Girlgaze founder Amanda de Cadenet wants to end the censorship of our bodies
Amanda de Cadenet is a force to be reckoned with on many fronts. She’s a professional photographer, and is the youngest woman to shoot a magazine cover for Vogue. Amanda transforms ideas into small screen projects — in 2012, the creative worked with Demi Moore to produce The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet, which allowed her to interview notables such as Hillary Clinton, Jane Fonda, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Arianna Huffington, and many more. While all of this makes for a beyond-impressive resume, #girlgaze is perhaps the most impactful bullet point on Amanda’s list of accomplishments.
A digital media company that supports female Gen Z photographers, #girlgaze has become its own movement. “Our mission is to close the gender gap by creating visibility and tangible jobs for girls behind the lens,” reads their website, reminding us that, though the company was only founded in 2016, #girlgaze has already reached a pinnacle of success (they’ve received over one million Instagram submissions, and that number keeps growing).
This past Friday, September 29th, #girlgaze kept its numbers growing with the opening of the “#girlgaze Uncensored” exhibit in Los Angeles. To highlight the censorship of women’s bodies and the under-representation of the female gaze in our society, Amanda worked with Amanda and Shepard Fairey to bring this show to life at Subliminal Projects Gallery. Here, the work of over 50 photographers was represented — and will be represented until October 28th.
To get a behind-the-scenes feel for this project, Amanda kindly took the time to speak with us at the gallery.
HelloGiggles (HG): This exhibit is so diverse, and I imagine it will impact many people, for many different reasons. Is there a specific photo that has impacted you?
Amanda de Cadenet (AdC): There are many different favorites because…I mean, this is one of my favorites. *points to the featured image*
Flora Negri is one of my favorite new photographers. Her images have been in #girlgaze since the beginning and I just love her work so much — she’s Brazilian. And then I also love Sophie Mayanne, who did the amazing images of the ladies with the scars. Her work is pretty incredible. And then Kimbra, who did the self-harm images. And also Samera, who did the body dysmorphia images.
You know, this lady sitting here — *gestures to woman next to her* — is the lady in the picture up there (see below). And it was so cool to talk to her because she was like, “I just never thought I’d see my ass that big on the wall.”
It’s really important that we see different types of bodies, you know? It’s crucial that it’s not just one point of view here.
Not one point of view, not one body type, not one political persuasion. It’s got to be inclusive, you know? Lynsey Addario, her work, she’s one of the most amazing female photojournalists — she’s obviously way more established, but she’s part of our #girlgaze committee and her work documenting infant mortality is really significant. Also, the transition images are really important.
We’re all user submissions. So when we do a call to action, we say, “Share with us the images that you couldn’t publish anywhere.” This is pretty much what we got.
HG: What’s it like to see this project fully realized, up on the wall?
AdC: It’s amazing. Bridget and Tory, [my team members], they really helped curate this with me. The way the images are laid out, and the sequencing, they did all of that. It’s really an amazing collaboration…and they shifted through so many. When all the submissions come in, I look at it, they look at it. It’s not just my point of view, because then it would be just one point of view.
Everyone gets involved…It’s a very inclusive thing.
HG: Do you have a favorite memory from your time bringing this exhibition to life?
AdC: Realizing from the submissions how much talent there is, number one. And number two, realizing, when we were looking at all the submissions, I was like, “There’s really a theme here and it is censorship of bodies.”
Whether it has to do with body shape, whether it has to do with menstruation, or body parts, reproduction. There is a censorship of women’s bodies and that is across the board. When you look at it, the theme that I saw, and it wasn’t intentional that we curated it like this, it was just what was coming to us. That the number one way that we are censored is through our bodies. In America, we have freedom of speech — supposedly. If you live in Saudi Arabia, you don’t have the same freedom of your body. Obviously, there are countries that have it way worse than we do.
In America, we’re supposed to have freedom of speech. However, our bodies are censored. You can’t show a nipple on Instagram. That’s why we have that nipple framed on a phone, to show that this should not be censored…Through looking at this work, I was like, “Our next campaign needs to be addressing the censorship of the female body.” Because, look at this work. It needs to be in the world.
And by the way, most people, this is what our lives are like. You know what I mean? One of my favorite pictures is the girl who has the underwear and her pad is hanging out. It’s so uncomfortable, but it’s so familiar. I feel like we’ve all had that. And you can’t stop looking at it and you’re like, “Oh my god.” It’s really uncomfortable, but it’s so familiar. You might see your own, but not like that —[not with] that framing. This, you’re looking down. I love that picture so much.
HG: What you plan to do in the future? Any other projects that you have coming up?
AdC: There are so many things going on with #girlgaze. We’re launching a magazine, we have a lot of stuff in the works that you’ll see in the next few months, rolling out.