like my physical self isn’t beautiful or that my existence isn’t recognised as valid by society, and that hurts.
Obviously, I have internalised so many of these standards and they still effect how I subconsciously judge myself and other people sometimes, so I can’t claim to be above them, but true beauty is so subjective and we shouldn’t let patriarchy or industries define it for us.
Western definitions of female beauty are based on years of oppression and hegemony so for a lot of people, the current ideal just isn’t achievable. For the most part, women of colour, disabled women, trans or gender non-conforming women, older women or women of any shape or size that don’t see themselves represented positively in the media are left out of the pictures we’re inundated with every day. It’s no wonder that standards of beauty make most of us feel horrible about ourselves!
I think wisdom, compassion, uniqueness, creativity and honesty are all beautiful, whether they manifest themselves physically or not, so I try to act accordingly.