In Helsinki, a new statue wants women to embrace self-acceptance 

In Helsinki, a new statue encourages women to embrace self-acceptance 


A new statue of a woman seated in a relaxed manner wearing a pair of crocs has been temporarily erected in the Finnish capital of Helsinki to promote self-acceptance and celebrate diverse bodies among women. 

The statue, titled, “Tavis Amanda” was designed to offer an alternative model to the Havis Amanda, an eroticised nude mermaid statue designed by a male artist more than 150 years ago, and one of the country’s most iconic artworks. 

The new Tavis Amanda – “Tavis” translates to ‘regular person’ in English – sees a clothed female figure lounging on a seat, looking totally at ease, with her legs crossed and a pair of crocs dangling on her feet. She is trying neither to be sexy or appealing. She is not interested in satisfying the male gaze. 

She is not concerned with being looked at. She is completely and utterly herself, just comfortable in her own skin — in a state of contented pondering. 

A plaque under the sculpture reads: “hyvä just näin” which translates to: “Good just like that.” 

The statute was designed by Finnish artist Sanna Mander, who described the Tavis Amanda as “The sister statue of famous Helsinki landmark Havis Amanda,” on Instagram.

“Tavis is fine just the way she is – and so are you💕 Highlighting self-acceptance during Mental Health Week 2023 💕 Dedicated to my childhood friend Katja 🦋,” Mander wrote.

The sculpture stands erect in front of a restaurant across the Helsinki Market Square from the Havis Amanda, which is currently under repair, standing less than a hundred metres away. 

The Havis Amanda was created by the male Finnish sculptor Ville Vallgren in 1906. The bronze statue is the centre-piece of a large granite fountain and has been the focal point of Market Square in the Kaartinkaupunki neighbourhood of Helsinki since 1908. 

Mander’s counter-sculpture hopes to start a conversation about female representation, beauty and the burdens faced by young women today. 

It was unveiled during the country’s National Mental Health Week earlier this month, which focused on the growing mental health issues faced by young women in the country. 

The Helsinki Times reported a rise in mental health-related medical appointments among young women, with a significant number being treated for anxiety and stress.

National Crisis Helpline, MIELI Mental Health Finland, recorded a 40 per cent rise in calls for help in mid-2022 compared to the previous year. 

Data from the World Health Organization revealed that during the pandemic years, a disproportionate number of girls’ mental health was negatively affected compared to boys’ mental health. 

Historically, Finland is known for topping World Gender Equality charts and having some of the most advanced gender-equal policies. And how can we forget its former prime minister, Sanna Marin, who frequently spoke out against the sexism and double standards she faced as a young female leader. 

Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that women in Finland continue to report higher rates of mental health issues. A research paper published in June found that the number of women taking sick leave from work due to depression has increased over the past few decades. Women in welfare services, such as health care, education and social services also report higher levels of mental health issues. 

The Tavis Amanda statue has already inspired several social media posts by women, highlighting self-acceptance, healthy body image and “the growing mental health problems and performance pressure experienced by young women,” according to one influencer.

“I myself often strive for perfection, and not always for myself but for the sake of others,” this woman wrote. “It’s not easy to get rid of it. I want to encourage you and at the same time myself to do things that you really enjoy, to dress in your own style, to surround yourself with people who accept you as you are, and to tell yourself that you are good just like this.”


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