I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

When Beauty and the Beast are both within.

This project from Dove has me so introspective today*. Please take a few moments to watch the video.

I don’t have the words at the moment to explain why this speaks so deeply to me.

But part of that is because I’ve sort of started a project semi-similar to this, inspired by a chapter of bell hooks’ “Feminism is For Everybody” in which she talks about the importance of changing the depiction of women in media.

I’ve decided to illustrate the women in my life that I greatly admire.

Mostly because I don’t know a single one of my friends who hasn’t struggled enormously with body image. And I want to capture them, their beauty, in artwork that they can look at on those days when they feel like they’d rather just disappear for good, to remind them that they’re their own worst critic.

But…I’m starting with me.

Because even though I was able to embrace myself for a few short days back in January, by and large I still hate myself. I’m still cruel to myself. I think of myself as monstrous, hideous to behold, an ugly eyesore to all who know me.

I feel very much like the Beast, when perhaps if I were to step back and be honest, perhaps I have more Beauty in me than I thought.

So here’s the beginning, trying to set a style of illustration to follow through my project with. If you like, I can update here as I go.

Initial illustrative style exploration. More to come until I settle on a technique I like.

Initial illustrative style exploration. More to come until I settle on a technique I like.

*While the video meant a lot to me, that doesn’t mean that it and other marketing campaigns of Dove are free from reinforcing the very narrow beauty definitions they decry. Read this article for a very balanced explanation of the more problematic aspects of this video in particular.

  • Caleigh

    the video made me cry, and I am inspired to try to look at myself and see what other people see in me that makes them say that I am beautiful. <3 you're on the right path, Dani, and you truly are beautiful!!!

  • Thank you :) Can’t wait to get to your portrait. I think this series might be really big. Lots of people I would love to paint. <3

  • Oh Dani, I just want to tell you when I see you, i see beauty and love and a wildly brave incredible woman. <3

  • Karla

    Dani, you are a very beautiful lady. You are loved by so many. Please know how much you are loved!

  • Reblogged this on Big Blue Dot Y'all and commented:

  • so. awesome. I can’t wait to see your portraits <3

  • I really love this concept, Dani. We had to do a similar project for my drawing class in college, where we each were assigned to do a self portrait, then a portrait of a classmate. When we were finished with both, we had to compare our self portrait with the portrait that our classmate drew of us, so that we could see the measurable differences between how others saw us and how we saw ourselves. On the one hand, we were learning to hone our proportion skills, but then again, it was about learning to see ourselves accurately. I love how art helps us understand truth that way. Can’t wait to see all of your artwork, friend.

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