These are the only rules and guiding principles of the Self Love Club.
“YOU MUST ALWAYS SHOW YOURSELF RESPECT, LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND UNDERSTANDING.”
“YOU MUST SHOW EACH OTHER RESPECT, LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND UNDERSTANDING.”
“YOU MUST BE KIND TO YOUR BODY, AND YOU MUST TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH.”
Australian artist Frances Cannon decided to tattoo the words “Self Love Club” on her arm and encouraged others to do the same and subscribe to the following rules and ethos – and so the Self Club tattoo trend began. Cannon tells E&M that it was in a special moment in her life where she wanted to acknowledge how far she had come in her self-love journey. She then sent out an open online invitation for people to ‘join’ the club if they felt the message resonated with them – and plenty of people followed suit. Cannon is an illustrator with a significant online following, particularly renowned for her Instagram account which mainly consists of illustrations of women pledging oaths to body positivity and self-care. These beautiful, inspiring and empowering illustrations provide a vision of womanhood in every shape and form, providing an alternative narrative to combat the impossible and unrealistic portrayal in the mainstream media. These are then punctuated with images of women’s tattoos of “Self Love Club” – an inspiring stream of professions of self-love and self care that is rare to come by.
I first came by the Self Love Club a few months ago, and I was significantly touched by the images I found. It would seem banal to most to remind girls to love themselves, and that we all have these flaws that society tell us we must conceal at all costs. This normalised notion that beauty for a woman is synonymous with cis-gender, white, thin, hairless, flawless skin – the list goes on – has been plaguing women for centuries, serving as a constant reminder of inferiority. Girls are brought up with these unattainable beauty standards, taught that it is imperative to chase away your flaws and vulnerabilities rather than celebrate them – which is exactly what Cannon is trying to work against. These impossible standards also take a toll on mental health – a constant feeling you are not good enough. These then particularly target women of colour, women from the LGBTQ+ community, disabled women, plus-sized women– and women that are part of one or more of these marginalised communities for whom a multitude of intersecting factors contribute to their alienation for these exclusionary beauty standards. Cannon, through her own experience and that of people she comes across, pushes boundaries on different conceptions of female beauty and the female experience. This then makes for a raw insight into different forms of womanhood and the fragilities, vulnerabilities and insecurities intrinsic in the experience of womanhood.
E&M had the pleasure of chatting with Frances Cannon who mentioned that it is in fact her own experiences, memories and her own body that are the main source of inspiration for her work. It is this intimate insight which makes these illustrations so relatable for a lot of women out there. The overall reaction has “been mind-blowing! So many people have gotten it tattoed to signify their strength and self love. Unfortunately, a lot of corporations have caught on and used the words for their own financial gain…but we won’t dwell on that. Self Love Club is still such a special tattoo movement” Cannon tells E&M.
Beyond Australia, in Europe and all over the world Cannon’s Self Love Club and art has been inspiring women all over the world. Women that look at images of extremely thin, cis-gender, big busted, tan, white women and think – where do I fit in? Why am I not good enough? And the most inspiring thing about this tattoo movement is the moment where so many women are choosing to reject these feelings of disappointment and low self-esteem. Celebrate your wonderful self not in spite, but because of all your flaws – show yourself and others respect, forgiveness and understanding and look after yourself.
Why are initiatives like the Self-Love Club so important?
“It’s an outer declaration of one’s own self love! That’s pretty powerful!” says Cannon. And it most certainly is.
Cover Photo Credit: Frances Cannon