Photos That Explore Young Womanhood Unencumbered By Feminine Stereotypes

Swedish artist Arvida Byström was a precocious child. At only 12 years old, she started her painting and photography career, and at 22 she’s a Tumblr star and owns her own gallery (Gal in East London). Her work is a rainbow of glitter, “girly” things, and ‘90s ephemera — which she subverts to explore taboo subjects, sexuality, gender, and identity. Byström recently collaborated with photographer Valerie Phillips on the book Hi You Are Beautiful How Are You (first spotted on iGNANT), which focuses on presenting young womanhood untouched by Photoshop and preconceived notions of femininity.

“It’s fascinating and more than a little depressing that in most fashion editorial and advertising, it’s taboo to show any kind of real humanity or sexuality. Why are people so scared of and/or repulsed by real life?” Phillips said in an interview with Dazed. The duo take issue with the notion that they are “sexually stereotyping young girls,” as Byström’s looks are often mistaken for that of a much younger girl. “All this can be traced back to me showing a woman with little make up, unwaxed, occasionally unwashed, leading an interesting life, not in clothing sanctioned by the producers of daytime television,” Phillips stated. “I feel very connected to the things that influenced me growing up, and it would be impossible for those things I loved as a kid, not to seamlessly enter my pictures since they are still many of the same things — outer space, skate culture, zines, punk, outsider art, stickers, horses,” said Byström. See a preview of Hi You Are Beautiful How Are You (available on January 5), below.

Photo credit: Valerie Phillips
Photo credit: Valerie Phillips