You Are In Good Company
If you know me you know that I am a rabid and devout feminist and have been since I was 9 years old. My degree is in Women’s Studies, I interned at Ms. Magazine, and have Smash the Patriarchy tattooed on my back, so yeah, this is the lens through which I filter everything.
When I was in my early 20s I was a teacher for a year. It was one of the best years of my life. My kids were 13-17 years old and they devoured my Gender Studies and Sex Ed classes. They gave me hope for the future and several of them are now very active feminists doing amazing work.
During that year, as I wrestled personally with (and witnessed my female students wrestle with) body image and oh, just run of the mill sexism I had an idea for a mirror I thought I should have and that really all girls in the entire world should have. It would be round and the frame would be made of portraits of amazing women and on the mirror itself, where my/your face would be when looking, it would say “You Are In Good Company.”
You are not dumb so I don’t mean to belittle you as I explain why this is a great fucking idea.
Mirrors are mostly used to assess how a person looks. Women often and largely feel bad about how they look. By placing the images of amazing women around the image of the looker the mirror immediately subverts it’s primary use, it says, “Look at these women and be reminded of and inspired by their accomplishments, not their looks.” It says, “When you’re on your death bed do you really want to think about all the time you spent in the mirror hating yourself or do you want to think about all the things you’ve done that have made a difference in the world?” It says, “You are a part of a sisterhood, a lineage of women, a coven of witches, a proud tradition of success despite great odds, a veritable treasure trove of female goodness. Don’t fucking forget that as you worry about that new wrinkle or the fit of your jeans.”
It says, “You are in good company.” And goddamn you are and I am and so I made the damn thing, 20 years later.
I started and finished it during the length of the heroic testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and the following awful week. She was the last image I added to the mirror before I hung it up.
To make it I just started Googling women I admire, women I’ve studied, women who have in some way made an impact on me and printing their images in various sizes. It’s just black and white on copy paper; I had originally thought I was making a prototype. I had also originally thought I’d only have like 20 women in much larger images but how do you choose who gets included and who doesn’t? Then I laboriously cut them out one by one with scissors and began playing with their layout on a mirror I had Amazon Prime deliver (it’s 14” in diameter and had an extra couple inches of frame on which I built the images if you were wondering about size). Once I had them all in place I Mod Podged the hell out of them with matte and used black construction paper to finish the inside edge. Lastly I wrote the message in my dumb cursive handwriting and hung it up immediately. It’s not perfect, I won’t show you the back, the paper is wrinkled from the glue, but it’s charming.
I don’t allow comments because people are awful but if I did I would ask you who would be on your mirror. Think about it at least. It’s a fun list to make.
In no particular order: Carrie BrownsteinAmelia EarhartMarlene DietrichSally RideJill SolowayLindy WestAudre Lorde Eleanor RooseveltElizabeth Cady StantonLiz PlankMarie CurieRosa ParksGloria SteinenBella AbzugRoxanne GayHelen KellerAlice Walker Margaret SangerAngela DavisAdrienne RichBillie Jean KingRuth Bader GinsburgHelen ThomasSerena WilliamsZaha HadidDolores HuertaTarana BurkeAlice WatersAva DuvernayAni DifrancoCatharine McKinnonAnne RichardsMaya AngelouBarbara EhrenreichBetty FriedanKathleen HannaJulia ChildsAnges MartinSojourner TruthRachel MaddowChelsea ManningGloria AnzulduaChristina AmanpourDorothy LevittEilleen GrayErin McKeownFrieda KahloEmma GoldmanFlorence NightingaleBarbara KrugerHannah GadsbyElisabeth MossGrace BonneyVirginia WoolfJanet MockJosephine BakerMisty CopelandSarah Breedlove WalkerJane AddamsLaverne CoxLena DunhamLiz PhairMalala YousafzaiMae JemisonMargaret AtwoodTegla LoroupeMargaret Bourke-WhitePeggy McIntoshYoko OnoDorothy ParkerTori AmosNina SimoneOprah WinfreyCharlotte Perkins GilmanJenna WorthamRachel CarsonMary WollstonescraftElizabeth WarrenShirley ChisholmHarriet TubmanCindy ShermanCaster SemenyaSonia SotomayerElena KaganClara BartonMadonnaToni MorrisonArhundati RoyMaya Linbell hooksMary OliverChimamanda Ngozi AdichieAnita HillMaxine WatersJane GoodallDian FosseyElizabeth BlackwellKathryn SwitzerKate BornsteinIris ApfelHelen Gurley BrownGina RodriguezAmerica FerreraAlison BechdelSinead O'ConnorChristine Blasey FordSylvia PlathKate MillettJudith ButlerAnnie LeibovitzSusan SontagJoan DidionAnais NinNatalie AngierEve Ensler
ps A lot of people on Insta have asked if I could mass produce this and the answer is almost for sure no. These images aren’t in the public domain and getting permission from the photographers would be an absolute nightmare and I’m already tired enough. But thanks for the love and please, make your own!