This woman wants to change the way we talk about the vagina

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Wednesday 06 April 2016 17:50
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Censorship of the female form is a debate that has been raging on social media for years and illustrator Rachel Rolseth has created a zine to celebrate the female form instead of shy away from it.

Rachel is a 32-year-old artist and illustrator from Minneapolis, Minnesota, whose floral art - inspired by gardening and her love of nature - took on a decidedly different tone.

She created a collection of educational zines fusing her artistry with the female anatomy, specifically the vagina.

Rachel spoke to indy100 about her new book, titled "Lady Bits:"

What inspired the book?

I wanted to make something that I wish I had as a young girl.

Sex education is very much all about the birth control pill, tampons, etc, and as I've gotten older I've found that those things haven't been great for me and my body. I've caught some heat for not including the pill in the book, but I've also had just as many women come up to me and say, 'the pill made me feel crazy too.'

It was important for me to write this from my own experience with my own body.

How did you structure the book?

Writing and illustrating the zine was all I did for a little over a month.

I took a few weeks to draw and paint as many flowers and anatomical illustrations as I could, and then collaged them all together in Photoshop.

What was your favourite part to do?

My favourite part of making it was doing the floral illustrations - it's what I do. Having a paintbrush in my hand makes time melt.

My other favourite part has been going places and handing out stacks of these, and seeing the conversations that it starts, which was the whole point of the zine.

What do you hope to achieve with this book?

I hope this zine can inspire girls and women to take pride in our amazing bodies, and realise that shame doesn't come from our bodies, it comes from a sick culture.

When we tell men they can walk around topless, but that women can't, the message it sends is that women's bodies are dirty and shameful, this effects women every day.

The censorship of women's bodies is such a ridiculous thing right now, and I think we as a society are coming to realise that.

What's the reception been like?

I've almost sold out of my first print run, which has been surreal. Some people have bought this for their daughters and nieces, which is the best praise I could hope for.

Have you had many men interested in this book?

One fellow bought five and told me they were for his nieces and his someday daughters.

Also, I had brought a stack to a local pub and had handed them out for free to a co-ed group. There was one man in his 30s who was there with his mother, and I got to see them have a conversation about women's bodies and her experiences as a woman.

Fighting for equality for everyone is a struggle, but it can be a beautiful struggle, it can be a creative struggle, it can be full of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Make zines, make songs, make protest signs, plant seeds, start conversations. Your contribution is as amazing and as necessary as you are.

All photos courtesy of Rachel Rolseth

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