Amanda de Cadenet on #GirlGaze, Female Photogs, and Why She's Tired of Talking About Gender Gaps
The male gaze may be very problematic, but #GirlGaze is all that’s right in the world. Longtime rule-breaker and general female-empowerer Amanda de Cadenet teamed up with a bunch of her equally inspiring lady pals to launch the movement back in February, and this weekend marked the opening of their very first exhibit. It’s all happening in LA, but you don’t have to be Hollywood-adjacent to get in on the fun. Amanda has plans for more life events, a zine, a book, an app, and (presumably) total world takeover. We talked to her about giving girls a voice and the importance of putting value on talent, not likes.
First things first: What were you like as a teenager?
I think the reason why I like to make things for women and girls that are empowering and educating and motivating is because I wish I’d had that as a teenager. I didn’t have role models. I didn’t have a support system. I didn’t have a crew of people around me who I could share experiences with or who I could learn from.
What I love about #GirlGaze is that it’s a community of young women who all have creative ideas and points of view and are using creative mediums to communicate their thoughts about the world, and I didn’t have that. Young people were not allowed to have a voice when I was a teenager, and I got into a lot of trouble for having voice. One of the things I love about how the world has changed is that young people are allowed—and encouraged—to have a voice.
We love that about #GirlGaze, too! What's the end goal?
What we’re ultimately doing is: We don’t care how many likes or followers you have. All we care about is whether you have a point of view. We are trying to encourage a different value system—what’s in your heart and mind matters. It’s not about the way you look; it’s about your perspective, point of view, and creative ideas. That’s what we’re interested in; that’s all we’re interested in. We’re putting the value where it matters. We have forty girls who have flown themselves in all over the world to see their picture in this exhibition.
I’m sick of people talking about the gender imbalance. It’s like, we know. But how do we close the gender gap? We build self-esteem in girls. And how we do that? With work—with paying people for their work and valuing their contributions. We are saying to girls, "We see you, we are highlighting you, and when we can, we will be getting you work."
The exhibit is in LA through February (brb, booking a flight). How can girls worldwide get involved?
We’re going to start to do events in different cities. We have a book coming out, and next year we’re going to start live events. We’ll also be traveling with the exhibition, going to London and New York and hopefully Paris.
There's also a zine (!) in the works. What should we know about that?
We have a zine coming in December, and the really cool thing is that we have girls like Rowan Blanchard, Yara Shahidi, Phoebe Tonkin, Ariel Winter, Cleo Wade—an amazing crew—and one of our girls is going to be shooting the cover. We'll be running a competition for girls to submit their work for the cover. Our hope is to generate opportunities that can build careers.
What was it like for you as a young female photographer?
I heard things like “This is a really nice hobby for you but you should definitely keep your day job.” Or “This isn’t really a professional picture.” What is a "professional" picture?! My advice: It doesn’t matter what other people say to you. You say, “Uh huh, OK, thanks” and then you move on. Keep going, because the day will come when someone who tells you no will reach out and ask you for something. Keep a list of names. You'll remember the people who help you on the way up.