Written by Kim Harris
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with a group of five humans who shared private pieces of themselves in a creative and healing workshop hosted by ‘The Maker’s State’.
Meeting each other and mingling over fresh fruit, drinks and decadent wraps, the group seemed curious and excited to discover what unknown creative workshop activities were about to unfold.
The firepit warmed our skin on the cool afternoon. The Maker’s State offered writing paper with two questions for each person.
“I am grateful for my mind and body; I love my body… especially…”
“What negativity do you hold and are ready to release regarding your physical or emotional body?”
The Maker’s State explained that we would write our responses and choose to burn the negative and keep the responses that felt good. The group chatted with playful banter and nervousness while we all got writing. Some beauties made jokes about themselves, negative self-talk, gurgling under the surface and waiting to be heard, not as a complaint but something much more.
The best way for all the women to connect with the take home artistic project was to ensure they connected with themselves and each other. ‘The inner beauty makers’ were ready. When asked if the group would like to share their words/thoughts before throwing in the fire pit, they all agreed to share. The experience was like nothing I’ve had before. It was energising and beautiful.
“I am fat, I am too tall, too much, loud, acne, I am not feminine enough.” I declared these things about my beautiful healthy body as the other women looked on with understanding. I noticed how Emily nodded as tears rolled, we had discussed “being too muchy” in her interview and she could relate to the discomfort that being a courageous assertive female can entail. Emily spoke about playing her personality down at times to make others feel comfortable or to sink into the crowd and not be seen with eyes that form opinions.
Emily spoke of her empowerment felt by helping, hearing and talking with her clients and how she was an advocate for women empowering and raising up each other, not competing or comparing.
When I shared, the compassion shown wasn’t just for me. It was rather a collective feeling that we experienced in not appreciating our bodies and running a dialogue we knew wasn’t kind.
Women shook their heads disagreeing with my assertions, but others nodded as if confirming they knew how ridiculous it was that they felt the similar thoughts at times.
The script I run is not true, even if it is true, I know that appearance doesn’t define.
My life is full, I am healthy, intelligent, loved, desired, praised, friendly, kind, feminine, capable, creative, funny.
As much as I try, I can’t completely shake the beauty beast which lurks within. It’s lived within for as long as I can remember. It felt normal when I was younger, but with age and self-awareness the beast has become less frequent, easily identifiable and totally unwanted.
Audrey aged 11 said that she felt insecure at times that she was overly talkative, skinny and too short. She explained that she was often told these things about herself and was unsure why people felt the right to say she was skinny and short because it was not acceptable to call people fat. Audrey expressed that she thought people don’t realise it is just as hurtful.
Emily disliked that she struggled with her skin and body confidence at times. Emily felt the sting of being overly skinny, or excessively energetic – too much for some. ‘String bean IT girl’ was joked as some of the social commentary.
Emily felt social compassion was often lacking for “pretty” girls, which is an attitude that she has everything and therefore has no right to complain about anything is how I would summarise.
“It’s the perception that some people have everything, or things are easier but it’s not usually the case. We all have insecurities – no matter what they are – we’re all the same.” Emily.
Colleen said she was grateful to be blessed with age but didn’t like the wrinkles so much or not being able to dress as she did when she was a younger. Colleen told of the struggles growing up in a different era where women were not always respected. She fondly remembers her grandfather always being kind and telling her she looked more beautiful each time he saw her but some teasing about her appearance is still recalled from childhood.
Colleen spoke of how she accepted and appreciated her health and body so much more.
A genuine respect of her body is felt in the way she speaks about ageing.
Kristyn had wished to ditch cellulite and chunky ankles at times. She shared that she had recently caught herself feeling unworthy of her partner. She knew this not to be true and felt unsettled that the beauty beast had thrown this yucky feeling into her relationship. Kristyn said she felt confident and sexy in herself it was others who struggled with it. I like it to “how dare she be confident at her size”.
An aged 19 said she grappled with her abilities to understand others and socialise effectively because of neuro diversity. An was profound in saying she would not write down or entertain negative thoughts about her body, knowing that keeping the toxic talk out of her mind was a way she combated the feelings that were prevalent in our group and society. An knew the beauty beast lurked, she felt it, but chose to fight it head on.
The mood shifted positively after An’s proclamation. We individually threw the notes in the fire to metaphorically release the power the words held – It felt good. I knew they weren’t gone for good, but it felt empirical to sit with a group of honest women and openly share and discuss deep social perplexities in a creative and social way.
An was brave, it made me optimistic for the next generation of girls, perhaps things were changing for the better. Equality could be possible. Lurking in my mind was the thought that I was ruined and might never be able to completely kill my beast. Comfort came from understanding that and accepting.
Kris: If you see me with both pants and a bra on it usually means I am going to work or going out into a place that those two things are expected by societal standards. (As a remote nurse) I deal with a lot of heavy issues and If I know it’s going to be a particularly heavy emotional day, I will make sure I have some cute little animal earrings on so when I look in the mirror I get a little smile from seeing them.
Colleen: Have a full-length mirror to check that your presentation and style is the very best for your look and body shape.
Emily: A defined Brow and Lash lift will certainly go along way in making you look refreshed and put together on the daily, without spending much time in the morning.
Audrey: A oversized hoodie/ jumper is a favourite. A big warm jumper always feels protective and safe.
The maker’s workshop women hoped An is not an outlier in her stance against defining herself by appearance.
I hope women can feel they are valued without their physical appearance and fashion being a defining factor in obtaining social and economic worth. Fashion and Beauty are not dirty words, many expressed how makeup made them feel creative and confident, beauty treatments enhanced already loved features and clothing was a form of self-expression. The process of understanding insecurities was positive. The Maker’s State made a space to explore.
It was time to make the wall hanging art piece featuring a defining quality about you.
A simple personal DIY home project, encouraging self-acceptance, beauty in all forms, and mindfulness through reflection. The Maker’s State suggests you connect to you before making the wall hanging. Using the technique of identifying what you love most about yourself and releasing the unwanted dialogue.
The women who openly shared themselves for this article have shown courage, confidence and empowerment in their ability to learn and grow. The vulnerable responses can only be described as an act of kindness given to all who read this. I believe they shared to inspire others to feel safe in their thoughts, to offer a figurative hug and be like ‘it’s okay, we are all in this together- do whatever you need to feel confident and content in your amazing mind and body.’
Thank you Audrey, Kristyn, Colleen, Emily, An
The Maker’s State
Inner Beauty Creative Project
- Wooden artists palette (Kmart) $5
- 5 small holes, drilled prior to creative workshop
- Bendable craft wire, string, or fishing line
- Paint or draw on a word that inspires you about you
- Crystals, feathers, rocks, beads, unused jewellery pieces anything that inspires you and feels like it will look gorgeous hanging in your home
- Attach your decorations with wire and plyers, twisting the wire around the items ensuring all pieces are secure
- Water based clear sealer spray or paint vanish to seal, protect and add shine applied last after any paint or glue is fully dry