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When I was a teenager, I made a bucket list. On it were things like “collect all the O.C. soundtracks,” “meet Lindsay Lohan,” and “walk a runway”—the last being the most far-fetched, given that I was a size 10 and the average model was not. (This was the early aughts, people, the dark ages of body positivity!) Ten years later, though, I crossed that goal off my list, walking Isabel Toledo’s spring 2014 show for Lane Bryant alongside models like Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, and Precious Lee. It was a big moment—not just for me but because it was a major win for size inclusivity on the runway.

In full transparency, I was a one-show wonder. I stopped modeling not long after, and started my career as a fashion editor. But these days, I still pay close attention to body diversity as an issue, so I was thrilled that during the fall 2017 shows, there were a record 27 plus-size model appearances in New York alone. (That’s up from 16 the previous season and a mere six the one before.) The roster included Graham, Lawrence, Lee, and newcomers like Georgia Pratt and Jocelyn Corona, at shows as varied as Christian Siriano, Chromat, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, and Tracy Reese. And fashion fans were quick to celebrate this development; Glamour’s online coverage got more than a million clicks in just a few days. So now the question is, Will the industry keep doing better? Here’s how it can—and why it should.

First, let’s tackle the hurdles.
Despite the recent leap forward, plus- size women still account for less than one percent of runway models, even though 67 percent of women in the U.S. wear a size 14 or above. Long-entrenched industry norms explain why: “When you make patterns for a new collection, you start with a size-2 base pattern” in order to spend as little money on fabric as possible, says Becca McCharen, the founder of Chromat, one of the first brands to make plus-size models routine in its shows. “That’s why designers usually show only one size on the runway; to make a bigger [additional sample], it means at least double all the costs.” Later on, based on what buyers order, designers produce more sizes.

Making that investment early can strain emerging brands: “Chromat is small, and I’m thinking about how to survive—how we can still be a brand in five years,” says McCharen. “But to us, including different shapes, sizes, races, and abilities on the runway is important. It’s what we do, so the extra money is worth it.” IMO, this is an area where I think it would be amazing for the Council of Fashion Designers of America to establish a fund for young designers to make bigger runway samples, which would give them the financial resources to be inclusive.

plus-size-models-runway

Big box modeling agencies could do a better job too. Most “plus” models range in size from 10 to 16, something designer Tracy Reese learned when she wanted a more diverse runway for her recent presentations. “I made size-18 samples,” she says. “But all the models that were sent to me from agencies were size 12 or 14. So we had to find models that fit our garments.” We’ll see more plus-size models at Fashion Week only if agencies actually represent—and promote—a wider range of women. “Boutique agencies like JAG have amazing curve models, but they fly a little bit under the radar at Fashion Week,” says casting director John Pfeiffer. “And when I reach out to bigger agencies, they don’t always suggest or represent plus-size models. So, when IMG [the industry juggernaut] decided to include them in its show package [for spring 2014], it made curve models more prevalent in the conversation.”

And sometimes everyone just needs to anticipate the unexpected. “I work with Michael Kors, who has the resources to plan ahead and have additional samples made in bigger sizes,” says Pfeiffer. When Graham was the only plus-size model on Kors’ fall 2017 runway, the brand was both celebrated and called out for tokenism. But Pfeiffer insists the plan had been to be more inclusive. “Ashley was not meant to be the only curve model in the show, but there were a couple of hiccups last-minute,” he says. “We had booked another model, but there was a conflict, and the deal fell through when there wasn’t time to recast or refit [the garment], since it was tailored to her body.” Of course, casting more than two plus-size models would have helped, but sometimes fashion is very much like real life, and shit just happens.

But—thankfully—there is progress.
The runway triggers a real ripple effect: Using women of all sizes there means we see them in other places too. “Quite often the girls who walk the runway shows also [go on to] book the high-fashion editorials and big ad campaigns,” says Lawrence, who walked Christian Siriano and Chromat. “Being welcomed into Fashion Week makes me feel like I have equal opportunity.” Lee, who walked Siriano, saw how she reached women everywhere. “I got reactions from curvy middle-school teachers on Instagram, college friends via text message, an employee at the Apple store, even a little girl from Switzerland on Facebook,” she says. “I’ve been brought to tears on the spot from their moving messages.” And that kind of impact is exactly what brands hope for. “Casting has everything to do with how a viewer feels when they watch a show,” says casting director Hollie Schliftman, who works with Siriano. “I want to create a runway that feels open-minded so that women can visualize themselves in the fashion.”

And when they can visualize it, they buy it: When designer Reese planned, invested, and yes, scrambled to show more sizes, her online sales jumped 15 percent; in department stores like Nordstrom, her extended sizes sold out. Others, like designer Prabal Gurung, are going above and beyond by finding new outlets for plus-size shoppers to get their hands on high-fashion pieces. “We started working with a new e-tailer called 11 Honoré,” says Gurung, who also designs a plus-size line for Lane Bryant. “It’s a new size-inclusive luxury platform, which sells designer collections in sizes 10 to 20.” I’m betting his investment will be a success because, “women want to shop at a brand that cares about diversity,” says Lawrence. “They don’t want to be sold products from brands preying on their insecurities. Consumers have power because they’re investing their dollars.”

So what’s next on the runway?
Which brings me to what will happen this month at the spring 2018 shows. I’m waiting—fingers crossed—to see how many plus-size models will march down those runways. “I think designers will continue to make a statement by using curvy models,” says Graham. “But I don’t think that every designer that has used curvy models has embraced this as a movement.” Meaning we may still be in the one-off stage, and that bigger models aren’t yet routine. But Lee has some words for designers who have any doubts: “You are capable. It’s time to include all sizes. By doing so, you are reshaping society—and uplifting women.”

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IT was the week that started with a celebration of bravery triumphing over violation as Taylor Swift won her court case against DJ David Mueller, but ended with an international outpouring of grief as terrorists struck the heart of Barcelona, killing 14 people and leaving over 100 more injured.

This Week In Pictures – 14/08/2017

It was also the week that saw Donald Trump come under some of the most intense criticism of his presidency to date, as his failure to immediately condemn the supremacist protest groups in the wake of the Charlottesville attack last Saturday, resulted in collective condemnation from leaders around the world.

From Supreme to Selfridges: The Cult of Fashion Merchandise

In the UK, it was retail news that took the lion’s share of the headlines as Topshop announced the departure of its womenswear and menswear creative directors – Kate Phelan and Gordon Richardson – and the arrival of its new co-ed successor, David Hagglund; online retailer Avenue32.com closed down operations; Matchesfashion.com announced its major expansion into the east end of London; American Apparel made its long-awaited comeback; and Reserved (the new Polish high-street brand that Kate Moss is backing) upped the ante by releasing new pictures of the supermodel in its wares, ahead of its opening on September 6.

The Dream Coats The Vogue Editors Want This Autumn

On the celebrity front, Sienna Miller continued her reign as the unmatched doyenne of post-show style; Lady Gaga was pulled into the long-running case between Dr Luke and Kesha; Emily Ratajkowski reminded us of the eternal allure of Adidas’s three stripes; Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen told us about the power of perfume; and Eva Longoria announced that she is set to join the New York Fashion Week schedule next month to show her Eva Longoria Collection on September 13.

Sunglasses On Screen: How To Look Like Vogue’s Cult Film Heroines

Also this week, Daniel Craig finally confirmed his 007 return (read a Vogue editor’s love letter to the Bond favourite here); BBC2 announced that it has secured the rights to air the American Crime Story focusing on the death of Gianni Versace; Emma Stone ousted Jennifer Lawrence as the highest-paid actress in the world; Pantone Colour Institute coined Love Symbol #2 – a regal hue in honour of the late Prince’s Yamaha purple piano; and Natalia Vodianova talked period poverty, the stigma surrounding menstruation and why knowledge equates to power for the modern woman.

How To Prolong Your Holiday Tan

We leave you with a light-hearted way to while away the hours this weekend, with Miss Vogue‘s edit of this year’s 50 fittest boys. Some are household names, others fashion favourites and the new entries on the list are names you’re set to hear a lot from.

The 50 Fittest Boys Of 2017

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THE National Portrait Gallery has announced a new major display, Black Is The New Black set to take place in November 2018, for which it has acquired its largest acquisition of portraits of black Britons – including our own editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful.

Edward Enninful


The 37 portraits also include those of supermodel Naomi Campbell, broadcaster Trevor Macdonald, actor David Harewood, and musician Tinie Tempah, among others, all of whom have been chosen to appear “for their achievements in politics, business, culture, religion and science”, read a release from the gallery this morning. The images were originally taken by Simon Frederick for a 2016 BBC Two documentary of the same name as the display and with support from AOL, Frederick has now gifted the entire portfolio to the NPG.

The Duchess’s Night At The National Portrait Gallery

“These striking portraits of black British sitters powerfully reflect the diversity and variety of contemporary British achievement in public life,” said NPG director Dr Nicholas Cullinan. “The National Portrait Gallery is delighted to receive Simon Frederick’s very generous gift of photographs.” His sentiment was echoed by head of photography Phillip Prodger, who chimed: “We are proud to welcome these works into our collection, where they will be seen, enjoyed, and celebrated for generations to come.”

Naomi Campbell


Frederick will be at the NPG next Thursday, August 24, to discuss the impact that the institution’s 1840 painting The Anti-Slavery Society Convention by Benjamin Robert Haydon had on him as a child visiting the gallery with his mother and how it led him to create Black Is The New Black. The free event starts at 7pm and tickets can be downloaded here.

Black Is The New Black will take place from November 2018 to January 2019.

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Yes – and actors are earning less.

In 1996, Demi Moore made history when she became the highest grossing actress for a single Hollywood film. Moore made $12.5 million for her role as Erin Grant in Striptease—equivalent to $19.5 today according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. That’s a lot of dough.

Two decades years later, we’re still talking about how much actresses get paid—and we’re talking about it a lot. Hollywood’s gender pay gap has become a hot topic of conversation, with a growing number of award-winning actresses forcing the issue of equal pay into the spotlight. How do last year’s paychecks compare to Moore’s 1996 cash out? Women in Hollywood are making a lot, but it’s a smaller jump than one might expect.

Forbes has just named Emma Stone the highest paid actress in the world: between June 1, 2016 and June 1, 2017, the 28-year-old racked in a reported $26 million. The magazine said that Stone’s movie-musical La La Land is credited for the bulk of her pay, though they don’t specify how much exactly she took away from the film that gave earned her an Oscar (and earned itself $445 million).

Let’s go ahead and assume all the money Stone made last year came from her one film. If we’re using that number, Stone still made just 33.33% more for La La Land than Moore did for Striptease in 1996. It’s more—but it doesn’t seem like that much more, does it? These numbers seem to present lackluster progress for gender parity, though they may actually reveal the opposite. Women, at least, are making pay progress in Hollywood. Male actors (with their 10 digit salaries) can’t exactly say the same.

In the same year Demi Moore broke her record, Tom Cruise became the highest paid actor for earning $70 million for the first instalment of Mission: Impossible. If we use the U.S. Inflation Calculator again, that’s $109 million. It’s a frustrating amount more than Demi Moore or Emma Stone were paid for either of their roles—but it’s also a lot more than any actor is earning today.

Last year, Forbes named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson the world’s highest earning actor, quoting a $64.5 million annual payday. Johnson’s collecting paychecks from multiple film deals, and even then he’s making about 40% less than Cruise earned in 1996 for Mission: Impossible alone. The surface-level takeaway: actresses are making more money than they were 20 years ago, and actors are earning less.

Does this mean the gender pay gap shrinking? Four numbers (without much context) don’t determine a trend—but maybe a study from the Economic Policy Institute can. The EPI’s analysis of US government wage data revealed that men’s inflation adjusted hourly wages have fallen 6.7% since 1979, and women’s have increased 24%.

Hollywood isn’t spared from these economic stats. TIME Magazine and The New York Times have both published articles addressing the steady drop in movie star salaries over the past several years: “DVD sales fell, star-driven vehicles stumbled at the box office and studios grew increasingly tightfisted.” Where a blockbuster film may have earned an A-list actor $20 to $30 million ten years ago, now actors rely on “profit participation” to make big bucks. This earning model is how Dwayne Johnson and Tom Cruise were able to earn massive paychecks: instead of being paid for their work up front, they forwent a large advance payment in return for a share in the film’s revenue. They frequently take on roles as executive producers as well, which help to pad their pockets.

Why aren’t women getting in on this smart and modern payment model? Sometimes, they are. Sandra Bullock made an estimated $70 million for her role in 2014’s Gravity, a movie that earned $600 million worldwide. Powerful deals like hers are a step forward—they show women that they shouldn’t always accept the first offer, and that they can ask for more if they deserve it.

I guess the question then is: do female actresses deserve it? When we’re talking about seven digit paychecks, the numbers can stop seeming important. In an essay for Lena Dunham’s Lenny, Jennifer Lawrence wrote, “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars.” Except Lawrence should fight over millions if her male co-stars are making millions more. Not simply for equality’s sake—but because she does deserve it.

Pay is important because it defines what you’re worth to your employers. When Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence found out their American Hustle male co-stars received a 2% higher cut of the film’s profits, they were being told that they mattered less. (Which if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know isn’t true.) Audiences will line up to see Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in a movie—and they’ll line up to see movies with other female protagonists too. Wonder Woman is proof that audiences will spend more money to see Gal Gadot than they will to see Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill combined. With her record breaking box-office success, I wouldn’t be surprised if he see Gadot leading Forbes highest earner list over the next few years.

The prospect of a Middle Eastern actress cashing a multi-million dollar paycheck might not matter to you—but it should. Everyone’s eyes are on Hollywood, which means this small community of privileged pretty people are setting precedent for the rest of us. Forbes will be revealing the list of 2017’s highest-paid actors next week, and the whole world should be holding their breath for the conversations that are sure to follow. 

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Theresa May is hosting a barbecue this weekend at Chequers, in an attempt to rally her Tory troops and bond over charred pork, presumably. The dress code for such a unique event? The invitation calls for guests to adhere to the completely-ambiguous, always-confusing theme of ‘smart casual’.

What does ‘smart casual’ actually mean in 2017? Is it really possible to get it right or wrong? These are the rules to note for now…

Don’t wear anything you would wear to the office

This is, essentially, a gathering of colleagues at the weekend, so anything that you would wear routinely in your corporate environment should be banned. You want them at least think you might lead a life beyond the workplace, so save the particular shirts that you wear on repeat for Monday.

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Everyone who knows me knows I love being tan. Perhaps it’s the part-Islander in me (my mom is from Mauritius), but unlike most Chinese people (including my sisters), I try to be as bronzed as possible, especially in the summer.

However, after many years of tanning (both outdoors and in beds), I’ve finally started to smarten up about protecting myself from harmful UV rays and have even started wearing sunscreen, at least on my face, daily (I know, I know, it’s about damn time). But as someone who doesn’t tan easily, this means my skin isn’t as bronzed as I’d like it to be.

The obvious solution is self-tanner, but when you have eczema like me, application can be tricky. Spray tans have left my flare-ups looking awkwardly stained and mousses and creams irritate my eczema spots even more. But since I am so determined to make self-tanning work for me, I asked Nichola Joss, a.k.a. celebrity facialist and self-tanning expert (she was the woman responsible for Kate Moss bronzed, naked bod in that St. Tropez tan campaign) exactly how to avoid looking patchy when self-tanning.

“You have to be very careful with product as it can cause inflammation to already sensitive skins,” Joss tells me over e-mail. “My advice is to go over these particular areas with a gentle, organic if possible, gradual tanner with less DHA and more moisture. It’s kinder to the skin and works with a more gentle approach as the tan develops [and there’s] less chance of a reaction.”

In addition to going natural or organic, Nichola also suggests using a gradual tanner meant for face on these sensitive areas. Simply apply with a sponge blender and gently work into the area before lightly buffing away, then repeating a few times to build colour.

Joss also advises cleansing the skin thoroughly and using a milk, or non-fragranced organic or natural moisturizer, before any tan application — just be sure to let it absorb into the skin fully first. For spray tans, she advises applying Vaseline over the tricky spots, then using the organic gradual tan afterwards on those areas.

Now excuse me while I stock up on organic self-tanners. Check out some top picks below:

organic self tanner

organic self tanner

organic self tanner

organic self tanner

Organic Self-Tanner

1/7

2/7

3/7

4/7

5/7

6/7

7/7

 

 

 

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A shorter version of this article is published by the Financial Times. 

In the first decade of this century, many were predicting the demise of the cork industry, centred on Portugal, so popular were alternative wine bottle stoppers such as screwcaps and synthetic corks becoming.

The problem was the shockingly high incidence of TCA, the abbreviated name of the compound responsible for the most common sort of cork taint, in natural corks. Until recently all corks were made by punching little cylinders out of strips of cork oak bark, and trying, not always successfully, to keep the process as hygienic as possible. Far too many wines have ended up infected with TCA, either massively, in which case the wine smells undrinkably mouldy, or (worse for wine producers) mildly – in which case drinkers are likely to think it’s the fault of the wine rather than the cork.

Australian and New Zealand wine producers became so frustrated with the poor quality of corks they were sent back in the 1990s that most of them have switched wholesale to screwcaps, which do the job of keeping wine’s enemy, oxygen, out extremely efficiently – initially too efficiently but now most producers have worked out their ideal OTR (oxygen transmission rate) and choose screwcaps they think will allow the right amount of oxygen through the lining of the screwcap to facilitate the wine’s ageing process.

Screwcaps have become so popular for cheaper wines that they are now to be found on about a quarter of all the 18.5 billion bottles of wine that need a stopper each year.

Synthetic corks, the ones made of plastic or, from the market leader Nomacorc, a sugar-cane derivative, are about half as common as screwcaps and are used mainly for less expensive wines in countries such as the US and France, where screwcaps are not widely accepted.

Screwcaps are the cheapest stopper of all, which presumably adds to their popularity with wine bottlers, but I for one admire those producers of superior wine who would rather sacrifice scorn from the odd uneducated consumer in exchange for guaranteed freedom from TCA and 100% consistency in how the wines develop.

Inconsistency of wine evolution has been the other big problem with natural corks, each one of them varying slightly in how much oxygen is available in each bottle. I have had bottles of the same wine from the same case, such as the two halves pictured below, that have been unrecognisably different, one from the other.

At one time it looked as though the cork industry was under threat, but thanks to the rapid growth of bottled wine in both the US and China, the dominant natural cork supplier Amorim of Portugal has seen six consecutive years of sales growth. They report they are now selling two billion more corks a year than they did when screwcaps and synthetic corks started to make a real impact.

One reason why quality-conscious wine producers now look more kindly on corks is that – at long last – guaranteed TCA-free options are available.

One of the two major new wine bottle stoppers currently fighting for business at the top end of the market is Diam, owned by a French company that also owns important coopers Seguin Moreau (and recently bought a more commercial natural cork producer in Portugal). The Diam technical cork was launched in 2005, and from a standing start now sells 1.25 billion stoppers a year, including the Mytik sparkling wine version.

Diam corks don’t look that great. Visually they bear a similarity to the cheap agglo corks made up of lots of little cork particles glued together, but in production method and efficacy they are quite different. I will spare you the intricate detail that so inspires Diam’s team of food technologists, but basically they buy cork from around the world and, at their plant just over the Spanish border from Portugal’s cork country, treat it with supercritical carbon dioxide, the vital element that is somewhere between a gas and a liquid, to eliminate 100% of the volatile molecules that might alter flavour. (There are now other, rival products that guarantee elimination of up to 80% of possible TCA.)

The cork is reduced by 60% of its volume to tiny grains of suberin, the soft, doughy bit of cork bark, and this is then moulded into cylinders with FDA-approved blending agent and microspheres that prolong the life of the cork. The finishing and printing take place all over the world in their finishing centres such as the one they operate jointly with California wine giant Gallo.

The process was initially used in the food and cosmetic industries – the parfumiers of Grasse are able to preserve delicate rose aromas because of it, for example – and the patent for the process as applied to cork is held jointly by Diam and, of all organisations, the French atomic energy authority.

At their plant in Céret near Perpignan (pictured above right; it dominates the town’s landscape), I was shown the tank below, proudly shown off by Diam’s European marketing director Pascal Popelier, full of extracted TCA, which, I was told but found hard to believe, is destined for the cosmetics industry, an anti-ageing cream this time.

All Diam corks are marked Diam somewhere, so, only once you have pulled them, you can tell that your wine was neutrally sealed. I complained to Diam’s head of RD that Diam stoppers are so inelastic that they are pretty hard to reinsert into a bottle neck (though not as hard as the early synthetic corks). ‘Exactly!’ he beamed. ‘This shows how good they are at their job.’

I’m noticing Diam more and more, and would love the producers who use them to advertise the fact – as of course would those who sell them. They guarantee both 100% removal of TCA and 100% consistency of wine evolution.

Within France, Burgundians have been keener Diam customers than the Bordelais, particularly for their white wines, presumably in the wake of their difficulties with premature oxidation. The Diam team is especially proud of Louis Jadot’s decision to stopper all their grand cru white burgundies with Diam, which comes in several different versions, according to OTR and guaranteed life of the cork – D1 to D30, guaranteed to last 30 years. (Burgundians choose minimum OTR.)

In practice, wine producers tend to trial Diam for their less expensive wines before moving on to use it for the top of the range, which from a consumer’s point of view is a little frustrating. Mytik has become so popular with Prosecco producers that total Diam sales to Italy are likely to overtake those to France this year.

But Portuguese cork producers Amorim and MA Silva now offer natural corks they claim are TCA-free. Amorim launched theirs, ND Tech, at the end of 2015 and expect to sell 50 million of them this year. NDTech (the Diam team, most famous producers of ‘technical corks’, seemed flattered that Amorim chose to append ‘tech’ to the name of this premium product) is quite a different animal from Diam. It is the crème de la crème of their natural corks, subjected to such a rigorous selection process that the company can guarantee that any remaining TCA level will be well below the perception threshold. But the process takes so long that at present it can yield only three corks a minute.

Those already using NDTech, such as Ch La Conseillante in Pomerol, report that they are already enjoying wine evolution that is as consistent as it would be under screwcap.

THE PRICE OF A STOPPER
The following are very rough comparative prices per thousand wine bottle stoppers as charged to a small wine estate.

  • Synthetic corks €70-€250
  • Stelvin screwcap €100 (cheaper alternatives are available)
  • Diam 5 €170
  • Diam 10 €220
  • Top-quality untreated natural cork €300-€400
  • Vinolok glass stoppers €450-€1,100
  • NDTech €500 (a similar product is available from MA Silva)

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I first downloaded FLO because I was looking for a period tracker and somebody recommended it to me. And I just fell in love with it. Because the guys that founded it are Russian, like me, I got in touch and just said: there’s so much more to do here with your product. And that’s how I got involved. Simply being a period tracker is only one part of what FLO is about – already it’s a community of over 10 million women that are able to be completely anonymous and therefore feel more open when talking about periods. You can say whatever you want and you’re not going to be laughed at or told you’re weird. Because I’ve become a mother five times already, I’m personally very in touch with my gynaecologist. But sometimes, with certain things, I still feel more comfortable asking other women and knowing other women are going through the same thing. So I just want to talk about it! That’s why we started this campaign: Let’s Talk About It, Period.

Periods have such a stigma, and in fact women’s health in general does. In parts of Nepal, girls get isolated from their families while they have their periods, because they’re considered dirty. That is really messed up and it’s happening still. Stigma and shame come in different forms, but even in the West it’s still hard for girls because there’s no one place you can get good information and feel safe. I mean, I was born in the Soviet Union and we didn’t talk about sex – I never went to a gynaecologist before I got pregnant. Ok, I got pregnant very early on – I was 19 – but still. There’s such a lack of information. Something else we take for granted is pads and tampons – we think it’s normal. But only 12 per cent of women in India have access to them. It’s insane. I hope to be able to fundraise and raise FLO to a level where we can give back to these communities, it’s really important. The FLO founder, Yuri Gurski, he is all about that. He wants to really empower women – he has a family himself and his wife is the big inspiration behind his product. The world of technology has opened up boundaries between cultures and given women and people all across the world better access to the same kind of information.

The Fight To End Period Poverty Has Reached Parliament

Just being able to access so much information via our phones is empowering. FLO is also really helpful with pregnancy – either if you want to get pregnant or to avoid it. You manually input details on your cycle and things about your health, and the app takes note of that and helps you to know your body better and to understand it. It helps you understand your moods too. I am in a healthy relationship, where it’s ok for me not to be happy every day of my life. Antoine, my boyfriend, understands and he sees when I’m not at my best – when I’m closing in on my period. He says to the children: we should be nice to mummy today. What we are planning with FLO, and which has been demanded by many women, is for the app to send a message to men so they don’t have to guess. Somehow this part of our life isn’t taken seriously, or seen to make us weak. I know a lot of partners are not as tolerant as mine. And that creates even more separation between a woman and her surroundings. If the environment was more supportive, women wouldn’t have to be as strong as they are. Women are strong, but do we choose it? Society forces it on us to be incredible mothers, but also to have work and in fact be breadwinners as well. And on top of that to always be in a good mood.

One of the things that really made me get involved with FLO was thinking of my daughter, Neva, and her future – and of other women of her generation. The sooner we empower these girls to know themselves and their options, the better. For Neva, as soon as she has that need I’ll introduce her to FLO. I hope to tell her a lot of things myself – we’ve already spoken about periods for example, and to see the changes in her as she grows up puts a smile on my face. I recognise them from experience! I want to be a progressive mother. This is the time not to tell her off for being angry for nothing, but an opportunity to speak to her about it in a way that can build her up and make her stronger. But everyone is different so there will be some things I may not be able to understand, which is why sharing is important. We have to harness technology as much as possible and use it for good.

Learn more about FLO here.

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