On this year mark of creating CHEEKY, I want to thank all of you for helping me grow this community into something larger than I could have ever imagined. I started this project because I felt there was a large gap in our culture: a lack of honest conversation surrounding the humanness of women's bodies. As pre-teens, we're handed books that describe the changes we might start seeing, and are plopped in sex-ed classes that touch on our "flow,” but we don’t have a space in which to get REAL about what those changes will bring: the smells, the hair, and the gross/sticky/messy parts of periods.
Instead, we're constantly inundated with messages of beautification, and guidelines for what beauty looks like (acts like, smells like etc). We're told to pluck, edit, cover up, and hide the humanness of our bodies. As a result, we're all left in a state of constant shame, rejecting any "unladylike" hair or smell we might produce. We're left feeling alone in our bodies, and stuck replaying embarrassing moments that – if we only talked about them – we would come to find are a) incredibly relatable and common, but also b) kind of thrilling to talk about.
I wasn’t always proud of my body (and it’s an ongoing process). 20 year old me would be SHOCKED to see what I've been up to. I used to see my body as a head-to-toe project. Constantly setting weight loss goals, bleaching my arm hair, and comparing myself to others.
How did I get cheeky? The women in my life got me here. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a close group of friends where no topics are off limits: we swap period leak stories with joy, and text each other about poop stand-offs while at work. These conversations are liberating. My friends give me permission, encourage me, to let it all go. They continuously teach me that my imperfections are assets and to be treasured. Each bodily saga is an opportunity to tell a story — to shock, to awe, and to entertain.
Our culture often pits women against each other, constantly feeding us examples of female friendships that are coursing with competitive undercurrents. A lot of that — at least when it comes to movies — serving a narrative in which we’re vying for male attention. So much of what we do becomes about how others (men, but also not just men) will see us, what others will think when they look at us. I think we’re quick to loose sight of how we see (or want to see) ourselves. Judgement about our bodies replaces curiosity. We set standards for how our bodies should look, based on ideals that we had no hand in creating.
CHEEKY has become a space for me to reconnect with myself and reclaim what being/feeling beautiful means to me. And the first step came from connection, being with folks who assured me that I am great as I am. I decide what makes me feel best. I’ve found so much power and hilarity in those friendships that gave me the space and encouragement to start that process, and I created CHEEKY as a way to invite you into these conversations. It's been so awesome to meet all of you and the hilarious comments you add to each post. (Shoutout to all my fellow hairy girls out there, you make me feel less alone).
This project catapulted me into a year of building more compassion for myself – mind and body (turns out, painting my naked body and paying tribute to all the tummy rolls and hairs I grew up trying to hide has been incredibly empowering). I hope CHEEKY has helped you find a path towards some self love, too.
Stay tuned for another year of CHEEKY, and sit tight for my graphic memoir coming 2020!!!