How to boost body confidence through art

6. November 2018

In an era of Photoshop and Instagram filters for “the perfect body” photos, it is only too common to feel inadequate when looking at our own “normal” body. But life drawing can help people overcome their struggles with body image.

Especially for young girls who are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of the Kardashians and Co. on social media, it is tough to tell what is a real body and what’s been modified by Photoshop or plastic surgery. The beauty standards have become nowadays simply unattainable because these images are unreal and unnatural, which causes a lot of distress, unhappiness, and health and mental health problems amongst girls and boys.

People are so unsatisfied with their looks that cosmetic surgeries to try to look like the photoshopped images of celebrities are becoming more and more common. According to plastic surgeon Dr Christopher Inglefield of London Bridge Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Clinic, “Every year, almost 30,000 people in the UK make the difficult decision to undergo a cosmetic procedure, and we know how important it is that the majority do it to improve their quality of life rather than because of some unrealistic standards set on Instagram.”


So here is where life drawing can make a huge difference:

What is life drawing?

Life drawing is the drawing of a human figure while observing the model posing, usually nude, in various postures. It is an excellent exercise for art students and used to be a prerequisite to painting.

How can life-drawing boost body confidence?

When drawing from a life model, you must learn how to really look at a person and see all the details and shapes of her body, something we cannot do in real life at the risk of being rude for staring at someone.

Life models are very different one from another; they come in every shape so that the artist learns how to draw all body types. Some are thin, others rounder or fat, tall, short, with or without muscles, young, old, with big or small nose and so on. This variety helps youngsters who are used seeing on social media unreal faces and bodies that look all alike, to see what real bodies look like in real life. It helps them understand the beauty that lies in diversity and to accept their own body image.

Alastair Adams, from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, says: “What is out there online for youngsters is often superficial and does not accurately represent what people look like in real life. I would think images seen online and on social media are having an impact of distorting reality and I’m sure cause people to have body confidence issues or think how their look is different.”

Luckily he’s not the only one seeing this problem.

The private account Celebface, which has 610k followers on Instagram, shows the truth by juxtaposing side by side the original photo and its photoshopped version that celebrities and Instagram influencers post on their social media. Stating “Welcome to reality” in its Bio, Celebface allows us to see how unreal the extra-thin or extra-curvy bodies we see on social media are, with their impossibly slim wasp waists, big boobs and butts, sculpt jawlines, flawless skin, tiny noses, shiny hair and sparkling smiles.

Where can you life-draw?

In Vienna, you can take life drawing courses at the Universität für Angewandte Kunst, or you can take part of a group that meets weekly to learn and practice life drawing in the 6th district, the Monami Life Drawing in Vienna.

Image from vcencyclopedia and Royal Academy of Arts, London  


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