(Instead of seeing your body/appearance as an art project.)
I’ve spent the last week recording the audiobook for Body Neutral, which has been both exhausting, and so cool.
Having spent the last decade obsessed with Audible, and listened to hundreds and hundreds of non-fiction books read by the author, this is one of the more exciting things to have come up as we get closer to the book release date (June 6th!).
It’s also the reason I don’t have my usual zhuzh to write today. So I’ve decided to share something that has brought me so much joy in life lately, which is… making art!
When I was little, I loved being creative, making things with my hands, and creating art.
My mom introduced me to a million different forms of it– we even had an entire set of shelves dedicated to art supplies! We had crayons, colored pencils, markers, and paints, along with a basket of things like pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glitter, stamps, and sequins. We had clay that air-dried into sculptures, and clay that got baked into beads for jewelry, and a million little bits and bobs for decorating.
I say all this because art has always been a part of who I am.
I identified as a “creative person,” whatever that means, from a very young age. Making things with my hands put me in a luscious flow state, and seeing my ideas become a reality made me happy. But as I got older, that stopped.
By sixteen years old, I had focused my creativity into one place, and one place only: my appearance.
I thought of makeup and clothing (and later on, diet and exercise) as the only worthy expression of my creativity. Having been objectified by boys and men for so long at that point, I thought of my appearance and my body as the only “art project” that really mattered. I had turned art into self-improvement, and used clothes and makeup to meet conventional beauty ideals, and feel “good” about myself.
Of course, I did this for the same reason a lot of Self-Objectifiers do this: because I felt like my value as a person came down to how attractive I was to men, and like my whole reason for existing on this planet was to give them what they wanted from me. And while this isn’t an uncommon experience for Self Objectifiers, I still feel very sad when I reflect on this part of my life.
For many years, the only way I expressed my artistic side was to make myself more appealing to men. (Ugh.)
At some point on my body neutrality journey, I realized that I had completely lost touch with this creative part of myself, and bought a bunch of art supplies. I painted things here and there, whenever the mood struck me, but it never felt important enough to make a staple in my life. After all, even after I had given up the idea that my body should be art, I still had a business to run, and a life to live.
Even though I always loved it, I still couldn’t justify the time “wasted” making art.
Eventually, I turned all my creative energy into writing, making content, and running a business. Sometimes I would take classes, like ceramics and glass-blowing, but ultimately, art was still nothing more than a footnote in my adult life.
Almost two months ago, however, I broke out my paint supplies for the first time in years.
I’d bought a handful of white ceramic succulent pots, and wanted to paint them to match the art in my office. I’d been feeling the itch to be more creative and express myself through art, ever since I started making “murals” with the gemstones in my therapist’s office at the beginning of every session, and my partner Drew was out of town for a few weeks.
To be honest, I figured I’d paint a pot or two, and then put my art supplies back in their drawer, like I’d always done before. But once I started, I discovered I couldn’t stop… and I’ve been painting like a fiend ever since.
I painted every pot I could find, along with an old lamp, a bunch of little boxes I keep for gift giving, and a handful of canvases.
Here are a few of my creations, each one painted to match a piece of art or room in my house:
This was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like making art was a “waste of time.” My client roster is lower than normal as I get ready for my book to come out, so in between media interviews and other obligations, I have more free time than I’m used to, and it just felt right.
Plus, this is the first time in my life I’ve made art without a single thought about whether or not it was “good” or “impressive.”
I think one of the reasons art never became a staple in my life before was that I was convinced “regular people” had no business making it, and that unless you were incredibly talented and impressive, it was kind of just an embarrassing little hobby.
But this time, I’ve been making it for myself, and letting it be a meditative practice of connecting to my body, heart, and soul. Sometimes I would look at a pot or canvas and ask myself where the piece “wanted color” next, and I felt like I was collaborating with the universe.
I was making art from a totally different part of myself– by body and inner wisdom, rather than my mind.
It felt so fucking good to make art again, to drop into a flow state, and to spend all that time connecting to myself, my body, and the universe. It simultaneously feels like coming home (or returning to a very old part of me), and like something brand new: a blooming into my future.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, this resurgence of art-making has brought with it a feeling of coming alive. I’ve felt more embodied, grounded, and present than I have since before the pandemic lately, and I’ve been experiencing big surges in pride, self-love, and self-image.
Now, instead of endlessly scrolling my phone between client sessions, or zoning out with TV at the end of the night, I make art. Now, instead of trying to turn creative urges into content for social media, I’m using it to make something pointless and wonderful. (And interestingly, I feel like unblocking this part of me has actually led to me enjoying content creation again for the first time in a long time!)
Recently, when I realized I was out of projects to paint, I told the internet what I was doing, and invited my followers to commission me to create things for their home. I only have one or two people interested right now, and I don’t know how many pieces I can commit to (or where any of this is going) but I want to invite you into it, as well!
Looking for a pot to match a room, or a piece of art? Looking for something to fill that blank wall in your home? Hit reply and let me know what you’re looking for, and we can collaborate on a project!
And if that’s not your vibe, no worries, because I also want to invite you to get curious about your own creative energy, and whether it’s being fully expressed or not! (Note: if you resonate with the Self Objectifier body image avatar, my guess is probably not!)
What kind of creative project would make your soul happy? How might channeling your creativity into something other than your appearance bring more joy, freedom, or self-connection into your life?
As always, hit reply and let me know– I love hearing from you.