The Womanhood Issue

Challenging Women’s Body Insecurities Through Art

This Omani artist is calling on women to embrace their bodies

By Alanood Al Wahaibi

Omani artist Mays Almoosawi. Image by Tariq Al Hajri, courtesy of Mays Al Moosawi.

At just 27 years old, Mays Al Moosawi has already become one of Oman’s most iconic visual artists. The young Omani, who hails from the capital city of Muscat, stands out thanks to her illustrations, paintings and wire sculptures, which centre on and depict the female figure. Through these works, she calls upon women of all shapes and sizes to embrace and love their bodies and shed their insecurities. Although her work is inspired by her experiences in Omani society and integrates elements of Omani culture, Al Moosawi’s message is universal and has found appeal amongst female viewers across the world. 

I spoke to the artist, whose work has been exhibited in London, Dubai and Muscat, about her introduction to the world of art, the stories of the women she depicts in her work, the challenges she faces in her practice and her plans for the future.

How did your art journey begin? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

M: Art was always a part of my life, as I grew up in a family of creatives, so I always knew I would be an artist eventually. As a kid, I was told that my work was not good enough, which changed my whole perspective of art for years. I stopped creating until the age of 16, when I decided that it was the only thing I was passionate about and I knew I wouldn’t succeed in any other field, and that’s when my journey began. 

How would you describe your art style?

M: My work is very colourful and figurative, with a touch of culture. 

Art by Mays Al Moosawi centre on women’s bodies. Art by Mays Al Moosawi.

How and when did you decide to focus on women and their bodies in your art? 

M: I never decided to focus on women or their bodies initially. When I started my journey, I experimented with everything you can think of. I went from realistic to character design until – unintentionally – girls started appearing in my paintings and I found myself in them. That was about two years ago. 

Describe the women you depict in your work. 

M: The insecurity experienced by other women in my community affected my own identity growing up. I felt the need to give them a voice. In addition, as a young girl, I was always bullied for being underweight, so I illustrate my journey with my own body and self-love, and theirs, through my work.

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