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Tag Archive for Real Beauty

Reflecting Body Positivity with BodyPosiPanda

By Caroline K.

I wasn’t put in the world just to be

looked at or to fit a societal standard of

beauty.

The body positive movement encourages people to accept and respect their bodies, as well as others’ bodies. It is also recognizing that our self-worth is not dependent on how we look, and that everyone is worthy of love.

One day when I was researching body positivity, I came across Megan Jayne Crabbe on Instagram. Megan has recovered from anorexia, and now has the mission to spread body positivity. Her confidence, strength, and wisdom was inspiring to me.

posipandaI reached out to Megan and asked her some questions about her journey to body positivity, advice she has for those struggling with body positivity, and how body positivity has changed her life. I want to share her answers with you!

With how pervasive unrealistic body ideals are in our culture, how did you begin by shutting those out?

Megan: “I think the first step in learning how to combat unrealistic body ideals is recognizing how damaging they are, and questioning where they come from in the first place. Once we realize that these ideals are things that we’ve been taught in order to proliferate industries that profit from our insecurities, we can see how hollow they are. They are quite literally made up. Should we continue to sacrifice our mental health and well-being trying to attain a fabricated image? Keep questioning, question everything that you’ve been taught about beauty, worth, and happiness.”

How have you kept your body positive mindset in moments where you have felt shame about your body?

Megan: “It’s essential that in learning body acceptance we don’t just stop at learning to feel confident with how we look. We also have to learn that we are so much more than how we look. So even if I’m having a day where I don’t feel totally in love with my body, I can remind myself that how my body looks is such a small part of who I am, and I wasn’t put in the world just to be looked at or to fit a societal standard of beauty. We are more than our bodies.”

How has body positivity changed your life?

Megan: “Body positivity gave me a life back that I didn’t believe I was worthy of living. I spent so many years believing that my real life would start happening once I’d lost weight, but since there was always more weight to lose and new ways to hate my body, it never did start. Now I’m not waiting for my body to change in order to experience life, I’m just experiencing it. I realize now that my body was never the problem, only my mindset.

Pursuing a body positive mindset can be difficult at times. With the societal messages we have been sent every day of our lives about bodies, it is understandable to find the transition to body positivity challenging. For those who are wanting to be body positive, but still struggle with negative body image, Megan has a great post on her website titled “What To Do If You Just Can’t Love Your Body” and you can read it here.

Megan Jayne Crabbe (bodyposipanda) is one of many body positive figures on Instagram. Instagram can be a toxic place for those struggling with body image. If you want to begin the journey to body positivity, I highly recommend following Megan and other body positive Instagrammers. In addition, unfollow people who make you feel that your body isn’t good enough. You can begin by searching #bodypositive and #BoPo. The journey to body positivity isn’t always easy, and you will have bad days. Beginning to realize that you are worthy of love no matter how you look is a great way to start your journey.

megan bodyposipanda

Thank you Megan for your inspiring words, advocacy, and willingness to share with us!

Books that helped Megan shift her mindset and learn about body positivity:

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf

Losing It by Laura Fraser

Body of Truth by Harriet Brown

Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann

Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon

Legs

I’ve been asked on several occasions, “What is your favorite part about your body?” At this point, I know my answer without hesitation.

I’m a dancer. A kinesthetic learner. Someone who needs to move and explore without being confined, butt planted, posture hunched, or eyes fixated towards one space. I’m a dancer in that I bound and leap, bounce and lean, pulsing from the balls of my feet to the crown of my head. I twirl and spin, sometimes with great precision, most times in a twisted tangle to the music that feeds my soul through the roots I call legs.

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My legs.

My legs that carry me across sleek wooden floors, rough gray pavement, and rocky earthen paths.

My legs which make up for most of my 5 foot 7 inch frame.

My legs where the longest bones in my body give me the privilege of mobility.

I am truly fortunate.

I’ve been asked, “What is your favorite part about your body?” Without hesitation, I name my strongest foundation. My legs support me in exploration and self-expression, even when I believe I’m unable to continue. My legs challenge me to move, itching to stand if I’ve been planted for too long and eager to sway to any beat that reaches my ears.

I am truly thankful.

-E.P.

 

Defying Cultural Standards of Beauty

By Volunteer

I am 5’9.

I am skinny.

I have a dark skin.

I used to hate all these features of my body, and every once in a while, I still struggle with them. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that what all females want…to be tall and really skinny, like models?” I hear it all the time. “You’re sooo lucky…I wish I had your body type.” Thing is, I never felt lucky.

In America, women tend to want to have tall slender bodies, because the media represents these features as the “norm.” This is not the case in my culture. In the African culture, my body features are considered “unattractive,” “manly” and even “ugly.” In my culture, men want women who are 5 feet tall, with light skin and curvaceous bodies. I have always felt self-conscious about my body because I am the EXACT opposite of what men in my culture consider to be beautiful.

Instead of being 5 feet tall, I feel like a giant at almost 6 feet tall. Instead of having big breasts, child bearing hips and a voluptuous rear end, I feel ugly because my breasts are barely an A cup and my torso is thin. I have felt ugly for a large portion of my life because of my body type. I do not represent the ideal of feminine beauty in my culture, which is something I know American women struggle with daily as well.

Instead of having light skin, I am dark, which is not appreciated by African or American standards of beauty. I’ve always felt like the dark skin is automatically seen as unattractive to men. As a matter of fact, many media communicators have been accused of “whitewashing” the skin of African American people by making their pictures lighter, and there is an abundance of visual evidence to prove this.

thVC1GKBEBI have judged myself against the African standard of beauty for most of my life. However, as I approach adulthood, I am beginning to see that my features are unique. I am my own person on the inside and I love who I am. It is only fitting that I learn to accept the person I am on the outside. I am beginning to see beauty standards at face value. I do not need to fit into African or American beauty standards, nor do I want to. Unfortunately, beauty standards are driven into our heads from a young age, so it took me a long six years to realize that I am beautiful just the way I am.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but I made it to a place where I am happy with myself inside and out. I always used to look down on myself, despite what people told me. Every time I’d leave my house I would hear people telling me that I was stunning, beautiful, model like, and that I look like a goddess. I couldn’t hear them because of my own negative thoughts. Comments like these made me wonder why I was having all of these negative thoughts in the first place – and then it clicked. I was wishing so hard to be something that was preferred by my culture. I decided then that I would not let any cultural norm dictate what was beautiful and what was not.

It does not matter at all what people think of you – all that matters is what you think of yourself and I know now that I am beautiful inside and out despite the preference of any culture. To anyone out there struggling with your body image, just know that you are beautiful no matter what anyone says. Speak to yourself in ways that affirm your beauty.

I am a stunning 5’9!

I have a strong slender body!

I have smooth and silky dark skin!

And I love myself!

 

“White” Wedding

By Agustina Suarez

From a young age girls dream of the “perfect” wedding, and the “perfect” dress. Some women dream of the day when we will get engaged, and then we dream of the excitement of planning for this special day that only comes once in a lifetime. Thank goodness we can rely on the 50 billion dollars a year wedding industry and abundance of media promotions that will help us to create our special day, right? WRONG!

Brides Magazine published by Condé Nast is filled with “perfect” images of women who almost look unreal. Brides Magazine targets both women in general who fantasize over their potential wedding and women who are in the process of planning their weddings. They advertise wedding dresses, accessories, and other miscellaneous wedding items for women to wear on their special day.

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The purpose of this magazine is to sell wedding related products to all types of women. Unfortunately, Brides Magazine idea of all types of women only includes white, skinny females. This magazine is telling its audience that curvy women and/or women of color do not fit a beauty standard of one impossibly thin white female image after another.

Brides Magazine has failed in reaching all of the women in this country with gorgeous bodies that vary in size. A study conducted by The Today Show in 2016 revealed that the average American woman is actually a size 16. In avoiding to market to women above a size two, this magazine has alienated a majority of the women in this country who dream of their perfect wedding day, despite their size.

Not only that, but this magazine has also failed to reach the beautiful women of color who live in this country. After sifting through the pages of Brides Magazine I was shocked to find that there were no 2016_bridescom-Runway-April-j-mendel-wedding-dresses-spring-2017-Large-j-mendel-wedding-dresses-spring-2017-009Latina, Black, or Asian women featured among its pages. This is a misrepresentation of what our society actually looks like. Brides Magazine has created an unrealistic world in which all women are thin and white and all women portray unattainable beauty standards. This magazine goes far beyond bridal beauty. It turns beauty into an impossibility.

In the film Bride Wars (2009), Liv Lerner, played by actress Kate Hudson says, “You don’t alter Vera Wang to fit you. You alter yourself to fit Vera.” This line mirrors the unhealthy “whitewashing,” thin ideal and beauty standards portrayed in Brides Magazine. It is ideas like this that tell women they are not good enough to get married the way they are. Ideas like this encourage women to abandon their true selves and embrace impossible weight and beauty ideals.

The fact of the matter remains though that all women are different shapes, different sizes, and different skin tones and we are all beautiful. We do not need to alter our appearances for a wedding to be perfect. A wedding is supposed to be an event that celebrates the love which two people have created. Love existed before the wedding industry and it will exist after we come together to resist some of its harmful ideas and images.

Questions To Consider

  1. What can Brides Magazine do to appeal to more women?
  1. How can women resist beauty norms put in place by the wedding industry?

We Determine Our Own Perfection

By Madinah Lawton

This is for girls who don’t like their bodies – for girls who often second guess themselves. I have a message for you, and it is this: You are perfect just the way you are.

Believe me when I say – I know how it feels to be judged. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because I didn’t look like the girls at my school. I didn’t look like the images on Instagram, Facebook, and in magazines. I used to think I wasn’t pretty because of my height. I am 16 years old and 6 feet tall. When I’d get teased about my height I felt like being tall wasn’t attractive. I secretly wished for the growing to stop. I was always the subject of the “basketball” and “giraffe” jokes. Trust me I’ve heard them all.

In addition to my height, I used to believe that I wasn’t pretty because I have scars on my face. I would always measure myself against other girls, and I’d always be the only one with a scarred face. Then, there was my body frame. I have always been extremely skinny, and I did not like this about myself. I weighed less than my friends and they would tease me about it. I’d laugh, but on the inside I was ashamed. I would eat all the time just to gain weight. I felt ugly and frail.

The boys I had crushes on didn’t like me back. In fact, it seemed that most boys would make fun of me and call me names, which made me feel worthless and even more ugly. I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough.

One fateful day, I decided to join my school’s basketball team. To my surprise, basketball was something I was good at and it made me feel confident playing. It was an activity where my height was actually an advantage. In addition to the personal enjoyment I felt when playing basketball, I also felt a huge sense of pride. I was good at this game.

My mom has also been a huge inspiration to me. She taught me how to love myself. No matter how low and unattractive I felt, my mom was always there telling me what a beautiful young woman I’d become. This allowed me to change my perception of myself. I stopped doubting and worrying about how I looked and started embracing the beauty that had always been there, even when I failed to see it. It took me a while, but finally, I realized that I am pretty just the way I am. I realized that I should embrace my body even if others don’t. My self-worth had nothing to do with the opinions of negative people, and it was my mom’s positivity that showed me that.432be30dc432c651eabbb8768fa7069e[1]

My cousins and my parents used to tell me that I was beautiful and the more they said this to me the more I believed it. I didn’t care what boy called me ugly because I knew I was not. I still felt a little bad when I saw models with hair draping down their backs, because I knew this would never be me, but learning how to be a conscious media consumer taught me that a large part of what I see in the media is not reality, and I know that models have insecurities as well. Not everyone has high self-esteem.

After so many years of hating my height, I discovered that it was a gift. It allowed me to be a talented basketball player and I felt like it created opportunities for me that I might otherwise not have had. I realized that I was unique among my friends. Remember my message. It doesn’t matter if you’re big, small, tall, short, dark, light or skinny. You’re beautiful just the way you are. I believe that we are all made the way we are made for a reason, and this reason has nothing to do with pleasing others. What you think about yourself can be the key to your happiness. All you have to do is find the beauty that is already there.