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Carol Rossetti Lecture Sparks Talk of Art and Feminism

Written by: Communicator StaffApril 01, 2015

Written by: Jazlynn Bebout

Brazilian graphic designer, Carol Rossetti, gave a lecture last Wednesday night encouraging women of all races and ages to be positive about their bodies.

The lecture, called “Body-Positive Art to Inspire and Empower”, focused on Rossetti’s feminist illustrations that have been on websites like Facebook and Tumblr. The goal of the illustrations are to empower women to dress and act as they please without feeling judged or forced to fit into a particular stereotype.

Rossetti’s illustrations depict women of different ethnicities, races, sizes and interests. The illustrations involve situations such as body image, racism, sexism and LGBTQ identity.

She began by posting her illustrations on Facebook after seeing a friend make a post shaming another woman for her body size. Now, Rossetti’s Facebook page currently has over 200,000 likes and is used as a way to interact with fans of her work, which also gives her inspiration for new characters.

Rossetti said her characters are inspired by her friend’s and family’s experiences and other characters are based on the common experiences had by women on the Internet.

Although each character has a unique experience, they all share common ground; they are being judged as real women are and held to unrealistic standards.

Michelle Kearl, an IPFW communication professor, said “It is just a constant struggle of hating yourself and trying not to hate yourself by achieving unreasonable standards that you will fail at reaching, and then hating yourself for not reaching them.”

Rossetti says her illustrations work to fight against harmful stereotypes and encourage women to take control of their bodies and do what makes them happy.
Janet Badia, director of Women’s Studies at IPFW, said “We [should] think about the way they are true forms of art. Not only in their colorful beauty, but in their compelling messages.”

Feminism, the belief that women and men should be treated equally, was a frequently mentioned word in Rossetti’s lecture. Rossetti spoke about how she identifies as a feminist, who she thinks should be included within feminism and how she is working to fight against the oppression of women.

Albeism, which focuses on discrimination against those who are disabled, was another term discussed in her lecture and represented in her illustrations.

During her lecture Rossetti said “People of color need to be included and racism must be fought, people with disabilities must be included and ableism must be fought.”

26-year-old Rossetti began by posting the drawings onto Facebook in Portuguese and were later translated into several different languages by volunteers who contacted her online. The images are now available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, and Lithuanian.

Badia said, “I think one of the goals of bringing her work to campus was to show the way art can be used to illuminate issues related to gender. I think of her art as being very activist in its goal.”

The project is not only for females; both male and female students were encouraged to attend. Rossetti said “Not all of the situations that are portrayed are lived only by women, and I welcome men or people of any other gender to identify as well.”

Women were the vast majority of the audience in attendance Wednesday night with a few men in attendance as well. Badia said “I don’t know why people on this campus have the impression that events about women are somehow only for women and not relevant to them. You don’t see gender segregation like that at most events on campus.”

Kearl said “I think that the sketches help sort of reveal that there is a conversation happening between those public images that we see, and the way that we consume them in our daily lives, in the way the we practice our daily lives, and the way that we judge other people and continue to reinforce those standards.”

Male and female students in our culture can educate themselves and raise awareness about the oppression of women by looking at Rossetti’s illustrations. Badia said, “Her posters are also very provocative in that they raise issues that maybe the average student hasn’t thought about in women in particular.”