JOURNEY OF SELF LOVE

My oil on canvas series, “Journey of Self Love,” reflects obstacles I’ve personally had to endure throughout my life as a woman. They are in response to the ongoing pressures ​I’ve experienced in a male-dominated industry and society and the control they have over ​our bodies. Men are not ​​subjected to or held to the​ same standards​ as women​.​ ​For centuries, men have set the rules and standards for us​ and stripped us of our human rights​. My paintings display the idea of unity, the importance of uplifting ​and fighting for ​each other​, ​​and my journey of self-love. They are also a symbolic representation of my personal ongoing struggles to fight against what society believes I should look like, what my purpose is, what I can or can’t do with my body, and who I should be. ​

For many years, women and even little girls have been conditioned and influenced by the media to learn what it means to be a woman, and society’s idea of what true beauty is. There is so much more to us as women other than our looks, and we bring a lot to the table. This is a world where women [and] girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves – that their bodies are not their own nor their power or right to embrace and empower themselves. It is a woman’s choice in what she wants to do with her body without being ridiculed.

MEASURE OF SELF LOVE

“Measure of Self Love”

My painting “Measure of Self Love” is in response to the ongoing pressures women feel in a male dominated industry and society. I’ve also incorporated purple and green measuring tape, which wraps around the woman’s body. The measuring tape represents the struggles with body image, the color purple is associated with royalty, power, independence, and pride. Green is symbolic of rebirth and balance, while pink symbolizes inner peace, femininity, and unconditional love.

I was conditioned by society at an early age, to accept the “traditional” standards of beauty (ex: weight, skin, hair). This was a constant struggle in my community, while also battling to embrace and love myself unconditionally. I often compared myself to other women who ​were​ believed to be more favorable. I also remember using cosmetic products such as bleaching cream at the age of 13, in an attempt to make myself lighter as a woman of color. I skipped breakfast and lunch on most days in an attempt to be thinner. I was also ​bullied by children in school because of my skin tone and weight.

At some point, this becomes traumatizing, creates division, and is also belittling. Women are strong, smart, resilient, and valuable. This painting is a symbolic representation of a woman’s ongoing struggle to fight against what society believes is “a woman’s duty” and the “traditional” societal standards of beauty (ex: weight, skin, hair), while also learning to embrace and love herself. This is a serious problem, and it is important for every woman or anyone who identifies to feel beautiful and know that she is valuable and worth it.

STAND TOGETHER, FIGHT TOGETHER

self love

“Stand Together, Fight Together”

Due to set standards and expectations, I often experienced division, invisibility and what being an outcast felt like.​​ I also ​battled depression and ​had ​doubts about my self-worth. This was an example of the traumatization it caused​, I carried it beyond my childhood​. ​​At the end of it all, this was to please and attract men, working to seek their approval and acceptance. I was striving to earn love from everyone around me, but the one person who truly mattered… myself. It was difficult to accept myself in a society that seemed to be against me.

Throughout my ​elementary, ​middle school, and high school years, this was a familiar feeling, and the media was also a huge influence​ as it still is today​. It took a long time to begin to realize my worth and learn to accept myself. As I grew older, I finally began to realize that there is so much more to me under the surface. My physical appearance doesn’t dictate who I am as a person or a woman, nor does it determine my value. ​I am more than my body, and ​I am just as valuable as any other human being.

FREEDOM

“Journey of Self Love”

I am a versatile artist who creates energy through light and vibrant colors. I aim to capture the beauty of nature, blending boundaries between reality and abstraction. This creates a unique dreamscape atmosphere, providing viewers with a multilayered and immersive visual experience. Living near the Chesapeake Bay, my work is inspired by nature; often depicting the absence of human presence, liberation (“set free”) and freedom (“being free”). Although my range of work utilizes a variety of different techniques and mediums, they are all inspired by the same subject: freedom.

While nature does inspire me, I also create work to uplift, bring change, unity, hope and to make a statement. I not only depict freedom in my landscape and abstract paintings, but I also associate freedom and liberation in terms of human rights. The social, political and economic issues that are also present in some of my work, are driven by personal experiences and the need to generally bring forth to the surface the topics and rights worth fighting for.

Visit me online at https://www.bnwart.com/.

Featured image by Britnie Walston I The AutoEthnographer

About Author

Britnie is a versatile artist and fine and performing arts scholar with a BA from Goucher College. She studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, and Greek art and mythology abroad in Greece. Her art's published in Chestnut Review, Cutbank, and more. She's also forthcoming in Denver Quarterly. https://www.bnwart.com

Instagram: @bnwart_leaway
Twitter: @BNWArtDesign

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2 Comments

  1. I love your artwork Britnie. I really connected with the image “Measure of Self Love”. Not only is the tape taking the measure of the subject but the subject’s own hands wrapped around her form is doing the same. The standards have become so entrenched within society and our mind that women do not even need an outside tool in order to feel the pressure. Wonderful duality to a self hug symbolizes love directed inward but also the pressure of personal expectations squeezing and pressing in on the body. Well done.

  2. Thank you so much Shanita. I’m glad that you were able to connect with my work, as this was exactly what I was aiming to portray and I completely agree. Thank you!

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