No woman growing up in the 1990s and 2000s was safe from women’s magazines. “How to dress”, “the current diet”, “straighten your hair with that product, “what men are most looking for”… The list of demands was endless and impossible to follow. Apparently harmless, such matters perpetuated a whole patriarchal view of the female body that persists to this day in society and in women themselves.
It even lasts in Helô D’Angelo, illustrator and cartoonist.
“I felt very relieved writing this book, many things had been living in my head for years and, being able to put it all on paper, made me very happy”.
“Nos Olhos de Quem Vê” is the new book by the author who, after writing a fiction about entering the adult world and an “almost” fiction about the isolation caused by Covid-19, Helô deposits all his fears, ideas and feelings in this Autobiographical HQ.
According to her, the process of creating the work was more chaotic than others she usually goes through.
“It was a real stream of consciousness. I wrote with a bic pen, in a carefree stroke… I finished the book in 3 months”, said the author.
Editing the work took more time, but all the initial verve of the project is there. Helô opens up to the reader, showing all his insecurities, through beautiful illustrations and a fast pace of reading, with pauses for reflections on the theme.
Divided into chapters, the comic deals with natural aspects of the human body that are demonized if they are inserted in the feminine context, such as: wrinkles, hair, fat and stains.
To escape her own convictions, and instigate the reader to review his, Helô draws figures with precisely these “defects” and every illustration is accompanied by texts normalizing what, in relation to men, is already common.
In fact, whenever the cis-heteronormative male figure appears, it’s impossible not to laugh. Through refined humour, Helô challenges the aesthetic choices of men who, when judging women, do not look at themselves. These figures function as a representation of society, responsible for being the “pooper” of any feeling of empowerment in relation to the female body.
One of the passages in the book addresses precisely this when talking about breasts, for example. For a teenage Helô, having “boobs” meant looking beautiful with cleavage, being accepted by other women and wearing beautiful bras. The reality faced by the author, however, was very different: back pain, more harassment, expensive bras with molds that didn’t work and, finally, harassment.
Using a lot of irony, the comic travels through different genres and moves people as it traverses the author’s entire life, her relationship with her own body and with other women.
“I went on a mission to revisit those standards for myself. I wondered where this came from, I went back to various parts of my life, I revisited relationships with my mother, sister, grandmother and friends”, said Helô.
One of the main threads of the comic is Helô’s mother who, by reproducing patriarchal beauty standards herself, passed them on to her daughter.
The work brings a real dive into the relationship between the two, with reproductions of dialogues and messages exchanged in real life. What lingers in these moments is a certain anger, a little resentment, but, above all, a lot of forgiveness and respect.
“My mom hasn’t read the book yet”, says the author, “I told her it was going to be a little tough, that I needed to talk about the things I’ve experienced, but I didn’t want it to be an attack”.
The book, after all, is dedicated to Helô’s mother and shows a very common relationship dynamic between mothers and daughters who, reflecting together and leaving aside aesthetic pressures that cross generations, manage to reach the same conclusion: it is possible to love the way it is.
As part of her promotion strategy, Helô publishes parts of the comic on her Instagram a few times a week. In other works by the author, they functioned as a small spoiler of what the reader who bought the book expected, today, they mean engagement and greater reach.
“Although people already know what they’re going to find, they want a physical record of history, that’s why they buy the ‘physical’”, he says.
For Helô, consumption on the Internet is very ephemeral, you can see a lot of content in a few minutes, but posting excerpts of the work on social networks raises fruitful discussions.
“I gained a lot of public for my book by doing this, in addition to being welcomed by those who read it and identified with everything I went through”, said the author.
“Nos Olhos de Quem Vê” is the opposite narrative to that of many women’s adolescence; change what you are to love what you are.
Helô no longer wants that to happen and, according to her, after writing the book, she is able to see her own body with more affection and acceptance.
In the book’s epilogue, Helô makes a beautiful exercise of citing everything she likes about herself, from her looks to her strength and determination.
And, after showing us so much and making us reflect, he invites us to do the same. At first, it’s not easy, but nothing that a second, third and fourth reading won’t help.
Source: CNN Brasil
I’m Susan Karen, a professional writer and editor at World Stock Market. I specialize in Entertainment news, writing stories that keep readers informed on all the latest developments in the industry. With over five years of experience in creating engaging content and copywriting for various media outlets, I have grown to become an invaluable asset to any team.