Amid the falling rose petals, Venus, the goddess of beauty, emerges above the sea waters with her shiny hair fluttering. Her body is perfect, with no bruises or extra pounds to shed. Italian master Sandro Botticelli’s (1445-1510) "The Birth of Venus" is still considered a representation of beauty in TV commercials and movies to this day.
The author, a British art historian, points out how unrealistic this masterpiece, which is indispensable in the history of Western art, is. Her flawless skin without a single freckle and her body without any unnecessary fat cells of Venus failed to portray a real woman's curves. It is nothing more than an illusion created by the male-dominated world of art. The author, in her book, introduces works of art that have long-ingrained distorted images of women, revealing how far apart the images of women identified by our brains is from reality.
And such out-of-touch depictions are not unique to Venus. The author emphasizes that Saint Mary is also a representative female figure that has solidified the gender role of a submissive woman. On the covers of the famous American women's magazine "The Bride's Magazine" during the 1950s and 1980s, a bride praying with her hands together while kneeling on her knees was often seen. "This proves that even in modern society, an obedient image of a female saint is still required of women," the author explained.
How can we correct such a twisted image surrounding women that has been established for centuries? To this end, the author believes that if more female artists openly talk about their lives and depict realistic portraits as they are, the real, raw woman will come to light.
Fortunately, little by little, changes to the right path are being felt around the world. The Prado Museum in Spain and the Uffizi Gallery in Italy have recently started holding regular exhibitions highlighting female artists. An increasing number of artists are capturing women's unvarnished voices, such as Hermione Wiltshire, a British sculptor, and photographer who made headlines with vivid photographs of women's childbirth.
The author is one of those women. “I felt uneasy when I was writing a book in my study with children to take care of,” said the author, who wrote this book while raising two children at home during the pandemic. “Still, women shouldn't stop telling their stories.”