We're so honoured that Jessica Oddi has agreed to write a guest blog post about her experiences with her disability and how it inspired her to start an amazing project called "Real Pin Up." Not to mention she's agreed to participate in our Average Girl project for my book in progress. Stay tuned for details!
Read below to find out more about Jessica and how you can get involved with "Real Pin Up":
"Real Pin Up" is a line of illustrations I started to celebrate beauty in women. I've always loved pin up style paintings, though most of the subjects had unrealistic qualities: super tall girls with long legs and severely pinched waists. Basically the concept in my drawings was to show that same beauty in those vintage pin ups, but with a more diverse group of women as subjects.
It all started with an idea to represent my disability. Being born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type 1, though part of the 10% where its affected differently), I have been using an electric wheelchair since 4 years of age. This disease - along with scoliosis and hip displacement - over time begun to take a toll on my physical appearance. I found myself losing confidence, throwing on loose clothing to disguise my figure. There were always good days and bad (which we all obviously feel at times). But after having the pleasure of connecting with a few people having SMA through social media, my perspective changed for good. Seeing all these beautiful women, flaunting their curves and loving their figure, made me we want to become confident. Why shouldn't we love ourselves? Why should a crooked back and tiny limbs be deemed "unattractive"?
So I painted the first Real Pin Up. A girl in a power wheelchair biting her finger (which is something I actually have to do in order to lift my arm up). This painting was how I wanted to feel every single day, because this girl loved every inch of herself. And that's when it sort of hit me. Why should I be the only one to celebrate? There are so many unique people in this world, and they all deserve to feel as sexy as pin ups! Our insecurities make us unique. So I created more drawings, all to highlight the beauty in things that are different.
I think that all the images we're bombarded with of the "perfect" woman makes it hard to find beauty in our flaws. It's so easy though, to see it in other people. Too many times I think "Oh wow she looks beautiful, but I couldn't pull that look off" or "I wish I could look that good." When in reality, the thing that makes her look so good is confidence. Once we appreciate our bodies, faces, every freckle, blemish, or scar, we can pull off virtually anything. The hardest part is to un-condition ourselves from trying to reach unrealistic standards. Once you realize that those industry standards of beauty are ridiculously fake, you'll be able to start celebrating your "flaws".
Real life self confidence was one of the reasons I changed from "Real Pin Up" to my other line "Exposed Self Image". It was easy to celebrate the beauty and diversity in women when I was making them up! I could go as far as my imagination. With "Exposed Self Image" it became a new goal to celebrate real women in everyday life, who are constantly bombarded by these beauty standards.
The idea was to expose that which we are either self conscious of, or confident in! I've had participants send me photos with features they are insecure of, or completely in love with. Either way, it almost acts as a study to see how different peoples' perception of beauty are. To me, a painting is as breath taking as a detailed photo. It can focus on something we ourselves may not find beautiful, yet others can stare at in awe for hours. Like a painting, our physical appearance is a work of art. "Exposed Self Image" is meant to capture our individual features, and showcase it as such.
If you are interested in participating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
graphic/web designer . illustrator