International Women's Day

Happy  International Women's Day ! Women's Day (March 8) is a global day recognizing the social, economic, cultural and politi...

Happy International Women's Day! Women's Day (March 8) is a global day recognizing the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. For me the day also means celebrating being a woman and lifting up others who identify as women. I partnered with Kara, from The Whimsey Soul, for a photoshoot that to promote body positivity and "show how differences are our strengths and flaws aren’t flaws, flaws are just being human!"

I will explore more of my personal history another time in another post but I have experienced weight fluctuation of over 80lbs in my adult life-going from emaciated to putting on so much weight I had trouble walking uphill. I strived for what I believed was the perfect aesthetic. I used food to either punish or reward myself. I have treated myself as if I was an enemy, a thing to be policed. I have allowed outside influences to tell me what my worth is and what I should or shouldn't cover up.

All this to say, when Kara reached out asking to promote healthy self-esteem I was equally excited and terrified:

"Who am I to promote a healthy mentality when I have had such an abusive relationship with myself?"

But then Rupi Kaur's poem came to mind:

 "I stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me, thinking...'what can I do to make this mountain taller so women after me can see farther?'"  

And instead of thinking of my lack of qualifications and making it about me I thought, "What can I share to make this better for other women?"

I'll start by going against my instinct to shy away from talking about what haunts me: my own issues with my body and how I view myself. It's my a way of building up the mountain for other women, while breaking down the walls that society has set up for us. As a woman, I am used to my body being seen as an extension of who I am and my worth. It has (regularly) been evaluated, classified, regulated, and weaponized against me. However, the truth is we don't have to be anything society tells us to be: quiet, modest, sexy, a "Lady in Red, a "Lady in Waiting" for our prince, married to our spouses or our careers, caregivers... You can be whomever you need to be and love it.

The real lie is that being whatever they say we should be isn’t enough either. Society is playing a sick game where the “perfect woman” doesn't exist. For a long time I believed my "best life" and "best body" were just inside me somewhere waiting to be set free. I let it affect my real life and diminish its richness. I stayed home. I didn't post pictures of my present body. I didn't wear ____ because I knew it would be better someday when I was prettier. I didn't do ____ because I wasn't in the shape I wanted to be. I didn't apply to jobs because I no longer felt good enough. So if you are reading this and thinking the lie, "Well it's easy for ____ to feel that way because they look/are like that. But I can't." don't! Don’t let these deceptions dictate what you do. 

So while I don't want to make Women's Day solely about our bodies (we already have enough issues with this in the media) I needed to share this because this is where I am. This is what I can contribute right now. Body positivity is so much more than "Women's Day" or our appearances. It's a representation of ourselves that isn't simple and it actively impacts our self-perception, emotions, and core governing beliefs. It is my lack of body positivity that has held me back from breaking down other barriers and fighting for myself. SO I wanted to call out these lies for what they are so you can take them off your plate and go build the mountain taller for the rest of us. 

LOVE YOURSELF! It's intrinsic to taking care of yourself. Why would you care for something you hate? (I speak from a very personal place here). I have hated myself over and over again. I've not felt I was worth respecting, loving, or caring about (mentally, emotionally, and physically). Which leads me to your homework...

  • Lift other women up and stop "fat-talking" about yourself or others. 
  • Care for yourself. Do something today that takes care of you-even if it's small. 
  • Try to look at yourself in the mirror with an uncritical eye, as if you are your (very supportive and loving) best friend, and be kind. Find something you love about yourself and celebrate that. (For me, it's my darker coloring from my mother that signifies our heritage). 
Remember, you are still you - no matter what state your body is in. There isn't a thinner, younger looking woman waiting inside to live your best life. You are whole and you should love who you are and where you are. It's okay to have goals and want to grow (that's a part of self care). However, also know it's okay to feel good now. Celebrate yourself now. Don't hide away until "one day." Today is now. Love is now. Now go out and kick ass and take names!

10 Body Image Facts

  1. Only 4% of women globally consider themselves beautiful.
  2. ~91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. 
  3. Most women resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape-even though only 5% naturally possess the body type often portrayed by American media.
  4. The average American woman is 5'3” and 166lbs. The average model is 5'10” and 120lbs.
  5. The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia / bulimia is body image issues. 
  6. 20M United States women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.
  7. Researchers have found that “fat talk”—a phenomena in which a person makes negative claims about their weight to others—is an expected norm among women and a way for them to appear more modest.
  8. A study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders found that while “fat talk” tended to decrease with age, “old talk” often came in to replace it, and that both were reported by women who appeared to have a negative body image.
  9. Studies show that the more reality television a young girl watches, the more likely she is to find appearance important.
  10. Students, especially women, who consume more mainstream media*, place a greater importance on sexiness and overall appearance than those who do not consume as much. 
*I consider Instagram / social media and bloggers to be a part of this and want to encourage you to step away if you need to. I've had to be selective in what influences I have in my daily life to ensure I am participating in and seeing the healthiest and most inspiring online community I can. The other women in this shoot are a part of that community that lifts me up. I hope you find yours and contribute to it as well! <3 

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