At a young age, Jojo Oldham noticed the differences between her body and other children’s, but it wasn’t until a woman told her “not to worry about being a bit plump,” and that the “weight would fall off as I got older,” that she started to worry about the way she looked.

Now at 31, Jojo, a designer from the UK, has reached a point in her life where she finally feels at peace with her body, and wanted to celebrate the occasion by creating a work of art to reflect her journey. So she went ahead and painted a dress with all the things, “good, bad and ugly,” that people have said about her body over the years.

painted dress back

In an artist statement, where Jojo explains some of the life changing moments that shaped the way she thinks about herself, she says:

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? I don’t believe that it really makes anybody feel good to put someone else down. 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.

We are all amazing in our own ways. And 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….

As the great Groove Armada once said, ‘If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other’. And as the great Bill and Ted once said, ‘Be excellent to each other’. And as loads of wise people always say, ‘If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all’. I reckon that just about covers it.

We couldn’t agree more.

painted dress bottom

Read Jojo’s complete artist statement and see more photos here.

All photos by Lucy Ridges. Hair and make up by Sarah Morten.