by Alexia Roussos (she/they)
by Alexia Roussos (she/they)
For most of our childhoods, and part of our adult lives, we're taught to romanticise and aspire to someone else – a celebrity, a model, an actress, an unattainable image, something far away from you. We celebrate and admire art that depicts women sexually, often buying various artforms that show women in the nude.
We give so much weight and love and energy to other people. Not other actual people, but the perceived image of people we don’t even know. Why not afford yourself the same privilege? Loving yourself is hard and it’s a big ask; but acting like you love yourself isn’t.
Fake it 'til you make it, bb.
Just do what you see people do to celebrate other’s beauty, to yourself, in a way that makes sense to you. Put yourself on a pedestal, practically: I’m talking action here, people. Inspired by artwork? Photograph yourself as if you were one of Ruben’s sexy, glorious subjects. Wear something you feel good in and sip a glass of wine in front of the mirror. Run an outrageously bubbly bath, drizzle some olive oil in there and spend hours running your hands over your body. Dress yourself up in something that makes you feel like the sexiest person alive, as defined by you, and enjoyed by you.
This painting is me trying to do that to myself, this being part one of a series. I love art and women and bodies, and I’ve always drawn and painted women. Treating my own body like that, even the parts I don’t necessarily love, even on days when love doesn’t even come into it, through action.
I’ve been drawing and painting since I can remember, and I am familiar with the highs and lows that come with creating an artwork. I’ve done it before with a range of different subjects, and I know the cycle of having an idea which you love, to questioning it and yourself halfway through, back to loving it at the end (once you’ve put in a bit of work and about 4 more layers of paint.) When I put myself in my own artwork, I’m forced to treat myself like one of my ‘subjects’ – with care and reverence and enough detachment to get the job done based on what’s in front of me, and not my ego.
It started with nudes, for me personally. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos, so turning the lens on myself was inevitable (you run out of subjects, especially when it’s 11pm and you just had a great idea). I’ve also always wanted to take nude portraits of others, but it’s a lot to ask of a person and it felt weird to ask someone to pose for a photo that I wouldn’t feel comfortable posing for (photographers can be very weird). So I started with myself.
Being able to interact with myself in that way, controlling the narrative through which my body was depicted, while also working with my own skills and knowledge and being able to tap into the process of making a photo, ended up being a perfect way to come to terms with how I look and to appreciate how I look. You learn to see yourself from every angle, and realise the ones where you look good are just as valid and relevant as the ones where you look bad. And sometimes ‘bad’ isn’t bad; I love the way my soft curves look when oiled up and photographed; the squishier parts of my body always appeal to me the most when I’m shooting.
There is a video tutorial on how to shoot nudes on the way, if you’re interested.
This is a continuation of that process for me, another version of image making but with a little more room for fantasy and a lot more time to pour into myself. Find a way to pour into yourself – but why not make it sexy?
Alexia Roussos (she/they) is an artist, photographer, designer and researcher interested in all things sex and sexuality.