Suffolk

Felixstowe artist paints naked women to empower them

Brittany Van Wezel and some of her paintings
Image caption Brittany Van Wezel wants to empower women to see themselves as works of art

An artist who learned to love her body after painting nude self-portraits has helped other women regain their confidence by painting them naked.

Women who struggled to accept their appearance after weight gain, pregnancy and miscarriage have all posed for Brittany Van Wezel.

"I want to empower them and make them see themselves as works of art," she said.

More than 30 women have taken part in the project so far.

Image caption Brittany Van Wezel wants to change the idea that women who are naked in paintings are sexualised objects

Ms Van Wezel, 20, who has just graduated from the University of Suffolk with a degree in fine art, said she wanted to "break through this idea women should be naked in paintings to be a sexualised object for men".

"My goal is to make them feel better after traumas. At first they tend to be really nervous but they soon get comfortable," the artist said.

Alexandra Maher, 38, took part in the project shortly after having a miscarriage.

"It helped me to feel more confident about my body after putting on weight following the miscarriage," she said.

"I felt very let down by my body, and modelling for Brittany helped me to start to love it again."

Image caption Alexandra Maher felt her body let her down after having a miscarriage but learned to love it again having posed nude

Scarlett Alfred, 21, said it allowed her to express a side of herself she would never normally want to share.

"I feel so much more love and confidence within my own body," she said.

Amy Schwer, 32, loves the painting she posed for, which shows her naked back and legs.

"The message of body positivity is so important in this day and age of social media," she said.

Image caption Amy Schwer said the artist made her feel incredibly relaxed and she applauds her for spreading the message of body positivity
Image caption Scarlett Alfred said she would never normally do anything like this but she was very grateful to take part

Ms Van Wezel suggested an idea of a pose to each woman but let them decide their exact position based on how they were most comfortable.

During a recent exhibition in her hometown of Felixstowe in Suffolk, Ms Van Wezel was approached by a breast cancer patient who asked for her surgical scars to be painted, which she has agreed to do in the future.

She was inspired to start the project after becoming increasingly unhappy with her own body.

"I was constantly trying new diets and I wanted to look a certain way due to social media. On Instagram you always see lip fillers, bikini models and make-up tutorials and you wish you could be like them," she said.

"I started painting parts of myself that I didn't like, my back fat and thighs, and I began to appreciate them. Now I just want other women to love themselves, no matter what their shape or size."

Image copyright Brittany Van Wezel
Image caption Brittany Van Wezel was inspired to start the project having realised that she felt more confident after painting nude self-portraits

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