Frances Cannon – illustrator and SELF LOVE CLUB innovator

Frances Cannon is shaking up Instagram with her illustrations that advocate positive vibes and self-love in a down to earth and relatable fashion. Her work looks at the female body and relationships with a strong message around our personal worth and respect.

Her simple and delicate drawings make the important and compelling point that we should love and respect ourselves, our bodies and each other – with messages such as “you are enough” and “I am complete” (things that we don’t always believe in and sometimes need reminding of!) It is so important that there are artists out there that create art that people can relate to and find solace in the fact that, yeah sometimes we feel shit but we are capable and we have a support network around us.

I particularly love her development of the SELF LOVE CLUB

CLUB RULES (words by Frances)

  • You must always show yourself respect, love, forgiveness and understanding
  • You must show each other respect, love, forgiveness and understanding
  • You must be kind to your body and you must take care of your mental health

I wholeheartedly agree with these simple yet potent rules and here at Project Naked we stand by her principles – a little bit of self-love goes a long way!

So here are some of her sweet as illustrations (shared with permission) and give her a follow on Instagram @frances_cannon for some daily positive vibes. Oh and P.S!!! You can get one of her designs as a tattoo !! —> http://francescannon.bigcartel.com/category/tattoo-ticket

acceptance-copydazed-4dazed3eyemag8

Radical Bodies

radicalcuteness

The embroidery series Radical Bodies is taking up the issue of beauty ideal in modern society.

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I was struggling with my body image my whole life and whenever I saw pictures of the ideal women, that I will never be, I felt worthless and insecure. A few years ago I discovered the internet movement of bodypositivity. I felt so happy that some of my sisters* didn’t submit to the bodyshaming beauty standards of the modern world. They encouraged me to be proud of who I am. It’s not just about fat girls wearing plus size dresses and looking cute in it. It’s more like a selflove campaign. It’s for all human beings that feel excluded from the society because their bodies are different. For everybody who feels uncomfortable in their own skin. It’s about encouraging each other and stop hating on each other.

That’s a thing I want to work…

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SINCE WHEN IS REMOVING YOUR BODY HAIR LINKED WITH RESPECTING YOUR BODY?

I came across AYQA through a buzzfeed post and felt it completely necessary to share her illustrations and her message.

We live in a society where woman are made to feel like they don’t have a choice on what to do with our body hair — we are expected to remove it all and if we don’t we are ‘weird’ ‘disgusting’ ‘dirty’ ‘smelly’ etc etc the negative words go on and on — we DO have a choice. And that choice should be normalised and respected.

Ayqa has illustrated these amazing drawings in an attempt to normalise body hair.

Let us wear our body hair with pride! Or not, if you choose to remove it. Do what you want with your body hair — it is YOUR CHOICE after all.

Find out more or purchase a print here — Ayqa’s Art

‘This is a call to accept all body hair’

I tried to grow my armpit hair a couple of years back and managed a week before I had a mini freak out and shaved. I felt guilty, then I tried to not think about it “i prefer them shaved anyway” I would tell myself.

Then about 6 weeks ago I joined a gym and my temperamental shower broke, which was good timing as I could just shower at the gym- but shower without all my products and razors… When the hair started coming in I thought, well at least it’s winter, I don’t get my pits out a lot… Now it’s been a few weeks and the hair is long and soft and I love them more and more each day. My usual sweat patches around my pit area, which would sometimes come through my coat (!), have stopped, I don’t smell as much (as far as I can tell/smell) and I’ve come to the realisation that FUCK IT. Why the fuck was I shaving anyways? Cos I thought it was prettier? To stop myself from feeling embarrassed or ashamed in a tank top? and who the fuck was I shaving for? Before I’d have said ‘me’ but now I feel I am the proud owner of two hairy underarms and I won’t shave them for anyone.

So having recently come to this realisation, today I came across this post “I just want to be a hairy girl and for that to be OK” and felt it really expresses how I feel (and more) and I want to share it because it’s powerful and an important message we all need to be aware of.

I just want to be a hairy girl and for that to be OK
Minahil Mahmood

Women – we all remember the first time it was brought to our attention that something wasn’t right about our body hair. Whether it was in the sixth grade when your crush was yelling, “Ewwww, you have so much arm hair!” in front of the entire class, or when you were at home watching hair removal ads, questioning why we had to have these products, or watching every female role model in your family get rid of theirs.

Disclaimer: It’s 100 per cent OK to remove your body hair if that’s what makes you happy (I would never say otherwise), but it’s hard to avoid questioning what society would be like if we weren’t forcefed this clean-shaven concept since childhood. What if every ten minutes you didn’t see a razor commercial with an unusually happy woman sporting a pair of clean-shaven legs? What if there wasn’t an alarming amount of products at every drugstore telling you to cut/shave/burn your body hair off regularly? Our perception of body hair on girls has been so twisted that it’s almost impossible to tell if it’s a personal choice that truly makes us happy, or another way we try to conform and fit in.

It’s difficult to tell if we actually want to get rid of our body hair or if we’re just trying to get by without shaking up the whole world’s view of us. From our lovers and partners to fellow women and random glares on the street, it’s hard to be carefree about your body hair while avoiding negative backlash.

Many myths about body hair have been used against women to make them feel dirty and inferior. It’s funny when people claim that having pubes is inherently dirtier than a clean shave, when in reality those hairs are there to protect and keep bacteria away. In fact, a huge reason why women became obsessed with a more clean pubic shave stems from the porn industry. Women with pubic hair were always seen as more mature which equated to sexiness. In 1974, a magazine calledBarely Legal (yikes!) was published, which popularised the fetishisation of young women, a major reason why women suddenly decided to go bald down there and appease the idea of what men may want.

There is virtually no health-related reason for women to have to remove body hair, only personal choice. What about society’s opinion of our anatomy makes body hair unhygienic on women but not men? In a perfect world, it would have been left at individual preference, but body hair on women has become something so taboo, that girls as young as ten years old old feel the need to get rid of it. I was 11 when I first shaved my arms, but it never just stops there. As soon as you realise that there’s something people hate about it, you hate it too and you hate your body for creating it at all. Suddenly your eyebrows look too bushy, your armpit hairs are too thick, the little hairs on your knuckles are ‘unfeminine’. It goes on.

“What if every ten minutes you didn’t see a razor commercial with an unusually happy woman sporting a pair of clean-shaven legs? What if there wasn’t an alarming amount of products at every drugstore telling you to cut/shave/burn your body hair off regularly?”

Over the past couple of years, the internet has given young women a platform to display their true selves and pictures of women with body hair have swept the net. Whether it’s self-love or memes mocking hairy girls in love with their bodies, the conversation started happening. This feminism-centred movement, pushing the normalisation of girls with body hair gained traction and was something young women born after the 80s could relate to. But the movement has gone in cycles. Another reason women started shaving was because body hair became a symbol of feminism, which was seen as ‘manly’ and intimidated the male ego. I found solace in this internet wave for a while before quickly realising that even in a community that accepted body hair on women, there were certain standards you had to meet.

My first issue was only ever seeing pictures of white women with very thin blonde pit hair. I didn’t find it very groundbreaking and found it hard to relate to. I felt that women of colour with thick, dark body hair were rarely ever seen as cute feminist babes making statements, as if the sight of thick, dark hair undoubtably made people even more uncomfortable, making girls of colour feel the need to hide away and continue conforming.

This is a call to stop hiding. This is a call to stop conforming. This is a call to make amends with ourselves. This is a call to accept all body hair. No matter where it is or who it’s on. Let’s start by giving a platform to women who refuse to conform, let’s give platforms to trans women who don’t give a fuck about gender norms. When you see a women sporting some leg hair, instead of thinking ‘Did she forget to shave?’, just assume she loves her body hair. Let’s change this narrative that women who don’t shave don’t care about their looks. Let’s look within ourselves and try to unlearn everything we have been conditioned to believe about body hair on girls. I love your bushy eyebrows, I love your sideburns, I love your happy trail and back hair.

first posted here -http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/28857/1/i-just-want-to-be-a-hairy-girl-and-that-be-ok

Sunday;

‘Be more like a woman!’

It’s been said.
All that I am not has been summed up in one little sentence and I have to deal with it.
I’m trying to smile the pain away.
Somehow.
Nervously I’m searching for a cigarette, hope, dignity.
I shouldn’t be on this earth.
Not today, not tomorrow.

Tuesday;

‘You are becoming worse each day!’

‘Thanks, I know and you are a fucked up arrogant selfish little shit which is interested in superficial people and superficial relationships.
Excuse my existence, I won’t bother you again with my appearance.’
That’s what I should have said.
But I didn’t.
Instead I just laughed with you at myself, about myself.

Wednesday;

Going home. Talking to mum.

‘I thought you were a pretty girl and shouldn’t be alone.’

Apparently I’m not and thanks for telling me.
Great support.
I wish you all the best.
I’m out of here.
And I cannot even tell you to fuck off.

shared with permission from Journal [unfinished]

Living In

I was brought up in a culture and a house where looking in the mirror, liking your self was not okay. It was vanity. It was too close to sinning. Any child’s desire is to be loved, accepted and so I learnt to blend into the background. At the same time my family would remark on my weight seven or eight, and the concept of fat came from their words. So I didn’t live in my body, I looked at my body through their words, their eyes. I was called a highland cow, I was jeered. It wasn’t all bleak, summers free in Ireland, I forgot about the adult world and was building straw bail houses in fields, talking to contemplative cows and feral cats with kittens in the shed.

I hit puberty early with ignorance and shame. Covered up. Hid. Rolled down my shoulders, hunched my breasts. My grandmother poked me between the shoulder blades. Slouching makes you fat. Used toilet roll to block the blood from leaking. It wedged like a brick in my pants. The male gaze in our family wasn’t safe. Sexual awakening was accompanied with sexual assault. All of this meant loving my body wasn’t even a formed thought for me, let alone a feeling or simply just being in the world.

Living in my body meant living with shame, guilt and fear. Lumpen heavy dragged down. A source of shame to my family. Not pretty, sylph-like and adored but shy and bookish. I felt a quiet defiance though. Then they called me a bull. It’s your star sign they said. More names. I said nothing. My mind was the way out.

I was happy being an outsider – not with the popular crowd who tottered up town on a Friday night to feel grown up dating older men. I was one of the lads, still hiding my body, and I learnt boy language. Safer than trying to be a girl. I was the one they practised on till they moved onto the real thing. I didn’t mind. My body wasn’t there. I wasn’t really there, I observed. I couldn’t feel anything – but then I had stopped living in years ago. Clitoris? Orgasms? Masturbation? No idea. Our sex education in a catholic school was a creaky video of a woman giving birth. We watched it in the school library amidst posters of grey looming tombstones engraved with AIDS KILLS, and embarrassed passers by. More shame.

Curious at 17, I went to the public library and hired the proper sex education video to watch in one of their study booths – I couldn’t take it home. Mid throws of ‘the sex scene’ with mild murmurs from the woman I actually felt tingles, there was a knock at the door my poor studious neighbour -turn it down I’m trying to work. Oh the burning redness on my face.

I left home for polytechnic and never moved back. I had relationships. Had sex. Felt little. The first time I did a friend showed me where my clitoris was and an orgasm (courtesy of his ex-girlfriend—thank you Alison!). The joy. I struggled to share it with the boys I had relationships with all the same. I was still ashamed of my body.

Twenty years on, interspersed with 10 years of two relationships littered with sexual, physical and emotional abuse and I left my body for much longer, I am here. Living in. I have learnt that loving my self is the only place to start with love. How can I ask any one to love me or expect to be able to love them fully if I don’t love me? If I don’t love my heavy loose breasts, my scars, my crinkles, my smile, my belly that gives me my laugh and furrowed brow? Our culture teaches us an arrogance, some cringe factor about these sentences even, let alone the actuality of it. Poetry, writing, music and art have kept me alive, been my backbone.

This image was taken by my lover who I feel emotionally safe with, who I can fuck with abandon, happiness and can cry with. In the fells outside naked with the sun on my topographic stretch marks and white skin, I am free like those summers in Ireland as a child. My nerve cells and I have reconnected. I am a woman with my feet firmly planted, my shoulders level with a quiet defiance that got me through, my stride is one I love and I can dream a future of my own making. My eyes are bright and open, my heart is whole, beating, I can love with my head up and most of all I feel alive.

living in

Michelle Blog – donkey

Body Talk

So there’s this new project called Body Talk in Edinburgh which is right up Project Naked’s street!

“Body Talk Edinburgh is a feminist photography campaign designed to give all women and non-binary people on campus and beyond a platform to send out their message and raise their voices against oppression.

Our bodies are weapons and all too often they are used against us, not by us or for us, but we can and will take them back.”

They asked women and non-binary people to come along to their safe and comfortable session and express a message with their bodies. The results have been amazing! Although the fight with facebook for them to be able to post and show the pictures seems to have been quite a struggle. With photos being reported and removed, and the page being temporarily shut down. Which just proves how important projects like that are!!

As those at Body Talk have said
“The majority of photos which have been reported and/or removed have contained women and non-binary people topless but in bras and showing breasts but otherwise clothed from the waist down. Far fewer have contained full nudity,which indeed has not been pornographic or sexual in any way.

Photos of topless men do not receive any controversy on FB. However, photos which show the gender oppressed reclaiming their bodies and empowering themselves in whichever way they choose – topless, naked, or indeed mostly clothed, as the majority of our photos show – have so far been under attack.

Women and non-binary people on and off the internet are facing not only censorship but also abuse and violence in the fight to reclaim and celebrate our bodies and in the fight for the right to full body autonomy. This is wrong. This is the result of patriarchal double standards and sexism. If you agree, shout louder. Keep talking, keep spreading the word.”

Solidarity and respect of all the work you are doing from us at Project Naked.

HAVE A LOOK AT THE PHOTOS HERE! Flickr Albums

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Learning to love our bodies

Bodies are funny things. Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with mine – this doesn’t just affect women! I grew up in a family of three girls. My good-looking mother modelled clothes for a local fashion store, and was known to say “you can never be too thin”. She often reminded us that she was only 6stone 10lbs (42.6kg) after having three babies. She ‘watched her weight’ (an interesting term, isn’t it?) throughout her life, and remained petite, though never as thin as she had been as a young mother. She smoked cigarettes (as all the trendy young women did after the Second World War), and died some years ago of a smoking-related cancer.

I was a much loved, ‘plump’ child – a mass of blond curls, chubby cheeks, legs, arms; mum called me her “sugar plum fairy”. Today people would describe me as ‘slim’. I wear size 8 to 10 clothes, but have a predictable tummy, thanks to giving birth to two good-sized, wonderful sons. I don’t like my body very much without any clothes on – lying down helps! – but I am healthy and, on the whole, grateful that I can still climb hills, make love, write books, and enjoy a glass of wine or good food with friends. I let my hair go grey when I was 60 last year – this was a big step after years of dyeing it. It is now cut very short, and I have some funky glasses that suit how I like to think about myself – a bit quirky, but also someone who wants to be taken seriously!

My challenge over the years ahead is going to be learning to love my body as bits start to go wrong, as they inevitably will. I have cataracts in my eyes, and these will get worse and require surgery. It sometimes takes me a while to remember a very ordinary name for something – so far, I can still do academic stuff quite well, thank goodness. I don’t sleep as well as I used to, and I get tired more quickly. I cannot have more than two glasses of wine without getting a hangover the next day. These are all tiny signs of decay – and things can only get worse. I have been to too many funerals already of friends of my age and slightly older. It’s all down-hill from now on, and that’s going to be my biggest challenge… Wish me luck!

Viv Cree

Let’s talk about consent baby.

I am supposed to be writing an essay, but I just went to a really interesting workshop about consent by Edinburgh Sexpression. It brought up a few emotions for myself as I have had an experience regarding consent which still to this day can make me angry, and I can’t seem to let it go. I thought maybe writing it down and getting it out my system would help me a bit. Also, although it’s horrible to say, I imagine a lot of people can relate to stories and experiences around consent and it’s an important topic that needs to be talked about.

So here goes.

This summer 4 years ago, I was single and enjoying myself – to a certain extent. I had come out of a pretty horrific, emotionally draining, relationship that left me feeling like shit and so I made the most of being single and was sleeping with a couple of guys. One of whom was fine (that sounds bad cos it was more than ‘fine’, it was what I needed at the time, but we had nothing in common. ‘Drunken fun’ maybe better describes it), the other guy happened over a much shorter period of time and is whom I had the consent issues with.
At first it was also drunken fun, I think I slept with him once or twice and he was very tall but pretty small (ahem) and it wasn’t anything special but he was charming and I was single so fuck it eh. Then one time we were at the same pub and we were drunk and so I went back with him and realised as we were walking to his that actually, I didn’t want to. But how should I say this to him? He was expecting me to have sex with him, I mean that was all our relationship was, and I was already nearly at his. I decided as we got into his room that I would lie and say my friend had just text me saying she had an argument with her bf and needed me to go see her (in reality the text was from the other guy I was shagging and I’d rather be at his). I remember rolling a cigarette to stall time, he was getting into bed and I was sitting on the edge just saying I should leave. He kept telling me to stay, and I felt guilty cos I had gone to his. I just kept saying “no, it’s my friend, I need to leave” I felt like I needed an excuse, that “actually, I don’t want to have sex with you anymore” was not enough. He just kept pushing it, kept pushing it. He then sat next to me until I just stopped saying no, and I let him. It was easier that way.

I was disgusted at myself. Why couldn’t I stand up for myself? I left almost straight after. I did in fact go to the other guy’s house. And my god I felt like a slag.

You know, after that I never responded to his texts (he text a lot which I found weird). I dunno if he got it or not. He probably kept texting me cos he thought I was easy, or because I wasn’t responding he saw it as a challenge. I have no idea. He was a massive shagger so I assume he didn’t go without.

It took me a long time before I stopped blaming myself and realised he was to blame. It was around the time when my former friend and flatmate started dating him, about 8 months later. And he was round at our flat almost every weekend. It was pretty fucking horrible to be honest. When they first starting seeing each other she did check it was alright but I was still at a point where I couldn’t admit that I felt so shit about it, she just thought he was the guy I had slept with a couple of times then ignored for ages. I was trying to be strong and throw it off as a single fling. I myself had also just started seeing a guy, who I am now in a serious and loving relationship with, and I wanted to seem cool and chill. I wish I had been more honest about how I felt and what happened. I tried to say and explain to her that in a round about way she couldn’t have him round the flat but she ignored my pleas. We tried to explain to her that he was a massive misogynist (as a lot of people thought – and I assume still think – this about him) but she didn’t listen. So I realised she has no fucking respect and I cut that friendship. I think they’re still together. They’re each other’s problem now.

I am still angry because he got away with it. Because he probably did this to countless girls. Because I didn’t have the nerve to say to my ‘friend’ what really happened. I am angry because I still get angry about it. Why does this still bother me? I am in a much better position in life, with my relationships, with what the future (possibly) holds. And here I am getting wound up about something that happened almost 4 years ago. The whole situation makes me feel sick.

Rape doesn’t just happen in back alleys with strangers, more often than not it happens between 2 people that know each other. I don’t really get why someone would want to have sex with someone that doesn’t want to have sex with them, but then I’m not a rapist so I don’t know what goes through their minds. Consent is so important, we teach people (women usually) not to get too drunk or wear revealing clothing, or walk home certain ways. When in fact we should teach people not to rape. There should be more awareness on how to speak up if there’s feeling of discomfort (I definitely would have benefited from that). But more so, that it is not the victim (or as someone pointed out today – can we stop calling them victims and start calling them survivors?) to blame.
Consent by all parties involved makes play fun.

Sexpression are a society across the UK that have discussions and workshops about sex and all that comes with it. They have a fb page and Tumblr so check them out because the work they do is important, interesting and also good fun.
Edinburgh Sexpression

– anonymous, 25