International Women's Day | Influencer Q&A

Happy International Women’s Day ladies! Here at HQ, we believe in celebrating women all day, every day but on the 8th of March we go into overdrive. What can we say? We believe in the power of women! International Women’s Day is a global national holiday where the achievements of women are recognised, and we reflect on how far women have come but also how far we have to go to achieve equality for ALL women. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Each for Equal’ focusing on challenging stereotypes, fighting bias and broadening perception. We spoke to 5 badass female content creators about how they navigate the world as women and combat gender bias every day. First up is @thekittyluxe and @lifeinthefashlane but stay tuned for part two!

Like the look of their slogan tees? They’re ours! Help us support The Prince’s Trust’s Women Supporting Women campaign by shopping our charity tees. £5 from each item sold will go to the charity. Oh, and make sure to head over to our Instagram to watch our influencer takeovers celebrating all things womanhood all day.

Holly @thekittyluxe

What’s your biggest achievement?

Getting myself through university with a Mechanical Engineering Masters (MEng) degree under my belt is definitely up there with my proudest moments. My uni experience was a little tougher than most as I did suffer from mental health issues throughout the final two years of my degree and even just getting to class was a struggle on bad days. I didn’t think I would be able to get my masters but I did it and I am so proud.

Tell us about a stereotype you’ve had to overcome.

As content creating on Instagram is now my full time job, people often assume I don’t have any professional qualifications. I often get asked “what if Instagram disappears, you’ll be left without a job?” - But I have so much to offer other than that one aspect of my life, including a master’s in engineering and copious skills that I have acquired by running my own business for 4 years.

What’s your superpower?

Can I cheat and give you three? Organisation, multitasking, and determination. Genuinely, they really are a blessing when you run your own business! When I first started running my blog and Instagram account as a business during my master’s year, I was juggling uni work from 9am-8pm and then worked on my business every evening when I got home. I was on the grind constantly that year but the hard work has definitely paid off.

Why did you select this slogan? And what does it mean to you?

Sisters support sisters. It’s so important that we as women strive to achieve whilst also supporting our sisters on their own goals too. Everyone needs a gal pal to tell them “girl, you are amazing” and really mean it. I know that whenever I’m feeling low, get imposter syndrome, or start to doubt myself I’ve got such supporting women in my life to prop me back up and I’m right there to do the same for them.

 What’s the best thing about being a woman?

We are so versatile! Women are fantastic at adapting to situations and we do it so well. I really enjoy being the passionately driven boss at work and the playful, caring big sister at home.

Are people surprised when you tell them you have an engineering degree?

It’s always interesting to see how surprised people are when they find out. In some ways, I do enjoy challenging peoples’ perceptions of me as a young woman. However, it’s a little disheartening that the most common reaction is one of shock. Because like for most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, people do expect Mechanical Engineering graduates to be male. That’s still a way of thinking that we have to actively challenge and change.

How was your experience studying in a male dominated course?

My course was around 10% female and 90% male, so in my year of 200 there were only about 20 women studying Mechanical Engineering on my course. Even though the opportunities for women were indeed equal to that of men on my course, I found that my male peers often treated me differently. There was a stigma towards more traditionally “feminine” presenting women, for example those who opted to wear makeup etc. I often felt like I wasn’t taken seriously due to the fact that I explored my personal style. My male peers would often comment on physical aspects of me such as my lipstick colour or if I’d had my nails done, whilst we were working on a project.

Does it feel empowering working for yourself?

Absolutely! Sometimes it can be difficult juggling being your own boss and employee at the same time. I can be my worst enemy on occasion and you can even start to feel a little guilty for taking a break. But it feels amazing to be able to choose to work on projects I really gel well with and feel passionate about. The power of saying “No thank you, that doesn’t work for me” is definitely a #girlboss moment

Georgia @lifeinthefashlane

What’s your biggest achievement?

It sounds cliché but I would have to say it would be my Instagram. I wanted to have a platform where I could be open about my weight gain & PCOS and support other woman struggling. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a gained a fantastic online supportive community and adore my followers. The days I’m not feeling confident in my body or myself, I go back and read through the messages I’ve received and think it’s totally normal to have those bloated days.

Tell us about a stereotype you’ve had to overcome.

Being a ‘typical’ blogger people think you are really confident and comfortable in front of the camera when that sometimes that can be the total opposite. Going through the hundreds of outtakes you shoot can really affect my self-esteem and I have to remind myself how far I’ve come with my body confidence and how a few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of being in front of a camera let alone on social media.

What’s your superpower?

 I am a woman that is my superpower. Being a woman is hard and the expectations of society can really put pressure on us. You have to look a certain way, be a certain weight, get married and have children by a certain age, be ladylike the list goes on and on. Being a woman is powerful and empowering, it’s about knowing your strengths and not being afraid to use them. When a woman is empowered, she achieves great things and achieves her goals.

Which woman in herstory inspires you the most?

It has to be Ashley Graham she has totally changed the fashion industry and I admire how she is trying to fight for size inclusivity and her efforts to get other brands on board. She also doesn’t let brands airbrush her stretch marks in pictures or categorise her as ‘plus size’ which I think is really important for younger generations to understand that stretch marks and cellulite are the norm. She is making a change in the industry by encouraging brands to become more size inclusive and promoting being a curvy girl.

Why did you select this slogan? And what does it mean to you? 

When women support each other good things really do happen. I’m a firm believer that being kind is not only important but it’s essential - it can really bring positivity into people’s lives. Being a woman is tough and we all have things going on in our lives and are all guilty of putting on our happy face. I make it my mission at least once a day to compliment a friend or a colleague on how fab they look because compliments go a long way.

What’s the best thing about being a woman?

The relief of taking your bra off after a long day and the copious amounts of ice cream we can consume during our time of the month! We are good advice givers and having the best girlfriends around you to get you through those tough times. We give the best advice and we always get stuff done!

Tell us why body positivity is so important to you.

For years I struggled with my body image. Up until my early 20s I was a confident size 6, it wasn’t until I put on 5 stone within 18 months due to a PCOS diagnosis that my body confidence took a huge knock. I wouldn’t go out because I thought people would judge me for my weight gain, I become socially anxious and lost my fashion mojo. After years of the same mindset, I learnt to accept that that people liked me for me and not my size. It has totally changed my mindset and my life which is why I think promoting body positivity is vital.

As a woman living with chronic illness, how has your experience been having your pain taken seriously?

It’s been a long and tough journey. When I was diagnosed with PCOS it took me 2 years to get the diagnosis. I had to fight to get the tests and scans done because I was repeatedly told that I just had heavy periods and that I put weight on due to overeating. When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t advised on the possible side effects, the possibility of not having children - nothing. More needs to be done to support woman with the condition and more advice needs to be given. I’ve set up a PCOS support group online so we can vent and share our stories of living with this hormonal condition and feel less alone.