The Homegirl Project chatted with 18-year-old Barnard student Emily Blake about Wednesday Addams, expectations for young girls, and where fashion fits into modern-day feminism.
interview by Simra Ahmed
SA: Who is Emily Blake, in your own words?
EB: My name is Emily Blake. I am 18 years old, a first-year in university. I went to high school in Phoenix, Arizona but have grown up travelling all around. I now live in New York City where I am attending Barnard College of Columbia University.
SA: What was your motivation for starting Wednesday Zine and the diverse categories that form it?
EB: Wednesday Zine started when I was in 8th grade because I felt that activism was becoming something crucial that needed to be talked about in my school. I started posting articles online related to pro-choice/women’s reproductive rights issues as well as sexism I was facing at school. After the articles started circulating, I realized there were a lot of young girls like me who were all experiencing similar issues, and Wednesday could be a community for them. Women-only spaces are important (especially for youth) but hard to come by, especially at the younger transitional ages when you need them the most. I also started selling feminist stickers and apparel where 75% of proceeds went to the Malala Fund because educating girls’ on their rights (and in general) is really the biggest catalyst for change. That was the first iteration of Wednesday before I created WednesdayZine.com. It used to be more print-oriented but if we wanted to really circulate our message, I realized we needed to have primarily a digital presence.
SA: Where did the name “Wednesday Zine” come from?
EB: I had an obsession with Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family. She did not care about being perceived as harsh or too self-sufficient. Her aesthetic was also just iconic. I felt her (and her unique name) were essentially the epitome of a women making a name for herself and just not caring about external perceptions on the way.
SA: Can you tell me what sets Wednesday Zine apart from other female empowerment organizations?
EB: The fact that the Wednesday team is all around or under the age of 19 is very powerful. There are so many amazing female empowerment initiatives all over the place (and should be supporting each other), but there are unique issues that face students and youth specifically that are not always touched upon by more mainstream sites. For example, voting and other political engagement tactics are not always available to youth. Also, the environment of an academic institution can be sexist or oppressive in very different ways than work environments and other spaces, so it’s important to acknowledge that so young women don’t feel like they are alone or their feelings are invalid. Wednesday is looking for solutions and initiatives so that young women don’t hesitate to get involved.
The best part of Wednesday Zine is how all of the contributors, even though they are almost completely young women, are from so many different backgrounds (religiously, ethnically, geographically) and each contribute their unique perspectives.
SA: Wednesday Zine proclaims that “we don't think fashion is trivial." What does that mean?
EB: I have always been interested in fashion and style as a means of self expression. Growing up, I was consistently told how fashion and fashion-adjacent endeavors were a sign of vanity or were what “less intellectual” girls were interested in. I just thought that was a very anti-woman statement. I feel like personal style can definitely be used as a form of protest because it is a representation of autonomy over how you project your interests and place in the world. Also, the first article I ever wrote for Wednesday was regarding a sexist dress-code policy myself and other girls were facing in our Junior High/ High Schools. Our teachers were pulling us out of class, sexualizing how we chose to dress, and prioritizing male students over our right to dress how we want. I thought the statement that it was “just clothes” and we should “just change” belittled our creativity and infringed on our choice to express our femininity how we choose.
SA: Who are some of your role models?
EB: I look up to activists with an academic background, such as Angela David and Audre Lorde, because of their ability to articulate issues and experiences that transcend time in such a poignant way. Their words make you feel something, and that is really the only catalyst for action.
SA: How do you empower other girls?
EB: I genuinely make an effort to make sure girls realize that they don’t need to be pigeon-holed into any image or interest group. That’s why we cover everything from fashion to politics to well-being because everything can be interpreted and embraced with a feminist, inclusive lens. The biggest issue I faced as a young girl in primary and secondary school was not being taken seriously, and that has detrimental effects on what you strive for, so I actively make sure my actions and Wednesday’s content tells girls that they can have it all.