Frida Kahlo. Nan Goldin. Hatshepsut. Lena Dunham. Hannah Hoch. Wallis Simpson. Emilie Du Chatelet. Stevie Nicks. These are just some of the women who, through their various life's work, changed the course of history forever. They also, at some point in their lives, were called sluts.
A project entitled "A History of Sluts," a collaboration by artists Chelsea Dom and Alice Lancaster, presents a visual compendium of the badass women who were criticized and reviled for their open sexuality and fierce femininity, and prevailed as powerful nonetheless.
"My project is an exploration of slut-shaming and how it relates to society today," Dom explained to The Huffington Post."I was first inspired to do the project while working on a photo series about prostitutes and strippers. I was documenting the slut shaming stigmas that they experienced and realized that this isn’t an isolated issue. I have been slut shamed and so have most, if not all of my female friends. It’s an important theme to explore."
Through "A History of Sluts," Dom hopes to dislodge the fallback method of female oppression, exposing slut shaming for the prejudiced method of silencing it always has been all along. "Slut-shaming has become so engrained in our culture that it’s now a normal and accepted practice. Women are taught to see their bodies as something shameful. I wanted to show through my project that some of the most powerful and influential women in history have been slut shamed. It’s okay to be confident and empowered. We have to take away the fear associated with the female body, and not ostracize those who openly express their sexuality."
To accompany her text, Dom enlisted artist Alice Lancaster to create slinky line drawings of the various heroines. "I love her work," Dom said. "I wanted to use her illustrations in the book because she has such a great sense of line and proportion, which really give the portraits a unique character and perspective. I wanted to give her as much freedom as possible with the illustrations so that her honest interpretations of the women could come through. I like that she draws people she admires, and this philosophy really helps to humanize the individuals she illustrates."
The minimalist drawings align inspirational female figures from varying eras, origins, disciplines and effects. The one thing they all have in common is, sadly, the discrimination they faced during their lifetimes. "Some of the women in the book are well known, while others I had to learn about for myself. I wanted to open the discussion of viewing these women not by how they’re labeled, but rather as human beings who have lived unique lives. There are women in the book who people will be quick to characterize as 'sluts' but others might be surprising. With these historic figures, I want to express that slut shaming effects all women whether it be someone well known or someone you know."
Needless to say, we love this project. Check out the powerful sluts who took no prisoners in the images below and see more on Instagram. The book "A History of Sluts" will be released Spring 2015.