Taylor McManus, a Black-centric Body-Positive Artist Championing the Redefinition of Beauty Standards

Taylor McManus is a body-positive illustrator in a world where many are ostracized based solely on their physical appearance. McManus is a force of good, bringing to the forefront full-bodied, naturally curvaceous, and unashamedly, beautiful Black women in each oeuvre. 

Recently delving into animation, her partner and she have given a spark of life to her already vivacious art. According to McManus, “art is the vehicle that [she] chooses to express how [she] feels. At times, creating is a way for [her] to process [her] feelings and be able to verbally express how [she] feels about things currently happening in [her] life. 

© Taylor McManus

Growing up, McManus, as many young men and women, felt concerned about her physical appearance. Her beauty ideals were shaped by her media consumption as well as the way that her peers were dressed and shaped. She wanted to be somebody else. In middle and high school, her art’s focal point was on what some might wrongly and misguidedly, but  understandably, in this brave new world, call “traditional beauty,” which to put into words is difficult. However, in McManus’ words, her figural art was of tall and skinny femmes. 

Later in life, she was able to visualize her friends in her artwork and that brought joy and laughter because they were dramatizations of events and moments they experienced. 

© Taylor McManus

McManus told BLACKFISTS that, “friendship, relationships, self love, and body positivity are themes I incorporate into my work because they are particularly relevant at this point in my life. Self love and body positivity are particularly important because I navigate those everyday. Some days I am content with how I look and other days not so much. I think it is important for me to capture women who have larger bodies enjoying themselves and being happy because it is uplifting to see someone confident in their curves and embracing them.”

One remarkable accomplishment of McManus’ is her illustration of Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement, which appeared in Newsweek. 

McManus enjoys the melange of editorial and fashion photography, music videos, RnB, and cinematography and often incorporates that inspiration into her illustrations. She works exclusively in Procreate on her iPad. And from a sketch, the natural progression of her visual art takes form. 

Currently her “favorite piece is the one of a black girl with blonde buns dancing in her room alone.” The relatability and mundane nature of such an action is what has the most appeal to her.

© Taylor McManus

When asked by BLACKFISTS who she’d like to show love and appreciation to, McManus said, “I would like to shout out four of my college professors Shadra, Deanna, Danamarie, and Rebecca. These women were a part of my foundation and evolution as a professional artist. They gave me honest feedback to help me grow and to this day still cheer me on. Professors are not obligated to do anything for you beyond the classroom, but these women still demonstrate their support for me three years after graduating. 

In my personal life, I would like to shout out my good friends Sydney and Sarah. They are both incredible illustrators and even better friends. They have opened my eyes to many social and cultural issues that challenge my way of thinking.

My partner definitely deserves a shout out. He challenges me creatively to do things out of my comfort zone that will enhance the diversity of my work.

Lastly, I would like to show some love to my parents. They made my education a priority and helped make it possible for me to attend college. They also helped purchase all kinds of art supplies throughout my development, and made sure that I was able to take advantage of opportunities that came my way.” 

On an extra-positive note, McManus would like to give all of our readers some advice that she would tell her younger self, “there is nothing that you cannot accomplish. You are capable of so much, do not allow self doubt to prohibit you from success. The opportunities that are meant for you will find you, and challenges you face will prepare you to be ready to receive your opportunities.”

© Taylor McManus

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