|Illustration by Melly Em Clark- available to purchase at etsy.com/shop/mellyemclark. Please do not share without permission.|
A new type of post I'm introducing to the blog is a collection of short posts about the stories behind my illustrations and what they mean to me! I'll be posting these weekly and alongside other posts.
First up is perhaps my best-known piece, You Don't Need Abs To Be Fab. I've been incredibly lucky to have this image shared across social media- a particular highlight was seeing it reposted by the awesome team at Eff Your Beauty Standards, helping my art reach an incredible amount of people! I've been completely overwhelmed by the reaction to this piece, and very grateful to those who have shared it!
The idea came for the artwork came from frustration and anger at society's approach towards fitness, health and body image. While I have no ill feelings towards those who are passionate about fitness and exercise, many people feel sometimes these industries can push things too far, especially around New Year. Many people start each year with goals and aspirations, which I can understand-I've made career and confidence goals for 2016- but we are all expected to want to change various aspects oif our physical appearance. Personal growth is one thing, but we see so many torture themselves over a societal ideal hanging over their heads. Each year we all share our Resolutions, each bringing our own list of changes needed to be the 'perfect' person. It's all so negative- instead of viewing the coming year as another 365 days of potentially amazing experiences, we're taught to instead count everything we hate about our bodies- or if we don't already hate our bodies, many brands use advertising tactics to make us question ourselves.
I wanted to create something that was both a one-fingered gesture to these standards, and something ultimately optimistic. As with many of my pieces, I start with a phrase. I jot down lists of rhymes, alliterations, puns and slogans until something feels workable. Then I start to doodle. Once I had the phrase You Don't Need Abs To Be Fab, the rest pretty much fell into place. 'Abs' (the visible definition of the abdomen) and a muscular frame are becoming seen as more and more desriable on the typically male body, and while this piece wasn't intended soley as art directed at men, when sketching out characters, I kept returning to this guy seen above. Fatness is almost completely neglected in representation in both the high street and high-fashion, for all genders. Men's body issues are definitely and unfortunately on the uprise. I wanted to portray a figure of self love and happiness- someone who doesn't need to 'fit in' to feel confident. I feel the most important word of the piece is 'Need'. If you have Abs or a six pack, that's absolutely fine, but they aren't a necessity to be sexy, self assured or worthy of love. To me, it's all about choice.
The illustration was made using a mixture of acrylic paints, gouache and Photoshop. I wanted a bright colour scheme to express a fun and light-hearted feel, as well as to catch the eye! During 2015 I excitedly released Pocket Mirrors into my Etsy store with this design upon them- a regular, pocket sized reminder that you are fab! I'll soon be restocking these-watch this space! To promote the product, I was overjoyed to collaborate with plus size blogger, model and my partner in crime, Dom Clark. Dom is one of the few male plus size bloggers of the community, and is a great presence to have whilst making body positive art!
|You Don't Need Abs To Be Fab Pocket Mirror, seen here with plus size male model and blogger Dom Clark|
P.S- Please always try to credit artists when sharing work- we love to hear where our work has reached and would love our names to be alongside our hard work. If you are unsure of the artist, a quick Google search can usually help! Thanks, lovelies!