It's tough being a woman anywhere in the world, and it's even tougher for women in the Arab region.

The system of patriarchy, which holds men in higher esteem due to the existence of a Y chromosome, is to blame. Over time, it has given birth to an extremely distorted idea of what a "woman" is and should be.

Through art - in the form of illustrations, books, and music - Arab women have been fighting back. 

Lebanese graphic designer Christina Atik is the latest to do so through an epic series of illustrations titled "it's not nice for a girl."

The series aims to challenge society's definition of "bint beit" because no one has the right to patrol a woman's body, choices, and beliefs.

"It's not nice for a girl to stay out late"

The 26-year-old has always "been interested in drawing heroic women and women-related things," she told StepFeed. 

"This series was born out of frustration that we [women] feel every time we hear the phrase 'mesh 7elo la benet'. Its aim is to start a conversation, and to make people a bit conscious about the things they say to women and girls," Atik told StepFeed. 

The series was inspired by a tiresome conversation often discussed in Atik's home.

"This particular series started with a drawing I made for my sister who has a beautiful big Arab nose. My mother is always telling her how her nose is 'not nice for a girl', and how much prettier she would be if she has it fixed," she explained. 

"This nose isn't nice for a girl"

Soon after her first illustration, Atik met with Donna Maria Feghaly from Retrieving Beirut, a platform which aims to "promote a withheld facet of Beirut through the various means of art."

Feghaly had asked Atik to take over the platform's Instagram account with a series of illustrations of her choice, and that's when the artwork came to life.

"Each one was inspired by things either me or my close friends have been through," Atik explained. 

"It's not nice for a girl to have body hair"

"There are so many obstacles women in the Arab world struggle with, and we can talk forever about them. The beauty standards imposed on young women are so ridiculous," Atik told StepFeed. 

Society has managed to redefine beauty, with standards that are neither realistic nor fair. 

"We end up being stripped of any self-love we have. Instead, we always feel the need to conform to the society around us," Atik said.

In 2007, a survey conducted by Dove found that 37 percent of Arab girls between the ages of 15 and 17 "would consider cosmetic surgery in the near future," according to Arabian Business. 

Some patients have died while undergoing cosmetic surgery. Yet, these risks are dismissed when the end result promises to meet society's definition of beauty.

"It's not nice for a girl to express what she likes"

"It's not nice for a girl to tell anybody"

"It's not nice for a girl to live on her own"

"It's not nice for a girl to like another girl"

One illustration stands in solidarity with LGBTQ+ couples in the Arab world, particularly women. 

In Lebanon, LGBTQI+ individuals are sometimes prosecuted under the controversial Article 534, which states that sexual acts which "contradict the laws of nature" can be punished by up to one year in prison.

However, court rulings in recent years have challenged the use of the law.

In 2017, Lebanon hosted an LGBTQI+ Pride week, an event the organizers called a "first." The week-long gathering positioned itself as a "collaborative platform that takes a stance against hate and discrimination." 

In 2018, however, the outcome was quite different. The nine-day-long Lebanese LGBTQI+ event put a halt to its activities after its organizer, Hadi Damien, was detained and taken in for questioning.

This happened despite the fact that nearly 100 candidates who ran for the country's 2018 elections openly called for the decriminalization of homosexuality.