Argentine artist Lala Pasquinelli made the “BBC 100 Women” list of the most inspiring and influential women of the year for her work in Mujeres que no fueron tapa (Women Who Didn’t Make the Cover), a feminist project that challenges gender stereotypes and beauty standards. She is the only Argentine on the list this year.
“This made me so happy, it was absolutely unexpected,” Pasquinelli told the Herald. “As a feminist, getting recognition like this is not an everyday thing, and I celebrate it.”
The BBC described Pasquinelli as “a lawyer, poet, lesbian and feminist activist [who] works to dismantle homogenous feminine beauty ideals that she says are ‘classist, sexist and racist’ and further fuel gender inequality.” The list also included women working in culture, sports, politics and climate change activism such as Michelle Obama, America Ferrera and Amal Clooney.
Mujeres que no fueron tapa is a social media project that encourages its followers to critique what is considered “naturally feminine,” which, in the end, is a “social construct,” Pasquinelli said. It has created viral social media campaigns like #HermanaSoltaLaPanza (“Sister, stop sucking in your tummy”), a direct call to combat the idea of having to diet and be thin in order to enjoy the beach in the summer or for social acceptance.
However, it has grown to be more than just a social media project. Two Mujeres que no fueron tapa books have been published in the last three years. They compile stories shared by their followers, usually on Instagram.
Pasquinelli and her teammates have also created an educational program for schools that helps students identify and “hack” sexism, misogyny, and stereotypes portrayed in the media through different activities, like analyzing ads, magazines or even TikToks. Over a million students have participated in the program, Pasquinelli told the Herald.
Mujeres que no fueron tapa was born in 2015 as a Facebook page that focused mainly on the portrayal of women in magazines, movies, TV shows, and other mass media “and how that affects how we shape our identities as women, the decisions we make in our lives, and the roles [people] will let us occupy,” Pasquinelli said.
“At the time, no one in Argentina was doing that, and many people thought it was an exaggeration.”
Nowadays, the project is broader and doesn’t stop at analyzing media but rather everyday experiences. The most recent Mujeres que no fueron tapa book is about the 2022 Hermana Soltá La Panza campaign. The first, published in 2021, is called Nos Tenemos (We’ve Got Each Other) and compiles followers’ stories about times when they received help from other women.
“Nos Tenemos was a campaign about solidarity between women, against the idea that women hate or compete with each other,” Pasquinelli said. “We asked our followers if they had ever been helped by another woman, either from a stranger or someone they know. We received stories from women of all ages.”
“The specificity of being women on this planet, where we are exposed to multiple types of violence, makes it so that if we see a woman who may be in danger, we identify it quickly,” Pasquinelli explained. “Because we are always looking out for that.”
Even though Pasquinelli constantly tries to challenge society’s ideas of what women should be like, they get to her, too. Particularly, when she receives recognition for her work. “I find it hard to believe. [When this happens] I always think they must have made a mistake.”
“I have to do a whole internal process to accept the recognition and stop being manipulated by the feminine ideal and the disregard women are usually subject to.”