By Amy Power
February 28, 2018
People have bodies, and bodies do things. This is probably the most simply sage advice I have ever received. I don’t remember the context, but I do remember my sister-in-law emphatically stating this nugget of wisdom one night circa 2009. And, it has stuck.
My body has done some pretty amazing things. It has grown and nurtured two children; it has run long distance races; it has competed on college sports teams; it has contorted into complex asanas, and it has dutifully carried me through the past 31 years. Yet, despite all of these things, despite it’s complete reliability and perseverance, I still feel body shame. My question is: why?
My first distinct memory of feeling self-conscious about my body was in kindergarten. As a five year old, I was convinced that I was fat and would only wear sweatshirts (even in the summertime) in an effort to mask my belly. When I confided these feelings to my all knowing older sister, she informed me that if you stand against the wall and your belly touches before your breasts, then you’re fat. Clearly at five I did not yet have breasts (neither did my sister who was seven at the time). My toes touched the wall first, and I left the conversation feeling confused and no more confident than when I entered it. In any case, this self perception of mine continued well into adulthood. Even now in my 30’s, I still feel ashamed. Ashamed of my baby belly that still wiggles and jiggles nearly 14 months postpartum, ashamed of my stretch marks, ashamed of my arms in a sleeveless top. Ashamed that Brendan is a year, and I still don’t even remotely fit into my pre-baby clothes. Ashamed, perhaps, to accept that this may be the new me, and if it is that’s ok. Believe it or not, I hate looking into a full length mirror (mine is currently behind a bookshelf). As a mother, I am mindful of how I talk about my body around my children, and I make it a priority emphasize the importance of being strong, healthy, and following our dreams. I am strong, I am healthy, and I am following my dreams. Why am I ashamed?
I asked Amanda this question over tea one day, and we decided we need to be a part of initiating a change. So much of our self-perception is based on what we see in the media, and it seems impossible to imagine a society of confident women, when we really look at what we compare ourselves against. It’s time to normalize images of real sized women across all media platforms. Life isn’t airbrushed or Pinterest-perfect; it’s unrealistic to set the expectation for girls and women that they should be. We have been happy to note recently that clothing brands like Madewell are beginning to include more sizes of models on their websites and social media, but we want to push the current boundaries further. We want to inspire women to feel confident, beautiful, and empowered, regardless of their size, shape, or age.
With this in mind, we would like to welcome you to our body image campaign in honor of Women’s Month. We have photographed seven women, sizes zero through twelve, and are so excited to share their stories (and their outfits!) with you. This campaign became much more than we hoped, thanks to the openness of the local women who modeled and the amazingly creative women who collaborated with us to make our vision a reality. Stay tuned! Something exciting this way comes…