What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3)

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationVictoria Beckham does not get a lot of respect when interviewed by “veteran” media personalities or design gurus. This is evident in the YouTube videos I had the chance to watch the past few days, where she’s treated like a 15-year-old, at best. Even when she gets praise, there is always that underhanded message about how she might be just another flash in the pan. And there’s also that quick reminder about how she has “surprisingly” outlived the many short-lived brands that were started by pop celebrities like herself.

Victoria Beckham is probably the fashion industry’s top underdog! I don’t know why YouTube decided to put her in my path via their Recommended Videos section, but I’m grateful for this serendipitous coincidence that made me see that even “rich” and “famous” women get to be treated badly, even in an industry that is primarily created for women – i.e the fashion industry.

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationVictoria Beckham is no flash in the pan. She is a hard-working woman who has learned from her past experiences, and who deserves to be acknowledged as an inspiring and entrepreneurial fashion designer with a great taste and a piercing vision!

This 40-something mother of four, and husband to former British football player David Beckham, has paid every effort to reinvent herself – and I believe she did it with real grace, determination, and style. What’s most important to me in her journey is that she has reached the heights of success “despite” the way she has been treated by fellow fashion designers (who seem to feel like they were too important to be in the same boat with her) as well as other design personalities and fashion magazines.

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationA Fashion Industry Dominated by Males

Although in each of her interviews there is great emphasis on how she couldn’t have done it without “the team” that surrounds her (another way to say she couldn’t stand on her own feet), I believe this hardworking fashion designer is so smart and strategic that it can elude the most experienced of fashion gurus in her field.

Simply put, Victoria Beckham is the first-of-her-kind in the fashion scene and there is no blue print to compare her to.

When I told my husband I was thinking of creating a series of illustrations about Victoria for my “Illustrations for Women about Women” blog series, he made an interesting comment about how she was a woman who was being super successful in an industry that is mostly dominated by men.

Any driven and hardworking woman is probably too familiar with the way egotistical men undermine women in their field, and may also treat them like an easy target. The sad thing is when women treat women that way out of jealousy and insecurity, and other maladies of the heart. To see a young woman like Victoria start a brand, lead it from a 10-peice collection in 2008 into an international brand in a matter of years, and be able to successfully wear two hats (as a designer and as a businesswoman) is probably too much for fashion-industry egos to handle!

What Victoria Beckham Can Teach Us about Reinventing Ourselves as Women | Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 3) | By Yaansoon IllustrationPeople Grow and Change, They Don’t Stay the Same

Asked by Chief Editor of British Vogue about whether she finds any similarities between her mindset as a former Spice Girls performer and her current vocation as a fashion designer/businesswoman, Victoria answered with an emphatic, yet polite, “No.”

She does reiterate this in other interviews, as she obviously is struggling against an industry that can’t move beyond first impressions and has no ability to acknowledge people’s growth and evolution.

Today, Victoria Beckham is a responsible, serious, and very inspiring woman, who is looking to create something real. And for this reason, I have great respect for her and wish her more success in all her future endeavours. I also hope that the media and the fashion industry would re-set their judgmental glances at her, and follow The Guardian‘s lead by starting to appreciate her journey and her evolution as a woman.

NOTE: Although my blog series, “Illustrations for Women about Women” was initially about female heroines I have met in real life, I now feel this series can grow to include other inspiring women I haven’t met.

About this blog series by Yaansoon

Early May 2016, Yaansoon launched her new series, “Illustrations For Women About Women,” featuring portraits of ordinary and extra-ordinary women from the 20+ countries she has been to, including matriarchs from her own family. Although the series was originally about real women she actually had the chance to meet, the series will now start to include stories about inspiring women who can teach us something about inner strength, their searing vision and tireless dedication, despite of adversity and/or hardship.

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Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 2): ‘Our Identity is Rooted in Food,’ Italian Novelist Simonetta Agnello Hornby Tells All

Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 2): How Can Food Help Us Understand Who We Are? Italian Novelist Simonetta Agnello Hornby Tells All | By Yaansoon IllustrationI’m very excited about today’s episode of “Illustrations For Women About Women,” which will take us on a journey to Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, and home to not-too-internationally-popular Italian dishes rooted in fusion cuisine and a multi-cultural flavor. Today’s post will be featuring Italian food writer and novelist, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, whose novels are international bestsellers, translated into more than twenty languages!

My husband and I are obsessed with food, not just for its variety and flavor, but because it offers us the wonderful opportunity to learn more about our own diverse cultural background, as well as other world cuisines and cultures. When we heard that an Italian writer was in town to chat about food in Sicily, we were so excited about making it to her talk titled, “Sicily, the meeting point of food and culture in the Southern Mediterranean.”

Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 2): How Can Food Help Us Understand Who We Are? Italian Novelist Simonetta Agnello Hornby Tells All | By Yaansoon IllustrationItalian Novelist, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Explores Cultural Identity through Scrumptious Sicilian Recipes

Learning about Sicilian food and culture from this particular author was truly fascinating. It really is inspiring to see this island’s culinary heritage through Simonetta Agnello Hornby‘s eyes and unique perspective as a strong, independent, and creative woman – who has chartered her own path in literature and in life.

Born and raised in Sicily, Agnello-Hornby got married in England in her early twenties, which kind of helped further her passion for exploring cultural fusion through her writings and advocacy work with Black and Muslim communities as well as Arab women. In her talk, she gave marvelous anecdotes and examples of the cultural fusion in Sicily, considered by some as “the world’s oldest colony” and a place where many civilizations have laid anchor.

Because of this, the Sicilian cuisine shows traces of all the cultures that have passed through it over the last two millennia, giving the Sicilian food its own textures and flavors. The Sicilian cuisine does have a lot in common with the Italian cuisine, but it also boasts strong Arab influences – as well as Greek, Spanish, and French culinary hints and characteristics.

Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 2): How Can Food Help Us Understand Who We Are? Italian Novelist Simonetta Agnello Hornby Tells All | By Yaansoon IllustrationSicily: Where Italian food meets the Southern Mediterranean culture

Agnello-Hornby’s enjoyable story-telling can take you on a journey about food, not just as an edible experience, but also as a conduit for cultural fusion and identity.

She speaks about how “The Italian language will never die out due to food,” as in her opinion, “Food is culture.” Her culinary wisdom extends to areas related to cultural identity, with unique insights such as: “The identity of a person is [rooted] in food. The culture of a person abroad continues through food and not through language.”

Her insights touch upon Sicilian roots and origins, for instance how “Many food-related words in the Sicilian dialect have an Arabic origin.”

Agnello-Hornby also speaks about “similar traditions,” for instance the traditional feast at the end of the pistachio harvest in Sicily, which is celebrated with boiled lamb served with vegetables. “I found the same tradition and the same type of cooking in Aleppo [Syria]. I also found the Sicilian eggplant meatballs (Polpette di melanzane) in Egypt. The same type of Sicilian sweets (from the convent) are also the same in Aleppo,” Agnello-Hornby explains.

Food and Empathy

I’m truly blessed with the opportunity to learn about Simonetta Agnello Hornby‘s literary work and culinary insights!

I do personally believe that food is a great place to help us transcend our biases and prejudges as women and as people from different corners of the globe. Food offers us an opportunity to build cultural openness, and a flexibility in understanding and constructing our own identities, in a way that emphasizes empathy, peace and love above everything else!

Thank you for stopping by, and I do hope to see you again in my next illustrated episode!

NOTE: The writer’s talk, hosted by the Italian Cultural Center (La Dante), was in Italian language only, and so my husband ended up going on his own (my Italian is still very rusty). Being the lovely person he is, my husband interviewed Agnello-Hornby, took a photo of her to help with my (above) illustration, and brought back quotes and notes from her talk to use on both our blogs. Please feel free to check his new Italian blog about calligraphy and lettering, as well as his handletterd post about Agnello-Hornby’s unique take on Sicilian food and culture.

About the illustrator

Early May 2016, Yaansoon launched her new series, “Illustrations For Women About Women,” featuring portraits of ordinary and extra-ordinary women from the 20+ countries she has been to, including matriarchs from her own family. Yaansoon’s artist nickname is closely linked to her creative message – as it is inspired by the Aniseed plant, a multi-cultural aromatic plant and Southern-European and Mediterranean herb that makes a great herbal tea packed with amazing healing properties.

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Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 1): Middle Eastern Girl Reading Multi-Cultural Books

Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 1): Middle Eastern Girl Reading Multi-Cultural Books | By Yaansoon Illustration

The first episode of my blog’s “Illustrations For Women About Women” series takes its inspiration from this powerful open-letter by Executive Director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Lin Oliver (#WeNeedDiverseBooks). It reminded me of my childhood – growing up in a culturally-diverse family, with a mother who loved to buy us multi-cultural books that fueled the imagination with curiosity and an innocent sense of impartiality, along with a grandmother whose bedtime stories were a kid-friendly nod to 101 Arabian Nights.

There once was a little girl who grew up in a moderate part of the Middle East, a corner of the globe that generally came with “bad rep.” Luckily, she had no idea that adults seemed to like judging each other based on the color of their skin, ethnic roots, faith, and appearance.

From an early age, she was introduced to a large collection of books written by illustrators and writers with diverse cultural backgrounds. This quickly fueled her curiosity to learn more about those far-away lands and countries. She developed such deep love for the illustrated children in her books… and enjoyed immersing herself in the little unique worlds each one of them was blessed with. Some wore Russian mittens, others played with American Superman toys or wooden Arabian horses, and a few wore beautiful Indian Saris or danced at Chinese festivals with large paper dragons.

When the little girl grew up, she was astonished to see how this world of colour and beauty did not exist for some of her acquaintances, who seemed to like making unkind and hateful assumptions about each other. She didn’t understand why some even made quite hurtful assumptions about her. Those assumptions were like a firmly-closed glass jar that was too tight for the rolling green fields and the endless sun-kissed cheeks of the children in her illustrated books.

From the very beginning, the world was split into two very distinct paths, offering the little girl an opportunity to choose. One part of the little girl’s family were as open and as colourful as the books she read, while the other half saw the world in muted colours. Their faces often grew ugly with hatred and bias, making her feel extremely uneasy. They saw the world in black-or-white terms, but she knew in her heart of hearts the world she saw was a coloufrul one filled with wonder and music.

Illustrations For Women About Women (E. 1): Middle Eastern Girl Reading Multi-Cultural Books | By Yaansoon Illustration

When the little girl became a young lady, she met other people wearing a dark pair of shades that made them see the world in faded colours. But she had a wealth of imagination and power triggered by her collection of books from Ukraine, Spain, Sweden, Lebanon, Morocco, and UK.

As time went by, she learnt that other girls and women from different parts of the globe knew this kind of power and was truly looking forward to hearing their stories in this blog’s illustrated series!


About the illustrator

Yaansoon has just launched her new series, “Illustrations For Women About Women,” featuring portraits of ordinary and extra-ordinary women from the 20+ countries she has been to, including matriarchs from her own family. Yaansoon’s artist nickname is inspired by the Aniseed plant, a Southern-European and Mediterranean herb that makes a great herbal tea packed with amazing healing properties.

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Illustrations For Women About Women: A new blog series about amazing young and old girls from different cultures

Illustrations For Women About Women: A new blog series by Yaansoon IllustrationWomen are the glue that holds the world together; that’s my personal belief. I have had the honor of meeting some of the most inspiring women throughout my travels to over 20 Western and Eastern countries around the world. The ladies I’m going to be illustrating for my new “Illustrations For Women About Women” blog series have all inspired me to be more loving, more daring, and more understanding and compassionate about what women go through in different cultures and situations.

Before turning to illustration I have led two parallel careers in media/PR and singing-songwriting, which took me to small towns, villages and big cities in over 20 countries with endless cultural combinations.

I’m an extremely driven person and have worked hard to achieve excellence in every workplace, music tour and creative project I have been part of. For this reason, stereotypes that demoralize women or assume less from them, do not sit well with me.

Women are capable of amazing things. I have seen it with my own eyes, and have experienced it in ways that have opened both my eyes and heart to acceptance, empathy, and faith.

Some of the women in the coming episodes of this series are artists, journalists, female Syrian refugees, housewives, grandmothers, strong matriarchal figures in their own far-away and obscure communities, feminists, writers, and social rebels and activists.

Illustrations For Women About Women: A new blog series by Yaansoon Illustration

All of the women to be featured on this blog were capable of amazing things within their own circumstances. They might not have made headlines in the media, but they were still extra-ordinary heroins who were capable of stabilizing their communities, giving hope to others, creating beautiful things, and changing their challenging circumstances to the better.

Not every story is happy – as even the most amazing people can be filled with sadness, scars, and hurt. But by meeting these women, my perspective about many things has been challenged and eventually changed. I was able to learn something new about life and, to a great extent, my inner world. That’s why I am here to share these lessons and observations to try and give a glimpse of what women from different cultures are capable of doing in their search for beauty and hope, how they have adapted to their dire circumstances, and how they have challenged societal stereotypes.

I hope to feature the first episode of this series in the coming few days, so stay tuned!

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