My experience at the Reclaim our Bodies Life Drawing Workshop

Sophie Tupper tells us how the Reclaim our Bodies Life Drawing Workshop left her feeling empowered.

Last Wednesday evening I was lucky enough to take part in the ‘Reclaim our Bodies’ life drawing workshop at the SU, hosted by the Women’s Network and Helicon Magazine. The Reclaim campaign is running throughout the whole of November, and this week is all about reclaiming our bodies. Today’s society puts so much pressure on women to look and act a certain way, resulting in a complex relationship between what we look like and what we believe we should look like. In light of this, the Women’s Network is hosting a handful of events to help encourage women to embrace and regain ownership of their bodies through various activities and workshops.

Life drawing was the first of these workshops, and it was honestly one of the most empowering events I have ever been to. The session went very smoothly, and I was in awe of how confident and beautiful the models seemed to look and feel. The atmosphere created by 30-40 women in the same room, appreciating the woman’s body in all its glory really empowered me and gave me a boost in self-worth. There was something so peaceful about everyone coming together and using their talents and creative minds to produce artwork based on the human body. 

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The evening began with a few short two minute exercises; we were instructed to use our non-dominant hand to do some continuous line drawings, and to draw some rough sketches. We were then given the chance to do some longer drawings, allowing us to properly focus on the creative process. Before this event, I had never done a life drawing so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, not to mention the fact that I hadn’t picked up a pencil in years, however the whole experience was completely relaxing and I didn’t feel at all self-conscious by the fact that my drawings weren’t doing the models justice.

In fact, I actually felt quite enlightened by the whole thing; yes, my drawings weren’t perfectly shaded and contoured like some of my fellow artists’, but I still thought they were pretty fab. This got me thinking – why are bodies any different? I hold my hand high as being someone who criticises her body for hours in front of the mirror, finding every possible ‘flaw’ and making myself feel bad for not having the ‘perfect body’. Seeing the two models of the life drawing event reminded me that every body is unique and different, and that there really is no ‘right way’ to have one. These women had stretch marks just like me, rolls when they sat down, and I still thought they looked absolutely amazing. The difference between them and me? Confidence.

So why don’t I love my own body? I sat there, drawing these beautiful figures and asking myself this question over and over again until I finally came to the conclusion: because society has taught me not to. However, by the end of the session that conclusion wasn’t good enough for me; in fact, in that moment the idea made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I left the event feeling good about myself and proud of the body that I have, a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a while. I would thoroughly recommend attending a life drawing class to anyone who wants to embrace their creative side whilst simultaneously gaining a bit of body confidence. The event was a huge success and I hope there will be similar ones put on in future.

To find out more about the events taking place as part of Reclaim, click here.reclaim

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