Two women wise beyond their years doing the type of work that makes use us proud to be operating in our own little way in the advocacy and empowerment space. Meet Callan and Olivia, the founders of Faces of Feminism. If you don’t know them, now you do, and get ready to be impressed, inspired, and motivated to do your part toward making whatever change you seek to see in the world happen.
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Education: The New School, NYC
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Education: Rising high school junior
Is there one person, place, thing or experience that prompted you to start Faces of Feminism, and what’s your primary aim with it?
Callan: We experienced boys and men misunderstanding feminism for so long and saying things like “I can’t be a feminist because I’m not a woman” or “feminism is unnecessary because women are already equal to men.” These encounters were what originally inspired me to reach out to Olivia and start Faces of Feminism, but today I think our drive is more to educate uninformed or ignorant folks with privilege in general. Ultimately, we aim to be a platform for marginalized voices while also informing feminists on issues they may not understand. Another aspect we focus on is our own education because, as white, cis, straight, able-bodied women, we do not understand every issue.
Olivia: The misinterpretation of feminism in media and everyday life is the driving idea behind Faces of Feminism. Callan and I wanted to find a way to show the world that feminism isn’t only for women, but for everyone, from all walks of life. FoF started as a smaller project for a blog collaboration between Callan and I. Seeing the positive response we both received on our separate blog posts really sparked an urge in me to help Callan create something more significant. We both realized the need for a platform that showcased intersectional feminism in a positive, all-inclusive light.
Faces of Feminism believes anyone and everyone should fight for what is right as a feminist, and, ultimately, as an activist. How do you define feminism?
Callan: Feminism is always changing and evolving. I think feminism is about never letting bigotry slip by and fighting it by engaging in politics and voting. Feminism is successful when all participants realize their privilege and are open to let those who are more marginalized speak. It is about community and support, but it’s also about challenging each other and acknowledging our mistakes.
Olivia: To me, feminism is a progressive movement of open-minded, but not always like-minded individuals. Feminism is continually changing to be more intersectional and to include new definitions of what being a woman/femme/non-binary person means. Feminism is not made for only one gender to take part in and is not made to make anyone in the human race better than another. At its core, feminism is the equality of genders, and at its peak, feminism is the equality of all humankind.
What do you believe is the biggest threat to the feminist movement today?
Callan: It may sound strange, but I believe the largest threat to the feminist movement is comfort. I admit I have fallen into comfort with my activism before, as have many feminists with privilege, but when activism becomes comfortable and easy, there is no growth. Feminists who are members of marginalized communities are affected every day by inequity, but other feminists can forget about activism until they feel like picking up again. Additionally, it is wonderful to share your beliefs over social media or at a march, but these actions are not the change makers, and activism cannot stop there.
Olivia: I believe the biggest threat to the feminist movement today is the divide between those who identify as feminists (feminists vs. feminists). Different feminists carry different viewpoints and lifestyles, which I have seen cause rifts between those of differing beliefs. We can become so focused on fighting each other, that we forget to fight for the rights of one another.
How do you balance school with running FoF, as well as your own blogs, other extracurriculars, having a life, etc.—what are your go-to strategies for getting it all done?
Callan: I have tried every method of organization and time management, but nothing seems to work better for me than a good old to-do list. I sit down every night to map out the next day through a to-do list. I make a section for the morning, afternoon, and evening and at the top, in bold, I write all the set appointments or events I have that day and the times for them. I do this because I found that when I put my events in google calendar I forget to look at them and I end up missing them. That being said, I am not even close to perfect at balancing everything, and I think it’s essential to make that clear. I always end up getting everything necessary done, but in all honesty, I never feel like I’m completely on top of everything.
Olivia: It’s definitely a difficult task and a lot of the times I feel like I’m not balancing them at all. However, everything always seems to get done one way or another. My go-to strategy to get it all done is to block out my time. I make a to-do list as soon as I get home from school every day and block off certain sets of time for certain tasks. I find that this cuts down on my occasionally toxic multi-tasking and allows me to have a greater focus on one thing at a time. Also, I make sure to put my phone away for at least 1-2 hours every day in order to minimize distraction for that period of time.
What’s been the most a) challenging as well as b) the most rewarding part of running this movement?
Callan: The most challenging part of running Faces of Feminism is knowing that we are going to make mistakes inevitably, and we have, and when we do make mistakes, we have to own up to them and work to fix them. We want every intersection of identity to be represented and heard on our platform. It has also been a challenge to find what exactly the focus of the site should be. The most rewarding part is hearing the stories of the feminists we interact with and learning from them as well.
Olivia: The most challenging part of running Faces of Feminism is ensuring that all walks of life are accounted for and included within the platform. Callan and I never want someone to feel as if they are not welcome or not safe in their identity at FoF. The most rewarding part is definitely getting to come in contact with other amazing womxn activists who are fighting the same fight we are, but with their own unique spin on it!
Why are women supporting other women, and empowering other women, important to you and, arguably, should be important to us all?
Callan: When womxn, including trans, intersex, and non-binary folks, support and empower other womxn, hateful people lose their power. We can all learn so much from each other and also teach each other so much. Supporting and empowering doesn’t have to mean doing something drastic; it can be just as powerful to sit and listen to someone as it is to try to solve their problem.
Olivia: There’s something special when womxn work to support and empower other womxn. There are certain experiences and ways of life (negative or positive) that womxn go through that is unique to us as a group that brings us together. Our experiences all define and affect each other in some way. To be present and to speak up to say “I’m here for you, I believe you, I understand you, you make the world go ‘round” to other womxn is incredibly important.
What advice do you have for young women who want to launch an empowerment-oriented enterprise or passion project?
Callan: If you feel something is missing from the world or you have a passion for something, start immersing yourself in that thing or that community. Something that has stopped people, including me, in the past is fear that there is no room for another company, organization, or movement, but if you are pursuing something for the right reasons, it will work out. I am a strong proponent of spending time and observing whatever industry or space you eventually want to break into. You do not need to know everything or be prepared entirely before you begin your venture.
Olivia: GO FOR IT! One of the biggest lessons I have learned in the past year is that you shouldn’t wait for someone else to launch the project that’s running around your head because for all you know someone else never will. You’ll never know what could’ve happened if you didn’t even try to build something in the first place, so get out there and create, build, do what you want to do. Research, ask questions, collaborate, and brainstorm your way to making your passion project a reality. You waiting for a sign is a sign, so go do it!
Do you have a mentor or mentors? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
Callan: I definitely have an array of icons I look up to but, as cliche as it is, my mother is my one true mentor. She was practically a single mother of me for years and managed to go to grad school as well as work during that time. She is the one person who has always been there, and I turn to her for all advice. Otherwise, I think I learn a lot from my friends who are deep thinkers and have been through a lot.
Olivia: Yes, and no. I would say that in a sense, my mentors are the people who inspire me daily. Whether it is someone I know in real life or just through social media, watching others work hard, persevere, and succeed in their passion area is a big enough lesson for me to go out and do the same. At the same time, there isn’t a singular person I go to for all of my advice. However, my parents and aunts are people who inspire and support me through my every move. I can always count on them to be excited about what I’m doing or help me achieve a goal of mine.
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their education, career, and wellness goals?
Callan: Take a deep breath, look away from social media and other sources of comparison, and remind yourself why you wanted to achieve these goals to begin with. Stay focused, but also don’t forget to have fun and leave time to relax. Lastly, one thing I struggle with often is listening to my body. If your body is telling you to rest, listen If your body is telling you that a situation or person is toxic, listen.
Olivia: You can do it. One of the biggest problems today is womxn not believing that they have what it takes to meet their goals. The number of times a day that I tell myself I won’t be able to do this or that is remarkable, and you have to be able to step back and tell yourself: “no, I CAN do this and I DO have what it takes.” It may take thought and small steps to reach your broader education, career, or wellness goals, but in the end, it will be worth it.
If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?
The DMs on our Instagram account (@facesofeminism) are always open, and so are the DMs on our blog accounts (@absolutelyolivia and @currentcalllan). Also, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We are always looking for new faces to feature and feminists to interview, so don’t be scared to reach out. We love connecting with new people!
Thank you, Callan and Olivia. We look forward to following your journey!