Based out of New York City, Ariella Elovic has used her illustration abilities to create a platform for self-care and self-love. Welcome to CHEEKY! This branch of artistry is meant to share ‘all things bodily and female’ with the general public. As a young creative and influencer, Ariella has already made her mark on multiple internet platforms; her Instagram account @thecheekyblog has upwards of 15K followers. Ariella isn’t using her success to solely benefit herself, either. Her work has created a community of like-minded thinkers who have found comfort in her art. #Relatable, right?! We’ve had the honor to ask Ariella about being a young artist, empowering others, and what is next for CHEEKY!
Adolescent Content: You use a lot of humor in your work—did you initially intend for this personal humor to empower other womxn?
Ariella Elovic: Initially, it was a way for me to express myself and my own journey towards empowerment. I personally find that humor takes judgement out of most scenarios. Extracting the small, funny details from a situation helps change my tune a bit—[it] refocuses my attention away from shame or embarrassment. There is a great sense of power and control that comes [from] changing your own mindset—deciding that a wildly un-groomed bikini line could be transformed into a creative updo, that your butt is an incredibly talented beatboxer dropping some complex farts, or that your period globs are as perfect as expensive artisanal jam. Being cheeky has been incredibly empowering for me (in ways I did not expect), and I hope it's helping others too!
Adolescent: You mentioned how you would like your art to remind people to be kind to themselves—in your own words, how can a candid view of one's body help them to be more kind to themselves?
Ariella: I think a sense of [candor] helps do away with that judgement element. In striving for an ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ version of myself, at least in my experience, I practiced a bit of dissociation from my body. [I was] forcing it and willing it to look or behave a certain way instead of embracing it in all its natural glory. To me, [candor] is a path towards acceptance and understanding.
Adolescent: What has helped you accept, understand, and be kinder to your body?
Ariella: Surprisingly, my close group of female friends. I say surprisingly because female friendship is often portrayed within the realm of ‘frenemy’: loaded with competition and judgement. But I have found my female friendships to be incredibly supportive and empowering. Through connecting with them on shared and personal experiences, I’ve learned to embrace my body more wholly—period globs, jiggly thighs, lip hair, and all! Our most horrifically embarrassing period stories are now legends, and I often wake up to text messages surveying the group about some mysterious bodily function I didn’t realize other people had. The goal with Cheeky is to get rid of the shame and isolation so many of us feel in relation to our bodies. Getting to know your own body can sometimes be scary. That first glance at your vagina can be a bit of a shocker, and leaving a period stain on a white couch is not going to be [a] highlight of anyone’s life. [But] the point is, we have all been there. Or will be there. There is a lot of power in sharing and connecting on those moments.
Adolescent: How long have you been illustrating, and when did you know you wanted to share this gift?
Ariella: I’ve been drawing/painting for as long as I can remember. I studied illustration in college, and it’s become a really fulfilling and fun outlet through which to express myself.
Adolescent: What can we expect from Cheeky?
Ariella: I’d love to continue collaborating with kickass brands centered around empowerment and breaking taboos. I’m also hoping to develop the themes of Cheeky into a book!
Adolescent: What advice would you give to other young creatives?
Ariella: My main advice for creatives is to keep making! Invest yourself in projects—either [collaborative] or solo—that you feel invested in and connected to.
Navigating self-love is hard, but Ariella and her work are here to help us get through this! Let her be an inspiration for all of us to continue to be gracious and kind to our bodies and to continue to create no matter the obstacles ahead!
Sofia De Ceglie