Jade

Psychology and Criminology student, a writer and book lover, plus size, shamelessly sarcastic, and always up for a healthy debate tackling the tough conversations.

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5 Body Positive Artists

Body Positive Artists

In my first year of A-Levels, my school required us to take an extra-curricular class, and much to my dismay I ended up taking ‘General studies’, which was effectively a qualification in knowing the most random, unnecessary facts in the world. However, despite the general boredom those studies inspired in me, I remember there was one debate we had that I became heavily involved in. We were asked to consider whether or not The Art’s should continue to receive any government funding. A lot of people argued along the lines that art isn’t practical, it’s a drain on resources, the money could fund better causes etc. And while I could understand everybody’s arguments and points of view, I could never agree that art was nothing more than a ‘drain on resources’. Artists are inspired by life, and in turn, art inspires our own lives. Art, in all it’s forms, depicts love that warms us, happiness that lifts us, sadness that makes our hearts burst. For some, art is their only form of communication, the only way they can express their true selves.

For many, art is their salvation.

Personally, I am inspired by art that challenges stigma, and addresses problems that I can relate to in my own life. So, as someone who is still learning the art of being body positive, when I find art which challenges my bad perceptions of myself, it gives me the strength that I sometimes struggle to find on my own. Therefore, I’ve rounded up five of my favourite body positive artists, in the hopes their work might inspire you in your best moments, and be your salvation in your worst, just as they are for me.

Body Positive Artists

Carol Rossetti is a 29-year-old designer and illustrator from brazil. I first came across her work on Instagram completely by accident, and what a happy accident it was! Carol mostly works in pencil and watercolour, and the depth of character she manages to portray in her portraits is so impressive, their expressions just draw you in! Her work is not only body positive, but life positive in general! I especially love her series of postcards, which empower people to embrace themselves and their individualities, whether that be the shape of their body or the cultural differences that make them so unique.

Carol has said she wishes she had started working on body positivity as a teen: “Body positivity is very important to me,” she told me. “It made a huge difference in my life and I hope I can inspire others to talk about that with their work as well.” I know that I personally have found her work very inspirational, and I’m certain others have too!

Body Positive Artists

 

Body Positive Artists

Christie Begnell is a 25-year-old artist, who works as an occupational therapist and is also studying postgraduate psychology, and she does all this while being on her eating disorder recovery journey! It’s one thing to be juggling all this, but Christie has also opened herself up to the world through her art, which is just amazing.

Christie initially began using her art to explain to people how hard it was living with, and recovering from, an eating disorder, and now her art work supports other people who have been in a similar situation. “I love using my skills to help others,” Christie wrote. “I love the voice it gives me”. When asked about what body positivity means to her, she explained that she loved how the Instagram community are using their voices to challenge beauty ideals and advocate acceptance. “Body positivity to me is the radical act of accepting your body regardless of its appearance. I love that this community has turned into a power force, and that’s something that is so important to me. I struggle a lot with loving my body, but accepting it and asking the world to accept it is really empowering for me.”

There is something really open, honest and pure about Christie’s designs, and she isn’t afraid to portray the hard facts of having an eating disorder. Her illustrations help to fight the stigma of mental health issues, and also embody the ideals of body positivity.

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Body Positive Artists

 

Body Positive Artists

I am Beto França is 36 years old, and has been doing illustration since he was 19. Drawing and painting is not only his hobby, but also his job as he does illustrations for books and teaches watercolour and drawing workshops. Beto has always been inspired by the style of women in the 50s and 60s, and when he began drawing images inspired by plus size women he became more acquainted with the body positive movement. Beto described plus size women, who inspire his artwork, as “beautiful, strong and happy”, and this view is definitely portrayed in his photos. Parts of a woman’s body we are taught to be ashamed of – our legs, bums, boobs and curves of our body – are all clearly defined and shown to their full beauty in is designs. My absolute favourite paintings from his collection on Instagram are of women taking part in a variation of sports, which were reminiscent of the #ThisGirlCan campaign; it’s so great to see art that challenges yet another negative perception of plus size women!

“It is important to be happy with your body,” Beto told me. “Many women see themselves in my drawings, and I am very happy about it.” And it’s not hard to see why! The women in his drawings are full of personality, are are shown to be confident and content to be themselves, just as we all aspire to be.

Body Positive Artists

 

Body Positive Artists

Kathryn Mallow is an artist and blogger, and is also a contributor right here at She Might Be! She often draws designs to go alongside the posts for her blogs, although she also posts the pictures themselves on her Instagram. Her artwork consists of fashion pieces, plus size positivity, and artwork which aims to inspire confidence and challenge outdated social norms… what more could you ever want?

Some of Kathryn’s art also depicts how to feels to have an invisible disability, and the results are exceptionally moving; Often it can be difficult to explain to people in words how it feels to deal with the difficult parts of our lives, and it’s through the work of people like Kathryn that we can gain a better understanding of what people are going through! So if you want empowering, feminist, body-positive images popping up on your feed from time to time, Kathryn’s Instagram is the place to go!

Body Positive Artists

 

Body Positive Artists

Sanne Thijs, also known as Full of Freckles, is a 30-year-old artist living in Belgium, and her illustrations are her career as well as her hobby! Full of Freckles was possibly the first truly body positive artist I came across on Instagram, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful I stumbled across her! Her art fills me with pure and absolute joy; it’s as if there is so much happiness in her pictures that it overflows into the people who see them! ‘Happiness’ is one of the things that Sanne says inspires her art, along with colour and a fat-positive mind-set, “Because I think there aren’t enough illustrations around of cheerful, cute or happy fat people,” Sanne explained. “I want to change that, because seeing representation of yourself in the world around you is an important part of feeling accepted. And loving yourself.”

When I asked Sanne what body positivity means to her, she said “It means having the body that you have without the world around you being judgemental about it, or being strong to let those judgments go and be your own person. It means freedom.” I have never been able to look at one of Sanne’s drawings without smiling, but it was then that I worked out why. It is the freedom that each of her characters possesses. Each and every portrait shows them as free to be happy, free to wear what they want, and most importantly, free to be themselves. It’s an enviable trait, but something each of us is capable of giving ourselves. Sometimes it just takes people like Sanne, all of these artists, and others in the BoPo Community, to remind us of that.

Body Positive Artists

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Fighting Segregation… With Segregation?

Segregation

Growing up, as a mixed race white and black Caribbean girl, it was always hard knowing where I fit in. My mum would drop me off at school, and the other kids would ask me who the nice blonde lady was; was I adopted, was she a friend of my mums? And don’t even get me started on the uproar when my step dad (who also happened to be white) would appear at the school gates. The opened mouth stares of puzzled children would follow us wherever the three of us went. I was one of a very small number of ethnic minorities throughout my school life. I faced racism and prejudice, as many minority group members do, and not just from my white peers, but from members of the black community as well. They called me ‘white washed’ because the fact that I sometimes straightened my hair and had mostly white friends, meant I wasn’t black enough for them. But I wasn’t white either. So where did I fit in?

It wasn’t until I got a bit older, that I realised the answer to that question. We are all a community, because we are all people. Whether we identify with a specific race, religion, region, sexuality or gender. Whether we define ourselves by our career, parenthood, sense of humour, morals or education. No matter the aspects of ourselves that make us individuals, in the end we are all just people. So I stopped worrying about how black or white I was, because in the end it just didn’t matter; I am proud of my heritage in it’s entirety, and yet it does not define me.

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The truth is, as a society we sometimes forget to recognise that we are all just people; different, maybe, but still equal. So I, like so many others, am always rooting for those of us who are brave enough to challenge society and outdated norms, and stand up for equality for all. However, it seems like we are doing ourselves a disservice sometimes, when in our search for equal rights and fair treatment, we accidently end up segregating ourselves further.

Only a few weeks ago in the USA, members of the Black Lives Matter campaign held an ‘exclusively black’ Memorial Day party. When I heard about it, I found myself wondering…if I had wanted to attend, would I have been allowed to? I, after all, am not exclusively black. And then, if I were allowed to go, my closest friends wouldn’t have been able to come and support me, and the rights of the black community, because the majority of them are white. I would be alone in a sea of strangers. Isn’t that what we are all standing against?

Of course, we should be proud of our smaller communities, and there is nothing wrong with people in these communities coming together, but it seems a shame to exclude people in the process. People who only wish to support us, help us to reach our goals. Black Lives Matter, and so many other worthy and important campaigns, aim to raise awareness of prejudice, and the exclusion of specific groups of people from society. But how does it help our cause if we exclude the very people we are trying to connect with? The world is more than just shades of colour. If we are open hearted, and open minded, we can all find a connection to one another, so that we don’t find ourselves alone and wondering where it is that we fit in.

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