Arts' advice for bikini season: self love, body positivity and art

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Deputy Arts Editor Anna Trafford dishes out some required reading for a shame-free 'bikini season'.

With the Beast from the East banished and holiday-wear slowly infiltrating the high street once more, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the encroaching summer months.

The prospect of sunny afternoons basking on the Downs, tinny in one hand and ice-lolly in the other, is enough to make your mouth water. But along with the soaring temperatures comes the inevitable onslaught of flesh-baring apparel, which means that the dreaded ‘beach body’ preparation season is upon us.

Sunshine may be lauded for its beneficial health properties, but it also has the capacity to expose our biggest body worries.

If you find yourself starting to peruse the fake tan selection during your Sainsbury's shop and googling cheap pedicures around Bristol, I can assure you that you’re not alone. And if the thought of getting your legs out doesn’t make you reconsider the wisdom of scoffing quite so many Parsons donuts over the past few months, then good for you. But you’re probably in the minority. Sunshine may be lauded for its beneficial health properties, but it also has the capacity to expose our biggest body worries.

we’ve probably been too brainwashed by airbrushed images to be truly happy with what we see in the mirror, no matter what fitness regime we undertake

So maybe you could try to find a miracle quick fix for your cellulite or make use of that expensive gym pass for the first time this year. Chances are though that even dogged commitment to the 8am spin class won’t save you from your insecurities. Let’s face it, at this stage in our media-inundated lives, we’ve probably been too brainwashed by airbrushed images to be truly happy with what we see in the mirror, no matter what fitness regime we undertake.

step away from the fitness bloggers and the bikini models and you can find a whole treasure trove of artists and illustrators whose goal it is to ... encourage true body confidence.

Instagram can be inspiring and destructive in equal parts when it comes to body confidence. There’s nothing quite like following a ‘bikini blogger’ to inspire both a trip to the gym and a bout of instantaneous self-loathing. However, step away from the fitness bloggers and the bikini models and you can find a whole treasure trove of artists and illustrators whose goal it is to celebrate the body at its inhibited best and to encourage true body confidence.

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Epigram / Luke Unger

Sometimes we all need a bit of a pick-me-up and an antidote to the toxic feelings of inadequacy perpetuated by insidious advertising and social media. Art is a truly powerful medium, with the ability to can heal and uplift and it turns out that, in our modern age, it has the power to inspire self-love in those who need it. If you want a little more positivity on your feed, here are a few Instagram art accounts that will have you feeling more ‘bikini ready’ than a few squats ever will:

@zinteta

This Spanish artist describes herself as an ‘artivist’. She is most well-known for her colourful stretch mark art, which aims to inspire people to consider the beauty of parts of themselves that they’ve been told to hate.

@radiantbambi

Ash Soto, the woman behind this account, suffers from a skin condition called Vitiligo, in which areas of skin loses its pigmentation. This account is the product of Ash’s mission to embrace and love the skin she’s in by using her unusual colouring as a canvas to create art.

@silvanadenker

This account features the work of German photographer and plus-size model, Silvana Denker. She uses Instagram to promote her BodyLove campaign, which aims to encourage self-love, acceptance and diversity.

Most of you know that the last months haven't been the easiest for me. First diagnosed with a chronic colon disease, then the tumors in my liver and the big surgery with complications, 5 times in hospital in 4 months. I still have pain attacks and I don't have that much energy and power, I had and still have financial problems because I couldn't work for so long and I didn't get model jobs because of that big scar on my belly. It took me some time to cope with everything. That's what you don't see on social media... BUT I learned to accept and even love my new scar, I'm back at work as much as I can and during the last months I realized how many people support me, helped me when I needed it the most, sent lovely words, called or visited me, sent money to help because I didn't earn any money as long as I wasn't able to work. I'm also thankful and happy there are many brands who now want to work with me especially because I have the scar ❤️ Thank you everyone for your love, support and help. #love #thankful #grateful #thankyou #scar #power #comeback #fightingback

A post shared by Silvana Denker (@silvanadenker) on

@marieboiseau

This is a lesser-known account but an absolute gem nonetheless. French illustrator, Marie, loves to draw the female form in all its stubbly, saggy, stretch-marked gloriousness. Her work is colourful, fun, proud and sure to liven up any Instagram feed.

@drawnbyjovanna

Swedish illustrator, Joanna’s, representations of the female body are unapologetically real, beautiful and at war against the patriarchy. This text beneath one of her portraits, written by the subject, summarizes the power of her work:
‘In a world where not only magazines and media form your vision of the world but also your mum criticizes you, it is not easy to see yourself as a beautiful human being… It is so hard to find a way to love my self and so I decided to let Jovanna do a painting. A painting to remember myself that I am beautiful and that it’s ok to be different’.

@ruvvani

This young Sri-Lankan born artist describes drawing as a ‘healing process’, which allows her to romanticize the parts of herself that she’s been told to hate and to counter the under-representation of people of colour in art.

Luke Unger on his illustration:

Over the course of the last few weeks I have had the privilege of talking with a number of men about their issues regarding eating disorders. Having never considered the issue from the male perspective, the stigma with which many of these men were met with when trying to open up to doctors, parents or friends was horrifying. With 'body positivity' being such an empowering movement for women, unfortunately its seems that men are getting left behind. While for many men, these eating disorders are not born from concerns around body image but more to do with an element of control, the former reason still remains as prevalent in men as it is in women. With this illustration I hope to convey that men, as well as women, should be comfortable in their own skin, and that seeking help is not a form of weakness but a form of inner strength.


Have you got any more body positive artists on your mind? Let us know in the comments below or on social media

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