Inspiring Women: Florence Given

When I was thirteen, my mum gave me my first ever Blackberry Pearl on Christmas day. Despite being more excited than I had ever been, ever, I soon discovered that my new, beloved companion could barely run all of the music I had (scandalously!) downloaded using YouTube Converter, let alone use the Facebook and Twitter app that I had downloaded whilst my parent’s backs were turned. This meant that, as soon as I received my Samsung Galaxy when I was in year ten, I downloaded apps and games until my giddy heart was content.

And that is when it happened. I fell absolutely, head-over-heels, in love with Instagram. Of course, at the time, I didn’t quite realise just how damaging the ‘Instagram influencer’ could become. I mindlessly allowed myself to be brainwashed with idealised, conventionally beautiful body types that would soon have me solemnly poking the little tummy pouch towards the bottom of my stomach.

If we fast-forward to the present day, it seems that (despite the idea of the aesthetically ‘perfect’ social media influencer being as present as ever) young people are now also inundated with an abundance of powerful, inspiring and wise women that are slowly, but surely, turning Instagram’s concept of ‘perfection’ completely on its head. I, of course, am in adoration of this movement, and one of the stand-out leaders in this notion, for me, has to be Florence Given, in all of her hairy-armpitted, sassy glory.

Only twenty years old, a successful illustrator in a male-dominated industry, and a feisty feminist activist, Florence Given has over two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand followers on Instagram, all of whom adore her tongue-in-cheek, slogan artwork, and agree that she is a refreshing tour-de-force of cut-throat honesty for young people everywhere. When asked about why she decided to fight against sexism with her art, and on social media, she wrote:

“When I was 14 I realised sexism was a big huge trick to keep women doing boring things while men get to have lots of money and sex and be irresponsible. Sexism is a trick that tells women it’s in our ‘nature’ to want to have to stay at home and be with a man etc. When we are perfectly capable of doing EVERYTHING a man can. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and from then on I kinda made it my mission to empower women.”

That’s when you remember that she was named Cosmopolitan’s Influencer of The Year 2019 for a reason.

One of Given slogan's really resonates with me in particular: “Stop Raising Him, He’s Not Your Son”. It’s the kind of tough love that your best friend would give you, it’s punchy, and it’s some of the best relationship advice I have ever been given. It has helped me make realise, and make sense of, a lot, and quite simply, it always brings a smile to my face whenever I see it on her t-shirts, tote bags, and phone cases. (So much so that I decided to go and buy her merchandise myself!)

On the topic of being single, female empowerment, and dumping your boyfriend, she wrote:

“You can date who you want, you don’t have to look after anyone, you can literally take so much control over your life when you’re single. It’s amazing. Dating can be really fun too. Single doesn’t have to mean bring lonely. I loooove being single because I am enough on my own, and anyone that wants to be around in my life MUST add value and be an addition to that wholeness.”

Admittedly, the majority of her advice on Instagram often includes the words "Just dump him", however this particular slogan reminds me that this issue of emotional labour doesn't lie within women being unable to be strong and independent, with the ability to do anything and everything... It’s that we shouldn’t have to. She reminds us that the concept of women looking after, and doing everything for, men is so outdated and tired, and the idea of a boy who never grows up is ludicrously promoted and seen as ‘humorous’. We so often hear: “Ahh, well! That’s just men!”

NOPE. That’s a man-child. 

Now, I am nowhere near as articulate, or as persuasive, as Given- especially when getting people to dump said 'man-child'. However, I am pretty confident that I can get some of you to go and give this absolute powerhouse a follow on social media. Whether you’re in it to watch her dance to The Velvet Underground in her underwear at 9am, to follow her #HETRIFIED hashtag, or to read the timely, and oh-so important articles that she shares on intersectional feminism, I promise you that pushing the ‘follow’ button will be more than worthwhile. So, in the spirit of “Stop Raising Him, He’s Not Your Son”, if you conform to any of the situations below, please read my advice...

 

YOU: “It is so annoying that men think that they can just get a girl to care about, fix, and heal them, instead of getting therapy, counselling or proper, professional help.”

ME: Stop doing it, then! Stop raising him! You’re not his mother! Mother yourself! AND go and follow Florence Given on Instagram!

 

YOU: “My boyfriend constantly needs support with his finances. He talks the talk, but never walks the walk. He leaves me to decide all of our big decisions, and just generally puts everything off.”

ME: I'm going to wave my Florence Given wand, and declare that this will be a lopsided union no more. Stand strong, and gather all of that self-esteem right from the pit of your stomach. You’ve got this… Go and follow Florence Given.

 

YOU: “He doesn’t take care of anything that he owns, and he has no personal goals or ambition.”

ME: You’re not loving him. You’re not looking out for him. You’re not protecting him. You’re mothering him. And he isn’t your son! SO, go and follow Florence Given.

 

YOU: “He moans about me nagging him, but it’s just the result of someone not taking full responsibility for himself or his actions, and deflecting every issue he faces in the process.”

ME: He sounds like dead weight. Guess what? You should go and follow Florence Given.

 

YOU: “Whenever he goes out with his friends, he turns into a twelve year old and glorifies his high school days because they were “so much better than nowadays”.”

ME: KICK. HIM. OUT. OF. THE. NEST. AND… Go and find Florence Given.

You can find Florence Given on Instagram, under @florencegiven, and support her work by buying merchandise on www.florencegiven.com.

 

Words by Morgan Hartley.