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My artwork is an honest exploration of body image and what it means to have a positive awareness of self. My paintings depict women with bodies that do not conform to societal expectations of thinness, yet, in the act of exposure and defiance, they reject the notion of body insecurity and challenge normative beauty standards. I use vivid colors, symbolism, and overt femininity to celebrate all women as having authentic inward and outward beauty. Using traditional oil painting materials and techniques allows me to reference a time in history when society celebrated a Rubenesque figure, as well as juxtapose the contemporary trend of promoting fat positivity with a traditional medium.
Concepts of ideal body image and fat shaming have perpetuated in our culture for decades, and this constrained idea of beauty and perfection has had an effect on me my entire life. Growing up overweight, I struggled with low self-esteem and a damaged sense of self-worth until very recently. In taking on this subject matter, I have had to embrace my insecurities and expose my vulnerabilities to others, and through this process, I have been learning to accept and love my own body. I reject the notion that fat is a flaw and that women are beautiful despite this flaw. Through my paintings I want to show that fat is not a weakness or imperfection, it is instead a feature that can make a woman even more beautiful. In a society that values thinness as a marker for beauty, I am offering a counterargument: There is beauty in curves, in stretchmarks, in wrinkles, in the “flaw.” There is beauty in the aspects of our bodies that make us unique, the elements that make us who we are. I want my paintings to empower women to see their bodies, especially the aspects they are most insecure about, as beautiful, as wonderful, and as something to be celebrated.
Support for this project is provided by the Arts Council of York County Small Grants Program, which receives funding from the Rock Hill A-Tax/Tourism Commission, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of SC, the SC Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.