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Bad Flower Pictures Goes Vogue Celebrating Femininity

Bad Flower Pictures identifies and deconstructs prejudices against women by celebrating femininity through photography and film

These last two weeks featured the first installments of the B.I.G Initiative’s Not Just a Boys’ Club. This third part of the four-part series builds on the inequity described in the first films to depict the prejudice women face for expressing femininity in the male-centric climbing space. In this content-rich episode, art director and competitive climber Pia Graham and filmmaker, photographer, and climber Ilya Sarossy identify and deconstruct these prejudices by celebrating womanhood and sisterhood in climbing.

On set with Bad Flower Pictures – photo by Alexa Fay

In May of 2020, Graham and Sarossy began their production company Bad Flower Pictures.  This organization partnered with women across Canada and the United States to tackle the way women are presented and treated in climbing. Over the last year and a half, Sarossy and Graham shot and modelled the first fashion-focused climbing shoot at the Niagara Glen. Several months later, they completed their second with Zoe Beauchemin modelling and Graham aiding in art direction.

Their cumulative efforts ultimately made space for a photo shoot earlier this year. With Graham as acting art director and Sarossy behind the camera, Bad Flower’s founding pair shot a series with Canadian climbers Sabrina Chapman, Daniela Molinari and Bea Evans. The shoot broke ground and was published in Vogue Italia. It also became the framework for the third part of B.I.G.’s newest series.

Graham opened the film with a thesis describing Bad Flower’s intention. “It’s a shame to experience womanhood,” Graham said, “in a community that forces you to why-bait it because if you dare to wear hoops, or wear a choker, or wear lipstick, it’s indicative of you not caring enough about rock climbing.”

Sarossy underscored this point, stating that being feminine is often compared to a lack of strength or capability. Sarossy’s photos aim to dismantle this comparison by showcasing the strength of femininity in the climbing space.

Sabrina Chapman, Daniela Molinari, and Bea Evans – photo by Alexa Fay

Where the photoshoot promoted the strength of women in climbing, B.I.G.’s interview with Graham described the importance of decentralizing the male perspective in climbing. At 17, Graham attended her last Youth World Championships where a prominent climbing coach asked the minor to come back to his hotel. Graham cited this incident to support her following point.

“You already walk into the gym, or a comp, or a crag, kind of feeling like a piece of meat, when you’re just trying to love the thing that you love, and be good at it,” Graham said.

Titan Project’s Sabrina Chapman then asked, “Why don’t the group of girls just go out and project hard stuff?” Evans answered the question by describing a socially induced mentality where there is only room for one strong female climber.

Sarossy concluded the piece with a strong quote tying the film together. “There’s absolutely a connection and a rawness to the sport that deserves more visual representation and intimate emotional investment. Women deserve to be represented and feel represented by something authentic that they feel connected to.”

Featured image of Ilya Sarossy and Pia Graham by Alexa Fay.