"As a survivor of sexual assault – that’s very much tied into my art practice – every time I draw my body I’m reclaiming it."
My art practice is about nudity, self-love and female empowerment. My online project started after I began dating this guy in second year of university and when we broke up, he threatened to leak my nudes to my parents. I realized my own body could be used as a threat against me, and there was shame attached to the fact that I took naked photos of myself. It was so absurd, but also very real and terrifying.
At first I was embarrassed, but upon talking to other women I realized it was a common experience. We all take these photos, are asked for these photos and are expected to take these photos, but then they are so quickly turned around on us.
So I asked a bunch of women I knew and didn’t know to send me naked photos so I could paint them and share them online to show everyone we think our bodies are beautiful. To show that you don’t have the power to use my body as a weapon against me, because it’s my weapon to use.
At first I made the commissioned paintings super-realistic, but as time went on I stylistically pulled back. Now I do simple line drawings with watercolour backgrounds. As an artist I still struggle with the tendency to draw all bodies as the same body – the body I’ve been taught my body should look like. Receiving [images of] all different shapes and sizes of bodies has taught me a lot of things about myself, but also that I have to be representative of all bodies.
For my fine art practice and my thesis for OCAD University’s Digital Futures program, I’m drawing myself. Jennifer Lawrence famously said that every time you look at and download her leaked nude photo, you’re violating her consent. People feel a disconnect with people they don’t know. For that reason, I’m really interested in dealing with my own body more in the future, which is scary. It’s a harder thing for me to think about because it’s tied up in a lifetime of body issues.
As a survivor of sexual assault – that’s very much tied into my art practice – every time I draw my body I’m reclaiming it, and to do that for other women is really important. It feels radical to shamelessly love my body as a woman, and political to share it online.
If you’re aware of your entitlement to other people’s bodies – from having an opinion on the way women dress to violating their consent in a physical setting – we can call out the larger issues of rape culture through day-to-day actions.
See last year’s Body Issue here.