by Hanna Nicholls
You may have come across Belle DeMont’s #guessthetitties artwork while scrolling through Instagram. Each of the portraits depict semi or fully nude women in various poses, but none are sexualized in a way we commonly see in mainstream media.
“I love women’s bodies and I want to show people what I see when I look at them, which is, hopefully, a beautiful piece of art, because that’s what I’m trying to portray,” says DeMont.
DeMont, a 26-year-old NSCAD Fine Arts grad and illustrator, started sharing her drawings of women’s bodies on Instagram under the hashtag three years ago after a friend asked her to draw a nude portrait of her as a gift for her boyfriend.
“I wanted to add a bit of humor to it. I didn’t want to make it seem so serious,” remarks DeMont, so she came up with the #guessthemtitties hashtag. The hashtag has since gone on to be regularly featured on her Instagram, showing real women’s bodies and sexuality in a non-sexualized environment that’s outside of the male gaze.
“None of it is sexual. It’s all about her wanting to show her body and me wanting to portray it in a beautiful way.”
Empowering women to feel confident in their bodies is clear in DeMont’s work, where she normalizes and celebrates the beauty of all women’s bodies. In doing so, DeMont hopes to deconstruct the unrealistic beauty standards that women are continually held to, while simultaneously empowering women to explore their bodies and sexuality in a fun, safe and artistic way.
Women interested in having a portrait done reach out to DeMont either through Instagram or email, where they send her the photo they want to have drawn. DeMont remarks that “it’s important to see yourself through someone else’s eyes and not necessarily through a camera where you’re going to dissect everything,” making #guessthemtitties a unique way for women to engage with their own bodies.
Instagram has been a key platform for DeMont to reach out to women and share her artwork, but #guessthemtitties has not always been received positively. After a community complaint, the hashtag was blocked for a period of time, highlighting how women’s bodies are sexualized in a way that men’s bodies are not.
“On Instagram, women can’t show their naked nipple. Men can, we see it all the time,” says DeMont.
#Guessthemtitties has since been unblocked, but the hashtag and accompanying artwork continues to represent a loophole on social media platforms that perpetuate a culture of sexual inequality, which DeMont navigates through her drawings by showing that “women’s bodies aren’t there to be sexualized by the male viewer.”
Through #guessthemtitties, DeMont hopes to contribute to a larger conversation about the female body and sexuality by helping women to overcome discomfort they might have with themselves and the standards that are placed upon them through art.
“I know it’s cliché, but all bodies are beautiful, and that’s my favourite part about it – being able to draw different types of bodies and showing them what I see, because it’s really hard to look at your own body, in a flesh picture – it always gets me so excited for women.”
If you’d like a portrait done, DeMont will create one at no charge. Follow her on Instagram @belledemont