With an impressive 70,000 Instagram followers (and growing), multidisciplinary artist and university student Frances Cannon is breaking the mould and challenging social ideals one post at a time.

Frances is best known for her cheeky illustrations of bigger bodies, done in her own characteristic style. She has always liked to draw people, but only started drawing empowering images of bigger bodies around three years ago — when she moved to Melbourne independently, and had an opportunity to see fresh scenery with fresh eyes.

Frances grew up in a conservative environment where exploring one’s body wasn’t exactly encouraged. Through meeting open minded people at university and feeling free to discover herself and her sexuality, Frances began to fall in love with her body. Drawing naked bodies that looked like hers served as a sort of therapy: 

“Oh my god, it was like the best thing ever… I was discovering myself and wanted to address my new found love for my body.”

At first, Frances didn’t show her illustrations to anybody; at that point she was drawing them only for herself. “They’re little love notes to myself and my body,” she says. It was important for Frances to draw bigger bodies in a beautiful light, and hopes that the drawings help others see the beauty in their own bodies just as they’ve helped her strengthen her own self-love:

“I used to draw pictures of bodies that I could never look like: blonde hair, really thin. I had never seen my body represented or drawings of fat women before… I like to describe my work as semi-autobiographical. They mainly look like me. I try to be as inclusive as I can but the majority of my drawings are based on me and my experience. I love seeing my body represented, it’s really powerful and really helpful.”

Frances is inspired by other people too, of various shapes and sizes, all with a love for their bodies in common. She has cultivated a positive and safe community, and uses her work and her Instagram to reach out to others whilst being as honest as she can: 

“I really enjoy sharing these drawings. Most of the time I get really positive feedback and people who interact with my work say things like ‘I never see my body portrayed in this way, it’s really empowering to see this.’ But I’m also very conscious of being as honest as possible on my Instagram and want others out there not to feel alone and to know that everyone feels alone and sad sometimes. Some days are hard for me too, and that’s ok, that’s part of the human experience.”

Frances’ artwork is an extension of the oppression that women experience, and the pressure they’re under to be and look a certain way. She is doing what she can in her community to help women feel empowered:

“Women are grabbing back at the empowerment in all different sorts of ways. They are taking back and owning their femininity, being feminine for themselves and not for anyone else. There are so many different ways that artists are approaching it. It’s really cool to be a little part of the movement.”

You can check out Frances' work and follow her on Instagram (@frances_cannon) and Facebook (@francescannonart).