Earlier today, we had the opportunity to speak with Ohio-based artist, Elizabeth Hope, regarding body image struggles whilst growing up, the impact lockdown has had on her creativity, and the reasons why she’s drawing nude figures as part of a ‘Sexy September’ project!
Britain Uncovered: We always like to start our interviews by asking people how they would define ‘body positivity’. What does the phrase mean to you?
Elizabeth: To me, body positivity means loving my body the way it is and for all it does for me. It means believing that all bodies are beautiful and trying to live my life with the kind of confidence that belief inspires. It's not always easy, but I've come a long way in accepting and loving and taking care of my body!
Britain Uncovered: How has your relationship with your body developed over the years, and what were some of the challenges you faced with body confidence whilst growing up?
Elizabeth: It's definitely taken me a long time to become comfortable in my own skin, confident and happy with the way I look and feel. And sometimes it's still hard! But I think a lot of my insecurities growing up stemmed from my conservative upbringing.
'Modesty' – or at least some version of that word – was so important that wearing revealing clothes felt shameful, and that in turn made me insecure about the way my body looked. It's taken a long time to unlearn all of that.
Britain Uncovered: At what stage did you begin to notice a difference in your self-perception, and was there a tipping point that made you think more positively? Has your art had a helping hand in this?
Elizabeth: I think my self-perception probably started to change at some point during college, as I experienced more of the world and opened myself to new opportunities and experiences and points of view. And certainly discovering more about myself, or returning to my true self, has helped me think more positively about my physical self, as well.
The more I know and love myself as a person, the more I know and love my physical body. I do explore and express a lot of my emotions and thoughts through art, so in that way it has helped me learn more about myself and become who I truly am.
Britain Uncovered: You're currently embarking on a ‘Sexy September’ project, in which you're painting nude figures to help empower people. How did this first come about, and what was the driving force behind it?
Elizabeth: Sexy September started because of a random mix of commissions, conversations with friends, and boudoir shoots – including one of my own! I just love my friends that have hyped me up, and I'd love to help other people feel the same way. And bonus: who doesn't like nude art? ;)
Britain Uncovered: What kind of responses have you received from those who have participated thus far? Have people found this to be a positive, empowering experience by and large?
Elizabeth: So far, everyone who has participated has really enjoyed it!! A lot of people start out a little nervous and shy at first, but by the end of the process when they have the finished product in their hands, they are so excited and confident!
Britain Uncovered: How have you managed to stay positive and creative during lockdown, and what advice would you offer to those struggling with their body image during these difficult times?
Elizabeth: Lockdown has actually been really hard for me creatively. I broke my foot really badly back in January, and between that and lockdown, my creativity and productivity has been at an all-time low.
It's really only been the last couple of months that I've felt any inspiration again and started getting back into the swing of creating. Both creatively and body image wise, my advice (always easier said than done) would be to give yourself as much grace as you possibly can.
Do what you can to support your mental health, but if you need a day (or week or month) to just sit with your hard feelings and be sad, take that time and just be sad. Pushing through hard feelings, in my experience, will only hurt you more in the long run.
Britain Uncovered: Clothing-optional events are proving increasingly popular here in the UK, and they seem to be an excellent way of helping people to gain self-acceptance and body confidence. Although nudity and art have been inextricably linked for centuries, what role do you feel these types of events have to play in 2020, and do you think they are helpful overall?
Elizabeth: Oh wow, that's awesome! You don't hear about events like that much here in the US, or at least not in the middle of cornfields where I live (haha). Honestly, I think in 2020 we need all of the community and encouragement and happiness we can get, and events like that sound like an excellent way to celebrate humanity together!
Britain Uncovered: For those interested in taking part in your Sexy September project and viewing your art online, what are the best ways for people to access your content?
Elizabeth: The best ways for people to take part in Sexy September and access my content online are Instagram (@elizabethhopeart), my Patreon account (www.patreon.com/elizabethhope), and my website (art.byelizabethhope.com).
Britain Uncovered: Finally, are there any drawings or projects you're particularly proud of?
Elizabeth: I'm particularly proud of the pieces I've been creating for Sexy September, the collection I created last summer, called ‘Just Touch Me’, and an upcoming collection called ‘The Ladies of Covid’!