Hi! Tasha here. I am currently working on getting this website back up and running… so stay tuned for a year of updates coming your way shortly! xoxo The Underwear Enthusiast
I’ve been waiting for this day for a while. Routinely scrolling to the bottom of our Instagram page to reach the very first post, checking the date against my iPhone calendar. Today has seemed a long way off, but somehow it’s finally here and I’ve done it… and it feels pretty magical. A year ago today, I started The Pants Project. Honesty hour: I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning and one year in, if I’m being realistic, I still don’t. Blind and ignorant and oblivious, I waded into the deep end of non-profit organisations, the charity world, the fashion industry, the lingerie business, PR, marketing, social media, event organisation and one hell of a learning curb. Stumbling/falling/tripping into adulthood aside, I don’t think I have ever been more proud of myself. I had a vision for The Pants Project that resembled the Notting Hill scene where Julia Roberts confesses her love to Hugh Grant in a dusty bookshop. Instead of two movie stars on a film set, it was real-life raw human beings, in their own private spaces, standing in front of the mirror with nothing on but a pair of pants, asking themselves to love themselves. Somehow, three hundred and sixty-five days down the line, an ocean of tears, countless lists and thousands of emails later, I think I have achieved that vision – in some satisfying capacity at least. The messages I have received, from both men and women, telling me that one of our Instagram posts has changed the way they see themselves or feel about their body, or that they’d danced to Blondie in the bathroom wearing their favourite pair of undies that morning, is proof that this insane idea has actually made some miniscule difference in the world. Yes, I wanted to give the world the glamourous gift of beautiful underwear – an armour in it’s own right – and take back some practical support in return, that we could use to help those struggling with infertility, but ultimately I just wanted to make people feel better. I just wanted to give normal people that tiny glimmer of hope that in order to feel whole and unbroken, we don’t have to look further than ourselves, and that the tools we need to get better and be our best already occupy a space within us.
I started The Pants Project a year ago, to fill the hole inside me and turn the thing that had broken me, into a tool to help fix others who were broken themselves, whether that was because of infertility or some other evil. I wanted to fix myself, through helping to fix others. 12 months ago, one follower and the odd ‘Thanks for the support!’ message would’ve satisfied me, but this last year has changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I never thought this project would be as successful as it has been so far. I honestly didn’t think many people would care or think my work was necessary, but I have never been so wrong. I never dreamed Vogue would interview me, or that I would’ve had the opportunity to work with the incredible roster of designers I have done. I never thought anyone would say yes, and that I’d somehow get to be a part of the most wonderful and dedicated fertility charity to my knowledge, enabling me to reach and help those struggling with infertility in ways I never thought possible. I never EVER dreamed we’d raise as much money as we have done this year – nearly ten thousand pounds, all of which has gone towards helping those struggling with infertility… I wonder how many lives have been enabled because of this pants wearing community. Thank you will never cut it, and words will never come close to how grateful I am to each and every individual who has been a part of this journey. To my friends and family, who have helped me when I’ve asked for it and stepped back to let me make my own mistakes when I needed to, thank you for letting this be my own project, but helping carry it when it’s gotten too heavy – thank you for your love. To the people I’ve worked with, who have been patient beyond belief and trusted me as an underqualified teenager winging pretty much everything, learning the ropes and balancing her time somewhat erratically – thank you for your faith. To the women who have inspired me the world over, through your courageous acts of self love and defiance – thank you for showing me it’s possible. And finally, to those of you who have supported this project in any way, shape or form, for giving me this platform that has changed my life, filled the gap within myself and enabled me to help fix others, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, with all the pants power I can muster – you have given me my life back and for that I will be eternally grateful.
The past couple of months have been less pants filled (sorry for the radio silence, we’re back on air now!) and more life filled as I reflect on a year that was harder in ways than any other I’ve had to face, but better than any other I could have imagined. This year has taken a lot out of me, but also put a LOT back into me that I never thought I’d see again or ever discover in the first place. The best thing about all of this, is that this is only the first year – there is so much more to come, so many more avenues to explore and SO MANY PAIRS OF PANTS TO WEAR! The Pants Project is only just getting started, so please do stay tuned, I can promise you it only gets better.
This has been one hell of a year and quite the journey, with some huge highs, huge lows and plenty of ‘why on earth am I doing this at 20-years-old, I have no idea what’s going on, someone hand me a G&T or help’. One year on though, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learnt so much, achieved more than I ever, ever dreamed I would and I still can’t believe it’s only been a year. I could rattle on for days and mention every supreme individual who has carried me to this point, but the list would be longer than the doomsday book and ‘aint nobody got time for that. Besides, it’s our first birthday, so imma put on my favourite pair of undies and paint the town red in honour of you, us and everything the last three hundred and sixty-five days of this project has given me. My pants feel like they could burst with pride. I never thought I’d give birth, but now I’m saying Happy 1st Birthday to my very own baby.
So here’s to this year and many more to come.
Thank you for everything,
I think this might be the most personal blog post yet, so prepare for some indulgent introspection and a hint of venting! Deep and meaningful contemplation aside, I hope it will be of some help to any of you reading this who might also be going through a rough patch.
May has been a big old month, and seems to have dragged on so long that I can’t quite believe it’s June – thank the lord for clean slates and fresh starts. Aside from personal thought, I have been buried in a huge pile of academic thought – behold, the wonder of exam season. The last time I was at university, I didn’t make it to summer exams, so I went in this year as a university exam virgin, and came out slightly scarred. Even though it was first year and I only had to get 40%, it’s incredible the amount of pressure and stress university exams can bring you. It was fascinating to watch people trapes to and from the library, surviving off a bacon sandwich and pint of beer a day, and then having a total volcanic eruption of stress, falling apart at the last minute and buckling to peer pressure, going out for a blinder the night before an exam – to give us some credit, students have a miraculous amount of stamina. Although I thought it might never end, I did finally finish exams and in turn my whole first year of university. Given that so many talk about uni as being ‘the best three years of your life’, to a lot of people this won’t sound like a massive achievement… I mean all you have to do is turn up to one lecture a term, scrape a pass and down the odd dirty pint, right? For me however, finishing a whole year at university was a big achievement. I think what I am slowly realising, as I cruise into my twenties, is that I wasn’t your average teenager. I have been through too much to hold onto that beautiful innocent naivety of childhood and I am far too wrapped up in my own thoughts and perfectionist nature to indulge in that wonderfully carefree attitude so many of my friends and peers are capable of. I’m not boring, but I am pretty excellent at distracting myself from having fun with things I feel I ought to be doing… aka, saving the world one pair of pants at a time. If I am being completely honest, which I hope I can be in a world of fake news, I would say that I used The Pants Project as an excuse to hide away a bit this year. I had come from a term of university in Leeds that quite frankly broke me, and then a mere few months later, I launched myself into the whole ‘unaaayyy/fresherzzz’ environment all over again. I was vulnerable, scared, undefined by my musical talents (something I felt I had always been defined by), and still feeling pretty fragile. This is not supposed to sound really dramatic and regretful, and as though I sat festering in my room all year, slaving away at The Pants Project, frantically writing and rewriting essays to get that sweet sweet first… I did have a lot of fun here and there, and I met some lovely people (you know who you are). The long and short of my point is, I used The Pants Project and my academic work as an excuse to hide from life. I’m never going to be the life and soul of the party – that’s just not who I am – but I have realised there is a need for balance in my life. I need to learn that the most important moment is now… life passes us by so quickly, and we’re all so busy all the time that I would hate to look back on my younger years and only remember answering emails.
Before you freak out and wonder where your Tash Bishop daily Instagram rants are going, and whether you need to start sourcing your own purposeful power pants, do not worry – The Pants Project is a huge part of me, it’s gotten me through a lot and it means a great deal that I am able to help people who have been, or are, or will be in similar situations to me. The Pants Project is going nowhere; it’s just going to settle into my life instead of bury it. This notion is what I hope will be helpful to those of you reading this: work is not everything, life is everything. We have so little time on this magical planet, it’s not worth slaving away day after day if we don’t get to live in it, on it, with it… and I mean really live in it. We owe it not only to ourselves but to the thousands of people who passed away in May far too early, from those killed in Manchester, to those in Kabul, and everyone in between who left this earth too soon, for one reason or another – I bet they wish they had more time to live life.
I have had some tough days to get through recently, a mixture of sadness and confusion, frantically trying to unscramble a messy mind. Whilst being incredibly proud of the project we’ve created and worked at all together, I am aware that I have let it consume me and I am terrified of letting life pass me by whilst I’m busy obsessing over knickers. Pants are not the be all and end all, but it’s pretty impossible to get through life without them. The morning after one of my worst days, my mum left me this poem on the breakfast table before work and I thought I would insert it for anyone else feeling particularly rocky at the mo:
After A While by Veronica A. Shoffstall
After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn
with every failure,
So now that I have poured my heart out and probably bored you all to death, I can get on with telling you what we’ve been working on! Firstly, we have a HUGE summer online collection of undies coming very soon (keep your eyes peeled on our insta for updates!) as well as a collaboration with the amazing Baltisoul Magazine as they launch their first printed issue, and Clementina lingerie who are supplying us with stunning power pants. Secondly, we are working with a fertility arts project in the US, and will be asking via Instagram for anyone willing to contribute their story of infertility to the project, so if that is something you would like to be a part of, please do get in touch but more details to come! Thirdly, this one is a bit of a stinker because I can’t say much about it yet, but I am working on getting a SUPER exciting video project off the ground that I know you will all love and I hope you will all find it as inspiring to watch as I have felt working on it. Finally, I have also been busy writing some articles for various magazines which will be coming out as they are published, so look out for those!
That’s all folks, it’s been an exhausting month for me full of tears, relief, catching my breath, sorting through my overflowing email inbox and many unforgotten lovely sunny days. Make sure to follow us on Instagram at @wearethepantsproject for updates on this pants party revolution!
P.S. Not even kidding, “Reach for The Stars” came on the radio as I finished writing this. That is a cosmic sign if ever I saw one!
Hello Pants Projecteers – you’re in store for a treat today.
The past month at The Pants Project has been relatively quiet, apart from some very exciting preparations getting underway (more on that soon!) and is therefore unworthy of a ‘blog’ – as such. Instead, I have collaborated with an out-of-this-world artist, Kitty Abberton, to bring you something a million times better than a blog. By way of attempt to accompany her wonderful work with some less wonderful words, April’s blog has become a commentary of art, it’s place in society, and its eternal importance. Find Kitty Abberton X The Pants Project below, and allow her to become your next insta-muse here: https://www.instagram.com/tittyabberton/
Yesterday was the 4th of May, or if you’ve lived on planet earth, Star Wars day. I found myself on Facebook (a place I only really frequent these days when I’m on a hunt for dog memes) and stumbled upon a fan-made video someone had created in memory of the great Carrie Fisher, running as a reel of her most inspiring quotes. Admittedly, I planned on scrolling quickly past this video, feeling a little cynical and incredulous, but one of the quotes caught my eye. I can’t honestly vouch for the verifiability of these words, and whether they indeed came from the wonderful Miss Fisher, but here they are:
“I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.” – Carrie Fisher
Without turning this piece into a very boring, academic philosophy essay about the meaning of life and in-definitive definition of art, I do want to talk about what art can do for us today. After I read Carrie’s words, I sat for a while and really thought. What exactly does she mean? Does she want to adopt the resemblance of a cup-a-soup sachet, Warhol style? Or, hear me out on this one, maybe she means we throw away everything we know and just live – unapologetically. It’s hard to know what she was referring to exactly, but maybe we stop trying to be that Instagram post. We stop trying to be something and instead, we just be. Pure and simple. If art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” (Oxford Dictionary) then surely this is something we want to embody, to become, as opposed to merely ‘resemble’. There is so much falsehood surrounding society these days, so much editing and so much ability to pretend, that faking it has become a whole lot easier than making it. Art stimulates different parts of our brain, to make us laugh or incite us to riot, with a whole gamut of emotions in between. Art gives us a way to be creative and express ourselves. For some people, art is the entire reason they get out of bed in the morning. You could say art is life, if it is something that makes us more thoughtful and well-rounded humans. If this is the case, and to embody art is to become the best version of myself, I want nothing more. I don’t want to make a fake, or a copy, I want to be the real deal – an authentic jumble of messy humanity, perfectly imperfect and truly unedited… I want my life to be art, just like Carrie.
Kitty Abberton’s work encapsulates intersectionality and celebrates every aspect of life, no matter how diverse, off the wall, abnormal that might be, in the most ironic of ways. Based on classical artworks, such as Olympia, The Creation of Adam or The Statue of David, she creates modern interpretations that embrace and honour body positivity, feminism, the LGBTQ+ community, diversity, pop-culture aesthetics etc. Her drawings are a true breath of fresh air, but in some way remind me of Wes Anderson’s work, in that they glorify the beauty and art within the mundane, normal, ‘boring’ aspects of life. In other words, her art makes itself – perhaps being an artist is being an exceptionally skilled observer. For this collaboration, all of her subjects are wearing PANTS, because as we all know, ‘aint nothing better in life than a good old pair of power pants to get you from one day to the next. I hope you find her work as inspiring, moving, magical and modern as I do. Her drawings are what art is supposed to be: art that imitates life, as opposed to life that imitates art. We are lumpy, bumpy, boring beings and for once someone is celebrating that. Thank you Kitty for your art and inspiration!
If you would like to contact Kitty, either for collabs or to tell her how much of a genius she is (obvo), please email: Kabberton30@gmail.com
If you happen to own a big old printing company, and fancy helping us get Kitty’s art onto some charity undies, PLEASE EMAIL ME here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe we should follow Kitty's magnificent example and get some caps made that read: MAKE HUMANITY GREAT AGAIN! Too far?
Last weekend marked the end of this years Women’s History Month. A whole thirty one days, dedicated to the history of a gender that has so often been marginalised in the past, and still is today. If you don’t believe me, may I suggest you watch this video of a Polish politician called Janusz Korwin-Mikke (granted he is 74, but does age warrant the excuse ‘it was a different time’? I’m not too sure…) telling women that they “must earn less than men, because they are weaker, smaller, less intelligent, they must earn less ... that is all”. This mind-boggling marginalisation towards woman has happened for many, many years, so despite being a millennial child of the 21st century, nothing about this video shocked me that much. In a bizarre sort of way, I was kind of weirdly pleased. Before you call me out for being a ‘bad feminist’ (read some Roxane Gay baby), let me explain why. I can't count the times that men (boys, lets be honest) and the odd woman have said “you don’t need feminism” or “women are completely equal to men” or “you can’t talk about feminism when you haven’t experienced the world” or “I hate feminists” (straight up, that makes you a sexist matey, bet your mumma would be so proud!) I don't know why people are so reluctant to say they're feminists. Could it be anymore obvious that we live in a patriarchal world when ‘feminism’ is still a bad word? To all the men and women who I have been too intimidated by to argue with before, I can tell you that I am only 20 years old, a lucky and privileged white girl, and I have definitely experienced sexism. Sexism still exists, and this video of the crazy Polish politician proves it – that is why it is important. I am a woman having to find hard evidence that sexism exits, so that the men in my life believe me when I say we need feminism.
Despite having experienced my fair share of sexism, what I feel is the most important ‘hard evidence’ of a need for feminism, is the horror happening to other women, far away from my privileged, white, western life, in which I have been extremely lucky to grow up with mostly feminist men, who encourage me to have an education and to stand on equal footing with them. Tragically, this is not the reality for a lot of women in this world. I have seen the horrors inflicted upon women just for being women, that play out daily on our TV screens – and even though it’s literally in our front room, not enough people are talking about it, or even taking note. It’s like every time I hear people say they’re not feminists because they haven't personally experienced any situations that ‘require’ feminism, I just think “Global warming isn't real because I was cold today! Also, great news… World hunger is over because I just ate!”. It doesn’t work like that hun, we have to take note from Maya Angelou (original QFE) who said “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women”. It’s that simple: we must rise together and acknowledge that outside of our comfy cotton wool, cabbage patch lives, sexism is alive and terrifyingly well.
It is so incredibly easy for us all to sit back and say “we don’t need feminism, we’re fine… I mean I believe in the equal rights of men and women, but I’m not a feminist”. It’s the “I believe in the equal rights of men and women, but I’m not a feminist” that really grinds my gears. My cousin is currently exploring the big wide world before university, and despite only having been gone for a few months, the change in her is remarkable. We so often get consumed and moulded by the bubbles that we live in, afraid to do anything but conform, afraid to stand up for what we believe in, and it’s all too often that I see people leaving school, or a particular job or area, and only then do they feel able and free enough to truly express themselves- how sad is that? We so rarely see beyond our iPhone encrusted noses, to face reality. My cousin and I had a lengthy conversation the other day at 3am (she’s in Oz and I’m an insomniac) about the frustration we both feel when people are terrified of admitting they are feminists. I think Aziz Ansari puts it really well if you’re not sure what I mean:
“If you believe that men and women have equal rights, and then someone asks you if you’re a feminist, you have to say yes. Because that's how words work. You can’t be like,
‘Yeah, I’m a doctor who primarily does diseases of the skin.’
‘Oh, so you’re a dermatologist?’
‘Oh that’s way too aggressive of a word, not at all, not at all.’”
How bonkers is that? Very, is the answer. But this is a situation I have come across far too many times, and it is for this reason, that things like ‘Women’s History Month’ is so important. Apart from being able to celebrate the incredible achievements of wonderful femmes who have gotten us to this point, from inventors to writers to artists, Instagram became a much more de-stigmatised place this month. Although it has been doing great things for the promotion of feminism for a while (apart from the no nipple thing… c’mon guys, this is the 21st century), it became a huge platform in which I felt completely free and empowered to preach to the world the wonders of womanhood. A place to say the word FEMINISM freely and powerfully, and get back a wave of supportive empowerment from others. The more people talk, post and tweet about feminism, the less stigma the word holds, the more people become feminists, and the closer we are to a society build on the equal rights of men and women.
Be proud to call yourself a feminist, because frankly, if you don’t call yourself one, you’re tarnished with the same brush as this guy…
March has been a month of preparation, new beginnings and a horrible amount of university work. I have been emailing designers left, right and centre, trying to coerce them into joining The Pants Project family and becoming part of the coolest club in the world, striving to save humanity one pair of pants at a time. We have a few goodies on the way, with an online summer collection of brand new designers and undies that I intend to run from June to the end of August. I also started my little foray into the world of YouTube, and am currently two videos in, one explaining why on earth I have decided to embarrass myself weekly on the horribly public space of the internet, and the other on my gap year, and how it changed my life (gap yah jokes aside, I really did grow into who I am today because I travelled, so I guess thank you world, for giving me the space to do that?). I would say I am surviving as an extremely mediocre videographer, and am extremely slowly (like as slow as a sleeping sloth) getting to grips with things. Give me a few years and I might be the next Zoella, you never know… gotta dream big, right mum? For the rest of March I have had a numb bum from too many hours in the library and wonky eyes from too much reading. I have also started learning to drive (better late than never) so watch out fellow road racers, I might just be the next Schumacher. In all seriousness, I started this month on a heavy note, feeling a little lost after the incredible highs of February, but I am ending it on a much more confident note, in the knowledge that each day I continue to grow and learn and become more than just my ‘gap’, so for anyone else who might be suffering from an identity crises or feel a bit bogged down, try something new and watch yourself blossom.
*(Just a lil disclaimer, at this point during writing I was genuinely tearful, surprised at how emotional I was finding the prospect of mothers day to be, so bare with me if this gets a little raw. I’ll abort mission if it ends up reading like my brain has become the interior of a Cadbury’s creme egg)*
I am beating around the bush a bit, so enough about March in general. Today is Mother’s Day, Sunday the 26th of March, so we might as well get to it. This is a day I never thought would be an issue. A day I sailed through in naive bliss every year, jumping at the opportunity to suck up to my favourite human on this planet and go nuts in the art box to make her a homemade card covered in sequins and feathers. I thought today would be about celebrating my mother, my grandmother, my step-mother, all the various ‘mother figures’ in my life, until I was a mother, and then I would get to celebrate myself too. And it is all these things, to some extent. It is another day when I get free reign to gush about the incredible women who have made me who I am today. My mother is the strongest, most inspiring person – let alone mother – I have ever met. She is beautiful, and natural, and wise, and incredibly multitalented, and persistent, and powerful, and tenacious, and kind, and intelligent, and just about every single positive adjective in the dictionary. I adore her and she is both my rock and daily inspiration, and there is no way I would’ve gotten through the last few years without her, so thank you mum.
Recently however, in the latest years of my life, this day has become tinged with a heavy sadness, and a sadness that I know is definitely not unique to me. This sadness is the realisation that consistent reminder that my path to motherhood is not going to be as easy or possible as I originally assumed it would. Luckily however, I am only 20 years old and am in no rush whatsoever to have children, and hence the pain that stems from infertility on mothers day, although surprisingly heartbreaking, is a little easier to repress. However, for those infertile women who are at a time in their lives when children are the next step, I can’t imagine how hard this day must be. It is also worth remembering, that it is not only those with infertility who suffer and struggle through a day (and a month of advertisements prior to the actual day because we live in a society built on blind consumerism) of gushy Instagram posts featuring a million and one ‘best mums in the world’. There is a club of us, who find this day one of the hardest to get through of all, and it includes people who have lost their mothers, mothers who have lost their children, or women who are childless due to life circumstances, as well as us infertile folk.
So today, The Pants Project stands with you. Happy Mother’s Day, to all of us, the infertile, the childless, the motherless, the neglected, the discarded, the abandoned, the weary, the sad. This day is for you too. It will undoubtedly bring pain, and perhaps a few tears and that is why we need to be patient with our tender little hearts. We need to invest in a great deal of self-care and allow ourselves to feel what we feel, without guilt or shame. If I was at home, as opposed to being locked up in a library finishing an essay (if anyone wants to rescue me, please go ahead, I will not object), I would go to my favourite hill in the whole world with my dogs, I’d sit, and see, and feel, and think, and then I’d probably trundle home to make myself a ginormous cup of tea and pour a bottle of strawberry bubbles into a bath, balance my laptop precariously on the toilet and binge watch Big Little Lies (my latest obsession). I will celebrate the incredible woman that stands by my side every single day no matter hell or high water, who gave birth to me, gave me life and who I am privileged to call my very own mother. She is wonder woman, super girl, and QFE (queen of fucking everything) all rolled into one and if sometimes angels masquerade as people, then she is one of them. Thank you mum, for absolutely everything.
If Mother’s Day is difficult for you for any reason, remember that your feelings are valid. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad for feeling bad. Give yourself the same empathy and compassion you would give your best friend. Celebrate, or don’t, however you choose this day. For this one day, it is all about you and your tender heart. Protect it.
Version published on GURLSTALK
When I was eleven, (sadly not the rad-heroine-with-a-buzzcut-and-an-obsession-with-eggos type) I somehow mustered the courage to write the headboy at my school a Valentine's love note. In the wee small hours (probably 10pm), on the 13th of February 2008, in crimson ink, I scrawled my deepest darkest secret. On a ripped out page from my journal, and covered in scratch and sniff stickers, I confessed a raw, unbridled love in poetic Shakespearean english; sonnet form, of course. I folded the note up, spritzed it with some air freshener I found in my downstairs toilet (genuinely), kissed it for good luck and slipped it into the front pocket of my dress. I vividly remember not being able to sleep that night. I was more excited to tell a boy two years older than me that he was the love of my life, and that we shared a star-crossed connection reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, than I was for Christmas – and that’s saying something for an eleven year old. Every time I closed my eyes, I pictured us like two cardboard cutouts in a Taylor Swift video.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I don’t know if you know this,
But I’m in love with you.
(I know, understated. Classic.)
After opening the usual ‘guess who’ cards from my mum, dad and dog over soggy cereal in the car on the way to school, I put my valentines confession in his pigeon hole (I swear that’s not an innuendo, it’s just what weirdo brit’s call a locker) and excitedly hurried off to my first lesson. I was buzzing all morning, waiting for the lunch bell to ring and bring me that breathless moment when I’d be able to read his reply, and what I all too naively assumed would be an equally rampant display of affection.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You should know this by now,
I will NEVER be interested in you.
Mortified, I pretended to have a music lesson and proceeded to spend my lunch break in the toilets, crying. Undeterred however, less that a month later I had fallen head over heals for another boy and wrote him a ballad called “Knight in black jumper”, another infatuation that unsurprisingly, did not turn into the love story of our generation. Why, I hear you ask, am I telling you all this tragic/awkward/all-too-familiar story of an eleven year old girl’s heartbreak? Because, I forgive Archie, and that knob in a black jumper, and I am not ashamed. I have always been, as many are, someone who wears their heart firmly on their sleeve, and although it has been broken many times, I have never wished for another one. My heart has gotten me through a lot of sticky situations; my parents’ divorce, my brother’s stint in rehab, a diagnosis that rendered me infertile, consistently being faced with sold-out Bon Iver tickets, far too much unrequited love – the list goes on. We all hurt, and when I hurt, my heart allows me to feel that and use it in a way I am so grateful for: expression. Although I am a strong advocate of gender intersectionality, I am female and thus, can only speak for my gender – perhaps something men should learn to do? So many women and girls, I know are far too practiced in the art of bottling up feelings, because we are brought up in a society that denounces emotion as a weakness. Years on from the days of ‘female hysteria’ we are still existing in a world that convicts women of being over emotional as opposed to rational, and thus damaged goods, unworthy of success. In one recent presidential debate, Donald Trump seemingly refused to engage in Hillary Clinton’s substance of argument, instead resorting to censuring Clinton "extremely upset, very angry.”
So, what has all this got to do with Valentine's Day? I will never condemn anyone else’s coping mechanisms or dictate how one should feel or react, however I will express the freedom and solace I discovered in expressing my own pain and emotions and allowing myself to feel. I am lucky enough to have girlfriends, a mother, a step-mother, a step-sister, aunts, grandmothers, heroines and books like I Love Dick or Milk and Honey… these are people and things that have all taught me how okay it is to feel, and the value of human expression. Women will no longer be silenced, just as men are not silenced. I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but I implore you to buy into the commercialism, be brave on Valentine's Day and celebrate it. This doesn’t mean you have to do an eleven-year-old-me type confession, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. We are free; free to express in any way, shape or form and that is what Valentine’s Day should be about. It is not a day reserved only for tinder dates or sappy couple expos ALL OVER YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA (breathe), it is a day of freedom, and more specifically, freedom of expression. I personally try to treat everyday like Valentine’s Day, because as Disney as it sounds, life is honestly too short. I’m not saying every confession will have a fairy tale ending, but it doesn’t have to – not all confessions are for romantic relationships anyway. Tell your mum, dog, cat, brother, sister, girlfriends, boyfriends, teacher (maybe not) just how much they matter, as often as you can. Buy as many cards as you want with horrible puns on them, scrawl as many crimson coloured notes as possible, celebrate the brave eleven year old within yourself that society has buried, because she is incredibly important and the world needs all the love it can get right now.
But, if you can't face doing all that, be your own Valentine. Send yourself a love note, write yourself a song, devour a box of chocolates, because if you can openly admit to loving yourself as much as Romeo loved Juliet, or Scarlett loved Rhett, or Barack loves Michelle, you are as free as that eleven year old and anything is possible; after all, we are most alive when we’re in love.
Despite it being a horribly drizzly, grey, not-too-sparkly Monday afternoon, I am feeling surprisingly cheery and inspired, and would you believe it, this time that’s not entirely down to me being armed with a gallon of tea. I am still riding high on last Tuesday’s Valentine's love affair. I shared a night of total female empowerment and all round love, in the name of fertility, with people I adore and I had the best time – which makes me slightly concerned no other Valentine’s day will EVER live up to last Tuesday’s fabulousness, so lets hope my dogs (Mango and Juno, I hope you’re reading this) bring out the big guns next year and send me two awfully ‘punny’ cards each to make up for it, otherwise I will have to forgo my lactose intolerance so that I can wallow in chocolate.
ALTERNATIVELY, and hear me out on this, we do a Pants Project Valentine’s Party take two?! I’ll give you a run down of how numero uno went, and then you can decide.
The Monday before our event, aka Galentine’s day, was a truly spectacular meltdown, and by that I mean everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. Firstly, I woke up with a stinking cold and sneezed throughout my three hour lecture on Feminism in Jane Eyre, then I went on a wild goose chase around the university that took me an hour because they lost the gorgeous jumpsuit, very lovingly donated by ace&jig, I was supposed to be wearing on Tuesday, THEN I got horrible writers block when I sat down to pen my speech, and finally, just as I was about to stop for the day at 8pm, I remembered I’d forgotten to write auction promises for the guests. My lovely friend Taegie and I speed typed it out and then trudged to the library to print out 250 copies. Thirty copies later, the printer had its own meltdown and shouted error at us. Turns out “the printer that never runs out of paper” ran out of paper. At 10pm Taegie and I got back to the flat, packed up a million pairs of pants to take to London and finally got to sleep about 6 hours before we were supposed to be getting up!
And just like that, against all odds and printer meltdowns, 6 months down a long line of planning, emailing and ferociously Instagramming, it was Valentine's Day. We lugged various IKEA bags stuffed with pants and decorations to London, had a quick stop at The Braid Bar (a fab brand that employs and empowers women talented in the art of plaiting) who extremely kindly said they do our hair for the event, and made our way to The Earlsfield, or home for the evening. After four hours of prep, aka hanging up a washing line of undies, make tissue paper flowers, scattering heart shaped confetti, stuffing 250 goodie bags with Moju juices, Nom bars and Moo postcards, as well as spreading Freddie’s Flowers throughout the bar, we were pretty much ready.
I say that tentatively, because I’m honestly not sure I was ever ready for how our Valentine's Pants Party turned out. As I said in my speech (I will leave a link to Pretty Normal Me’s fab Vlog, and lovely video memory, in case you wanted to watch a recording of it), it truly was the proudest thing I have done, and probably will do for a long time. Over 200 of my friends, family, strangers, Instagram accomplices turned up to support The Pants Project, raise money for Fertility Network UK and promote a message of self-love, diversity, and female empowerment. I met people more inspirational than I could ever hope to meet or be, for example Instagram and body-pos queen mindsetforlife from The All Woman Project who gives DAILY advice on how to accept yourself, and more importantly, LOVE yourself, Emily Bador the Brighton born and bred model, activist and trainee barber (an wonderful woman I grew up scrolling past on Urban Outfitters and had a voice, mind and persona so special it surpassed her physical beauty) and The Eve Appeal, a curly headed blonde duo on a mission to cure cervical cancer and the stigma behind vaginas (yes, I said that word, shoot me down I dare you).
From the word go, it was definitely a party. Pink champagne and scrumptious canapés flowing, we were serenaded by the beautiful Hollie Haines, who at no point lost her cool or smudged her perfect red lip, despite a microphone kerfuffle- because even on Valentine's Day, the course of true love never did run smooth. We had about an hour to down as much pink champers as we could, whilst I ran around with my helpers (thank you lovely girls and I apologise for making you wear party hats that are not flattering beyond the age of three) selling raffle tickets, giving out auction promises lists, saying hello to everyone and flogging crazy coloured Oddballs (mens boxer shorts raising money for testicular cancer and The Pants Project).
Despite being a musician and somehow managing to be on stage throughout my school days, I am not good at public speaking – stage fright doesn’t even cut it, and no it does NOT help to picture you all naked, who even came up with that advice because I can honestly not imagine anything more scary that a room full of silent naked people staring at you. Anyway, I did my speech and said my thank yous and it’s frankly a miracle I didn't burst into tears. Naked people jokes aside, it was incredibly liberating and uplifting for me to talk about MRKH and The Pants Project in such a public and physical way (as opposed to on the wonderful interweb), and to express my gratitude to those who made the event possible and night a success.
Speech over and done with, it was time for the auction and raffle. A chaotic hour long frenzy of pants, jewellery, booze and chocolate moose later, we had finished and sold nearly every single donation we were given! And amazingly, through the grace of St Valentine, we somehow pulled it off. A real life adult night of live music, drinks, an auction AND a raffle didn't end in a complete shambles. In fact, it was the opposite of a shambles. It was an incredibly moving and overwhelming display of human love and affection, support and intrinsic goodness. People turned up who I’d never met before, people who I hadn't seen since I was about 5 and friends and family from as far as Paris and Berlin came to show their support for The Pants Project, and I could not be more grateful.
A week later, I still haven't found the words to express how incredibly thankful I am to all of you who were able to make it on Tuesday, as well as the OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD-AMAZING group of people who made it such a soaraway success – the fact the whole thing didn't end in a pink fizzy mess of champagne and tears is completely down to you, THANK YOU. You will all be at the top of my Christmas lists this year, and I’ll put in a good word with the Easter bunny.
ONLY for the rest of February, I will be posting daily (you lucky ducks) on Instagram to remind you of all the FAB undies still up for grabs on our online auction, NOW ALL FOR ONLY £10! Can you Adam and Eve it? Bid while you can to raise money for the charity we support, Fertility Network UK, and you only have a week left!
Isadore Intimates will also still be donating %25 of profits from each sale of undies in Feb, so please do go grab some pants to say happy late Valentines to yourself!
And I have attached the photos taken by Sebastian Engert Photography of the evening's antics.
Thank you for the best February I have ever had, and by far the best Valentine's I will EVER have.
As always, this comes with huge hugs and an age old adage…
May the power of pants with you.
Love, Tasha x
It is some months ago now, that I first planted a seed that grew to be The Pants Project. Today I feel as though an inkling of the goal I set out to achieve, has come to fruition: a space that celebrates each and every human, no matter their gender, race, sexuality, religious beliefs, size, genetic makeup and whether they can have a child or not. I knew that pants were powerful and I knew that somehow we could harness that, and turn it into something meaningful. I am sitting on my lumpy university bed, in a soggy t-shirt with electric blue mascara caking my cheeks: the war paint of a woman touched from the fraying edges of her soul to the matted innards, truly moved, faced with the prospect of having to write something that’s anywhere near as honest and with as much gravity as these photographs.
A school friend of mine, who has gone on to bigger, better and more beautiful things at City&Guilds Art School in London, has contributed the most stunning donation I could ever have asked for. Having been in awe of her happy snappy abilities for a while, I knew I wanted to wrangle her into doing something for The Pants Project. Although I love art, I am by no means an artist and have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to defining the sort of aesthetic I might be looking for; don’t get me wrong, I know what I love, I’m just not great at finding the road to get there. (I think the extent of my curation talents ends with choosing between which selfie to like on Instagram, usually resulting in me feeling bad and liking both). One extremely wishy washy brief later, that went something like “I want honesty, so yeah, just some of your pals in pants would be good”, accompanied by a slightly random, Tumblr-eat-your-heart-out sort of Pinterest board and a few months of brewing time, I was sent the most beautiful collection of photos I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing. I’m sure that anyone who knows me personally will be aware of my tendency to exaggerate the things I fall in love with in this world, but trust me when I say the beauty that exists within these photographs is not the least bit exaggerated. It is raw, and real and so movingly tangible. I know not a single one of these models and yet I see their vulnerabilities and feel their personalities, and in some way, I empathise with every one of them.
I started The Pants Project as an effort to raise funds and awareness for infertility and hoped to inspire the odd Joe Bloggs, but I never dreamed it would turn into such a celebration of diversity and self-prowess. The word ‘diversity’ is thrown around almost as much as the word love is these days, and I far too often feel as though it’s meaning is somewhat whitewashed (pun kinda intended), and somehow attempted ‘diversity’ seemingly results in almost more marginalisation. I wanted these photos to speak inclusivity and to encompass the strength and unapologetic nature of youth, and I think Lucy read my mind.
Or, perhaps she didn’t.
Perhaps she took some photos of The Youth of Today in their pants and this was the result: an untouched, unedited, uncensored protest that screams “Look at me, in my underwear. I am so much more powerful than my genetics and so much more beautiful than societies aesthetics”.
Version published on Pretty Normal Me
Sex is a multiplicity. It’s a magic, a connection, a consummation, a love making, a pro-creation… but it’s also a drunken mistake, a miscommunication, an act of violence, a lack of pro-creation. Is it of the mind or of the body? Is it a body, or two bodies? Is it a state of mind or a physical manifestation? Natural or abnormal? Created or occurring? Dirty or beautiful?
Or, perhaps, sex is not an “Or”, perhaps it is an “And”. A confusingly infinite black-hole of potentiality. Perhaps “sexual intercourse”, that jarringly scientific term, is a simplistic concept, whilst “sex” exists on the fringes of the indefinable. To me, only one thing is for sure: If sex is a religion and we, the lovers, are a God, then we exist as some kind of “holy trinity”: our minds and bodies are mutually exclusive and exist inseparably. Whilst bodies are our houses, it is our soul that is our home; our body is our vehicle, but our mind is in the driver’s seat.
At some point in every girl’s life, she realises “pretty.” Life halts in its tracks; from this point on, she can never be sexless. She starts learning the game: that her body is a resumé (or a barrier). This change leads to a childhood vanished; a motherhood not lived, but spent pursuing a pre-pregnancy physical state; an identity stifled for the sake of the male gaze, which was never asked for. Having been diagnosed with a syndrome that had secretly stripped me of my “womanhood” since birth, my body then figured 16 years old was the appropriate age to let me know, amid the virginity slaying massacre of my friendship circle. I never fitted into this state of in-between, of free sexuality (or not so free if you consider the above statement). I was never accredited the luxury, or perhaps misdemeanour, of a freely sexual adventure. I was sexless and I would never reach motherhood; there wasn’t a pre-pregnancy stage, and for a while there wasn’t even a sex stage. There was just a mind, a body with a hole in it, and no sign of a bridge, or some kind of womanly manifestation. How can I be a woman if I can’t be what a man wants? How can I be a woman if I cannot complete the required stages to becoming a woman? There is ‘girlhood’ : a category I can no longer fit into having given up my innocence, ‘womanhood’: a club I can never be a part of because I am sex-less, and ‘motherhood’: because my subscription to femininity doesn't come with that privilege.
So what is the point in my body? I have always known I am female, because science told me so. But society was telling me otherwise: I cant have sex with it, I can’t create anything from it, it has curves and lines and lumps that resemble the female form, but am I a woman? Thoughts after thoughts after thoughts later: Yes. I am. I am a woman because I said so. And in saying so, in really believing so, in the most honest and un-perverse way possible, I had sex with myself. My mind made love to my body. And slowly, day by day, I came to realise that women are not the objects of men - they are not the objects of anyone or thing. My body does not define me, just as my mind does not either. It is an amalgamation of fragments that exist within oneself, that only we define, that create a selfhood to which we choose to adhere. As a woman, I do not exist for the pleasure of men or even women, I exist for myself. Women can be women in a way that’s not society’s definition of “woman.” Gender, sex, identity, bodies, minds… these things are not singularities, they are multiplicities and their beauty lies within their complications and lack of boundaries. It’s not just about feeling sexy or physically beautiful—it’s about feeling like so much more than that.
This writing itself, existing on this page, is a body: a temporary, hybrid thing because it is viewed entirely differently by everyone who might read it, but most importantly, it is documented and controlled solely by me.
This is not a guide, nor is it an anti-guide: whatever it is, this documentation of contemplation, it hinges on the fact that you don't need to be pretty on the inside or the outside, and that goes for both women and men. You don't need to love yourself to be a loving person. You don't have to accept that ‘sexiness is a state of mind’, you don't need to feel beautiful, ever, but you will sometimes. You don't have to be or do or feel anything. Your body is a powerful weapon and a lot of people are trying to disarm you of it a lot of the time. Don't let them. Be angry, be determined, be sexy and sexless, be as “ugly” as you like, and most importantly, do as and be as you choose. Your body is your tool, and sex, if you choose it to be, is your work of art: paint what you will and carve what you won’t, but do it because you are the truest version of yourself. Take control.
Version published in Girl Mag Online, Volume 1
Throughout history, Art and Youth have been intrinsically linked. To me, this is fundamentally obvious. Whether Art is celebrating Youth, or vice versa, the two go hand in hand because of the notion of identity. As we grow from arrogantly content earthlings into fully fledged bill-paying adults, we all go through some sort of identity crisis; or identity creation, as I like to call it. This “crisis” occurs when each Youth must forge for themselves some central perspective and direction, out of the effective remnants of their childhood and the hopes of their anticipated adulthood. It is the word ‘forge’, that to me makes this the opposite of a crisis and instead an opportunity. Our journey through Youth is one of the most exciting and fulfilling struggles life throws at us, and this journey would not exist without Art.
Youth isn’t easy; it is dark, mysterious, turbulent, unpredictable, and explorative, much like Art. Whilst we search for and forge our future, there can be some extremely dark days that derail and unsettle us. It is this common cord of imbalance that permeates both Youth and Art. Any great passion implies imbalance, and a sense of lasting contentment in oneself as a whole human being, requires certain equilibrium. At the not-so-wise-or-old age of 19, I can tell you that right now this state of equilibrium is not easy to obtain, thanks to a raging symphony of hormones and daily thoughts like “what the f*ck am I supposed to be doing with my life?”.
So where does Art come in to this magnificent mess of adolescence? If you obsessively devote yourself to forging your own unique identity, or even to creating the perfect pancake, you have strayed from the range of normal human equilibrium. Creativity requires that an Artist step off the trodden path into the darkness beneath the trees. It’s those who aren’t entirely at ease in this world, aka Youth, that go off looking for something else, something better. This idea would suggest that Artists, and Youth, are already self-selected to be miserable. Is this true, and does it follow then that in order to make great Art, you have to be unhappy?
Goethe, who had a fair bit to do with popularising the suffering Artists stereotype himself and was a literary celebrity by 25, put it like this: “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” The real energy and insight needed to create a great work of Art comes not from a place of despair, but of joy. Perhaps then, it is this unrelenting energy and beautiful naivety Youth possesses of the world, that in turn propels Youthful Artistic endeavor. After all, to make Art is to create, and to create requires a certain amount of energetic expenditure- something Youth has always stereotypically and wrongly been accused of not possessing.
If we look to the societal and cultural status of the world today, and the changes that are happening to move us towards a more positive and collective global community, we see a clear vision of Youth. Through the medium of Art, whether that Art is digital, physical, verbal or tangible- it is there and it is starting to shift cultural norms that are fundamentally wrong. In fact, Youth is shifting Art itself; no longer is Art confined by gilded gold frames that hang in icy galleries. All hail the internet and social media! The new King and Queen of Artistic movement, lead by Youth. Open YouTube, iTunes, Instagram, Tumblr and you will find activists and Artists moving towards social change via an Artistic expression of distaste within the world, as well as a celebration of the world’s attributes. Free The Nipple, Black Lives Matter and Miley Cyrus’s Happy Hippie Foundation, are all social movements using the Artistic tools of Instagram to change the world. Using this site and many others as a weapon against social injustice, millions of activists are taking down the establishment one Artistic endeavor at a time- and it’s working. Youth and Art will always have each other, but social media has given this partnership a new lease of life, a voice and an identity.
Art affects change and captures the cultural evolution of people and the world, but most importantly it gives the creator purpose and life. Art acts for it’s architect as a helping hand through juvenescence, and that is why Youth itself is Art. In this light, Youth and Art become some sort of synonym- each gives life to the other, and one cannot exist without the other.
I begin this story with some context. Right now, in 2016, I am 19 years old. Having met at boarding school, I have been with my boyfriend (lets call him L shall we, nice and mysterious) for two years now, he was my first everything, and sickeningly, he is quite possibly the love of my life. So here I am, present day Tasha, all shiny and happy.
Rewind 3 years. I am 16, currently studying for my GCSE's and I’m sitting in a white sterile room, awaiting an ultra sound scan. Many, MANY doctor’s appointments, tears and statements like "I bet there's nothing wrong with you, you're probably just a late bloomer" lead me to this point. I am finally about to find out why I have never had a period in my whole life. Countless people tried to convince me from the age of 12 that I was just eating too many bananas, or I was stressing too much and my body 'sensed' it. Up until now I'd just sort of gone along with it to appease people. But something in my 16-year-old psyche was screaming THIS IS WRONG. So yes, here I am, 16, doctor's waiting room. An hour and a big smear of cold blue gel later, a taut and stern-faced female doctor looks at me, puzzled. Holding up two ultrasound images of the lower abdomen area, she shows me a normal one, and mine; a seemingly abnormal one. Using the end of her chewed black biro she traces the indigo fuzz and tries to point out a pattern. Mum and I clearly look completely disillusioned because she all of sudden and very brashly announces "There's nothing there” whilst pointing to my scan.
After more confusion, I was referred back to my original consultant, armed with ultrasound evidence. That afternoon I had my follow up appointment. It gets kind of gritty here, so I will try to be brief and to the point. In the uncomfortably normal setting of my doctor's office, and in the short space of about 20 minutes, I was told some pretty life changing things.
She started slowly, explaining the route she’d taken to arrive at my only probable diagnosis, because of how rare the condition I had was. She told me I was going to be referred to a specialist hospital in London where a team of experts would assess me further and offer some support. Eventually, the words I’d waited almost four years to hear, were suddenly aired. Affecting 1 in 500,000 and formally known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH), I was born without a womb, meaning I’d never have a period and I’d never give birth to my own child and if I wanted to have sex, I would have to undergo invasive long term treatment. I can remember the room going very silent, as if I’d become momentarily deaf, and looking outside through the slits in the blind I watched the blue sky; the world seemed to stand still for a minute. The words I’d just heard somehow sank into me and embedded themselves, I’d never really expected something to actually be wrong. My body reacted for me and I remember crying and nodding a lot. Finally, as a farewell gift, the doctor added: “At this point, we assume you have a normal female chromosome pattern," glancing at my breasts, "but we will run some tests to confirm this.” Great, so I'm half human, half empty space, and they're not even 100% sure I'm a girl. Am I an X-Men mutant?
My mutation so to speak, didn’t make me feel special, or unique. I felt indescribably disgusting. I was unable to do the two things my body was biologically created to do: have sex and recreate. I felt unwomanly and unworthy. I felt like I was grieving the loss of someone or something I’d never known, and I felt like nothing else really mattered much anymore; there was this irrecoverable piece of my body missing and I couldn’t even see the hole. There were days that summer, and many days after, when all I wanted was to curl up into a ball under my duvet and let my seemingly genderless, infertile body fester in sadness. Although my friends and family were, and still are, incredibly supportive, nothing any of them said could dull the pain I felt or make me feel normal.
People say you fall in love when you least expect it, so if you’re trying to prove the rule, I’d be a good example to use. Fast forward one pretty miserable year and along came L, who to me was like early mornings and moonshine. He couldn’t put a foot wrong, and when I finally felt able to trust him with the secret that was chewing up my insides like the hungry caterpillar, he guarded it like his own and supported me in a way he’ll never understand the full extent of. For the first time since I was 12, I felt like a woman, loved not for what I had or didn’t have, but for who I was.
Fast forward another year and it’s the summer after my A levels. Having asked me out on my 18th birthday, we’d been dating for a year and waiting, sexless, for me to have my treatment so that I could lose my virginity. Even though the sexual tension was palpable and frankly unbearable at times, we found ways round it, and L was as patient as a saint. The summer months came around and finally I had the time to go into hospital and undergo the treatment that enabled me to have sex: an all-singing, all-dancing sparkly internal vagina was created for me! The treatment was painful and traumatic and not very nice at all, but fuck, it was worth it. L was going to university in Paris, so we’d strategically planned my momentous week’s visit in the city of love. Cheesy yet? Before we get down to the dirty details, let me just tell you how embarrassing saying goodbye to my family was that week. Of course EVERYONE knew why I had been in hospital, everyone knew why I was going to Paris, and everyone knew I wouldn’t be the same when I got back. Interestingly though, this almost helped. Being the last one out of all my friends to lose my virginity and feeling very late to the party, the nerves and apprehension was getting unbearable. After everything I went through though and the countless awkward conversations I’d had about sex, losing my virginity sort of lost its taboo.
Here I am, 18-year-old Tasha, self proclaimed virgin queen, standing outside L’s front door in Paris, new pants, hairless body, terrified. He takes my bag and pulls me in with one big arm and kisses me. We look at each other and burst out laughing. We manage to eek out the small talk for about 5 minutes, unable to stop smiling or take our eyes off each other. The excitement and a year’s worth of waiting gets too much and we sort of end up running/stumbling to the bedroom in under 10 minutes of arrival.
I’m lying next to L staring at the ceiling, our fingers intertwined. My vagina hurts, but it’s a good pain. Our clothes decorate the floor. My eyes start to sting and a lump forms in my throat. Six years of pain and frustration and happiness and relief flood out. It was perfect because it wasn’t perfect. It hurt and it was awkward and I didn’t know what I was doing and it was probably shit, but it was sex for the first time with someone I loved more than words can describe, and that was enough. There were days when I never thought this would happen, but I can proudly announce I am virgin Queen no longer.
However, I have only very recently realised, a year later, that losing your virginity doesn’t fix everything, that the most valuable treatment I can give my body, is in fact, value. It has taken me months of thought, ineffable sadness and countless tears to finally reach the conclusion that I am actually worth something, a lot in fact. There may be a proportion of my internal makeup missing, and I may not be able to do things other women can, I may have to masturbate/dilate my vagina with a horrible medical plastic dildo so that I can have sex and endure days of total despair, but those small moguls are certainly conquerable and I am not my body; my body is a part of me, it does not define me. I am sure there will be far worse things to come, but at the ripe old age of 19, I can offer no gems of life wisdom, other than my truthful report that sex is not the be all and end all, and it is very possible to survive heartbreak, even if it seems unfixable, because usually there is nothing broken in the first place. For a while, I thought MRKH was this unsurmountable heap of sorrow, and I’d be the 40-year-old virgin, but I bigger than my body.
Becoming a woman doesn’t happen overnight, no matter who you are: if in your mind you are born a girl, you will grow to be a woman through experience; it is not a biological process, it is not losing your virginity, nor is it one that can be calculated or defined: it is a staggeringly gorgeous uphill battle from chaos toward a balanced state of contentment, self belief, self love and empowerment.
I can’t believe its only been a month since I last ambled on about all things underwear! December was the biggest month yet for everyone at The Pants Project. We launched our online shop, including our beautiful necklace and collection of undies from Isadore Intimates and Fleur of England. Having been very lucky this year in the stocking department (as in the thing Father Christmas fills with presents every year - not the very annoying hosiery type things that have a knack at falling down) I am excited to announce that whilst I pen this piece, I am wearing MY VERY OWN PAIR (!!!) of Isadore Intimates - the beautiful and favourite Ava set - whilst feeling bloody marvellous about my derrière… I suppose pants really do make miracles happen! If you were particularly well behaved this year and made it onto the extra nice list, guaranteeing yourself a pair of Pants Project undies, or a very special necklace, please send us your peach so we can show the world of Instagram how powerful we are! Girls who wear pants together, stay together. Fact.
So moving on from my none other than frankly royal underwear, I shall move on to far more important matters… more pants. So what have we been up to, besides guzzling incredible amounts of pigs in blankets, washed down with a hearty pint of mulled wine?
Whilst navigating my first university exams, I have been hard at work getting our new website up and running (feeling like quite the techno wizard I must admit) and FINALLY giving you guys access to some beautiful lingerie so that you could restock for 2017: a year that hopefully will not steal all of our favourite icons (this blog post is dedicated to all artist royalty who have gone to a galaxy far far away… Carrie, Bowie, Prince, and all the other icons and heroes/heroines… We miss you) and promises lucrative amounts of meaningful undies from The Pants Project.
Not only did we launch our online collection, but we have been beavering away to organise what will be the best Valentine’s Day event ever to exist in history. EVER. And obviously we don't exaggerate at all over here at The Pants Project, so you know you’re in for a winner. We have a huge range of designer undies (from bigs to littles), some beautiful jewellery and a few other gorgeous surprises lined up for you. The event will go live on the 31st of December (tomorrow!) via our Facebook page, along with all the juicy deets, so make sure you RSVP, bag yourself a ticket and get your party pants ready for what I can assure you will be a Pants Party to remember.
We have also become terrible gossips over here at The Pants Project, feeling the need to tell the WHOLE WORLD what we’ve been up to and why pants are just the peachiest of things. We did our press release and have had offers of interviews from a number of people (including Vogue!) as well as commissions for me to spill the beans from a few different mags - it feels good to be getting the word out, spreading the love and generally making waves… all pretty exciting stuff! To top it all off, I did my first ever podcast with the lovely Fertility Poddy. The Fertility Podcast’s presenter Natalie was lovely, interested and very respectful of my privacy and it was a real pleasure to talk to her about the project. The podcast will be up in the New Year I think, so I will be sure to share it with you all then, but in the mean time, have a listen to some of her others at:
Amid finishing my second first term of uni (try, try, and try again pals) and planning my world domination, was a very enjoyable Christmas break. I had a social media cleanse, ate lots and generally chilled out - ’twas magnificent. However, whilst I was having a breather, war was raging on the other side of the world. Aleppo. I need not describe the horrors of what is happening there because I am sure you are all well aware, but I must admit, the news of countless attacks and continued destruction really got to me. Being infiltrated with tragic and extremely uncomfortable images of dusty children, covered in blood, so traumatised by the horrors in front of them that they were unable to cry, whilst I was cosy in my Christmas PJs and fluffy Uggs, you can imagine I felt pretty insignificant. It made me wonder whether infertility and body positivity was a cause I actually should be focusing on… is it important when the world is falling apart? And then I remembered all the amazing messages I have been sent since setting up The Pants Project. From strangers, loved ones, acquaintances and old friends, I have genuinely had countless messages of thanks, love and support from people in regards to the project. What we are doing is important, and whilst a terrible war is raging in Syria, we mustn't deem ourselves unworthy of love and our problems as completely irrelevant. Yes, Aleppo is truly horrific and tragic and without belittling it at all, I wish I could click my fingers and make it all better, but I can’t. We must remember that things are relative, and perspective is important. We might not be able to ‘change the world’ just like that, but there are little things we can do, step by step, to improve the world. Whether that's donating to Save The Children’s Syria Appeal (http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/emergencies/syria-appeal) or making yourself feel proud of who you are, loving the body you were born into regardless of it’s genetic makeup and counting your blessings… these are all important things.
On Christmas day I went to Gloucester Cathedral for a spot of carol singing and other such festivities. Although I would not associate myself particularly with any specific religion, I definitely hope to uphold ‘christian values’ and generally be the best version of myself possible. Sitting in a beautiful church, decked out in my jingle bells Christmas jumper, surrounded by family, having got thoroughly stuck into Hark the Herald, I was feeling extremely fuzzy. Lucky from the roots of my hair, down to the tips of my toes, filled with some kind of spiritual love. And then came the most inspiring sermon I have ever heard. Delivered by the FEMALE (pretty cool) Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, I was tearing up by the second paragraph. A female Bishop was preaching about body positivity and young women changing the world… can it get any better than that?
Here is my favourite extract from her sermon:
“Earlier this year I was disturbed by statistics regarding unhappiness in young people - particularly in girls - which is rooted in the way they view their physical appearance. What is most disturbing is the impact this is having on mental health.
I decided that in visits to schools I would talk about this issue as a way of talking about our identity, and not least to share my deep desire for every person to fulfil their potential and become the person God has created them to be - To discover that they are loved and known by God and that our value and who we are begins on the inside and not the outside. And what’s on the inside determines what we live on the outside.
The darkness those young people are experiencing within has begun in a place of fear…It’s a dark fear which begins inside our human hearts and drives us to places of discontentment, control, envy, hatred. It’s a fear which leads to selfishness and greed and the breakdown in human relationship; It’s a fear which leads to a despising of the other. And it’s a fear which is all about the darkness of absence. And God sees - and it is not good.
A few weeks ago I met a young girl who is most definitely not taking her value from her outward appearance. Muzoon is a Syrian refugee who knows all about the external darkness of absence. She has lived experiences which no young person should have to suffer. And during her time in a refugee camp in Jordan she used her time and energy to fight for the education of girls. She has become good friends with Malala (the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban to try and silence her as she spoke out about girls’ education). These young women are both using their voices for good and speaking into the darkness of absence.
Muzoon’s strength and beauty are palpable - and they come from within.”
The full sermon can be found here: https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=bishop%20of%20gloucester
And now for my final trick, a little round up of how much we have raised for Infertility Network UK in only our first month from Isadore Intimates and our beautiful pants necklace…
£500 :) :) :) :) :)
Thank you all SO much for the support, love and pocket money that you have thrown at this project. It is genuinely making an astounding difference to women, men and pants wearers everywhere, and I am honoured to be it’s founder.
This really is only the beginning and there are many many exciting things and plans to come for The Pants Project in 2017. We’re going big, so stay tuned and remember: all you need is pants.
Thank you for 2016 - it’s been one of my favourite years to date, regardless of it’s madness, and that’s all down to you lot.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Hello my gorgeous undies Army.
Welcome to our new website! This will be the project’s home from now on- a place to hang up one’s knickers and kick back. Our new home is one of the many things I’ve been up to in the past two months. It’s been an extremely busy time for me: settling into university, writing essays, making friends, running a charity as a one-woman-show and maintaining a very special long distance relationship, AS WELL AS finding time for myself to just be a teenager- a term I struggle to call myself sometimes!
Here’s the part where I try to remember everything thats happened in October and November, so bare with me. I wrote an article for The Tab about MRKH and how it doesn’t define my womanhood and it got over 10,000 hits in 24 hours (feminism is hitting the big time baby), I wrote a piece for Was It Good For You (an awesome online safe space for each and every human bean to talk about sex artistically in any way they feel comfortable) and got to know it’s gorgeous fiery female founder Eliza Lawrence, I wrote a piece on Art and it’s connection to youth for Girl Online Mag (I wrote a lot…), I read a book called ‘I LOVE DICK’ by Chris Kraus about the misinterpretation or oppression of female expression and how that’s harmful to society (definitely worth a read), I started collecting some STUNNING pants for our auction to be held at our launch party on Valentine’s weekend 2017, I got a shout out from Iskra Lawrence (body-pozzi el supreme queen) on Instagram as well as one from the lovely sustainable fashion collective Stories Behind Things, Hillary lost her fight for womankind (I cried), I bought ‘Babe’ by Petra Collins (beyond excited to read it over Christmas break) and finally, The Pants Project celebrated National Infertility Awareness Week by launching it’s first product, the beautiful sterling silver knickers necklace, designed by my lovely friend Frances Vinycomb, who donated £20 from each sale to our charity, Fertility Network UK. Aaaand breathe.
So what have you got to look forward to? Oh, you lucky lucky people. I am SO excited to announce that we will be collaborating with Isadore Intimates on our exclusive online collection, that is available to buy via our website now! Isadore will be donating 25% of profits from each sale of undies, to our charity Fertility Network UK, which is just aaamazing.
We are in the process of finalising our list of designers that will be donating to our auction and attending our Pants Party in London on Valentine's weekend to celebrate the launch of our project. This Pants Party will be open to all who want to fight fertility and promises to be the party of the year. We will be creating an event on Facebook soon, so keep your eyes peeled and RSVP asap before spaces fill up!
There are many more exciting things to come from The Pants Project and I will be keeping your updated via Instagram, so make sure you give us a follow and send us a picture of yourself in your Pants Project necklace or Isadore Intimates!
Thank you SO much to everyone who has supporting me and the project so far, as always I am blown away and feeling very humbled.
Lots of love as always,
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(from September, 2016)
When you put yourself out into the big wide world of the interweb, you’re never really sure what you’ll get back. Launching The Pants Project and injecting Instagram with a steady feed of peachy bottoms, I was fully expecting the odd seedy soul-searcher and my mum to be our only fans- not so. A month in and we have nearly 500 followers, and for the first time in my life I have spoken to someone with MRKH (we are a rare and wonderful breed!) I am so overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for the little community of pants-loving-people that is steadily growing. The shares, the likes, the follows and messages of love and support have been so appreciated. Every time I post something the response makes me feel like I’m seven again and its Christmas!
Now that the hysteria is out of the way, I can get on with telling you what we’ve been up to at The Pants Project. Apart from lots of #womencrushwednesdays and the odd tweet, we’ve been crazy busy. Too-many-emails-to-count have been sent back and forth to a collection of ab-fab designers from all over Britain, and right now, we have 12 gorgeous brands of pants lined up for all you lovely ladies! Without revealing too much at this stage (no spoiler alerts etc., that’s how the internet works right?), about half of those designers will be donating several pairs of undies for our Auction/Launch Party that’ll take place in December, whilst the other half will be available to buy via our website as an online collection- so that everyone can get their hands on some beaut pants. Nearer the time we will release the names of our designers (serious squad goals), but for now you’ll just have to trust me, they’re all wonderful!
So what else. I’ve been in close contact with our charity Fertility Network UK who are super busy rebranding at the moment, but who have been really helpful with getting things off the ground. We will be doing a press release soon, as well as releasing a flyer into various infertility email networks. On the subject of press, a lovely girl called Bianca messaged me a few weeks ago. Bianca is the editor-in-chief of a gorgeous online editorial set up and run entirely by models, called Baltisoul. Baltisoul gives female models a voice and an outlet for creativity, which is something incredibly important- we must stop viewing our models as mannequins, they are so much more than a pretty face! So in May 2017 Baltisoul will be distributing it’s first ever print edition, and have asked us to be a part of it, to tell the world about all things pants and fertility- HOW EXCITING IS THAT? Earlier this week our in-house designer Charley Chiddle sent out some of her lovely handmade knickers to Bianca for a shoot in Sydney, Australia. So hopefully we’ll be seeing some Aussie peaches clad in gorgeous Pants Project undies soon!
Thanks to the most magnificent human Georgia Gold, yesterday was a big day. Georgia contacted me recently on Instagram and offered her stunning photography talent free of charge. Having been using temporary stock images on our website, naturally I jumped at the opportunity to have some original shots of gorgeous, natural beauties in their undies. Ten days later and sitting in my inbox is the most wonderful collection of utterly stunning photographs, taken by G, of all her girlfriends. Totally blown away is a bit of an understatement to be honest. This meant that we were able to redesign our website with original images and yesterday I was FINALLY able to let the site go live and share it on the infamous book of faces- big moment. Georgia, thank you so SO much.
So drawing this ramble to a close, I just wanted to say a few more thank-you’s. Kitty, thank you for your constant love and radical animations/power puff girls/works of art- I AM IN LOVE and cannot wait to use them. Charley, thank you for your never ending support and love and pants and internships, I am beyond grateful! Lovely Natalie, thank you AGAIN for your beautiful graphics, the website looks divine. Thank you to everyone at Baltisoul, we are honoured to have been given this opportunity. Fertility Network UK, keep doing your amazing work- we will get there!
And finally, thank you to each and every one of you who has shown this project some love. I have been touched by the enthusiasm and warmth of strangers, family, and friends on countless occasions, and that’s what makes this all worth it. Onwards and upwards infertility fighters, we’re armed with pants and we’re not afraid to use them!
(I finished writing this blog post as Spice Girl’s Wannabe blasted out of my iTunes- it’s a sign guys 💪)
(from August, 2016)
*takes a deep breath* I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING!
Hello and WELCOME to The Pants Project!
Since having the idea for The Pants Project back in January on a frosty dog walk, I have sent countless emails, spent half my life on hold and played kitchen paper toss too many times.
Come August, I couldn't wait any longer. Having received backing from the UK's biggest charity for fertility, Fertility Network UK (please check out their incredible work); I persuaded a graphic design student that it was more important than her degree (thank you Natalie!); and stumbled upon my designer in the heart of Cambodia (a story in itself, am I right Charley?). The Pants Project was born and the rest is history. We have a LOT to do (actually make/sell some pants!!) but we figured it was time to drum up some fertility fighters. I will be keeping you updated via a blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc etc so please keep following me on my path to pants righteousness, as I harass designers into making me some undies to raise some fund-ies (I feel like I can only get away with that once, so I'm using it now) and if you want to get involved, please do drop us a message- we need all the help we can get! I have met so many amazing people setting up The Pants Project so far and felt inspired throughout; The Pants Project is not a finished product, it is a journey in itself and I figured the sooner the world knows, the better. The revolution is only just getting started, but it's 2016 and we will fight for fertility! WATCH THIS SPACE!