FEMINIST FRIDAY: Kenneth Cole New Campaign Feat. Social Activists & Musician Skydiving In The Nude

Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday! That part of our weekly line-up where instead of just focusing on one particular topic or story, we get to share a handful of videos we are loving right now. This week we’re checking out Kenneth Cole’s latest Courageous Class campaign where he puts the spotlight on a group of young social activists, Grizzly Bear’s new music video which flips the script on female objectification, and a musician who went skydiving nude to raise awareness for a very worthwhile cause.

Since we are living in a time of political #resistance, it’s no surprise to see major fashion brands getting in on the action. We’re always a little wary of major for-profit companies piggy-backing off of social trends, whether it be female empowerment, body positivity etc. But it’s also important to see brands listening to the needs of culture and shaping their marketing messages accordingly.

This isn’t Kenneth Cole’s first foray into creating a campaign with an important social message. In fact this is the fifth consecutive season they are choosing to promote something other than just clothes and aesthetics, according to Instyle.com. As part of their ongoing ‘Courageous Class’ campaign, this time around they are highlighting “determined individuals who confidently overcome life’s challenges to become the inspiring role models they were meant to be”.

“Fall 2017’s class comes at us as a league of fearless social activists, artists, and empowered citizen,” said the brand.

The 4 individuals in the campaign are Corinne Foxx – actress, entrepreneur and advocate for mental health, Casil McArthur – trans male, model, singer, and advocate for gender fluidity, Nathaniel Dam – model and volunteer for underserved communities, and Chloe Norgaard – model, artist and environmentalist.

The second video is Grizzly Bear’s latest music video for their track ‘Mourning Sound’. It comes from their first album since 2012, and the narrative for this video is quite interesting, thanks to the work of director and artist Beatrice Pegard. In an interview with Refinery29, Beatrice spoke about how she incorporated female empowerment into the story and flip the script on the stereotypical visual representations of female objectification we’re so used to seeing in music videos.

“The main idea behind the video was to exude something like funny feminism. I wanted to play with stereotypes and clichés and use them to break them down as the story unfolded. I decided to go with pink and blue color tones and a misty palette so the overall atmosphere would be feminine, surreal, and candid, whilst at the same time approaching serious subjects about motherhood, women in science, etc,” she said.

Instead of female bodies being displayed as objects of desire, we see male bodies instead. The women featured were shown doing something and having agency, and being positioned as women to aspire to.

“I wanted to portray through archival footage women who were strong and inspiring through times. In a way, I was secretly hoping that young girls would watch the video and want to go study environmental science, quantum physics, or anthropology, or get involved in politics, or pick up a skateboard, get into rally driving. Or simply feel that it is okay to go for something different and to be a bit irreverent,” said Beatrice.

The video is meant to be tongue-in-cheek with the male nudity, while also promoting women in STEM, as Beatrice points out how underrepresented they have been throughout history. But the idea of showing women as something other than sexualized was a serious focus for the director.

“I was also sick of watching music videos with half-naked, objectified women doing dance moves and just looking pretty. Personally I always thought, well, I want to see a video where all the chicks are cool and awesome and wearing whatever clothes they want and the guys are used purely for their bodies, so technically we don’t even need to see their faces, we will just get them in for their butts,” she said. Watch the video below:

The final video is one you have no doubt heard a fair bit about, as it has gone viral. Classical musician Glen Donnelly from Australia released a video of himself skydiving nude in Coffs Harbour, in the state of New South Wales, all to start a conversation about male body image. It seems like an elaborate stunt to pull to get people talking about this issue, especially men, but clearly it is not being discussed enough.

Glen launched a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 for 3 charities, and laid out his mission for doing the skydive.

“Men are pressured to silently suffer thanks to our modern idea of masculinity. While women are supported when they speak out and get help, men are often laughed at. It’s time to get real about this and end the cultural bullshit! My story shows how bad male body image can get. For ten years I started silently sucking in my belly every day, building a mental and physical prison that brought my life to breaking point. I quit a successful career including the London Symphony Orchestra, and that’s what happens when males don’t speak out,” he wrote.

The $15,000 raised will be divided equally and donated to The Butterfly Foundation, Australia’s national charity for eating disorders & body image, Nude Movement, a groundbreaking charity who want to kickstart a scientific study validating naturism as an ‘exposure therapy’ for body image anxiety, and The ManKind Project. This incredible charity teaches men to get real about their mental health through emotional intelligence.

What Glen is doing is help chip away at toxic ideals around masculinity that force men to fit into an unrealistic set of parameters. And as he pointed out, not only are men expected to live up to this, they don’t have anywhere near as many outlets to talk about their vulnerabilities as women do. Please support Glen’s campaign and spread the word!




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