Welcome back to the Fifth instalment of Girls on film, today I am in conversation with the blogger, student, LGBTQ+ activist and my Podcast Co-Host Jamie Windust. We discuss fashion, gender and attention over coffee and dinner, Buckle in Kids because this is a wild one.
BP: I feel like not everyone will know you, but everyone should know you
BP: it’s okay to giggle
JW: It’s funny because I am introducing myself to someone who already knows me
BP: Just pretend I am one of my readers
JW: Julia Child!
BP: Julia Child, the food author who is also dead- carry on
JW: Hi Julia, I’m Jamie, 20. I am a freelance writer, I have my own website, I’m a fashion business student and all-around queer icon
BP: Wow, quite the introduction. So you touched on being a fashion business student, what does that involve
JW: I study fashion management and marketing, combing the fashion world with the business and sociological world. As well as culture and politics.
BP: So it brings pretty much everything into the fashion sphere
JW: Indeed, it is a course that explains how the world and fashion are mutually exclusive to each other
BP: Incredible, what was your motive by picking the course, was it something you always wanted to do, or did you just pick it?
JW: I didn’t know it existed, I’ve always been into fashion but never design. At A-level, I had a passion for sociobiology. So the course combined the two and I thought it would be perfect. It is like a less creative version of what you do.
BP: So I do Fashion Promotion and imaging, we create editorials, ad campaigns and creative projects within fashion. We commentate on fashion for the fashion world.
JW: All courses that do Fashion at University for the Creative Arts
BP: they all cross over a little bit
JW: Yeah and they all focus on different stages of the fashion lifecycle. So people on your course in the real world would come to the people of my course for the reasons behind.
BP: As well as trends
JW: We do trend forecasting work, and then if this was the real world we would then sell that to you to influence your work
BP: It does sound fun, I have never been fully interested in the idea of business, the closest I get is the apprentice. It seems that you are able to adapt your work to the real world.
JW: Absolutely, a lot of 3rd years final major projects become real things after they graduate. So obviously I will focus mine on writing or something LGBTQ+ so that it will further my career. Lots of business bitches there.
BP: So something that would be important to talk about is gender...
JW: Boring!!! No not boring
BP: Ahaha, I think from my experience the climate in the U.K. and in the West, perceptions have shifted. I would like your take on that.
JW: sorry I got distracted by Dom
BP: A beautiful new staff member at Starbucks
JW: Well Benjamin as someone who also identifies on the gender spectrum
JW: The world is an odd place to live in at the moment, it’s one of those things where it is the best and the worst all at the same time. I think socially and culturally it’s becoming much more expected and understood. In places such as Scandinavia, it Is legally recognised, states in America where gender fluidity is recognised for the first time which is great. However, you have also got, it’s like balance you have got people that are really open minded
BP: and then you have got complete intolerance
JW: The spectrum pushes both ways - ying-yang
BP: ying-yang precisely
JW: So the better it gets also means the worse it gets, people like Piers Morgan chatting his mouth off on the TV about the fact John Lewis have taken out all the gender labels in their children’s clothing.
BP: which is something they did over a year ago, it’s just because the Daily Mail picked it up
JW: I think the problem with it is that people think that it causes problems, all that has changed is the labels. They still make skirts
BP: What I read into it was that they are making the exact same thing, it’s just up to the parents to choose
JW: It’s a marketing thing, as someone who has studied these things for the last 2/3 years. You constantly look at how marketing changes and the gender-neutral element is very current, forward thinking and now. The garments have not changed, people worry that you are pushing something onto children but you are really just giving them an option. This may be the first time people have seen this choice, so perhaps that why they think it is being pushed upon them.
BP: There would have been progressive parents in the past that would have let their children wear whatever they wanted
BP: Just when something is more mainstream, people automatically assume that “there must be a problem with this”
JW: It’s not a new thing, it’s just more prevalent. In WW2 there was a centre for trans research in Germany and it got destroyed in a bombing raid. So to look back into history is cloudy, but whilst it was operational it showed evidence of gender non conforming people all over the world in the 19th century. I went to the Queer Britain exhibition at the Tate and that showed evidence of gender non conforming people in the 1900’s.
BP: that was at the Tate Britain
JW: Yes, not the Tate Modern... So I think people need to chill out, no one is going to shout at you if your child is a boy and still wants to play with a digger. People worry that there is an erosion of traditional values
BP: There is just more choice
JW: The fact that there is more choice available without being scrutinised. There was a documentary on Barbie and how she has changed to become different sizes and ethnicity, and that boys now play with Barbie. It is that level that people argue that Barbie should not be realistic, but there is the choice and it should be available. Give people the choice to have a plus size Barbie or a thin Barbie.
BP: I think as well that around children, that younger generations are more impressionable, so if there is a range of essentially a choice, it allows them, to develop without parameters or stigma
JW: Some old white people think that now there is more choice you are trying to get rid of the original options. They assume that we are trying to get rid of traditional roles. Getting rid of boys and girls, blue and pink, but all it is in reality is offering choice. It is similar to criticism of feminism that it is just policing bodies, well no feminism gives people the choice to whatever they want with their bodies.
BP: So if we move on to sort of how you approach everyday life. You are all intense purposes, striking. You encounter intolerance and prejudice on a daily basis. I would say that 3 in every 5 people stare, how do you deal with attention, that is essentially negative.
JW: I don’t know. People always ask me and I don’t know. One thing that I carry forward is the fact that this person has no idea who I am. So they don’t know who I am so their opinion is invalid. Also, you have to remember the first time you ever saw a gender non conforming person. My first experience was Miss J, from America’s Next Top Model. Someone who is very femme presenting, but some people would say that they appear to be a man. So they wear wigs and heels. I remember seeing that for the first time and being confused, not I a bad way. I, therefore, have to remind myself that this could be the first time that someone sees a member of the trans spectrum. Then again on the same point, I don’t see how it is confusing.
BP: I can see the point you are making, but also I don’t understand how people can see something for the first time and feel the need to double take.
JW: I have no shame because I shouldn’t
BP: There is no reason to feel same
JW: When I get ready in the morning I forget that some people will see me for the first time
BP: So true
JW: Should that be an issue - no. However, there is also a part of me that doesn’t want to be a bitch. Not in a narcissistic way but I could then inform their whole opinion on trans people.
BP: Do you ever adjust your outward appearance
BP: If you are going somewhere that you think will be problematic.
JW: There are places that I just wouldn’t go
BP: For example
JW: I can only think of like a football match. There are lots of reason I would never go to a football match
BP: I concur
JW: I’m trying to think of an example of an everyday thing.
BP: more like a medical appointment
JW: Oh Yeah
BP: So you don’t have to worry about causing issues at reception desks. Personally, that has happened lots of times, you get a double take when they ask for your name. Oh and my personal favourite especially at our doctors
JW: The screen
BP: Yes, it calls out your name. Your name is called out and everyone is expecting a traditional Mr. and I stand up and all eyes are on me. In my mind, I think that I only wore a simple boot and jean today, had I worn something like my pink jacket that would have caused real problems.
JW: Oh Yeah
BP: So there are certain situations and events where I alter my appearance to essentially help myself. Medical appointments terrify me
JW: Anything that is really binary based can be tricky. When I was volunteering at Stonewall you can go into places like the NHS looking more gender non conforming, I assumed it would be okay because you are in the NHS.
BP: I find the NHS worse than anything else
JW: There is that level of like of disappointment. You assume that everyone is open-minded but that is not the case. GP's, for example, is very good at physical and mental health but are actually transphobic without really realising it. Their training may not include it or they are told to send trans people to one of the few clinics in the U.K. it is just an issue that any institution in the U.K. is binary based like opticians or prisons
BP: Hopefully you will never have to experience that. Opticians, however, I struggled so much trying to buy glasses from the women’s section, no help was received. ‘why would you want those glasses Mr Pechey’ well Susan 'because your glasses are foul'.
JW: The prison system with a ridiculous amount of trans people being beaten up because ether is in the wrong prison. Or imagination holding bays where trans people are beaten up or sent to detention centres because authorities do not know what to do with them. So I thought that Stonewall was really beneficial because it opened my eyes to that area.
BP: So you interned with Stonewall over the summer what would you say were the key things that you took away from that
JW: Every little helps, not in a Tesco way but in the grand scheme of things my roles were minimal. I was doing social media and helping create content for social media, their information service. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a lot but social media is a such a touch point for those who are struggling with their identity or gender.
BP: it feels so inclusive
JW: Although there is that issue of class and poverty, the majority of people can access social media. It breaks barriers, there are no walls. It made me realise that small things are important. It was also great to help at my first pride. Also, it was good to get the vibe on the street, beside you I don’t hang out with a lot of LGTBQ+ people.
BP: there isn't a lot, you’d think to go to an Arts uni that every other person that you trip over is gay but that’s not the case.
JW: So it was nice to meet other trans, non-binary people. You can always volunteer with Stonewall they always need people and they have offices in Wales, Ireland and Scotland.
BP: So do you think that idea of public duty and activism translates onto your website leopardprintelephant.com
JW: Ever since then my content has become a lot more activist focused. I share my posts on LinkedIn so my tutor complemeted me on my recent post on LGTBQ+ people going to university
BP: what was the reaction to that post
JW: People replied saying that it was unnecessary
BP: why do you think people feel the need to voice their negative opinions. In previous Girls on Film, I spoke to another Blogger Rebecca Manion, we were talking about people tend to offer criticisms more readily online than they would in person. How do you feel about that?
JW: it comes from a place of love then I like it. If someone has read it and they can talk about it that way then I like the feedback, I ask for feedback at the bottom of my posts. However, if someone has just read the title and then I question them on it and they can’t answer me then I don’t care.
BP: Do you worry about your perception of you online versus you in real life blurring how people treat and see you. From my experience, I think that you seemed different until I met you. I thought you were poised and colder.
JW: well when you see me at University I can appear very professional but I’m also quite a scatterbrain.
BP: Yes you are but you hide it well
JW: I have a filter, on my socials I am quiet raw and open. I am stupidly honest and I was listening to the Homo Sapiens podcast by Will Young and Christoper Sweeny, they were talking about how there is a disconnect between -obviously Will Young is more famous than me.
BP: Just a smidge
JW: Will if you are listening to this I love you, and Ben didn’t mean that
BP: I still think he robbed Gareth Gates in Pop Idol
JW: That’s a whole other chat
BP: I love Gareth …
JW: They were talking about how people know people online when they meet them in real life they feel like they are speaking to a screen or an assistant or a representative of that person. They can’t believe that person exists, they only exist I their phone.
BP: Their version of them
JW: Online people are really open to interpretation which is good and bad. Your whole image can be squeed in a way that is not true. The majority of people think that I am going to be a bitch.
BP: I didn’t think that at all
JW: I get that A LOT. Especially at Uni, or they think I am going to be really chatty and then I am not when you first meet me I need to melt a little
BP: Like a Yankee wax melt
JW: You need to turn that burner up for a bit before my personality oozes out.
BP: Well on that oozing note I will bid you farewell.
BP: Thank you for being my fifth guest on Girls on a Film.
JW: Thank you. BYE.