"Your grace and sense of self are exactly and all you have."
No matter who you are, you are going to be able to relate to this post.
I have received a lot of amazing responses since the launch of this site. It's taken time to distill them into a few solid themes. I'll begin with a response from a reader which was echoed by a number of other women:
"I loved your blog. -Actually, it made me cry. I've been on a "diet" since I was 10 years old. I was raised to hate my body. Your website...is so beautiful and so needed. Thank you for having the courage to do this. Thank you for this gift. You are a gift."
This was one of the potent responses I received after this website went live. It is honest and raw and it ended up being the feeling shared by many women who either wrote to me or spoke with me in person after having seen this site. First off, thank you for the enthusiasm and kind words. I am even more inspired to continue to grow this site and the conversation
Have you or anyone you know ever been in a relationship of any sort which was affected by someone's negative or unhealthy body image? If you have, then you know how much of a downer it is and how it can affect every aspect of that person's daily life.
A lot of the women who have contacted me recently in response to this blog have shared about their struggles throughout their entire lives with their body image as it relates to their sense of self worth. Many of these women are unsuspecting: seemingly healthy, fit and confident people. But the truth is that no matter her shape, size or weight, many women are trained from a very young age to learn to hide these "imperfections".
And so the point, again, is that its not actually about the body so much as about the fact that we are MISSING OUT ON LIFE by being obsessed with our bodies, our weight, our appearance. (check out this Ted Talk on "Beauty Sickness") The truth is that it is simply a huge time suck be forever worried about the size of various parts of one's body.
This is time that could be otherwise allocated to doing AWESOME THINGS and to utilizing one's talents and energy to create and be engaged in life.
Many readers said they experienced body shame because so many of us feel or have felt as if we are weaker-spirited or weaker-minded if we feel bad about our bodies...Strangely this is NOT often a function of body fat percentage or pant size. In many cases, women feel ashamed and self-conscious regardless of how our bodies actually look or feel. This is interesting isn't it?
This is what I call a social epidemic. And we are 100% able to change and heal it. It begins with letting go of the shame and guilt by using your intelligence and heart to understand that this way of thinking is learned, it is not natural, and it is not YOU.
The other fascinating aspect of everyone's feedback is that so many women used words like "courage" and "bravery" when commenting about the images of me. Yes, I suppose its brave to put pictures of oneself in one's underwear online in front of peer, family, and public groups. Totally. I agree. But thats not actually what most people were referring. See, it has become very normalized for thin women and models to be in our faces in the media with very little clothing on, but when a bigger voluptuous woman does so -
-its, daring, a bit taboo, its totally courageous!
The reality is, I'm just another woman posing in front of a camera in her underwear(!) -My waist is thicker and cheeks are fuller. Its really not about the amount of skin being shown, for we see hundreds of images every day in the media showing equivalent amounts of skin. The fine print in what some readers are really saying (perhaps only subconsciously) is: "It isn't culturally accepted to have curves, (weight in the areas where most women naturally do) and so the bigger curvy woman is less attractive, less sexy." And so, for a curvy woman to show others what her body looks like, instead of hide, camouflage or reject it, is considered... SO BRAVE!
Take a minute to dissect all of this. I encourage any of you who had this response to question the underlying/unconscious belief from where it came. You may find that this is very likely a culturally-constructed belief that you absorbed at some point in your socialization and that maybe it has also affected the way you look at and treat your own body.
I imagine many people felt the dual reaction of both sadness and empowerment from this site- which are both awesome and authentic responses. So yes! -Be sad, grieve it, be angry, cry and scream (highly recommended for releasing a bit of rage). And then afterward, forgive, move on...and get fierce. Things are changing fast. For example, check out Natural Models LA, an agency that represents models of all sizes.
Your grace and sense of self are exactly and all you have.