Alison Rachel’s illustrations are brimming with the kind of positivity you want in life. They’re strong, they’re smart and most importantly, they’re unapologetic. Published under the name Recipes For Self Love, it’s a ‘little book to make you feel good.’ We spoke to Alison about what inspires her illustrations, why self loving is sometimes difficult, and how the powerful little book was put together.
Tell us a little more about yourself, where you grew up and how you got into art?
I grew up in Cape Town and I’ve always dabbled in creative expression. I love working with my hands, drawing, and making things. Earlier this year I completed a course in desktop publishing so that’s what got me into digital drawing.
What inspired you to start Recipes For Self Love?
The inspiration for the illustrations came from the desire to disrupt mainstream media and everyday social injustice. There are so many lies that we as a society are lead to believe, especially regarding gender. Over the past few years I’ve learned so much about social justice and wanted to unmask and interrogate some of these untruths. It’s fun to draw and good practice to try and identify one thing each day that might be a lightbulb moment for someone else.
Why do you think it’s still difficult for many women to fully embrace and love themselves unconditionally?
We live in a capitalist world that benefits greatly from people’s feelings of inadequacy. The more insecure you are, the more money and time you’re bound to spend on trying to ‘fix’ yourself. The beauty myth is one lie that affects women in particular. This idea communicates that a woman’s value is based on how beautiful society deems her to be, nothing more. This myth is affirmed everywhere in society, it’s taught to us when we are young and drummed into us as we grow up. We internalise this notion making it very difficult to firstly even identify it, and secondly challenge it. Practicing self love is an ongoing journey, often difficult, and we don’t always get it right but it’s totally rewarding and worth while.
You have put these illustrations into a book, first Recipes For Self Love I and now Recipes for Self Love II. Did you ever imagine you would be publishing your art like this?
The zines are actually made up of contributions from other women on the topic of self love. Women submit a written piece or visual representation of how they manage to practice self love in a world that wants them to hate themselves. I pair artists with the written pieces and put the book together to print. I was struggling with my mental health and waned to know how other women practice self love, I wanted all their practices and tricks. As far as I was aware there was nowhere to find what I was looking for so I decided to create the zine. The Instagram actually came after the zines as a way to keep creating content in between issues.
We’re curious about something, what have some of the women in your own life said about these illustrations and the message you’re sending?
The women in my life love them, I often get messages about a post in particular that stood out for someone. You never know what people are going through and to put out an uplifting message that may resonate with someone is why I keep posting.