Interview with Christine Yahya (Pink Bits)

Published in Issue 2 | Illustrations by Christine Yahya

Christine Yahya is a Sydney based graphic designer and illustrator. Her work as Pink Bits focuses on drawing all the bits and shapes we’re told to hide, and strives to create artwork that represents women in all their glory. Her Instagram account @pink_bits has inspired over 30k followers with illustrations of a wide range of women, in front of pastel backdrops. We spoke with Christine about why there are bits we’re told to hide, the way media portrays women and men’s bodies, and Christine gives us insight into different approaches to help people struggling to accept their appearance.

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Sara: Issue 2 of TOKEN Magazine is focused on the theme of ‘Bodies’ and what I love about your illustrations is how you draw every kind of woman, those with different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, those with disabilities, those without disabilities, the list goes on. Is this something that is important to you, and if so why?

Christine: Yes, it’s very important to me to draw as many people as possible! I truly feel representation is so meaningful and empowering to the viewer. There’s so many incredible women out there that are not represented in our everyday media – I want to diversify that.

Sara: What inspired you to start illustrating ‘the bits and shapes we’re told to hide’?

Christine: When I first started drawing the ladies of Pink Bits, I wasn’t consciously drawing to start a page or with any plans in mind. I was just drawing for leisure one night and I wanted to see my own shapes on paper.

I think it was this sense of wanting to see my curves represented, and recognising that other people also felt the same sense of representation/empowerment that I did when I shared the initial artworks online, that made me want to draw those parts of womanhood that aren’t showcased/we’re advised to hide. This is not just in the physical sense, but also in the expectations placed upon women too.

Sara: Why do you think there are bits we’re told to hide?

Christine: There’s so many ways to tackle that question, and just so much history, agendas, sexism and traditional thinking that press onto women, that inform these ridiculous notions, and that we’re still fighting against today.

Sara: What are your thoughts on the way the media portrays bodies, both women and men’s?

Christine: Very rigidly, within a very narrow range, and often showcasing the 'masculine male' and 'feminine female’ trope. I think the poor portrayal of diverse bodies within our media can have such a devastating effect on people over time, and therefore informs what society deems as ‘acceptable’ and the nominated goal we should be striving for. It’s really damaging and not reflective of reality.

Sara: What has been the response you’ve gotten from your illustrations?

Christine: The response has been really positive! I receive so many beautiful comments  and personal messages from people, leaving lovely remarks or sharing personal things about themselves – how they relate to the artwork, what they’ve overcome or are overcoming.

It’s such an honour to hear these deeply personal accounts from individuals, and knowing that your work has resonated with them so personally.

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Sara: Did you ever imagine that your illustrations would touch so many people from around the world?

Christine: Not at all! It’s incredible to think about and very humbling.

Sara: Do you have any words of advice for people struggling with their body image?

Christine: I’d want them to know that they are so worthy of self-love.

Body image and how you feel is such a personal thing, and offering advice can be hard as a whole. What might be helpful for one person, might not be for another. But some of the approaches below were useful for me:

  • I’d really encourage them to work out what it is that makes them feel most wonderful in their skin, and do it. Continually create moments that allow them to feel great. For me, this could be wearing clothes that I felt good in, or listening to songs that make me want to dance around naked.

  • I’d encourage them to consider whether they need to go on a social media cull – maybe there are some accounts that you’re following that aren’t making you feel uplifted or confident in your body image. For me, scrolling through social media feeds is something I do a little too often, so making sure my feed isn’t wearing me down is really important.

  • I’d love them to really take a look at where they’re getting their information from for what their body should be, and also recognising that SO many of the images we’re exposed to are highly curated, staged, edited and more. Self comparison is something I’ve struggled with, and I still have to check myself sometimes. It’s important to recognise fantasy from reality, but also know that all bodies are beautiful in their own ways, and your body image/beauty isn’t defined by someone else’s.

Sara: What’s next for you?

Christine: I’m hoping to keep drawing and uploading everyday! Am also hoping to take on more projects and commissions, and make some more lovely prints and products for my store.

You can buy Christine’s prints and stickers on her online store pinkbits.bigcartel.com.

Sara Jafari