Chimmy Lawson and The Pinker Print
The first edition of The Pinker Print is a 50 page personal essay divided into subjects that Chimmy Lawson, the author, is passionate about, including Men, Race, Beauty, and Love. The self-proclaimed "funny feminist" makes you think hard about cultural ideals and laugh at the fairytales we grew up with ("Fuck Disney"). The Pinker Print is a thoughtful mental journey through Chimmy's struggles and opinions, self-published and sold through Amazon.
Chimmy Lawson is an author, freelance writer, teacher, and the curator of the @thepinkerprint Instagram account. Based in London, Chimmy just held her first writing workshop and is about to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of her book, The Pinker Print. I reached out the Chimmy upon discovering her Instagram and reading her book. We talked about everything from defining oneself and personal feminism to publishing and Instagram as a platform to reach the masses.
So tell us about yourself. Who are you? What’s your history?
My name is Chimmy Lawson. I run a pink Instagram account, I've written a pink book, and I host writing workshops. I'm about to turn 26 and I still battle with disappointment. When I was younger I assumed I would have everything together by now and some days I struggle with that.
When I look back at my career and the things I've done, it all seems so mismatched. But if you look very closely, everything syncs. I've worked in McDonald's, betting shops, retail, fashion PR, magazines, and now I'm a secondary school teacher. When I look at my favourite aspects of each position, it's always been about communication - the message delivered to others. I guess that's how I fell in love with words.
So how did The Pinker Print come to be? Have you always been a writer? Why?
In a way, yes. @thepinkerprint just became an extension of me. I get these crazy, funny, random, angry thoughts, and I share them. The paragraphs literally write themselves in my head. I always feel like a mad woman when I explain this to people, but it's true. I wrote the [Pinker Print] book in two weeks. Granted, it's only 50 pages, but still. I just sat down and typed out all the shit in my head. My mind is a lovely and sometimes dangerous place.
For those who have yet to read the book, can you give us a summary? What is it about?
The Pinker Print is a collection of one off anecdotal essays on subjects I care about. It started off as a very personal project and I had no intention of sharing it, so it's a little rough around the edges. I think the chapter on 'Men' is my favourite though. I wrote it from a place of love and frustration. I really hate that people assume I loathe men just because I'm an active feminist, so I showed them I've got a softer side too!
What inspired the name?
I love this question because the answer always knocks people for six! Deep down, somewhere in my heart, I'm a rapper/songwriter. My love for music had me calling my book a mix tape for a long, long time. And the thing with mix tapes is that you use someone else's beat for your lyrics. That seems like such a badass metaphor for life, doesn't it? So I took Nicki Minaj's album name, The Pinkprint, and added my own twist and developed my own connotations for what it means. Pinker means pink, but with more pow(er), and Print symbolizes my writing.
So The Pinker Print was self-published. What is the significance of self-publishing for you? Why choose to self-publish? What was the process like?
Self-publishing is important and I have this fear of being muted or censored. I need total control over my work. The thought of a publishing house taking over and waving a magic wand that grants success and cash advances is tempting. However, I did it all myself because I'm impatient. I needed to get it out ASAP and Amazon allowed me to do just that. I uploaded the file onto CreateSpace and it was live in 48 hours! Perhaps the second book will be different, but losing control really does scare me.
Tell me about your @thepinkerprint Instagram feed. What inspired it and why did you start it? Is there a purpose to this curated feed?
I'm no good at blogging. I've tried and tried, but I can't stick with it. I hate structure. I can't post at the same time everyday and have regular topics; these are the kind of things you need to be a successful blogger. Posting on Instagram is just easier.
The great thing about Instagram is instant feedback. It can be very addictive if you lose yourself, but it's definitely a great business tool. I can get my message across, communicate with like-minded women, and have debates with those that disagree, all on the same device I use to feed my dog filter addiction.
How do you feel about Instagram as a medium and platform? What is your intent with Instagram?
A lot of the time I hate Instagram. I'm about to come across really bitter, but I don't care. I hate Instagram because it seems like the bigger and more popular pages are all about the exterior. Tits out, pouts up. That kinda thing. But, at the same time, I love Instagram and have to be grateful that a few thousand people like me enough to hit follow and support what I'm trying to do. I'm determined to use the powers of social media for good. Instagram is my blog. I want it to be huge - contributors and everything. I want it to be a page women come to laugh, cry, and build strength.
So lets talk about some topics that I know you’re passionate about. Can you tell me about your feminism?
I've always known I was a feminist. My feminism is freedom. So many women forget that free will and choice, the very thing we campaign and protest about, needs to be applied to feminism too. You can't put rules on it. I am a feminist with a boyfriend. I shave my legs and listen to rap music that often calls women out and sometimes, if I've had enough to drink and the right song is on, I'll dance like I'm one of those 'objectified' hip hop honeys too. None of this makes me less of a feminist.
Feminism is about the equality of sexes. Men are free to be multidimensional characters - we all know men who are sexy and smart, funny and passionate, and a bunch of other mismatched adjectives. When a woman presents herself as more than one it confuses people. Feminism shouldn't be another category to place us in.
How does race factor into your feminism and The Pinker Print? Your experiences as a writer? Is there something you would like to say about it here?
Race can sometimes be difficult for me to discuss. I see myself as a woman before I see myself as Black - not because I don't see colour or any of that shit - because I understand my power comes from femininity and not my skin. My gender is internal. My skin is literally on the surface. But I accept that both of these things speak for me long before I open my mouth or reach for a pen.
I get annoyed at the way black people are portrayed. I notice ALL the tiny micro aggressions that are said to me or about those like me. It pisses me off that such ignorance is allowed to run riot, but when we grab our own pitchforks, we are gunned down like animals.
2016/17 has tried its best to mask the foils of racism. You've got White and Black coming together to march and shout and cry about injustice, but it's got to be bigger than you and I because when it's all said and done, black people are still uneducated, drug smuggling criminals to the mass media. That is, until you're winning Grammys or walking runways. Then you're a goddess.
Is there something you wish you could tell White feminists about being a woman and feminist of Color?
I think it comes back to freedom. All feminists are different. We are White, Black, gay, straight, able, disabled, with more sub categories between those! I'm African and a lot of my friends think feminism has no place in Africa because there are too many cultural clashes. Sadly, I think this is a problem that stems from traditional White feminism. In African culture, a woman caters to her man, and a lot of people think this is anti-feminist. But acknowledging and including these cultural differences in feminism is vital to build true unity.
Okay, something a little lighter! Pink Things is all about views on the color pink. Tell me about yours!
Pink is pussy power.
Do you have any advice for young WOC looking to enter the publishing and writing and feminist fields or in general?
I don't have any industry contacts and I grew up doubting everything I did; so every motivational post I write is like a letter to myself as well as the world. Sometimes you'll arrive at a door that you don't have the right key for and you won't have the tools to tear it down. So build your own door, leave it wide open, and throw a party!
What’s next for Chimmy Lawson? Any big projects coming up that you can tell us about?
I've got some merchandise coming out! It's called Pencils and Panties and it's exactly that. Think cheap thrills and cute frills! I'm also re-releasing the book with new covers and 5 extra chapters to celebrate its 1-year anniversary.