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Tender and unsettling: Instagram illustrator captures the “frustrations, feelings and desires” of women

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Moya Crockett
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Polly Nor’s illustrations don’t make for comfortable viewing, exactly. They’re tender and silly, but unsettling and frequently grotesque, peopled by squiggle-nosed women and mad-eyed devils. In one drawing, titled Babe You're Going To Be Fine, a girl slumps in the bath while a crouching demon brushes her hair. When another woman practises kissing against a mirror, her reflection in the glass reveals that she is the devil, herself.

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"Babe You're Going To Be Fine"

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"Thinking Bout You"

But Nor captures female life behind closed doors in a way that manages to be gross and beautiful, surreal and familiar, all at the same time – and her illustrations are striking a chord. Since she began posting her illustrations on Instagram almost two years ago, the 26-year-old Londoner has racked up some 112,000 followers. 

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"Nothing To Wear"

Nor says that the devils that appear so frequently in her work represent the “frustrations, feelings and desires” of her female protagonists. “Each drawing is like a glimpse into the thoughts and dreams of the characters that live within that world,” she tells Juxtapoz magazine. 

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"It Never Happened"

Like her fellow Insta-famous illustrator Sally Nixon, Nor often draws her female protagonists in the nude – and, like Nixon, she challenges us to think about the way in which unclothed women are usually depicted. The women in Nor’s illustrations have stubble on their thighs, rolls of fat under their bra straps, bags under their eyes. They aren’t coy and sexy, but they are savagely sexual, teetering gleefully on the brink of monstrousness. 

In Nor’s world, every woman has a devil inside of them. Maybe it’s time to let it out.

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"Cba 2 Pretend No More"

To see more of Polly's work, click here.

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women's Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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