We’ve all been subjected to backhanded compliments; just when you think you are about to receive praise…zing, you are hit with an insult.
Having been on the receiving end of these “sugarcoated insults” more than once, artist Vanessa Papastavros (aka Van Scribbles) was inspired to create her series “Backhanded Compliments” in an effort to illustrate and combat these comments, which often times are sexist or revolve around a woman’s appearance.
“I hope my art can portray a message that counters this discourse through positivity, self-acceptance and a broader idea of what beauty is and where it can be found.”
In a previous interview Vanessa explains, “Usually when someone gives you a backhanded compliment, you feel offended but also powerless to protest. The drawings I made were a way for me to feel I was rejecting the insults I never responded to at the time.”
Each illustration depicts a backhanded compliment heard by Vanessa, or one submitted to her by fans of her Tumblr page. But this time, instead of being stunned into silence, Vanessa includes retorts to the insults, and they are just perfect!
Much of Vanessa’s uplifting work is focused on feminism and body positivity, “I’m largely inspired by the women around me who want to see realistic and empowering representations of women in society. I find all of these women beautiful, because they live fearlessly. Our media is so saturated with negative body messages that aim to put women down. I hope my art can portray a message that counters this discourse through positivity, self-acceptance and a broader idea of what beauty is and where it can be found.”