Arvida Byström is an artist and occasional model/musician of Swedish descent who divides her time between London, Stockholm, and L.A. Her photography has been exhibited all over the world and she’s curated shows in London, Stockholm, and Denmark. Her photographs are tongue-in-cheek, unconventional, and frequently pastel. She is unapologetically feminist in her work, and incorporates technology in her methodology and sometimes as props. Mainstream fashion mags are known for presenting a very narrow definition of beauty (young, white, hairless, and skinny), and as a result alienates and shames real women who don’t fall within those narrow parameters. Byström clearly isn’t interested in following suit, as she works with models of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colours, and has photographed such “controversial” symbols of femininity as pubic hair and period blood. Quelle horreur.
This particular editorial appeared in a recent issue of Lula magazine. Not only is the styling beautiful, the diverse casting and art direction are very inspired as well. Byström’s photographs makes great use of colour, specifically sugary shades of pink, baby blue, and soft lavender.
The decision to work with pastels and girl tropes is very much connected with her feminism. There is an outdated idea that traditionally “girly” things shouldn’t be taken seriously, and that strong, intelligent women can’t also be girly and participate in activities like dressing up, gossiping, and getting their nails done. This is fundamentally anti-woman. It perpetuates the myth that things associated with girls are inferior, and that women are one-dimensional types, rather than complicated individuals who are capable of having a wide range of interests and passions. Why can’t a woman who loves shopping also be a computer programmer? Why are sexually attractive female DJs & producers constantly fighting to be taken seriously or have to prove to the world they didn’t just coast by on their looks? Much like Petra Collins, Tavi Gevinson and the Ardorous crew, Byström fucks with these biases in her work. And the love she’s showing to women of all types is more meaningful and positive than anything I’ve seen in the pages of Vogue.
Images via Arvida Byström