The Phases of Identity: A Digital Art Series

By Nada Al Mosa

This digital art series examines my personal chronological issues with my identity, regarding my femininity and the standards in place for what my womanhood is expected to be presented as.

Raised in a Muslim Arab family, a common first greeting between women is “Oh, have you lost weight?” Your acne, body, and choice of clothing are all subject to scrutiny, and you must calmly and respectfully accept it all.

In “Identity in Conflict,” the face is divided and contorted, reflecting how a woman often presents herself to the world, in comparison to how she truly feels on the inside. The dress she wears barely fits her, revealing her bare chest: vulnerability. The dress is not for her, but it is demanded of her.
“Faceless Flower” stems from this passive acceptance. No individuality is present, as there is no face to be identified by. You are a blossom, and must be treated like one, with no regard to who you truly are, and what you aspire to be. My hair has not been shown to my grandmother, whom I often see on a weekly basis, in over 3 years, because its short cut would have offended her, and I would receive no end to her disappointment. Hijab has concealed this fact from her. One Eid, my aunt said to my face that I had “finally worn something decent,” as if this is acceptable to say. My body is not for me, but for my family.
“Protect” represents the impact of these experiences. The mask in this drawing is the shield I had to place up in order to arm myself against the expectations of my community.
“Growth” shows that I am now in a space where I can expand, and most importantly, grow as the person I am and want to become.

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