What does body hair, stretch marks, mental health, pleasure, feminism, menstruation, and sexuality have in common? They’re all unique characteristics which help make us who we are, but we’ve been told and taught to hide them. Christine Yahya isn’t shying away from celebrating these beautiful features in all their glory, and shares her perspectives about body positivity and body inclusivity.
One night, after feeling a lack of representation, Christine shared some illustrations using her own body as the muse. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and just like that, @pink_bits was born. Her account has now amassed a following of 131K fans from all over the globe, and it’s not hard to see why so many have connected with Christine’s art. It’s beautiful, colourful, but most of all, it’s real.
We caught up with Christine to chat all about bringing body positivity and inclusivity to life through art, and her advice for those struggling with embracing and celebrating their bodies.
Tell us how Pink Bits began
Pink Bits started from a very personal place in late 2016. I was drawing for fun one evening and have always been drawn to art which explores the human form.
That night I was looking for a reference photo which resonated with me, and I couldn’t find anything I saw myself within. So, I whipped out my phone and drew from my own nudes, and felt a sense of personal representation I hadn’t experienced in art.
On a whim, I created a new profile, shared the rough illustrations and found a lot of people resonated with the works in the way I had. From there I tasked myself with creating art with the intent of representation and illustrating the bits and shapes we’ve been told and taught to hide.
What inspires you about the human form and ‘the bits and shapes we’re told to hide’?
I adore how unique and expressive the human form is! It’s the least interesting thing about our human experience, but simultaneously it’s our very own canvas and a beacon to express ourselves. The human form has so many unique curves, lines, bumps, textures and more. It changes alongside us, through all our phases; it’s just magical.
The bits and shapes that we’ve been told and taught to hide represent such a wide variety of physical and non-physical things e.g. mental health, body hair, pleasure, feminism, menstruation, identity, sexuality and much more.
I find these things most inspiring as they’re inherently human parts of our experience, and parts that shouldn’t be associated with shame or fear.
Illustrating these parts of ourselves is my way of reclaiming them, normalising them, accepting them and creating an opportunity to discuss and create positive and honest representation for them.
You’ve garnered a large social following and international recognition. Did you imagine your art and message to be so well received?
Thank you! It’s still a surprise to me, and I couldn’t have imagined such a response to my art. I’m incredibly thankful and touched that it has resonated with so many.
However, the fact that it has resonated with so many, really reveals so much work needs to be done. In terms of representation, fat liberation, body positivity, acceptance and more, within our societies and media.
Absolutely! At Libra, we’re on a mission to encourage everyone to live liberated from the pressure to be perfect, from wondering if you’re normal and from shame & stigma. Why do you think these pressures exist and what do you think can help to remove them?
This mission is so important and there’s much to be done! There’s so many intersecting systems at play which cause, push, exacerbate and perpetuate these feelings of shame and stigma.
There’s a lot we can do, but a great first step is to look inward and begin to do unlearning work and question that shame and stigma. Empowering and educating ourselves will best equip us to challenge societal stigma, support others, live liberated and offer insight.
We’re inspired! What advice do you have for those struggling with embracing and celebrating their bodies in all their glory?
- Start unlearning! Challenge and trace back those feelings. Who taught you your body needed to look ‘that’ way instead?
- Curate your feeds! Follow people, projects, hobbies and more that make your heart sing. Unfollow those who make you feel less than.
- Practice being present in your physical experience, even if it’s for a few minutes a day.
- Write down when/where you feel good in your body, or even when you forget you’re in your body.
- Practice body neutrality and acceptance. Sometimes the pressure to feel radically ‘in love’ with our bodies isn’t constantly attainable, and acknowledging our bodies are simply ok, is liberating.
- Remove the internalised male gaze from your life. Trust me. Your body does not need to perform for anyone or during any activity. You and your body are not here to just be pretty and absorbed as such.
What incredible and empowering words about body positivity! We’ll definitely be following in Christine’s footsteps and taking her amazing advice on board. Remember we are all unique, incredible individuals, and that deserves to be celebrated!
You can check out Christine’s art at @pink_bits. If you’re searching for an activity which is big on body and period inclusive vibes, Christine has also just released a Body Inclusivity puzzle. Some of our favourite features? A vulva kite and a ‘Let It Flow’ fountain.
Love, Libra x
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