Lainey Molnar is a 32-year-old single woman who’s child-free by choice. Needless to say, she’s no stranger to the judgment faced by women who don’t conform to society’s expectations.
“I have always been considered a black sheep,” the Amsterdam-based artist told HuffPost. “I have 51 tattoos. I talk about taboos constantly. I’ve lived out of a suitcase wandering around three continents the last four or five years. I don’t have a degree and I can’t drive a car. My ‘normal’ somehow induces judgment in people, so I wanted to process that in my own way.”
As an artist, Molnar does her processing through relatable illustrations, which she posts on her popular Instagram account.
Molnar often casts a comic version of herself in the drawings, which explore everything from what an established, accomplished woman looks like to how exhausting it is to have to achieve the ideal “beach body” every summer.
Alongside each illustration, Molnar includes a caption where she muses on the topic at hand or describes her own experiences.
“We have the right to choose our lifestyle and not apologize for it,” she wrote when posting the “established woman” illustration above. “We have the right not to settle for less, we have the right to pick whatever makes us whole, [whether it’s] a white picket fence and three toddlers or backpacking around the world. Don’t let anyone’s rulebook or judgment define you.”
The comics have struck a chord with Molnar’s more than 793,000 followers.
“Life shouldn’t be just a list of ‘to-dos’ to check,” one woman said in response to the “established woman” post. “It should be whatever we want it to be.”
“I feel this!” another woman said of the “beach body” drawing. “I recently made myself wear the more revealing swimsuit, to show myself that I had nothing to apologize [for].”
Molnar tries to read and reply to as many comments as she can.
“It’s so amazing to see womxn from every corner of the world open up about their own personal experiences and hype and uplift each other in the comments,” she said.
Lately, Molnar has broadened her work to reflect the personal challenges and concerns that her followers have voiced in the comments, like struggles with mental health and generational trauma and the sizable expectations placed upon new mothers.
With each illustration, Molnar tries to strike a balance of vulnerability and humor. As she puts it, she wants to leave the viewer with a simple but powerful message: “Life choices that aren’t hurting anybody are never ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ they’re simply personal.”
Scroll down for more illustrations, or head to Molnar’s Instagram page to see her work in its entirety.