Photo: Anna Marie Lopez
International Women’s Day in the #MeToo era
On this International Women’s Day, we focus on Press for Progress, a global movement for gender parity ignited by #MeToo and Time’s Up catapulting solidarity and badassery to new depths. Finally, those who have suffered from sexual abuse, harassment or pay inequity feel emboldened to speak up.
I originally spoke to Kiran Gandhi in 2017 after the Women’s March with record turnout of 3.3 million protesters around the world. The momentum following the Weinstein allegations galvanized women all over the globe who have had enough! The number of females running for public office is at an all-time high, Time Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the Person of the Year, support for #MeToo fashioned at Golden Globes and BAFTA–fueling discourse about how we must change the status quo. Oh, and the lightning rod speeches from Oprah and Frances were rallying cries for all of us regardless of political persuasion.
As momentum continues for equality, I reconnected with Kiran to reflect on the state of our social progress. As a vocal feminist, she will continue to use her voice to support all female equality and facilitate more dialogue about sex positivity and sex education, “All people should be able to feel free in their own bodies and be able to enjoy their own sexuality, not feel traumatized by it.”
Trauma is the root of self-hate. How we discuss sexual orientation and sexuality is something that will also require healing on an individual and collective level.
As we continue to work toward equality and watch our new normal unfold, Kiran Gandhi’s steadfast convictions take shape.
International Women’s Day year round
Kiran Gandhi is full of surprises: She’s the daughter of immigrants from India, but grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, attending The Chapin School for girls. She’s currently a drummer, living a hipster-activist existence in LA, but Hillary Clinton–among other heavy hitters–attended her parents’ dinner parties when she was a kid (she and her siblings said hello in their pajamas, but were quickly ushered upstairs again). And oh yeah. She’s the one who ran the 2015 London marathon while on her period and bled through her spandex, for–literally–all the world to see. Remember her?
Kiran had not expected her period on race day. Normally, her cramps are so debilitating that she skips out on training altogether. So when marathon day came along and she felt the typical twinges, she didn’t know what to do.
“I didn’t want to run with a pad because I’d never run with a pad before and that’s chafing and no man I know would run with cotton in his balls for 26.2 miles.”
She was reluctant to consider a tampon an option either, as they run the risk of being erratic over such long distances, under physical duress. Worst case scenario, it would create chafing (not to mention leakage), too.
Why is it that 50% of the world’s population menstruates and we don’t talk about it? Have you ever thought about why very few of us have positive feelings about this?
Kiran has. The marathon forced her to really confront the topic–and the taboos that come with it–and she feels it’s an honor to be one of the voices raising awareness about menstruation and other women’s health issues. She partnered with Printshop and Zana Africa where the sale of every t-shirt will support a girl in East Africa with menstrual health and reproductive education.
Beauty on her terms
Her efforts don’t stop at our underwear. She’s thought long and hard about other aspects of femaleness. As a performer (her song “The Future is Female” went viral in the days following the Women’s March), Kiran knows that image plays a huge role in our society today. But her approach to beauty comes from the inside, and she frequents The Springs in DTLA, which places value on healthy clean eating and exercise as an access point to looking beautiful. “This approach to beauty and vanity is something I deeply love because sex appeal and wanting to look good is a positive thing.” To get her inner and outer glow, she eats greens, organic, vegan, gluten free, and raw as much as possible. She adds macadamia oil into her beauty regimen for good measure.
“The way we do it [approach beauty] shouldn’t be synthetic or expensive and debilitating. Instead the effort should be placed on our mental health and our feeling good as opposed to our looking good for someone else’s sexual consumption.”
That’s something to mull over the next time you get a brazilian bikini wax. Unfortunately, we live in a society that still places a high premium on female beauty yet a man’s value comes from his skill set and the weight of his wallet.
Kiran adds: “A man’s physique is not taken into consideration like it is for woman; Men don’t have to wear heels to slow them down to walk from Point A to B. So the amount of time sucked out a woman’s day because our value is placed on our looks holds us back. It holds us back because we have less time to spend on our craft, learning the drums or number crunching, getting better at any of these skills sets or takes away from our leisure time.”
Makes you want to rock a Madame Gandhi T-shirt, doesn’t it?
“As we get older, we no longer look eighteen and our value as women is diminished” says Kiran, “If I had to pick, I’d rather my worth come from my value [skill set] than my looks.” We think that’s pretty badass.
And who’s a badass in Kiran’s world? “Someone who is fearlessly and authentically themselves, not tethered to social norms and concepts that are around us.”
So on this International Women’s Day, on the heels of 3.3 million women marching around the world, let’s join forces–with the Kirans and the Glorias and our fantastic girlfriends–to celebrate all the nuances involved in being alive, and being female. How are you showing your badassery on #DayWithoutAWoman? Marathon, flowers, champagne or french fries, anyone?
This article was originally published on March 8th, 2017.