Making art doesn’t just have to be about the final product, it can be a deeply meaningful and reflective journey that allows us to learn more about ourselves. Below I share how my inspiration sparked me to make body positive art.
The backstory behind the feminine mysteries illustrations.
Today I went through my old art work and came across a draft piece I designed for a potential illustration job. It was for womens fitness community where they wanted body positive art with accompanying affirmations and uplifting quotes.
One of my intentions this year (2021) was to learn how to paint and draw faces, portraits and the body. In particular the female body. I didn’t really understand why I wanted to draw portraits and bodies at the time but as we are over half way through the year now it is landing deeper for me.
Body image and how we view ourselves is such a huge thing to accept for a lot of women (and i’m sure men too but I’m just talking from my experince as a woman). Body positivity can be challenging when many women objectify themselves, and as women we get objectified too. Our beautiful bodies used to lure people in to buy products. Women’s bodies are sexualised in order to sell.
I mean it works right, but not for the right things.
My relationship with my body and my relationship with my appearance has become more of a noticeable issue since becoming a mum. I never really knew how much some women’s body change post birth. Some spring back and some, well, absolutely don’t.
I had never seen a diverse range of postpartum bodies so it’s been quite a journey coming to a space of body acceptance, hence me making body positive art.
Adventures at uni and not caring for my body
When I was younger I was tiny, I was a skinny winny and never thought about my size other than I was often told I was tiny. I was a size 8 at university, I partied and didn’t look after my body (or emotional wellbeing) very well and looking back at photographs JEEEEEEZE I was tiny. Almost to an unhealthy size, which I was blissfully unaware of at the time.
Seeing photos of how tiny I really was is a little confronting and it really shows how my partying impacted not just my emotional health, but my physical health too. Late nights working till 5-6am in the morning then partying on into the next day was a regular occurrence for me whilst at university. I guess it didn’t help that I was doing event’s management so actually being at events till that time in the morning I was building relationships and connecting with all sorts of people within the industry. The links I got through those connections for working at festivals were pretty incredible. But honestly, I had no understanding of my health, wellbeing and how to look after and love my body.
The effect of a nourishing relationship
Enter into my life my wonderful northern man and father to our little wildling. It’s funny how getting into a loving, connected relationship affects your safety (in a good way) and so all the date nights we had pushed my skinny winny ass to a size 10-12.
Though it wasn’t massive in hindsight, it felt like it at the time. It was the first time my body weight weighed heavy on me. Pun absolutely intended.
My weight slowly increased and yet I would still buy clothes that fit my old skinny body, then would be really upset that I looked awful. I had no experience of how to dress a more curvy body and it took me a while before I found pieces of clothing that would fit my now larger body.
Welcome the post partum body
Now moving forward to my pregnancy I started putting on even more weight. Thanks to a healthy dose of pregnancy hormones and a total lack of self control, pizza and chocolate were my loves. I’m kind of not surprised though as Jazzybean was a whopping 9.8lbs. Apparently 14lb babies run in my mans side of the family, which they didn’t tell me until after he was born.
Seeing my body postpartum was a really interesting process. I felt this immense power for what I’d just been through. Not only growing a human baby child with eye balls and everything, but also going through quite a traumatic birth ending in an emergency c section and 6 day hospital stay.
In my recovery I go up close and personal with the silvery stretch marks that adorned my belly, boobs and thighs. I explored the new feeling of soft, wrinkly, stretched skin on my belly. The mum belly. The one that’s been stretched so much there’s no way back.
Looking at my body I didn’t hate it, quite the opposite. I was in awe of it. The stretch marks reflected to me just how much I expanded to be able to hold and move through the extreme birth experience we had.
A change in perspective
The great thing about becoming a mum is that you don’t really have time or energy to worry about what your body looks like because your so absorbed in new born baby life and adjusting to your new role and identity. Plonk a traumatic birth on top of that and you REALLY don’t have the energy to worry about stretched skin and silvery expansion marks.
Fast forward 2 years into motherhood and my body has levelled into a weight its comfortable at. I have been more intentional about nourishing myself with good food, lots of fluids and a healthy concoction of apoptogenic herbs and supplements.
My relationship with my body is of appreciation and I now feel more of a woman than I ever have with curvy hips and bigger boobs. I feel like one of the Willendorf figures, a mother goddess of fertility.
The feminine mysteries series was my exploration into accepting my new body as a mother and all that it has been through. This is how I used my creativity to make body positive art and to support my relationship with my ever changing, squishy body.