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Loving Yourself Inside and Out with Matthew Draughter for ISSUE 14

Matthew Draughter is a storyteller, brand wizard, and queer poet. Who believes that everyone has a story to tell, and its mission to help people share their stories in a way

that builds community and connection.

Originally from New Orleans, he's also called Paris, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland home. Through his personal experience with various cultures, he's learned that our differences are what make us unique and that our stories are what bring us together. Draughter believes that words have power and that stories can change lives and he's passionate about using my words and my creativity to make space for others and to build something beautiful.

Model MATTHEW DRAUGHTER | Photographer Freelance Floyd | Creative Direction Matthew Draughter | Lighting Tech Adam Vo | Hair + MU Nadia Elizabeth

"Honoring my mind and my soul gave me the space to remove the internalized stigmas I was functioning through to get to a real space of self-love and admiration." - Matthew Draughter

Take us back to the moment you decided “This is my body and I love it”. What lead you to this point?

Picture this, it’s the summer of 2021 I’m in the best shape I’ve ever physically been in. I’d just taken my first nude shoot, I’d just experimented with dying my hair cobalt blue and putting my hair In cornrows. I felt like a bombshell, the definition of a rockstar but on the inside, I was a ticking time bomb and deeply heartbroken over a breakup. Six months later, after binge-eating French fries and chain-smoking backwoods, I was the thickest that I’d been since my college days, and I honestly didn’t care. For the first time in my life, I was actually content with my weight because it was mine, and I was presently owning the fact that I was loving my body the way it needed to be loved through grief. I’ve struggled with living inside my own skin and loving my body since I was a teenager. But it was through the grieving period when I inventoried my traumas and realized “the body” is only a part of my beauty— that I loved to learn myself inside and out. Honoring my mind and my soul gave me the space to remove the internalized stigmas I was functioning through to get to a real space of self-love and admiration.

How do you showcase body positivity in your creative work?

I think I do this by objectively “letting all of me hang out”. From my nude shoots to my more conceptualized work, I’ve not only allowed myself to be captured in various sizes and stages of my physical appearance — but I also showcase those moments openly. I’m currently working on a project that speaks to this specific question and I’m excited to share this with you all soon.

Who are some of your influences when it comes to body image and body positivity?

Bretman Rock, Megan Thee Stallion, Carlton Vibez and Anna Chapman. Each of these individuals have a natural sense of self. They don’t give a f*ck.

Model Matthew Draughter | Photographer Doug Spearman | Creative Direction Doug Spearman | Lighting Tech Doug Spearman | Hair Nadia Elizabeth

The effervescent ability for them to each unapologetically be themselves and to make space for others to be themselves: through their body or their image inspires me to shop up as myself each day.

What helps you to feel comfortable in your skin?

Breathwork. I’ve been working with an amazing dialect coach this year and she’s helped me understand how trauma resides in the body. It’s also completely connected to your voice. Our bodies are sometimes museums of the trauma we’ve been through. The trauma can also relate to the disconnect we can feel in our bodies sometimes too. So ultimately, I’ve been taking the time a few days a week to breathe— live inside of my skin through the breath— going to yoga. Taking more intention in my walks and also finding new ways to exercise that don’t involve weights. Working through these things has not only helped me feel comfortable within my body— but my voice has become clearer and more confident as well.

When you find yourself critiquing your body in front of the mirror, what positive words of affirmation do you tell yourself?

It might sound silly. But people at the gym can attest to this (haha): “Im a bad bitch, Imma Imma bad bitch.” “WOW” “God really snapped when He made you!” “Gosh. I’m just so damn pretty” “Ugh. I gag myself”.

"My body is sensical and sensual"

Model | Tyran Snowton | Photographer Matthew Draughter

Creative Direction Matthew Draughter

What do you appreciate about your body, unrelated to appearance?

The fact that my body is a vessel in a state of constant experience makes me truly appreciate myself and the world around me. My body is sensical and sensual, not in appearance— but in how I engage with the universe around me. I am receptive to the energy around me and am blessed to occupy this space for as long as I have it.

What does a positive body image mean to you?

Being able to not only love the skin you’re in but love yourself in a way that inspires people to love themselves — without the need to compare yourself to another.

For the critics of the body positive moment, what message do want to send them?

Inclusivity is actually the key and the criticism of the movement is actually misogynistic and racist. We grew up in a world that was very adamant about the types of bodies that were “acceptable” and “appropriate,” I think any notion in upholding those standards halts the inclusivity needed and diminishes the need for others to have their voice be heard and their bodies overlooked in the movement.

What advice would give someone struggling to love their body?

Your body is a vessel and a conduit that deserves love, adoration, and excitement. We can always change something about ourselves if that’s what we really want to do— but also honor yourself and your inner child before focusing on a change. Show yourself, love, in all of the ways you think you deserve it, and surround yourself with people that honor that energy. From food to sleep to orgasms, to breath, live in every crevice of your skin before you think about altering it. If it’s really hard for you, take a breath, ground yourself, think of tangible things that you can do to put yourself back in the space to love and appreciate your being, and tackle those one item at a time

Model Matthew Draughter | Photographer Doug Spearman | Creative Direction Doug Spearman | Lighting Tech Doug Spearman | Hair Nadia Elizabeth

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