Due to the current covid-19 pandemic, most of us are stuck at home. Looking for ways to fill your days? Hoping to save some money? Here are some places you can find free movies online.
Social distancing and lockdown rules are popping up all over the world to prevent the spread of the covid-19 (coronavirus). Whether you’re working from home, studying, or anxiously waiting to go back to work, you most likely are looking for things to do and watch. Lucky for you, these uncertain times have brought companies to share their content for free or made free content easier to find online.
Streaming services such as Netflix are a big help these days, allowing you to watch a big catalogue of content without having to buy the physical copy. Video on Demand also allow you to rent or buy a specific TV show or movie. But if money’s tight, or if you want to save because you have no idea what the future holds, there are plenty of free movies to discover online. Granted, a lot of these are old movies, but that does not mean they are not worth your while.
Watch old classics on Open Culture
Open Culture has you covered. You can find here more than 1,150 links to free movies, whether you are looking for classics, documentaries or famous directors’ short films. You can look through categories but I’d recommend searching for a specific title if you have one in mind. It’s the perfect place to find those old movies at the top of your to-watch lists.
Find feature films on the Internet Archive
There are many feature films that have fallen into the public domain. This means that they can be accessed freely, and the best place to find these is the Internet Archive. Open Culture might send you directly to the website but you can look through the collection yourself. You can mostly find old movies and there are some gems such as Stanley Donen’s Charade (with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant). There are also books, newsreel, music and much more available.
Watch movies and TV shows on Plex
Now’s the perfect time to make use of the one-month free trial period of most streaming services. But there are other online movie services that offer free entertainment. Plex has a range of free movies (albeit with ads) to watch. There is no need to enter a credit card number, you can start streaming as soon as you create an account. You can watch movies such as Corbucci’s Django.
HBO is now free in the US
If you’re in the US, the HBO catalogue is free all through April. It’s the perfect time to rewatch Westworld, The Wire or Veep, and even movies such as Pokemon Detective Pikachu. To access it, you will just need to download the HBO Now or HBO Go apps, or go to the hbonow.com or hbogo.com websites. Also only available in the US, the former FreeDrive service has become IMDb TV. There, you can stream movies and TV series such as Friday Night Lights and Memento.
Want to know a great thing about working from home? You can listen to whatever music you want AND as loud as you want while you work! That opportunity doesn’t come around every day. Sometimes, searching for the right song, and continually clicking next can potentially be a distraction. So why not make it easy for yourself and listen to curated playlists or a selection of albums that are worth a listen from beginning to end.
Youtube is endless. Check these out and cruise through your workday.
Want to take an adventure without ever changing out of your pajamas? We are very fortunate to live in a time that allows us to have an insane amount of access to different virtual experiences while we are stuck at home! Right now, we can get creative and find new ways to stimulate our brains and get our eyes off of our phone screens! So if you are really feeling cooped up, it might be time to take yourself on a new journey. All you have to do is pop some popcorn, grab your favorite drink and get cozy on the couch.
We can all agree that it’s pretty rare to see a busy city center, amusement park or sandy beach practically empty! With almost half of the world population doing the right thing and staying home, these places are deserted. If you check out a live cam of the Las Vegas Strip or of the Eiffel Tower surroundings, it feels like watching a scene from a movie. It is so bizarre, but so interesting to see.
Even though you may be craving a real outdoor adventure, this comes second best for the moment. You’ll be able to explore magnificent views and pretend you are actually there. Hike through Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah or discover the lava tubes in a volcano in Hawaii. You may even find your next travel destination once this is all over!
For those of you who are big Disney fanatics or even if you have never gotten the chance to go, you can take a virtual ride onto some of Disney’s most popular attractions. Bring some thrill and excitement into your daily routine. Lift up your spirits and bring back the sweet nostalgia from your childhood. You can find most of these rides on Youtube. Et voilà, you are practically inside a Disney Theme Park!
VIRTUALLY VISIT MUSEUMS
Maybe you’re an avid museum-goer and you simply appreciate slowly scrolling from one art piece to another. Or maybe you just haven’t been to many museums and you want to check out what the hype is all about. Now you can use Google Arts & Culture to take a tour and visit different museums from around the world. There are different museums for every taste. So, you are bound to find something that appeals to you.
Many artists and performers are live streaming homemade performances and concerts since any type of gatherings has been canceled. Although this is a huge bummer, it also gives everyone the opportunity to attend their favorite artists’ show for free! One of the biggest music festivals in the world are even streaming live DJ sets for your viewing pleasure. Follow your faves on Instagram and watch their stories to know when they are going live!
You can search for hundreds if not thousands of virtual experiences online. It’s important during these troubled times to let your imagination run free and keep your mind and heart in high spirits. Transport yourself into another world that is different than where you currently are!
We are all in the same boat, surrounded by bad news and uncertainty right now! If we all manage to maintain a positive mindset and a hopeful outlook on life, we’ll be able to really help each other get through these difficult times. Instagram is really an amazing tool to connect with others and to see and share things that make us smile and feel good inside. While you’re scrolling through Instagram, check out some of these accounts. They will bring some more sunshine and positive vibes into your day!
Not only are Katie and her husband total couple goals, they have also been posting some really entertaining videos of them making the best of being quarantined at home. If you’re at home with your significant other, you could even try to recreate some of the things they do.
Hannah is based in Austria and she is always posting beautiful sun-filled posts on her story as well as inspiring adventures on her feed. Her smile is contagious when you see it! She also posts awesome yoga workouts to motivate her followers, and put everyone in a good mood.
Raveena is a little ball of sunshine all year round. Her Instagram posts radiate light, positivity, and music. She will inspire you to feel good and look good. Her page is so bright and colorful it will bring some magic into your life.
Kylie is all smiles & creativity on her page. She is always finding the most innovative ways to make a simple photo look spectacular! Thus proving that, even stuck at home, there are some ways you can manage to have a good time and create some amazing works of art with a camera.
Aileen aka Lavendaire is known for her videos on her personal growth, lifestyle design. She is bound to make you feel calm, cool and collected. She has so many fun ideas for things to do, so many self-care tips and suggestions to stay positive! Aileen really helps put things into perspective.
If you have any other accounts that bring you joy and positivity post, them in the comment section below! Let’s all spread happiness & positivity to each other and help each other through this.
Article by Katie Chaplin
Given the current situation, traveling to Italy might be quite tricky at the moment. However, this does not mean we cannot dream of a time when all of this will be over and we will be free to travel and discover new places again. Rome is definitely on the list of magical places we want to go to. The capital of Italy is an iconic city full of architecture, history, culture, and tasty food. Without further ado, here is a four-day trip itinerary that will make your stay in Rome one to remember.
Fresh off the airplane, drop off your luggage at your hotel and quickly head to Villa Aldobrandini. Enjoy the view of the city and walk around in the garden before making your way to Piazza di Venezia. This massive square also overlooks the city, which makes it another nice viewpoint. Take your time and walk around the area, stop to peek inside churches. Churches in Italy are very colorful, full of details and ornaments. Santa Maria Maggiore church is a great example of how breathtaking churches are in Italy. Last but not least, if you are already in the mood for shopping, we recommend the thrift store Pifebo Vintage.
Your second day on Italian soil should include tons of activities to make the most of it! To start off the day properly, have breakfast in the Villa Borghese park, at VyTa. There is nothing better than having a good cup of cappuccino while basking in the sun under the pine trees. After a delicious breakfast, the time has come to visit the Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s most spectacular museums.
Following the visit, we recommend having lunch at L’Orso 80, a typical Roman restaurant that serves delightful pasta. We had the salmon pasta and weren’t disappointed! In the afternoon, explore some of Rome’s most famous landmarks, including the Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and last but not least Luigi dei Francesi Church, where three Caravaggio paintings are displayed.
Two options on your third day: either go to the Vatican in the morning, then the Coliseum and Forum in the afternoon, if you have never been to Rome.
Or, if this is not your first time in the city, we recommend going to the Picio hill to get a great view of the city and walk around in this lush park. Afterwards, walk down the stairs to the Piazza del Popolo and visit the Santa Maria del Popolo church. Take a stroll in the neighbourhood before going for a bite in the Roman ghetto. Spend the rest of the day exploring this part of the city.
In the morning, visit the ancient ruins of the Caracalla Baths. Get lost in these impressive ruins before having breakfast at Tram Depot. We love this cute, charming café, that serves delicious coffee and pastries. Take in the dolce vita atmosphere, and relax. Next, walk towards the Trastevere district: a very hip, arty district, full of street art and graffitis. Get lost in the streets, but make sure to visit the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria. Be careful however. Restaurants get crowded very quickly at lunch hour. If you do not want to stand in line waiting for a table, consider eating early. We particularly liked eating at the Ombre Rosse.
Feel free to adapt this itinerary to your rhythm, and the things that you wish to see. Above all, we recommend taking it easy, and venture off the beaten touristy path to get a more authentic feel of the city. Trust yourself, let the magic happen.
Article by Inès Huet
As we are celebrating not only love but self-love at Paulette, let’s talk about the greatest love of all: the love we should have for ourselves.
The month of February traditionally revolves around two things: being cold AF (well, maybe not this Winter because… global warming) and Valentine’s Day. Every year, this celebration of love brings together lovers and romantic souls who believe that red roses are the ultimate symbol of eternal passion. How cute. But, on V-Day, two opposite teams collide: the traditionalists and the cynics. Adepts of the candlelight dinner date/box of chocolate/extravagant jewelry combo vs adepts of the liquor-fuelled Gal-entine outings. In the middle resides the happy few, who don’t really care.
It’s true that when you are not in a relationship on Valentine’s Day – therefore not feeling validated by society, February 14th can leave a bad taste in your mouth. “I have no one to love, so why should I celebrate love?”, you might say to yourself, all bundled up in your bobbling Ikea blanket. The perspective of this cheesy holiday triggers mixed emotions and feelings. We get it. However, there actually is someone worth putting our bitterness aside for. Someone who clearly deserves love and attention: oneself.
Have you ever watched Deux Moi, by Cédric Klapisch, or How To Be Single, with Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson. Two polar opposite movies, granted. The former is as subtle and emotional as the real-life hardships we may experience, making the story easily relatable. The latter is a typical feel-good American comedy, funny but over-the-top, and filled with inaccuracies (a junior paralegal could never afford a two-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, but I digress). However, in their own way, these two films tackle the same topic: how important it is to know and love yourself, before you meet someone special to love.
It is important to learn how to be by yourself and appreciate to be by yourself, instead of considering celibacy as a painful transition period between two romantic relationships. “By learning to be alone, you learn how to not be alone”, says the fortune in HTBS. Well, let’s be honest, when you get dumped overnight by the guy you were living with for the past 3 years – or the past three months even – you don’t choose your fate. It is a heart-breaking situation and you feel like you will never be able to recover from it. You might even, understandably so, want to throw your poke bowl in the face of whoever chimes in with a cliché inspirational quote that they’ve read in a questionable self-help book, “Love yourself, blah blah”.
Having gone through similar heartbreaks once or twice (or ten times) over myself, I can assure you that after a while, the heavy pit in your stomach and the deep hole in your heart fade away little by little every morning, until they disappear for good. Waking up becomes easier than the day before. The memories feel less painful. The wise words from the fortune cookie make more sense. The time has come to focus on you, yourself, and thy.
Is loving yourself the first step to a happier YOU?
Tiny side note: being single does not necessarily mean that you have a broken heart, and that you shed a tear at the very sight of two people holding hands in the street. That’s not what I mean. Similarly, being in a relationship does not exempt you from having a loving relationship with yourself first. As Samantha says in Sex & The City the movie (a train wreck that we love to hate, or hate to love): “I love you, but I love me more”. We’ve never found a more praise-worthy self-love guru than Samantha Jones, period.
Besides, we mainly associate the concept of love with romantic relationships. But in fact, love means so much more. It also means making sure that you build enough confidence in yourself to garner respect and appreciation from others, ask for what you deserve unapologetically, pick yourself up after a failure, nurture your creativity, take on a daring project with the conviction that you are strong “enough” to carry it out. You’ll increase your self-confidence tenfold thanks to all these little (and big) personal victories. A virtuous circle that applies to all areas of your life – not to be confused with being self-centered of course. It’ll change your day-to-day life for the better.
Let’s be honest, self-esteem and everything that goes with it are unfortunately not easy to master. As great as having a high opinion of yourself is, few of us can say that we love ourselves fully. Bad habits die hard, and we tend to spend more time focusing on what we dislike about ourselves rather than cherishing what make us happy to be us and not somebody else. While that’s exactly what we should be doing: focusing on us.
How do we make a change, you ask? Let’s start by having a more forgiving and compassionate attitude towards ourselves, physically and mentally. Heal our wounds, and take the time to resolve what still hurts by bravely opening up. Make a list of what we are proud of and what we have successfully accomplished rather than keep pondering on where we came short. Treat ourselves, body and soul. Identify our shortcomings, take responsibility for them and work gently to curve them. Above all, do not feel guilty when you are not quite happy with every single part of you yet.
Be gentle with yourself, always.
This year, for Valentine’s Day, we celebrate ourselves before celebrating being in a romantic relationship. Because if being in a romantic relationship does not define us, the love that we have for ourselves undeniably does. I love myself, therefore I am, without a doubt.
Article by Pauline Machado
English translation by PK Douglas
What’s the very first thing you do when your alarm annoyingly goes off in the morning? I wish I could answer “meditate”; but not quite. I’m working on it though. For now, I go ahead and grab my phone in a half-sleep half-programmed robot state to scroll down my Instagram feed, until my brain slowly switches on. Not the healthiest morning habit, sure, but it has become way healthier since I’ve carefully curated the accounts I choose to follow.
Like any app out there, Instagram has a good side and a bad side. One of the most interesting use of the popular image app is allowing a wide range of artists to showcase their work to a large audience and connect with a community of #artlovers. Here is a short selection of talented French artists whose illustrations and drawings are a much-needed ode to tolerance, diversity, and sorority. A morning shot of art and empowerment that awakens the mind and warms the heart. Simply scroll away, and feel uplifted throughout the day, with abandon.
Stickycookiie draws minimalist and colorful designs with a specific goal in mind: normalizing the female body in all shapes and sizes. She is a freelance illustrator, living between Paris and Montreal.
Les folies passageres is a French-Canadian independent, feminist, queer, and inclusive publishing house created by Maud Bergeron and Bonnie Braun.
Article by Alexandra Hostier
English translation by PK Douglas
As a creative, the
notion of inspiration is extremely important. How do you stimulate yourself
creatively to find new ideas and concepts for drawings, videos, articles,
stories? Is there even a way to encourage or trigger inspiration? For a long
time, I was unable to draw or write anything even though I felt the strong
yearning to do so. I felt uninspired, until I changed my routine and discovered
simple, effective ways to get my creative juices flowing. Below are some tips
for you to do the same.
The first thing I did was create an Instagram account and be
mindful of the accounts I followed. Instagram can offer the opportunity to get
a daily dose of inspiring content, as long as you choose to use it in this way.
When I was trying to get back into drawing, I followed and discovered gifted
illustrators whose work made me want to create. The same goes if you are trying
to build your photography skills for example: following talented photographers
will make you want to try new things and work hard to perfect your craft. Stop
following accounts that do not resonate with you, for instance, get rid of
influencers who do not bring you anything on a personal level, and instead choose
what you want to focus on: seeing artwork, photography, or books every day. Be
intentional of who you follow: consider what these accounts bring you, if they
do not spark joy then they should not be on your feed.
YouTube can be another fun way to find inspiration. Watching brilliant creatives talk about their process, their work in progress, how they built their company or started their channel can get you excited to do the same. Seeing how these individuals manage to put together beautifully animated and edited videos can be very uplifting. Find the people whose aesthetic you embrace and appreciate their work.
Go to exhibitions, to the movies, screenings, galleries, or
conferences on topics that make you vibrate. Discovering new things or learning
more on subjects you are passionate about can be extremely stimulating. On a less
public level, reading books, watching movies or listening to podcasts has the
same positive effect.
At home, in your room or office, create a space that feels energizing and beautiful, put up artwork by artists you enjoy, and your own work that you are proud of. Decorate your environment so that it feels welcoming when you want to start getting down to business.
Pretty much surrounding yourself with anything related to the field you are interested in can have a positive impact on your creativity and get you motivated to make things. Talking with likeminded people and friends about your projects and aspirations is also a great way to bounce ideas around and come up with concepts together.
In the end though, it is also about taking the plunge and
creating. Even if at first you do not feel inspired or you do not like what you
are making, like a sport it is about perseverance and dedication as well. The
sense of fulfillment you get from actually creating things that matter to you
is one of the best feelings.
Article by Inès Huet
For the fist time, an exhibition dedicated to the Chinese photographer Luo Yang, an icon of her country’s counterculture, is being held in Paris. To be discovered in November 2019 at Maison Dentsu.
Beijin, Berlin or Hong Kong, Luo Yang’s work has been shown both in Asia and Europe. She is one of today’s major Chinese photographers and her status was confirmed by the BBC last year when she was named one of the 100 most influential women in the world. Luo Yang is at the forefront of Chinese counterculture and does not hestate to take activist and poetic photographs that will be shown to Parisians in November 2019 at Maison Dentsu, 176 rue de Rivoli, during a unique retrospective.
A raw vision of Chinese women
The exhibition is named “GIRLS” and will feature photographs of young women taken over a period of more than 10 years. These raw and honest portraits have made Luo Yang’s reputation. The first shots of the series were captures in 2008 a year before the photographer graduated from the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. The show displays Chinese femininity, the place of women in a society that is still very traditional but that has changed a lot in a decade. Female identity, style, gender, sexuality… Chinese women break rules and reveal themselves truthfully in front of Luo Yang’s camera.
The exhibit is shown by Maison Dentsu, together with Moonduckling. Maison Dentsu is committed to gender equality and has signed the French equality policy #jamaisSansElles. Open earlier this year Maison Dentsu is a place of co-creation, exhibition and a think tank. “GIRLS” will be open to the public on November 9 and 16, between 10 am and 6 pm. But you have to register through email at Communication@dentsuaegis.com . Don’t miss this exceptional event to discover the multitude of Chinese girls and the work of an iconic artist.
Article by Juliette Cardinale
Known for her extravagant gowns, sky-high hairdos and royal status, Marie-Antoinette is one of the most famous queens of France. Her fashion sense and personality continue to influence trends and inspire creatives. In Sofia Coppola’s film, for instance, Marie-Antoinette is depicted as a frivolous, naïve young girl, more interested in dresses, pastries and partying than engaging in political intrigue. This is one of the common representations of the queen: a foolish woman obsessed with her appearance and having fun. Yet, there is also another side to the historical figure: a rebellious, independent woman. Hated or admired, Marie-Antoinette has always sparked strong emotions, as did her eccentric way of dressing. Clothing can be a means to communicate and convey a statement; it is seldom as futile as it seems. Was Marie-Antoinette a selfish fashion victim – who told the starving people to eat brioche – or was her clothing a way for her to express her bold and free spirit?
At 14, Marie-Antoinette was thrown into one of the cruelest courts in Europe. Chosen on the basis of her physical beauty and for political reasons, she was meant to give birth to the future king of France. Her every move was scrutinised and discussed. It did not sit well with her that for the first seven years of her marriage with the king, they were never intimate. At the time, with her sole purpose being to produce an heir, her failure to do so was extremely humiliating and the object of public criticism.
Quickly, the queen made it clear that she was going to live according to her own rules. She did not appreciate the strict code of conduct and etiquette of the court, and soon found her own safe space at the Trianon: a smaller palace close to Versailles, flanked with a functioning farm, where she retreated by herself or with her friends to rest and throw the occasional luxurious party. Except that according to protocol, the queen was meant to sleep with the king – her not doing so was deemed scandalous.
Scandal remained associated with Marie-Antoinette throughout her life. By choosing not to abide by the rules associated to her rank, Marie-Antoinette made many enemies. Gossip and slander became extremely common, even after she finally had her first child. Her choice of dresses, far from being inconspicuous, was another form of rebellion on her part.
Through her sartorial choices, Marie-Antoinette transgressed the traditional social order. Bored of her husband, and allowed no real political role, the queen decided to play her last card: use fashion as a means of self-expression, in a court where everything was about appearance. A true fashionista, Marie-Antoinette came up with outrageous, fancy dresses and hairdos with her stylists. She refused to wear the traditional corset of the time, deeming it an object of torture. As the queen of France, she was allowed to follow fashion, but without provocation. Marie-Antoinette disregarded the etiquette, and preferred extravagant outfits. For a while, the people followed the queen’s example, adopting gravity-defying hairstyles, and dresses overflowing with material.
That is, until the queen went too far. First, she decided she wanted to wear long white dresses made of cotton, like the peasants did. This frock allowed her to be free in her movements and feel closer to nature. Marie-Antoinette looked less like a queen, and more like a milkmaid, a transgression that was perceived as a betrayal by the people of France. Moreover, the queen was being accused of spending huge sums of money on her clothes, rather than prioritising the well-being of her people. Her defiant fashion-sense led to the kingdom distrusting the foreign queen.
Although Marie-Antoinette is not the only reason that triggered the French revolution — and her extravagant wardrobe not the only reason she was disliked–, her peculiar nature certainly helped nourish distrust in the French monarchy, as she came to symbolize the excesses of royals. Until her very last breath, Marie-Antoinette used clothing as a statement. After the execution of her husband, she asked for a black gown to wear for mourning. When she was taken to the guillotine, she was denied the right to dress as a widow. Instead, Marie-Antoinette chose to wear a white dress. When she was being led in a cart through the streets of Paris to be executed, everyone fell completely silent as they watched the queen go by.
To the end and still today, the iconic Marie-Antoinette
continues to fascinate for her ambiguous, controversial and paradoxical
Article by Inès Huet
Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the
Revolution by Caroline Weber
The Queen’s Hair: Marie-Antoinette, Politics, and DNA
by Desmond Hosford
Mermaids have become a popular trend recently, from companies selling mermaid floats, mermaid-tail swimsuits, or mermaid-themed makeup. Nowadays, they are considered an ideal of femininity, as sensual, beautiful, and strong creatures. But it wasn’t always the case. The figure of the mermaid has undergone many shifts through time, from its origin story to today’s pop culture icon. Our constant fascination with this fictional character seems to mirror our own ideas on gender, specifically what it means to be a “real” woman…
Mermaids first appeared as sirens in Homer’s poem The Odyssey. They were half bird half woman, and perceived as a threat to men, and more specifically sailors, because of their powers. Indeed, a siren’s singing voice was greatly feared by men at sea. Legends said that anyone who heard a siren’s melodious voice was sure to meet their end. Overcome with lust and desire, sailors would throw themselves overboard in a vain effort to reach the enchanting sea creatures. Ships would sink to their destruction while the sirens kept on singing mercilessly. Their voice was therefore the source of their power; it was not yet their physical beauty.
Yet, when we talk about mermaids, the most iconic remains Christian Hans Andersen’s Little Mermaid fairytale that inspired Ariel, the Disney animation film. It is very interesting to point out that in both these tales, the mermaid figure becomes an attractive water creature, who chooses to give up her voice. In these stories, the mermaid lives underwater and falls in love with a human prince. Desperately yearning to join him on land, the mermaid chooses to willingly trade her compelling voice for human legs. She gets walk on land but is unable to speak.
We must not underestimate the symbolic weight in this trade. The mermaid, by giving up her voice, renounces to what was previously the source of her powers, what made her superior to men. She renders herself powerless in front of a male figure of authority: her prince. The mermaid myth was rewritten from being a dangerous predator to men to becoming a harmless and beautiful object of contemplation for men. She no longer lures them underwater to their death but is the one lured out of her natural habitat. In literature and in films, the mermaid figure shifts from being a predator to becoming a prey.
This evolution is very problematic, as it seems to tell readers and audiences that girls can only find love, and be loved when they are beautiful but silent, obedient, and submissive. These fairytales do not showcase strong, independent female characters, but characters whose personality is rendered less important than their looks, and whose sole goal is to be in a relationship. However, the recent film The Shape of Water shows a more modern take on the mermaid myth. Elisa can be interpreted as a mermaid figure, since she is found as a child by a river, unable to speak. Like the traditional mermaid tale, she had given up her voice for a human form. At the end of the movie, when she finally returns to her natural habitat in the water, the scars on her neck open up as gills. Through out the movie, Elisa follows her heart and rebels against authority: she does not let herself be intimidated or controlled by patriarchy.
Numerous contemporary TV shows have also participated in giving new meaning to the image of the mermaid: making mermaids positive and inspiring mythical female creatures. Without a doubt, mermaids remain fascinating popular icons, whose perception through time reveals our own changing views on femininity, gender, and sexuality.
Article by Inès Huet
Opal’s involvement in Paulette magazine grew in a serendipitous way. I first met Opal through Tonjé Bakang, a mutual friend, on a warm summer evening in Paris. Days later, I mentioned to Irene Olczak, founder of Paulette, that I had met the co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and she gasped, confessing that she herself had wanted to meet and chat with Opal for quite some time now. The stars were clearly aligning.
Fast-forward years later, these two inspiring forces finally got together, instantly clicked, and secretly plotted for months to craft the Fall issue of the magazine centered around togetherness, activism, and making a difference in the world. I’ve personally been overjoyed by their budding friendship, and by Irene’s constant gushing over Opal’s enthusiasm, generosity, and involvement. Things that I’ve loved about Opal for years. Back in 2016, she had kindly invited me to join her at Beyonce‘s Formation World Tour concert at the Stade de France after only meeting her once. That unforgettable night of dancing and lip-synching in full Beyhive mode sealed a friendship that has shown no sign of love drought. The next day, when she called to talk about the current migrant crisis and asked me to come with her to help, I grabbed food and water, and we immediately headed to a makeshift camp site where African migrants had been sleeping in horrid conditions for months. That’s what Opal does. She makes you want to be the best version of yourself through action. I also vividly remember that she decided to cut her “vacation” short to fly back to New York City and speak on immigration in front of a UN assembly. Her accolades as an activist and public figure are deservingly plentiful – a scholarship for immigrant Law students created in her name, an honorary PhD from Clarkson University, or being named one of the 50 most influential people by several magazines.
As an admirer of her work and dedication, and as a friend she can rely on and be silly with, I wanted to ask OpalTometi about herself, the young girl who became an activist, the young woman who has to carve out time for self-care, and how she envisions a world in which we can all fully be ourselves Together.
How has being an activist and advocating for others changed and influenced you over the years?
For as long as I remember, I’ve been engaged in some form of advocacy. It really began with admiration and love for my friends and others in my life as a high schooler. And then over the years, as I realized we were facing challenges, it became a curiosity, then full fledged activism and eventually organizing. At first I was a regular actvist – something would happen and then I’d pop in to action and join a protest, but then after a while I realized that the challenges were relentless and that I needed to be engaged in deeper strategy in order to stop the injustice that our communities were faced with — which was more strategic organizing.
In the early ages I engaged in issues that I didn’t have any direct impact on my life — for example when I was first beginning I was involved in domestic violence work and ending child abuse — but the truth is I was never abused by a partner nor my parents. (I mean I saw kids at my high school in abusive relationships or friends in college but it wasn’t me). However, I eventually got courageous enough to move to issues that were impacting me more closely — I began to speak about stuff I knew intimately – like anti-Black racism and immigration. I honestly planned on doing this work in relative obscurity – I never thought I would be an “ official” public figure and thought a “leader” in the way I’m right now. But it’s been a humbling journey and a true honor to get recognition for work that is often done by many without acknowledgment or thanks. So I do appreciate the support – and my true hope is simply to be a good steward of this moment in history by doing the best with the platform I have. Using my voice and my expertise as best I can to achieve justice for as many people as possible.
In the constant whirlwind of news cycles and world events, how, when, and where do you find time to recharge your soul and reconnect with yourself?
There’s so much going on, and for a while I lost myself in it all. I gained lots of extra weight and neglected my own chronic health issues. However, in the past few months I’ve taken my own self-care more seriously. In fact, it’ #1. No one else can care for me the way that I will and I’m now perfectly clear on that. Maya Angelou once said “to be successful means to be happy with what you do and how you do it”. Audre Lorde also shared the same sentiment when she said “self care is not self indulgence. It is self preservation and it’s a political act”. With those sentiments and knowing who I am – knowing my heart and my ethic, and my track record – I have serious respect and love for myself. I am thoroughly pleased with who I am. And so, I listen to myself and my real needs; and that makes me feel connected and recharged daily. Each day I may need something different – sometimes it’s more sleep, sometimes it’s yoga in the morning, listening to Afrobeats or house music, or sometimes it’s hanging out with my godchildren.
What is the best piece of advice or wisdom that a mentor has shared with you and that you carry close to your heart everywhere?
Honestly, my mentors are amazing African women who have taught me the most by the lives they lead. For example, my first mentor was Leslye Obiora, a Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer from the University of Arizona and Yale who taught me to invest in the young people around you — even if they can’t give you anything in return. She took me under her wing literally and flew me with her when I was just a curious and passionate young person. I’m forever grateful. Secondly, another incredible mentor-sister I have, Nunu Kidane, swims almost every day while leading an incredible non profit and providing thought leadership focused on advocacy for critical African issues. She stays active and creative while doing such cool work between the San Francisco Bay Area and Ethiopia. And lastly, my mentor Liepollo Pheko from South Africa is the most prolific and ambitious woman I know. She continues to show me that you can have the life of your dreams and should never apologize for your intellect, your drive and your accomplishments.
What does “Together” or “Togetherness” – the theme of Paulette magazine’s Fall issue – mean to you, and how can we strive for togetherness daily?
Togetherness is such a cool concept, but ultimately I think it’s most important that we recognize that everybody cannot nor should be exactly the same. It’s important that we value the diversity of experiences and expertise in all of us. We must value each of our respective contributions and qualities. I think this applies when we think about the world we want and need, but also how we actually achieve it. So often people don’t feel appreciated and I don’t think that this is right. Just like it is for a healthy body to thrive — we need all the parts participating in the functioning of the body. Just like a game we need all players being excellent in their own role but recognizing they are on the same team. Same thing with this life. We should share a same overall vision – multiracial, inclusive democracies that work for all of us together – but know that we will contribute differently so that we can get there.
By inclusive I mean including races, religions, gender, sexual orientation, ability , immigration status, or country of origin and class, among so many other things. I believe in us. I believe we can create a world that truly embraces the breadth of who we are and how we identify. It’s important that we not only educate ourselves so that we are aware, but we must commit to action. I encourage everyone to join an organization. That’s the single most important thing one can do – have a community that holds you accountable for your beliefs, but also supports you when you’re tired. We don’t have to do this journey for dignity and justice alone. Being in communion is what this life is about. We grow as a result.
As we slowly transition from Summer to back to school/work mode, is there any book, music, artist, experience that has moved you recently that you’d want to share and recommend to our Paulette readers?
I’m the kind of person who will travel for art, babies and love. And so this year, I gave myself a birthday gift of traveling for art – by going to the Chale Wote Arts festival in Accra, Ghana. It’s the largest arts festival in Africa and it was EVERYTHING! I had been wanting to go for years. I got to meet and view some incredible art. Thousands of people were there. It was grassroots – not sponsored by any large corporations and it was incredibly hope filled. I met folks like Adama Delphine, Nelson Makamo , Pierre Chistophe Gam, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Joanna Choumali and so many others. It was inspiring. People of all ages, backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses had access to art, were participating in the creation of and were clearly being moved by it. It was the best thing I’ve seen in years. Everyone should experience it. Making space in our lives for art period is very important. It opens up our imagination, reminds us that we can create whatever we want, and also allows us to experience beauty for its own sake. This is a beautiful reminder of the abundance that is already in existence in the world.
Thank you, Opal.
By PK Douglas
The 45th issue of Paulette magazine guest-edited by Opal Tometi is out now.