Finding That Real Self-Love With Norah Wells
Fierce feminist, photographer and creative Norah Wells is carving a path of self-love not only for herself but for every woman who has ever walked this earth. Rocking a pair of blush pink corduroy jeans flared out over her ankle, Norah expertly applies her winged eyeliner, a skill she’s learned from years working at a Sydney lingerie store.
“I can’t close the damn drawer of my dresser, it’s that full of lingerie!” laughs Norah.
“Chucking on a full set before work and jamming out to some ridiculous twerk-anthem is definitely a confidence booster,” she laughs.
To the untrained eye, this combination of lingerie and feminism may seem like a bit of a paradox. But it’s this exact misconception that fuels Norah’s creative work as a photographer. By photographing many of her subjects topless, bra-less, or semi-nude, Norah is confronting an issue as old as time: the sexualisation and objectification of women.
“The main reason I choose to sway towards more minimal clothing is definitely because of the underlying feminist morals I have that surround the female body,” she says.
“I hate that as soon as a girl decides to take her top off she’s immediately objectified.”
Her aim is to subvert the patriarchy by wholly embracing the female form boldly and unapologetically.
“I guess this is just me doing my bit in empowering other women, and promoting that everything we do does not need to be for men or their perception of our bodies,” says Norah.
Lacy lingerie and a spicy fashion-sense are core to Norah’s confidence mantra, ‘If I die today, would I want to haunt my ex-lovers in this outfit?’ she says with a wink.
When it comes to matters of the heart, Norah has found a way of conquering the closure conundrum that many of us have grappled with when relationships come crashing down. Where do we find this
oh-so-elusive closure? Here’s the secret: according to Norah, you don’t.
“Realistically, what is this closure going to give you?” Norah says.
“If they’ve done you wrong, it won’t change their actions, so take those actions as your closure.”
Norah was once told that if someone truly wants to be in your life they will do absolutely anything to do so. Realising this forced her to read situations as they are and not as she wanted them to be.
“I think as lovers we are obsessed with building a fantasy around people that really don’t deserve it,” she says.
It’s insights like this that beckon disbelief that Norah is only 20 years old. And yet, at such a raw age she is empowering her entire existence with the determination to uplift all women, herself included. But as you might suspect, such vigor and strength is not born from a life of smooth-sailing.
Norah is the first to admit that she’s had a pretty rocky road toward self-love. It’s the knowledge that she’s not alone in this, knowing that this is a pervasive issue within our society, which fuels Norah’s work in empowering women to love themselves.
“Heartbreak turns into lessons, lessons help you grow, holding onto shitty relationships do not,” she says.
And that includes a shitty relationship with yourself.
In the presence of Norah’s bear-it-all smile and hooting Laughter, you may think she was born from the womb emanating this unapologetic confidence. But loving yourself is something Norah knows doesn’t always come easily.
“Something I really identified with, not only in myself but also in a lot of my girlfriends when I was younger, was how much
effort we put into impressing boys, which hugely affected my
body image and how I saw myself,” explains Norah.
Norah’s high school years coincided with the rise of social media. The infamous Instagram is like Janus, the Roman god with two faces.
Simultaneously, Instagram has the potential to foster connection and creativity as well as comparison and perfectionism.
This became a pivotal point in Norah’s journey when she realised
that she was no longer living for herself by continuously matching her energy to those around her and comparing herself to others. After years of people-pleasing as a way of adapting to a time in her life when she was moving between a number of different schools, Norah says she was forced to ask herself ‘do you really want to be like this forever?’
Fast forward to today and Norah is making waves in the photography space. With her film camera by her side, she is relentlessly independent as she truly comes into her own.
“I realised my past doesn’t define me. After travelling I really discovered that I can be whoever I want to be without fitting into a box and putting all this unnecessary pressure on myself,” she says.
This power-presence is reflected both in Norah’s creative work as well as her own personal style. Finding ways to show off her lingerie as outerwear, Norah embraces breaking the rules and making a stand.
Whilst the look and quality of a piece can make or break, Norah feels her best when she knows what she’s wearing vibes with her on every level.
When asked what her favourite thing about Caitlin Vee lingerie, Norah says “Caitlin’s ethics and morals of all-inclusivity is the single most important aspect about this brand.”
This is something that resonates with Norah’s own work, which she holds close to her heart. But she wants other women to know that she hasn’t always had it figured out.
When asked what she wishes she had been told starting out, this is what Norah had to say:
“Sometimes it’s going to be really fucking hard. Following your dreams is going to break you in half and put you back together again, the criticism will never go away but your biggest competitor is yourself. I have never ever seen someone get to where they want to be without putting in the hours, always work harder and never forget to reward yourself for your achievements.”
“Nurture your close relationships, they will be your fall back when things go wrong, I can promise you that you will never be fulfilled if you’re surrounding yourself with people who haven’t got the right intentions for you especially when you are young. Always be grateful for the positive things that come your way, stay humble and be able to take constructive criticism. Everything is a lesson in its own way and it’s up to you what you take from that”
“Don’t lose sight of what you want because someone is degrading you for your gender, the colour of your skin, or the way you choose to express yourself.”
Want to see more from Norah?
You can find Norahs Instagram @itsnorahwells & website https://www.itsnorahwells.com/
All photography by Hannah Juneva - @filmbynana @hannahjuneva