In this interview we virtually sit down to chat with LAURA VUDÉ, an advocate for femmes, intersectional feminism, and creative self love!

We feel that if you’re struggling with accepting yourself, this is the interview for you, full of powerful messages, and a strong voice to back it up. We all have our bad days, and this chat is the answer to all when it comes to lifting yourself up and believing in what you’re made of. What more could you ask for, besides a cup of tea before settling down with this long read!

Could you introduce yourself?

I’m Laura Vudè. I’m an artist, photographer, model, body positive advocate & intersectional feminist.

What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?

I don’t think I have just one life philosophy. I find myself constantly growing and evolving in my own knowledge of the world. But I suppose some of the philosophies i treasure are very based around self love and reflection, and reclaiming spaces that disregard femme voices. The more confident I presented, the more I found people were drawn to me, but at the same time the more people seemed to dislike me. This speaks to me in volumes that women and femmes are seen to undermine each other and to automatically hate the thing they envy or fear. I guess a lot of people find fat femmes who loves themselves threatening and I like to think I’ll slowly be able to help some people unlearn some pretty toxic ideas about curvy babes by posting selfies, or collaborating with other photographers and artists in Melbourne and, when i get back there, the US. I apply that to my work, by actively putting myself out there and not being afraid of people seeing the parts of myself that up until recently I really disliked. To help other unlearn body hate. I apply it by Not being afraid of rejection. By sending that email, that Instagram message, to make a fuss. Because change in the plus size industry (or any change) doesn’t come by staying silent. The worst thing people can say to you is no in regards to a lot of modelling jobs as well as other jobs. If we didn’t fail all the time, how do we learn? Life is about taking risks and talking to people who you find intimidating and cool.

Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart on the internet?

I think about this a lot. I guess it’s still pretty revolutionary to have a fat girl not hate her own body. To wear bodycon dresses and lingerie. To be proud of all my me. I suppose people find my confidence alluring and helpful for their own growth. I remember when I first saw other fat women post photos of themselves on tumblr a few years ago it opened up my entire world. I honestly didn’t know 4 years ago that you could be fat and beautiful. fat and sexual, fat and vain. That fat wasn’t a synonym for ugly. The online fat acceptance and body positive movement has played a significant role in my ability to show off and be proud of who i am online, and feel good about myself IRL.

Would you mind telling us about your self confidence journey? What are the positives and negatives to your experience?

I was a terribly shy person when i was growing up, being a fat queer girl, stuck in a relatively conservative place. I didn’t know how to dress my own body because the options in the early 2000’s were pretty horrendous for anyone not thin bodied. I found myself wearing a lot of black, a lot of oversized tshirts to make myself feel less body conscious. I hated shopping, because there were never any fun options for me to try on and trying on straight sized clothing with my friends who were thin, gave me anxiety because 9/10 times the clothes didn’t fit. I felt very out of place and like i didn’t belong for a really long time. It wasn’t until I started finding myself interested in fashion and finding my queer community that subconsciously didn’t make me feel undermined by my queerness because of my high femme appearance, did i really find myself and my confidence. I faked a lot of confidence in the beginning, but that's sort of the beauty of it. I found myself proud to walk around done up in sequins and glitter. I felt so proud of myself and my femme family that the faux confidence became real and adapted into my persona.

If you could give one insight into your process of loving yourself, that would help others do the same, what would it be and why?

Find people who give you positive influence. Find people to surround yourself with who will you bring you up, who don’t talk negatively about others. Surround yourself with people like yourself. I found myself through the queer femme artists i surround myself with. Stare into the mirror and look hard at yourself. Pick out the parts you love. and the parts you don’t like so much, will come later. Don’t talk down to yourself and make sure you believe in your own abilities because if you don’t believe in yourself who the fuck will. Be your own main supporter.

Do you have any words of advice from the experience you’ve dealt with when it comes to putting yourself and your story out there in the world?

Know there will always be people who dislike you. But those people aren’t going to be the ones you should be listening or caring about, nor are they the ones doing all the work you’re doing. Push yourself.

How would you describe yourself to someone you’ve never met?

She’s a pretty cool artist who has a big heart, cares lots, loves lingerie, talking feminist and queer politics and listening to Neo-Soul and R&B.

Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?

Not really any consistent rituals but usually if i’m working with a friend or model for my photography work I’ll sit down with them before shooting and get to know them a bit. I always want my work to reflect them well and for it to be a collaboration between both of us. If I’m shooting myself i’ll always put on a playlist of tunes i really love and give myself an atmosphere to work with whilst i get everything set up. If someone is shooting me i find the process of make up and hair gives me power. A strong winged eyeliner has always made me feel tough.

What’s a typical day for you?

Don’t know if there is a typical day! My day job is at a computer store, so sometimes I’m there, otherwise I’m off collaborating with artists on different projects or trying to not procrastinate writing applications for exhibitions I plan to do.

What are some of your goals for 2016?

Well seeing as it’s June I feel like I’ve done a bit this year already. I have spoken on national Australian television and radio about body positivity, I got through a pretty rough patch dealing with my anxiety and depression and my ability to self reflect about my mental health. I’ve been pushing myself to collaborate with brands, I am doing Melbourne Fashion Week+ in August. But my goals that i haven’t achieved yet are: To finally have an exhibition of my work, i’m finally at a point where i feel like my work is good enough, which has been a long time coming. I’ve always felt very shy about my photography work.

What makes you happy?

Pastel colours, open communication, women and femmes around me, seeing confidence in other people, terrible puns, Breakfast foods.

Any closing comments?

I want to start a cover band where we just cover 90s r&b jams, so if anyone keen on doing that can u let me know.