Written by The Feisty Fox, a Fattitude Intern
Artist and Activist, Toni Tails has spun a wonderful web of friendships with people all over the world via the Internet. Followers are drawn in by Toni’s candid nature, engaging sense of humor and the way she radiates beauty from both inside and out. But most of all, people gravitate toward her because of her incredible artistic talent, namely her magical renditions of fat bodies. Fattitude deems her a badass because of how she owns who she is, approaches others with love and kindness and has a natural ability to create beauty all around her and share it with others. Toni’s personal hashtag is #noshame and #Fattitude believes the world would be a happier place if everyone incorporated that message into their lives. The importance of the #noshame statement becomes even more relevant when reading Toni’s responses to #Fattitude’s questions.
I am often inspired by images that I see. Something about the shape and color of a photo, object, person, animal (the list goes on!) will just strike my fancy and light something up in me. I am then compelled to draw something that reflects that spark. I am also inspired by ideas. I love to create art with a message, literally. I look for quotes online and draw what comes to me. Sometimes I simply start with the stroke of a pen or brush and have no idea what will come it. I call those freestyle drawings, and they are very freeing. I tend to draw women who look at peace when I do that. I think it’s my way of meditating, finding that peace at my core and flowing into it with each stroke of the brush.
2. When did you realize you had an artistic talent?
I loved to draw as far back as I can remember. I decided to be an artist/astronaut in kindergarten and never really deviated from that. I still plan to paint stars in a rocket ship someday! The kids in my class used to pay me a quarter to draw Ninja Turtles when I was in 4th grade. I drew them like bobble-heads with huge heads/little bodies. I always had change jingling in my pocket and copious amounts of chocolate milk at lunch time thanks to those commissions.
It took a long time, however, for me to acknowledge I was any good. I grew up with an abusive father, and because of my home life, I had no sense of self worth. I knew I could draw things that looked better than most of my friends when I was in elementary school, but I couldn’t bear for anyone, especially an adult, to acknowledge it. I would hide my drawings from everyone. I drew a portrait of a little girl in my church when I was 11 and shyly gave it to her father. I begged him not to let anyone see it. He gushed praise and said he couldn’t hide it from everyone. He hung it on the bulletin board, and I was so upset that I hid in the bathroom until almost everyone had cleared out. Then I grabbed the drawing and threw it away. I was a pretty screwed up kid.
3. What medium do you most work with and why?
Lately it’s been graphic arts because of the convenience. I basically have all the materials needed in my hard drive! It’s also about 85% of my income. Logos, web design/graphics etc sell really well. This is especially thanks to the image driven social media that we artists are blessed with these days. When I’m drawing just for me, it’s likely to be a black pen or acrylic paints.
4. What does body confidence mean to you?
It means no longer being shackled by others expectations of what my body should be. I was thin as a kid but because of the insanity of diet culture, I was always on a misc diet with my family. I assumed I was fat long before I actually was! I remember being a 104 lbs when I was 14 and thinking, “Oh my god! I need to lose four pounds!” I ate nothing but a slice of American cheese daily for 2 weeks until I was down to 100.I’m now closer to 500 lbs and grew into accepting my body as a young adult. Once I had that no one could take it away. Nothing negative I hear about my body phases me in the least. Surprisingly, I get way more positive feedback than negative. That’s pretty cool, right? I very much hope to inspire some of that “bad ass don’t give a fuck” in everyone who sees my body positive artwork!
It inspires #Fattitude to watch Toni hold herself with so much love and compassion, especially in light of her upbringing. We see her as a true badass for choosing to heal her wounds in cathartic way and sharing the stunning results with the rest of us. There is #noshame in that, what-so-ever.
Click here to order your very own Toni Tails piece!
Click here for your very own personalized Profile Darling, just like the one on the left that Toni created for Fattitude’s intern, The Feisty Fox.
Click here to have Toni create a Phat Avvy for you, similar to the one on the right.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.