To curate these illustrations, we played a global game of telephone via Instagram. We started with artist Pink Bits, asked for her favorite inspiration, and so on. The female body doesn’t get more real than this.
These five spectacular female artists from Australia, Greece, Spain, and Finland celebrate every part of the female body and its experience in the world. The female body doesn’t get more real than this. Hair, muscle, bumps, curves, folds and all — these beautiful illustrations help send the message that we’ve got nothing to hide. Each artists’ recommendation brings a new insight into what it means to love all our parts, strip away shame, and applaud what makes us unique.
Pink Bits uncovers the beautiful skin we conceal
Christine, an Australia-based illustrator, also known as Pink Bits, rebels against the standards of beauty and concepts of proper behavior that society places on women. Pink Bits turns shame about body parts into a glorious celebration of hips, bottoms, breasts, nipples, and vaginas.
As her handle suggests, Pink Bits’ illustrations showcase an abundance of skin, but her work delightfully elicits a sense of joy rather than shame for the bodies we have.
Your work shows women truly enjoying their bodies, whether that’s sleeping, pleasuring themselves, wearing something fun, etc. What inspires you to take this approach?
My work is very inspired by the bits and shapes we’re told to hide. By this, I mean Pink Bits challenges those physical expectations (of how women should dress, look, etc.) right through to the “rules” of how women are supposed to act and behave.
The purpose of Pink Bits is to promote body positivity, acceptance, self-love, and feminism, and so I like to draw women who are doing what they want, being who they are, and looking however they choose — regardless of societal pressures, expectations, or marketing.
Why is it important to you to celebrate all body shapes, skin colors, and even attitudes in your work?
I really believe that representation is so important, and if the illustrations of Pink Bits only showcased a narrow segment of people — it would be pointless. To support women, I need to support all women. To help all women feel self-love and acceptance, I need to represent as many women as possible.
Personally, seeing artwork that I relate to, or that I feel represents me, makes me feel understood and not alone. It can make me feel happier within myself, proud, and more confident in rewriting what is beautiful in my eyes. If I can instill that feeling among women across the globe, I’ll be very happy.
Follow @pinkbits on Instagram for a daily dash of happy.
Luba Dalu taps into vulnerability and acceptance in a harsh world
Luz Achával Barral, also known as Luba Dalu, of Barcelona, Spain, promotes a unique balance of resistance and self-care in her work. Her subjects defy gender norms and take a feminist stance — but they do so from a vulnerable state, sometimes nude and cuddling a cat. Words typically accompany her illustrations, but not in the fashion of a clichéd motivational quote. Instead, she taps into real feelings of violation, insecurity, fear, triumph, and solace.
“The texts on my illustrations are usually thoughts, reflections that cross my mind, sometimes from a conversation with a friend, sometimes something that I need to hear, or a message to someone,” she says.
The authenticity in her illustrations give viewers a sense that we’re all doing what we can in the moment — and that we’re going to be alright.
Why are the figures in your illustrations often hugging themselves?
In my art, I want to represent vulnerability, intimacy, tenderness. The world is full of violence and pain. We need to be aware of this and take action in response, but personally, I find necessary to have spaces where you can rest.
For me, it’s about representing images that give me (and hopefully someone else) some comfort, without ignoring these realities. Hugs and love are healing, inclusion is healing. I aspire to put some of these things out there.
Your figures sit comfortably rather than with ‘polite’ posture. In what ways do you hope that illustrating a natural experience affects others?
I look for positions that we adopt when we feel comfortable, when we don’t care about looking good, when we just let our bodies relax and take the shape they need. I find it necessary (and enjoy) to let them sit taking up space, legs spread open, letting go of societal expectations.
To a large extent, art has been about representing beauty, and the concept of beauty has always been a very specific one, especially regarding humans, even more regarding women. I chose to represent what is usually erased when representing “beauty,” what are commonly known as “imperfections,” with the intention of challenging the general idea of beauty and also the idea of beauty in the world of art.
Follow @lubadalu on Instagram to get an art hug.
Loukoumh celebrates femininity and individualism
Eleni Koumi, also known as Loukoumh, is a self-taught artist in Thessaloniki, Greece. She champions girlhood, womanhood, and sisterhood with her work. Her subjects often appear in various states of undress while also sporting funky hairstyles, big earrings, artsy eyewear, elaborate tattoos, and full makeup. The put-together looks juxtapose with bare flesh to show us that we’re delightfully more than our bodies.
“It’s very important to me to show to people that perfection is variety,” she says.
Loukoumh’s work will make you feel good about your own personality, individuality, and self-expression.
How do you go about incorporating different cultures into your work?
Since the moment when I started to draw, I wanted to represent all types of bodies, skin colors, genders, etc. I get inspired by other artists or by body positive and feminist courses. It’s really helpful to use body positive photos as reference. Sometimes I’m just inspired by a certain person on the internet or in real life.
Nakedness is traditionally considered a vulnerable state in today’s society. What do you seek to change about that?
I think that the taboo of the naked body has a negative effect on the way that we think about ourselves. The representation of nakedness via body positive art helps us accept our body as it is and not be ashamed of it.
Follow @loukoumh on Instagram for reminders to do you as boldly as you want to.
Studio Flos honors our passions, our pleasures, and our pubic hair
Claire Cassidy of Sydney, Australia, also known as Studio Flos, creates paper cutouts of women and arranges them enjoying life in different scenarios. That might mean her paper gals are having a cup of coffee, doing yoga, or even rock climbing.
“Nudity is a big aspect of my artwork, but my aim is to desexualize the female figure, while still celebrating it,” she says.
Her variation in sizes, colors, and shapes of common paper parts reminds us all that no two real-life body parts are alike.
Pubic hair plays a big role in your images. Why is this important to you when showcasing body positive art?
My ladies have varying degrees of pubic hair, and this comes back to showing that every type of body is beautiful. It seems like there is a lot of pressure put on women about pubic hair (amongst many other things!).
I firmly believe that if you want to let your bush grow full and luscious or laser it all off smooth that is totally up to you, just as you can do whatever you like with the hair on your head. My hope is that women make choices for their body based on their own preferences, not because they feel pressure from someone else, or ideals portrayed in the media.
Follow @studioflos on Instagram to gain inspiration for your next adventure.
Blueberry Sonjak shows us our strengths and our rights to space
Koroleva Sonja, also known as Blueberry Sonjak, incorporates the natural world into her illustrations to highlight the strength, resilience, perseverance, and adaptability of the female body and mind. The Finland-based artist’s subjects slice through jungles and emerge from oceans, yet sometimes they’re just lounging at home in their undies. Either way, they have real emotion on their faces. The visuals are a stark contrast to the vapid open-mouthed looks we see on fashion models.
“I want to draw women who are feeling and living, not just being the nice thing to look at,” she says.
Her art also showcases how our shapes, large or small, have nothing to do with our inner strengths or our rights to be heard or respected.
Why does water come into play in your illustrations?
Water comes naturally into my drawings when I want to bring calmness in it or energy. Water and the human body are very similar. The environment has a huge impact on them and they are always changing. The media says you can only be beautiful if you aren’t changing. We are afraid of love that will age and women who will age. I want to point out variabilities of life, bodies, and the beauty of change.
Follow @blueberry_sonjak on Instagram for images that’ll help you tap into your inner strength.
To commission any of these artists, reach out to them via their Instagram account.
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. She’s also an adventure travel, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her native state of North Dakota.