As a women I understand the effects visual media has on female self esteem. So when my almost 5 year old Niece, Zarna, asked me to paint her a picture of gymnasts for her birthday I had to ask myself “how should I depict women in a painting for her?”
The constant barrage of media depicting women with skinny bodies, flawless skin and carefree lives makes those of us with less than skinny bodies, skin issues and troubled lives a little bit self conscious!. I don’t want that to happen to my gorgeous little niece!
My initial thoughts were to paint chubby, short, tall, out of proportion gymnasts reading books so that for years to come she is influenced by real life. In real life women come in all shapes do they not?
I sifted through thousands of gymnast pictures online to get inspiration and what I found is that all gymnasts who are high achievers have very little body fat, are on the short side, primarily small breasted, fit and flexible!
So in the end although I would have like to have made a political feminist statement about women in this painting I decided to paint the reality of what champion gymnasts actually looks like. I will leave my statement about womens body shapes for another painting. Hope she likes it – I will be giving it to her tonight!