12-year-old inspires the internet to embrace 'flaws' with museum-worthy art

Kerry Justich
A New Jersey middle-schooler is inspiring women with these works of art. (Artwork: Courtesy of Dana Abbey)
A New Jersey middle-schooler is inspiring women with these works of art. (Artwork: Courtesy of Dana Abbey)

A 12-year-old girl from New Jersey is inspiring women everywhere with her viral artwork that’s showcasing diverse beauty.

Since Jaylah Abbey took to Twitter to post photos of the drawings and paintings created by her younger sister Dana, the young prodigy has been having her first encounter with viral internet fame. And it’s for a good reason. Through the work created by the seventh-grade artist, people everywhere are feeling empowered about embracing the differences and imperfections that Dana calls “special,” yet underrepresented.

“I draw all people,” Dana explains to Yahoo Lifestyle, “but I like to draw people who are not often recognized, like people with freckles and vitiligo. They’re special too, but I feel like they aren’t put out there as much. So I figured through my artwork, I could put them out there and make them more known.”

Though she’s not even yet a teen, Dana is sparking hope in women of all ages. After receiving a widespread reaction to her artwork on Jaylah’s page, Dana made her own Twitter account to communicate with fans of her art and even begin to sell it.

“People are saying thank you for representing different people, not just your everyday, normal-looking girl. So it’s nice to know that my art is getting out there, reaching out to people and helping them,” Dana says. “I wasn’t thinking about all that before. I was just drawing people at the time, and now I know that I’ve had a big impact on others.”

As for Jaylah, the 19-year-old says that she’s always known that her younger sister had something special. “Everybody in our family, we always knew she could draw, but we didn’t think people would react like this,” she says. “As you can tell, my sister is very mature for her age. She just has a free mind. I appreciate that at 12 she’s thinking about people with disorders, or having freckles, and being black.”

Just last year, a teacher of Dana’s recognized her incredible talent and recommended her to a college-level art program called Arts Middle School, where she has access to professional-grade art supplies at a local county college. The classes have provided her with the opportunity to create different projects using ink, charcoal, and markers to build a portfolio.

“I hope to maybe have my own shop online that’ll probably escalate to a store in New York. And there I can sell my prints and my artwork,” Dana says of her future, which Jaylah says will “definitely” come to fruition.

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