Photos & interview by Emma
Caroline, 20, NYC
I first met Caro in January when she was home in LA for winter break. She burst through the door with a cheerful, “HI I’M CAROLINE!” wearing bedazzled fishnet stockings, a cheetah skirt, and a long sleeve velvet shirt. She had a bag of cauliflower under one arm and a bag of limes under the other to contribute to our taco night. Aside from being insanely stylish and sweet as hell, later in the night she went on a drunken rant about transgender rights. I was in love.
Ask her where she gets clothes and she says something like “I typed ‘beaded red pants’ into Etsy!” Ask her her opinion on current feminist issues in the media and she sites passages from Ozeki, Carol Adams, or Laura Mulvey. When she wasn’t at school at NYU studying her personally crafted major at Gallatin revolving around environmentalism & human rights, she would come hang with us in LA (she grew up in Pasadena). She would often arrive at our apartment not just in an outfit but in a LOOK with a loaf of homemade vegan banana bread under her arm- she sometimes wistfully talks about owning a full vegan bakery.
In addition to her style & compassion she is an amazing artist. She did a series of oil paintings dealing with the sexualization of the female form. She paired nude images with whimsical elements of nature, like butterflies, flowers, bugs, to reframe nakedness as natural and not something to be shamed over.
Her Instagram is dappled with long captions talking about intersectionality or veganism, in-between pics of her glitter on her face, her 2 pound puppy, and strange figurines she finds at flea markets.
-4 Quick Qs-
Tell us about your tattoos
Well I have a lot. My first tattoo I got on my 18th birthday 2 years ago, it’s “XVIII” on my ribs. This was a reminder to myself that I always can make my own decisions. In the US 18 is the year you gain full independence and I wanted it to be a reminder that I was able to make my own choices. Next is my favorite which is a beetle on my inner arm. Beetles are just so beautiful and I have a little collection of them. Buy me a beetle and I will love you. I’ve got a sparkle, the word cosmic, and a New York rose connected to a California poppy. Lastly I have a brain with a crown on my collar bone, symbolizing “knowledge is power.”
Make us a playlist with your favorite songs
Silver Springs- Fleetwood Mac (I love this song so much, I almost changed my name to Silver)
Wild Horses- Rolling Stones
Blood Bank- Bon Iver
Can’t Help Falling in Love- Elvis Presley
Vienna- Billy Joel
Meet Virginia- Train
For Your Precious Love- Otis Redding
Strange Magic- ELO
The Circle Game- Joni Mitchell
Describe your perfect morning
I love waking up just by the natural light flooding in through the windows (I actually like to sleep with the blinds open ahah). I love starting my morning with a coffee and listening to a record or face timing a friend. I would love to go on a hike and cook some vegan pancakes and read a good book. My perfect morning is simple, nothing crazy. Although waking up on the beach in Bali sounds great, the best mornings are the ones where you appreciate ordinary activities.
3 most important things in your life
My friends-Honestly I don’t know what I would do without the people in my life. Everyone lifts me up and is rooting for me. I feel so lucky to have friends who are so supportive and want the best for me. The energy my friends have inspires me to be the best version of myself.
My puppy- I recently got a puppy named Bun and she’s the absolute light of my life. She makes me laugh harder than anyone I know and she is so fun to be with. I love her.
My dad’s baby shoes- For christmas two years ago my dad gave me the first pair of shoes he had when he was a little baby. they are these white leather shoes that are clearly worn in and they are ridiculously small. It’s crazy to think my dad was once a little baby. Hands down the best gift I’ve every gotten.
-Ok lets get started-
I love your style and how you express yourself through clothing. How did you get to this point & what advice would you give to someone who wanted to curate their own personal style?
I’ve always taken art classes and been interested in painting. I’ve obsessed over colors and tried to figure out how to get my emotion on canvas. It’s the same thing with style. Style is art. I love to express myself through my clothing and figure out how to show my thoughts through pieces. I think my style is so unique to who I am because I really trust my intuition and instinct when I am in a store. If I am drawn to something and it’s super crazy I still wear it. Just let your mind tell you what you like. It’s already in you. I love thinking of things I want, like beaded pants, metallic dresses, or cherry earrings and searching Etsy to find the perfect vintage piece. I would encourage people to not focus on whats trending but to go into a vintage store and look for colors you like, look for fabrics you like, and then just pair unexpected items together. I think the more random an outfit is, the cooler it looks.
Give us a color palette & textures for fall. What are you loving makeup wise, pattern wise, material wise?
Definitely yellow and orange. In fall people think of going to those deep plum, rust, evergreen, and navy colors but I am so into bright blue and green, and even neon orange. I have this vision of a cool white sweatshirt with neon orange nails and a yellow mesh top peeking out. I love layering, not only because it helps you stay warm but because it looks so sick. I think mesh and sheer metallic stuff is super cool and would love to see more sheer skirts and dresses.
For patterns I’m definitely going to be wearing a lot of paisley print and looking like your grandma’s couch. With makeup I am loving glitter and bright colors. I love to put blue on the inner tear of my eye or chunky glitter on my cheekbones. Also a fan of putting glitter on the center of my lips too. Honestly, just be crazy and see what happens. Lately I am so inspired by people on the street. I love looking at other people and seeing what everyone finds beautiful.
Speaking of finding people beautiful, what inspired your painting series of the female form combined with natural elements?
In senior year I was growing up and feeling the effects of constantly being sexualized. It felt like if I dressed a certain way that was viewed as promiscuous I was deemed a slut but if I covered up, I was a prude. No matter what I did, I was constantly shamed. Women face a contradiction everyday and I wanted to show this through my paintings. Essentially I painted the nude female form in a sexualized position and contrasted that with really light innocent colors and beautiful aspects of nature like butterflies and flowers. I also wanted to show that the female body is not inherently sexual, but rather natural and should be appreciated rather than shamed. I painted all body types and all skin colors because all women need to be represented and appreciated.
You have never shied away from speaking about sexualization, rape culture, intersectional issues, veganism, the black lives matter movement, and more on your Instagram. What inclines you to speak about these issues on social media?
Being more than an image is important to me. I think that posting cute photos is super fun and shows my style but I also want people to think about the real world outside of the app. When people are scrolling through Instagram they are scrolling through an alternate world. Instagram is a digital reality filled with images of people and lives that aren’t you and so I think its so important to disrupt that world. When people scroll through Instagram and see a caption talking about social issues the world that Instagram creates has just been disrupted and they’re brought out back into the real world.
I know you have taught me so much about intersectionality & environmentalism behind veganism from our conversations. What would you say to someone who sees veganism as just an animal rights issue or a health issue, as so many of us do?
When you start to research veganism you realize it’s more than animal rights. Yes, we are trying to save the cows but we are also trying to abolish sexism and environmental racism and a plethora of other HUMAN rights issues that come from animal agriculture. Like native americans being displaced once again because there is not enough space for factory farms, or the fact that in slaughterhouse communities domestic abuse is at an all time high, or the fact that undocumented workers are abused by the corporate system to work in slaughterhouses which is the most dangerous job. Once you learn about those things you realize veganism is the lifestyle that promotes peace for everyone. Veganism allows you to transform not only your body but your mind and opens you up to being the most conscious consumer you can be. I think not a lot of people acknowledge the human right’s side of veganism. Often times people who aren’t vegan feel targeted by vegans and that’s because some vegans make it seem like an issue of people vs. people when in fact it’s an issue of people trying to help other people. When society makes that connection that going vegan is a human rights issue and benefits everyone, people will connect more deeply to the cause and help the movement grow.
When do you feel most like yourself?
I feel most myself when it’s 1 am and I am sitting on the floor in a dimly lit apartment with a group of friends and we are having conversations about real issues and then talking about our days and about funny stories that have happened. We are all laughing but also feeling like we are able to make a difference in society. I always fall asleep really hopeful on those nights. I always wake up the next morning feeling like I know my purpose and know who I am.
Follow her: Instagram // Ciaffy