Kara Haupt is here to tell you you are a babe. It's the first line of her Babe Manifesto, born out of the belief that there is power in being affectionate to yourself, and something she believes has the power to help women collectively conquer their negative self-talk. One peek into the website/revolution that is Babe Vibes and we knew it--here was our kindred foxy babe spirit. The Portland-based designer, artist, and teacher agreed to chat with us about self-care, systems of oppression, and what calling yourself a babe is all about. Oh, and who would come to her dream dinner party--because we couldn't help but ask her a few of our favorite foxy q's as well.
S&TF: What inspired you to start Babe Vibes?
I'm not entirely sure. I thought up the name at the end of 2013, bought the domain, and started experimenting with feminism-y art journal pages on Instagram using the #babevibes tag. I had no idea what it was or what I wanted it to be. For the next six months I spent thinking about it, Babe Vibes became a thing I personally needed. I did a project at the beginning of the year where I wrote myself a pep talk every day for 45 days. I eventually turned it into a publication called 45 Pep Talks. I also began to write myself positive, encouraging notes for my desk and posting them on Instagram with #karawroteherselfanote. I became really interested in how I spoke to myself and started to to investigate where my negative self-talk came from. There's a lot of talk about negative inner voices and I started to examine how my "inner voice" was informed by culture and how it wasn't some fateful personality quirk. I became more tender toward myself, and also much more protective. I started to assert my boundaries. So maybe those insecurities caused me to start Babe Vibes. I wanted to talk about them, displace the blame, and also examine and celebrate the varied ways of "being babe."
S&TF: What is your drink of choice and why?
A cup of pour-over coffee at 8am in the morning. Strong, with a little bit of cream. Coffee and mornings are very ritualistic for me. I like the quiet, the intention, and the possibility.
S&TF: I love what you say in "A Babe Manifesto" about using the term of endearment "hey babe" and turning it in on yourself as a means of self-care against the heaviness of life we all face. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges standing in the way of women loving themselves for who they really are?
Well, women are simultaneously told to just "be yourself! love yourself!" while being given very specific parameters of how to look and how to be as women — from society, media, tradition. So we are given those two competing precedents, but then told if we love ourselves too much we're narcissistic or if we perform gender in the wrong way that we're doing it wrong. Women can't win. I think the challenge is unlearning these ideas and figuring out if you want to reclaim them or leave them behind. A lot of people think women's lack of confidence is silly or some biological personality flaw, which isn't true. I don't know how you can look at media or this world and be confused why women feel like shit. I'm interested in displacing that blame and figuring out what we each want — and doing it together.
Also, entire systems are built to limit the choices of women, particularly women of color or poor women, so blaming oppressive systems, and how we participate in them, is necessary. I mean, as a maker of inspirational posters, there aren't enough inspirational posters in the world to undo these systems. As much as I believe in self-love and self-care, there sometimes isn't enough self-love to fix everything. We have to dismantle these systems, and for me as a designer/artist, to take that into account when I create media.
S&TF: Aside from running Babe Vibes you also teach classes on photography and bookmaking — how did you get started with that?
Yeah! I grew up in Boise, Idaho and went to art school in Brooklyn, New York and now here in Portland, Oregon. This year is my last year (my thesis year!) and I'm really excited. I started making art journals in high school, which is what got me into photography, design, collage, writing etc. I made my first art journal class when I was 16 (I had a semi-popular blog at the time) and have been making them since. I don't make them as much any more, but I always feel at home when I return to an art journal.
S&TF: What do you wish you had known 5 years ago?
So 5 years ago, I was 17. I would tell myself to be overpoweringly invested in and protective of myself. I spent a lot of energy trying to be The Cool Girl, The Chill Girl, and The Nice Feminist. I found a lot of value in boys/men and what they thought of me and I wish now I was able to see beyond that. So, I would tell her to tell listen to herself and to protect her boundaries. And to care about herself and girls/women 100x more than men. Oh, and to BE LOUDER.
S&TF: If you could president for one day, what's the first thing you would change?
I'd fix the prison system.
S&TF: You're hosting your ideal dinner party: 6 people dead or alive can come. Who's on the list?
My grandma, my friend Mei, Beyonce, bell hooks, Laverne Cox, and Meryl Streep. Can you imagine the conversation?!
S&TF: What's playing in your car or on your ipod at the moment?
I've been listening to a lot of Sylvan Esso, Lana del Rey, and Jenny Lewis.
S&TF: What are your wildest, most wonderful dreams for the future?
Y'know, I don't know. I'm starting my final year of college and everyone has already started asking me what I'm doing to do after I graduate. There are a lot of things I want to do in life — travel, create businesses to employ women, have a baby, find a city I adore living in etc. I want what most people want — to create a family of good friends and good people and make work that creates good. I don't have a specific dream job, which I honestly find comforting. My career and life will constantly evolve, and that's such a privilege. My most wildest dream is to make the access I have to the world, to "success" and happiness, be a reality for more women.