Through a series of interviews and portraits WOMANHOOD explores different aspects and complex issues related to womanhood with a more intimate view. More about the project here.
I was in elementary school when I was told I had to shave my legs by my friends. I also remember being about 13 years old, saying to myself “my goal is to be the prettiest” and thinking about which plastic surgery I wanted to get. It’s insane but yet again, it wasn’t really me talking, I was told those things.
NOM: Bianca Di Blasio
Why did you want to participate to this project and pose nude?
I wanted to challenge myself and other’s perception of how a naked female body should be represented. There exist ways to show your body naked from which people won’t feel too uncomfortable. We see it everywhere on social medias: women are going at it on Instagram showing off those curves and abs half naked and, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against it! But it is still hidden behind an idea of what is desirable. Showing your natural body with all its “imperfections” is an actual challenge, because you are totally transparent about the way you look and you can feel very vulnerable.
What did you think of the experience ?
It felt good to realize how comfortable I was with being photographed naked. The challenge was to let go when I started thinking about how my entourage would react to the post.
How do you think nudity should be represented?
Nudity is a delicate subject when it comes to the female body. The body is something natural, it was born naked and I think there shouldn’t be any taboos around it. There is something very intimate to it, obviously, and that’s where it becomes tricky. But other than that, it’s only the social conventions that regulate what is acceptable or not in terms of nudity. In America, even though we proclaim ourselves as free and open minded, we are extremely prude and self conscious. I would love to see the body being understood as the complete and perfect artefact it is. I don’t want to say it’s impossible nowadays, but a total mindset subversion is necessary within the occidental culture to erase the objected idea of the body and for it to be seen as the beautiful natural thing it actually is.
What has been your biggest struggle as a woman?
I think dealing with my body hair and building self confidence were tough ones. The struggle when you are a girl is to grow into the best version of yourself while ignoring pre-established social norms and advertising messages. We are exposed to them at a young age, a period when we are looking for answers on how to become a woman. I was in elementary school when I was told I had to shave my legs by my friends. I also remember being about 13 years old, saying to myself “my goal is to be the prettiest” and thinking about which plastic surgery I wanted to get. It’s insane but yet again, it wasn’t really me talking, I was told those things.
Then I went on with my life thinking this is just something I have to deal with because that’s the way it is. Social norms are presented to us as truths, like something you don’t have to question. For example, girls and boys are told that “hair is gross on a woman”, at the same time and in the same way they are told to brush their teeth or wash their hands before a meal. That’s why no one really questions it, but at the end of the day, no one is born thinking hair is gross, it’s actually essential to our health.
Body hair is a hot topic. Would you say it’s a potential sign of change towards a more liberated perception of the female body?
Well the problem stands in the fact that it is a “hot topic”. Some girls have been doing it for years, some have recently assumed it in order to change social norms, but now it seems like armpits hair is becoming a trend, meaning it’s accepted by society in general. Now what about legs, thighs, forearms, pubic hair, face hair ? For some who have been shaving since the age of 13, it takes a lot of courage to let it all grow, honestly. Armpits hair is cool because it’s one thing less to think about for us, but it’s still an act that lays on surface. The change has to be done in the deeper cultural tissues, in the education, in the mindset.
What does femininity represent for you?
I’ve come to understand that femininity can be found both in men and women. But I’ve been through all kinds of phases where I would at first emphasizes everything feminine about myself and then totally reject it. Now I feel like being sensitive and delicate defines what is feminine about me.
Photography: Cassandra Cacheiro
Creative Direction: Sara Hini