De-flowered was the title I gave to a series of illustrative art pieces of work, which I created the first time I heard that term. English being my second language, it as shocking to me that such old fashion word existed.
Subject of loosing virginity started to be a big part of my life when I got back in touch with my cousins back in middle-east after several years of not seeing them. They enlightened me with their views on sex for women. How they still worry about having lost their virginities and not being able to find a husband. Was this going to be my future soon? (The 13-year-old me thought to her self nervously) was I going to lose that ‘thing’ called a hymen one day? I had no education on my body parts what so ever and for that I can thank both Iranian and English education system. I had no idea where the hymen was and what I had to do to prevent it from breaking.
My classmates had this myth that girls in Europe didn’t have hymens. It took me a long time to figure out what that meant! Did it mean those girls were biologically different to me? Or were they more fortunate? So you can imagine my surprise when I heard the term ‘De-flowered’, thinking that the western culture had no opinions on the loss of virginity for women.
This term refers to this idea of women’s privet parts being a delicate flower and totally underestimating it’s power to push a whole baby out, and also referring to the act of first sexual encounter as ‘losing something’ and never getting it back, which is a very harmful way of seeing your body, as something that wants to get you into trouble all the time.
My project started by illustrating various women’s bodies and covering their privet parts with dried flowers. This was to show the ugliness of this term, but also the surrealism of it, as no one has an actual flower down there! I started to research ideas based on the impacts of women’s choices being limited in terms of their own bodies. And I started to focus on how and why young women are led into having a fear of going against societies’ ideals.
The next project that let me to was one called “Feminine Whispers” where I tried to illustrate portraits of young girls, and named them with quotes that I have heard from various friends in privet / whispers such as:
“My mother won’t let me use a tampon, because she’s scared that I’d lose my virginity”
Here my focus stared to be on how women are portrayed in paintings traditionally. The faces of my girls are sad and in un-comfort, in some portraits I tried to play around with the idea of illustrating a pre-pubescent face on a woman’s body. To play around with societies obsession over women looking younger than their actual age.
What I discovered through these two projects was that a lot of fears created in us are because of not having enough / or the right education about our own bodies. In the Middle East sex-ed taught me absolutely nothing about my own body, and all I learned from the British education was how to prevent STIs, and that’s simply not good enough. We have a complicated and beautifully artistic body, it goes through menstruation cycles and has the ability to grow a human inside, to me that’s so beautiful but I didn’t know enough about it which is so sad. The only reason my education had failed me in this part was that society is ashamed and embarrassed of my body! But I was not.
So that led me into my current ongoing projects. Which is another series of illustrations with a focus on right anatomy of female body parts, my aim is to create drawings that take the myths about my body into question. But also provide an educational side for the viewers, which is also saying ‘my body is nothing to be ashamed of and I’m proud of it and I’m going to make you learn more about it’.