Art is the best remedy I know

I feel better when I draw or write. Even when I scribble while talking on the phone. These seemingly useless practices are important ways of working out unconscious stressors and uncomfortable emotions. I can’t say enough how important it is to get past the idea that you have to be an artist in order to draw. I truly believe we are all artists and the way we express ourselves can take many shapes and forms, just like our bodies do. Drawings don’t have to be studied or perfect, they just have to be attempted.

When I started photographing myself, it wasn’t for the results. It was a practice and a process through which I was trying to see my body differently than the way I imagined it in my mind, and differently than the way I perceived my reflection in the mirror. It felt daring and risky, and it gave me more inner liberty than I usually felt, even if I was squeamish about looking at the photos years after I had taken them. It was a life-affirming practice of claiming my selfhood where it was most intolerable.

In this drawing, as in many of my early self-portraits, I am curled up hiding my vulnerability. This position is a wonderful yoga stretch called the Child Pose, which feels great and allows for rest after other extensions. When I drew this I was mad. Mad about my knee-jerk self-critical reactions. Mad about all the time I’d wasted hating myself and my body. Mad about just plain feeling bad about myself. What spilled out as I drew were these words affirming that I wanted to see my body in a different light and live more fully.

It’s not a promise I’ve been able to keep one-hundred percent of the time, but it remains my manifesto. And after twenty years of drawing my body and a wide variety of other bodies, I’m still drawing and writing what comes up, because it brings me peace.

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