Empowering Art and Feminine Expression: Nashikwele’s Journey

“I am a female warrior advocating being black, female, and a nudist in a society that often imposes preconceived notions of gender roles,” says Nashikwele Gideon, a 27-year-old architecture student, and talented artist.

Nashikwele emphasizes the importance of taking accountability for how women present themselves and resisting objectification. “I believe that true freedom and empowerment come from embracing our sensuality while also honoring and valuing oneself. It is imperative for black women to take charge of their representation and resist objectification. Take ‘twerking’ as an example—an African dance form that has been unjustly sexualized and objectified, attributing to negative stereotypes about women.”

Namibian society remains largely challenging for women to navigate, given the male gaze and unrealistic expectations set by social media. “I struggled with balancing my femininity and softness while avoiding the perception of weakness. This eventually led me to develop body dysmorphic disorder, which I suffered from for many years.”

Her escape from body shaming came through art and photography, where she could freely challenge societal expectations and embrace sensuality without succumbing to external pressures. “Being comfortable with our female bodies and celebrating the feminine is something I advocate, and art possesses the potential to enact profound social and personal change,” she asserts. “Through my artwork, I’ve learned to embrace my body and appreciate its beauty. Art is healing.”

She opened an innovative studio space in Windhoek recently that she converted into a hub for artists, musicians, poets, and photographers to come together, share ideas, and exchange creativity. Here, in her creative space, she gives wings to her rebellious spirit, creating art that tells stories and challenges social norms. Her artistic expression has moved beyond the confines of realism to explore abstract art.

Nashikwele’s message resonates deeply with young women, whom she encourages to chart their own destinies. “Society should not define how we perceive ourselves,” she urges. Her journey is an inspiration for those seeking to embrace their authentic selves. ©LIN

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