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September 4, 2014

Dear Women of the World: You Don’t Have to Be a Hot Chick in a Hot Car.

Jay and I

“What are you doing in Mexico?”  (co-worker’s partner)

“Acting in a friend’s music video.”

“So, you’re running around in a bikini on the beach?” {smirks}

“Yeah, something like that.”

When Jay Sparrow first contacted me to act in his music video, I had some initial hesitation. Besides not being an actress, often in music videos women are arm candy, used to emphasize how powerful, wanted, and successful “the man” is.

The feminist in me vomited at the idea of humping wrecking balls, being a long-legged entourage, or being another “hot chick in a hot car.”

I retired my face cards and stopped modeling seven years ago because I was tired of being a prop. My intent on this planet is not to be an object, it’s to shake this world. I walked away because I felt I had so much more to contribute to this world than “pretty.”

I wanted to tear open the hearts of this world with my words dripping with vulnerability, be acknowledged for my activist blood to bring change to the world. I wanted to be recognized by someone on the street from an article I wrote that inspired them, or for a photograph that spoke to them at a gallery I held. Not because my face was splattered on the cover of a magazine or in a lipstick ad.

 

All the Boys. 33534

 

“This, this is about my own someday daughter, when you approach me, already stung-stained with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty?”

I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer,

“No! The word ‘pretty’ is unworthy of all you will be and no child of mine will be contained in five letters…

You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing but you will never be merely pretty.” -Katie Makkai

 

When Jay sent me a proposal for his, “All The Boys Want You” video, I was surprised in all the right ways.

The video is a simple fun summer depiction of young love, but underlying the imagery is a social commentary about new feminism and a reversal of the classic role of the “hot girl” in a music video.

In today’s popular Country music videos the girl, or love interest, is often portrayed simply as ornamental or without depth. The women are interchangeable and used as props similar to a pick-up truck or an acoustic guitar. This video will look to subtly and not so subtly address this by showing a reversal of classic gender roles or stereotypes.

 

Photograph by Daniel Holden credit photographer www.holdendaniels.com

Surrounding myself with human beings who share activist blood and use their voices to bring attention and change to any social inequality is incredibly important to me.

Another song on Jay’s new record Bluebird will focus on supporting same sex relationships.

I can’t remember ever hearing country music putting a spotlight on women’s rights or homophobia. We need more people on this planet talking about things that matter, or in this case, singing.

My decision to be part of the project became increasingly clear from the small moments I encountered, such as, a man on the Sunshine coast we had contacted in order to  borrow his truck for a scene at my cabin refusing to allow us to use his vehicle because I, a woman, would be driving it.

“I can’t afford to put a new clutch in,” he said.
~

All the Boys. 6

Jay wanted this video to show that a woman can be beautiful, but that it doesn’t define her.

I want young women to watch this video and acknowledge that they can be intellectual, hard working, independent, successful and still star in a music video.

That all of these things are not only normal, but admirable.

~

All the Boys. 1

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Jay was very much my teacher through this project.

I only know how to do activism loud. When I feel the world or my truth is being slighted I usually cry out angrily, throwing my heart’s fists down. I write the world’s words on blank canvases, take topless mug shots with red lipstick and equality signs painted on my face and shove them at the world. I yell through my art for people to act, do and move.

At one point I was worried the video wasn’t loud enough, or strong enough in its message.

Jay showed me that activism can be soft. He took my fists and loosened them one by one, all the while explaining that there were many different ways to use our voices, that he loved my way, and no way was better or worse, but that his was different.

He told me when he was a kid there was a cartoon on TV of the sun and a storm cloud. They were having a discussion to see which one of them can get a man walking below to take his coat off. The storm cloud goes first and blows and sends rain and thunder down on the man, and the man simply holds onto his coat tighter. Then the sun has his turn. He gently warms the air around the man till the man feels compelled to remove his coat and rest under a tree.

“For the first time in a country music video, the lead singer is in the kitchen making food for the hard working woman in the field. So any little boys, or even older men, can see, subtly, that I say that’s cool to do. It’s fair. It’s normal. If I had hit them over the head with it, the animal in the grown man would just close down and ignore the message. This way I have snuck it right into his house, right into his pickup truck. He didn’t even see it coming.”

~ Jay Sparrow.

 

Photograph: Daniel Holden www.holdendaniels.com

 

Here is the finished piece.

 

 

 

 

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Editor:  Travis May

Photos: Carly Flint and Daniel Holden

 

 

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