Life

Women's Hidden Worlds Are Places Of Fear, Discomfort And Friendship

If you know, you know. If you don't, check out these illustrations.

It’s late at night and you’re on your way home. You finally get off the bus, but you have several blocks to walk before you get back to your place. Shadows stretch out in front of you on the empty street. You can keep yourself company with a podcast, but instinct tells you that might not be the best idea.

If you’re a woman, this probably feels familiar. The risk of street harassment or violence is something women are taught to be aware of from a young age. And it’s sometimes tricky to explain this palpable unease.

So, artist Nalakwsis illustrated it for HuffPost, and they captured it so vividly:

Women’s lives are full of these these “hidden” experiences — daily realities that aren’t always understood because a world made for men doesn’t recognize or acknowledge these situations to give them visibility. But these small moments are real, and they have a lasting impact on women, both positive and negative. We asked a few artists to bring some of these moments to life.

More than just a clothing swap

Clothing swaps have taken off in the last few years for a number of reasons: 1) you score free clothes, obviously, provided you bring in some goods to trade; 2) they help reduce waste and reliance on fast fashion; and, 3) free clothes.

They also offer women (since they’re mostly organized by and for women) a chance to spend time with others you may or may not know well. Maybe it’s unnerving at first, but if the group is supportive, bonding and belonging can follow. That’s what happened to artist Morgan Sea.

Sea created this illustration as “a memory of me, a tall trans lady nervously attending a plus-sized clothing swap and finding kinship among the many types of plus-sized women.” Discovering that connection amongst heaps of clothes is a find you can’t put a price on.

Questioning the double standard

Consider an idyllic summer day — the perfect time to head out to the park for a day of lazy reading under the sun. It’s so hot out; surely it would be fine to go braless under your T-shirt so you can be comfortable?

Not if you want to go unnoticed.

Artist Hyunsun Park illustrated the double standard women face regarding their nipples.
Artist Hyunsun Park illustrated the double standard women face regarding their nipples.

The nipple double standard of male vs. female nipples is well-documented; the palpable discomfort women feel, that men don’t, when they go out in public without a bra. Artist Hyunsun Park captured this feeling, asking us to confront the question: why ogle a woman who’s fully dressed and minding her own business, but completely ignore the topless man going for a jog?

Behind closed bathroom doors

Sometimes, the world that’s hidden away is one of spontaneous connection, friendship and selfie moments (’cause the light is so good!). Behold, the women’s bathroom.

Artist Tina Giang brought this moment to life.

Many a fast friendship has been born from a quick stop in the women’s bathroom on a night out. You tell the girl beside you you love her lipstick and ask her where she got it. Maybe the lineup is SO long, so you strike up a conversation with the woman next in line. Sometimes, a few drinks helps these conversations along, and in an instant, it’s like you’ve known each other for years.

There are so many “secret” moments we didn’t illustrate here, whether they’re ones that bring us joy, frustration, terror, or love. Which ones does the wider world need to see? Are there any women should keep for themselves? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also on HuffPost: