Wonder Women: Adwoa Aboah


I only ever had one woman in mind. I’ve known the soon-to-be supermodel and activist Adwoa Aboah since she was a child. Elite but accessible, uptown yet downtown, high fashion but street smart - with her digital forum Gurls Talk, Adwoah is also leading the fashion conversation for women into the modern era.
— Edward Enninful, December Vogue
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Next up on our series of Wonder Women is Vogue cover star and Brit girl of the moment Adwoa Aboah. Spotted on newsstands this week, spread across social media and making headlines, is the new British Vogue with Adwoa taking pride of place on the iconic cover. Model, activist and founder of Gurls Talk, Adwoa is not just a face for Britain’s #newvogue, but an important voice, role model and pioneer for this new generation too. 

On her Instagram, Adwoa posted a picture of her new Vogue cover with the caption, “never in a million years did I think that one day I’d be on the cover of @britishvogue even more so one that marks such a monumental change and a new beginning.” This “monumental change” and “new beginning” has indeed sparked headlines, and fuelled much talk on the direction of Vogue and what it represents. Edward Enninful’s appointment as the new editor has triggered an opportunity to shake up the iconic fashion bible and re-address the way it speaks out to its generation of followers. Speaking to the BBC, for Edward "it is about diversity - showing different women, different body shapes, different races, different classes [and] tackling gender." With only 12 black faces appearing on the cover over the past 25 years, Vogue's approach to ethnic diversity has come under fire, and putting Adwoa, a feminist activist and mixed-race British model, on this #newvogue cover has made a clear statement. Defending her reign as previous editor, Alexandra Shulman asserted in an interview with the Guardian that sales were their primary concern, and these sales would rely on people recognising the person on the cover. Her “chief remit was not to show ethnic diversity as a policy.” Yet, surely Vogue has a responsibility to push the new leaders of our generation forward. It's a platform that has power, and a power to change the people we recognise as household names; new leaders such as Adwoa. 

In their Vogue interview together, Edward and Adwoa address “this newfound love and space for activism in fashion.” Together with her modern and honest approach to modelling, Adwoa has created a platform GURLS TALK to promote an open community in which young women can talk openly about mental health, body image, and the struggles they face growing up today. Adwoa has opened up about her own mental health, and speaking to the Evening Standard, treats it as "a massive part of my journey and a massive part of my whole being." After suffering from drug abuse, addiction, attempted suicide and her own mental health issues, "having got through it" Adwoa sees it as "100 per cent my responsibility to use it for something bigger and to be one of many voices for people who might not have someone to talk to or understand what’s going on." Yes, from an outside view, Adwoa may have had a 'privileged' upbringing, growing up in West London with parents who work in the fashion industry, her dad Charles a location scout and her mother Camilla leading creative agency CLM, and going to Millfield boarding school from the age of 13. However, the journey that has got her to where she is today, celebrating an iconic Vogue cover, winning GQ's 2017 Woman of the Year Award, has never been set in stone and she's had to overcome her own personal hurdles to get there. Hurdles she's not afraid to discuss and bring into the public eye for the benefit of other young women. 

Adwoa has put her face to a #newera of fashion and activism. She has also used her voice. Just this week came the launch of a film on site NOWNESS, titled Define Beauty: Nipples by Matt Lambert, for which Adwoa recites a powerful piece of verse written by Alex Holder. Fighting against the scandal, contradiction and censorship of the representation of nipples in today's society, it's an inspiring example of challenging taboo through the power of film and voice. As filmmaker Matt explains, "as benign as they may be, nipples have been the catalyst for major conversations that reach across gender, sexuality, and the absurd double-standards in digital censorship." It's provocative and powerful, and a conversation Adwoa's not afraid to address. Why is there a double standard between the nipple of a man and a woman’s nipple? Who gets to decide whether an image is sexual or art? It's protest, it's nowness, it's conversation. As Adwoa recites, "Let's fuck with status quo". 

Define Beauty: NIPPLES - WATCH NOW

Words by Lottie Franklin


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