Hey, ladies! Tired of societal pressure? Now, challenge stereotypes through art

  • IANS, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 19, 2014 17:41 IST

In one of the illustrations, a slightly plump Amanda, against a pastel brown background, is wearing a red off-shoulder-high-slit gown that reveals her unshaven leg. She doesn't look ashamed. In another picture, an old woman in a two-piece bikini looks comfortable, not bothered about her sagging skin.

Women, universally, are often scrutinised for their public appearance and constant attempts are made to control their bodies, behaviour and identities in society. Observing these flaws in the representation of women led Brazalian graphic artist Carol Rossetti to tell their stories through a series of illustrations that have garnered overwhelming online response.

"The world's constant attempts to control women's bodies, behavior and identities have always bothered me. This control is such a deep part of our culture that we hardly ever realise how cruel it is and how it restricts our personal choices," Rossetti told IANS in an email interview from Brazilian capital Brasilia.

"Whenever I see a newspaper criticising a woman's appearance, it's like saying that every woman on every occasion can and will be evaluated by her looks. It doesn't really matter if she's receiving a Nobel prize or saving people from drowning," she added.

This is how "The Women Project", which can be accessed at www.carolrossettidesign.tumblr.com, came into being.

It features an impressive range of topics like rape, body image, and sexism where the 26-year-old has challenged these age-old stereotypical beliefs and substituted them with empowering words like "self-esteem", "identity", "self-respect", and many more.


For inspiration, all Rossetti had to do was to look around her friends' circle, observe and address her personal insecurities (Photo: www.carolrossettidesign.tumblr.com )

However, when she started creating these illustrations, little did she knew that they would be shared by thousands in several continents through social networking sites. The universality of the subject is a mirror of "pressure" women face globally, where society acts as a "moral brigade", judging and scrutinising their personal actions and behavior.

"There is a big flaw in the current representation of human beings because some people are still invisible (or disrespectfully represented) in the media, cinema, and literature," Rossetti said.

"I am talking about people with disabilities, fat people, black people, transgender people, people with mental illness and so many women," she added.

It was this misrepresentation of the invisible group that she, as an artist, felt the need to break using the might of her creativity. She first picked up a topic and then others followed.

First came the story of Marina, a woman who loved her striped dress even though the fashion magazines told her it wouldn't suit her body type, but Rossetti tells her "not to care about those magazines and wear what you like".

For inspiration, all she had to do was to look around her friends' circle, observe and address her personal insecurities. The peer pressure of "looking good" and "behaving well" has been laid so heavily upon women all around the globe that the "fear" of being judged is embedded deep in their minds.

There are around 20 illustrations. Rossetti feels that as an artist, she has a responsibility- and this series is a defining step towards that goal.

"I do feel like I have a responsibility when it comes to representation. As a Latin American woman, I have felt the effects of misrepresentation and therefore I chose to break them," she concluded.

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