Despite being one of the biggest garbage fires in our nation’s short history, this year’s election — the one that saw a man who’s offended and assaulted every minority group he’s had a chance to attack chosen as leader of the free world — has produced one important thing: a renewed interest in politics and, for some people, the beginning of a burning passion to create and effect change. Such is the case of Aria Watson, an 18-year-old artist who wasn’t into politics before, but is quickly burning up the internet with a chilling and provocative project, entitled Signed By Trump, which puts Donald Trump’s sexist words right where they hurt most — onto the bodies of women.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Watson said “I never really cared for or understood politics, but this year was different. As a feminist, when I saw that Donald Trump actually won, my heart shattered.” That’s why when it came time to create a final project for her photography class, she wrote Trump’s words on the bodies of female volunteers (including herself, because, unsurprisingly, not too many people wanted to be branded with disgusting phrases), turned it in, and then posted the images to social media, where they were disseminated at lightning speed, even as both Instagram and Facebook tore them down due to their NSFW content.
That NSFW content, though, is necessary in art like this. It’s one thing to read Trump’s words and then discuss them, it’s another to see them actually printed on someone’s skin in indelible ink. In Watson’s photos, our President-elect’s vitriolic thoughts about women, their sexuality, and their place in the world take on a tangible form, becoming the physical embodiment of the psychological wounds that they create.
While some artists may have shied away from the attention — especially the negative responses that must be coming her way — Watson is using her newfound fame to galvanize others. Watson explained why it’s important we continue to call out Trump’s sexism. “Kids are going to grow up and look up to this man for the next four years,” she said. “We can’t have a leader who says such horrible things about women. I’m scared that the way he speaks about women ― this sexism and misogyny ― will end up becoming a social norm.”
Want to do more to raise awareness of how hatred and misogyny are coming back into vogue now that Trump’s about to be handed the reins? Spread these images and, as Watson says, never be afraid to speak out. Now, more than ever, our future depends on it.
You can see the rest of the photos (some NSFW) here.