On April 24, Illustration student Colleen Clark and her comic on body issues were featured in the Huffington Post.
It all started during earlier this year, when she made the comic for a class project and uploaded it to her tumblr.
“There’s a really big body awareness and feminist community on tumblr,” Clark said. “I guess it was just the right audience and time for me to put that up there because it blew up—I was really lucky.”
Nina Bahadur, the author of the Huffington Post article, contacted Clark after spotting the comic and asked to feature it in the women’s section of the online news source.
After what Clark said was three pages of responses to Bahadur’s questions, she sat on pins and needles waiting for the story to be published.
“I was freaking out as I read it, crying, and calling my mom and dad,” Clark said. “I was overwhelmed, flattered, and surprised—all of these emotions—and was really, really grateful that people were noticing my work and it was affecting them in the right way.”
Responses continued many days after the article was published.
“It is really kind of scary and gratifying how many responses I have gotten from women telling me that it changed how they felt or that they could relate to it,” Clark said.
Clark shared one response that she received at a time that she was feeling down about herself and lacking motivation. It was an email from a stranger who confessed that she had been bingeing on food, but that upon reading Clark’s comic she had been able to stop and feel better about herself and her body issues.
“I immediately felt better then. I just couldn’t believe she sat down and took the time out her life to send me that,” Clark said. “I am dumbfounded every single time someone says ‘I’ve felt better about my body after reading your comic.’ I can’t even process that because it is so hard for me to feel better about my body and it’s so flattering that I can have that effect on someone else. If I can even do that for one person it is worth all the work.”
Her comic didn’t come from a moment of insecurity, but from a battle most women face with body issues. She struggled drawing the original comic, having to pull from her own insecurities. One of the main images is an exaggerated sketch of how she views her body.
“What I have realized throughout my career at CCAD and this experience is that I want to continue this and I want to create stories for women,” Clark said. “In comics, there is nothing for young adult women and if there is, it is unrealistic and not relatable.”
“I think that the huge response to this comic shows that there is a need for this idea and this role model,” Clark said. “I want to stay doing these comics because it is a great way to express yourself and marry narrative and illustration.”
To keep up with Clark and her drawings, visit her tumblr.
Clark is from Gaithersburg, MD, and attended Colonel Zadok Magruder High School.
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