It is true that the world for women is more demanding. Women get old, men get charming. Women get fat, men are cute rounder. There is the term ‘working mom’, but why there is no ‘working dad’? We say it’s all equal-oh well, it’s 2015 and sadly nothing is equal. Fashion and media play their role on that, in our western world. They are lecturing women of all ages for how to be this and that. Women follow their rules, because they have to. And instead of finally putting aside this nonsense and take it only as tacky entertainment, men start entering the game. Firstly, by having a word on how women should look like and then, by kneeling in front of the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for the sake of the beauty standards and trends that are imposed to us.
Thankfully, there are people who oppose to that. We got the chance to catch up with Seth, who, along with his other half, Eva, they actively fight against the shallow templates of the showbiz. Personality on the front and get ready for a good read and to FEEL MORE BETTER.
How did you decide to start Feel More Better? What was it that topped it all up and made Eva and you take on this mission of making women ‘happyer’?
I’d been working in Hollywood for almost a decade. I was fortunate enough to have worked at amazing companies, like Creative Artists Agency and Live Nation, with brilliant people and clients, and to have been wildly well-paid for doing it. Yet, despite all that, I found that I wasn’t very happy. Once I realized this, I also realized that if I didn’t make a change, I would be teaching my kids the wrong lessons; I was teaching them to choose perceived power and a big paycheck over happiness and passion, that was unacceptable to me.
We started Feel More Better, originally calling it ‘Off Our Chests’, specifically inspired by our then 5 year-old daughter. When she was born, I began to see the world through the eyes of a girl for the first time…and I didn’t like what i saw-at all. Wanting nothing more than her happyness (and our son’s too), all I could see were the obstacles – often literally ‘man made’ that could get in the way of her being the freest and fullest expression of herself. I saw that, despite so much progress and change, our world, culture, and values is still wildly skewed to favoring men, and I knew I had to work to change that… for her.
As a quick note, we spell ‘happier’ as ‘happyer’, because we think one of the keys to being happyer is to understand WHY (ie Y) you feel the way you do and don’t. So, on our quest to make the world a ‘happyer’ place, we decided to put the ‘whY’ right into the middle of it. And it’s cuter.
So you did start as ‘Off Our Chest’?
When we launched Off Our Chests, Feel More Better was our tag line. About a year later, we decided to rebrand, focusing on the desired result (feeling more better and being happyer), than the means to these ends (getting things off your chest).
Who can share their experiences or comment on your platform?
As for who can speak to it, we value anonymity as a way of encouraging people to speak truths they might not otherwise. I think maybe reading some of the reader comments (also check out some in our ‘about’ section) might help.
Your main slogan is ‘Truth in Advertising’. What’s your explanation for the plastic image that all kinds of media have been imposing on us?
Truth in Advertising is less of a slogan and more our-both as Feel More Better and as Seth and Eva-tentpole activist campaign. I don’t think the explanation runs much deeper than that the perpetuation of so-called ‘beauty ideals’ are considered a better way to sell goods and services. These manipulated, false and unfair images are meant to manipulate and persuade us to buy more of X, Y, or Z. And they do. It is all about the commerce.
Some of the stories on your site are really heartbreaking and it is such an amazing thing to see women letting it all out and stand up for their best. What also caught my eye was your story on Arianna Huffington’s HuffPost. Would you like to share with us what happened there?
I’d long noticed and been annoyed by Huffington Post’s constant objectification and sexualization of women in their headlines, as click-bait strategy. One day, my annoyance bubbled over into action, and I decided to ask Arianna Huffington, the Post’s founder and CEP, to choose between her eponymous publication’s link-bait strategy and her positioning as a champion of and for girls and women. The two seemed wildly inconsistent and hypocritical and I was far from the first to think or say anything about just this. I hoped that when asked to make a decision, she would stand up for what was right and moral and in the best interests of girls and women – even if there were financial implications. To these ends, I started a petition on change.org, asking her to do just this.
At first, Arianna was solicitous, putting me in touch with her Chief of Staff and head of standards and practices. They indulged my concerns very professionally. As the petition got more notice she called me one Saturday morning, telling me that she was going to put in place new policies to govern the words and images they used in their headlines, that she needed a few weeks to implement them, and she asked me if I’d stop our campaign in the interim. Of course, I was thrilled to stop our campaign, as it existed solely to create the changes she told me she was going to create. It was a great conversation, however, when I recapped the conversation in writing, she replied telling me she’d never said any of that. Far be it for me to call Ms. Huffington a liar- as others have, or an intellectual Kardashian, but suffice it to say, I am quite certain of what she said.
With that, I re-engaged our campaign, expanding it to include asking Huffington Post’s advertisers (Jet Blue and Ford and someone else, as I recall now) to stand up for women and girls and stop funding HP’s sexism with their media dollars. In short, that didn’t go very well. I suspended everything during the days following the attacks on and at the Boston Marathon. And yet a week later, when the world seemed to be getting back to ‘normal’, I decided I just couldn’t be party to vitriol any more-and, admittedly, some of my rhetoric was pretty vitriolic…of which I’m not proud. So I stopped.
About a year later, I actually sent her an apology for the tone , but not the message nor intent, of some of my tweets. I never heard back, which is fine and seemingly consistent. Two years later, I have no idea if anything’s changed at HuffPo, as I refuse to give them even one more page view.
You live in Los Angeles. Of course, LA is not just Hollywood Boulevard, but still it is the city where pretty much everyone turns to for some glamour and gossip. How hard has it been for FMB to fight against this lifestyle at its source? What has been the impact of your city on your attempt?
We have found, not surprisingly, that our flight falls on deaf ears in both Hollywood and on Madison Avenue. Sad, but not surprising.
I read that in 2014 you decided to give an end to your mission. The reason why I wanted to host you, though, is because I think that you are the true activists and this cannot come to an end. For how long you have been active, what was the feedback you received? What was that made you stop?
We have certainly not stopped our mission…we just stopped to update Feel More Better (considering the almost 1500 stories we received in our first year, evergreen), and to sell our apparel line. Our fight for making the world a better and happyer place for women and girls continues, with the Truth In Advertising Act, a bill in the US Congress, in particular.
We launched FMB in 2011 and really stepped back 2 years later. Frankly, we weren’t prepared for the success our apparel line received, and hated making tee-shirts. So we stepped back.
Totally understandable. Just for the RIP of the T-shirts, I want to focus on the fact that all of them were made in LA and were 100% tencel. I think that’s great, because people should know the origin and from what their clothes/food/furniture etc are made of. People start caring more and more. Do you believe that we are finally entering the awareness and self-awareness era or do we still have miles and miles to cross?
I think you’re right on both sides. We are entering it and becoming more conscious and conscientious – but we do indeed have miles still to go.
What is your advice to the woman of 2015?
Be yourself and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it, you, or suggests you should be anything but who you are and want to be.
What is you advice to the man of 2015?
I give my son the same advice that I give my daughter. I would also add that he needs to develop a gender-empathy and literacy, and walk a mile in his sister’s shoes.
Last but not least, our theme question. What does ‘Nothing But Hope And Passion’ mean to you?
I must admit, I don’t like the ‘nothing but’ part. Hope and Passion are like oxygen for a fulfilling and happy life…but if we have nothing but them, if we take no actions to make hope a reality, nor to exercise our passions, then well, they remain hopes and passions and do not become a life beautifully lived.
all photos: courtesy of Feel More Better