brenda malefica: decoding the new campaign

brenda <3 - 06/09/2021


"we are the granddaughters of the witches you failed to burn"

There is a world, a story, an entire heritage behind the word witch. In this seemingly innocuous word lies the fight of our ancestors, the struggle of women for equality and against patriarchy since (at least) the 15th century. As Mona Chollet points out in her book ( Witches ), the power of women remains undefeated, despite the fate reserved for "witches" since that time. Under cover of the accusation of "witchcraft", it is indeed the rise of women that we have sought to inhibit. Finally, the term "witch" designates and has always designated all women who choose not to fall into line and to question the dictates of a patriarchal society (that is to say, in the majority of cases, single and childless women).



Between the 15th and 18th centuries, women considered “witches” were persecuted (especially in Europe and America). Some men were also accused of witchcraft at the time, but only women suffered the persecutions and tortures of inquisitors and other exorcists. For what ? Because they lived apart, hadn't given birth or didn't go to church.


More recently, in the 1960s, the word "witch" is used as an emblem of the fight against patriarchy.

In 2016, Donald Trump calls Hillary Clinton a "witch" during the presidential campaign, the ultimate sign of disdain and misogyny.
In Poland, in March 2018, demonstrators chanted during the tightening of the law against abortion: “ we are the granddaughters of the witches whom you did not manage to burn ”.


In short, the symbol is strong and deserves our attention. During our growing up campaign, released on the occasion of Mother's Day, we had already taken an interest in the injunctions that stood in our way (we women) as our ages advanced and at what point these injunctions could be pressurizing and deleterious for our mental health. Indeed, at the dawn of 30 years, it is as if suddenly, the gaze of society became more insistent. A bit as if she were saying to us: "well, come on, you had a good time, now it's about growing up, settling down and having kids".


The symbol of the witch, as such, highlights a new element. It's as if, behind these injunctions to "go straight", there was fear. But then, why would we be afraid to leave the free choice to women? Is it the fear of change? Fear of the overthrow of the established order? What exactly? What's so terrifying? Because yes, this is what is hidden behind the word "witch": the fear of women who do not fall into line and this since the 15th century.

In this sense, the case of Joan of Arc speaks volumes. On May 14, 1431, the verdict in favor of his execution was given. Joan of Arc is therefore declared: " heretic because she refuses to recognize the authority of the Church which judges her (...) apostate because she has short hair and wears masculine clothes ". Remember that Joan of Arc led the army of King Charles VII during the Hundred Years War and was victorious on many occasions. How funny! She works for France and for the king, winning many battles at the risk of her life, then she is burned alive because... she wears masculine clothes and has short hair. At the same time, not very practical the dress and the hair in the wind on the battlefield, right? Xenia the warrior, it's not reality guys, it's just a male fantasy (the series was created and directed by two men, John Schulian and Robert Tapert).

the importance of clothes

So we come to our sheep, that is to say the clothes and their deep meaning. This was the case for Joan of Arc almost 600 years ago, it is still the case today: a woman must be dressed "as a woman". A woman should be sexy. Please, show me some skin. A woman in a suit? Attention danger. A woman in a suit is potentially a woman who does not comply with societal injunctions which induce that a woman must dress to satisfy the gaze of the man. A woman who does not wear makeup? Same fight.

With Brenda, we often wonder about the attitude to adopt, about our habits, about the practices of our daily life which are, it is undeniable, linked to our gender. Clothing, make-up, hair removal, are all practices that are intrinsically linked to our gender. So, should we end it so cleanly? That's not exactly our opinion. In our opinion, being aware of this already allows us to be more free: we can, following this awareness, decide to stop these practices (or some of these practices) because we realize that they cost us too much and that we had no benefit in realizing them, or choose to pursue them because they make us happy or bring us some satisfaction. This is also, in our view, freedom. Of course, this is only our opinion and it is ours alone.

the brenda malefica campaign

Our campaign, launched in September 2021, takes this symbol and turns it around. “Brenda Malefica” extracts herself from the injunctions and takes the opposite view. She represents all women and their struggles. She is in costume, proud, powerful. Brenda Malefica is ultimately a tribute to Joan of Arc as much as to us, her heirs, the witches of 2021.

We jubilantly took over and diverted the codes of the witch as they can appear in pop culture: long and pointed nails, crooked silhouette, poisoned fruits. In short, all the elements that are supposed to gravitate around the wicked and vile witch (cf. the witch in Snow White, in opposition to, precisely, the sweet and docile Snow White, incarnation of innocence and propriety).

In short, this campaign is ultimately an invitation to seize freedom, to free ourselves from the injunctions that are far too rooted in us, because they are too often part of our education and our environment. An invitation to reflect on the symbol and what it implies, on our past and our future as women.

We are all witches and the best thing we can wish for is to stay that way forever.



Campaign by salut beauté, w/ Pierre & Florent, Jade Monrose, Caroline Madison