Frances Cannon is an artist from Melbourne and founder of the Self Love Club. Her work blends personal experience with themes of body-love, body-loathing, anxiety, relationships, sexuality and bodily functions. We chatted with her about learning to love yourself—wholly and unapologetically.
Emma Hardy: Your work is awesome and fantastically body positive. What does the body-posi movement mean to you?
Frances Cannon: It’s very personal to me. I grew up as a fat girl and have always been bigger and curvier. Through my upbringing and high school experience, I never really had any body positive or fat positive role models to look up to. It wasn’t until uni that I started to be involved in the community. It’s been really important to my journey and has helped me to accept all the bits of me. It’s a really beautiful movement.
Even when my drawings have a really powerful vibe, there’s still a vulnerability—because what are humans if they’re not vulnerable?
EH: Did the process of learning to accept and love yourself happen quickly, or is it an ongoing journey?
FC: Definitely ongoing. I’ve always been a fairly positive person. I have moments of negativity of course—I struggle with anxiety and that makes me question myself a lot—but I have always tried to be positive and look on the bright side. So I was never self-loathing and never struggled with eating disorders or anything like that, but I struggled with seeing myself as beautiful. I just thought of myself as cute. That’s where my mindset was when I was growing up, I thought: “Oh well I’m not beautiful, but I’m cute”. It took time for me to realise that people of all shapes and sizes can be absolutely gorgeous and beautiful—not just cute. But now I know I’m fucking beautiful.
EH: How do you remind yourself that you are beautiful and you are amazing—even when you’re having a shit one and feeling blue?
FC: I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel those negative emotions. So you feel blue sometimes—that’s okay. It’s part of the human experience. My work not only deals with body and fat positivity, but also talks a lot about mental illness. I try to remind myself and others who view my work that mental illness is normal, that it’s ok, but also that the negativity won’t last forever. I remind myself that what matters is what I think of myself and what the people who love me and know me think of me. It’s important to keep it in perspective. That’s easier said than done, of course.
EH: The Self Love Club sends a really powerful message. Can you tell me a bit about the work that you’ve been doing and the impact you hope it has?
FC: All my work starts out as a personal note to myself. A little love letter to myself. Then, when I post it, the people who view the work are able to see their own personal experiences in the drawing. That’s why I find it necessary to stay honest and transparent in all my work. If you’re just trying to make a drawing for the sake of making a drawing, the emotion doesn’t show through as well as if you’re making something out of a personal experience. I try to keep everything super honest, and through that I think people are able to put themselves into the work and relate it back to their lives. That’s like the magic of art—something that’s really personal to me can be really, really personal to someone else as well.
EH: It sounds like there’s a lot of vulnerability in that, too.
FC: Yeah, definitely. That’s a word that always comes back to me in my work. I try to keep it vulnerable. Even when my drawings have a really powerful and “I’m awesome/Fuck you” vibe, there’s still a vulnerability—because what are humans if they’re not vulnerable? If they’re not in tune with themselves and with each other?
EH: What would you like tell others about loving yourself?
FC: Self love and self acceptance is a journey—however cliché that sounds. It is a journey and it takes a commitment every day. Every day you need to wake up and make a commitment that you are going to be kind, gracious and forgiving to yourself. Sometimes you’re going to mess up and sometimes you’re going to have moments of self-loathing. It’s okay to have those moments. But when you have them, you also have to recommit to loving yourself.
You get better at it as you get older and as you grow as well. It becomes easier, just like—I don’t go for runs—but just like going for a run. It will start out really hard but you recommit each time and it gets easier and easier. Or like drawing. It will start our really hard, but the more you practice the easier it gets. It’s the same with anything. It’s the same with self love. It’s all practice.