I don't just like artist Joanna Thangiah's illustrations; I kind of want to be one. And, actually, therein lies the brilliance of Thangiah's feminist and body-positive art — her colorful, quirky, sparkly renderings of women (and a few fantastical creatures) are exactly what we all imagine our inner badass femmes might look and sound like. They are witty and whimsical in equal measure and, most importantly, they remind us that each and every one of us is amazing just as we are.
For Thangiah, it's a sentiment born from a very personal place. Chatting with Bustle via email from Australia, Thangiah opened up about the inspiration behind her art. "I initially started illustrating whilst I was in recovery from an eating disorder, as a way to help me love and accept my body as well as help me deal with being diagnosed with a string of mental illnesses," Thangiah shares. "I was also in a turbulent relationship, which made me feel worthless and powerless. Drawing was the only thing that made me feel better about my situation, and it did give me the power to finally escape."
In the time since, Thangiah has continued to use her art not only as a way to empower herself but as a channel for empowering other women, too. "It's so important because I don't want to go back to being that girl. It's so important because my story is in no way unique, yet nobody really talks about it."
"It's so important because even though the Bopo and feminist community is vast, it is in no way mainstream — we're still hidden away in an obscure place on the internet," she says.
Not surprisingly, Thangiah's art elicits strong reactions of self-acceptance in women, which they in turn share with the artist. "I love it when people tell me that my art makes them feel beautiful and that it helps with their body confidence," says Thangiah. "That my work makes them feel strong enough to speak up, and inspires some to create their own art in order to speak their own truth."
If you're anything like me, you're wishing right about now you could plaster Thangiah's prints all over your walls — which is why I was particularly psyched to discover that we can. The artist offers everything from prints to brooches and t-shirts emblazoned with her sassy renderings. Real talk: I'll gladly shop anywhere that features a "Feminist Unicorn Sale."
Follow Thangiah on Instagram so you won't miss another second of her empowering illustrations, or check out her online store to pick up merch to make your home as fabulous as the Thangiah-esque creature you are.
Images: Courtesy of Joanna Thangiah/Instagram