Read the first instalment of The Fem League's interview with Linnea Claeson here
The Fem League met Linnea Claeson at a Women’s luncheon and panel in Sweden’s capital Stockholm. Backstage, we talked to Linnea about her signature rainbow hair, not fitting into other people's 'boxes' and the message she has for her childhood self.
How does your appearance - your rainbow hair, your makeup and your sense of style - relate to your identity?
My rainbow hair is just like the pride flag. It's for the LGBTQ [movement]. It’s a sign of freedom; it’s a statement. But it also, my clothes and my hair and my unicorns and what not, it’s also something that I’ve been working on my whole life. It's to keep the artist inside of me, the child, to let the child decide what we're going to wear today. Because that keeps me remembering who I am deep inside. All kids like rainbows but then we forget it and everyone starts wearing grey and black. But we don’t get happy from that. [Laughter]
For me, fashion can be powerful and for me, it also can have sexual power, a gendered power. For example, I don’t have to wear a suit to say smart things; I don’t have to. Even if I’m in a fucking tutu: you still have listen to me and what I say because it's gonna be the most important thing you hear all day. [Laughter]
I really want to fight for that girl. I don’t want to silence her. I don’t want to forget her and I definitely don’t want to give up on her
I think I’m just trying to inspire people to be themselves so that’s why I’m not really trying to hide anything. I’m just letting my inner child go wild on me with all the paint box…
All the colours of the rainbow?
Yeah, all the colours under the rainbow and that’s alright and I’m still one of the top students in our law school. Even though I look like I just came from a frigging child’s birthday party. [Laughter]
All kids like rainbows but then we forget it and everyone starts wearing grey and black. But we don’t get happy from that.
Is it important to you to have that connection with your childhood?
Well, I think since I was, like all the other girls I know actually, harassed when I was a kid; my body was assaulted in many different ways. And, this is after MeToo so we don’t even have to discuss it. It happened to everybody.
I really want to fight for that girl. I don’t want to silence her. I don’t want to forget her and I definitely don’t want to give up on her. She’s so close to me and my heart and gets to pull the strings when we're going to choose the outfit for the day [for example].
I don’t have to wear a suit to say smart things; I don’t have to. Even if I’m in a fucking tutu you still have listen to me
I think I have a very warm relationship with her and I think I have a lot of strength, really thinking of the girl that I was. I know that I always think about what she deserves or not. If I’m in a bad relationship, [I think], 'does Linnea at 10 years old deserve this shit?', 'No.' No, that’s not what I dreamed of when I was a kid. This was not the way that I wanted to live my life. And then I put my foot down and I walk out the door and I do it for me and I do it for her.
A lot of people, unconsciously, put people in boxes: ‘the law student’ or ‘the athlete’ or ‘the activist’. Do you find people try to put you in a box?
I guess I’m everything of that and nothing of that. I’m just being me and everyone is just running around with their boxes trying to catch me but they can’t because I’m so fast. [Laughter]
When I was a kid; my body was assaulted in many different ways. And, this is after MeToo so we don’t even have to discuss it. It happened to everybody.
No, but because I don’t fit. And so for me, it hasn’t really been an active choice. I’m just being me. I don’t fit into boxes and I don’t believe in boxes. The whole point of what I’m doing is seeing structures and seeing things in society that I think need to change and starting to change them - starting to change the things that I cannot accept. For me, that goes for everything. So I guess I come from a place where I’m critical but I’m not negative: I’m very positive. I know change is gonna come.
Words | Naomi Southwell & Linnea Claeson
Image | Viktor Gårdsäter