THE BODY PROJECT: embracing body neutrality & positivity

As an artist I resonate with themes that connect directly with the human experience. This is why I was drawn to explore the concepts of body positivity and body neutrality—ideologies that have significantly transformed how we see ourselves and those around us. This journey has become deeply personal, stemming from my own struggles with body perception.  Through collaboration with Kelly Szott, an amazing photographer, and 12 brave volunteer models, the contemplation of these concepts has manifested into a collaborative exhibition of paintings and photography.

Abstract figure painting of male model standing with his hand on his hip by local Calgary artist Mary-Jo Lough

The heartbeat of body neutrality and positivity lies in the celebration of diversity and the journey toward self-acceptance. I've intimately felt the impact of the body positivity movement, arising in response to the unattainable standards of beauty perpetuated by societal norms and media. This movement encourages us to embrace our bodies in all their forms, irrespective of societal constructs. As I translate this sentiment into my abstract figurative pieces, I’m utilizing vibrant bold layers of colors to mirror the vivacity and complexity found within all of us. Each layer captures the essence of unique body shapes, shouting a resounding affirmation of self-love. The canvas has become a space where my and the models struggles find a voice, and the beauty of every form is celebrated in its raw authenticity.

There is a distinct difference between body positivity and neutrality. Body neutrality is a concept that focuses on shifting one's perspective from an obsessive or overly critical viewpoint toward their physical appearance to a more balanced and compassionate approach. It encourages individuals to detach their self-worth and overall value from their external appearance. In essence, body neutrality suggests that the worth of a person extends beyond their looks, allowing them to redirect their energy and attention toward the more meaningful aspects of their life, such as personal growth, accomplishments, passions, and relationships. Unlike body positivity, which emphasizes actively loving and celebrating one's body, body neutrality encourages a more neutral, non-judgmental stance, aiming to reduce the pressure and anxiety associated with constant body scrutiny.

Abstract figure painting by local Calgary artist Mary-Jo Lough with bright layered colors. Close-up of a woman laying on her side, from just above her knees to under her bust is visible.

The concept of body neutrality is a narrative that speaks to my personal journey. It's a path that I have attempted to walk, detaching my self-worth from the external and embracing a sense of freedom.  This has led to temporary realizations that our worth transcends the confines of appearances, gently guiding me towards a space where self-love blossoms without the constraints of societal standards, but this sentiment is difficult to grasp and remains to be fleeting for me.  From within my brushstrokes, I've found a way to express the tranquility that does come with releasing the weight of societal expectations. The gentle curves, texture, gradients and layers are reminiscent of the journey toward neutrality—a journey of self-discovery and a conscious shift towards nurturing the soul rather than fixating on the physical.

In a world that seems to be embracing individuality and diversity, the concepts of body positivity and body neutrality have never been more relevant.  As viewers immerse themselves into this collection, they're invited into a dialogue—an intimate conversation with the artworks that mirrors the conversations I've had with myself. It's a dialogue of self-love, growth, and rediscovering the beauty that resides within. Vulnerability, strength, and appreciation is woven into THE BODY PROJECT.  Each piece contains imprints of my, and the models’ personal journey, providing a roadmap for the viewer to connect with and reflect upon their own narratives, struggles, and triumphs.

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