Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Final Days

The Love It series is winding down. I have sent 15 11x14 photos, 8 14x18 photo collages and 8 15x20 photo collages to the printer today. Not entirely sure how they will come out as I was too poor to run a print test but hopefully at least 95% of them are printed correctly and the remaining 5% can either be scrapped or re-printed with the generous donation from someone.
The documentary may as well be complete save for less than a minute's worth of music to insert and adjust and the potential removal of a quick series of clips that were once a good idea but have since become a bit cheesy.

This exploration/critique of the media/campaign is far from over. I know I could spend many years on it but let's face it, once the show is over and the degree is in my hands, I am retiring from the art scene for an as yet undetermined amount of time. And really, who wants to spend their outside of school lives working on something that would probably just become an essay and some strongly worded letters that will never be sent?

I'm going back to the theatre. Every so often I have a prophetic dream and last year sometime I had one where I was standing outside the theatre haunting grounds of my past lamenting my choice to not pursue a career in anything theatre related. The reasoning behind this conscious decision came from the knowledge that working for/in a theatre involves long hours, uncertain schedules, and terrible pay. Armed with this knowledge I wandered off to pursue an Art History major. For a year. Now I'm set to earn even worse pay and have even less certainty with a BFA degree that may as well be a death sentence. So back to the theatre I go, despite the hours that will have me working all day and into the wee hours of the next and the inevitable strains that this will put on my relationship, not just with Keith but with my family as well as being 3 hours behind I will never be able to call them at an acceptable hour for everyone involved.
Perhaps I will pursue my old dream of being a photographer for a magazine and essentially become a hypocrite (unless I can get them to see my way of thinking and have normal sized models).

So here I stand at the brink of uncertainty. Yes, I am graduating in June. Yes, I am returning home at the end of this month. No, I will not be returning to Kelowna save for a day or two to visit my in laws. No, I do not know when I will leave home. No, I do not have a place to live. No, I will not be going to school in September. No, I do not have a job lined up anywhere between now and then. I shall jump of the nearest high place and let myself be blown wherever the strongest wind will take me. That sounds pretty agreeable to me.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Model Interviews

I've been asking my models (and now I'm asking everyone who wants to) to fill out some questions pertaining to body image that I can use in my work.
While I've always sort of known in the back of my mind that this Love It project is deeply personal and beneficial to me as well as to people (mostly young girls) I'm trying to reach with my work...it hit me today that I can no longer just interview and photograph others. I need to include myself and divulge personal information that I'm not necessarily comfortable having other people know. How else am I supposed to get my message out? So here are the questions I've been asking, and my answers.

1. What does body image mean to you?

1.     Body image is how you feel about your body. It’s how you present your body to the rest of the world, and how they then view it and perceive it. How you feel and how others think you feel about your body can be two entirely different things, depending on how good of an actor you are.
2. Are you influenced by the media when it comes to how you feel about your body?

     The media influences me whether I like it or not. When I was younger I looked at the girls/women on tv and wished my body was like theirs. I still find myself comparing the size of my legs to those of the women on tv but now it’s more of a “oh good, I’m not alone,” rather than “I wish my legs were that skinny.”
3. How do you feel about your body?

     I hate my body when it comes to all of the things that are medically wrong with it. In terms of appearance…occasionally I look in the mirror and like what I see, but sometimes I still pick myself apart and get worked up over what I see as imperfections. I feel good when I’m kickboxing. 
4. What needs to change in order for you to feel better about your body?
     I need to go to the gym more and be more active otherwise I feel like a lazy fat lump and I need to eat better. I hate having flabby sides, I’m no longer used to it so I feel bad about myself when it starts to come back. I’d like the media to be more inclusive to all body types and start using models and actors with more average body types. There’s a lot that needs to change. People need to stop being overly critical of others.
5. What do you think is the "ideal" body type?
    I think any body that is well proportioned to a person’s height is ideal. There are a variety of body types for women that I think look good, it all depends on the person. If you are smaller, rock it, if you are bigger, show it off. If it looks good and you feel good and are happy and comfortable then that is your ideal.
6. Who do you think has the ideal body?
     Again, there are many people that I think have an “ideal” body, but that is for each individual. For my body to be “ideal” in my eyes would be for me to have more toned arms, sides that aren’t jiggly, more definition in my stomach, and smaller hips and butt for sure. Can you tell I’m a mess?
7. Do you love your body?
    It’s okay. It’s better than it has been, but that’s a whole other can of worms. I can say that I was quite happy with it when I was 15 or 16 and in the last year or so I’ve gotten a bit lazier so I feel like I need to work harder. I’m starting to accept that my legs will never be smaller, so I’m learning to like them (it helps when I get the occasional ego boost from discovering that some size 2 jeans fit me). The day I can wear a bikini without shorts is the day that I can say I love my body.

So that is me and where I stand on this. To be completely honest, if someone else were doing this project instead of me, I don't think I'd be able to model for them. So thank you, my brave and lovely models, for bearing with me and showing me exactly what I'm trying to show the rest of the world. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Post Christmas Blahs

I'm now wondering how people feel about their bodies prior to, during, and after Christmas. There are some people who carefully start counting calories and upping their workout routine in November in anticipation of losing a few pounds so they can pack it back on (and then some) over Christmas because everyone knows that Christmas is all about eating and eating some more until you can't possibly make room in your stomach for another bite of turkey/ham/stuffing/potato/vegetable BUT THEN you just slowly get up, wobble around the kitchen, somehow manage to wash up the dishes, and suddenly you find some room to cram a few cookies in there. And let's not forget stocking chocolate. Then New Years rolls around with the usual resolution of losing some weight and now beach season is just 6 months away (sooner if you don't live where I do) so it's time to hit the gym and get back into your pre Christmas jeans. Why do we do this to ourselves? How does it change our perception of body image and how we feel about our bodies?

I'll admit I'm not perfect either, so here's a break down of my holiday eating and such.

Pre Christmas: I was sticking to my usual routine of going to kickboxing once a week, maybe hitting the gym for a bit on Wednesdays if I had the time but I'm thinking this didn't happen too much as I had a lot of school work/ work/ and cat sitting to do. Also in cold weather I'm less motivated to sit at a bus stop for an hour or more every day. My eating habits were most likely quite horrible as my boyfriend was off work and visiting for the holidays and he tends to take me out for meals a lot.
Christmas: Ate way too much on Christmas eve then opened the gift from my mother-in-law to be, which happened to be an adorable little shirt and my dad promptly said "it makes you look pregnant." Such is life. Christmas, I was definitely the one that stuffed myself full to bursting, because it's Christmas and because I know that once it's over I have to go back to my home with no tasty Mum food and an almost empty bank account so no money for tasty food much less any food. Again, my dad said I looked pregnant. Thanks Dad.
Post Christmas: Boyfriend still in town, still taking me out for meals and spoiling me. Add that to stocking chocolate AND Christmas cookies that Mum sent along for me. Om nom nom. But I'll admit, I'm like a squirrel when it comes to good food and so much of that stocking chocolate is tucked away in a cupboard because I am rationing it. Same goes for the Christmas cookies AND the turkey and ham leftovers. They will most likely be rediscovered too late to be eaten and I'll have wasted food yet again. I'm famous for that.

So how am I feeling about my body? Well...first off I know that when I eat a big meal my stomach sticks out so I do indeed look a little pregnant. There is nothing I can do about that so I joke about it and move on. It's my dad that dwells on that sort of thing. My kickboxing class got cancelled so I don't even have something to go to to make me feel a little less guilty because I KNOW I gained at least 3 pounds last month. Big deal. I AM considering a new workout routine that will keep me in the gym when I'm not at school or work (conveniently also at school) but as far as how do I feel about my body? I don't love it any less. I don't love it any more. It is there. It is cold outside and a little extra pounds aren't keeping me any warmer, and they aren't really doing anything, really. I could care less about how I look right now, so body image really isn't an issue. Admittedly, I've got a lot of other things on my plate right now that are keeping me from eating properly or having any time to contemplate my body. That's just how it is.

So how is everyone feeling about their post holiday bodies? Don't forget that Valentine's day is in a couple of weeks. Who gets chocolate and fancy dinners out? Why do holidays and seasons have to affect what we do to our bodies and how we feel about them?

I am now contemplating how to work this into my art. Suggestions?

Sunday, 27 November 2011


So I have this website now, it's semi professional, in the process of being made better in it's own domain and designed by a professional rather than a free template, also by having my information completed and revised so it is super lovely and well written for grad school applications. I've got some artist statements up with my work and later today or tomorrow I'm hoping to have revised my statement of intent, kind of like a mission statement as to what my work is about and what I am doing with it. This blog is mainly to document what I've found and where I'm going, how my work is changing as it progresses and things get added to it.

For example, at first my work was just about loving your body, having a better self image and feeling good about yourself. Then it developed into a critique of the media and what they portray as ideal and try to brainwash us with and shove down our throats (my prof says I need to be more active in my writing and not keep accusing the media, I have to state what they are doing actively, also I'm not allowed to really say "we" or "our" in case that is too general and I offend someone, but I'd assume people are smart enough to know that if they don't agree with what I'm saying in the "we" voice then to just brush it off and not throw a tantrum. But such is life). Now it's becoming an issue dealing with cosmetic surgeries and things. I want to eliminate eating disorders and self loathing and making yourself some kind of plastic "perfection."

I am anti cosmetic surgery, anti eating disorder, anti fad diets, anti airbrushing and manipulations, anti "women need to be blond, skinny, no grey hair, no wrinkles, white teeth, men need to be ripped and muscular" etc etc. I am pro natural, pro eating healthy, pro living a healthy lifestyle, pro indulgent snacking (just not over indulgent), pro letting yourself age, gracefully or otherwise.As long as you're healthy then eat whatever you like, stay active, eat chocolate, have pizza and a few beers with friends, let your gray hair show, get wrinkles, save your money for important things rather than waste it getting botoxed and lipoed and lip plumped. Ew. That's not normal or natural and it certainly isn't beautiful. Don't get me wrong, there are certain times when certain surgeries are beneficial and I'm fully supportive of that and there are certain situations when surgery is the only way to "fix" something so yes, then go for it. But don't do it because you're unhappy with who you are because the media (or someone in your life being an asshole) tells you to. Embrace your body and love it for its imperfections because that's what makes you beautiful and unique.

Oh right, my website is www.stephanieanneallen.weebly.com

Friday, 25 November 2011


I'm working on a major project about body image and what people feel is the ideal body type. I'm challenging what the media tells us and hoping to change the body "ideal" they accost us with wherever we go.

More on this later....