Speaking Out for Women's Rights on Intl. Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day!

This year, I celebrated my free speech and freedom to assemble by taking to the streets of downtown Los Angeles to protest the global oppression of women in an Intl. Women's Day rally in front of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Last year, I had the honor of joining UN Women SoCal as their Keynote speaker for the Intl. Women's Day Celebration. The full UN UN Women Keynote highlight video has reached over 800,000 views since last March! Today, I posted a 90-second recap of my favorite moments from that speech.

This day always seems to inspire my inner she warrior and break my heart at the same time. While women continue to make strides towards equal rights, there are so many cases where we are unfortunately still oppressed.

I made this sign because I feel women suffer an insatiable thirst that can only be quenched with justice. Women are literally starving for equality when it comes to equal pay, work, and human rights. Women are dying for freedom from their oppressors, the sexual traffickers, the persecutors enslaving every aspect of their lives including their uteruses, the governments executing us for not conforming to their unjust patriarchal laws.

Thirsty for Justice, Starving for Equality, Dying for Freedom

There are countless shocking examples of human rights violations women are still battling in 2016; from lack of reproductive rights, to the forced sterilization of disabled women in Australia, honor killings across the Middle East and South East Asia, acid attacks, genital mutilations, forced marriage, sex trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation, innumerable, unspeakable abuses being suffered by women daily.

One of the most prevalent abuses, I see globally and commonly in the western world, is slut shaming. Many societies punish sexual empowerment, so extremely it even results in executions. If a woman is seen: dressed "immodestly," nude, breastfeeding, dancing with exuberance, walking down the street confidently, making eye contact with a man, or as sexually active; people are so quick to weaponize their opinions and react with verbal, physical, or emotional abuse. She WASN'T asking for it, and if we want to live in a free and open, civilized, society; I believe we must find tolerance for so-called "immodest" lifestyles that differ from our own. If someone's "immodest" behavior is a harmless self-expression, what gives us the right to become the judge, jury, and executioner? As someone who has grown up surrounded by classical art, I have always admired and appreciated the human form. It wasn't until I was exposed to puritanical belief systems and religious institutions that I was indoctrinated with the "virtues" of shame and discomfort around that most natural birthright in the world. I understand the importance of public decency and yet what I truly find indecent is the act of using someone's sexuality or nudity as a justification to abuse them.  In the most extreme cultures women are stoned, hung, executed point blank, raped, or maimed for "immodest" attire. This horrific practice undermines the fundamental human right to life, liberty, and security of person.

If you find yourself unable to accept these realities, I encourage you to speak out against these violations both domestically and internationally. These organizations make substantial efforts towards the advancements of human rights including women's rights.





Futuristic headdress and photo credit: Bubbles and Frown Haberdashery
Makeup by Alexie Petre


Tokyo Timewarp: Modern Geishas in Shibuya

While staying in Tokyo's popular district of Shibuya at the Cerulean Hotel, I caught up with my friend Sasha Okamoto and Photographer Gregory Brown to capture the view and some street style.
Shibuya crossing is always buzzing, vibrant with about a million people per day. Together we melted into the crowds, followed the sights and sounds, with the click clacking of our wooden Geta shoes.

Fashion stylist Naomi Kubo unearthed a regal, antique, red kimono and an edgy, colorful, splatter yukata to create this stylish Tokyo timewarp for the modern Geisha.

We followed the paper lanterns lining the streets and the smells of grilled Yakitori chicken wafting thru billowing Noren fabric doorways.

Even in the heart of the city you can discover quiet, little, crevices, rich with texture and contrast.
It seems everywhere you turn there is a distinct Tokyo style and culture, that sets it apart from other areas of Japan.

Tokyo is a spirited muse that will always tug at my imagination. It is easy to get lost in the palpable energy of the city.

Makeup artist Yuri Kondo's editorial hair and makeup highlighted the East meets West heritage of both Sascha and I. When we shot at the Cerulean we transitioned the traditional musubi and obi belts into the modern leather belts for an avant-garde spin on kimono style.

Whisper Fire Tokyo Breeze
Fuel My Imagination 
Dream Spirited Muse
-  Haiku, Celeste Thorson

Blowing from the west 
fallen leaves
gather in the east.
- Haiku, Yosa Buson

Photo:  Gregory Brown Photography / Models: Celeste Thorson, Sascha Okamoto / Wardrobe: Naomi Kubo / Hair and Makeup: Yuri Kondo


Treasure Island: Bay Bridge to Nowhere

...That time Low Tek Studios and I got down and dirty for a spontaneous photo shoot on Treasure Island in San Francisco.  The location had kind of a Breaking Bad vibe, so we kicked it by the chain link fences and old turn knob TV sets for a lazy afternoon by the bay bridge.

I wore some edgy variations of the little black dress, with hi-low skirts, studs, metallic accents, and cut outs.  We found wildflowers, water towers, and graffiti  treasures around every corner. Then we stumbled upon a vacant pool filled with epic memorials a midst the abandon buildings. San Francisco has so many unique environments to get inspired by life and fashion.

Human Rights and #LoveWins for LGBT Pride Month

I am so ecstatic about the marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States. This is a wonderful advancement for equal rights, especially during LGBT Pride Month.  In celebration, I wanted to share some thoughts on liberty and equality in America.

Freedom of expression and equal rights are two of the most important protections I enjoy as an American. I believe only you can determine who to love and what makes you happy.  I hope we can create a standard of equality that will allow people to express themselves without a climate of prejudice. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender should not disqualify you from equal human rights. By speaking out for these human rights we can create a community and government that truly supports freedom and not discrimination. - Celeste Thorson

I was reminded of my #LGBT #activism 10 years ago with my #grassroots #family at Human Rights Campaign. We were the boots on the ground that met hate face to face, as we strove to build support for equal #humanrights #legislation. Some people politely declined to support #justice, others were kicking and screaming. Some people greeted us with open arms, some with gentle whispers. Today we can #celebrate this #equality, because #LoveWins when #activists #FightTheGoodFight for #justice. No matter how ugly the #hate, #standup #speakout and remember we are all born #free and #equal!

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web.
-Pablo Picasso

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
-Oscar Wilde

Some people may be offended by this artwork and respond with hatred. Which is more offensive, a photograph that represents love or the hatred it may trigger?

Do you believe love is boundless?
Do you believe love should be confined?


Celebrate Women's Rights and Gender Equality 365!

I was honored when the ladies from UN WOMEN SOCAL invited me to join their International Women's Day celebration as a keynote speaker. Women's history month and Intl. Women's Day is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the past, present and future of women's contributions and obstacles. It was enlightening to share that special day with an inspiring group of women dedicated to supporting gender equality and women's rights.

I focused my speech on female leaders, equal rights, freedom of expression, empowerment through the arts, technical literacy, education, the #HeForShe movement, and the mobilization of activists through technology.  A full transcript of the 15 minute speech is coming soon, but here are 4 minutes of my favorite moments. 

UN Women SoCal President CeCe Sloan and her team Lori Vandermier and Kathy Carchidi Belmont put together a lovely event filled with art, poetry, film, and progressive discussions. Polina Hyrn hosted the event, Lori Vandermier spoke about the evolvement of the USNC and the #HeForShe movement. Other speakers shared ideas on climate change, women in the arts, and sexual expression.  It was great to meet the attendees and hear about their experiences in activism, from saving the seals in San Diego to fighting corporate polluters in the 60's.  Susan Taylor from the Museum of Latin American Art introduced many of us to the inspiring, radical art of Argentine painter, sculptor, and performance artist Marta Minuj√≠n

Minujin in front of her "Tower of Babel" sculpture comprised of 30,000 books, featured in Plaza San Martin, Buenos Aires. Check out  Minujin, the values communicated through her colorful tapestry of work are impressive, surreal, and poignant.  Linnea Lenkus spoke about the beauty of sexual empowerment through photographic expression versus sexual objectification through pornography. Author Margarita Noguera gifted us with with her joyful participation and poetry.  

CeCe Sloan reviewed the History of International Women's Day and shared Catherine Murphy's meaningful documentary short film "Maestra", about the 250,000 volunteers (more than 50% women) that drove the literacy movement in Cuba in 1961.

"MAESTRA explores this story through the personal testimonies of the young women who went out to teach literacy in rural communities across the island - and found themselves deeply transformed in the process." - MaestraTheFilm.Org

Funding for UN Women was successfully raised thanks to UN Women SoCal President CeCe Sloan, the SoCal chapter team, the female artists who donated beautiful artwork for the silent auction, the attendees, and the sponsors who all contributed to this important cause. Overall it was an educational experience that united artists, activist, and supporters. Thank you again UN Women SoCal for the opportunity to celebrate International Women's Day.

If you would like to support UN Women's goals to end violence, promote equality, education, and health for women, please donate your time and/or money here:

If you are short on time and/or money please spread the word online and promote women's rights whenever you can! #SupportHeForShe #WomensRights365 

I donated postcards featuring the UN Women "One Woman" artwork, so attendees could mail them to thank a woman that inspires them because, I feel it is paramount to show our gratitude to the people who influence us positively.  I invited the audience to share a pearl of wisdom on the postcards, so we could post them online and pass these life lessons forward. Here are some uplifting pieces of advice. These are important because education doesn't just happen in school in happens every day in the our communities. Please comment to leave your own words of wisdom.

"Trust yourself...yes you can. To those who seem to limit you - (emotionally, physically, spiritually or otherwise) have the confidence to move on: Supporters are waiting for you when you arrive."
 - Anonymous UN Women Supporter

 "Accept what is. Accept yourself as you are. Suspend judgement.  Love with an open heart. Give generously. Honor your truth. Be true to yourself."  - Anonymous UN Women Supporter

 "Surround yourself with positivity. Remind yourself of all you have to be grateful about. Then share that spirit with everyone." Anonymous UN Women Supporter

"To all women! Become organizers to change the world! To help end poverty and war. To prevent dangerous climate changes, to end disease by more research and provide medical care to all." - Julia Ross

 "Listen to your body. What is it telling you? Listen to your heart, who or what do you love? Listen to your mind, it is to be honored, but no more than your body or your heart." Anonymous UN Supporter
 "Gandhi said one of the great social blunders is commerce without morality we need a new system that is not patriarchal  -women's values added to political discourse will create commerce with morality" -Thea Iberall

 "I would like to share that as a woman I have been strong, but I also had imperfections... & this duality expresses my humanity."  - Anonymous UN Women Supporter

 "The one thing I've learned about being a strong woman is that it's perfectly okay to go against the crowd at any point." Linnea Lenkas

 "To all the women in the world, DON'T GIVE UP! We are one and we will bring about change together!" - RUPSI BURMAN
 "Let us recognize our Rights, Let us claim our rights, Let us share our rights with every woman everywhere!" - Anonymous UN Woman Supporter

"Life is a series of risks - you just have to chose which ones you are willing to take." My sons wise words to me . - Kay Hundall

 "Some of the best advocacy work of my mother and her friend took place in their later years... there is always hope to make a difference!" - Karen Stone

" Spirituality is the commitment to the nurturing of our connectedness to each other and everything that exists in the heavens and on earth." - Margrace Carpenter

 "To achieve your goal, whether persuasion or socialization, take the time to fathom the other's feelings then choose precise, concise, purposeful, and emotionally effective works." -Robin Frantz Abrams

 "Treat every human being with respect and dignity. We are ALL equal. Love one another. That's all it takes." -Anonymous UN Women Supporter

"Even Abigail Adams tried to encourage John Adams to do something for the rights of women and give them the right to vote. in 1838 organized to get the vote. In 1863 they organized to support Lincoln & the Union. In 1918 women got the vote. Let's keep going!" - Anonymous UN Supporter

 "Here's to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them." - Anonymous UN Supporter

" I sing with divinity encouraging women to speak their truth through the arts."  -Michelle Heartsing

 "The Intl. Day of Women is incredibly stimulating. I feel proud of joining." - Margarita Noguera

"Women in art Marta Minujin is very powerful." Anonymous UN Women Supporter

"Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" - Socrates

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