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Unscrupulous companies commercialising feminism are damaging its message, campaigner warns

By Natalia Jorquera: ITV News

The message behind feminism is at risk of being diluted and commercialised by unscrupulous companies trying to exploit the movement, one equality campaigner has warned.

Credit: PA

Nellie Eden is the co-founder of Baby Face - an all-female collective working together to promote work by women, as well as campaigning to raise awareness of the gender pay gap and to have it abolished completely.

Speaking to ITV News on International Women's Day, she said while she was pleased to see feminism move into the mainstream, this had also seen the term undermined and "squished into hashtags".

I think it's a confusing thing for a 15-year-old girl to be on her social media feed and maybe see a nude girl in some Calvin Klein underwear with the hashtag 'female empowerment' or 'feminism' or 'girlpower'.

We're body activists - we're for body positivity and embracing the female nude, but we're not for the commercialisation of the female body. We're not here to sell products.

I think that's where the lines have blurred - it's no longer a political term, it's something that has been squished into hashtags and packaged up really attractively by large businesses and corporations, and sugar-coated what should be a political term.

– Nellie Eden, BabyFace

By sending these mixed messages about what feminism stands for, she said, these businesses are ignoring the issues such as domestic violence, equal pay, and maternity discrimination - which feminism was intended to fight against.

Nellie Eden, BabyFace Credit: ITV News

While BabyFace is working from a fashion perspective, Nellie said they hoped to help smash the glass ceiling in every industry in which it still exists - whether that be fashion, medicine, or biochemistry, and so on.

"We want women to feel comfortable with challenging and saying: 'Actually I'm unhappy being paid less than my male peers', and feel confident in that and feel they have the support of other women, that it's not a one-woman battle," she added.

"I think people think of [fashion] as a really female-dominated arena, but actually you look at photographers, art directors, designers and it's really heavily populated by men and we wanted to work against that patriarchy.

"The glass ceiling, the pay gap - they exist in all sectors, from medicine to fashion to bio-chemistry, whatever. They're there and they are very real, and we want to give women the notion that there are alternatives."

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