In Arabic culture, the body of a woman is often the source of much contention and controversy. While the image of a belly dance is iconic to Arabic culture, it is simultaneously taboo, as showing an uncovered female body is generally not acceptable. In this series I attempt to portray the multiplicity of layers that exist when beauty, femininity, and cultural taboos collide. I convey my own personal journey and evolution in regards to the perception of this sensitive topic.
When I was young growing up in Egypt and I saw a belly dancer on TV or dancing at weddings, I felt confusion. Her partially naked body was not something that was widely allowed or encouraged. It sparked a question about how society views the female form. It was something that was supposed to be hidden and unseen. If her body is left uncovered does it then imply it is seeking to be sexualized? Or is it the expression of the human being in its many forms? Beauty in and of itself, the gift of existence, the gifts of movement, self-expression, sensuality, and art. Something that should not be hidden or ashamed of, but rather have pride that dance and femininity plays such an important role in Arab culture.
In this series, through my own lens, I redefine and revision the view of movement, beauty, and femininity away from a sexual gaze- but as art that exists intrinsic to culture.