This year has sparked such personal growth in not just my life, but in my work as well. Especially in the projects and collaborations that I accept and pour my heart into. Last year my illustrations revolved around taking a rape survivor and attempting to transform the way she viewed her body through photography and artworks. It was such an intimate process and it’s one of my biggest passions in life. To be able to use my art platform to initiate honest, raw conversations not just between women in general, but to those secret conversations taking place in our minds as well.
I came across the Golden Fox profile some time ago and couldn’t help but reach out to her to simply say that what she is doing through photography is something that truly resonates with me. We started a conversation. This led to her contacting me in December to possibly join forces to create a beautiful campaign to encouraged female upliftment through illustration and photography.
My fashion graphic design thesis in fourth year at varsity focused on sex in advertising over the last fifty years and how women’s bodies have been used in different shapes and sizes in the industry. I found it fascinating, especially seeing as we went from advertising how to gain weight to be beautiful, to how to lose weight to be beautiful. A celebrated body in art used to be a very full figure and it was shameful to be too thin. My final project included line drawings / illustrations printed on t-shirts, so I was doubly excited when Simone said she would be developing t-shirts and tote bags with my artworks.
Over the last six months we have each taken on different roles in this project and poured our hearts and hands into each and every detail to ensure that we remain true to ourselves while creating something special. Our aim is to spark open, honest conversations about body confidence amongst females and to share our personal journeys. We have approached 10 very different, formidable females of all shapes, sizes and age to share their own stories across their platforms.
For me, in a time where we are bombarded with highlights of strangers and friends alike, it is so valuable to read when someone shares a more raw and honest story. It immediately lifts me from that voice inside telling me that “I’m not skinny enough, pretty enough, successful enough, tall enough, creative enough, nice enough, rich enough” to simply release a breath and realize that we are all battling our own demons along this path of life. Our perceptions of others success, beauty and life in general is just that, a perception.
This resilient body of mine has gone through massive changes: from a six-pack as a gymnast, to fullness in puberty, to slim, to obesity in my early twenties and then finally finding my work-in-progress balance for the last six years. My body has been through so much and yet still fiercely serves me every day. She is feisty old girl. I realized this year that I am always living in fear of falling back into my unhealthy habits. I also found that even though I am very body confident 80% of the time, I still have the perception of being “formerly fat”. It’s a shame I have carried with me for so long and find it truly amusing when I meet people in more recent years where their perception of my body is so different to those who have known me longer.
How often are we told that we are beautiful, that our bodies are beautiful? And yet when people that love us say that we often don’t believe them. There’s sometimes a voice in my head that tells me they are only saying so because they love me. Where does the voice come from? A guy in a bar grabbed my arm roughly once and told me that I am fat, ugly and that it’s a joke that a man is buying me a drink. He actually bent my arm and spilled my drink out. First of all, I paid for that drink myself thank you and second of all the guy was my friend and it was his round. I wish I had said that instead of running out in tears. How could I not believe this stranger that was so aggressive and went to such lengths to impress upon me that I was fat, ugly and undeserving of male attention. People are despicable.
If I ever manage to discover how to get rid of that negative perception of being “formerly fat”, I’ll let you know. Believe me, I am working on it. But in the mean time, I accept it and do my best to focus on the things that lifts my body confidence. Standing naked in front of the mirror like my grandma taught me and quietly telling myself that I am beautiful has been my greatest strength in finding beauty in my body for the past seventeen years.
I have recently noticed how much I comment on others weight, something that I am aware of for the first time and trying to change. The comments I make are always positive, but praising someone that they are looking beautiful and have lost weight could actually serve as a constant reminder to them that they are “formerly fat” and might be interpreted as them only now being beautiful that they are smaller. It’s not the way the comments are intended, but it’s something to consider and think about when you next find yourself saying that to someone. People are different of course and someone might be over the moon that you noticed, but it’s just something to consider.
Body shaming comes in many forms and is not biased to whether you are big or small: “She’s too skinny; You’ve lost enough weight now; You really need to just find a balance; She’s gained so much weight; Your dress is flattering; You look better in photographs than in real life; She doesn’t eat; Even fat she is confident; She must only eat that burger in public; It’s her job to look that good; That girl, that big girl; She’s so thin it’s unnatractive; You shouldn’t feel the need to lose weight; You really want to eat that?” Women shame each other constantly whether it holds a negative or positive intention. We are all guilty of it to some extent and I’ll be the first to admit that it fully includes me. It’s something to simply start noticing and actively attempt to think before you speak about another women’s body or weight.
The things we say only reflect badly on ourselves and are simply a mirror we are holding up displaying our own insecurities. Let people live their own lives and make their own decisions regarding their bodies. You don’t know the scars they bare of comments flung at them since a very young age. You don’t know the full extent of the damage that has formed their warped perceptions of themselves. Instead try to offer someone unflinching support, learn their story, love them and shower them with compliments from the heart.
Embrace your own path; embrace your own health; embrace this one-of-a-kind, resilient, strong body of yours. Work on your own internal struggle and embrace the flawed and wonderful journey to genuine body confidence regardless of scars, size and age.
If you embrace, celebrate and love your own journey with this beautiful body of yours, it is much easier to remove all forms of judgment regarding someone else’s journey with their body.
Golden Fox, Lisa Brown and I have linked arms to promote female uplifment through a massive giveaway. Enter our competition on Instagram here to stand a chance to win your very own body confident photoshoot with Golden Fox, hair and make-up by Lisa Brown and finally an A2 minimalistic original drawing created of your gorgeous body by me – worth over R10000.00.
The gorgeous soft cotton t-shirts and tote bags with my illustration embroided on them have all been developed by Golden Fox and is handmade in Cape Town. They are now for sale on my online store and will be gifted to each lady who books a photoshoot with her. Until October, I will be offering a R150.00 gift voucher to all the Golden Fox girls as well to further celebrate this special collaboration.
Thank you to Golden Fox for these beautiful photographs and to the gorgeous Amber Denae Wright for being our model for this photoshoot. She is a top 25 finalists in this years 2018 Mrs. South Africa and we are so proud to have her on board to promote female body confidence beside us.