inspiring handwritten life advice from your female heroes

The Provocateur, a new website, shares open letters by luminary ladies including Paz de la Huerta, Myla Dalbesio, and Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
01 February 2016, 7:55pm

"Please be careful not to get side-tracked by sexist, misogynistic guys who aren't worth your time," writer Nancy Jo Sales advises. "Side-tracked" is underlined for emphasis in thick black marker. She also suggests not worrying about your acne — it will go away.

As a former teenage publishing prodigy, New Yorker Kristin Prim used to get asked for advice by other girls a lot. (Kristin is now 21, but she's still a publishing force: she puts out the biannual art tome A23.) Still, she'd always rather hear what other women have to say. "I wanted to give powerful females a springboard to speak openly about any topic they choose," she tells me. "So many times women are censored in media. As a woman who has both experienced that herself and also as a woman who runs her own media outlets, I wanted to give women the opportunity to speak without any form of censorship."

So she founded The Provocateur, a new website which publishes handwritten letters of advice penned by heroines like Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, director Floria Sigismondi, and activist Janet Mock. (Prim: "Janet is truly an icon. I was thrilled to have her oblige.") Each Monday, a new letter will materialize, filled with insights about life, work, love, and sexuality.

The site launches today, with letters from Shirley and Janet — which you can read here (note Shirley's amazing art direction), along with artist and model Myla Dalbesio's "Checklist for Life." (Her key points: "eat a whole pizza by yourself"; "LOVE YOUR BODY"; "apologize when you make a mistake.")

"Shirley's words on exploring gender and sexuality, living unapologetically, and not dimming yourself for those around you also really stuck me," says Prim.

Who else would she like to contribute? "Oh, so many women! Bianca Casady, Ellen von Unwerth, Uzo Aduba, Linda Perry, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Trish Summerville." She already has a list of other women scribbling manifestos for March and April, but "I'll have to stay a little tight-lipped on that one," she says.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Images courtesy Kristin Prim

Floria Sigismondi
Janet Mock
Nancy Jo Sales
paz de la huerta
Alice Newell-Hanson
Myla Dalbesio
kristin prim
the provocateur
myla delbasio