Women Together: Introducing the All Womxn Project
Sometimes, the very best ideas are born out of a desire to have fun. And to an extent, that’s exactly the story of the All Womxn’s Project (AWP), a non-profit collective co-founded by models and activists Clémentine Desseaux and Charli Howard. The two were friends represented by the same modeling agency, but never got to work together. “We were just talking about how Charli was a straight size and I was plus size, and we just didn’t see much diversity in terms of body or skin color in any of the projects we worked on,” says Desseaux, the president of the AWP. (Above, models shown on set for an All Womxn’s Project photo shoot in February 2019.)
Why was it that curve models could only appear in photographs and commercials with other curve models? Why were only men behind the camera or holding the booms? Rather than wait for the industry to answer, they changed the terms, starting a collaboration in 2016 with a diverse range of models, and arranging shoots where women did all the work. Oh, and did we mention the images were never, ever retouched?
At first, it was just for themselves. A chance to show what they could do, to work together, and to create something beautiful. But with an idea this good and this pure, it didn’t take long for others to take note. Soon, brands like Nike and skincare range Babor reached out to the AWP to help diversify their image and talent pool. “Finding women to fill traditionally male production roles is so satisfying to me,” says Desseaux (yellow jumpsuit, above). “I just keep asking and keep pushing. That’s how you make change.”
Once the production angle was established, the organization expanded to create local AWP groups across the country, and host events for women of all ages centered around empowerment, education and advocacy. Recently, AWP has launched a series of monthly panels in New York City. This summer, they’ll host a camp for underprivileged girls. And it’s that arm of her charity that Desseaux is the most passionate about today. “We organized this big school event in Florida, and we had all those girls come and it was really special,” she says. “I love when girls connect. It’s very emotional, they start crying and we exchange so much emotion. Those are the most empowering, real moments. Those are the moments I’m most proud of.”
And while AWP has given to others, so too has AWP given to Desseaux, who has developed a unique and deeply strong sense of self: “The All Womxn Project helped me to find purpose. Before, I was very happy and successful, but something was missing. Then I found what I want to do: Empower other women.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, EXPRESS has donated $50,000 to the All Womxn Project.