How art history gave me body confidence

The most revolutionary moment in my journey to love my body happened in a museum. One day when I was feeling particularly down about my body image, I decided to distract myself with art and the fruits of creativity. I walked through a wing filled with Baroque paintings and sculptures.

Suddenly, I saw myself.

My body type was revered in the 17th century. I don’t remember what I was wearing or how much makeup I had on, but I felt the most beautiful I had ever felt while staring up at these immortalized women.

I’ve never been able to achieve one of those stunningly athletic, “healthy” female bodies. In addition to having health issues that prevent me from working out rigorously, I have never had a particularly muscular body. Although I have always been thin, my build is soft and not decidedly “strong.”

No matter how little or how much I weighed, I felt like the media equated having a fit body with being a healthy human being.

As I walked through the rest of the museum and gazed at the muses from around the world, I saw an almost perfect representation of every woman I knew. Whether it was a product of Japan or Greece, a painting from the 1500s, a photograph from 1950, or work from a more recent decade, each artist chose to eternally preserve a distinct woman.

Trends regarding physical appearance are not a modern development. The benefit of living in the 21st century is that we have all of history to look back on to find a muse that closely resembles ourselves.

Although there are gorgeous women in the media who represent a diverse range of beauty, we can always find something wrong with ourselves in comparison.

Whether our hips feel too big or too small, or our arms feel too chubby or too muscular, we all have insecurities that often feel overwhelming. The topic of body confidence and self love is not unexplored, but I frequently see repetitive themes and ideas.

Positivity is always productive, but sometimes “look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful isn’t enough to conquer anxiety over body image.

The recipe for body confidence is not the same for everyone.

Although self love must ultimately come from within, it is difficult to reach a point of acceptance and celebration if you feel underrepresented or underappreciated.

Besides, it is not shameful to desire attention based on your physical appearance. It would be wonderful if one day our self worth was entirely uninfluenced by outside sources, but it is a very human trait to desire love and adoration.

I would encourage everyone to research each major movement in global art, and comb through the famous pieces until you find a piece that reflects your own image. It is hard to feel confident when you don’t have a powerful, sensual icon that you feel close to. It might sound cheesy, but the purpose of this research is to reaffirm the truth – we are all works of art.

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