Monday, April 14, 2014

THE FIRST ANNUAL BODY LOVE CONFERENCE

(Images thanks to Lisa Roden!)

We did it, kids.
We made the Body Love Conference happen.
And it was fucking glorious.




April 5, 2014 will forever be the day that over 400 women (and men!) got together with enough energy to fill a stadium and talked about the hardest (and thus most important) topic out there: radical body love.

With my nose to the grindstone for the previous 10 months, it stunned me when I stood on the stage and finally looked up. I was greeted by the loudest combination of cheering, clapping, and laughter I've heard. Maybe ever. 


Goosebumps over my entire body.

The Body Love Conference came into existence because of 30+ volunteers from Tucson that somehow managed to work 10-20 hours a week on the event while raising families, working full time jobs... and y'know, living an already full life. I'm indebted to them beyond belief. They not only physically and emotionally powered everything behind the scenes, but also worked the day of- making sure that all information was handed out, questions were answered and all needs were met. Summer even had a glitter covered question mark headband to make her specialty clear. We had advocates attend for those who felt the need to process difficult information, or just needed hugs. We had 35 presenters (THIRTY FIVE) who all donated their time because they believed in the message. We had sponsors who believed in us when we asked them to support something uncharted. And beyond that, we had 400 attendees who's magnetic spirit enveloped every person there in something that could only be felt and never explained through simple words in a blog post.

Because of the power I witnessed that day, I really am at a loss for words... so I'm going to leave that part to everyone else.






"I can't really express what an absolute JOY The Body Love Conference was! The Body Positive movement is often a white cis gendered heteronormative space. It was clear and obvious that Jes M. Baker and team were committed to radical diversity, with panels on trans identity, disability, mental health, challenging the thin white ideal and more and a wide array of identities and bodies in attendance, I feel grateful for the camaraderie of humans; the people down for a REVOLUTION of radical self love! The Body Is Not an Apology is grateful for the chance to be in community with so many divine beings! Here's to many more chances to convene this UNAPOLOGETIC wave of world changers!" –Sonya Renee


"I really appreciated the opportunity to hear stories not only from women who fully embrace and love their bodies, but also from women who are struggling to do that. In a couple of different spaces I saw other women listen and support those who were feeling unsure, and it was wonderful." -Kirsten



"I think what made this conference awesome was the genuine LOVE, with Jes being at the heart of it.  Having the advocates and safe space to go to was an amazing thing.  She encouraged others to come up and give her a HUG, not just introduce themselves to her, and all this while I'm sure she was running around from one thing to the next.  All of the presenters were coming from a place of genuine love, too, because it seemed like they had all been there.  They all "get it."  To have such a wonderful community to go to is so comforting.  All of the women I spoke to were so inviting and nice.  I came to the conference by myself, but was able to spend lunch with an awesome group of women who were also there.  The cool thing about THAT was the fact that they were all very different women, but had all had their own experiences and connections with the conference.   I was able to come this year because I had some family in town (aka free lodging) and cheap flights, but I would definitely spend whatever necessary to attend the conference again.  I want to thank everyone who had anything to do with that conference, and all the great people who attended. It was such a fantastic experience!" -Lisa






"It was the most empowering, inspirational, joy-filled, possibilities-strewn, safe place to be exactly who I am. It was also a place to figure out where I am going next with the focused activism that I really feel is now available to me. That's it. The things we accomplished in our sessions, separately, magnifies what we will do together." -Jen






"I came down with a cold in the week after the conference. In the past, I would have been angry with myself for being sick and resisted getting care. Instead, I have been very tender with myself and getting the care and rest I need. In fact, I'm healing in about half the time it would normally take me. Louise Green said, "You are worthy of love and self-care," and I believe it!" -Carrie






"I attended the Body Love Conference because my sister Hally Thornton contributed to the Kickstarter campaign and lives in NYC and could not be there. When she offered me her ticket, I was a little ashamed that I hadn’t heard of it, but, even though she is my little sister, she has always known what books to read, movies to watch, music to listen and causes to get behind before I have. I was a bit hesitant that it would be a bit “woo woo” for me. I even texted my husband, “Skeptical…” when I was waiting for Jess to give the opening address. But it didn’t take long for me to be completely taken by what was happening around me.


The talks I attended, the movement workshops, the people I met…all swirled around me in this giant tornado of fabulosity and I was left in its wake. I felt like a part of something I believed in for the first time in a long time. Female drag queens, women that had been in terrible accidents and through terrible things that had overcome their circumstances at all odds, pregnant Lebanese professors teaching me burlesque, women telling me to accept myself as I am, and an amazing environment that let me be who I am and LOVED me for that. Those are things I will remember. And what I will take is the confidence to know that I am perfect as I am, that I do not need to be added to or subtracted from in order to prove my worth, the will to create my own happiness despite life’s greatest odds, and the determination to make my world one that resembles what existed on the 3rd floor of the Student Union on April 5th, 2014. Thank you for creating such a meaningful, pertinent, relevant celebration of humanity and including me in it. I will never forget any of you." -Bree




"My daughter's battle with anorexia began at the tender age of 12.  After years of regular therapy sessions, a support group and her family's love, she seems to be winning the battle.  While the treatment she's received was beneficial, nothing compares to the pride, acceptance and genuine love she (and I) felt at the Body Love Conference.  There is nothing more powerful than being in a room full of over 400 women who have felt EXACTLY AS YOU HAVE.  There is nothing more powerful to a young woman than hearing from many different beautiful, intelligent and courageous women share their stories of struggle with body love and their road to becoming the amazing, accepting people they are now.  She and I both laughed and cried during this day long event.  We hugged more people than I can remember and made what might be some life-long friends.  It was one of the best experiences we've shared as mother and daughter.  I only hope it becomes an annual tradition and I look forward to taking my younger two daughters with me as they get older." -Michal

"It was more incredible than I anticipated. I have stepped out of the self loathing identity trying to find my way to the Self love path and this was the perfect place for me. It isn't about where anyone is on the path of this journey, but the fact that we are all on it is amazing! I came alone from Washington D.C. I was so worried about meeting people. It was a non issue. Everyone was so loving and open. I made new friends and new contacts. It is a beautiful, empowering down right fun event. I can't wait to go next year." -Ashley




We'll be reconvening as committee members and chatting about how to improve next year. There are definite areas to work on (more photographers, longer sessions, and more days! to start the long list), but overwhelmingly the feedback is... "This was so needed." We're honored to have shared that day with all of you, and are looking forward to the next!

P.S. If you've blogged about the conference, leave the link in the comments! As we post more photos, we'll include them in our coverage roster!

P.P.S. I KNOW you’re going to ask (and I definitely don’t blame you) but YES the shoes were ridiculously comfortable and YES you can get them here. Dress too.

P.P.P.S. You can see more images by Lisa Roden here!



ALL THE LOVE.

Body and otherwise,
Jes

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

BEING (EM)BODIED // BY LISA O'NEILL


I remember the first time I was called “fat.” It was on the playground. A group of us were playing freeze tag and I had just left the home base of a tree and was confronted by my classmate, a girl named Stephanie. She sputtered it out, that one word, punctuating and finite: “fat.” I was seven.
Years later, this same classmate, who I had not seen in over two decades, popped up in my friend requests on facebook and I was completely stunned. Had she not remembered?
I don’t trace my struggles with accepting my body to that moment alone. I have had plenty of opportunities over the years to find my body lacking. Even when my teenage body was completely healthy, I berated myself for being too big. I was too tall, my hips were too wide, my body weighed too much, the size on the back of my jeans was unacceptable. I learned that “too muchness” was the worst crime a woman could commit. So I learned to tone myself down. I learned the safe places to be the larger version and the places where I needed to small myself.
In my senior year of high school, I was bullied by a girl who made her way into my friend group and sucked up to all my friends while being completely nasty to me. One of the ways she did this was by insinuating I was fat. When my friends and I dressed up to commemorate the last episode of Beverly Hills 90210, I dressed as Brenda, in a striped bodysuit and jeans (hello nineties!). And when we were trying to reenact the opening scene and someone said, “Well, doesn’t the group of guys hold up Brenda?” she looked at over at me sneering and started to guffaw. My friends refused to acknowledge this side of her and the pain she was causing me.
I share these select moments when I learned I was not enough because I am sure that most women, regardless of their size, have these. Maybe it’s acne, the size of their nose or hips or butt, and on and on. As a culture, we are merciless to women, finding fault everywhere. We suppress women’s bodies as a way to suppress their power. When these bodies—bodies beautifully flat or thick, beautifully tall or short, faces beautifully round or thin—are stifled, we women can become so obsessed with our perceived physical inadequacy that we completely forget how amazing we are. We forget to pursue our dreams. Or when we are in the process of pursuing them and feel insecure, we find ways to lash out at ourselves, often making our bodies the first target.
In my early twenties, I lost sixty pounds using Weight Watchers. I ate crappy WW frozen food, eliminated alcohol, and counted points. I exercised as well, but I wouldn't call my approach to eating or exercise a part of a healthy lifestyle. I was doing all of this solely to lose weight because I was sure that once I lost weight, my life would magically change.

Well, I lost all the weight and was finally for the first time in my life: skinny, and you know what? New things cropped up to show me why I wasn't good enough. This led to a few epiphanies.
I realized that I hadn’t been as successful with dating not because people weren’t attracted to me but because I hadn’t yet learned to love myself; I was incapable of seeing myself as a worthy partner or seeing others’ admiration for me. I realized that pursuing my creative work, putting myself out there in my writing and my music, was just as hard as when I wore a bigger pants size. I realized I was many pounds lighter and still faced tremendous uncertainty, unsure of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
And to top it all off, even when I was as thin as I was “supposed to be,” I couldn't see myself as beautiful. I saw a slight roll, a smattering of cellulite. I was able to find inadequacies just as easily as before.
Now, I go to African dance class and yoga several times a week. I walk my dog. I commute to my job on my bike. I stay away from foods that give me digestive issues and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most of the time, I tune in to see what my body wants and needs. I am the healthiest I have ever been in my life. And I weigh the second most that I have in my life.
I grew up thinking the external expression of my body was the biggest part of my worthiness. I grew up thinking that I had to define my own perception of beauty based on the expectations I saw all around me. I realize now that what I have grappled with all my life is not my weight, but the way in which my weight, as a woman, has defined how others think about me and how I am supposed to think about myself. At the heart of it, I haven’t struggled with my weight, I have struggled to love my body.

Although I appreciate them, it was not the words from supportive friends and lovers that got me there. I was only able to see myself and my body as beautiful in the slow but growing recognition of its power.


There is a certain tone to the word acceptance that can sound like tolerance. That’s why the Body Love Conference is important to me. I don’t want to accept my body, I want to love it. I have made the decision to love my body in whatever state it is: when it is healthy or when it is ill and sore, when it weighs less or more, when I am having a difficult day emotionally or when I feel peaceful. Most of all, I have decided I will love my body as the only vessel I have in this life, the one that lets me experience the world in so many small and large ways.

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A native of New Orleans and resident of Tucson, Lisa is a nonfiction writer who uses her work to investigate her curiosities and bridge gaps in both personal and collective understanding. Lisa teaches writing at The University of Arizona and Pima Community College. She has also developed curricula for and taught writing workshops with incarcerated students at Tucson detention centers. Lisa received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Arizona and serves on the board of Casa Libre en la Solana, a literary nonprofit supporting Tucson writers and The University of Arizona Poetry Center. Her writing has most recently been published in The Feminist Wire, defunct, The Fiddleback, drunken boat, and Diagram. She loves constraint-based writing, evidenced by her online literary project The Dictionary Project, where she writes and edits others’ pieces inspired by a word, chosen at random from the dictionary. She is an unapologetic feminist and often uses her writing to investigate ideas and assumptions about gender.

She will be teaching the (Em)Bodied Writing; Integrating Engagement With the Body Through Creative Writing" workshop at The Body Love Conference!

MY INNER VOICE IS A BULLY // BY JESSICA DORLAND


I’ve been working with kids and families for a long time. I’ve been a smoking cessation counselor, a middle school and high school teacher, and most recently a child and family therapist. I have worked with people from all walks of life, and I’ve come to realize something important, we all bully ourselves.

That little voice inside my head tells me that I can’t speak up in groups because someone will realize that I’m really not all that smart. It tells me to look away when a cute guy looks at me because he will notice how fat I am and I can’t bear to see how disgusted he will be. It tells me that I have to push people away before they hurt me, that I shouldn’t eat when I’m out with friends because they will think I am a pig, that I can’t wear tank tops or show my arms, and that if I just lost a little weight I might be worth it to someone somewhere. It tells me a lot. That mean voice inside my head didn’t just show up one day… it’s always been there. It was there when my boyfriend of three years (who never took me around his friends and only let me meet his mom once) told me that he couldn’t imagine marrying me because he would be too afraid that my health would be in jeopardy because of my weight. It was there when all the girls at Girl Scout camp ostracized me and wouldn’t be my friend. And it is still with me now… telling me that there’s no way anyone will believe that what I have to say is really worth reading.

I bully myself.

And not too long ago, I realized that most likely you do too.
So why? Why am I so hard on myself? Luckily all the time I spent in school taught me something about belief structures and how messages we hear growing up incorporate themselves into our psyche. So when my mom put me on the Cambridge Diet (I’m only 36, and since it was pulled from the market and reformulated after potential health issues arose in 1986, that means I wasn’t nine years old and was on a diet that restricted my caloric intake to 440cal/day) it permanently imprinted in my brain that my weight was a problem. When my babysitter compared her weight to mine when I was ten and looked at me in disgust, I knew I was disgusting. When every famous or cool woman I idolized as a kid was a size two and so very overly sexualized by the media, I learned that sex meant acceptance. When my grandma made fun of her arm fat, then compared it to mine… well you get the picture.

So I’m stuck with this internal bully. Great. I’m stuck with this belief that I’m not smart, or beautiful, or a leader. But then I had kids. Two beautiful girls. Two wonderful, sweet, empathetic kids who shouldn’t believe those same things about themselves. So I started working on ways to make sure I am a good parent. I, of course, quickly realized that there’s no way I can avoid every turn that might lead to their eventual lack of self-esteem. My mom tried to protect me from bullies (because she believed that if I was thin I wouldn’t be bullied), and her mom her, resulting in every gimmick diet you can think of being tried by my family (my mom couldn’t name one thing she liked about her body till very recently, but remembers taking speed shots with her mom when she was a teenager). There’s just no way to predict and avoid every wrong-turn… I think it’s just destiny for every daughter to look at her mom and think of at least a dozen ways she screwed up. That’s life. That’s normal. I’m okay with that.

So I started looking at strong people I know (or know of). Why is their internal voice nicer than mine? It comes down to two things, either they were raised in an environment where they were brought up to believe in their unique place in this world… or they fought that inner voice and treated it like the bully that it is… and sometimes both.

So that’s why I’m part of the Body Love Conference… because I am fighting my inner bully, and I am raising two awesome kids who damn well better know that they are beautiful, and because to change this world we can’t sit back and wait- we have to make it change.


At the conference I am presenting “Raising Body Positive Kids: How to Raise Kids to Be Okay in a Society that Isn’t.” I hope to see you there. You can also find me online… http://www.inonepeace.com/… and on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/Dr.Dorland

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I AM A WOMAN RECLAIMING BODY TRUST // BY DANA AND HILARY



I am a woman reclaiming trust in my body. My hunger, my appetites, my longings, my skin, my bones, my size are mine for the taking. I take back my worthiness, my belonging in the world of beautiful and diverse beings. I live without apology for the straight lines and curves, living tissue, vulnerable heart that hold my living, breathing manifested story.

I feel where my body begins and I protect where it ends. The marketing, the expectations, the gaze of the “other” belong outside of me and are not for my internalization. I will no longer ingest the external and make it my goal or my standard. I will not trade my right to express my freedom, my needs, my wants or my beauty. 

I listen for my appetites, all of them. I say yes.  And I say no. My body is wise.  It knows me. It is me. I am it. It is not an expression of glutton or neglect, nor is it ugly. It is an expression of life, and of being alive. It is my companion for this life that has been a journey, replete with unexpected bumps & grooves, loves and losses-- and as so, my body expresses my story with its textures, shapes, peaks & valleys.

I will not betray you, body, for an endless diet or self-improvement project. I will not confuse thinness for health. I am a woman reclaiming my movement, my rhythm, my flow.  I seek satisfaction and explore pleasure. I value my inner peace, my self-worth, more than the approval of the outside, stigma and hate inflicted eye.

I will count myself among the millions of other women who have come before who have struggled to live compassionately in the bodies they have, and I will also count myself among the millions of women to come who will reclaim body trust. I am not alone on the path.  In fact, I am helping to transition the world with my courage, my fierceness, my bold and beautiful body.

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Be Nourished was founded on the idea that we are all born with remarkable instincts to love and care for our bodies.  We believe body trust is a birthright.  Our passion is helping people lose the weight of body hatred and create the change they seek from a deeper place.  Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD and Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC, co-founders of Be Nourished, will be presenting at The Body Love Conference at 3 p.m. The title of their workshop is “Reclaiming Body Trust: Improving your relationship with food, body and self.”


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MY BODY, MY TEMPLE // BY KYMBERLY NICHOLE

It’s been a long road that has brought me to speaking about Body Love & Holistic Wellness at the 1st Annual Body Love Conference! When I reflect on this journey, I’m so grateful for all the ups & downs I’ve experienced. I used to think I had a positive body image, I dressed nicely, men were attracted to me, folks always said I was pretty, I rarely received negative feedback about how I looked. Until I realized how unhappy I was and that body image had nothing to do with other people, it had everything to do with me. Privately, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the image looking back at me. For years I fought with my body, doing fad diets to lose weight quickly, only to gain it back plus more. Watching TV reading magazines and beating myself up for not looking like the “It” celebs. Even getting into plus-size modeling, thinking I could offer a look that was unique and that my body type would resonate with other women; And because of some feedback I received, feeling that again my body had betrayed me because I wasn’t a “smaller” plus size model it would be difficult to get work.  


It took a lot of soul searching and a little bit of counseling for me to figure out that my negative body image stemmed from other issues that I needed to deal with. I also had to come to terms with the fact that I probably would never look like the “It” celebs and guess what? That was ok! My new goal was to be the best me I could be and that meant getting healthy and well from the inside out. No more diets, it was time for a lifestyle change, something I could stick with for the long haul. No more beating myself up; if I had a piece of cake….I ate it….It was good….now move on, that choice doesn’t make me a bad person. Also, dealing with stress in a constructive manner and building positive/healthy relationships that included dumping a lying, cheating, husband, but I digress…As Ms. Mary J Blige says “No More Drama”. I surround myself with people and activities that are good for my spirit. I exercise (sometimes)…Hey; I’m a work in progress. But prayer and meditation have been very good for my emotional/mental, physical and spiritual health. It’s about a mind, body, soul balance and when those 3 are in harmony the outward appearance will show beauty, strength and confidence!
So, thinking back, I shed a lot of pounds….A lot of unwanted and unnecessary baggage. I look at myself today and I can honestly say I am happier with my (curvy, thick, fat, plus size, whatever you want to call it)….body than I’ve ever been, because my outward appearance no longer defines me.  We get one body, treat it well!
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Kymberly will be at The Body Love Conference with her lecture 
"Body Love and Holistic Wellness: Bridging the Gap." Sign up here!
Follow this health conscious curvy girl and Certified Wellness Coach, Kymberly Nichole on Facebook and on Twitter @kym_nichole. You can also check out “Well Fit Curves” A Holistic Wellness Coaching Practice!

FROM RAPED TO SURVIVOR: A JOURNEY OF BODY LOVE // MICHELLE MERRITT


This year I have the immeasurable pleasure of speaking at the 2014 Body Love Conference.  As I prepare for my presentations, I find myself wondering what Body Love means to me.  It’s an emotional topic for me, one that brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it.  Simply put, I NEED BODY LOVE BECAUSE SURVIVING RAPE SHOULD MAKE ME PROUD OF MY BODY, NOT ASHAMED OF IT!

I’m speaking on “Learning to Love Your Body After Sexual Assault” because so many women feel ashamed of their bodies and seem surprised that I’ve learned to love my body after the rape.   My goal is to equip survivors and co-survivors (those who love someone who’s survived rape) with the tools necessary to love their bodies.  My wish is to inspire those who can’t imagine loving their bodies again (or even for the first time) to take the first steps.  

My high school boyfriend raped me in June of 1991, a time when date rape hadn’t been defined by the law leaving me with little recourse.  He held me down by the throat and raped me because I had ended our relationship, making him angry.  The hours that followed were critical as I curled up on my best friend’s davenport and cried.  She held me and cried with me letting me know I wasn’t alone in this.  I’m not sure what possessed her to make me say out loud that I’d be raped but in doing so she set me on my survivor’s journey.  She saved my life.  

My journey began with admitting I’d been raped.  In saying the words for the first time, I began to realize this was something that someone else did to me, not something I had done to myself.  It didn’t make it better instantly.  If anything, it was the opposite.  Saying it out loud made it real, made it something I couldn’t deny and in the hours, days, and even years to follow there were several times I wanted to deny it had ever happened.  I wondered if it would go away if I just ignored it or if it would be something I would forget.  Denial lets the pain, fear, self-loathing, and sadness build until it can no longer be denied.  For me, admitting it and speaking out about it was the best thing I could have ever done.

The journey to loving my body came one day at a time; it’s been a journey with more setbacks than I can count.  It’s had really good days and really bad ones.  It’s been the most frustrating and most rewarding experience I could ever imagine.  I look at women who haven’t been raped and wonder what it would be like not to bare the survivor cross.  Then I remind myself that everyone’s surviving something.  Make no mistake, learning to love your body after sexual assault is not for the faint of heart and the work never ends.

Being open about the assault has made the journey easier but there are other things I do to keep myself healthy and loving my body.  Here are a couple of the topics we’re going to talk about in April.  

  • Be nice to yourself!
It’s so easy to hate your body and yourself after sexual assault and yet we should really be proud of ourselves for surviving. I don’t know anyone who wasn’t in fear for her/his life during rape, so be nice to your body and yourself.  You did exactly what you were supposed to in your situation, YOU SURVIVED.  Celebrate that victory.  It’s bigger than you think. 

  • Control the message!
Often it’s the little things that trigger negativity.  For me, it’s hearing the song, “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.  My rapist was a huge fan of that song and so when I hear it, I automatically associate it with being assaulted.  So I change the channel when it comes on.  It’s simple but it seems to make a world of difference.  

  • Stop comparing!
Remember when I said I look at women who haven’t been raped and wonder what life would be like?  I began to love myself when I stopped doing that.  When I stopped assuming these women had perfect lives and instead started focusing on what my body does for me and what it’s capable of, I began to really love my body.  

  • HAVE SEX!
Having sex after assault can be one of the most terrifying experiences a survivor faces but a healthy sex life is important in showing yourself love and respect.  Be uber selective about your partner and make sure (s)he is understands what’s happened and will respect whatever boundaries you set.  Also, learning to pleasure yourself in a way that’s kind, loving, and safe can be one of the best ways to love your body again.  Explore it within the boundaries of what is safe for you.  

Loving your body is an ongoing journey for all women (and a lot of men) even those who haven’t been raped.  Sadly, body love isn’t a path well traveled but is certainly a trip worth taking.  Just remember to be kind and patient on your journey.  The best is yet to come. 

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Writer, Career Coach, advocate for women, and speaker Michelle Merritt is the Chick-in-Charge of Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching, a firm dedicated to helping people find the careers of their dreams. In a past life, she was a Fortune 500 Headhunter, Corporate Culture Executive, and Vice President of one of the largest metro Chambers of Commerce in the Country. All of this has led her to create Merrfeld. Merrfeld, www.merrfeld.com, was created to serve and give to the world in a way that encourages, promotes, and enables people to be total rock stars. 

Michelle speaks on a variety of topics from surviving and thriving after sexual assault to building your professional network and career of your dreams. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

PATIENT ADVOCACY: YOUR BODY IS NOT BROKEN // BY JEN MCLELLAN


From a very young age girls are taught they aren’t good enough.  These messages aren’t just perpetuated by the media.  Women, especially those who are overweight, are told their bodies are broken time and time again by healthcare providers.  This is especially the case for plus size women who are pregnant.  This is Hilary’s story

“You are too obese to give birth vaginally, so you will be having a C-section.” These are the first words I remember my OB-GYN saying to me. I was 5.5 weeks pregnant and weighed in at 211 lbs. I left his office stunned. As I drove home crying, the guilt washed over me. How could this be?
Hilary didn’t realize that she had options and had the right to seek a second opinion or fire her care provider. Hilary ended up having a c-section.    
There was a study done in 2013 that proved that shaming overweight people only made them gain weight and become less likely to receive routine medical care.  Our care providers work for us and it’s time to end this cycle of shame.    
Even with this evidence, stories of women being treated poorly by the medical community will continue to be shared until women are willing to stand up and demand compassionate care.  Sadly this usually doesn’t occur unless a woman has the confidence to find her voice.  Until a woman is able to find body love!  
I realized my body wasn’t broken when I gave birth naturally to my son on my knees.  Since that transformative experience I’ve become a childbirth educator and advocate for plus size women during pregnancy.  Women of all sizes have healthy pregnancies and positive birth experiences but there are some unique challenges plus size women face.  The main obstacle is finding a size friendly healthcare provider.   

I feel honored and excited to bring my knowledge and experiences to the Body Love Conference.  During my presentation we’ll have an open discussion as to why plus size women are at a much higher risk of having a c-section.  I’ll share my 3 keys to having a healthy plus size pregnancy and provide a list of questions to ask your care provider to find out if they are size friendly or not.  We’ll also talk about body love and ways to embrace your body during pregnancy and beyond!  
Don’t hope your care provider will treat you with dignity, expect it.  Your body isn’t broken.  Your body is amazing!
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Jen McLellan is from the Plus Size Birth website and Plus Size Mommy Memoirs Facebook page. And I love her.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SPONSOR THE MILITANT BAKER IN APRIL FOR 14% OFF


It's the month I never thought would come.
April is nearly here, and so is The Body Love Conference
Oh. My. God. I. WILL. Sleep. Again!

You can advertise on my sidebar super easily this month and here are legit reasons why you wanna:


1.) You love me
2.) This is a high fucking traffic month
3.) I wear polka-dots really well
4.) 14% off all spots if you enter the code: BODYLOVE14
5.) 600,000+ hits last month. 34,000+ FB followers

That's a lot of exposure for your cute little image on my side bar, so m
ove and shake with me guyz! It's what all the cool kids are doing, duh.


Love you lots.


P.S. OH YEAH CLICK HERE DUH

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BODY LOVE CAN SPAN GENERATIONS // THE BODY LOVE CONFERENCE


What we have here is a collection of beautiful moments...
Beautiful moments that we often forget exist.

I think, quite frequently, when we think of The Body Positive Movement we picture a lot of fierce women that fall somewhere in the age category of 20-35. They're outspoken, powerful, and loudly refuse to follow social protocol as prescribed. I definitely fit comfortably into this category, and while I love and bond with the others in this area of the movement, I realize that it's critical that we remember that The Body Love Torch is held high by women of all sizes, shapes, shades, and ages. Acts of radical self love are executed by women from all walks of life; integral ladies of the movement may be five or ninety five... there is no limit. And well, here in Tucson, we are lucky enough to have Jade Beall to capture this revolutionary concept.

We brought together three and four generations of women (from fourteen months to ninety five!) that bravely stepped in front of a camera with purpose: to acknowledge that Body Love knows no age limit. Through allowing themselves to be photographed and finishing the simple sentence "I/We need Body Love because ___________" they have flawlessly touched upon the complexities that arise from generations of women. Complexities that include the influence of mothers. The paradigm shift we all so desperately need. How wasted time is when spent hating oneself. The gratitude for a body that has gotten them this far. The hope for a better future for our little ones.

On a personal note, I look at the images of Grandma, Mom, and I... and I'm deeply touched. Not only because I love them more than life itself, but because it reminds me that no matter when we were born, how we were raised or what we look like now... we're all in this together. We share our lives together; we're all on the same journey and we can (and do) look to each other for love, acceptance, and support.

I can't thank these ladies (and Jade) enough for their belief in both Body Love and The Body Love Conference. Their pictures are beautiful, and their words? ...they're even more so.


“I need Body Love because loving my body (stretch marks and all) is so wonderfully freeing!” - Sara // 31

 “I need Body Love because it brings me to the real moment of comfort” -Marcia // 60

“She needs Body Love because she should never have to feel body hate” -for Olivia // Fourteen months


“We need Body Love because when we love our bodies, it shows and encourages others to love and accept their bodies, making the world a much more beautiful place. 
Lead by example. Live by love.” 

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 "I love my body because it has gotten me this far" -Ofelia // 83

"I need body love because as I get older, I realize that too 
much of my life was spent worrying about my body" -Diane // 55

"I need body love because I forget that my body is perfect because I'm healthy and alive." -Ondrea // 22 


"We need body love because it is something we should pass on to the next generations."

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"I need body love because by deeply loving my body, I am holding space for for the women in my four generations to step into self-love." -Socorro // 65

"I need body love because it is essential to my being that I live fully and freely." -Anna // 42

"I need body love because I am an evolving and infinite miracle that is deserving of my unconditional affection." -Desiree // 22




"We need body love because we as women, recreate thought patterns about ourselves that we grew up witnessing from our mothers and grandmothers. It is time we redefine the truth of our beings. This conversation and the education about body love is POWER."

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"I need body love because when I love myself, I have the courage to step up and accomplish my dreams." 
-Shirley // 68

"I need body love because it reminds me who I truly am....and how beautifully I was made." -Kim // 45

I need body love because the way I view my body impacts the way I participate in the world. And I want to live life to the fullest." -Jes // 27


"We need body love because loving ourselves first opens the door for others to love us back."

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"I need body love because I'm not satisfied with my weight." -Irma // 95

"I need body love because I've never been satisfied with my body." -Roberta // 70

"I need body love because I have wasted too much of my precious life disliking my body." -Joanna // 45


"We need body love because our bodies are essential, precious and we cannot fully love others, if we cannot fully love ourselves."

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You can join in too!
We want you to share with us why YOU need Body Love.

1.) Share your finished sentence "I need Body Love Because _________" on The Body Love Conference Facebook or in the comments here on this blog. Post it on our wall or post below! We want to read and share on The Body Love Conference FB. We want you to have a platform in which to announce your reason! The hashtag #TheBodyLoveConference is a good way to spread your message as well.


2.) Tweet and tag @BodyLoveConf. Type that reason why you need Body Love within those 140 characters, and tag us so we can re-tweet. 


3.) You can also post a photo and Instagram us here

Body Love excludes no age, no size, no shape, no race.
It applies and is accessible to all.

And that thing called The Body Love Conference?
It has workshops on both the gifts of aging and how to teach body positivism to children.
We joyously invite you all to join us on April 5th to explore this beautiful concept even more.

Change your world.
Not your body.

It's perfect just the way it is.

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Find more information on The Body Love Conference here and purchase tickets here!
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