Milly Cope brands self love as a journey, not a destination. Cope is adamant in the notion of self acceptance and love, as she thoroughly challenges objectification. Cope is at the beginning of her journey and is eager to explore her life further as a young artist.
How would you describe yourself?
Emotional, overly sentimental and nostalgic. I feel like I am very open-minded, accepting and very honest. I love human passion and intimacy. I also am a lover of funky music and dancing eccentrically. I am a avid and overly enthusiastic charity shopper. I am someone who still has a lot to learn, but I guess that goes for most people my age. I am someone who wants to be creating something constantly. I daydream excessively.
How did you decide to display your self-portraiture on social media?
It wasn’t really an active decision. For me, self portraiture was actually a last resort. When I first started with photography I had no one to photograph so I decided I wasn’t going to sit and wait for people to appear to start experimenting with my camera and photography more (at this time I didn’t really have friends) So, I used myself as the subject. I guess my choice to publish this was because I wanted to form a portfolio and post my photos in order to collect them and put them together. I started using Flickr in 2013 and I guess it just progressed from there. It was also a way of creating an identity and a vision of myself since I always felt so disconnected from who I was. In some way it helped to rid my feelings of invisibility. Self portraiture is something I now see as a sophisticated and detailed art form, when I started it was just something I casually got myself into. I can now see the symbolism of publishing self portraits and especially as a young woman, the power this holds.
What makes you different from other artists who are also trying to change body perceptions?
I can’t really say I am significantly any different. It sounds modest perhaps - but I guess its as simple as the fact that every artist has their slightly own take on things, even if they do aim for the same kind of message in their creations. I am not at a point in my photography or art in which I am satisfied, maybe I wont ever be - but I am fully aware I am not inclusive enough. A simple factor of my photography is that I want to celebrate naturalness and truth - this is something a lot of photographers are doing, which is incredible. I have no desire to alter someone else’s bodily reality, nor my own. I think it has become more of a thing in the art world now to celebrate the truthfulness of the human body and embrace the sides of it that society one proclaimed as being ‘unacceptable’ or ‘imperfect’. I think its wonderful that female photographers are taking control of the image of their bodies and other’s bodies and making it something celebratory and diverse.
What advice would you give to someone who is learning to love their body?
Self love is a journey and not a destination you suddenly and beautifully reach. I am sure some people out there have experienced a self-love epiphany, but for most of us its a steady journey with ups and downs. I think it is important to be hopeful and to look up to people who love their bodies and give off a energy which is accepting towards themselves and others around them. It helps massively to be around people who are gentle with you and are not degrading towards you and to have positive and healthy relationships. I understand for a lot of people these things wont always be possible if you are stuck in a toxic environment, but if they can be avoided it would create a better environment and basis for you to begin your journey into self acceptance. Your body is not something meant to be this image of idealistic ‘perfection’. Your body is a shell to carry you around and help you experience things. It’s important to recognise its actual physical function and not just see your body as an object. It is easy to objectify ourselves and become consumed with unrealistic expectations. The physical things we hate about ourselves the most are often the most truest and most beautiful things about us. The process is ongoing and gradual, take things slowly and day by day. Focus on the things you like about yourself and remind yourself of these things. It is important to remember that self acceptance and love comes from yourself and not other’s appreciation of your body. You don’t need anyone else’s approval. Don’t give up on seeking a home and a safe space within. The battles will be worthwhile.
Who is a prominent figure in your life?
I have a few people who are precious to me and prominent in my life, but it changes. I don’t really know that many people and so I guess the people I do form connections with are always close to me somehow. I think I am quick to get attached and make people prominent. The person who has been prominent for me the longest would be my best friend. She exudes this incredible power and intelligence and I love her dearly. I am also hoping to meet more beautiful people who I will collide paths with and who will become prominent.
Who did you last dream of?
Recently I dreamt of someone I have been intimate with a few times. It was very lovely.
What is the most inspirational quote you ever read?
Oh! I have so many that are collectively inspiring. I guess one of them would be this one: ’To hell with them. Nothing hurts if you don’t let it.’ (Ernest Hemingway).
Interview Kardelen Yuce
Images courtesy of Milly Cope