Let’s talk body image.
There are 3.52 BILLION women in the world and some surveys say that almost 97% of women have body image issues in some form or another.
The media shows us images of perceived perfection without telling us how much is manipulated with computers, while designers hold up a shirt that could fit my 9 years old and try to tell us that it’s meant for a large person.
“Embrace” The Documentary
There was a documentary that came out last year called “Embrace.” It is the brain-child of an amazingly brave women named Taryn Brumfitt, an Australian who looked at her life and her perception of her body and realized she had a choice: she could hate her body for what it wasn’t or she could choose to embrace the body that she had.
She made the choice to post this image:
The photo on the left was the result of 15 weeks of hard work before a body building competition. The “after” was her decision that, to here, the hours of work and the sacrifice on herself and her family just wasn’t worth the effort needed to keep the image on the right.
To many, they would think “She put the before and after photos on the wrong sides.” Because we are taught that the skinnier people are happier and that larger people are unhealthy.
But you know what? She said that she (and the other women in the competition she was in) might have looked good on the outside, but they were just as mentally unhealthy on the inside as any other woman on the planet. They nit-picked their bodies, agonized over food choices, and never were satisfied with who they were.
So…she decided to explore what this meant…this idea that no matter what you body is…you CAN EMBRACE it and you should.
The documentary is now available on Netflix and I highly recommend it. Even if body image is not something your struggle with, it will change the way you view others and challenge you to take a stand on other’s behalf.
What does this have to do with art?
While I was watching this documentary, I was inspired to play in my art journal. I wanted to make myself draw a girl, but for once NOT be so caught up in making her perfect: the face shaped didn’t have to be perfect, her hair could be a “not normal” color and shape, her eyes could be different colors. Why? Because different is beautiful and because things like 2 difference color eyes, for me, pushes back against this “perfectionist” mentality that I have always had.
What does this mean for you?
First, watch the documentary. I will warn you…there is a little language and some nudity. It is done tastefully and I think really drives home this idea that it is possible to love you body, even with all the things we see as “flaws.” It opens up dialogue with yourself and others about things that are at times taboo. It shows you others loving their bodies despite how others judge them as imperfect.
Second, be honest with yourself. I know that I struggle with my body image. I had 3 kids in 7 years. I have droopy skin and stretch marks galore. I have a thyroid condition that make it difficult to loose weight. But the problem is not really with my body…my problem has been with my mind.
Yes…I might not have a flat stomach, but I will be running my first FULL marathon in just 3 days (that’s 26.2 miles!) Yes…I might have stretch marks, but I have 3 amazing kids and I know women who would give their right arm to have stretch marks from pregnancy. Yes…I have a thyroid condition that makes it hard to loose weight, but the number on a scale (or the size of my clothes) in no way is an indicator of the person I truly am. Of my heart for others. Of my desire to make a difference in the world. Of my hope that whatever I put out there into the universe will change at least once person’s life.
My body…my weight…my self-perceived flaws have nothing to do with my life as a world-changing woman.
Third, find a way to document your journey. If you follow me, you might be an artist too. Try putting your feelings in your art journal. If you aren’t an art journaler, try writing your thoughts down in a journal. And know that it is a process. Negative self-image is like a cancer….you aren’t going to wake up one day and be cured. It will take time. It will take constantly corralling your thoughts and keeping things our of your life that don’t fulfill your purpose and drive.
If you spend hours over fitness and fashion magazines…not for the articles, but instead to compare your body with their’s…then you don’t need to be looking at them. They aren’t truly doing you any good. The same with pinterest or who you follow on Instagram. If your “fitness inspiration” favs are not longer inspiring you, but rather you feel condemned when you see their posts…then they are not doing their job and you need to take a break from them.
I hope today has inspired you in some way to embrace a new path on your journey of self-discovery.
I hope my honesty has inspired you to be honest with yourself.
I hope my choices help you make good choices in your life. Choices that will lead you to a place of contentment and happiness and peace.
Until Next time,
PS For those who might want to know, the paints I used are: Jane Davenport’s Watercolors (Neutral Palette) from American Crafts, Heavy Body Acrylics by The Crafter’s Workshop, Fluid Acrylics from DecoArt Media and Acrylic Paint from DecoArt.