Having made a name for herself by producing dreamy images of women to channel her insecurities and pay homage to those who inspire and surround her, Chloe Sheppard has released a new zine called Lust for Life.
Inspired by Page 3, something that made her feel insecure while growing up, Sheppard embarked on creative a more inclusive version for young girls that is arguably more glamorous than the tabloid tradition. “I had family members who'd buy it so if I ever chose to read it it was always there. Whenever I looked at it, all I saw was thin, white young girls with perky tits and flawless skin, and that then becomes the norm when it's reinforced enough times.” And it didn’t go unnoticed. Many of her followers have applauded her for centring bodies that looked like their own. These comments come from a generation of women who consistently reject the misogyny of this tradition in our mainstream press. And just as Page 3 feels very ‘of its time’ this refreshing zine shows that the younger gen are finding more inventive ways of portraying the female body in ways that don’t make others feel bad about themselves.
So we spoke to the 20-year-old photographer about online activism, heartbreak anthems and what it means to feel like a loser in 2017.
“Whenever I looked at it, all I saw was thin, white young girls with perky tits and flawless skin, and that then becomes the norm when it’s reinforced enough times” – Chloe Sheppard
Why do you think young girls are beginning to question such an odd staple of tabloid press?
Chloe Sheppard: Social media has become such a powerful tool, people are using it as a platform to educate and show that there is so much more than these conventional types of beauty. It’s annoying to girls to constantly see these things still being reinforced. People retaliate because these things are being used to keep girls feeling insecure.
Usually, Page 3 is quite raunchy but you’ve gone for a much more innocent and stereotypically girly aesthetic.
Chloe Sheppard: I didn't want the pictures to be so conventionally glamour like. I'm inspired by photographers like Ryan McGinley and Francesca Allen who take the most beautiful nude photographs that seem so raw and real. The glitter was really just a way to have fun with the shoot and it was comforting for some of the girls who didn't want their bare chest/nipples on show. The stances of the girls match the soft subtlety of the pastel pink background – none of them are forcing themselves to smile, they aren’t trying hard to look sexy or pull certain poses. I didn't want this shoot to be overtly sexual. It was just inspiring to be around girls who were confident with their bodies and were willing to be a part of a project.
You've included a playlist for ‘losers like you’ at the back. Why do tracks like You're Gonna Love Me by Lana Del Ray mean so much to you?
Chloe Sheppard: A lot of the lyrics from them are scribbled throughout the pages. Even though the songs don’t match the pictures in the sense that they aren't artists singing about having confidence or loving themselves they’re relatable songs and I'm sure that the girls I photographed have had similar feelings at some point too. The lyrics are all heavily based around love (especially the unrequited kind) and feeling like you're not really who you want to be yet, so perhaps other people can relate to them too. Music is the main thing that keeps me motivated alongside photography so I liked the idea of including a set of songs in there that people might have been missing out on.
What made you want to draw words the words of The Smiths or King Krule all over your cute photoshoot?
Chloe Sheppard: The words scribbled on all the pages are mostly random lyrics from songs that have resonated with me the last few months. I have journals filled with similar pages, so I thought it would be different to try and incorporate it into some of my actual work for once. As a person, I keep a lot of things to myself that I probably shouldn't, but writing all over things like this is almost a coping mechanism and helps me to 'purge' things out of my system and let them go.
Is this a cathartic bit of memorabilia for young girls who don’t feel perfect and feel like, as you put it, a ‘loser’?
Chloe Sheppard: In a sense, yes. I didn't really mean to call anyone a loser – except the playlist is entitled 'for losers like me'. I think in today's society though it is so easy to feel like a loser, I know I spend like 99% of my time trying to think of ways I can better myself or where I'm going wrong and why I end up sitting home alone all the time. I'm sure it’s the same for a lot of other people, so if there are people that have similar feelings to mine, then this is an ode to them.
Follow Kemi Alemoru on Twitter here @kemioliviax