JoJo Oldham has turned a plain white dress into a statement-making piece of art by covering it in all the comments people have made about her body.
“This piece isn’t […] a vanity project, or a pity party,” Oldham, 31, writes on her website. “I’m not trying to make people feel sorry for me just because somebody once told me I have thunder thighs, weird knees, sausage fingers and minging teeth. There are plenty of compliments on the dress too.”
The London-based artist says she made the dress to remind herself of how far she has come in her journey of self-acceptance — and how far she still has to go.
“The love I have for my body these days is something I’ve had to learn, and it requires constant maintenance,” says Oldham. “Most of the thoughts that creep into my head uninvited are negative. I bat them swiftly away, but they still keep coming.”
She admits, for example, that when looking at her wedding photos, the first thing she noticed were her “chins and bellies.”
“I had a go at myself for not sucking my tummy in more and not learning to smile in a more photogenic way when I’m ecstatically happy,” says Oldham. “Then I got over it. Turns out that when I’m having the best day ever my chins come out. All three of them. And frankly who can blame them? It was one heck of a party.”
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She also hopes the dress calls attention to the power of words and how they can impact a person’s sense of self.
“A great compliment has the power to make someone’s day. But why do we feel the need to share cruel, unwanted and unsolicited comments on people’s appearance?” says Oldham. “The nasty things people have said about my appearance don’t upset me anymore, but they have stuck with me, and they have definitely shaped the way I think about myself.”
“I think it’s a massive shame that we waste so much time thinking badly of ourselves and knocking each other down, when we could all collectively decide to end this madness once and for all,” she continues.
Oldham wants everyone to learn to accept their bodies just the way they are — regardless of the comments other people have made about them.
“We’ve all got better, more important and more fun things to think and talk about than whether our shoulders are too broad or our legs too skinny, our eyes too far apart or our knees too knobbly,” she says. “We should all be able to celebrate and love ourselves without fear of criticism from others, whatever shape or size we are.”