Hilde Atalanta is a Dutch illustrator and painter, who utilises their art to educate people about sexual health, and the importance of inclusivity. Born in a village near Utrecht, Atalanta initially studied to become a classical pianist at the Rotterdam Conservatory, and ended up with a psychology degree in Amsterdam. After rediscovering their childhood love for drawing, they started illustrating and painting, implementing their sexual health studies into a digestible format for the masses.
The Vulva Gallery is Atalanta’s sensational project that displays different shaped, coloured, and styled vulvas, in an attempt to educate vagina-owners, encourage open conversation around taboo topics, and most significantly, prove that there is no ‘normal’ look for a vulva and thereby abolish shame. In a related project You’re Welcome Club Atalanta applies the same ideas of offering representation of those that are usually underrepresented in mainstream culture. Diversity and inclusion go a long way in making people feel validated and a part of their community. For example, on a superficial level diversity could mean giving a Black trans model a job. But once you scratch past the surface, it becomes clear that the normalisation of seeing a transgender person of colour on billboards and magazines would tackle the ‘othering’ issue. And when people who aren’t white, cis, thin and able-bodied stop being ‘othered’ then imagine what that would do for problems like racism and xenophobia, transphobia and all the other hateful ‘fears’.
We find ourselves in the middle of an era in which people who continuously haven’t seen themselves being represented in the media are pushing back against a system that was designed to cherish only one kind of beauty ideal. We want to see more POC bodies, more trans bodies, more genderqueer bodies, more fat bodies, more bodies with conditions or disabilities – we want to see more representations of bodies that aren’t white cisgender model bodies. And Hilde Atalanta does their best to give us just that.