Throughout one's self love journey, body positive art can often play a major role in the process of healing from trauma and learning self acceptance. As can be read in the descriptions and lists of inspirations behind body positive illustrations, so much of the drawn experiences out there are inspired by real life occurrences.
Art in the body positive community serves as a way to not only challenge societal beauty standards, but to challenge the way that we think about our own bodies. I find that such work often inspires me to be kinder to my body — regularly illustrating an experience or conversation I've had with myself in the mirror.
Unlike a lot of images shown in mainstream advertisements, in which the subjects shown are often quite aesthetically similar, body positive art is usually inclusive. You can look at these pieces and see tattooed babes with green hair and girls rocking natural hair. Sometimes these artists don't even have to draw people in order to get their body positive messaging across.
Each artist has their own distinct style that communicates a powerful message of self acceptance. So on a day when you aren't sure how you feel about your body, let these 11 artistic magicians inspire you.
UK-based illustrator Kathryn Mallow of MurderOfGoths often draws her favorite outfit posts from plus size fashion bloggers, and looking through her work shows how vastly and beautifully different plus size fashion can really be. She also uses her work to depict problematic aspects of contemporary tropes like being called brave simply for wearing a bikini as a plus size woman.
Jess is the cartoonist and illustrator known as angryartist113. Recently, she created a comic called Am I Healthy?, which quickly amassed more than 60,000 notes on Tumblr. She noted that the comic was meant to explore the idea of health: mental, emotional, and physical. For all of the stress regularly put on one's physical health in the form of diet culture and health concern trolling, this perspective through illustrated art is refreshing.
I had the pleasure of getting to know artist Jonquel Norwood when we both lived in Atlanta, but I've really watched her blossom online while taking on more body positive and plus size fashion illustrations. Her work celebrates both high fashion fantasy and the fact that plus size babes can wear whatever they want. She recently illustrated a curvy tribute to "Work," which Rihanna herself shared.
4. Joanna Thangiah
The work of Australian artist Joanna Thangiah is fun and cheeky while also encouraging self love. She's known for her use of vibrant colors, and has explained on Instagram that she never creates characters she cannot related to as a person recovering from an eating disorder. Drawing these images has helped her learn to accept and love the fat girl she is. And it can certainly be said that her body positive work is inspiring others to do the same.
MellyEmClark creates what she calls "prints of positivity" and her work not only features bright colors for bold plus size women, but blue beards and heart-shaped nipples on the plus size men she includes. This inclusive look at body positive art is a fun way to challenge gender roles and beauty standards at the same time.
6. Tawana Simone
Artist Tawana Simone creates vector illustrations that often focus on plus size fashion and general #BigGirlAppreciation. Her work is concise and realistic with a twist of sassy artistic license. This is a great place to look for a combination of natural hair and plus size fashion inspiration.
Want more inclusive body positivity? Check out the podcast below, and be sure to subscribe to The BodCast for more self-love inspiration.
7. Rachele Cateyes
One look at Rachele Cateye's RedBubble page, Glorify Obesity, will reveal how intersectional and inclusive her look at body positivity is. Her illustrations are often tied to fat positive messages that directly address the ways in which fat bodies are still discriminated against, as well as the ways in which mainstream body positivity can often miss the mark.
8. Curvy Sketches
I can always count on Kathleen of Curvy Sketches to bring some runway-inspired plus size looks to life through her illustrations. She is known for re-imagining straight size runway ensembles in plus sizes, while also drawing plus size bloggers and models.
9. Maya Kern
Illustrator Maya Kern has created body positive comics that are easily recognizable. Often in pink tones, these comics challenge the way that we often think about our bodies, and the ways that strangers might view and dissect our bodies as well.
10. Frances Cannon
So much of Melbourne-based artist Frances Cannon's work is of nude plus size bodies, which is totally refreshing to see. Her illustrations depict a strong yet sassy message of self love and of being kind to oneself and to others. Her art has grown so popular that she even designs custom body positive tattoos for whoever wants them.
11. Carol Rossetti
Carol Rossetti's illustrations in The Women Collection really illuminate the ways in which women can take back ownership over their bodies and be free from pre-conceived notions about their own behavior. Of this project, she writes on Instagram, "It always bothered me, the world's constant attempts to control women's bodies, behaviors, and identities. This control is such a deep part of our culture that we hardly ever realize how cruel it is and how it restricts our personal choices." That is one powerful message of personal autonomy.
Art can transform the way that we think about ourselves and our bodies. If we need any reminder that beauty standards are total BS and that our bodies are completely great, these body positive artists have our backs.