Rowan Blanchard woke up before we even knew what it was to be awake. At the age of 13, the bubbly actress was a keynote speaker at UN Women’s HeForShe conference. In 2014, she openly discussed her struggles with depression, creating a public discourse on destigmatizing mental illness, and in 2017, she spoke at the Women’s March in Los Angeles, where she spent the biggest one. part of his adolescence to use his social platform to defend the LGBTQ + community. and mobilizing for intersectional feminism, and to put it simply, she became the de facto face of youth activism in the late 2010s. With each tweet, she walked away from the Disney box that supported her. . But as she enters adulthood, Blanchard seeks to rebuild that box, to some extent, in the form of setting boundaries – and asserting herself on her own terms.
A longtime friend of H&M, Blanchard is using her time in quarantine to help kick off the brand’s new collaboration with Simone Rocha. To celebrate the collection (much of which is sold out worldwide) and instead of an in-person party, they created a digital experience with British painter Faye Wei Wei which provides an AR experience of the collection and presents a diverse cast of artists, including Blanchard herself.
From his early years of social advocacy, Blanchard’s sunny positivity as a Disney Channel star Girl meets the world softened. We saw her growing up in front of our eyes, but we forgot what happens during this process: she has grown up. Her current Instagram feed is a stark contrast to her days as a child actress – sometimes clad in mules, often corseted, sometimes rolled in mud or posing for steamy selfies. She has not lost either the zeal or the vocabulary she used when speaking at the United Nations; she simply took those conversations behind closed doors and now wears vintage Vivienne Westwood.
We caught up with Blanchard to discuss how she navigates modern activism, embraces her own sexuality, and works with H&M x Simone Rocha.
What made you want to partner with H&M and Simone Rocha?
I’ve been a huge Simone Rocha fan ever since I started getting into fashion and figuring out what kinds of clothes made me feel like relating storybooks – like Alice in Wonderland– in haute couture. I have partnered with H&M a lot before and it has always been wonderful, so connecting with them and Simone seems like a great opportunity. I love how wearing these clothes makes me feel very magical. Anything that makes me feel creative, I really appreciate.
Much of the collection is already exhausted. Is there an item in your fashion history that you regret not buying?
No. My problem is that I buy whatever I want and have to stop. The other day I walked in like this little store and wished I had bought these rainbow angel wings. I know where they are though. I’ll probably go get them today.
You already mentioned that Britney Spears is an inspiration to you. Have you seen the documentary?
In fact, I didn’t. I think I just inspired my Britney Spears. I love him and I am truly grateful to him.
I think, on a much smaller scale, I relate to having been sexualized my entire life. I relate to being a child actor. I also say that everyone calls you crazy. I have so much love in my heart for her in the same way that I hope to have forgiveness for myself. I would avoid [the documentary] because I know it’s gonna get me some stuff.
How did this get you to embrace your own sexuality?
I have walked into a part of my life where I want to. I know I can never own my image or own myself for a number of reasons, but a lot of it has to do with working as a kid and always being in the spotlight and not having much. of consent in the way people speak. about me or looking at me or sexualizing me. Now that I’ve kind of stepped into my adult life over the past couple of years, I think it’s natural for me to want to have some authority over this. Because people are going to sexualize me no matter what I do. I have found it easier for me to wrap my head if I have control or an awareness, if I am in the joke.
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Is there a specific outfit or clothing that makes you feel more empowered and in control?
I honestly love all clothes. I have a problem with storing clothes. I have always been obsessed with fashion. With Simone, I used to save her collections when I was 11, 12, and do billboards. Fashion is such an extravagant, exciting and fun language to me. Clothes make me so happy, and that’s their fucking goal. I think Simone really understands this.
Did your style change during the lockdown?
I am in another country where I don’t know anyone. I’m pretty much at home all day, so I’m going to change outfits six times a day for different FaceTime dates with people. Because there are fewer possibilities to wear clothes in the places where you will be seen, it makes me want to wear all of my clothes at once. Like, I want to wear my body chain with my belt, with my garter, with my thigh-highs, with my miniskirt, with my sweater, with my necklaces. I just wanna wear it all.
I mean, when I work I wear sweatpants and a tank top all day, but if I try to keep the energy light, I will change my outfit a lot.
Are there other art forms, be it music, books, or whatever you’ve recently practiced, that have moved you?
I just started reading Sleepless nights by Elizabeth Hardwick last night it was pretty nice. What else did I do? I started this training trip that I have never done in my life, I do pole dance classes which has been really enjoyable and rewarding. I have so much respect for dancers and I have so much respect for strength, and I have the most respect for anyone who knows how to be objective. Pole dancing is a truly amazing combination of all of these art forms.
You were so young when you became one of the faces of young activists about five years ago. How has your relationship to political activism changed since then? Obviously, the world is a lot different now.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty obvious that I stopped talking online. My life now is actually how I deal with all those things I said I cared about when I was fifteen. I have a very strong community and feel like I’m just trying to introduce myself to them in real life rather than showing up online, making comments so people think I’m not. passive.
We just need to get past that point where we translate everything online. I realized I was spending so much time on the internet responding to people. I think it’s really important for me now to practice it in my real life, to introduce myself for your community and find out what access you have that other people in your community don’t. How can you give them that access? What can you offer? Whether it’s housing or money, what can you do in real life to make a tangible change in someone? The thing about the internet and what I hated so much about online activism is that – and I literally hate that word now – it makes these things seem so far and far away. And really, we can all start by helping our friends on a physical level. It’s been drilled into our brains that if we don’t do it online then it’s not real or something like that. So that filled a huge disconnect.
What is your relationship with social media now?
I walked away from it. Social media is not that important to me. To articulate a message online is not really important to me. I have found it very healthy that my brain is moving away from Instagram and all of that stuff. It looks more like a visual archive to me now. I completely deleted my Twitter this year, which really turned me on. There’s nothing that gets me to sleep more at night than knowing that my Twitter doesn’t exist anymore.
Are you not on TikTok like everyone else?
I don’t even have this app on my phone.
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