Three Things I’m Done With: Fear, Hiding, and Donald Trump

Guest Post by the beautiful and ferocious Cara Greene Epstein
www.thedragonflymovie.com

Okay, so I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this guy out there who has made it his business, both literally and figuratively, to engage in and promote body shaming. This shaming is primarily aimed at young women, though if you read the volumes of his quotes on this subject, you will see that no one is safe. Apparently, this is the one area in which he does not discriminate.

Body shaming is a very personal issue for me, one that I’ve grappled with pretty much every day, all day long, for almost as long as I can remember. So much of my sense of self-worth is tied up in how I think others will see, perceive, and feel about my body. I ain’t proud of that, but there it is. Truth.

Shame feeds on the shadows. On whispers and doubts and looks and assumptions. On a million tiny little fears with beady eyes and long fingernails that hide in all of the nooks and crannies of a day. Or an hour. Or a moment.

This shame, any shame, depends on two things to live: fear and hiding.

So those are two things that I’m done with.

195 lbs. That’s how much I weigh. I know because I just went to the bathroom and pulled out the scale (from where it was hiding, of course) and stood on it. 195. That’s my number.

I’ve been within 10 lbs. of this number for the last four years and I’ve been ashamed of it, of what it means, the whole time. But here’s the thing — here’s the thing that guy is helping me realize — I don’t think it means what I thought it meant.

See, that guy believes that this number makes me less than. Makes me difficult. Makes me incapable. Makes me a disaster. And I kind of believed those things, too.

And then I thought about all the things I’ve done over the last four years. And you know what? That guy and I were wrong. 195 doesn’t look like a disaster at all.

Here are some of the things that 195 does look like:

195 looks like running a half marathon and winning a medal the size of your head.

195 looks like writing, co-directing, producing and starring in a feature film, and then winning an award for it.

195 looks like having two healthy, awesome babies and helping them become healthy, awesome kids.

195 looks like teaching your art to classrooms full of students and challenging them to use said art to better connect with themselves, each other, and the world around them.

195 looks like celebrating 14 years of marriage to your best friend and the greatest guy on the planet.

195 looks like stepping up and taking on the challenge of a full-time job while you continue to pursue your passions.

195 looks like rocking the red carpet at your own movie premiere.

195 looks like pursuing a second graduate degree.

195 looks like dancing at Wrigley Field to a band you’ve been following since you were 17.

195 looks like volunteering at your kids’ schools and helping out people who are important to you.

195 looks like passing your physicals with flying colors.

195 looks like super fun vacations and celebrations with those you love.

195 looks like stepping out of the shadows and into the light.

And…

195 looks like any other number. Cause when you really take it out and look at it, that’s all it is, just a number.

So let’s all live our lives in the light and celebrate how awesome we truly are.

And please, let’s not elect that guy in November.

Cara at her movie premiere, flanked by two kickass women who are also much more than just their number.

My Body Post-Baby: Still My (Amazing) Body

Whenever a famous woman has a baby, you can count on at least two things:

1. The name of said baby will be a source of great fascination for far too many people, and
2. When said famous woman rejoins her publicly famous life and starts to be photographed again, all of the headlines will be some version of how she got her “Body Back After Baby”

Though there are countless examples of this, let’s just look at one recent case study for the sake of brevity: Blake Lively. She had a baby about two months ago (a girl named James, if you need the answer to #1 satisfied), and then showed up at New York Fashion Week. When Serena Van der Woodsen steps out on the town, her clothes are always a hot topic. This time of course, it was all about how she filled out her clothes because OH MY GOD SHE HAD A BABY.

Here are some of my favorite headlines, winners of the Utterly Ridiculous Headline Contest that I just held; I was the only judge:

Blake Lively Debuts Amazing Post-Baby Body At New York Fashion Week!

Hahaha… Debuts her body. Um, pretty sure she debuted her body sometime in the 80s and it’s been here ever since.

Blake Lively Makes First Post-Baby Public Appearance, Glows With Happiness at New York Fashion Week

“Glows With Happiness” aka “has a really great makeup artist”

Blake Lively Makes a Triumphant Post-Baby Return to Fashion Week

Triumphant. She is triumphantly dressed and standing in front of photographers. I’m all for congratulating the woman, but let’s not congratulate her for putting on a dress and going to a fashion show. Let’s congratulate her for Having A Baby, because that sh*t is HARD.

Then of course there are the blatant WE’RE ALL LOOKING AT YOUR BODY headlines:

NYFW 2015: Blake Lively Shows Off Flat Tummy

Blake Lively Flaunts Flat Tummy At NYFW 1 Month After Baby’s Birth

Blake Lively somehow looks like this after having a baby

Well, let me tell you how, Toronto Sun… It’s called Spanx. And having a personal trainer. And a nutritionist. And being a 27-year-old whose body was super fit to begin with, before all the baby magic happened.

Then there’s this little gem:

Ryan Reynolds may be the Green Lantern, but Blake Lively might have some super powers of her own.

She does! The super power of being a woman and growing, birthing, and nurturing a brand new human! Oh… you meant her flat stomach. Whomp.

I admit that I’m extra uppity about all of this because coming up on four months ago, I had a baby. I will also confess that throughout pregnancy and since giving birth, I’ve been concerned about things like gaining weight and getting back in shape. I like being fit and active, and in news that will surprise no one, it’s challenging to prioritize those things when you have a beautiful, captivating newborn to snuggle and feed and love and care for.

What I could not have told you with fervor and conviction before this whole experience, is that my body is Amazing. It’s f*cking Amazing. It isn’t amazing because I have a flat stomach. (I do not now, nor have I ever had a flat stomach.) It’s amazing because I grew another person inside of me, and then brought that person into the world with a staggering amount of effort and pain, and throughout all of it, my body was my body. I don’t need to “get my body back”, because it’s still here. It’s always been here. And it is magical.

My body isn’t the same as it was at 23, and it isn’t the same as it was a year ago. My body is capable, and mystifying, and a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. My first and forever hope for my body is that it will continue to serve me well, for as long as I am lucky enough to live in it.

For anyone out there – especially anyone who has given birth – who feels bad about their own body when looking at pictures of Flat Tummy New Mom Blake Lively (or any of her New Mom Celebrity peers), please remember that it’s her Job to look like that. She has Employees who help her do that job, and she has Economic Resources that most of us can barely fathom. She is also, undoubtedly, wearing Spanx.

Your body is amazing. Your body is a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. Take a moment to thank your body for everything it gives you every day, then stretch or run or jump or dance just because you can. Your body is amazing.

bebe body
before / during / after

Boss Cake

It was last Friday afternoon, and I was leaving work early in order to make a doctor’s appointment with my new primary care physician. The organization that I work for has just changed insurance carriers, and I was randomly assigned to a new doctor within the network. As I rushed out of the Brooklyn middle school where I run the after-school program, students and teachers alike asked me where I was going. It was just as school was letting out, the time when I would normally be downstairs getting ready to start program.

“Yo, miss, there’s no after-school today?”

“No, there is, go on down!” I waved one of my students down the stairs, pulled on my heavy winter coat, and pushed through the door into the clear, cold afternoon.

On the sidewalk, I quickened my pace as I hurried for the subway.  I hadn’t left as early as I had intended to. There was a parent on the phone for me, and then I remembered I needed the principal to sign something that needed to be faxed before the end of the day. Then, I realized that I hadn’t–

“Just go!” My assistant had to tell me. “You’re late!”

As I sat in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, filling out paperwork, I managed to relax a bit. I had prepared my staff well enough to handle an afternoon without me. I can get pretty focused on work, and I often have to remind myself that it’s important to take care of my personal stuff, and make time to do grown-up things like scheduling doctor’s appointments.

This feeling of pride at accomplishing the small task of scheduling and keeping a personal appointment was still with me as I started the conversation with my new doctor, who I will call Dr. Alan. Middle-aged and glasses-wearing, my first impression of Dr. Alan was that he seemed normal enough. While looking over my paperwork and clicking his pen, he asked me all the usual questions that doctors ask, like do you smoke (nope), and so forth.

The trouble began when he asked what at first seemed like an innocuous question.

“Are you married?”

“Nope.”

“Boyfriend?”

“Yep.”

“And what does he do?”

Now, I know this is just small talk territory here. However, this question came before asking me what I do. I should have seen where the conversation was headed, but like so many of the tiny slights that women suffer on any given day, I hadn’t yet recognized this one.

“He’s a lawyer.”

“Wow, good for you!”

I refrained from rolling my eyes. So this guy is from a generation who still considers it cute to make jokes about how women are all just trying to bag doctors and lawyers for husbands. Whatever.

Dr. Alan proceeded to ask me how old my boyfriend was and how long we’d been together. When I explained we’d been living together for several years in several different cities, he took the opportunity to drop some knowledge on me about my generation.

“The young men of your generation have brainwashed you young girls. They have! They’ve brainwashed you into thinking that you don’t need to get married.”

He pressed a cold stethoscope to my back as I chewed on that little gem and inhaled deeply.

“And what do you do?”

Finally. “Well, I work a for a non-profit, I’m the director of an after-school program.”

He looked inside my ears. “Ah, working with the kiddies. And what’s the game plan there? Where do you see yourself in five years?”

The kiddies? The game plan?

“You should get a master’s degree. Did you know you have an ear infection?”

I opened and closed my mouth several times and readjusted my paper robe. “Uh. No. Really?”

“I’ll write you a prescription for some antibiotics.” He poked and prodded my stomach and my lower back. “Your muscle tone is not where it should be. Are we exercising?”

I felt a flush creep up my neck, and a laugh escape my throat. “Not particularly! But I do live on the third floor of a walk-up, ha, ha.”

He didn’t laugh. This was a serious matter. “You need to start thinking about getting in shape now before you start raising your family, because once you do, it’s going to be too difficult to catch back up. You’re going to be busy and you’re not going to have the time.”

Well. “Right.”

“You remind me of my wife when she was young,” he said, beaming at me and shaking my hand. “She was also a pretty brunette, like you.”

I smiled thinly, wondering why this man thought it was supposed to make me feel special that he had just described me the same way you could describe 3/4 of the human population. When he left, I dressed quickly. Feeling small. Within twenty minutes of meeting this man, he had criticized just about every aspect of my life: my job, my relationship, my body.

On my way home, I tried to get my thoughts in order by sending several cursory texts to E. Her reaction confirmed everything that I was feeling:

image1

After the initial supportive outrage, she also posed a very astute question that succinctly illustrates everything I was feeling: Has my boyfriend’s doctor ever told him that his muscle tone is not where it “should” be? Asked him why he wasn’t married? Told him to “get in shape” in preparation for having a family (which he has never mentioned he has any plans to have)??

I knew the answer. There are plenty of ways to frame the issue of exercise without the words “raising a family”. If a doctor ever told my boyfriend (or E’s husband, or any guy) to hit the gym, I’m sure it was framed as a simple matter of health. Just like if my boyfriend runs into our building’s super in the laundry room, he’s not going to get questioned about what he chooses to do with his life, but when I run into our building’s super in the laundry room, he encourages me to quit my job in order to become a plus-size model**. When my boyfriend grabs a coffee from the corner store, they call him “boss” and they call me “princess”.  When you know what? I’m the boss. THIS WAS THE BIRTHDAY CAKE THAT MY STAFF GOT FOR ME:

BOSS CAKE

I wish I could say that what Dr. Alan said to me didn’t hurt me, but it did. It hurts to be belittled and undermined, even by complete strangers. Even if you know it’s garbage, it still hurts when people try to tell you that the only thing you have to offer as a woman is your body, whether that be as something nice for men to look at, or as a baby making machine, or both.

Just take a deep breath. Text your best friend. Call your insurance company. Change your doctor. Eat your boss cake.

-S

**Actual thing a person said to me, in complete earnestness

Friday Feminist Funtimes – All About That Bass

Today my friend Megan posted this video on the book of faces, and it’s about as Fun as FFF gets. The song is catchy, the video is totes adorbs, and it’s had me tappin’ my feet and chair dancin’ all day.

Now I’m getting used to all the naysayers and the nays that they say, so before you shake fists and wave placards, allow me to address the lyrics that are sure to irk some folks out there…

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places…”

“I’m bringin’ booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that…”

She also references “stick figure silicone barbie doll”s, and how “boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” I know, I know. This reopens wounds incurred by slogans like Real Women Have Curves and Healthy is the New Skinny. But before you decry the indignities of how ‘skinny girls are people, too!!’, there are a few things we need to acknowledge.

1. Yes, all women are real women, regardless of shape or size. We here at Beauty Coup do not support body shaming of any kind.

2. Yes, skinny women can also be healthy women. So can large women, muscular women, not muscular women, young women, old women, and so on and so forth. Let’s also remember that there are sick people in the world who are no less beautiful for their illness.

3. When it comes to media and entertainment, there is a crucial truth that is often ignored or overlooked. This truth can be summarized by a concept known as othering. 

If you’ve ever taken a media studies class, odds are good that you know what this means. If not, here’s the short, short version in non-academic language:

Othering is when we as a collective culture have distaste for that which is not like us. That distaste can run the gamut from disdain to fear to outright hostility. Othering happens when we judge another person or group of people who are not like us simply because they are not like us, without any understanding of their individual and/or collective humanity.

It is these marginalized groups, these victims of othering, who need to be put in the spotlight when it comes to supporting broader definitions of beauty, and creating a greater understanding of what it means to have value and worth as a human being.

In light of that, I have some tough news for some of you:

If you are thin, you are privileged.
If you are white, you are privileged.
If you are young, you are privileged.
If you are straight, you are privileged.
If you are wealthy, you are privileged.
If you are a man, you are privileged.

I started that list, by the by, with the two (and a half) ways in which I am privileged. As I see it, it isn’t enough to rouse the rabble only concerning the privileges denied to us, we also have a responsibility to celebrate all kinds of beauty – regardless of the shape, size, color, age, gender, economic standing, or sexuality that it comes packaged in.

So if you find yourself feeling slighted because you’re thin and this cute video is celebrating girls with ‘bass’, remember this: just because she says ‘skinny bitches,’ it doesn’t mean she thinks skinny people suck. Odds are really, really good that the skinny bitch in the video is one of her BFFs.

Take the time to acknowledge your privileges. When someone steps up to holler about and celebrate something that is usually diminished, ignored, slighted, or feared, and you find you have the urge to yell back, “but what about me???” I encourage you to pause and think about all that your privileges have already afforded you.

Now shake that money maker, whatever its size!

Thigh Gap Schmigh Schmap

Hey there, Beauty Coup d’etat Darlings! It’s Friday Feminist Funtimes!

Combing through the bookmarks I’ve made on Potential Blog Topics, I stumbled on this ridiculous phenomenon from last summer. I have two thoughts here.

One: Why would you want your legs to resemble hot dogs?
Two: WHY WOULD YOU WANT YOUR LEGS TO RESEMBLE HOT DOGS??

This icky tumblr is a side-effect of the aggravating Thigh Gap obsession that has been sweeping the Internets for some time. Thigh Gap is also responsible for the obnoxious, twee, red carpet pose known as Pigeon Toed. **No One Stands Like This In Real Life**

Thigh Gap, for the blessedly uninitiated, is when you put your legs together and your thighs don’t touch. Most supermodels have it, and as we know, looking like a supermodel is a completely reasonable and attainable goal for the average woman.

good-luck

Sidebar: if you want to be a supermodel, you better have a Thigh Gap or you are totes fatty fat fat.

Take this Pintrest board, for example. Some of these gals look perfectly healthy and probably always have had/will have that lil’ space between their thighs. Other photos here scream only one word at me: HUNGRY.

Now I’m no stranger to coveting the Gap. When I was a roly-poly 10-year-old, I told my grandma that I was fat. When she asked me why I thought that, I told her that my thighs touched. My older sister was skinny, I explained to grandma, and her thighs didn’t touch. My chubby thighs smooshed right up against each other.

My grandma, one of the best people who has ever lived, turned to my wee, impressionable self and said “Oh darling, that just means when you grow up you’ll have shapely legs, and men will adore them.”

Not only was my grandma an amazing woman who drank whiskey out of teacups, she was totally f*cking right. My legs are kind of incredible, if I may humbly say so myself. They’re a star attraction of my curvy frame. And I have never not once in my entire life had a Thigh Gap. Because the truth is that some bodies are not built for Thigh Gaps. I have a decent dip in my waist, some visible ab muscles (she works hard for the money!), delicate bones, a sizable JLo, and thighs that touch.

Of course I want to start an Anti-Thigh Gap Revolution, involving pictures of sexy thighs that touch. But, curious fact, if you don’t have a Thigh Gap obsession, odds are good you don’t have that many pictures of your thighs. All of my burlesque-era photos are on a different computer, so I’ve done a little improvising.

Here’s me in leggings having just hiked up a mountain in Hawaii. Lookin’ good, thighs that carried me up a mountain!
hike
Here are my thighs right now, today, mere moments ago, in a Classic Thigh Gap (CTG) position. As you can see, gap schmap.
thighs 1
Lastly, here’s the top of my gams with feet on the floor, ankles together – another CTG pose.
thighs 2
Ohmygodyouguys!!! Is that a tiny space I see between my legs?? Is that the floor we’re seeing through an infinitesimal amount of space betwixt one thigh and the other??? OMG GUESS WHAT??

I don’t fucking care.

boo-yah

#beautyrevolution

Why the New Name? or How Real Living Beauty became Beauty Coup:

The Internet is a strange place.

When I was 15, that series of crazy dial-up noises would connect me to a chat room – before the phrase had nefarious connotations – where I could talk to people from around the globe. My “handle” was DelphiniumTwinkleQ. The Q was silent, because I was 15.

theinternet

This chatting with people who lived All Over the Planet felt like magic. When I was in China two years later, my mom and I could send a piece of “e-mail” to my dad, and we would get his reply the very next day. It was a crazy, topsy-turvy, whole new world.

a whole new world

Almost 20 years later, we are immersed in that new world, our lives all but run by the technological advances we’ve made. Through social media we reconnect with old friends and cultivate professional relationships. We develop creative projects with people who live on different continents. We write blogs and meet strangers and those strangers become friends (hi, Jennie!). Some of our closest friendships evolve primarily through texts, emails, and instant messaging chats. We share our opinions and are cheered on, challenged, shamed, scolded, bolstered and championed by the voices of people we will never meet. We rally behind causes with countless like-minded unknown individuals, and we change the world.

This is what I see happening right now with how women are perceived and valued. We are rising up as a collective voice to challenge absurd standards of beauty, to recognize our inherent diversity, and to be valued for all that we are.

we can  do it

Thanks, in part, to the Internet, companies are dropping sexist practices, a teenager in Pakistan stood up to the Taliban and started an international movement, there are more shows to watch (good shows!) featuring a variety of complex female characters, women are shattering glass ceilings left and right, a toy company aimed at training girls to be engineers aired their best ad yet during the Advertising Mecca, and like our efforts here at Beauty Coup (BC Represent!), numerous self-confidence movements, features, and projects (fun projects! clever projects!) emerged, showing us what women really look like (even celebrity women), spreading joy, and bolstering a sense of self-worth in women and girls.

Real Living Beauty served us well. It helped me and S (and sometimes Lou) introduce ourselves to all of you. It allowed us to share our many (many, many) opinions. It provided a forum for us to discover and share a wealth of wonderful people, projects, shows, books, programs, and so on and so forth, and to call out the jerkwads who really get it wrong. And we’ll continue to do all of that.

However. It’s time to call this Internet phenomenon what it really is: A Revolution.

Many women have argued that to convince all women that they are beautiful is counter-productive, because it’s still a focus on Beauty. I disagree. I believe these are the seeds of the Revolution. As long as women are caught up in insecurities about their physical appearance – consumed by “Am I too _______?” or “Am I _______ enough?” – they cannot focus on the things that truly matter. When women feel beautiful, when they Believe They Are Beautiful, they are able to set aside cosmetic concerns and put their energy into so much more.

Revolutions can start anywhere – lunch counters, basements, buses, campuses, meeting halls – this Revolution started on the Internet. This Revolution starts with Beauty. If we do not feel Less Than due to the supposed confines or mythical shortcomings of our physical appearance, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

limit

Some of you will say that feeling beautiful isn’t important. That women can accomplish anything even if they don’t feel beautiful. I don’t entirely disagree. What I will say is that the efforts to make women feel less than beautiful, to sidetrack us with the idea that we must be vigilant about improving our appearance in accordance with the standards of men, these are tools of oppression. If we already feel beautiful, we become impervious to those methods of control. We become greater than our oppressors. We stand up, and we demand our due.

beyonce-you-ready

And because I couldn’t pick just one:

rock this b

And:

high five

Welcome to Beauty Coup.
#beautyrevolution

Beauty Coup

Real Is as Real Does

Happy Monday, RLB readers!

I hope you’ve had you’re caffeine, because it isn’t even 9:00 am, and my double shot of espresso has me all ready to rouse some rabble.

At this point, it might seem like I’m harping on the subject. It’s possible that some of you are wondering if we’re going to change the name of our blog to Feminist Ads Are A-Okay! or Brought to You by Dove Real Beauty

I promise, as the Oscars draw nearer there will plenty to say about women in Hollywood, and when the school year calms down S will have more time to dig up kick-ass lesser-known lady artists to introduce you to.

For now, we’re going to talk about the Aerie Real campaign. I can already hear some of your feathers ruffling, and that’s perfectly okay. We are all entitled to our opinions, and here is mine:

First, the skinny (was that pun in bad taste?): The lingerie line from American Eagle has started a new campaign called Aerie Real, wherein their models are not photoshopped or retouched. Their tagline is “the real you is sexy”.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to write about this, since it’s a subject we here at RLB have covered somewhat extensively. Then I read this post, from an irate writer over at PolicyMic. Let me start by saying she has some valid points. Let me also say that it was harder to connect to them because of the glaringly egregious claim in her headline: “This Isn’t ‘What Girls Really Look Like.'”

Excuse the shouting, but YES IT IS.

This is exactly what these girls really look like. Counting them out because they’re thin or fit is akin to the erroneous phrase (yet charming film) “real women have curves.” Real women come in all shapes and sizes, which is, I understand, the fundamental point of the PolicyMic article. Aerie could and should do more to represent more types of girls and young women. I agree! But I do not think it’s helpful to snark away the steps that are being taken toward that kind of representation. My point of view is more aligned with this writer over at a site I’d never heard of called Neon Tommy.

Here’s where I disagree with Neon Tommy: Yes, these models are still made up and styled by professionals. Because they’re models. Styling ones subjects is the standard for anyone being photographed for any ad/article/feature anywhere ever – even for feminist tomes such as BUST and Curve magazine.

Here’s the whole truth: I believe these are the seeds of a revolution. Seriously. When have we ever, as a collective culture, talked this much about how women are represented in the media, how unrealistic beauty standards are, and how women need to be valued for more than how they look? As far as I can recall, these questions have gone unasked because their answers were taken for granted as part of the status quo. Challenging the status quo, even in small ways, is how we provoke change. Have you ever, really, seen a girl like this in a lingerie ad? A lingerie ad that isn’t for “plus size” women?

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 8.42.18 AM

If you think it’s egregious for me to claim that this girl could be considered plus size, it isn’t me. It’s the industry that we’re fighting against. There are many companies that will use models who are size 10-12 as “plus size,” and casting directors who even claim that “plus size” equals a size 8.

Every revolution starts with a spark. The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, and many agree that the suffragist movement leading to that moment began with an 1848 conversation in Seneca Falls. People point to Stonewall and Brown vs. The Board of Education as pivotal moments in history, but anyone who has ever been part of a movement knows – there were countless conversations that built up to and fueled those confrontations. There were small steps and quiet steps and virtually unnoticed steps. And they all led to major shifts in our culture.

Do you think it’s pretentious hyperbole for me to equate body positivity with women’s suffrage, the fight for queer equality, or the civil rights movement? Then let me leave you with some not so fun facts (all emphasis is mine):

  • Girls between ages 11-14 see, on average, 500 ads a day.
  • 53% of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies.  That number increases to 78% by age 17.
  • The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth under age 19 more than tripled from 1997 to 2007.
  • 42% percent of first to third-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat.
  • 80% of 10-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner.
  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
  • Adolescents with negative body image concerns are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal than those without intense dissatisfaction over their appearance, even when compared to adolescents with other psychiatric illnesses.

When I had the honor of meeting Bella Abzug back in 1996, I asked her if she had any advice for a young upstart like myself. “Choose your battles,” she said. “Women want to fix everything, but you’ll spread yourself too thin that way. Choose your battles, and fight for what matters most to you.”

So I choose body positivity as one of my battles. I choose to celebrate all victories, small and large, as necessary steps to winning the revolution of cultural change.

There is still a lot of work to do, in order to create a world for our daughters and nieces and granddaughters where they will be valued for who they are and what they have to contribute. These feminist ads aren’t a magical solution, and they aren’t the only answer; and right now most of them could push even harder and further toward change.

It doesn’t feel like enough because it isn’t enough, but it is a beginning.

Statistics gathered from:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060606224541.htm
http://therepresentationproject.org/statistics
http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm
http://justthink.org/