Eco Glitter Fun are, yet again, the official eco glitter sponsors of the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) for the second year! This year is extra special as the IFF will be celebrating its fifth year. Taking place in Valencia, Spain from 1 – 5 April 2019, the event brings together over 1,400 free speech and digital rights activists and journalists from over 115 countries.
To show our continued support for the events principles and goals, we are donating our globally loved eco-friendly glitter again – which will be accessible to all via the glitter stations at the event. Our ethos, goals and principles are very much in sync with the IFF, so we are over the moon to be supporting the event for another year.
Along with a great programme, the event holds eco glitter at the heart of its celebrations – last year they managed to dish out over 2kg of our bio glitter to happy festival goers. We spoke to IFF co-founder, Sandra Ordonez, who gave us an insight into how and why glitter became such a fundamental part of this great movement.
Glitter, acceptance & Human Rights
by Sandra Ordonez
“Ever since I was a little girl, glitter instantly transported me to a land of possibilities adorned with joy and comfort. When things got too overwhelming for my little heart and brain, I would spend hours just staring at glittery items. Watching as the sun playfully interacted with the surface. At that time, it felt like the closest thing to magic, as though at any time a fairy or magical creature would rise from its surface, and surround me with the safety and love I so craved.
I have a distinct memory of when I was sixteen of going shopping with my mother and discovering, for the first time, face glitter. I became mesmerised with a little blue jar, that looked as though the essence of the ocean had been captured in it. I no longer had to wish for magical creatures, I could become one. I begged my mother to buy me the jar, which she did. I cherished that first jar of glitter so much, that I only used it for special occasions, to the point that 22 years’ later, I still had an almost full jar. When my mother died, when I was 32 years old, that little jar of glitter became a symbolic reminder of the unconditional love she had for me, and the beautiful memories of “girl time” we shared together.
At the same time, having grown up in New York City in the early 90’s where the House music club scene was still fairly young, organic and raw - glitter became a symbol of friendship, self-discovery, acceptance and solidarity. I have countless memories of spending time with close girlfriends ‘getting ready’ by painting each other’s face, while processing difficult coming of age issues. It was a type of sacred ceremony for where through the glitter and conversation, we helped transform ourselves into stronger, better human beings.
To complement this already beautiful experience, we found ourselves at parties with a multitude of diverse people from all walks of life, very representative of the NYC population of that time, who were all covered in glittery magic. This is because music, looking “fly”, and yes glitter were tools of resilience because, ultimately, taking part in celebration in the face of hardship, is recognition that they don't own your soul, self-worth, or community.
We all shared a type of idealistic innocence that we could change the world because we had to. Many of us identified as being people of colour, immigrants or children of immigrants, part of the LGBTQI community, or people that moved to "The City" seeking a more accepting and open society because they weren't accepted in their own.
In addition, as a young US Latina who came from a working class family, I was dealing with my own sexual identity, which at that time was really difficult for me to put into words. However, these beautiful, glittery drag queens, many Latinas themselves, would be taking centre stage oozing confidence and self-acceptance which quietly inspired me to want to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to learn how to use glitter like they did, because I thought that if I could look like them, maybe I could eventually love and accept myself like they did.
Years later, as an adult, I started working at Internet Freedom (IF) as a community manager, specifically the slice of IF that intersects with human rights. This particular community is made up of activists, journalists, open source technologists, and human rights defenders from all over the world.
I instantly fell in love with this international community, as it reminded me of my early days in NYC. However, most of this community worked virtually, had never met face-to-face and was suffering from the same type of diversity and inclusion problems that plagues most fields. Women and people of colour were not well represented, especially in important strategic conversations and leadership roles. Through a very collaborative process that involved years of deep, thoughtful analysis and conversations with people from all different groups found in our space, the vision for what would eventually become the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) began to take shape. It would serve as a gathering space where individuals fighting censorship and surveillance could join forces, build solidarity, and begin addressing some of the community health issues.
One of the first editions of the IFF was such a labor of love that it took everything out of me, both spiritually, mentally and physically. Through the entire event, I kept the jar of glitter my mom had bought me at sixteen, on me at all times. During the closing party, I was so overwhelmed with emotion, that I used up the entire jar as a dedication to my mother. You see, my mother was a political refugee who moved to the Bronx when she was just fourteen, also escaping censorship and surveillance. I remember going around the party dabbing my finger in the jar, and then sprinkling a little bit on each person. It was a way for me to share the unconditional love that my mother had given me, with people who were experiencing a situation similar to hers, or serving as allies.
Something magical happened. That glitter seemed to bring down people’s walls and help us better see each other’s humanity - it’s really hard to keep a serious disposition if you are covered in glitter. In addition, it made the environment feel so much more creative and happy. It actually makes people smile. By the end of the night, people were coming up to me asking either to be covered in glitter, or for more glitter so they themselves could cover their friends.
For our community, a significant percentage suffer from PTSD or burnout because of what they experience as activists or journalists, or because they are allies helping people going through these experience. This is compounded by long hours, very limited resources, and a constant feeling of being spread thin. As such, any tool to reduce stress, bring celebration, or help improve the environment is not just a self-care tool, it’s a revolutionary tool.
Since then, glitter has become a fundamental part of the IFF, and each year the amount used and how it’s used gets bigger and better! For example, last year over 2kg of glitter was used and we evolved our usage based on community feedback. For example:
You can’t put glitter on people without their consent
Glitter needs to be eco-friendly
The glitter table is where people can opt-in to have their face painted by a volunteer
Jars of glitter have become part of the package that we give to partners to say ‘thank you.’
I suspect that this list will continue evolving. In the meantime, I’ll continue see glitter as a reminder of what’s important in life."