“Don’t be afraid of the white canvas.”
I’m sitting in the Nashville community art center for my first art class in almost a decade. My art teacher is standing at the front of the room repeating this phrase over and over in her sweet, calm voice. She brought homemade cupcakes to class and brewed a pot of coffee. Maroon 5 is inexplicably blaring from a paint-spattered boombox in the corner. I’m surrounded by easels and a small group of mostly middle-aged women who have signed up to spend their next eight Monday evenings learning abstract painting. I’m nervous.
“Experiment,” my teacher urges us. “Don’t be afraid.”
I dip a fat brush in water and coat it with acrylic paint. Deep breath. I drag an exuberant wash of magenta across the smooth canvas. It immediately starts dripping. I’m surprised to find that I don’t care at all. The color is so joyful. I want more of it. I stipple the edges of the canvas with the same lively pink, then rinse my brush and switch to yellow. I use quick, diagonal strokes. It overlaps with the magenta and creates a fiery orange. This is awesome, I think. I want to do this every day! Keep reading »
Yesterday I tweeted that I was taking an abstract painting class in an effort to cure my perfectionism (more on that later!). I got a reply from a woman I didn’t know with a link to a video. At first I thought it was spam (if you use Twitter, you know that most replies from random women asking you to watch a video are not exactly wholesome propositions), but luckily for me the woman was Jennifer Gresham of Everyday Bright, and the video turned out to be a really inspiring little snippet of wisdom. If you’re a perfectionist, I highly recommend pushing play. [YouTube]
Writing about eating disorders feels like an exercise in vulnerability, not because I am ashamed to share my story, but due to the extremely emotional nature of the topic for countless women. In an era of Kate Moss, skinny jeans, and “she’s too skinny!” tabloid fodder, eating disorders run rampant like a cultural epidemic, continuing to fester alongside a never-ending preoccupation with body image. Although the majority of the media narrows the scope of the issue to models and celebrities, eating disorders are actually most prevalent amongst us everyday girls. Simultaneously, the reality of EDs extends beyond the teenage anecdotes of starving ourselves to be popular; these serious diseases have lifetime physical and psychological ramifications and are far more multifarious than extreme dieting. Weight is a sensitive subject to say the least, one I am going to handle diplomatically. The objective of sharing my story is not to be controversial, blame Hollywood, or spark debate on how to confront eating disorders, but to reflect on the complexities of a ghost that has haunted me and so many others for over a decade.
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