Sunday, August 28, 2011

Body Love: A Brief and Incomplete Primer



A few days ago, an ex-student messaged me, asking for some help. She’d started grad school, she said, and found herself feeling (not surprisingly, for grad students) inadequate, insecure, and ugly. While I obviously don’t have a cure for the competitive stress mess that is grad school, she figured I might have some resources for peeps who are feeling a little less than fabulous about their bodies.

I was a little startled. I’m all over fat pride, but body love in general? Yikes. I hadn’t tackled body love so broadly in over a decade. Still, I figured some things translated, so I wrote the following to her. I hope others just beginning (or needing a refresher course in) their body love journey might benefit from some of these ideas. Goddess speed to ye!

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Our consumerist culture hinges on all of us hating our bodies and buying useless products in order to bolster the multi-billion-dollar “health and beauty” mega-industry. We're confronted with literally thousands of ads per day, and ads all preach body hate and promise "salvation" for the sin of "imperfection" via buying crap. I know no one, body warrior or average juanita on the street, who doesn't wrestle from time to time (or all the time!) with body image issues. 

As someone heavily ensconced in fat pride activism, I'm much more familiar with combating anti-fat messages. If your concerns are a little less specific or involve age, race, or something different, my ideas may need a little tweaking.
 :)

This is what I do to help bolster myself for the awesome journey toward body celebration and love:

* Limit exposure to mainstream media. If this is difficult or impossible, at least cut as many magazines and ads out of your life. Ideally, you would surround yourself only with body-loving people and messages.

* Put up art and quotes that celebrate diverse bodies. I have fat art all over my walls, fat buttons pinned to everything, and posters with size-positive messages taped up around me. My knickknacks celebrate various body sizes, sexualities, races, and ages.
 

* Hang out more with body-positive friends and limit exposure to body haters. This is sometimes pretty difficult and may take a while, but it’s doable. After a decade or more of work in this area, I now have no one in my close circle who would dare discuss sizeist, ableist, racist, or other hateful BS around me.

* Fill your noggin with body-loving messages. This can be everything from books you read to blogs, vlogs, and websites you frequent. I'll list some resources below, but please keep in mind I have a definite fat bias in my awareness of body image issues. If you don't mind, I'll also ask some friends for their recommendations for body-positive resources.
 :)

Resources from several body positive warriors:

* Virgie Tovar, one of my fave vloggers. Here she is, discussing body hate.
* I've loved About Face for many years. I also watched an awesome video by them a couple of weeks ago.
 
* AWESOME book lists:
 http://www.about-face.org/r/books/; http://www.books4selfhelp.com/body-image.htm
* Join an online or physical community that supports you. I find my fat pride communities, both in-person and online, are essential for fueling my fierceness. If you tell me your specific body issue, I'll help you look for communities and resources in your area.
* A great fat pride blog.
*
 Nice primer on dealing with hateration.
*
 The best resource for queer fatties and allies.
* Body-love zines like _I am So Fucking Beautiful_ by Nomy Lamm
* Joy Nash's stuff on YouTube. Her “Fat Rant” is a classic.


More to come...

3 comments:

  1. Sorry for the odd placement of pics. I'm having issues situating the pictures and am way too technologically challenged to actually solve my problem right now. I'm giving the blog some space to think about what it's done and will return later.

    Know that in my heart, I added many diverse pics of peeps of all sizes, races, ages, and abilities. Sigh.

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  2. The pics, and the article, is fab. Thanks for posting!

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