At just 21 years old, Barcelona-based artist Cinta Tort Cartró possesses a deeply beautiful understanding and appreciation of the female body in ways that can — and do — empower women at any stage of their lives. Cartró turns stretch marks into rainbow body art, among other empowering expressions of femininity within feminism: Period stains become artwork rather than reminders of shame, embarrassment, or inconvenience. Cartró's work is truly inspiring — but it hasn't come without its own controversy thanks to narrow-minded social media account policies.
On Monday, Cartró's Instagram account was deactivated for being in violation of the site's policies on nudity. Much of Cartró's work features uncensored and artistic photos of the female body, including exposed breasts and nipples painted with stunning rainbow motifs. As we all know, social media is a bit behind the times when it comes to nipples, from breastfeeding to, in Cartró's case, actual works of art. Thankfully, Cartró's massive social media following rallied behind her and her Instagram account — Zinteta — was restored early Tuesday morning.
Cartró's entries into the #FreeTheNipple movement on social media are important not as artistic activism, but for allowing women to reclaim power over their bodies. Her stretch mark rainbow body art pieces are perhaps some of her most powerful artistic work.
"ALL BODIES ARE VALID," begins the caption to one of Cartró's rainbow stretch mark pieces. Her message continues:
Observe them, read them, discover them, love them. Stretch marks. From a young age, we are taught to hate everything about our bodies and are constantly being pushed to erase everything that is not “normal”: blemishes, freckles, hairs and a long list of other things… including stretch marks.
It's impressive that at such a young age, Cartró has seen right through years of body image baggage to encourage women to embrace the idiosyncrasies of their own bodies. For her, it's a part of moving toward her own path of radical self-love. Stretch marks are not "flaws" in Cartró's eyes: They are just one part of who we are. "Stretch marks are a part of our essence, our moments, our lives, our stories and of ourselves," Cartró writes. "They are so beautiful that I can’t understand how we are convinced to hate them. Looking at them is therapeutic."
Even more incredible to realize is that Cartró just officially began her first year of art school this week, she announced on her Facebook page. According to Cosmopolitan, Cartró has just started her master's in illustration.
Her work is more than just about self-love — it's also about feminism as social action and power. In an interview with Yahoo! Beauty, Cartró spoke of how her feminist artwork evolved as a project of personal growth to a response to the injustices against women she saw in her own home country of Spain: "There are many things happening in my town that I couldn’t be silent on such as the male microaggression toward the female body." Cartró's self-awareness within the context of global misogyny is beyond refreshing. "I know there are countries that have it worse than here in Spain, but I couldn’t stay silent," she told Yahoo! Beauty.
I'm a plus-sized woman, coming from a family of plus-sized women. At 35 years old, I have struggled with not just my body size and weight, but my perceptions of myself. From muffin tops and batwing arms, to my never-ending quest to find a pair of fall boots that fit my 19-inch-wide calves — my own personal journey of self-love is constantly evolving. I won't lie: It's still a struggle for as much of a self-empowered feminist that I try to be.
Cartró's work isn't just important, it's necessary. The female body is one that is always in flux throughout her lifetime: Our body parts bulge, shrink, stretch, sag, and give. Stretch marks are more than just an unfortunate side effect of aging and changes in body size: they trace our stories of personal growth. Her work reminds us that every woman's story is unique, valid, and deserves to be told — and more importantly, heard. Tracing stretch marks with bright shades of paint isn't just a reminder for the women who don her artwork — it's a message for all of us. "Loving oneself is a revolutionary act," Cartró writes.
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