The rise & fall & rise of Sticks & Stones

The shoot that took us down

by: Ainsley Hutchence

9 Photos
Photographer: Justin Markin / Model: Scillz / Model: Anonymous

The rise & fall & rise of Sticks & Stones

Close down your eyes. No wait, open them up so you can read on. Now imagine you have just quit your successful fashion agency overnight because you felt burnt out by a bunch of wankery situations you found yourself in over the past 3 years. You have a burning desire to bring meaning back into your work life & build a platform that would celebrate realness that is almost always rejected by the fashion industry. The platform would showcase beautiful work by artists from all over the world.

For now, all you have is a shitty blog that you planned to rebuild into the ‘Mothership’ & mediocre self-taught photography skills. You can scrape by on an “Instagram influencer” income until you fall into some money for website development. One afternoon you decide to post a beautiful raw film series on your blog & advertise it on Instagram with a photo that features twins standing side by side on a beach with bushy bikini lines. Two hours later your Instagram account has vanished & with it, 3 years of photos, contacts, followers & your only income. You have a message from Instagram stating that your account has been deleted because you did not comply with their guidelines. Unbeknownst to you, Instagram did not approve of women with their natural hair intact! In this moment you are FUCKED.

For the next three days I could barely eat, sleep, work, function, completely pre-occupied with “How the fuck am I going to pay my bills, house my child, come back from this?” Despite having never been on Twitter before I decided it would become my new social platform. I posted one photo on the 12th July 2014 with the following statement; “THIS PHOTO GOT ME DELETED FROM INSTAGRAM. SO IM ON TWITTER NOW 🙂 A x”

Within weeks, Huffington post & every other online platform that I had ever heard of & many more had released an article about the Australian Fashion Agency called Sticks & Stones that had been deleted from Instagram for posting images of women with bush spilling out of their swimmers. Even though it wasn’t my pubes circulating the internet like wildfire, I became the pube girl, fighting for the rights of natural women all over the world to leave the house unshaven. The most “real” shoot that I had ever published sat on a world stage for months with links back to my blog! By the third week, Instagram reinstated the Sticks & Stones account & publicly apologized for the mistake they had made. My following doubled, my blog broke almost every day for a month from too much traffic & women are allowed to have pubes on instagram now!

Since then I have experienced many more challenges both in my business & personal life, but the pube incidence taught me to view challenges in a whole new light; to see momentarily stressful situations as a big picture & not focus so much on the “right now”. I replaced “Why is this happening to me?” with “What is this preparing me for?” We grow & learn from challenges. They are opportunities & should not be feared.

On a fun side note; Sticks & Stones Agency is now mentioned on the Wikipedia Instagram page under ‘Controversy’ & in the Instagram historical timeline.

Love ya Instagram! Can you please verify me? I’m the pube girl! 🙂

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