Mude Threads: An Interview

Jaz Moodie is an emerging artist, crafter and all-round badass from Leeds. Alongside her degree she has been quietly amassing a body-positive, empowering, artistic business and movement. She encourages us to rethink our relationships with our bodies and stitches the naked form for us to proudly flaunt. We were lucky enough to ask her about what inspires her, her process and just have a general chat.

If you fancy getting your hands on one of her amazing products, you can check them out here: www.mudethreads.com and use our discount code MUDE10.

What inspired the process?

I have been hyper-sexualised, without my consent, my whole life due to my petite frame and unusually large breasts. I guess you could say that the uninvited stares and comments ‘inspired’ me to fight back. Mude started out as my way of sticking two fingers up to the society that is adamant to control how my body is perceived. We live in a society that socialises women to be ashamed of our curves, to be modest to be respected and to strive for an unattainable body. The Nude Commission process aims to present real women in the form of delicate line drawings and embroidery, helping women to reclaim control over our censored and sexualised bodies! Sexism ignited the fire to start Mude, and it is the brave, gorgeous women who wear the nakedness that I create that inspires me to do more.  

Why is it important to you to that the naked body is non-sexualised and not stigmatised?

The female form is such a paradox – at once it is powerful yet fragile, natural yet sexual. I adamantly believe that for women to be fully autonomous of our bodies, we must have the right to choose when our bodies are sexualised. That means if we choose to wear a low cut top or a short skirt, we aren’t inviting sexualisation, we are dressing for ourselves! The unquestioned sexualisation of women in everyday life is detrimental to our fight for equality. I’ve faced years of catcalls and shaming when I’ve chosen to wear things that show my natural body – stigmatising the female form is just one way (amongst many others) that the patriarchy oppresses women. We feel inadequate in our skin, and even when we dare to show our bare skin we are sexualised!

What does the body positivity movement mean to you?

I think the body positivity movement is so important in disentangling vanity from self-love. Women are demonized at both ends of the self-love spectrum: if we choose to accept and cherish every inch of our body we are labelled as vain, slutty or asking-for-it, yet if we choose to hide our ‘flaws’ with modesty we are labelled as frigid or weak. For me, the body positivity movement is allowing women to remove the shame associated with self-love. After years of systematic socialisation telling us that vanity is unattractive, the ‘bopo’ movement is finally opening up a space in our minds that allows us harness the power of self-confidence and self-love!

What is the most empowering part of the process for you?

When a nude photo comes through from a customer I get a huge wave of pride – not only are these women empowered enough to pose unapologetically nude, but they are also remarkably trusting in sending them to me to turn into art. Every woman’s photo portrays a story and an aura; I am always humbled to be able to see the intimate side to such powerful women. The most empowering part of the whole Nude Commission process is when I receive messages where women acknowledge that the beautiful creation they have received and love is based solely on their own bodies! It’s an incredible way of holding a mirror up to women and helping them to see what society doesn’t want them to see…every curve, scar, hair, roll and droop is beautiful.

Can you talk a little about Instagram closing your account?

Initially, I felt a wave of devastation when I opened my phone to the deactivation notification. I had worked tirelessly alongside my studies building this empowering movement, which had inadvertently become a business. My devastation VERY quickly turned to anger, since Instagram gave me zero warning of the deactivation of my account, meaning I had lost all contact with supporters, followers and customers. Then, the anger turned into determination: Instagram had labelled my account as ‘sexually explicit’, and the irony of that hadn’t escaped me. Mude’s mission is to prove that an empowered naked woman is by no means sexual, and nobody has the right to assume that. Society is adamant on viewing women as sexual objects, yet when we become comfortable in our own skin in an empowered, non-sexual way, we are shamed. I was determined that the Mude message would not die, as the account had! I went into panic/action/fury mode and did everything I could to alert women to the disgusting labelling of our raw forms as ‘sexual’. Within a few hours of redirecting customers to my personal account (@jazmoodie), I had amassed over 500 followers. The best thing about this unjust action by Instagram is that not only have some of my old followers found me again, but new, passionate women have too. The messages of support were inexplicable, and my website order sheet would not stop poppin’! Take that, you misogynistic powers-that-be! We’re coming back stronger.

Who are your greatest feminist inspirations?

Gina Martin (@beaniegigi) is absolutely killing it as my number one feminist role model at the moment. After being the victim of upskirting she has made it her mission to change UK laws to recognise this violation of dignity as a criminal offence. Upskirting is the act of photographing up someone’s skirt or dress without their permission. Gina has fought tirelessly to get the act recognised as sexual assault and is so close to reaching her goal! Isabella Fernandes (@fauxnandes) is a talented freelance model, with an incredible passion for baring the beauty of her scars. Isabella is infectiously positive and thrives on openly and candidly showing her burn scars. She’s an obvious role model for me as she’s normalising the diversity of the female form! Emma (@potyertitsawayluv) creates cheeky tit pots out of clay. Emma is a passionate champion for diversity and inclusivity – she makes commission pots for women of every beautiful size, shape and colour! She is adamant that the more diverse her pot range the better – its so refreshing to see glittery stretch marks painted onto a saggy-boobed pot, or a perky black pot featuring a unique tattoo. She’s amazing. Nikki and Leah are the co-founders of OHNE (@im_ohne), making 100% organic cotton tampons and biodegradable applicators…these babes are on a mission to educate women on what they’re putting in their bodies! Plus, the organic tampons are delivered to your door in time, every time! And in gorgeous biodegradable letter-box-friendly packaging! Win/Win.

What would you say to critics who find your work crude?

I’ve seen the stares and disapproving glances when I wear nakedness in public. I love making the critics think. There’s something so powerful about wearing painted or embroidered nakedness and knowing that you’re challenging people’s notions of the female form. For those people who automatically view my work as ‘crude’, I say “why”? Why is it that the sight of a line drawing of boobs is crude? Is it because you’ve been socialised to view the female form as shameful and sexual? There’s nothing crude or sexual about the female body unless the person consents to sexualisation!

– Lowri Ellcock

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