Hello dear blog readers! It is with great pleasure and excitement that I introduce myself to the community as the new Endangered Bodies New York blog editor.
I had started to grow passionate about resisting the toxic visual culture that impacts our freedom to live productive and satisfying lives while still living in London a few years ago. I wondered what it would be like if the mediascape were suddenly inundated with stories celebrating women’s lives – lives made possible to live through the gift of our wonderful bodies. At that time I started a blog called ‘Not Just a Pretty Face’ and invited women to write about all of the ways in which we are more than merely something to be looked at. I invited women to celebrate their subjectivity, that is, their thoughts, sensations, feelings, their very experiences:
There has been an increase in the number of companies producing ad campaigns to promote body positivity, but one of the biggest problems with most of these ads is that they are trying to sell you something. Although it is wonderful that these companies are starting to recognize the perpetuation of unrealistic beauty norms in advertising, even when these ads include body positive messages they tend to associate particular products with the ability to feel beautiful and confident.
Posted by bryn mcc · November 11, 2015 9:45 PM
· 1 reaction
Can Selfies Be Empowering?
by Katie Hoeger
Selfies have become a part of our culture, and many people have taken to posting them on Instagram or other social media sites to express body positivity. But, some are asking if this trend is helpful or harmful. Celebrities and supermodels, like Gigi Hadid, have posted makeup-free selfies. People around the world have also participated in this trend, and body positive bloggers have used selfies as a way to share their body confidence journey with the world.
A photo posted by Gigi Hadid (@gigihadid) on Oct 28, 2015 at 4:22pm PDT
Many people see these body positive selfies as counteracting images posted with hashtags like #fitnessgoals that often perpetuate unrealistic and potentially unhealthy goals for weight loss. Some consider seflie posting to be vain and narcissistic, but proponent see their potential to be empowering. Body positive selfies show people embracing the “flaws” that they see in themselves or those that others have criticized them for. These individuals often bring attention to an insecurity that used to be an aspect of their negative body image. Advocates view selfies as giving women control over their own image and the power to work against unrealistic ideals of beauty.
I met Kristie in July 2014, one month into my healing process at Monte Nido Vista. She had begun her journey towards recovered at Monte Nido one year earlier, on July 4, 2013. She returned last summer for a visit, and to offer a living model of recovery for those of us still in residential treatment. I was awed then – as I am even more so today – by her forthrightness, self-motivation, and steadfast belief that reaching recovered is absolutely possible. She is one of the most resilient and self-aware people I have met, and imparts wisdom every time she speaks.
When she was a teenager, Kristie began competitive weightlifting. The sport proved to cultivate a culture of restricting and binging, and she soon developed an eating disorder. Over the years, she cycled through various behaviors, including compulsively exercising, restricting, binging, and purging.
Anna left her home in Burlington, Vermont to begin treatment at Monte Nido Vista on April 28, 2014. When I arrived there six weeks later, she welcomed me with tremendous kindness, compassion, and support – which I greatly appreciated as I took those first raw steps towards healing. Now more than one year into recovery, 25-year-old Anna is living in Denver, Colorado and pursuing a nursing degree.
Eating disorders are some of the most misunderstood, stigmatized, yet pervasive struggles in our contemporary culture. People of all genders, ages, and backgrounds are affected – nearly 30 million individuals in the United States alone, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Yet even the labels that situate those who struggle into a diagnostic categories – most commonly anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or eating disorder not otherwise specified – are themselves stigmatic, ill-defined, and misleading, because they fail to capture the nuances in people’s unique experiences.
Eating disorders thrive in secrecy, and when exposed, the struggling individual is often judged, blamed, and alienated. But the only way to heal from an eating disorder is to bring it into the light. “Coming out” about an eating disorder is a radical act of courage, and of advocacy. Bringing it into the light exposes it, shrinks it, and facilitates the crucial “me too!” moment of connection with others that is the backbone of healing. It is an act of and for recovery.
As a graduate of Columbia University’s Master in Narrative Medicine program, I believe that narrating our experiences – orally or in writing – is an invaluable means of understanding, healing, and transformation. I am proud to “come out” about my own eating disorder, and honored to be doing so in tandem with several extraordinary comrades on the recovery path. The individuals who have chosen to share their stories for this series are some of the wisest and most courageous women I have ever met. They are my teachers, my supports, and my sisters. Their tales are ones of honesty and insight, which motivate me to keep moving forward in my own recovery. I hope they bring comfort, clarity, and hope to listeners.
When I was 23 years old, about six years ago now, I decided that I wanted to revolutionize the way I took care of my body and heal my body image. I soon found out about Golda Poretsky who is a holistic body wellness coach. One of the assignments she suggests for her clients is what she has dubbed a Media Diet.
Basically, one abstains from images that trigger body comparison and self-loathing. Fashion magazines, television commercials, and certain media programming are the biggest shame culprits but social media is increasingly becoming this way too.
For years, I would get this tight feeling in my chest when I looked at certain fashion magazines. I was a magazine lover for most of my teen years. It all started with the director of my after school program taking a liking to me. She would bring me all her old magazines. YM. Seventeen. CosmoGurl. Teen Vogue. Teen People (as you can see, I am a child of the 90s for sure.)
I loved my magazines but combine my non-critical look at them, my early desires to be a model, and shaky teenage self-esteem and it was a recipe for disaster.
I am curious. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I am curious on how women of color view their bodies and their media reflections.
I’m curious on how women of color relate to beauty. In what ways are we free from Eurocentric airbrushed ideals? In what ways do we struggle?
I recently attended an Endangered Bodies NYC meeting and got into a conversation with one of the founders. I expressed a qualm I’ve had regarding body positivity and the woman of color, namely black and Latina women for some time now: do we even need body positivity? Are we indeed more secure in our body confidence that a movement centered on our body/beauty experience and media portrayals is really a waste of time?
I discovered words like “fat acceptance” and “body politics” about six years ago when I graduated from college. It felt like a new world opened up to me. I was so impressed by the scholarship, passion, and fun that was involved in body positive movements. But, I was also a little sad/angry/annoyed when I saw how the perspectives of women of color in this movement were assigned: oftentimes they were not featured or at times they were “included” as some kind of pat on the head.
Thankfully, I found a way to women of color who were talking unapologetically about their own bodies and the self-acceptance involved in the journeys. They were business owners, activists, actresses, and more. Here are the top 8 women of color (who are in the public eye) who have inspired me in my own body acceptance journey.