“Women in English”: Carol Rossetti’s One-Woman Empowerment Project

by Emma Tilden

Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti didn’t set out to start a movement. She didn’t set out to create an iconic series of illustrations. Her project started out as something deeply personal. In fact, it doesn’t even really have a name yet— for now her illustrations remain in Facebook albums entitled “WOMEN in english!” and “Mujeres en español!” 

“It has always bothered me, the world’s attempts to control women’s bodies, behavior and identities,” Rossetti told Mic.com via email. “It’s a kind of oppression so deeply entangled in our culture that most people don’t even see it’s there, and how cruel it can be.” 

Rosetti’s illustrations are personalized affirmations of the rights of women. They congratulate the empowered, comfort the survivors, and present rebuttals to the oppressive comments that rain down upon women from the heights of the patriarchy.  Her work addresses experiences from all over the spectrum and off the spectrum completely—from rape to body hair to ableism to bathing suits to LGBT rights, nothing goes untouched.  Rossetti draws some of the characters from the experiences of her and her friends, while others are based on experiences that women share over the internet.  “I see those situations I portray every day,” she wrote. “I lived some of them myself.” 

Perhaps because it touches on the pretty much universal theme of oppression, Rossetti’s project has become a global phenomenon. While she originally wrote the text of the illustrations in Portuguese, translated versions are now available in English, Spanish, and Hebrew.  Spanish, Russian, German, and Lithuanian translations are all in the works! 

“I can’t change the world by myself,” says Rossetti, “but I’d love to know that my work made people review their privileges and be more open to understanding and respecting one another.” 

Images courtesy of Carol Rossetti.  

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