As I’ve been sheltering in place in Wilmington, North Carolina, since March, I’ve missed out on the beauty I’m normally surrounded by in my downtown neighborhood: coffee shop prints, fresh flowers at the farmers’ market, walks by the river, the artful structures that dot the bar around the corner from my apartment. I’ve also, of course, missed out on the warmth of my friends; it’s been months since I was able to hug anyone outside of my girlfriend, whom I live with. I normally spend my summers curled up with friends on our couches, marathoning shows and drinking wine. I miss the sunshine of their laughter. So like many others who are feeling overwhelmed, I’ve given myself permission to re-create that beauty indoors, starting with this blanket that makes me feel like I’m enclosed in a beautiful, lively piece of art.
I found the throw after my therapist encouraged me to switch up my living space. I’m obsessed with Amber Vittoria, a New York City–based illustrator who focuses her work on challenging the stereotypes surrounding women and their bodies. Vittoria collaborated with Valley Cruise Press, a small business that donates 100 percent of its proceeds on the 8th of every month, to create a very limited-edition cotton blanket titled “You Are Not What You Eat”—fewer than 100 were made. I had to buy it, and it became one of my first quarantine purchases. The throw depicts bold colors and shapes that make up the body of a woman, a signature in Vittoria’s work. “I kept getting served all of these ads about weight loss and diet culture and what an ideal body is for a woman. It’s definitely a knock on my confidence,” says Vittoria. “So I created a few pieces to remind myself that I am more than what I look like and what I eat.”
Vittoria also recognizes that blankets provide us with serious comfort in our times of need. “A blanket can cover you or envelop you. Since childhood, I’ve always loved dragging a blanket around with me,” she says. “When making this blanket, I wanted it to be a source of comfort for people, like, you’re not the only one feeling what you’re feeling.”
A surprise is that the blanket, though not intentionally reversible, functions on both sides: One offers warm tones of oranges and pinks, while the flip side is cooler, with dark blues and grays. It’s a nice perk to be able to match the blanket to my mood and to mix things up to break up the feeling of life now being one, long, dragging day. “The palettes speak to the subject matter of the piece: Sometimes I do feel confident, and sometimes I don’t,” says Vittoria. “There’s a range of emotions we feel in regard to the same topic.”
The blanket now lives on the back of my couch. I wrap myself in it during early mornings when I drink my coffee outside on the balcony in the cool air, and cuddle up in it while I sit with my girlfriend and our cats at night. In moments when I find myself in need of reassurance and a reminder that I’m doing my best, and that my best is just fine, I simply cast my eyes on this lovely piece. Having such a large work that reflects my politics feels good. And it’s also so cozy.