This week, we took a moment to chat with Gabi Abrão, the Los Angeles-based artist behind the popular meme account @sighswoon, about her art, which is primarily focused around wellness and self-care. Wellness is something that's often associated with excess and pseudo-science, but Gabi's hilarious and down-to-earth memes open up the world of self-care to everyone. We talked to her about memes, carving out simple daily rituals, body hair, and how to find the beauty in small moments.
First, can you tell us a little bit about what you do and how you started Sighswoon?
I make memes, write, make paintings, and curate art shows at a local project space with friends. I was born and raised in West Los Angeles, and still work and live here. SighSwoon was the product of coming out of an impulsive time in my life where I was partying and dating a lot. I started the page when I started truly realizing how important it was to take care of my body, mind, and spirit. The content went from making silly starter packs about unsavory tinder dates to deep introspection. These days, I really just want to feel good and help others feels good too.
What made you want to focus the page around ideas of wellness? Has it always been a huge part of your life?
Using the humorous, simple meme format to speak about my emotional struggles felt cathartic and healing, and I got so much out of applying these experiences to greater theories about how to live. I am a collector of emotional life hacks, and that’s essentially what the page is. This obsession with wellness feels like a recent product of my 20s, but growing up, my dad’s catch phrase was “be aware”. I’m sure hearing that echo throughout my adolescence was the beginning of it all.
Do you have certain rituals that you return to as a way of recharging and carving out time for yourself?
I’ll fix myself hot lemon water first thing in the morning and sit outside as I plan out my day and listen to my body. Throughout the day, I’ll take many simple moments to be entirely present—one way I am really into right now is peeling an orange super slowly and eating it, and just taking that time. I practice taking sensual gratitude showers where I try to remain extremely present during the duration of a shower, connecting with the water and massaging my legs and feet. Also, finding time to dance around my room is super important to me.
How has your self-care routine shifted over time?
I’ve learned that self-care starts from within, and is a constant, never-ending practice. I used to prep my environment to relax, but would not prep my internal dialogue or spirit. You find yourself with the same stressful thoughts and tense body you were trying to escape, just in a face mask this time. Doing the internal work first allows for all the rituals and special stuff to be received and felt whole-heartedly.
We're a body hair brand first and foremost—can you talk to use about some of your grooming habits? Have they changed?
I use an exfoliating sponge pre-shave, I shave with a heavy duty “men’s” brand razor, then apply vitamin E oil or coconut oil to post-shave areas. My main change in grooming is being more forgiving. Growing up with Brazilian genes, my body hair was dark and abundant. I used to be so ashamed and overwhelmed by it, and couldn’t set foot at a beach or pool without an entire body scan. With help of the internet and radical self-love, it's no longer the bane of my existence. Now, I accept my body, and grooming is out of genuine joy and not fear.
Has a focus on wellness empowered you to be more comfortable in your own body?
Absolutely. I now see my physical body as an ephemeral tool to help balance my emotions and nurture my spirit, as opposed to a burden or foreign object. I pay attention to my habits and reactions, I practice eternal love toward my body even when it gets sick or shows new signs of aging. There is always more work to do and habits to change. I’ve learned that living in peace with the body is a constant, daily effort with no final resolve, but the small rewards on the journey are felt and clear and worth it all.