Bridget of Handsome Girl: How Her Eating Disorder Sparked Her Empowering Illustrations
We all deal with our issues a little differently.
But it is one of my steadfast beliefs that the moment we truly begin to overcome our issues and obstacles is the moment we face them head on, speak them out loud, and then turn them into something beautiful. Bridget did exactly that.
With mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia growing rapidly in prevalence in recent years thanks to the internet and social media, it goes without saying that the media so desperately lacks proper representation. Why else would we constantly feel like we are not worthy or not good enough? It is feelings of unworthiness and shame that are at the root of mental health issues today, and instead of using this as an opportunity to lift us up, most of the media we are fed only works to keep us down. We are bombarded with unrealistic expectations, overly augmented photos, more-of-the-same “beautiful” people selling us ideals, and overall highlight reels — leaving so many of us wondering why no one ever looks like us in the glamorous advertisements, and why we don’t have the life they do.
But while many of us minorities, us “unconventional” beauties, us non-binaries fight against marginalization, it’s a breath of fresh air to learn that there are artists like Bridget Moore of Handsome Girl fighting the good fight. Fighting for us to not only be seen, heard, and acknowledged, but to be celebrated in our uniqueness and our perfect imperfections. Fighting to remind us of our own beauty, and to remind us that it’s because we aren’t perfect, mass produced, or manufactured on a production line that the human race is so special to begin with.
Bridget recently hopped on board with SheDidThat as our first contributing artist creating original illustrations for our platform, and we are so incredibly lucky to have her. I had the sincere pleasure of chatting with her to discuss how her empowering illustrations were birthed from her own battle with an eating disorder, what true self-love looks like from her perspective, and the magic of womxn empowering womxn.
Illustrations by Handsome Girl.
Q - Before we dive into Handsome Girl, tell us about Bridget Moore? Who is she?
A - I’m just little ol’ gal from a seaside town in New Jersey, that dreamt of California, well pretty much as soon as I learned about it! I’ve been out here since my late teens and have always worked in retail and clothing. Right now, I work in music and entertainment merchandising as the Director of Licensing and Retail Creative for a company called BandMerch. Pretty much my role revolves around getting retail placement for band’s merchandise or acting as a creative officer by designing and managing clothing lines for celebrities and influencers and bringing those to market.
Q - Can you tell us a bit more about Handsome Girl? Why the name and what is the inspiration behind your badass illustrations?
A - Well, my own journey with illustration started as an outlet for my eating disorder, so I would create off and on for a while as I struggled with my recovery, but actually calling it something and bringing it public? About a year ago I was feeling kind of defeated in my career, at the time I was designing licensed apparel and it was fun, and seriously trying. Creating designs outside of my personal style, always needing to seek approval, and other peoples’ edits. It was a great experience, don’t get me wrong, but taxing. Especially when you design something you think is SO rad and the person approving it comes back with a million revisions or just rejecting. It’s hard. Then it happened — BANG! Or should I say bangs? Like I said I was in a rough patch, right? I did what any rational girl would do during a bit of a spiral and cut myself some bangs. As I’m there spilling tea with the stylist griping about how I was tired of answering to people, was telling me to just do my own thing I was nodding along starting to day dream about what would that look like? What would I even call myself? As the internal volley in my mind started up, he spun the chair around to debut my bangs with a “VOILÁ! What a handsome girl!” It struck me like lighting. I paid my bill, hurried home, and that was it! I bought and registered a domain that evening and created an Instagram.
Q - Can you tell us more about that journey of practicing self-love and battling your eating disorder?
A - I’ve always loved art, and grew up in a family of artists, so throughout my childhood, there was no shortage of being completed immersed with creativity. My mother and middle sister both professionally excelled in the art world. By the time I was nearing middle school my mother became a successful sought-after children’s book illustrator, and my sister (who was already published before she could even drive) was moving on to New York City to art school.
I’ll be honest their success both inspired me but also totally intimidated me. There’s no way I would ever be as good or as successful as either of them, so why should I even try? This was about the same time I started to struggle with confidence beyond my creative capabilities. The next 15 years of my life I struggled with a closeted eating disorder that left me seemingly functional, but completely crippled mentally. Art was something I didn’t think twice about. During 2014, I had hit my rock bottom and finally decided to enter recovery and essentially get my life back. It was during the start of my recovery that I started to pick up the pencil again, I used it more as a replacement of journaling.
I would doodle the things I hated about my body, the things I loved about my body, the things I envied in other people’s bodies and everything in between. It was freeing to doodle these struggles and I don’t know ... putting it on paper and swirling it with sherbet color schemes just made me happy, it made me think clearer, it helped me be honest and accountable. And most of all it gave me a sense of purpose something that was missing from me for years.
Q - What do you think it means to truly love yourself?
A - Wow, hardball question! I think it’s really different for everyone. But for me personally, to love myself?
It means to accept my authentic self. Allow myself to sit in the discomfort of the bad days, celebrate the good and always, always find time to make myself a priority, every damn day because I’m f*cking worth it.
Q - What are some of your daily practices of self-love?
A - I have my three definite daily practices:
I make sure to make a least an hour dedicated to movement/working out (hopefully) before work.
I make sure to give myself an hour of no phone/tv/computer time each day to connect with myself or with my partner.
A suppppperrrr gluttonous skincare routine before bed.
Q - Why do you think it’s important for womxn to support and empower one another?
A - We share such similar experiences that our connections can be so powerful I feel like we can truly exercise genuine empathy to one another. And that is SO magical and SO empowering because those connections, can inspire us, motivate us, challenge us and push us to new lengths.
Q - As womxn, we are highly critical creatures, and it’s easy for us to criticize ourselves and each other. What’s your best advice for our readers when we are quick to do either (because we’re all guilty of it at times)?
A - Totalllly. Actually, I’m so guilty of this. First when I find myself doing it ask why am saying these things? Am I threatened? Jealous? And most importantly is this constructive? I mean really constructive, are any of these thoughts helpful? Look if these aren’t helpful thoughts, to you or the person, maybe just shut the fuck up and go back to the first two questions.
Threatened, Jealous? Let’s use this to our advantage! I think both of these are really just ugly covers of you being inspired and seeing a glimpse of what we want for ourselves, so accept it!
Hey even here’s an out of the world idea, if you see someone running things in a way you view as “better” reach out to them! Pick their brain, how did they get there? I find most people are so, so, so willing to help, if you just ask.
Q - What are your thoughts on the current boom of plastic surgery (this is a loaded question, we know, lol), and do you think it’s possible for someone to truly love themselves and still alter their physical attributes?
A - I think so! There are people that benefit volumes from it, like body dysmorphia victims, or people that just feel sexier with their crow’s feet minimized (me!).
I think if it makes you happy and you maintain a healthy and honest relationship with yourself regarding it, you do you bitch!
Q - Do you have any anecdotes of when your work really resonated with or touched someone? Can you share that story?
A - Oh for sureee this one made me really happy, a couple months ago I made one of my first posts featuring a disabled babe and I got an outpour of support from ladies who were so stoked to see themselves represented, but this one babe. Thisssss one babe had a friend tag her and she was actually still in the hospital after getting her leg amputated (planned but still startling) and she was so thankful to see my piece as she was just coming to terms with her new reality. I was so beyond thankful to be able to be a little light in a dark week for her, it was really moving.
Q - What is a quote or mantra that’s stuck with you on your journey, and why?
A - An Andy Warhol quote, that actually my sister shared with me. it goes …
“Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches.”
Particularly this stuck with me on art journey, especially because it makes this abstract idea of someone talking about you rather tangible. In regards to Instagram, it reminds me regardless of what they’re saying they were moved enough to take the time to write something, and that’s magical.
Q - What is your best advice to our readers who might feel shame, self-doubt, or unworthiness?
A - It’s totally ok to have those thoughts but know that those are subjective and not true. The objective is this — you are completely worthy, and your experiences are what made you into this badass babe reading this and that’s nothing to be shameful about.
You are so incredibly inspiring to so many around you, trust me you are.
Q - What’s next or coming up for Bridget / Handsome Girl (you are very handsome, by the way)?
A - Oh my, thank you <blushing> I’m just going to keep on keeping on! I would love to grow my platform and create not only a space for my art, but a community for people of all walks of life to feel safe to share their struggles and feel safe to feel the love and support of others.
Q - Who are the 5 people (dead or alive) that you’d invite to your dinner party?
A - Can I just multiply Jeff Goldblum 5x? Kidding, but he would be my guest of honor for sure. Then I think I would balance it out with Cher, Roxane Gay, Rain Dove Dubilewski, and Andy Cohen.