Conversation Series Featuring Marielle Elizabeth.
I am SO pleased to introduce you to Marielle. We've gotten to know one another over the years, it started when she custom ordered a coat in fall of 2017(or 2018). We've become internet friends ever since. Whether you are already familiar with her work, or if you are newly discovering her, this conversation is sure to inspire, warm your heart, and make you think. She is such an incredibly genuine, kind, intelligent, forward thinking human. I am humbled and honored to have her take part of this conversation series. If you'd like to follow along on Marielle's Journey and support the work she does, find her on Instagram and Patreon. Enjoy!
Intro : Tell me a little about yourself
I am a 31 yr old woman, living in a part of Canada you'd probably never heard of. I work primarily as a photographer and writer, with a lot of my work being spent in the intersections between ethical fashion, self love, accessibility and fat politics. In past lives I have wrestled for Canada, improvised for hundred + audiences, ran an outdoors overnight Summer camp for children with disabilities and have a degree in Psychology. My life is full of iterations and passions.
How does one define beauty?
They don't, I don't. Beauty has been confined for so long in a Euro-centric / thin / white / CIS / privileged box, anytime I try to define it I worry I'm just adding to that rhetoric. The closest I'd get to defining it is in moments of honesty - beauty can be a blush of vulnerability or the reckless heat of confidence. It is found lurking on the edges of emotions. It is unkempt and overflows the banks. I know this answer feels trite, but I have never seen someone confine beauty to something and then uphold it for as long as they live, or not immediately use that definition to try to sell you something you most certainly don't need. There is such fickleness to definitions, and who they serve, who am I to enforce or even suggest them. Beauty is when you choose to have it. Beauty is a constant.
Where do you go / what do you do to feel most grounded and connected to yourself?
Music helps a lot. I listen to music constantly. Going outside usually feels like a hassle, it always helps. Self portraits are therapy - it is impossible to not be present when you're trying to photograph yourself. There is already too much to attend to, that there is no space to check out. And if all else fails, a good meal, a neatly rolled joint and the ocean whenever possible.
How do you get through the ebbs and flows of the human experience?
Therapy. Crying. Knowing that the pain will pass. Leaning into moments of joy. Eli, my partner, feels things with a lot more evenness than I do, but I like the extreme emotions I feel. You should see me when I'm excited. You should see me when I'm angry. I used to try to rush through my feelings but I think with age I am better at just letting them consume me and then move on when I am ready. I used to be more afraid I'd get stuck, now I know my body is just working really hard to sort through things. In general I have better tools for self regulation and survival of stress / chaos / turmoil so I know even when my heart feels heavy and everything is dark, that I have the resilience to get through this too. And just know that, is often enough.
What would you like to see more of within the fashion industry?
TO MAKE LESS STUFF. Honestly, I have no idea how to correct the massive over production of clothing, it is terrifying and such a fucked up problem to have. WE DO NOT NEED T-SHIRTS EVERYTIME WE DO ANYTHING. Sigh. But, since I am not confident in my ability to regulate fast fashion, I am trying to kill it from the inside out by helping teach people how to shop more intentionally, to shop less, to know when they are being tricked into over consumption and to connect the dots between self loathing and over shopping. That if we do a better job at loving our bodies, we will be less desperate to buy our way into liking ourselves (which does not work). That and for ethical / beautiful garments to exist for fat bodies and disabled bodies. For clothing makers to realize that clothing is a conversation of accessibility and there is an immense amount of catching up to do for marginalized bodies. That if we are going to dismantle fast fashion, we need to be asking who can't buy ethical fashion right this minute and what we're doing to meet them where they're at.
What are ways you are creating change within the industry?
I try to set an example. I try to hold myself accountable and offer space for tough conversations about how to keep building better wardrobes without giving up the self expression piece. I spend a lot of time calling fat people into ethical fashion and trying to shift who that community serves. Ethical fashion has a big diversity problem and if we are ever going to divorce ourselves from fast fashion we need to address who is seen in this space and who feels welcome to learn and engage. I hate when ethical fashion conversations become so focused on getting people that are already invested in ethical fashion to commit 2% more, instead of calling in the rest of the population to participate imperfectly. I want to use my platforms (Instagram / Patreon / Brand Consulting / Writing for Publications / Speaking on Panels) to keep asking that question - who doesn't feel welcome here, how are we ALL fixing that. What barriers are people facing when it comes to getting involved in slow fashion, how are we ALL helping overcome them? There is no award for being the best at ethical fashion, there's just a planet swimming in clothing no one wants and a culture that keeps telling us to buy more. We need to keep focusing on that, that's the change I want to create.
Reminder, if you'd like to follow along on Marielle's Journey and support the work she does, find her on Instagram and Patreon.