FAC Focus: Sculpture student, Emilie Jayne Conlan, shares her thoughts on confidence and the importance of self expression.
The big C word is something us Irish tend to steer clear of; "Girl your figure is stunning" is always followed with something along the lines of "Are you blind, look at the state of me". It's almost as if we have a default firewall built within us to reject positive self-affirmations.
Secondary schools, in particular, have a reputation of being confidence-free zones where any ounce of individuality is seen as a crime. Despite Emilie's confidence nowadays, she admits, she too, once was victim to the unwritten rules of an all-girls secondary school. She recalls attempting to "fit in" by following societies trends and nodding along with the other girls, but nothing was enough to suppress Emilie's true self as she would always end up wearing "some weird ass socks" or "weird ass jewellery".
So how much hate did these socks get her? Although Emilie admits her hoopy earrings and baggy Adidas jumpers raised a few brows, it was her bisexuality that got the most negative attention. In an aside to this, Emilie notes how she believes all creatives struggle with their identity at some point in their lives because, as cliché as it sounds, they tend to be misunderstood. As Emilie put it: "If people are use to getting straight A grades and wearing the same as everyone else, if someone else decides f**k that they're gonna be like scandall! Because they've never seen that before".
Emilie describes her course in sculpture as being a free openminded platform – the opposite to secondary school and exactly what she needed. As Emilie clarifies, she's not slaving away carving statues out of marble all day but rather exploring a variety of contemporary materials and psychology. Emilie feels her work provides a sort of medium through which she can express herself, as she incorporates trends within herself into her work. She describes these trends as: "trends that I choose to follow which could be something that was in trend 20 years ago but something that I choose to wear now". At the moment Emilie is working on an installation piece which consists of a black and white checkered wall, inspired by her chef pants and checkered vans, accompanied by red and yellow floating hemispheres and spheres which symbolise emotions.
Body confidence is another red flag which affects thousands of people but fortunately for Emilie, she has mastered this. Although Emilie reveals her body was never something she struggled with, she sheds some light on the principle she lives by to ensure maximum happiness in her own skin. Emilie says the key is to surround yourself with positive people, she recommends to avoid people who idealize "Kim K bodies" as not meeting these standards can be a blow to a person's confidence.
Overall, Emilie's top advice is to be yourself. She stresses that this isn't just about clothes but everything including life choices such as college. Emilie acknowledges that many people feel forced into attending Universities and such, to impress their parents or others but she encourages that everyone should do what makes them happy and nobody else. In Emilie's words: "Its not for anyone else, put yourself first because that’s what everyone else is doing. Just fk society and fk everyone else. Be you".
Emilie's Insta: @emiliejayneconlan
Author: Enya McIntyre