21-year-old Spanish artist, Cinta Tort Cartro, creates art that aims to destroy the stigmas attached to women’s bodies. Her projects portray supposed ‘imperfections’, such as stretch marks, cellulite and acne, as beautiful, rainbow coloured parts of the body.
Cartro’s Instagram page has over 13,000 followers where she uses the platform to normalise periods and stretch marks which have become almost a thing of shame for women. She uses rainbow colours to associate these common experiences with a sense of pride and beauty. Also, her use of this multicoloured palette has the ability to make these ordinary occurrences more ‘friendly’ to others because I’ll be the first to say that if you do not experience periods first-hand, their appearance can be…scarring. I think the simplicity of this project has an endless amount of potential to allow the rest of the world to familiarise themselves with these elements of a woman’s body. Even though, vaguely, 50% of the population do not experience menstruation, I don’t think this allows them to judge menstruation and stretch marks as ‘disgusting’ whilst being completely clueless about them.
Stretch marks are most commonly associated with pregnancy and childbirth due to the growth that a mother’s body must undergo to accommodate their child, however, this is not the only reason for stretch marks to appear. During puberty, girls’ bodies go through significant growth around their breasts, hips, thighs and bum, therefore, these are the most common areas for stretch marks to appear. 70% of teenage girls are reported to develop stretch marks and if this vast majority is not enough to show their normality then I do not know what will.
I have stretch marks and I remember when I first noticed them on my inner thighs, to be honest, I panicked. I knew what they were and I knew other people that had them but, being a teenage drama-queen, I made my mum take me to the doctor who, rightly so, said something along the lines of “You are ridiculous. Go home.” I assume she said this much nicer than I am letting on though because I was feeling very fragile and teary at the time about these bright purple lines suddenly appearing on my body. In P.E. lessons, at the all girls secondary school I went to, we had to wear small black cycling shorts which were extremely short so I think that contributed to my worry about having these marks exposed on my body when I was sitting cross-legged etc – because they are not exactly ‘celebrated’. Those purple lines have now aged into a white-ish silver that I could not care less about. They don’t stop me from wearing short shorts etc but it did for a long time when they first appeared.
Simple projects like this one have the ability to teach countless lessons: teaching women to embrace the inner workings of their bodies whilst also teaching others that these functions are not ‘gross’ but natural and not something to hide or be embarrassed about. These inevitable and natural occurrences are as Cortro shows them…works of art.