‘Don’t compete with other women – other women are your allies’ was the main takeaway from the Gurls Talk x Coach Festival in association with Dazed. It’s 2017 and the issues facing women are prevalent as ever. Adwoa Aboah and her ‘tribe’ (GIRLS) know this and then some – and to attend Gurls Talk was to be a part of something progressive and exciting.
The first GURLS TALK event was nothing short of celebratory – everything we need for Women in 2017 – it felt these white intertwining walls were the safest place for expression.
The space of the Strand’s Store Studios were transformed to house a safe place for talking about issues facing girls today – everything from sexuality to mental health and often with links to the fashion industry – the plant and feather adorned room was bursting with diverse females, bean bags and boob cushions with stations to express creativity throughout the day.
A truly eye-opening experience curated and attended by inspiring and intelligent women, the day was uplifting and motivational. Positive energy filled the room as girls could be heard complimenting each other around, a warming site to see; so many smiles shared. With a large emphasis on mental health, no issue was too taboo to discuss. Kindness and inclusivity prevailed – a true sense of a community being built as people made friends in the queues to embroider and shop or shared stories in solace with the topics of the day.
Adwoa’s opening discussion set the tone for the day. Talking of self-love and positive change, it was poignant given Adwoa’s past – which she discusses candidly and honestly to resonate with many. Instigating the feeling that we really do have the power to make change – Aboah talked of introducing such discussions in schools in the academic curriculum to almost contradict the standards girls are taught in schools. On the power of social media, Adwoa asks if a selfie can get a thousand likes, why not post something that can make a difference? On self-love she talks of most importantly Knowing Your Worth – and calls for an awareness of all the great things women are doing. Also celebrating what Edward Enninful is to do at the new helm of Vogue – we’re told how this is a step toward change and diversity – and a long overdue response to youth.
‘DON’T COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN – OTHER WOMEN ARE YOUR ALLIES’
An injection of humour with poetry collective Little Grape Jelly ensued – an interesting and creative medium to project thoughts. “FUCK LOVE” was hilariously honest – delivered with such compassion it was met with a standing ovation. “Sugar Coated Evil” was an ode to the contraceptive pill – feelings toward striking a chord with many listening no doubt, and as the three continued to read in sync from their writings it was clear these feelings and ideologies projected resonated through the room.
Girls could let out their creativity at the Embroidery station with Embellished Talk, there was personalised leather monogramming from Coach and the LAW magazine Portrait Studio – as well as an emphasis on mental health with talks from experts Dr. Lauren Hazzouri and Kathryn Abel.
The afternoon’s last talk came in the form of ‘On Sexuality’ a witty, honest, and progressive chat about women and their sexuality. – Olivia Singer, Hanne Gaby, Laurie Penny, Reba Maybury and Adwoa discussed key topics including gender identification, quashing the patriarchal expectation of a woman’s shame in sex – and the freedom to talk about pleasure. On inclusion and identity, Intersex model Hanne explains ‘finding a community was the first step of finding myself’ – a sense of unity that has prevailed throughout the day thus far. While Reba agrees there is power in numbers: ‘there is no social progression if you do something by yourself’.
Never have I cried when discussing feminist issues at length before today. Never have I laughed so openly about sex in a room full of strangers. Never have I felt like we – women – have the power to make a difference, until today. The work Adwoa and her team are doing at Gurls Talk is truly inspiring.
Following the success of the day Adwoa is to feature at the Girl Up summit in the US to no doubt further spread the safe message of Gurls Talk.