Aberdeen artist Lisa Ross firmly believes that every body is beautiful – even if social media would lead you to believe otherwise.
Creating 50 nude portraits to champion and celebrate every body type, Lisa is thrilled her exhibition “Shameless” – currently on display at Second Home Studio + Cafe – is making people talk about body positivity and self-worth.
“I’m so sick and tired of outside influences like fashion and film forcing an idea on people that your body needs to look a certain way – it’s ridiculous,” said Lisa.
“Everybody is different and some people’s bodies will never be able to look like that actor or actress they admire.
“We should be able to embrace ourselves and who we really are.
“You’ve got to accept what you got and learn to love it.
“And Photoshop should be banned – unless it’s for fun things”
Lisa, whose creative outlet is called Chaos Modern Art, started working on the Shameless project as part of her university module.
She said: “I was studying contemporary design at Gray’s School of Art and I had to create 10 images based on my theme which was gender.
“When I was working on the 10 images, I really liked how they looked when I saw them side by side.
“I thought that I would give myself the challenge of creating a pop art wall with 50 images.”
Lisa is proud of brave volunteers
Requiring 40 more volunteers, Lisa put up a post on social media and was delighted with the response she received.
“I’m the only one who knows who all these people all are,” said the artist.
“Some of them are my family, some are complete strangers and I met new friends.
“One of them just had an operation for breast cancer, some other person’s body is completely ravaged by disease and her body now doesn’t look anything like it used to, so she was super brave.
“There is somebody up there who literally just gone through surgery, there are people with body dysmorphia, someone who had an eating disorder, and then there are also people who wanted to just do it for themselves.
“I’m up there too for solidarity.”
Pandemic influenced the way Lisa created art
Usually, Lisa would do a quick photoshoot with her models or she would ask them to pose for her and draw them freehand. However, to make sure everyone was safe, Lisa asked her volunteers to send her a photo of themselves.
She said: “I got a new iPad recently so it gave me a good reason to play about with it and create digital art.
“When people volunteered for the project, I told them I was looking for something natural and casual – nothing sexy.
“I told them ‘I just want to show you’.”
While Lisa wishes more men came forward, she said she was grateful for the 12 men who volunteered to be part of her body positivity project.
She said: “I would have liked to have more of a mix because men get a hard time too and they have to deal with body issues too.”
Links between social media and body positivity
Much has been made over the years about how seeing pictures of other people’s bodies – be it celebrities on a yacht or a friend’s gym selfie – can affect how people view their own bodies.
And while many believe that social media can negatively affect people’s perception of their body image, Lisa said she has mixed feelings about the issue.
She explained: “I follow a lot of body positivity pages on Instagram and I’m really encouraged by that – there are a lot of people putting themselves out there and being super brave and I love that.
“But there is still a lot of commercial stuff out there that could be fixed.
“I like that some celebrities like Rihanna have really taken on body positivity and show all body types in their fashion lines.”
Currently on display at Second Home Studio + Cafe, on Huntly Street in Aberdeen, the exhibition will remain in the city centre venue until Saturday, June 5.
While Covid-19 postponed the exhibition, it still remains relevant
Lisa said: “The exhibition was supposed to open in January, but it had to be put on hold because of Covid-19, so to finally be able to see all the images up on the wall is amazing, I love it.
“Everything that’s on the wall was made by me in my kitchen or my living room.”
“Some of the volunteers messaged me to say they went to see the exhibition and sent me pictures sitting in front of it.”
Kirsty Cameron, director of Second Home Studio + Cafe, said she thought Lisa’s project carried an important message.
She stated: “We were originally planning this exhibition for January to kind of battle against the ‘New year, new me – lose lots of weight’ kind of thing.
“And then obviously lockdown hit, but I’m kind of glad that we’re doing it now because we’re still getting that same kind of messaging about ‘lose this lockdown weight’, so I think it remains as important now as it did back then.”