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Cécile Hoodie: “I depict an observation of current society”

Meeting with Cécile, better known as “Cécile Hoodie” on social networks and especially on Instagram. She takes photos with strong and sometimes even political messages.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name is Cécile, Hoodie is a nickname linked to the nickname “hood” that some of my friends had given me. I am 36 years old and next to the photo I am a nurse in a pediatric operating room.

When did you start photography? Why ?

I’ve always been into plastic arts, I have a literary/plastic arts baccalaureate, and I’ve always created things (drawings, paintings, writing, collages…). The photo, I started when it became easy to have access to cameras via phones (which was not the case when I was a teenager). At the beginning I had an Instagram account with personal photos, and little by little the photos started to be more artistic, the pink came back more often. One day my iPhone was stolen and I ended up with an older phone and decided to invest in a real device (Canon EOS 750D).

“Pro-life” comments in 3,2,1… © Cécile Hoodie

How do your ideas come to you?

My ideas come from everything I can see around me. Today’s society, everything that makes us addicted, food, sex, love, internet, drugs, beauty at all costs… There are brands that have come back several times in my work like McDo or Coca Cola because they are necessarily symbols of our current society. I’m not judging because I myself am addicted (on some level) to the things I talk about in my photos. It’s rather that I depict a certain observation of today’s society, capable of the best as well as the worst. I also use my past experiences or what I can see around me to talk about topics that are important to me, like sexual abuse or misogyny, homophobia, racism… And sometimes it’s just lighter to make you smile. Otherwise there is no particular creative process, the ideas come just like that, without warning. I sometimes also have periods without any inspiration.

What is the project you are most proud of?

Maybe the post where I put two photos of my face side by side, one at 16 right after an assault and one of me smiling 20 years later, telling my story in the caption below the photo. This is the most personal post I’ve done and which asked me the most courage. I had done it in draft before publishing it and I had to proofread it maybe 20 times before I decided to publish it. When I finally shared it I thought my heart was going to explode I was so stressed out about coming out and letting everyone know (which includes my family, friends, and a lot of my colleagues). It’s something that I repressed for a very long time, but when I saw all the positive feedback that I had, the benevolent messages, the people who told me that they found themselves in it feeling positive to see that they weren’t alone, it really made me feel hard to explain, but a good feeling. In fact, I always had the impression that the different reactions that certain people had had at the time of my aggression had prevented me from being able to assume this episode of my life. As if I had been deprived of being the victim of my own aggression. And there, 20 years later, I had the chance to rectify that and with my virtual notoriety to finally say it out loud. It really made me feel good and it is my post that has generated the most reactions so far.

© Cecile Hoodie

What ambition do you have in terms of photography? Are you going to do it full time?

At one time I thought I would devote myself more and more to it and I even reduced my hours at the hospital for that. I sold objects derived from my photos, I was approached by a young singer to make her music videos (a project which unfortunately fell through on her side with her production company and which meant that we to stop). But the different experiences that I had rather reinforced me on the fact that I preferred to keep the photo for what motivated me to do it basic and not for the business. I had contracts with big brands, but doing photos on demand in a really limited time is something that I experienced as a big source of stress. I never have my ideas on order and it’s a really complicated exercise to have them on demand for contracts. It takes all the fun away even though I’ve always honored my contracts. I am always open to one-off contracts with brands, but only if the subject speaks to me and if the conditions are not too strict. But I returned full time to the hospital and for the moment in terms of photos I continue to share what is close to my heart when I have the desire and the inspiration.

What message are you trying to convey with your photos?

In general, I want to send a message of tolerance, and also a good dose of humor in this world that is not always benevolent or fun. I want my photos to make people feel things. It doesn’t matter if it’s nostalgia, joy, sadness. I think the main thing is not what we feel, but to feel it. If we felt nothing, we would be robots and we would be deeply bored. Sadness is not a bad thing if it can help us move on. I want people to have a trigger in front of some of my photos, and that it can help them to become aware of the causes I defend or to recognize themselves in my images and to feel less alone and better. And since a lot of the subjects are inspired by personal things or fears that I have, it also helps me on a personal level, it’s a bit like therapy.

© Cecile Hoodie

I saw that you had done a collaboration with Erika Lust, an adult film producer focused on the pleasure of women, this subject seems to be close to your heart, why?

I think that sex has and will always have a very important place in life (and so much the better). But still too many sexist clichés mean that sex can quickly be considered something dirty or shameful and sometimes very difficult for a woman to accept. A man who loves sex and who multiplies the conquests can be seen as a hero by his friends, a woman who does the same thing will often be more judged (by men but also by other women). It’s a bit the same with assuming that it’s completely normal and healthy to masturbate. And it’s a shame because the pleasure we’re going to have with our partners also depends a lot on knowing our own body. And I think knowing your pleasure through masturbation can only enrich our sex life with partners.
I want women to be able to live their sexuality in a fulfilling way without being ashamed of what people may say or think of them. Sex is so good and exhilarating when it’s done the way we choose…
I try to “de-dramatize” sex with funny images, or talk about more serious topics that shouldn’t be taboo. I am followed by 80% of the girls, and I think they recognize themselves a lot in my photos.

© Cecile Hoodie

You can follow her news on her Instagram.

Interview by Romane Sorus

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