Millennials showing the world they can change it

Charlotte Smith

Charlotte is a writer and artist who produces feminism-inspired work to challenge the limiting cultural norms that women endure every day.

Q: How did you develop the Wildflower Review?

A: The Wildflower was born during the summer of 2016. I was writing a lot and I didn’t know of any websites that felt like the right places to publish it, so I took it upon myself to create a website that was by women, for women. I recruited my two friends Megan and Alyssa to help me out with editing and development, and that was how it got started.

Q: What was your motivation to make an all-female publication?

A: I had a weird experience in one of my film classes were we were talking about how urban spaces are less safe for females. I had said something about my own experience and a male classmate started verbally attacking me. I won’t go into it, but it was really nasty. I ended up writing about that experience and I needed a safe space to publish it where I felt like I wasn’t going to have to respond to a ton of hate. A lot of the trolls out there and people who say nasty shit online are often male; not to generalize, but it’s just what I’ve noticed. There are just a lot of guys with computers that seem to enjoy attacking any woman that writes about feminism. I wanted to create a place where women could share the things they’re scared to talk about because I have this belief that if you’re scared to talk about something, then it’s probably important.

Q: Do you think there’s something shifting in culture that’s calling for a need for this?

A: I definitely do. We are getting better about giving women platforms to talk, but I think it’s still a work in progress. Just in the past month I’ve started working for pretty much all women-led organizations. I’m seeing more and more of them popping up and there’s such a community. I think they’re starting to do really big things, but until recently there weren’t many organizations like this so I think it’s definitely still very relevant.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about these other groups you’re involved in.

A: Right now I do illustrations for the All Woman Project. I did some digital art based on photography from one of their campaigns. Their whole initiative is to represent all types of women in the media including all kinds of body types, all races, all ages, etc. That’s something I’m very passionate about, so when I stumbled upon their project I was so inspired by it. They reached out to me and said that they wanted to buy my artwork and put it on their merchandising, so that’s something coming up soon and I’m really excited.

I’m also an ambassador for the Girl Gaze Project and they are trying to make a community for the next generation of female photographers. It’s this group of female photographers helping other female photographers by showing how women see women. It’s so important because women are usually portrayed in the media as how men see women and we’re constantly sexualized. We don’t really get our own voice to show our own perspective of who we are and how we see one other, so I think what Girl Gaze is doing is really special.

I also just recently started writing and illustrating for WomenofVenus.com. They are doing really cool things and they have a website that is quite similar to Wildflower in its goals. Venus works with women artists and writers to highlight their accomplishments and lives. It’s definitely worth checking out. They’re based out of Texas and all the women working on the site are absurdly talented.

Q: It sounds like you’re involved in many different areas, but a lot of them have the same goals. What are some of your visions or goals for the work you want to make?

A: My whole thing is that I want to talk about the things that are scary to talk about, but are important to talk about. I want to change the way we look at our bodies. Body positivity is very important to me because that’s something I struggled with for a long time. I also really want to support the idea of women helping other women. Support your sisters! I used to feel so threatened by other women and I would compare their beauty or talent against myself, but we should just lift each other up. Society tells us we should be against each other, but that’s honestly the opposite of what we should be doing. Once I learned to change my thinking, I became so much more productive and happy. I want others to think this way too because it’s so much better for your confidence and wellbeing.

I also want to talk about mental health issues because that’s something very important to me. Coming from a family that struggles with mental illness, it’s something I have always cared about and I want to reduce the stigma around that. If anyone is hurting in anyway, I want them to feel less alone. I want to talk about it and I want to make things better.

There’s so many social issues that I feel need to be talked about. It’s so politically relevant. There are issues that we just simply can’t ignore anymore. I want to talk about feminism in general and the idea that if feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s not really feminism. I think we need better feminists in the spotlight. We need more people who are willing to talk about these issues and talk about privilege and how to help other people.

Q: How did you take your experiences to create the momentum to make the Wildflower Review?

A: I’m a very spontaneous person. If I get an idea for something and I’m excited about it, I will stay up all night doing it and I won’t be able to sleep until I finish because it is important to me and I have to make it happen. So I just bought a domain and I did some editing to make the website look the way I wanted and I started posting things that I wrote. I reached out to many women I knew from different walks of my life. I know some ridiculously talented women who don’t get the recognition they deserve, so I said to all of them, “send me your photos. Send me your poems. Send me whatever you have.” And they all did. And then their friends did, and their friend’s friends. And so on. People were so down to do to share their work and they were excited about it. It flourished from there.

Q: What would you say to someone else interested in activism but may not know where to start?

A: Just go ahead and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re nervous, grab a friend with similar ideas or someone who will support you and just say, “I have an idea, let’s do this.” Whether it’s going out to a protest, starting a website, or applying to work for a cause you’re passionate about, just do it. Life is short and you’ll gain so much from it.

Almost all of the connections I’ve made have come from the internet. It sounds so dumb, but it’s honestly gotten me pretty far. That’s how I got involved with the All Woman Project: tagging them in a photo on Instagram. The way I found out about Women of Venus: I followed them on Instagram. Same for Girl Gaze Project: I saw that they were accepting applications and I just went for it and applied. That’s how I got involved with all of them. Follow these cool accounts. If something makes you say, “oh that’s cool, I love what they’re doing,” follow them and keep up with them. If they have things you can apply for or contests to feature your work, apply for it because you never know. So go out and change the world, ladies. It’s not going to change by itself.