Loving Your Body
By Morgan Lathrom
May 17th 2021
In today's society you have so many standards set forth by social norms and by peers. But you define beauty yourself. Society doesn't define your beauty.
There are some many women and men who fight body dysmorphia, and low body self esteem everyday. There are so many women and men who are told they can't be in a certain profession or do certain activities because of their body size. Young people tend to struggle with their body, especially after scrolling through social media and seeing such beautiful people all day long! So how does someone stay “Body Positive”? I don't have the answer, it is a day to day struggle for myself.
I could go on and on about how much I love my body and how you can follow my guide to loving your body, but I simply don't have that. I won't lie to you. Seeing gorgeous people on my feed all day long, gets tiring and makes me actually upset. But there are so many inspiring stories out there that truly help me through my hard times when I'm feeling disgusted about my own body.
The stories about those who are paving the way for inclusivity might seem cliche but, it's what helps me. What works for me might not work for you, that's why I've also put together some tips to be able to help you become body positive.
So what is body positivity? Well its a social movement focused on empowering individuals no matter their weight or size, but it also challenges society and the perception of body types. This movement advocates for acceptance of all body sizes, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, and appearance. What makes body positivity a good thing? Well it's a feeling of acceptance of your appearance, which can improve mental health, and reduce the risk of eating disorders, but it also allows someone to be themself. You can be body positive about others, by sharing love and compliments about someone else, and also not be body positive about yourself. This is because being body positive about others is easy. But being body positive about yourself is not, I think it's because you are your own worst critic. It's a terrible mindset but over time it's been embedded into our minds from society. I am not going to sit here and tell you I have some magical solution for this problem, but I will give you some insight into how others have joined the body positive movement and are now unapologetically themself.
Starting with hip hop dancer, choreographer, model, and influencer, Amanda LaCount.
Amanda has been a dancer since she was 2 years old. Throughout her dancing career she has been told that her body type does not fit in, or that she's too big to be a dancer, she needs to lose weight, etc. Even though she has experienced so many ignorant comments on her body, she doesn't let the hater stop her. She continues to prove them wrong by booking jobs, and completing career goals. And one of her most recent accomplishments is performing with Lizzo at Coachella. Because of her encounters with ignorant people who like to criticize her body, she created the #BreakingTheStereotype movement.
This movement celebrates body diversity and acceptance. Its goal is to make a point that it doesn't matter your gender, body type, height, skin color, sexual orientation, or religion, anyone can be a dancer or be anything for that matter. Not only is she breaking the stereotype, but she is also representing and bringing inclusivity to the dance industry, which truly needs it. Amanda has given many tips on how to deal with criticism, and how to believe in yourself when others don't. She has said “Never let yourself get to the ‘not’s’, if you want to do it, just do it. Of course it'll be scary, just give it a shot.” She goes on to mention how criticism should drive you and help you reach your goals, and ultimately give you confidence.
Click here to read more about Amanda LaCount:
Another story I want to share with you is about Ashley Graham.
Ashley Graham is an American model. Ashley has been modeling since she was 13 years old! Her modeling career really took off in 2016 after her appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue- which made her the first “Plus-sized” model to be on the front of the magazine. She used her instagram to showcase her body changes during pregnancy to normalize and celebrate her new body. She made major waves when she gave her firm stance on the “plus-size” label. She thinks it's not only outdated, but it puts models into groups, and in stores and in everyday discussions it also groups them and creates a body image that is not a positive one. She has said that using the work plus-size puts women into a category of that they don't eat well, or aren't healthy, or they don't work out. She has spread awareness on being labelled plus-sized in her TED Talk in 2015. She pushes for brands and designers to recognize a wide range of sizes and not be close minded when putting out sizing. Ashley has also created clothing lines that are size inclusive for jeans, swimwear, and lingerie. She stands behind the hashtag #BeautyBeyondSize. She is a prime example of what body acceptance can do. Because of her the modeling industry is trying to encourage size diversity and provide clothing for ALL sizes.
See more about Ashley Graham:
Another story I want to share with you is about Colleen Werner, a professional ballerina.
Colleen became a dancer when she was 3 years old. Colleen suffered from an eating disorder when she was only 10 years old. She remembers always hating her body, and comparing herself to other dancers. Her eating disorder was at its height when she was in high school and started training more seriously in ballet. She says that social media really fed into her eating disorder, as well as comments she received from her fellow dancers and teachers. She received praise from her dance instructors to keep going and that to continue whatever she is doing. When she was 19 years old, she realized that she had an eating disorder and needed to seek some help. She eventually started therapy and started to heal her relationship with herself and with food. She also found healing in body positivity communities on instagram and self love. She gave advice to dancers, saying that you don't need to have the “ideal ballerina body” to be a talented dancer. She has also said to not let anyone tell you that you shouldn't be a dancer because of your appearance. She says to those who are struggling, that it will get better, but loving your body is SO worth it. Colleen has started the #BopoBallerina movement. This movement's goal and main idea is to support those who lack body positivity and to promote body positive dancers and to give dancers who struggle with their body image a voice. The dancers that are in this, often face backlash and by supporting and lifting up these dancers it can help their confidence. This movement has helped dancers push past the body shaming. This movement has also opened up doors for dancers to come together and share their stories.
See more about Colleen Warner here:
The last story I want to tell you is about Charli Howard.
Charli Howard worked as a “plus-size: model'', but is most known for her activism for diversity within the fashion industry. She is also an author and has written two books. In her youth she tried to model, but was rejected from many agencies. She was let go later on by her agency for being “too big”. Once being let go, she wrote a post that went viral. After this, she was signed to an agency in New York. Even though she is a size 10 US, she is still labeled a “plus-size” model in the industry. Charli launched an inclusive makeup brand called Squish. She also has a podcast called “Fashion Fix”. But before all of this success, she battled a 10 year eating disorder. She said that she has this intense pressure to be a size 2 and if she didn't succeed then she was a failure in her mind. But ultimately she said therapy helped her. That she has to break out of the OCD of her body image. So she threw away all the scales, the measuring tapes and realized that she needed to stop obsessing. She said that the key to gaining confidence in your own skin is to wake up and give yourself a compliment every day, and you will believe it. Advice she has put out there is, if someone on social media makes you feel bad because of the pressure to look like then, unfollow them, get rid of them. Instead follow those who empower you and help lift your spirits up. Charli and another model, Clementine Dessaux, founded the #AllWomanProject. These are images created by an all female team and a cast of models varying in ages, ethnicities, and sizes. This was created to push back on the lack of diversity in the modeling industry to showcase all women of all shapes and sizes because they are ALL beautiful. The women's photos were also not retouched or edited in any way, which was made as a point. They wanted to show the natural beauty of these women.
See more about Charli Howard here:
These stories of people who are paving the way for the body positivity movement are truly impressive. That they are able to turn their life experiences that have been bad, and turn them into a movement to help others grow and not feel alone and change the way society views all shapes and all body sizes. I also want to give you some tips that I have found along the way that might work for you or someone you may know.
To stay body positive in the dance world or even if your not a dancer here are some tips:
Try sharing your body image insecurities with a friend!
By doing this you are not subsiding or pushing your feelings down to avoid them. You are expressing your feelings and allowing your friend to help talk you through those feelings and support you rather than you keeping it down and getting lost in negativity.
Find your light. Find your happiness.