Lebanese artist Christina Atik has created a series of digital pictures to show expressions commonly used in Arab countries to criticize women. She hopes her creations will empower Arab women.
The project raises issues like female freedom, beauty and sexuality in societies traditionally led by men.
Atik, 27, said she thought of the project last year after her younger sister Maria was criticized by their mother.
"My sister has a big nose and my mother always made fun of her," the artist said. The mother would say things like ‘when are you going to do an operation for your nose?’ and ‘your nose is not nice for a girl.’
Atik told the Reuters news agency, “I decided to do a drawing for my sister to show her that her nose is beautiful and she doesn’t have to listen to mum. And this worked. She did not do an operation for her nose.”
The picture won praise from local art supporters and quickly turned into a series. The Reuters report said there are currently seven illustrations.
Other illustrations read: “It’s not nice for a girl to have (body) hair,” “It’s not nice for a girl to like another girl” or “It’s not nice for a girl to live alone”. Each saying has its own picture, digitally created by Atik, along with a comment in Arabic.
“I think it’s very important to sit and talk about such subjects. So maybe we can break them or stop them and have the courage to say ‘no, I won’t do my nose operation’ or ‘no, I want to leave the house’ or else,” Atik said.
Her pictures have been shared across the internet. They have received many shares and have increased Atik’s followers on one social media website.
“I hadn’t at all expected people to share them that much, and women have started to send me things they hear from their families and societies around them. Women from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia... were touched by the illustrations I did, so that was something really nice,” she said.
Atik believes the condition of women is slowly improving around the world.
“I think we have a long way to go in Lebanon and in the whole world (on women’s rights) but I think we’re getting there, little by little,” she said.
Lebanon recently appointed the Arab world’s first female interior minister. She is just one of four women in the country’s government.
While some consider Lebanon a liberal country in the Middle East, it continues to permit marriages between children and adults and marital rape.
I'm Susan Shand.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
digital - adj. using or involving computer technology
drawing – n. an image made by a series of lines
illustration – n. a picture or drawing in a book, magazine
courage – n. the ability to do something that is difficult or dangerous
interior – adj. concerned with the inside of a country or home