We are all about body positive messages and we’re also always on the lookout for artists and creators who use their talent to share messages of empowerment. We came across a badass Instagram account, @pink_bits, thanks to a feature on Metro.co.uk, which featured the work of the artist behind the images, Christine Yahya. According to Metro’s Ellen Scott, Christine is a former eating disorder survivor and now dedicates her artwork to dismantling harmful messages about body image.
Her Instagram account has close to 30,000 followers, and features a diverse array of bodies and body parts that Christine says we’re “told to hide”, as written on the Instagram bio. It is because of her personal experience with an eating disorder that she wants to help others celebrate their bodies, something which took her a long time to do.
“I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. I did not have any self-love. Recovery took a long time, and had many slips and falls in its pursuit. It took a lot of conscious effort, and realigning my view of food and health. It also took a lot of support from those around me, and also some professional help too,” she said.
The Australian artist, based out of Sydney, says Pink Bits didn’t necessarily start as a page to empower others, but the more she started putting her artwork out there, it began resonating with more and more followers.
“I wasn’t consciously drawing to start a page or with any plans in mind. I was just drawing for leisure one night, and was drawing from my own reference photos as I wanted to see my own shapes on paper,” she said.
The idea of creating representation for bodies like hers which she felt weren’t commonly celebrated by the mainstream is something many of us can relate to, so its no wonder people felt she was speaking to them.
“I think it was this sense of wanting to see my own curves represented, and recognizing that other people also felt the same sense of empowerment that I did when I shared the initial artworks online; that further pushed me to continue drawing women for representation and to illustrate the parts of womanhood that aren’t often showcased/we’re advised to hide,” she explained.
Among the many women on the account there are different skin colors, different body shapes, differently-abled women, Muslim women, older women, women who shave their legs and women who don’t, plus a healthy dose of sex positivity showing that sexuality and sensuality don’t just belong to one type of woman the mainstream media and advertising would have us believe.
Some of the women she drew are illustrations of recognizable figures such as Frida Kahlo and Wonder Woman, as well as everyday body positive activists like British woman Harnaam Kaur.
“I truly feel representation is so important and empowering to the viewer. There’s so many incredible women out there that are not being represented in our everyday media – I want to diversify that,” Christine said.
Today, Christine says she loves and celebrates her body more than ever and wants her followers to do the same as they view her work. The illustrations have also become a form of therapy for herself.
“It has changed my approach to life and the way I think and feel about myself and my body. It pushes and reminds me to treat my body and mind more kindly and respectfully each day. By drawing women for Pink Bits, it has also given me a wonderful community to be apart of – of women supporting women. This has also greatly affected my body image in the best way,” she told the Metro.
Another reason she is unapologetic about celebrating women’s bodies by drawing them nude is to combat the commodification and sexualization of the female form. We’re seeing so many affirming messages in the current wave of feminism that gives women permission to embrace and celebrate their own sexuality, but there are still many aspects of media and entertainment that would have us believe it is scandalous to take ownership of that.
“I wish that women’s bodies weren’t instantly and so commonly sexualized when wearing a particular item or clothing, or just by being naked. I wish that all bodies were celebrated and respected. I wish that a woman’s body weren’t used a story in itself to sell magazines or views,” said Christine.
Part of dismantling patriarchal norms will mean more and more women being allowed to celebrate sexuality in public discourse without having to be thrust into the “madonna-whore” binary that has become the basis of so many narrow female characters and tropes in the media. Christine’s drawings show women being complex, flawed, beautiful, strong, feminine, liberated, revolutionary, and anything they choose to be.
“It’s important I draw these as representation is so empowering; and the sexist/out-dated tropes that are often pushed onto and shown to women are ridiculous. I wish that women’s bodies in our media and pop-culture were more diversified, and more representative of reality,” she said.