Toxic Femininity: Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess associated with love, lust, beauty, pleasure, and passion. She is where we get the word aphrodisiac and find the connection of feminine energy to water (her name translates to sea-foam or having come from the foam of the sea.) She is also known for her love for love, having many lovers outside of her marriage to Hephaestus the god of carpentry.
What most people don’t know about Aphrodite is that she wasn’t just a god of love, lust, and beauty but also a warrior goddess. Apparently, to make her more marketable the god of war was dropped so that the more feminine qualities could be focused on. But even still, when we see depictions of this strong, beautiful goddess in Sparta, she is almost always holding a weapon and ready to fight. Proof that feminine is also strong.
In today’s society we have embraced the marketable side of Aphrodite, wanting to be the picture perfect women. To look perfect, create the perfect home, the perfect life on social, and have the perfect career. We go out of our way to have it all and look like we do it without a care, but the truth of the matter is that we’re all suffering from toxic femininity which is a one way street to burn out, not feeling enough, and imposter syndrome.
In this first episode of the Modern Magic Podcast, we dive deep into the archetype of Aphrodite and learn what this picture of femininity has to teach us as the warrior goddess. How boundaries are there to keep us and those around us safe, what expectations will do for creating stronger relationships and that it’s okay to put our pleasure first.
We also talk a lot about libido and it’s not what you’re thinking about…
Check out the full episode here and be sure to subscribe to the Modern Magic Podcast!
Behind the Painting
Aphrodite is often depicted as a white woman with long flowing hair sitting naked by the sea. But since she lives inside all of us, I wanted to open up this archetype to feel more fitting for women who don’t fit what culture has so often deemed as “beautiful.”
In this gouache painting of Aphrodite I knew that the water would be an important part. I also wanted to the iconography of the conch shell to be present but in a more subtle way (Since many of us aren’t walking around with a big shell in our purse). By painting her backlit by the fading sun she is mostly in shadow leaving her race up to the imagination. The reflection of the water and the sun creates splashes of color the light up her hair and add a whimsical or magical feel to her presence. On her back you see the tattoo of the conch shell, a reminder that she takes the sea with her wherever she goes. This piece of nature, of the divine, lives inside of her, always.
As with most of my painting, I don’t love the edge to edge look where the medium covers the entire surface of the painting. However, unlike some of my other paintings it felt important to put Aphrodite in an environment (the sea) to fully tell her story. To balance this out I leave the edge of the painting bare with the showing of brushstrokes. Almost like you are walking into the painting or seeing a window into another world. It’s your very own miniature wardrobe taking you to Narnia.
Want the Print That Goes with This Episode?
Hang this painting in a place that will remind you to come home to your space and yourself every day.