"People don't like to go against the grain if it causes them discomfort" Laura Phelan.
Laura is an Eating Disorder Specialist, Speaker,Writer and the Founder of Phelan Well, working 121 with women of all shapes and sizes to heal their relationship with food and body image, she is also the co-founder of Beyond Body confidence. I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura on her thoughts & notions of feminism.
Would you say you are openly a feminist? DEFINITELY. I grew up in an all-female household, and have a predominantly female heavy family, so it really has been girl power all the way. I learnt the value of working hard and standing on your own two feet from a very young age despite the odds thrown against me and even on meeting my partner I never considered that we wouldn’t be equals.
Define Feminism in your own words: Standing up for what you believe in, fighting for what you want, wanting everyone to be treated fairly, equally and helping to raise the voices of those who need it most. I have honestly never considered myself in any way less of an opportunist against men, perhaps because I have always felt very independent and headstrong as a woman and have always known what I want. But I really appreciate economically this isn’t the case and I think we have some way to go.
Why is Feminism important to you and why do you think it’s important for future generations? Because its damn hard being a woman in 2019, we are told to be pretty but not boastful, we are told to be smart but not overpowering, we are told to use our voices and then shutdown. Young women are growing up in a world of body image dissatisfaction as well as having to be an all round super human.
Have you ever experienced any misconceptions of yourself or friends due to being a feminist? Not hugely, at university we looked in great depth at the turnstile of feminism over the years from the burning bra days, ( just to be clear I LOVE being braless so think I would have joined in), but I know there can be tension and people don’t like to go against the grain if it causes them discomfort.
A lot of people I talk to about feminism, refer to themselves as an “equalist”, I would love to get your thoughts on this. I get the concept, but there is no such thing in the sense that men cannot carry babies, men do not have periods, and the economic status of women suggests even in 2019 we are far from equal in the workspace. Its about raising the voices of those oppressed, I don’t see it as causing further oppression towards men which I think is what people worry about.
What is the one thing at the top of your mind that you feel could change through feminism? I honestly feel like the emotional burden on women ( I am generalizing) is really high. It’s the small but big things that women do, mums do at home such as housework and keeping their kids on top of school work that build up. I remember reading a report of what a full time mum should be earning and that’s clearly not being supported for those on maternity leave or who cant work full time. We need to find ways to support women, especially mums who are trying to juggle a lot.
A large part of feminism (in my opinion) is eliminating girl hate and supporting other women, do you agree? And if so, how do you support this? 10000%-honestly, I have dealt with more “hate” and difficulty from other women as opposed to men even in the working sphere. We are already constructed to pit against each other whether that’s in how we look or how good we do at work, but what we do share needs to be celebrated and supported. I support this through being a good friend, being loyal and treating others with respect. I also do this by being an advocate for those who are vulnerable and those who do not get heard a lot in my work as a body image/mental health advocate and by supporting individuals to feel better about who they are.
What is your favourite feminist quote? “I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want"
Would you recommend any feminist focussed materials such as books or podcasts that would allow the readers of this interview to discover more about feminism in a positive way? Beyond body confidence/ body cons/ let me talk/shes electric/fit and fearless. People like Brene Brown are awesome thought leaders for women to find their courage and be vulnerable ( as well as men and everyone else too!) BOOKS- the handmaids tale (show also), the color purple, Maya Angelou women who ran with the wolves (about forgiveness)