name: Amber Monet Sisson
star sign: Virgo
ig alias: @ambersiss'
LH: Siss!! Thank you for taking time out of your day for me! How did you feel behind the lens?
AS: I have this thing in my head where I feel a bit Zoolander-ish in the sense that I only have one look, and I try and go left but it doesn’t work, I just end up looking odd!
LH: You’ve been veggo for sometime now, whats your thoughts ethical & vegan fashion?
AS: I’m obviously very pro-ethical fashion and ethical business practices. Everything in this world has a transaction cost to both society and the environment and unfortunately fast-fashion is one that creates a significant negative impact. I find it hard to see at what point we became so blinded by consumerism or labels or just things that we forget about the sad, short painful lives animals go through to produce non-vegan goods, or the unprosperous, gruelling working lives people around the world endure just so we can have the latest things. The average worker in Bangladesh earns $99 a month in wages, that’s $25 a week! THAT’S $3 A DAY, and that’s unacceptable!
LH: How do you think we can get ethical fashion into the mainstream?
AS: Well, realistically, we are up against MNC’s mass-producing goods at a rapid rate, really cheaply and selling to westerners who have become brainwashed by consumerism, so we need to start working on changing our society and our societal norms. No demand = no supply, economics 101. Here is Sydney we have a really good community of fashion designers and companies that are fighting the good fight and producing ethical and sustainably produced clothing and goods, by working together an promoting one another we can really work toward changing the way our society shops and push for quality over quantity. I worked at Finders Keepers Markets over the weekend and it was refreshing to see how many companies are actually around in NSW making amazing ethical products at decent prices!
LH: How can we hold big business accountable?
AS: As an individual, be aware of what you are buying and who you a re buying it from, seriously. Don’t be afraid to boycott companies because of their poor standards *cough H&M, Zara, Uniqlo, Nike cough*, stand up and publicise your opinions, look for alternatives, buy vintage.
LH: You were quite attracted to the Kick It top, what does it represent?
AS: Ahh yes, apart from it being a badass top, it really highlighted my current mood at the time. When we were organising this shoot I was kicking my way out of a period of major depression, and that top really spoke to me!
LH: How did you become comfortable talking about mental illness with others?
AS: There became a point in my life where I realised I couldn’t hide it anymore, I had a generalised anxiety disorder and agoraphobia from PTSD and got to a point where I was struggling at my jobs, I was compromising relationships and I was slowly losing my ability to do normal things; the only way to truly understand it and process it was to talk about it and realise it is not a weakness! I’ve become and advocate for mental health, I don’t believe in the stigma around it so I have always been okay discussing it. To be honest I think it’s really fucked up that the wider society has made me feel like I should be uncomfortable talking about it! If I don’t tell people how I feel, I isolate myself, and mental illness and isolation aren’t good together.
LH: Has there been an instance where your comfortability has helped someone else?
AS: I hope so. I would like to think maybe, yes.
LH: What’s it been like hearing that you might have bipolar?
AS: Pretty weird, but it makes sense to me when I think about certain parts of my life. Its frightening to go from feeling suicidal one day to bouncing off the walls another, so at least I know why that might be. I think one of the hardest things to grasp is not knowing whether at times my extroversion is natural or if it is because I may have a certain illness; it has really challenged my self-perception. The extroversion/introversion thing also challenges other perceptions of me because people expect me to be a certain way; when I become depressed I withdraw and cant function properly, people can’t understand that and they try and tell me how I should be or what I should do to fix myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my people for being here for me and I owe them everything, but sometimes I do want to punch you in the face when you say things to me like I’m depressed cause Mercury is in retrograde or cause my moon is in Scorpio.
It’s also gnarly experiencing being depressed and high at the same time – like that episode of the Simpsons when Ralph says “I’m happy and angry” – that’s me!
My main goal is to not let this be a defining characteristic for me, I’m still me, I just know I will get a little overly happy/sad sometimes; and if anyone wants to judge me on that, fuck off and check yourself!!
LH: How would you describe how you feel to people who don’t grasp what bipolar is?
AS: Fuck! Personally I think societies views on mental health are super warped and so people will never fully understand depression ot bipolar until they have been there or spent time with someone who has it; MH is either completely misunderstood or very over-exaggerated, and I guess that makes me feel exasperated and angry! Being a non-physical disease, society has downgraded illnesses such depression and bipolar; people patronise the shit out of you, they will tell you to “snap out of it” or “just try and get up and go do something”, or else they think you’re fucking crazy and hearing voices or something. My gripe is, you wouldn’t tell someone with an illness such as cancer to “snap out of it”, or someone with pneumonia to just “go and get some exercise”, these physical illnesses are met with empathy and care because they are understood to carry repercussions that often lead to death and suffering. When I experience a mood shift and become depressed I can’t control that and nothing in the world can make me “snap out of it” otherwise I fucking would; feeling suicidal is a terrifying, abnormal feeling and I wish there was a way I could let someone feel what we feel just for a minute so they know we aren’tjust bullshitting you!
In saying that, I have become so angry at the ignorance people have toward the negative impacts depression can have on its sufferers, and people need to understand that IT KILLS PEOPLE TOO so we should be just as empathetic; 1 in 5 people have a MH issue, at least 6 Australians die everyday from suicide and another 30 attempt it, suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-26, men are at greatest risk of suicide but are the least likely to seek help, and a reported 60,000 attempt suicide annually and many go unreported. Most importantly, AUSTALIANS ARE MORE LIKE TO DIE BY SUICIDE THAN SKIN CANCER! Yet it is ignored and we still do no know enough about how and why people commit suicide and it becomes very hard to intervene. People simply do not want talk about it; society needs to wake the fuck up, get educated and not be scared to ask the hard questions.
But the most infuriating thing of all is that we get the media and influential people who are fully undereducated trivializing mental illnesses, which decreases their significance; now people think its okay to use terms like bipolar, OCD and anxiety as catch phrases to describe mediocre events in their lives because MH is portrayed as inconsequential. I wouldn’t go round saying I need sugar so bad I feel like a diabetic crashing, so don’t go using the word bipolar so flippantly because you may have had a mood swing.
LH: I really enjoy how fluid you are and how you make people feel at ease in your presence, has this natural ability helped your peers understand more about mental health?
AS: I hope so! I’ll talk to anyone who will listen about it – I just hope that it makes people feel more comfortable with acknowledging and addressing their own issues.
LH: What’s your thoughts on female body hair?
AS: Obviously I have no issue with hair, I have a lot of it! But seriously, I had to face that fact that it does exist (and for a reason) and after over 15 years of trying to remove it from my body I just gave up, and to be honest I feel womanlier for it. I’m not saying to every woman go and grow your pits out, but sometimes I think we have to look at why we have distorted vision of beauty and hair, and a lot of it stems from sexual objectification of women, and I’m not into that.
LH: Any positive/negative reactions to yours?
AS: The other day I was at work and I had a dad tell me I was “ballsy” for not shaving my pits and then he asked me out (in front of his kid, awkward) which was pretty weird. A few hair-fetish dudes sliding in to my insta DMs and heaps of girls give me props, which is awesome. But I have experienced a lot of adversity from people that I thought would actually support my choices. It’s disheartening to hear from your favourite people that you don’t look sexy, or it’s gross and dirty, that it’s not ‘pretty’. We are in the 21st century, grow up! IMO any dude that can’t get down with pubes needs to take a hard look at himself and ask himself why he prefers vaginas that resemble pre-pubescent teenage girls? Like, what???
LH: What does body positivity mean to you?
AS: Remember how in Ten Things I Hate About YouKat says to Bianca “you don’t always have to be what they want you to be”, that’s exactly how I feel about it. Be whoever or whatever you like wherever you like however you like as long as YOU are happy. Wear makeup or don’t, shave or don’t, wear clothes that you wanna wear not what you think you should, learn your body, know what you like and what makes you look good and feel sexy. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t even own any, I don’t shave, I dress how I want to and not how magazines say I should, but that’s MY choice. Mass media can be an evil machine; magazines are elicited to make you feel bad about yourself so you buy things so some rich (probably middle aged, white) cunt can stay rich by playing on your insecurities. The minute that we compromise ourselves or our bodies we are saying what/how we think, feel or look is not important, but it bloody is and no one should make you feel like it isn’t!!!
LH: How do you feel about how the government has power over the female body?
LH: What do you think we can do as a collective to change this?
AS: Steal all our tampons! But seriously, it branches beyond the tampon war, I believe we have to be careful with our approach to change, and act effectively and rationally and not impulsively. We have come so far fending for ourselves, from obtaining the vote to getting back our civil liberties that the government and society don’t think we need or are owed any more. But we are, we need equality across all areas, employment, family, sex, religion, healthcare, and entertainment. These are serious issues that require serious thought and action, social media is a good outlet for helping visualise our efforts and women around the world can band together and support one another, but we have to keep in mind the most important people (misogynistic middle aged white men) aren’t going to care whether or not someone’s photo got 10,000 likes. It all starts with socialisation and specifically of our men and boys, they need to be the ones to understand that as women we have and deserve the exact same rights as them; hopefully changing their attitudes will have the biggest impact for the future.
LH: What does being a feminist mean to you?
LH: How does womens rights effect your life and the things you like to do?
AS: I am a black woman, from a small ass country, from a generation everyone seems to hate, and I have mental illness, mate if I let those odds bring me down I wouldn’t leave my house. I refuse to let inequality hinder my life or anyone else’s, that’s why I’m working and studying to eradicate gender inequality. I am approaching it from the angle of employment equality and my goal is to help under-skilled women and girls get the education, skills, and training they need to get into the workforce and maintain regular work to maintain regular lives. My hope is that this will be benefit individuals, their communities and help create societal change.
LH: Thank you so much Amber, you’re an amazing person! Any parting words of wisdom?
AS: MAINTAIN THE RAGE!!!!!!! Oh and if you’re ever feeling up or down and need an ear, get at me, I’m more than happy to lend mine. xx