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A Magazine for Sheffield

Bluebell Smith The message is: ‘I love my body. Period.’

The Sheffield-based artist is on a quest to spread body positivity and self-love through her paintings and sketches.

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about bodies. Their beauty, their varied aesthetics, least by no means their function.

It’s hard not to compare ourselves, wish we looked different and feel desperate to conform after one quick scroll on social media, resulting in a swift reminder of society’s unobtainable and unrealistic body ‘norms’.

This is where I came across Bluebell Smith, an aspiring and inspiring Sheffield-based artist whose message is loud and clear: fall in love with your body, exactly how it is.

The project is simple. Bluebell paints and sketches anybody who wants to be drawn, naked. The response has been overwhelming. Fat women, thin women, curvy women, men, non-binary folk are baring all, and Bluebell is capturing their beauty through her art. The pieces are available to buy and some can be viewed on Instagram.

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Bluebell’s work has lit up social media. I think I can speak for the majority of people when I say it’s exactly the positivity we need as we anxiously step back out into the open world.

As we chat about her endeavors to squash body shaming, she talks openly and passionately about why she began this mission, and how it has impacted and liberated those who have sat as her muse.

I see so much wonderful work being done around body positivity, but for so many of the people in my life the concept of self-love only applies if they're talking about somebody else. When it comes to their own body, they feel like it needs a lot of work to be truly loved.

Amen to that. We are quick to give other people advice, compliments and big them up when they’re feeling low, but it often means we miss out on loving the most important person: ourselves.

I couldn’t help but wonder about the people Blue has painted and why they chose to be involved.

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Lots of the people I've painted have a really tough relationship with their body, so it's been absolutely amazing to be part of a bigger journey they're on. For some people I've painted they're already there, totally feeling themselves, and I've loved helping them share that with the world.

Nearly everyone says it's a strange feeling taking photos of their body that don't include sucking their tummy in, hiding hairy bits, lifting their boobs up or filtering it before sending it.

People have said they feel empowered, beautiful, brave, surprised at how they look. It's like for the first time they're really seeing themselves, seeing how amazing they are, and finally celebrating the things they've spent most of their life trying so hard to hide.

Lots of people start out thinking they'll want to keep the painting private, then they see it and they can't wait to share it with the world.

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What’s next? First stop, get Sheffield naked, next stop world domination?

I want to paint the most diverse set of bodies I can find. I’m really looking at the moment for people of colour and older people to expand my repertoire. At the end of year, I'd like to exhibit the paintings and show the people of Sheffield in all their glory. I'm also taking commissions for people who want the paintings for themselves.

It's really important to me that people understand it's free to get involved though. They don't have to buy a painting; they can be involved purely in the name of self-love.

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Blue speaks fervently and eagerly about the beauty in the diversity of people’s bodies. She’s painted non-binary people and disabled people, telling me:

The message is not, ‘I love my body, flaws and all.’ The message is, ‘I love my body. Period.’

These are not flaws; they’re what make the body the marvel that it is.

Anyone else feel like getting their kit off and posing for Bluebell yet? Because I do.

by Ellie Townson (she/her)
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