At its best, Instagram is a space for conversation and connection. It's often where we turn for inspiration of all kinds, from the visual to the verbal and beyond – and it's there that we first discovered Words Of Women, with its Instagram feed full of galvanizing quotes, insights and stories that are by, for and about women around the globe. We wanted to know more about the impetus for this modern feminist community – which includes not only Instagram content, but also in-person meet-ups, online writing contests, a weekly newsletter and more – so we sat down to chat with founder Lauren Martin. Check out her thoughts on the importance of woman-to-woman support in this digital age, the way she hopes to provide a free alternative to traditional therapy, and more, below.
Who is the woman behind Words Of Women?
My name is Lauren Martin and I’m the founder of Words Of Women. I started the account when I was searching for something to help myself and other women who were feeling, well, lost.
Can you tell us more about the impetus and intention behind sharing these stories and quotes?
The intention behind Words of Women was to create a safe haven on social media.
In an era when social media has replaced our interest in learning, reading and exploring, Words Of Women seeks to fill that void. Just because you’re on social media doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be growing. Why can’t your lessons come through your feed?
From historical lessons, business advice and spiritual teachings, the posts are not just images and quotes, but a school of thought.
We spend so much of our time online; it’s where we communicate, work, shop, stalk, date, meet up, distract ourselves. While technology advancements have offered us the possibility to do almost anything online we can do in real life, there are some important "real life" aspects we haven’t bothered to translate into to the digital world.
Where are the healthy escapes? Where are the places we can grow and learn? Where are the support groups, the learning centers? We have these places in the physical world – Alcoholics Anonymous. Religious centers. Gym. Therapy. Support groups. Family – places we go to recharge, to get back to ourselves and remember what’s really important.
In the midst of all the consumption, chaos, doubt and fear I wanted a message to pop up reminding you of something different –reminding you that it’s okay that you’re still single, that you can’t afford a house yet, that you don’t need that thing they’re trying to sell you, that it’s okay to not look like a model. I wanted to see something genuine in the middle of all this curated content. Something that reminded you of what’s really important – your health, your relationships, your sense of self.
How did it evolve into the platform it has become?
Over the last three years the idea has evolved into a community – a place where like-minded women come to feel heard and understood.
The followers have really evolved it. I have taken all my direction from them. It’s the women who make the account. They’re the ones commenting, sharing, promoting, and engaging with these lessons. They also give me advice. A lot of times they don’t realize that they’re supporting me as much as I’m supporting them.
It’s also evolved into articles and the newsletter which are extensions of the quotes. If there's a subject (let’s say mindfulness or minimalism) I think needs more explanation, I’ll take it further into articles and newsletter lessons. If you’re interested in truly learning more and becoming immersed in the lesson, you should most definitely sign up for the newsletter.
Because of the content, Words Of Women is able to engage with its users on a unique level. Unlike normal Instagram accounts, the posts are not simply liked and forgotten. They are shared, talked about and engaged with. They are reposted and repurposed. The posts are not just images and quotes, but thought-starters, spiritual guidance and tailored lessons.
By engaging with Words Of Women you are entering into a niche school with students who are ready and willing to hear what you have to say.
What was your experience prior to this endeavor, and how have you channeled it into the WOW project?
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Before Words of Women, I was a writer. I moved to New York after college and got a job at a (then relatively unknown) digital publication, Elite Daily. After three years and having personally written over one thousand articles, we sold to The Daily Mail. By this time, I was done writing. I am so grateful, however, for my time at Elite for I made some amazing friends, had some amazing opportunities and wouldn’t have been able to get my voice out there the way I did. Elite Daily truly was the perfect first job.
After leaving I moved to Bushwick where I got a cheap room in an artist's loft and just tried to figure out what I wanted to do next. I started painting a lot. Then I started writing again. Except this time, I was really into Charles Bukowski and the idea that through just a few deliberate words you can invoke as much meaning as an entire story.
That’s when I came up with the idea of the book – Words Of Women. I started writing all these small quotes and aphorisms I had from my journals and thought I’d publish a book of insightful poems that would answer any thought, emotion or feeling a woman was having.
Long story short, I couldn’t find a publisher or an agent for that matter. So after a few more months I figured I could just try to self-publish it. That’s when I created the account. After a few weeks posting my own quotes, I realized that it would be much more powerful to include other quotes by other women.
The quotes shared and women profiled are inspiring, unique, progressive and diverse. Do you research constantly or are these all women whose work and legacies you were familiar with previously?
I research constantly. I’m a bit obsessed actually. I think I’m also obsessed with learning. I can’t afford to go back to school so I’ve made Words Of Women my informal schooling. I think of it as new lessons every day in many types of classes – history class, philosophy class, women’s lib.
To find the quotes, I read a lot and watch a lot of documentaries. I also love Tumblr. It’s a great source for unique content.
I think the quotes reflect the level of research and l’ve I put into learning about these women’s lives. I don’t just take the most popular quote or the one I think would do the best, I try and do the one that really speaks to them and their lives and their achievements. Then of course I find out all the background history so the quote has context.
What has been your proudest moment thus far?
The first Words Of Women clubhouse meeting. There were so many parts that made me proud. First would be the amazing women I found to work on it with me – thank you Kayla Inglima and Kristi Baviello. I was so excited that these two incredible, smart and cool ladies actually wanted to help me turn this idea into a reality.
Second is the number of amazing women who showed up to the first clubhouse. It was just a trial event, and we only could invite about 25 women, and I had this big pit in my stomach the hour before the event started that no one would show up. But they did! And the women who showed up were amazing. Every single one was so beautiful, smart and caring. We spent an hour going around and talking about who we are, what we wanted to work on, what’s bothering us, and then women were so compassionate and responsive to each other. The amount of love in the room was amazing.
What are a few of your goals for the movement you have created? And what is next for WOW?
[I want] to bring Words Of Women into the physical world. Words of Women has created a community that deserves to be experienced outside of social media.
With the rising cost of therapy, it feels like there’s nowhere for women to go when they just need a place to "let it all out" and connect with understanding, compassionate women. Imagine an AA type program for women – a safe, anonymous place for women to be around other likeminded women and talk without feeling judged. I also wanted to implement some therapy techniques, maybe five minutes of meditation or some art activities that are supposed to help work through emotional blocks.
Even if you have insurance, therapy is just so expensive. It doesn’t feel fair that you have to have good healthcare or lots of money to work on your mental health. So why can’t we create a cheap option for all women to try?
The Words Of Women clubhouse will be a safe space for women to come and relax, recharge and regroup. A replacement for therapy, Words Of Women provides a type of "group therapy" where women can come and talk in a safe space, participate in artistic healing activities (collaging, group meditation, etc) and offload the stresses of life and work before returning back to the world.