Lim Charlotte, Artist and Student, Back lane of Ginett, Singapore
We first met Charlotte last year at her group show The New Now at Gajah Gallery. We were so blown away by her sense of style, that we just had to catch up separately to find out more.
Thanks for agreeing to talk to us Charlotte!
Hang on, I’m “Lim Charlotte” ok? [laughs] I have this thing where I must have “Lim” at the front – it just happened that way in my birth certificate and for a time, I was pretty anal about it. But, I do also have a friend called Charlotte Lim, who’s also an artist. So now I’m pretty firm that I’m “Lim Charlotte” and she’s “Charlotte Lim.”
Tell us about the outfit you were wearing when we first met you.
I actually gave that one some thought – I wanted to look fashionable, but not like I was trying too hard. I wanted to wear something form-fitting but not look overly-sexualized. So I decided to wear pants, hoping that I would look more manly that way. They were silk pyjama pants and I wore them with red boots. They were supposed to be about me making a statement.
Why don’t you want to present yourself in a sexualized way – is it because your works are sometimes of yourself, in the nude?
I don’t think it’s a big problem when in an “art” setting, because people understand that work is work. Outside of that, it might be a problem. I was just afraid that if I were to meet anyone important, I wouldn’t want to be seen as a flighty 19-year-old. I also worry about being seen as a kid, or a (young) girl.
Do you feel that youth works against you as an artist?
I don’t think it works against me… people just approach me in a different way, and I want to come in with as clean a slate as possible. But then again, the fact that I’m sometimes nervous and flighty and I stutter… well, that’s part of my charm and I shouldn’t try to hide that!
When you’re young though, you have to read the room and decide how to behave. When you’re older you get to set the tone more, and I look forward to being able to do that! When you’re young, you do get to have more fun, but also people possibly take you less seriously.
How do you dress for school? Tell us about the outfit you have on today.
My mum bought these overalls for me. There are days when I want to look very nice and days where I just don’t give a fuck. The days where I don’t give a fuck, I’ll just wear a pair of men’s basketball shorts with a bodysuit, and I’ll be like “Yeah this is fashionable!”
For days like today, when I just want to be able to work; denim is great because if I get paint on it, I will just wear it again.
My pin is from a local artist by the name of Djohan.
Are we allowed to ask you about your underarms?
Of course, you are!
I haven’t shaved for about 5 months, but I’ve trimmed the hair a bit. I’ve always had this admiration for women on social media who are natural and free with their womanhood. I thought it was awesome and I wished I had the balls to do the same. I very much do want to be seen as attractive, so that was a problem at first. I did think, “What if no one wants to date me after this?!”
But then I was in Australia with a friend, who I had a crush on, he’s just this super sweet guy. He told me about a girl who he liked, and who he thought was such a babe, and when he showed me her picture- she had no makeup on, her body hair was untouched. I just thought, “Wow…I want to be talked about like that.”
I was so amazed that someone like him actually existed, and it made me realise that I only wanted to hang out with people who would react in this way, people who could appreciate all kinds of beauty.
I actually think (the underarm hair) is a really good filter for me to meet more progressive people. For the first few months, I was still self- conscious and would try to hide my arms a bit, but now I don’t even think about it anymore. I don’t shave anywhere else on my body either – legs, whatever.
My underarms do get hot though, it’s a bit like having cushions under them!
But you know, I also realise it’s not fair to expect other women to behave this way. I do, after all, have the privilege of not having crazy amounts of body hair. And you know, I do wear eyeliner and makeup – that’s not something that I’m willing to give up yet. I feel that it gives me a presence. However, I do want to get to the stage where I can go without them, and just say yeah… “Fuck it!”