With her shaved head, striking freckles and almond-shaped eyes, the London-born activist, Adwoah Aboah is changing the face of contemporary beauty. However considering her seemingly nonchalant attitude and her wide gold-toothed smile, it is a surprise to most that the model is a recovering addict.
After bouts of rehab, Aboah spiralled into a deep depression, which eventually lead to a suicide attempt in 2014. Having recovered with the help of many female figures, Aboah decided to create a space where girls can talk openly about mental health, body image and sexuality. Through her honesty and frankness about her own depression, she has become an advocator for female empowerment and is pioneering a movement that facilitates acceptance and self-love. Gurls Talk is a hybrid platform of stories, poems, photography, satirical (and often serious) illustrations; the bare nipples, vagina art and inspiring feminist slogans all question impossible beauty standards and the stigma surrounding mental health.
Real women talk about real issues; their stories are familiar and intimate so that women can identify with them and learn from experience. Gurls Talk encourages its readers to feel emotion and that expression is the first step towards hope and strength.
Gurls Talk opens up a wide range of issues such as: unrequited love and relationships, learning to say NO and the issue of ‘people pleasing’, the stigma surrounding rape and the misconception of mental disabilities such as Aspersers. Michelle Varinata, a suffer herself, tells the reader that—“no, we are not all obsessed with science like Melvin from The Big Bang Theory”—she instead describes how she learnt to conquer her shyness by using fashion as a means of expression. She is no longer ashamed; instead, she sees Aspersers as her catalyst for creativity. Gurls Talk wishes to familiarise and humanise these struggles, so that women feel encouraged to talk about their own similar issues.
Gurls Talk even has their own in-house Agony Aunt: ‘hey Lauren’. However, unlike the drawling, unfamiliar voice of Dear Deidre answering profound questions such as ‘how can I keep my chocolate and cheese safe from my husband’, Lauren is young, wise and empowering—she tackles important issues and is a sassy voice of reason.
In an approachable, conversational tone, she talks to you directly, detailing the importance of self worth and guiding you through issues such as anxiety and something that we are all victim to: over-thinking. She outlines the importance of ignoring negative societal messages and the dangers of internalizing unhelpful opinions. She maps out steps to help you tackle negative thoughts, asking you to name them and rebuke them. (Her own negative thoughts are named STUCK).
She asks the reader to write to her via the Gurls Talk website (anonymously, of course). She offers to re-structure your thoughts, so that you can see them from an outside perceptive. Hey Lauren speaks to every woman and creates a vital space for communication.
Aboah created Gurls Talk so that girls ‘never feel alone in their sadness’, as she feels that female support was integral to her recovery. Gurls Talk is intelligent, personal and honest, and with a charismatic and passionate female at the full front, it is no wonder that the dynamic sisterhood is inspiring young girls to speak up.