The 22-year-old artist Tallulah Willis and photographer Natalia Mantini, 28, have a combined following of approximately 180,000 on Instagram — and recently they decided to put it to good use. With the election looming in November, they felt compelled to raise awareness on a political issue that effected them personally: the war on women's health. Willis explained, that the decision-making power sits in the hands of "a terrifying collection of people (made up mainly of those who this will never directly affect)," and so she wanted to reclaim the right to her body. Together, Willis and Mantini printed the phrase "Ours not yours," on t-shirts, all of the proceeds from sales will benefit Planned Parenthood directly — an organization that is not only currently under attack, but has also been a personal resource for these two women in the past.
Willis and Mantini join a number of women tangentially related to the fashion industry getting behind Planned Parenthood — model Emily Ratajkowski being perhaps the most vocal of the bunch. Miley Cyrus also teamed up with artist Marilyn Minter in April to produce limited-edition t-shirts that benefited the organization.
In March, Willis — who is the youngest daughter of actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore — launched her own line of t-shirts, which featured her playful doodles. But now in partnership with Mantini, the goal is to not only create a product with impact, but also a larger social purpose.
What made you want to want to do this project now? Why is it such an important organization and issue to you?
Mantini: For a while I had been feeling that I wanted to make something with Tallulah that had a purpose. I got tired of sending screen shots of the insanity and unjust behavior that is going on regarding women’s rights to my friends and decided to do something about it. It was important to me to keep it positive, and Tallulah is one of my most positive friends so I thought it would be a good pairing. Planned Parenthood is such a crucial organization because it is one of the only resources available to a variety of women. My first memories of seeking reproductive healthcare and resources as a teenager were with Planned Parenthood.
Willis: It's a scary time for women's health rights. However, the fear that I couldn't do anything silenced and stunted me into melancholy acceptance, and that roll-over-and-take-it mentality felt sour in my tummy like expired milk. I realized this unwillingness to try was unacceptable, and is why it felt so critical that I dive fast and passionately into this project the moment Natalia presented the idea to me. Planned Parenthood cannot be pigeon-holed into a pro-abortion organization; it's an educational platform as well as a pinnacle of support and safety for women. We are the ones in control of our bodies and it needs to stay that way. Planned Parenthood allows that to be a reality for us.
What do you hope to achieve with this project and how?
Mantini: With this project we hope to shine more light on women's issues in a way that is empowering and optimistic. We’d like to provide a simple option to support Planned Parenthood and all they are doing to protect women’s rights. I hope we can inspire others to be proactive and take part in solutions no matter how big or small. It can feel really overwhelming when you’re reading and watching the news everyday and feel powerless against everything that is going on. A hope we have is to create something with our energy and resources that aids a positive organization such as Planned Parenthood. It’s better that we fight against terrifying and dangerous concerns rather than just discussing them or remaining stagnant.
Describe to me your process. How did it all come together?
Willis: Natalia came to me with the initial idea in May, and from there it began to take shape. Our first step was to focus on what the imagery for the shirt was going to look like. We spitballed back and forth figuring out the phrase; we wanted something that wasn't too wordy but that felt weighted and poignant. Once that was locked in we flushed out the design aspect, going through few phases before we landed on the winner.
Mantini: I called Tallulah and asked if she’d want to make something we both felt had a strong message regarding women’s rights. I’ve always loved Tallulah’s art and the way her brain works. All I was thinking about was how absurd it is that access to reproductive health is an issue we’re still having to fight for and question in 2016. It feels disrespectful as a member of society to do nothing — even if it feels small in comparison to the severe oppression women face today.
With a sizable following on social media, do you feel you have a responsibility to take a stand on issues? What’s your personal approach to activism?
Willis: Having a platform, I feel resolutely that I have a responsibility to speak on issues. I feel uncomfortable when I see this mainly Internet-based activism that rarely is rooted in actual action being taken in the outside world. I am not always entirely sure how I can best use this voice and following, and in those moments I ask for suggestions for the best way I can be involved. Saying nothing is saying it's ok.
Mantini: I think it would be irresponsible and almost delusional to not mention anything on social media that has been happening to the world around us. There’s so much to address sometimes I feel like I don’t know where to start and how to stop. I try to find a balance between highlighting awareness and positivity while not coming at any particular group or individual. It feels like the sanest way to deal with this is by supporting organizations that I believe to be healthy and that I’m also indebted to. As a female, I also feel it is extremely important to shine light on women’s rights for the generations to come and for those women who can’t speak out whatsoever. I think it’s beautiful when anyone tries to put selfless and helpful messages out into the world regardless of audience size. In a chaotic time like the present, it can be relieving. I’m aware that my peers and I are not facing the worst of conditions by any means and that we’re very privileged. And with that, we should definitely be taking some sort of action since we have the freedom to.
What do you want someone reading this to take away?
Willis: I want anyone reading this to see that there are ways to feel involved, and their individual actions can make an impact. No voice is insignificant. By buying these shirts and wearing them you are directly donating and making your support known for something so unique and powerful.
Mantini: I continue to feel overwhelmed by the media everyday. We wanted to show readers that taking part in any small way can hopefully be a break in feeling defeated by all of these unfortunate circumstances. We wanted to give an option to take action against all that is currently being brought to our attention every day.
What do you have to say to young voters like yourselves? What does this election mean for Planned Parenthood?
Willis: There is no excuse for us not to vote. This is not a joke and very real consequences with potentially devastating outcomes loom in our future if we allow ourselves to become passive onlookers. There are people in this election who would like to see Planned Parenthood come to end, and will do so if we do not make the effort needed of us.
Mantini: I used to think I wasn’t educated enough to vote. I truly believed I didn’t make a difference and my opinion didn't matter; that it was better left up to older and more powerful people to decide. I believe we are now at a time where doubting your voice is a non-option. We are already being shown the serious consequences of remaining quiet. In my experience as a Hispanic female, I’ve never felt that an election’s outcome could so personally affect me. I think the open and ignorant threats against Planned Parenthood are an indication of what this election could mean for us.
"Ours Not Yours" t-shirts are available for purchase on oursnotyours.bigcartel.com. All proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood.