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    8 MIN READ

    Florian ‘Leave Our Bodies Alone’

    Fijian Australian pop artist Florian says women’s bodies are not your business. 

    Florian navigates the worlds of music and entertainment, splitting her time between LA and Sydney. Through this unique lens, she confronts some of the harshest realities facing women in the industry, from the pressures of social media to the pervasive objectification and scrutiny of women’s bodies.

    Recent controversies, such as the criticism of female beach-goers wearing bikinis prompted by Channel 10’s The Project, underscore the ongoing challenges women face in asserting control over their own bodies. Florian’s latest single, ‘L.O.B.A (Leave Our Bodies Alone),’ serves as a poignant commentary on this societal onslaught, amplifying the voices challenging misogynistic norms.

    Embracing activism, Florian took to the streets in a bikini to promote her track, confronting the collective shame and criticism directed at women head-on. In our conversation with Florian, we delve into her motivations, experiences, and the urgent need for change in a culture still rife with sexism.

    How would someone who is close to you describe you? 

    God, probably chaotic. A lot going on at all times. I’d also say: passionate about music. Which makes me chaotic.

    How did you get into music?

    I literally have done nothing else which may be a bad thing. But I got into music funnily when I was five. My brother is older than me and he wanted to be the next Eminem so he begged my mum for singing lessons. She booked in and I got dragged along.  My mum had just gone into the Yellow Pages and found the first singing teacher she could find. She ended up being an opera teacher, which my mum didn’t realise. 

    So we get there and the lady is doing crazy exercises and my mum and my brother are pissing themselves laughing. They got kicked out but my mum had paid for the lesson, so someone had to do it, so I did. And then I did 13 years of lessons and ended up studying singing. It was a weird journey. 

    Do you say Loba or L.O.B.A? 

    I say L.O.B.A, but everyone is saying Loba. So I’m rolling with it. It can be whatever.

    The themes in the new track are quite apparent. When was the first time where you felt like you didn’t have full autonomy of your body? 

    It’s funny, I’ve actually not thought about a singular moment until now. I feel like a lot of women can relate but probably when my boobs started developing around 12. All of a sudden I had breasts and I lived in Logan, a dodgier area in Brisbane, and I remember that was the beginning of being wolf whistled out the car. Now looking back I’m like, I was 12. That is crazy. So probably around that time was the first time I thought wow, being a woman and having this body is not all it’s cracked up to be. 

    This is the thing about the song, I was trying to make it very clear especially to my male friends that it’s not just about men and directed towards males, it’s towards everyone. Women too. 

    You grow up and your body starts developing and you have women being like my God, your tits are so huge.

    It's this unspoken thing that you can just comment on a woman’s body and it's absolutely fine.

    This idea you’ve raised is really powerful, that there is a societal ownership of women’s bodies that regardless of gender everybody ends up playing into. Do you personally feel like the world is getting safer, or do you think it’s becoming more difficult to express yourself freely in the world?

    I feel like we as a society take a step forward and then fifteen steps back. I’m definitely more confident now than I ever have been. I think that was part of the reason why the song came about, because I started realising how crazy it was. 

    As a society, I think people want to change and want to get better, especially the younger generation. But then you have people like Ian Grace, the guy that was on The Project a few weeks ago, and he was petitioning to ban girls wearing bikinis on the beach. Like it’s 2024 my guy. 

    Obviously he got backlash and no one was in his corner, but that stuff still shocks me. At the time that I wrote this song, the anti-abortion laws were getting passed in the States and all of that sort of shit. How is this still happening and still a thing when we’re in 2024? 

     So yes and no to answer the question. It’s a spectrum.

    I don’t know if you saw that today Australia-wide, abortion just got legalised. 

    I saw that 10 minutes ago. 

    In the writing of this song you were talking about this progression in your own confidence as a human being but also as an artist. I wondered if there was a pivotal moment, an incident or feeling, where you knew you had to write the song? 

    The morning of the song-writing session, my friend Pat and I went to the gym. I’m in Newtown and live a five minute walk from the gym. I’m walking down the main road and an older gentleman (not a young guy) was honking, stopped at a stop sign, and there were so many people around. He wound down his window and he yelled something. I can’t even remember what, it was like “Hey baby…”. 

    I’m in leggings and a crop top. At this point he stuck his tongue out and was fully *simulating oral sex*. I remember looking over and I was like that is really foul. There’s a wolf whistle out a car window. There’s beeping a horn. And then there’s *that*.

    I realised he was driving a work car. It was a bin removal company or something and literally had ‘Call us today’ with the number. He went on for so long that I filmed it and put it on my story, and then a bunch of people saw my story and said they would call up and complain. So that was kind of the thing that was on my mind when I got to the studio. 

    And then the abortion laws.

     It was this real click moment where I realised that the reason why men do that is because they’re scared. They’re like, my God, this person is confident and walking down the street in a crop top on their way to the gym. I can’t handle it. I’m not in control and I don’t have that same confidence. I’m gonna tear them down or make them feel shit. And that’s like a human nature thing. I feel like misery seeks company and they just want to bring people into their sadness.

    What eventuated from that situation? 

    He definitely knows and his boss knows because I ended up receiving an apology via email.

    Something that isn’t talked about that much is the inability for these sorts of people to escape accountability for their own behaviour. It gets lost in these conversations of justice and legality. In reality there is just so much emotional labour placed on women who have to go out of their way to correct something that was never welcomed; never asked for, never invited. There’s the trauma of the actual event, but then there’s also this implicit responsibility you feel as a woman that overlaps to make the effort to call that person’s boss and say, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Yeah, it’s double handling. 

    That story will stay with you forever.

    Even though I am at a stage where I’m confident and I can shake it off in those moments, it makes me so sad to think about young women who are still finding their feet. You still feel shame. At that moment I felt like maybe I shouldn’t wear a crop top. 

    The whole thing with this release is so funny because I put up the cover art on the day it was released and it got taken down from Instagram. And then all the promo content that I did for it was me interviewing people whilst wearing a bikini in the city. All of it got shadow banned and taken off the internet which is so ironic.

    A lot of my friends are gay guys or gay girls and they’ll send me screenshots of their explore page and there are so many naked men’s bodies on Instagram.  But a girl in a bikini is taken down because it’s incorrect. Why should I have to go out of my way to fight that and be like, it’s a bikini, that’s all it is? I don’t know what to say other than that. 

    Maybe you should use the screenshots of the explore pages with the naked men on them as your cover art?

    I should go back and be like sorry, is having a six pack and a penis better? Sorry guys.

    You could just put your head on all of those images.

    In the cover art I wasn’t even in a bikini. I was in a t-shirt and it was ripped and it was provocative but I didn’t have any nipple showing. It is hilarious. 

    When I was showing friends the song, especially guys, I asked them how it made them feel and it’s been really interesting to hear their reactions and responses. Pat who I wrote it with, he is a straight male and he was like, it makes me uncomfortable but in a way that’s okay, some of these things are valid and I should be thinking about them. 

    I’m not like a political feminist, I don’t go preaching at bars and trying to make people feel shit.

    I don’t want to make people feel bad, but I definitely want to make people think about things before they yell out of car windows.

    When you went onto the street interviewing people in a bikini, was there anything that surprised you about the process?

    Yes, so much it’s actually crazy. The guys I did get to talk to – which weren’t a lot, maybe 10 or 12 (and I was out there 5 hours) – were so scared. The fear thing really came into light. Half of the men around me were trying to avoid me. It was like they thought “She’s terrifying me”. They would pretend they never saw me and beeline the other way. Half of them would pretend not to see and then do a double take as they walked behind me. My friend who was filming got so many videos where she’d film them coming towards me and then she’d turn the camera and they’d be staring from behind.

    The guys I actually spoke to were very 2024 and had 2024 visions. I asked them, ‘What are your thoughts about revealing bikinis?’. They were all very sweet but they were probably shit scared because I had a camera on them and knew if they said the wrong thing they’d be cancelled. At one point there were two businessmen and I went up to them and found one was chatting to me normally, and responded to the question that people should wear whatever they want. And then he was like, I love your outfit and I was like, it’s hot down here I should be able to wear this. And then I turned to his friend who hadn’t been talking and asked ‘What about you? What do you think?’, and he just goes ‘I think you’re hot’.

    The biggest realisation I had was it was women who were the most outraged for sure. It’s the shame thing that we were talking about. I think it’s driven by fear.

    There's this kind of innate thing in women where they're like, she's way too confident or she's doing something that embarrasses us as a gender.

    That was the thing that really was quite crazy to me.

    On another hand you’ve also got the internalised concern of people who have obviously relegated that part of themselves to the side to exist in a man’s world under patriarchal rules and governance. Their desire to be seen has been put in a box because of the danger associated. 

    It’s so sad because I wish that we could all be confident to do and wear whatever we want. 

    What does true power actually look like to you?

    I think true power to me is authenticity. Being completely true to doing and being whoever you want to be. I’m definitely not advocating for people to walk around naked all the time unless they want to. 

    But I want to ask people: What do you actually agree with? Who are you deep down as a person? Do you really care what girls wear?

    Sometimes the facade of who we have to be to other people gets in the way of what we actually really care about. I love when I see somebody and they are just a hundred percent being them. That’s what makes me happy. It is seeing my friends and family be who they are without apologies. People who are like, this is who I am and this is what I want to do. That’s power to me. 

    People can’t handle confident people if they’re not being fully themselves because they’re like man, I wish I could be doing that.

    In terms of the art you turn to for a sense of hope, what do you read, watch and listen to? 

    The thing I probably watch the most and I think something that’s taught me a lot is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’ve been a mega mega fan for a long time and that’s eye-opening in so many ways. Go and watch it because you will learn something about yourself. It’s like therapy to me.

    All types of music. I just kind of dive into everything. 

    I’m reading a lot at the moment. I just read The Alchemist for the third time. I feel like that’s gonna be a twice yearly thing for me,

    I like learning. I like being aware of how much I don’t know and diving into something, reading a little about it for six months and then, going on to the next thing.

    What’s next for you as Florian?

    In June the final EP is coming out, but I have another song coming out in April. I’m spending the next year just going with the flow and travelling. I’ve been living in the States for the last year but I’m back in Sydney at the moment. I’m heading back over and then I’m going to the UK. 

    I feel like you kind of go through phoenix things as an artist, you blow yourself up and then rebuild yourself again. This EP is called In the Zone because I feel like I’m really locked into a really specific point of view, musically and as a person. So I’ll start writing the next thing soon. Who knows what it’ll be. I call myself a bit of a genre ***. 

    I’ve really worn a lot of hats in different genres. I used to be in rock bands amongst other things so I want Florian and the project to be a melting pot. That’s what keeps me motivated. So I think the next thing might be heavy metal. I’m just kidding. But yes something along those lines– you never know.