Tagged: body positive

Interview with Tattoo Artist Harriet Heath

Meet 30-year-old tattooer Harriet Rose Heath. She’s based in Sheffield and works as a travelling tattooer, with a permanent monthly spot at Dharma Tattoo in London. We chat to Harriet about her tattoo style, the body positive Facebook group she started and why no one should ever apologise for their body…


What drew you to the world of tattooing, when did you start? The first thing was getting into alternative music and seeing all the band members I loved having tattoos and wanting to be like them. I got my first on my 18th birthday and have barely stopped since. I used to work in music retail and after being made redundant, I realised I needed to sort my life out. I had a lot of tattoos already by this point and drawing has always been the one thing I am good at, so it made sense to give tattooing a shot! I used to feel like it was hugely inaccessible and how could some girl just become a tattooer? These days I think it’s too accessible! A lot of hard work paid off though and now I’ve been doing it for over six years.

How would you describe your style, both fashion/lifestyle and art/tattoos? My style has evolved a lot over the years, both in my work and in myself. I’ve always had a huge passion for tattooing girl heads, but my work used to be a lot darker in subject matter and colour palette. These days I’ve learnt to embrace fun in my work. For so long I felt that I had to conform to a set of rules, and if I did anything too feminine then I wasn’t a real tattooer.

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This carried through into how I presented myself as a person. Embracing femininity within my work has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. I love trying to represent all shapes, sizes and styles of women. Learning to be more unapologetic about myself has made me more unapologetic about my tattooing. I love working in colour, I love creating these fun babes that mirror my amazing clientele. I have quite a strong personal aesthetic that carries over into my work. Strength and beauty have always been the two main ideals I hope to achieve with everything I do.


You have created a group on  Facebook called Take Up Space, can you explain what this is, why you created it and how others can get involved? I created the group after being disheartened by so many vegan and feminist groups on Facebook. Every time I joined one I felt like instead of championing people for trying, everybody was attacked for not being good enough. Your time online should never make you feel anxious and afraid. I wanted to create a space with like-minded people and really make a difference.

I’m a fat woman. I’m not ashamed to say it and I don’t think I should be. I’m happy with my body, I love how it looks and what it does, but it can be hard to navigate the world sometimes when train seats are too small, when shops don’t make clothes big enough and the world tells you that you need to minimise yourself, to become smaller and that if you are over a certain size, you are not welcome.

Learning to Take Up Space is important. Everybody is entitled to the space that they take up, both physically and more. The ethos of TUS is fat positivity, body acceptance and helping others along that journey in a warm and welcoming environment with other people that you can relate to. No restrictions on gender, size, age etc, it is for anyone who “feels big”. It’s taken me a long time to reach this level of acceptance and happiness about myself and it’s made me so happy to be able to share that wisdom with other people.

Seeing so many people grow since the birth of the group has been phenomenal. People who are now happy to wear crop tops, have bought their first ever bikini, are standing up and being more confident at work, discussing issues with people outside the group that they were too ashamed to talk about before. There is still so much negativity towards fatness, specifically in women, that we face on a daily basis, but we shouldn’t be treated as or made to feel lesser due to the vessel we exist in. If this sounds like a community you want to be a part of, search Take Up Space on Facebook and request to join then keep an eye on your inbox!


Is it important that people become more positive about their bodies? Body positivity is a huge deal to me. So much collective brain power is wasted in this world worrying about rolls and inches and numbers and scales. I can’t tell you the number of times people have apologised for their bodies when I tattoo them, whether it’s people hating their toes, embarrassed because they forgot to shave their legs, or telling me they are sorry that I have to touch them. It breaks my heart every time. Nobody should ever have to apologise for just existing as they are!


What would you say to others who are worried about getting tattooed because someone will be close to their body, or they perhaps don’t like their body? Please. Please. Please, do not worry. We have seen everything before. You are never too fat, too old, too hairy, too anything to get tattooed (except too young). Tattooists are professionals and should act as such. If you have self-harm scars, 99% of the time we can cover them for you, also you would be surprised how many we see all the time and a bunch of us have them ourselves. We work with skin all day long and it’s totally normal for us. If you want privacy, most studios should have blinds or screens they can put up to ensure that nobody other than the tattooist will see you. If you pick the right artist I guarantee you’ll leave feeling better about yourself! Never apologise for your body and just try to enjoy the experience!


Can you tell us about your own tattoos, have they helped you to see your body differently? I remember getting my stomach tattooed and transforming from somebody who was horrified by the idea of my shirt lifting up when I reached for a high shelf into someone who would lift their top and say “look how great this is”. The more tattooed I get, the happier with myself I become. Looking at your body and seeing something you have taken control over, chosen yourself and turned a few inches of skin you once hated into something beautiful is a powerful thing. In summer you’ll find me in short shorts and crop tops because I just love showing off my skin. I’m proud of it not only for how it looks but as a sign of what I am able to go through and come out the other side of stronger.

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Differently Abled Women Taking Back the Beach

Online women’s lifestyle website Refinery29 created a beautiful and inspiring photographic series titled ‘9 Stunning Photos Of Differently Abled Women Taking Back The Beach‘. The series showcases four stunning women who all have disabilities enjoying their bodies and holidays as well as the stories behind their bodies… 

Despite often facing additional logistical challenges, women who are differently abled “take back the beach” in their own way, whether that means making their way through the sand in a wheelchair, overcoming insecurities around removing prosthetic limbs in public, or simply asking for help when they need it.

And since we don’t see enough of these women in ads or on the pages of magazines, we decided to spend a day at the beach and the pool with four differently abled women and find out what their experiences are really like. Of course, these four stories don’t represent every single differently abled woman out there, but they’re definitely a start.



Danielle Perez Age: 31 Location: Los Angeles, CA Job: Comedian



Kristen Parisi Age: 31 Location: New York Job: Public relations executive



Lacey Henderson Age: 26 Location: Phoenix, AZ Job: Professional long jumper for the U.S. Paralympics



Caxmee Age: 26 Location: Brooklyn, NY (originally from Haiti) Job: Fellowship/program manager at the office of the mayor of New York City


Illustration: Melly Em Clark

24-year-old Melly Em Clark is an full time illustrator from Lincoln, UK. We chatted to Melly about her art based around themes of feminism, fashion and body positivity… 


Inspired by Things&Ink Melly created a tattooed babe just for us… 

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Do you have a background in art? How and when did you start drawing? It’s hard to remember when I started drawing as it feels like something I’ve always done! I was encouraged from an early age to be creative by both my parents and my schools-school provided great projects and my parents always took me to creative activities outside of school, so I’ve always been motivated to make things. While I struggled in other subjects, art always felt fun and something I was confident doing- it was only when I was nearing my GCSEs that it occurred to me that I could make art for a living. I studied Illustration at the University of Lincoln and graduated in 2013, and last May I took the plunge into full time self employment! While at times, I feel limited by Art being my only strength, my love for drawing is still strong and I still find it incredibly fun!

What inspires you? Content-wise, I am inspired by inter-sectional feminism and pop culture. There are many feminist artists, writers and creatives that I look up to, and strive to be like-this is always a drive of mine when creating new work. Like most people, I’m constantly devouring films, books, television and social media, and can find inspiration from any and all of these. Style wise, I love 20th century fashion illustration by artists such as Rene Gruau and Lucia Lerner. While I don’t agree with a lot of the messages portrayed in mid century advertising, the vivid colour schemes and sense of playfulness are always something I try to recreate in my work. Contemporary artists I admire are Jon Klassen, Grayson Perry, Johnny Hannah and Meg Hunt.



What medium do you use? How do you create each piece?  My work is predominantly digital-I start by hand drawing each piece, taking time to draw each section separately and arranging them together in Photoshop. Then comes the process of colouring in the piece digitally. I used to paint every piece by hand and simply edit in Photoshop, and while now I work in digital techniques, I still like to keep the texture of paintings, and include a lot of hand painted textures in each piece. As I have a tiny studio, working digitally works better for me, but I still like to crack out the paintbrushes once in a while and I love supporting artists that continue to work in traditional mediums.


What kinds of things do you draw? This can really vary- most of my work focuses on themes of body positivity, but I’ve also made pieces based around themes like baking, fashion trends and inspirational quotes. I try to keep my work feeling positive and playful, whatever the content. I design prints to sell in my Etsy store, but my ‘bread and butter’ comes from custom artwork, which can vary from family portraits to logo design, so my drawings can differ daily!

Your illustrations focus on body positivity is this something you like to advocate? Body positivity is something very close to heart. Like many people, I’ve spent many years hating my appearance, and my general outlook on life has improved since learning to love myself. As I can struggle to articulate my thoughts into words, I started to create artwork that expressed a body positive theme-my first ‘bo po’ illustration was a piece entitled You Don’t Need Abs To Be Fab. Once made, I posted it online and the reaction was bigger than I could have expected. Since then. I’ve aimed to make art that helps people feel better about themselves, even if only in a tiny way. I know so many wonderful people who advocate a body positive lifestyle, and I’m definitely inspired by them. I think we all deserve to feel great about ourselves and love our bodies, and it’s important to me to get that onto paper.


Can you tell us about your tattoos? What was your first, do you still love it? How do they make you feel? I have eleven tattoos in total, my first was just before I turned 21. To symbolise my Irish heritage, I got a small claddagh design on the inside of my wrist. Since then, I’ve embraced the idea that tattoos don’t have to have a story behind them, and have covered myself in tattoos with no tale or theory behind them. Over three years, the quality of my first tattoo isn’t great and I would love to have it reworked-it’s a simple line drawing and I would love for it to be more intricate and colourful. My biggest tattoos are floral designs, but I have a few other pieces, including a kraken taking down a ship, heart finger tattoos, a stag, a fox, a kewpie, and an Adventure Time inspired tattoo, all of which I’m still head over heels with!

Do you do commissions? Where can people buy your art? Most of my custom artwork operates via my Etsy store where I have listings for personalised portraits, business design packages and invitation design, as well as my pre-made art prints. Alternatively, I can be reached at mellyemclark@gmail.com for commission enquiries!

Follow Melly on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr for body positive art work… 

The art of Frances Cannon

Frances Cannon is a 23-year-old artist and student from Melbourne, Australia, we chat to her about her body positive illustrations and what inspires her…


Do you have a background in art? I have been drawing ever since I was a kid. It was fairly obvious to me from an early age that I wanted to study art and become an artist! I have just finished my Bachelor of Art (Fine Art) and I hope to study more and keep growing and expanding as an artist!

What inspires you pieces? I am inspired by humanity. Whether I draw about the body, emotions, relationships, life/death, dreams – everything revolves about what it is to be human. I am currently involved heavily in the body positive movement as well as empowerment of women and a lot of my art that I post online focusses on that subject.

What message are you hoping to spread? I want people to see my art and feel connected. To feel warmth and happiness when they see it and to know they are not alone in their experiences.

Do you consider yourself a member of the body positive community? Absolutely! I had a lot of trouble loving my body when I was growing up, but over time I have learnt that hating myself takes way to much energy and that loving myself is so much easier and makes life SO much better! I definitely recommend.

What medium do you use? What types of things do you draw? What medium I use depends on whether I am working from home or from my studio. My apartment is very cramped and doesn’t really have space for big works of art, so I usually do ink drawings or small watercolour paintings. When I have a studio I expand to doing big drawings in charcoal, or big watercolour or gouache paintings. I draw naked ladies a lot (though I do draw other things as well). The naked form is something I find truly beautiful and I find it empowering to draw bodies similar to my own.

Do you have any tattoos? What do you think of tattoos in general? Yes I have many! My current favourites are a tattoo of the character from The BFG, a book by Roald Dahl (my favourite childhood author). Another favourite is one of my own drawings of a girl hugging herself (a little reminder to love myself and my body). I love tattoos (especially black line-work tattoos) and I plan on getting lots more!


Desireé Dallagiacomo Poetry


Photo by Christopher Diaz taken at last year’s Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival 

Earlier this year at the 2015 Women Of the World Poetry Slam, a four day poetry festival, Desireé Dallagiacomo was ranked 3rd. Amongst Desireé’s performances was her spoken word poem ‘Thighs Say’, in which she negotiates the space within society that her thighs fit in, the places they cannot go and the things that they can do. Ultimately she concludes that they are her’s and her’s alone.

She also performed ‘Shave Me’ a spoken word poem in which she smashes society’s ridiculous standards connected to the beauty of women. With a hilarious and angry look at American culture and its need for women to remove their body hair.

Love your body with Laura Vudé

 Laura Vudé is a 25-year-old Australian artist, photographer and plus size model. We chatted to her about being a body positive advocate, her style inspirations and the tattoos on her body…


How did you get into modelling? I was photographing people and realising my selfies were killer and wanted to have people take my photo because I’m super vain. I’m only half joking. Then people on my tumblr started to respond to them, so I started collaborating with Melbourne based designers like Lunasea Creations last year and realized that it made me feel so positive and like I was doing something worthwhile so I continued from there. It also helped being surrounded by beautifully creative folk.

Do you have any tips for readers for loving themselves? Or not giving a crap about what others think? I get comments most days which are so kind coming from women who are so happy to see a fat beautiful person (because yes, we exist.) and for so long I felt the same way. Try and surround yourself with people who make you feel on top of the world. Who don’t put you down and who honestly make you believe you are worthy of love, kindness and push you to not only better yourself but help you strive for what you are after. I am so, so fortunate to have such an incredible network of close friends who are as body positive and are all differing sizes and willing to talk about it.


Photo: Michael Brock

How have you become body confident? Honestly through taking a lot of selfies. I used to do a lot of self portraiture back in 2009 when I suppose I started to really feel beautiful and I really liked my eyes. Then a few years later once iPhones were a thing, I found myself taking more and more images. I started taking pictures of myself in lingerie because I hadn’t seen anyone who looked like me in lingerie anywhere. The internet responded well and was mostly women responding to them and it felt like something special. The body positive movement on tumblr really helped me become more confident as well, just seeing other plus size women flaunting their beautiful selves was very inspiring.

What does plus size mean to you? Do you consider yourself plus size? I do consider myself plus size, curvy, fat, whatever you want to call me I’m fine with. It took a lot of time but when you break it down they are just describing words and it’s the inflection the person uses, is really how it will always be taken.


Photo: Lucy Dickinson for 35mmstyle

How would you describe your style? 50% mesh, 20% lingerie goddess, 25% pastel princess, 5% goth.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Sounds super cliche but I’m inspired by my friends and the queer community. Im inspired by femmes wearing pastel lipstick and outrageously high platforms. I’m in love with colour and will usually look to be one of the more colourful folks in the room.


Photo: Hana Haley for Alexandrea Anissa Lingerie

Can you tell us about your tattoos? Okay I’ll go feet, up: On my ankle I have “me” in a heart to remind myself that I’m the best by my friend Kyle. On my left calf I have an avocado and avocado tree surrounded by mountains because my favourite thing is avos. Which was a stick and poke done by Grant.

My right thigh has a pin up named Audrey, who isnt actually based on Twin Peaks Audrey but it kinda just turned out that way. I’m pretty into it. By Kat Weir at Fox Body Art in Collingwood, Melbourne. My left thigh has a pink jacket with the words “it’s like the rules of feminism” written around it- a Mean Girls quote. Mean Girls was important for me as a teen, which was one by someone at Third Eye Tattoo in Carlton, Melbourne but to be honest was a bit of a jerk who almost mispelt feminism on my body. What an ass.

Above that I have another new pin up who’s still in the very beginning stages. Chris drew me a chubby witch and I had to have her. Whilst I was in New York I got a beautiful fern by my friend Moritz and it’s one of my favourites. Keeping New York close to my heart.

Just this week I got a hand holding lavender and baby’s breath flowers done by Amelia at Berserk Tattoos, who’s a doll, whilst a friend of mine was down from Brisbane.


Which was your first? Do you still love it? My first professional tattoo was my pin up, done at Fox Body Art in Collingwood Melbourne by Kat Weir. She’s a super talented, sweet babe and I’m so happy with how my pin up turned out. My first tattoo ever was a home job by a friend of a friend. I had just moved out of home and was feeling super free and felt like having femme written on my body was very important for my own identity. Still is.

I love all of my tattoos. I love my body. Even if I end up disliking some at some point I’ll remember the time when I got them and that’s part of the great thing about tattoos. They show a significant or not so significant decision in your life. It’s a beautiful mark.

Do you have any tattoo plans? Not too many because I somehow have gotten four tattoos in the past month! I do want to get a cute girl power tattoo at some point though, something really simple with basic line work.


Photo: Michael Brock

Create a life you love with Sarah Starrs

Sarah is a 27-year-old writer, coach and creator of SarahStarrs a Punk Rock Personal Development blog. We chatted to her about her journey of self-love, achieving your goals and her beautiful tattoo collection… 

Can you tell me a little about your blog and what people can find on it? You can find my blog at SarahStarrs.com, where I help women get their shit together & create a life they love. I mainly write about self-love, personal development, lifestyle design, creativity, and achieving your dreams. I believe that it’s absolutely possible to achieve your big goals and that it all starts with learning to adore yourself. But this doesn’t happen by sitting idly by and wishing for good things to happen. I show people how to get down and dirty with the universe to make magical things happen. But you have to do the work. That’s why I call it “punk rock personal development.” I’m launching a podcast with that name on 14th August, which I’m very excited about!

How did you become a blogger? I’ve been writing online in one form or another since I was a preteen – I had Angelfire, Geocities, Livejournal, Myspace, etc. My current website, SarahStarrs.com, was born out of my old website The Laughing Medusa, which I launched in 2011. I started blogging that time around out of a kind of necessity. I felt really stuck and strangled in my job as a magazine editor. I was longing for a creative outlet and editorial freedom, so I decided to start a blog. At the same time I was undergoing a lot of personal transformations as I learned about personal development and got into healthy eating, so my online space became a place for me to explore these new interests. It began more or less as a personal/lifestyle blog, but has evolved a lot over time to become the business and resource it is today.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I’m most inspired by people who are balls to the wall following their passions and going after their dreams in an unconventional way. A lot of my writing is inspired by the things I learn from these types of people, as well as my own experiences learning to transform my life. But, as cliche as it sounds, I find that inspiration can spring from anywhere: a great conversation, an interesting film, a beautiful pattern, catchy lyrics… anything that catches my attention and gets me to look at things in a new way.

You are an advocate for self love and following your dreams how did this come about? Oddly enough, it started in a university philosophy class about existentialism. People know me as a positive, upbeat person who gets an idea and runs with it, but I wasn’t always like this. In truth, I used to be a bit of a neasayer. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression all of my life, but I also just didn’t think the things I wanted were possible for me. I let fear rule my decisions for a long time. Existentialism is based on the idea that all of us is radically free. We all face limitations imposed on us by physical realities, our histories, material circumstances, etc. But we’re always free to choose our actions and reactions. And that’s who we are: the product of our choices and actions.

That really struck a chord with me. To be honest, I resisted the whole thing at first. It’s hard to accept that our destiny is in our own hands. It’s a lot of pressure! Around the same time that I was taking this course, I started delving into the world of personal development, reading bloggers like Gala Darling and Alexandra Jaye Johnson. I saw a lot of similarities between the concepts of self-love and existentialism – namely an emphasis on personal responsibility and taking control of your own life. I started incorporating the things I was learning into my life and my mindset started to shift. As it did, it was like my whole world started opening up. Not all at once, but slowly I started to take risks because I knew I had to take complete responsibility for my life. The things I want were possible and it would be my choice if I denied myself them. Since then I’ve focused on making bold, sparkly choices and intentionally designing my life.

Has it taken you a while to love yourself? Do you have any advice for readers? I like to make it really clear that I am not finished learning to love myself; I do not have it all figured out. Self-love is a lifelong journey. I still have my bad days when my inner critic gets the best of me or I start comparing myself to other people and I want to give up on everything. I still struggle with my mental health and have dark periods that are difficult to crawl out of. The difference is that I now have a toolbox of strategies, practices, rituals, and mindsets that help me navigate those times with love and kindness for myself. Those are the things that I want to teach people. I know now that my mind can play tricks on me and my thoughts are not always real, but I have the ability to choose a more loving thought.

I’ve created a whole course on starting your self-love journey but if you’re looking for a simple place to start, I would look at incorporating some simple mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. I’m working on a post about this right now but a simple way to start doing this is just a spend a couple of minutes connecting with your breath and noticing your thoughts, perhaps labeling them as “planning,” “worrying,” etc. and then letting them float away. As you practice, you’ll strengthen your ability to clear your mind and you’ll gain more control over your thoughts. I’d also recommend either writing down the things you’re happy and excited or grateful for or just taking note of them mentally. It’s a great practice to do first thing in the morning and before you go to bed, so you’re starting and ending each day filled up by the good things in your life.

What first steps did you take to achieve your goals? I’m still very much in the process of achieving my goals, but I guess the first step was learning to put myself out there. It can be so difficult to share your dreams or your creative work when you’re so far from where you want to be, but that’s the only way that you’ll learn and grow. You have to take action or your dreams are just fantasies. When I started blogging, the work I was putting out there was so reiterative and my inspirations were so obvious. I had to write myself into my voice and find my unique message, but if I hadn’t put that early writing out there, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

Can you tell us a bit about the courses you have on offer? I offer a self-guided ecourse called Romance Yourself: A 40-Day Journey to Self-Love. I think of it as the guiding hand, encouraging voice, and kick in the ass I wish I’d had when I started my self-love journey. Self-love is pivotal to living the life of your dreams, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Romance Yourself will show you the way. The course provides a daily practice for you to start cultivating that feeling of love for yourself as well as daily insights and exercises to start exploring your thoughts and beliefs and creating a practice that is unique to you.

For anyone who’s feeling a little bit lost, I also have a free Define Your Dreams workbook to help start creating some clarity around your goals and what you want your life to look like. It’s completely free and you can download it from my website.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my new course, The Daydream Revolution, which is by far my biggest and best offering yet. It’s an 8-week course on achieving your dream and making big shit happen. If you have a bigger-than-life idea, whether it’s starting a business or going on an international adventure, or anything in between, but can’t seem to make it happen, this is for you. Through the course we’ll overcome resistance, tackle your fears, and drag your big dream into reality. At the end of the course you’ll walk way with a detailed action plan, a clear picture of how you can afford your dream, and the tools to stay motivated. Registration isn’t open yet, but if you hop over to my website and sign up for my newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when it does + you’ll get an exclusive discount.

What was your first tattoo? How old were you and do you still like it? What do you think about tattoo regret?  My first tattoo is a line of text that says “Dance like nobody’s watching” in my own handwriting around my wrist. I was 19; I got it for my birthday. It’s not my favourite tattoo but it’s unobtrusive and it’s part of my story. It’s not the quote I would be most drawn to now but it sums up my personal philosophy of living life on your own terms and always being true to who you are.

I think tattoo regret is part and parcel of being a tattooed person, the way I sometimes wake up and absolutely hate my hair, some days I wish I could wake up and erase one of my tattoos. But I’ve never experienced any lasting regret about any of my tattoos. I plan to be more or less covered in ink, so if I end up with a tattoo that I’m no longer wild about, it won’t stand out that much in the bigger picture of the canvas that is my body. And they’re all part of my story.

Which is your favourite tattoo? Do any of them have a special meaning?
All of my tattoos have some sort of special meaning attached to them, even if it’s just an association with a particular time in my life. If I had to narrow it down to my favourites, they’d be my chest piece which was done by Jessi James in Newbury. It represents self-love and personal transformation. And also the rose and bee on my knee by Cassandra Frances; I plan on getting the other one done to match. That tattoo was born out of a silly conversation with my friend about being “the bee’s knees” but I absolutely adore it.

Do you have any future tattoo plans? Are there any artists you admire? I want almost my entire body tattooed, but I like to think of it as a collection and I’m happy to curate it slowly as I can afford to get the work I want. I’m particularly keen to get pieces from Tiny Miss Becca, Emily Rose Murray, Rebecca Vincent, Peter Aurish, Danielle Rose, and Antony Flemming.

How would you describe your fashion style?
I describe it as technicolour punk rock chic! I’m a big fan of bright colours, fit & flare dresses, vintage silhouettes, statement jewellery, & motorcycle boots.