INTERVIEW: ROSALIND SHRINIVAS
Model, Rosalind, on her life, beauty, aesthetics, feminism, fragrance and sense of self.
What women have inspired you most in your life?
I think it’s natural to say that my mother and sister have been most inspiring for me. We have a very female-power family, since my parents spilt up when I was 11. My father lived abroad so my mother was the sole person bringing us up, teaching us the ways of life. I would look up to her and how she stayed strong and empowered even at times when she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Her guidance, support and selflessness has given me an amazing role model. She inspires me to be caring and respectful to others and shows how nothing fills your heart more than making someone else smile. My sister is 3 years older and is more of the risktaker in the family. She taught me to be more carefree and to embrace my creativity. She also always makes sure I am comfortable in myself by celebrating who I am. She’s my ultimate life cheerleader!
What women do you most identify with from history to the present day?
I would say I have a constant craving for the new and the future so I resonate more with current iconic women, but no one can fault the incredible political and cultural advances women from the past have made for women today! I have always admired is Frida Kahlo. For me she was a woman whose beauty didn’t follow the typical form, and whose strength made her even more of an infatuation. I also find her to be one of the first women to embody a slight androgyny through her style and her natural genetic make up. She also represents the quote ‘Mind over Matter’ for me and didn’t let her unfortunate circumstances impede her creativity, but rather celebrated and expressed her life.
What are your most important female causes?
One female cause that is important to me, especially studying design, is to challenge women who feel they have to dress a certain way for the ‘male gaze’ or are afraid to step out of the box and wear something that is deemed masculine. Culture is becoming more accepting of all sexualtiies and there is a surge in unisex brands but I feel there is still an overall understanding that women look “sexiest” wearing clothing that show off the female body. One of my favourite designers is Haider Ackermann for the sole reason that he dresses women with a masculine and feminine blended sensibility. His muse is Tilda Swinton, who has a otherworldy, unconventional beauty and ambiguous strength that is empowering to all women without being stereotypical. I also think there’s a line between sultry and sexy. Getting the right balance can be empowering – women should dress for their own self esteem.
Why were these three images from the campaign your chosen favourites of yourself?
I chose these images because I feel they represent the different sides of me. My craving to embrace my weird side, an androgyny I feel I have and my natural genetic make up. I am half Indian and have more body hair than some girls and this was something that made me feel ugly and was a topic of humiliation for me when I was younger. Something that didn’t make me feel desirable or attractive in anyway because of how other people perceived it. When I got older I started to let go of these feelings linked to my appearance and just be myself. I love how these are part of the images in the campaign. Thank you for making me feel even more empowered to be myself!
Have you ever felt threatened because you are a woman?
I had a time where I was told by a male friend that I was ‘overwhelming’ because of my general interest in him and when all I wanted to do was to support him through a stressful time as I had just gone through a stressful time myself. This made me question who I was because it came across that I would have to change to keep this friendship. I worried that I was just annoying – that I was an annoyance to anyone and everyone I had come in contact with. There is a stereotype that women are ‘too emotional’ and guys don’t like talking about ’emotional things.’ When he said that to me, I felt as if I had somehow done something bad. Now, though, I feel you should be as emotional as you like. Women’s interest and support can be thrown by the way side when it should be cherished. There is nothing more empowering that feeling cared for and I find women enjoy this – perhaps it’s a maternal instinct that’s programmed into us all.
What smells remind you of femininity?
For me sweet smells always do, coconut, rose,fruit scents but I always enjoy a scent that juxtaposes this with a sharpness like pepper, sandalwood or cedar.
How does beauty industry advertising make you feel about yourself?
I definitely feel images are overedited, which makes some women feel “ugly” if they don’t look flawless! One of the reasons I love being involved in this campaign, is that you can see pores, blemishes, hair. These are NATURAL and real and as a human race it is comforting to know you aren’t alone when it comes to feeling like you have flaws but also your ‘so called’ flaws can be celebrated and are really beautiful. Sometimes I find certain brands encourage a mask with makeup, when I think makeup should be used to naturally compliment what your DNA has given you!
Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty?
I used too. 100%. As I’m sure everyone has. When I was at school I got bullied for my appearance – I think it was especially because I was a different race and didn’t look like the stereotype or the ‘norm’. But now I feel the complete opposite. I feel freedom to be me and it empowers me when I’ve thought about how I dress/present myself and picked or mixed pieces that make the look original. Same with my mentality. I prefer being a minority because sometimes in the majority certain people are judgemental. It’s wrong to have to try to fit into a status or reputation but some people get irritated when you don’t. Life becomes a facade and I don’t think I could live life without honesty!
What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?
I feel honoured being part of this campaign and chosen as a Damn Rebel Bitch. I wouldn’t say I’m your obvious rebel, but I think people associate carnage and recklessness sometimes with that word. For me what makes me a Damn Rebel Bitch is my knowledge of the power of kindness and honesty. Through the years I’ve realised the beauty you can feel through supporting others and the lessons you can learn yourself. And there is nothing better than making someone feel appreciated. Uplift others and you will be uplifted yourself!