‘Cosmic Cuties’ Is The Body Positive Feminist Cartoon Series We’ve Been Waiting For!

cosmic-cuties

Body image is an issue that transcends race, age, socio-economic background and any other factor that divides us on a daily basis. The truth of the matter is if you are human and possess a body, you have no doubt struggled with confidence relating to your physical appearance.

It’s hard to escape the constant bombardment of messages from advertising, fashion, media and entertainment telling us what “beautiful” or “normal” looks like. It hurts us because we are also told that these attributes are tied to our value as a person.

So where can we turn to escape from the body image bullies? It’s a question we are still trying to figure out. We don’t think there is one answer. But each of us has power to stand against the mass-marketing messages. Collectively with our voices we actually stand a chance of changing cultural attitudes towards bodies. The way to have your voice heard today is by using social media. It is a great tool to spread positive messages.

We have seen many great campaigns started on social media that re-form the way we think and react to an issue.

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For example, when UK brand Protein World released a highly controversial campaign with typical skinny models in bikinis beside a message that urged women to get their beach bodies ready, men and women reacted by drawing graffiti on the posters and even launching a Change.org petition to have the seemingly discriminatory posters taken down. Their collective voices were heard and the advertising standards authority ruled the campaign had to be taken down.

While this was definitely a polarizing topic, many saying it was blatant body bullying, others saying feminists needed to “pipe down” and find a real cause (in a nutshell), we could also look elsewhere to see how body image infiltrates and influences every aspect of our lives. There has been a growing number of high school students across the US and elsewhere in the world whose stories of being punished for their outfits have gone viral. These students have becoming increasingly empowered to question a system of rules that places the blame on girls for when boys react a certain way.

When body image problems become linked to more serious issues such as rape and sexual assault, we start to realize this isn’t just something to be brushed aside as a silly feminist argument. Which is why we love what one high school student from new York has created in response to the growing criticism of the body image debate.

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Mikhaila Nodel, 16, wanted to cut through the noise and created a body image animated drawing series for her peers to find inspiration from. Cosmic Cuties features a group of plus size women drawn next to empowering statements such as “all bodies are beautiful” and “I am not an object for your sexual gratification”.

It was her way of contributing something positive in the world for young women who struggle with the way they look.

“I created the characters because I believe everyone should love themselves and feel confident. Cosmic Cuties are basically these feminist goddesses who protect women – trans women included, of course – all over the universe,” she told People magazine.

Mikhaila says the idea stemmed from her own experiences of bullying and low self-esteem in school, which all changed when she joined her high school feminist club. She started to realize that she was truly valuable the way she was and wanted to help other girls feel the same.

“I realized that all the reasons I hated myself were just stupid societal norms that don’t matter. No one should be disgusted by their own reflection. I hope that with my art, maybe people can start to realize how amazing and beautiful they are.”

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In an interview with Proud2beme, a site dedicated to building confidence in youth, Mikhaila explains that the Cosmic Cuties aren’t just a series of body-positive animated drawings, they are an alien species born from space dust who slow down the universe and fight sexist crime. They’re feminist goddesses that watch over all women and are there to protect them.

“A lot of my friends are insecure and a lot of teenage girls are really insecure about their bodies. I decided that I wanted to make people’s day better so I started making zines and I left copies of them in the girl’s bathroom so that people could just pick them up. I think it’s a really cool idea to make something that makes people feel better about themselves. I think that’s really important,” she said.

Her idea of creating a zine came from watching the documentary ‘The Punk Singer’ which we recommend everyone watch, it is badass! The main subject of the docu, punk singer Kathleen Hanna, was one of the original Riot Grrrl founders in the 1990s and their movement gained a lot of steam through the use of zines.

She eventually set up her Tumblr site and it quickly became a popular destination for young women around the world looking for some positive messages and Mikhaila’s unique creativity. And now when she is having a bad day herself, Mikhaila says the flood of comments she gets cheers her up.

“I love it when someone comes to me and they found it in the bathroom or something and they’re like, ‘Wow. It really made me feel better and I love your zine. Please keep making them.’ I guess it makes me feel great, also. After I made the first one, there were so many positive reactions,” she said.

cosmic-cuties

“I think that body positivity is about accepting all types of bodies without any bias. Especially in today’s society where bodies are only thought to be beautiful if they’re up to a certain “standard” and I think it’s really important that people that that standard isn’t how most people look. There’s more diversity in bodies than what is in the media.”

Mikhaila is part of a growing movement of teen feminists around the world. Their keen interest in issues of equality, intersectionality and diversity is adding a vital voice to a movement that has been around since the late 1800s and has literally changed the world for women in many ways.

In New Zealand there is a documented rise of high school feminist groups aiming to tackle and dissect the norms of society that seek to oppress both girls and boys with things such as gender stereotypes, the wage gap and of course the unrealistic standards of beauty that have been around for generations. It is time to break the cycle, and what Mikhaila is doing echoes a very similar message to what is happening amongst teens globally.

“I think that it’s important for not just one body type to be all over the media. And on the feminist issue, I think it’s important that women aren’t objectified so much because they’re treated as clothes hangers basically and it’s outrageous. I get so disgusted when I open a regular magazine and there are these guys in normal poses and normal clothes and the women are half-naked sprawled across them,” she said.

Her advice to other activists is to keep speaking up because there are people out there who need your voice, just as much as we are stoked to see Mikhaila using hers to spread a body positive message amongst her peers.

“Keep going, because they’ll be one person who resonates with what you’re doing and cares that you keep on going. Even if it’s just that one person, you should keep going because it’s important.”

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2 Comments

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