Feminist Firestarter: To Influence, or Not To Influence
ULRIKKE FALCH BECAME A POP CULTURE ICON AS A TEENAGER, after playing the part of Vilde, a high school student struggling with an eating disorder in the Norwegian TV series SKAM. But it was during the summer of 2017, just before the show ended, that her activism as a so-called “Insta-feminist” began, and soon attracted widespread attention. Later that year, the #metoo movement brought down Harvey Weinstein, increasing the value of social media in mobilizing global movements.
As #metoo picked up pace, Falch and her co-writer, Sofie Frøysaa, decided to start a movement of their own. They published a book targeting young women titled Jenteloven, which they described as a “first aid kit” for feminists. Part memoir and part encyclopedia, the book contains information on revenge porn, slut-shaming or what to do if someone shares a nude photo of you.
A key subject of her book is promoting gender tolerance at an early age by updating the traditional sex education curriculum schemes in public schools, and making it more relevant to transgender and nonbinary pupils.
When asked by Danish magazine ALT what she hoped to achieve with the book, Falch said that she hopes it serves as a spark. “The flame will follow and then the fire. In the end we want to start a revolution aiming for total gender equality.”
A book might help. But as an activist, actress and writer with nearly one million followers on Instagram, the 22 year-old Falch is aware that her work depends on going viral. Her cause demands it. Nevertheless, Falch prefers to stay away from the temptation that follows Instagram stars—advertisements that might distort the message of her feminist manifesto. Her focus remains gaining the attention of policymakers.
Furthermore, accepting money from brands wouldn’t square with Falch’s philosophy on body ideals. She thinks that marketing often promotes certain body standards that may have damaging psychological effects. Having struggled with an eating disorder in her teens, Falch has experienced that damage firsthand. Plagued by low self-esteem, she attempted suicide at age 15. But with the help of family and friends, Falch has put those days behind her.
Today, the multi-talented Ulrikke Falch shares messages about body positivity on social media, often using selfies to ridicule images she used to adore when she was ill. But despite her following, she refuses to be labeled as an “influencer.”
Irked by the commercial connotations stemming from the term, she recently rejected an “influencer of the year” award in Norway, explaining, “I don’t need an award to prove what I’m doing is important.”
This article appears in Are We Europe #4: This Is Not An Elections Issue