Egypt
Art & PhotographyThe Arts

These Portraits Reveal More Than Just the Female Body

“Love your body… You are beautiful,” says Bassant al-Qassem, an Egyptian young artist who counters female body stereotypes through her revealing paintings of plus-size women. Her initiative, which garnered over 27,600 followers in less than a month, is not only about strengthening women’s self-esteem: it also aims to tackle the epidemic of sexual harassment that affects 99.3% of women, according to studies conducted by the UN.

“I don’t have a slim body and I used to listen to a wide range of insults and mockery from my colleagues in the university, random people in the streets and means of transportation and even from my own family,” Al-Qassem told Egypt’s Daily News. Her initiative was born almost spontaneously, after she posted a drawing of a “beautiful fat smiling girl” on Facebook. Due to the mockery and sarcasm she received for that drawing, she went on and created a campaign.

Two weeks on, messages of support and personal stories began to rain on her mailbox. “Girls must love their bodies first in order to be able to improve its shape,” she says. “When the girl becomes stronger and more self-confident, she will force all the people around her to respect her and see her inner and outer beauty.” This November, the artist plans to set up an exhibition at El Sawy Cultural Wheel, where she will also create a platform for girls to share thoughts and support each other.

For more information: Visit the campaign on Facebook.

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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