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!

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!


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.  

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. 


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,, 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. 


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!

Jen McLellan is from the Plus Size Birth website and Plus Size Mommy Memoirs Facebook page. And I love her.



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. 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.” 


 "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."


"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."


"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."


"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."


Love this, love them, and I love the progress we're making in the world when it comes to passing body acceptance down the line. It gives me hope!


Jennifer Chambers writes from the kitchen table of a full house in the Northwest. In a car accident at 15, she sustained a brain injury that caused her to relearn every faculty of life from walking and talking to tying her shoes. She is co-owner of Groundwaters Publishing LLC and has appeared in media outlets like Redbook,, Blogtalk radio, and various websites. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies as well as e-books. She attended the Iowa Summer Writing program to workshop her first novel, Learning Life Again, prior to publication, and three of her other books have been published since.Teaching creative writing and inspirational speaking are her favorite things to do. Otherwise you can find her traveling cross-country with her family, hoping to add to her life-list of roadside attractions, or playing the ukulele.

“Everyone has an invisible sign around their neck saying, ‘Make me feel important.”- Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay Cosmetics
The founder of a makeup company might seem like an odd person to quote from for those who know me. Makeup is not something I’m good at. As an analytical thinker by both family and persuasion, I’ve been taught that appearance is an illusion and that my time is better spent improving my interior rather than my exterior. There is a certain amount of truth to that, and my inner sexy librarian would agree.
However, we live in a world where appearance is often valued above all other things, no matter how much my “logical” values want to disprove that. My own body image was colored by that dichotomy as much as anyone else’s is.
I grew up through my teens with a sense that I was a person of euphemisms- “large-boned,” “just healthy,” a person with “birthing hips,” or my least favorite and the most patronizing, a “big girl.” My grandmother told me regularly that I was “too big to wear those clothes” or that I shouldn’t eat because “you don’t want to get too fat,” which she snidely said at my baby shower when I was three months pregnant with my first child.
As a freshman in high school, I tried out the trends with varying degrees of success, but became everlastingly grateful for the 90’s grunge trend. Fashion dressing out of thrift stores? I can hide in that. Army/Navy surplus? Yes, please. It was a style, and a time period, that seemed to allow for uncomplicated individuality and couture divergence from the norm.
Things were curtailed when I was walloped during a car accident with a traumatic brain injury. My complete sense of self was dissolved throughout the course of my recovery. I did not know my own name: let alone who I was supposed to be. The injury gave me a feeling of insecurity on a primal level. Going back to high school after I was considered stable, I began reinventing myself by focusing my value on my appearance, since I couldn’t be sure of what was going on in my own head. When I had facial reconstructive surgery I quite honestly didn’t recognize myself. My wardrobe began to be filled with a lot of short skirts and low tops owing to the fact that the only way I felt valued was for my perceived feminine assets. I was reprimanded more than once about being that girl who lounged on the wall outside the Library so that a certain boy might be able to look down my shirt.
This translated into a very skimpy feeling of self-worth that expanded in college. With my new brain I was always struggling to translate the social code of acceptance. It too often led to the lowest common denominator. How I looked was my currency. Then my healthy workouts stopped when I became involved with an untrustworthy relationship.

I cashed in my self-worth completely when I found myself in Europe, abandoned with no money by the abusive boyfriend whom I’d taken there, in the middle of a snowy street wearing a pair of too-big jeans because I didn’t care about myself enough even to buy clothes that fit. I was ashamed to be in that situation but blamed it on my body, my stupid, impaired body that wasn’t even good enough to stand up for during the previous months of pilfering, abuse and assaults. In that moment I blamed myself because my body wasn’t the normal dominant commodity, when I should have blamed the exploitative abuser.
For a person who values action, having seen how drastically things can change in a moment, it now seems such a waste to have felt bad about myself. Even though it took a long time to feel better, standing in the snow that day was a turning point. This body is the only one I have. I should treat it in a loving, compassionate way so I can extend authentically to those around me. Learning to love the disparate, beautiful mess of humanity we all inhabit daily was the key. I’ve just got to own it and it has and will empower me.
We should all free to be whoever the hell we want to be in and shut out all the noise that says we aren’t sterling. It is human to be smart and to be vulnerable at the same time. It’s all right to love myself first and then to love other people. I choose those around me who are supportive of me and my efforts, and that helps reinforce my decision and resolve for what lies ahead.
It’s my 2014 goal to refine how well I treat myself. For me, that means buying clothes that fit and look great. I have the right to find clothes that look amazing just like anyone does no matter my size or disabilities. I’m making an effort to wear makeup, because I’m finally old enough to comprehend that I can do whatever makes me feel good. That sexy librarian inside me deserves to play.
I think more of us need to acknowledge that we all wear those invisible signs. Everyone has their reasons not to feel good, but if you’re not your own unparalleled advocate than why should anyone else be? I am important, and so are you. We should treat ourselves like it and not sell ourselves short.
Plus, I’ve learned not to be so damn serious. That helps!
I’ll talk about how I learned to feel better about myself and became my own best advocate when I present my “Self-Advocacy Toolbox: Steps for An Empowered Life,” at The Body Love Conference on April 5. Stop by and talk to me about what makes you feel empowered. I’ll leave you with this:
"You are the conductor of your own attitude!
Nobody else can compose your thoughts for you." -Lee J. Colan


See this cellulite-y fat ass? You can kiss it.

Dear Guy Who Made a Fat Joke About Me to My Boyfriend,

Fuck. You.

The Hot Fat Chick With the Babely Guy.


This isn't necessarily a discussion about street harassment, though it could be. This isn't a discussion about people who have nothing better to do than antagonize strangers. This isn't even really a discussion on my obviously cellulite-y legs, but rather this is a discussion about something that needs to be brought out into the open: the shaming of men who find themselves attracted to atypical women while dating in our fat-phobic societyThis is a discussion about why this situation is SO fucked up and needs to change NOW.

Let me explain: I was out with my new boy the other night and as we headed back to our bikes, Stupidly Drunk Dude accosted My Him with the jeering question "So, you're out hunting for cellulite tonight?"

Guys, I rarely get angry about this sort of criticism; I'm the proud recipient of copious amounts of hate mail, often with the subject line: "You're fat and ugly and an embarrassment to society." This ignorant opinion rolls off my back easily nowadays, but for some reason... this recent experience has me fucking pissed.

It could be because I was already in the midst of a bad body day when it happened. Or maybe it's because after my boyfriend retorted back, Stupidly Drunk Dude followed us down the avenue shouting a slew of horrid homophobic remarks at him. It could be the fact that my boyfriend was rudely pulled into the ugly world of fat discrimination in which I feel he doesn't belong. It could be the fact that the comment came from a man/was said to a man and this somehow made it hurt more. Or maybe it's just because it surfaced a large amount of shame in regards to a subject I feel passionately about: how unaccepting our world is of the pairing of traditionally attractive bodies with nontraditional ones.

Either way, this is an opportunity to talk about a hard subject. So lets pull this shit out onto the carpet and address it head on, shall we?

We were unapologetically hot as shit that night.

When the world looks at a "sexy" man with a fat woman there are many assumptions: that he is settling. That he would prefer something else, but is forced to date a lesser lady. That he has a questionable fetish. That he is a perverse abomination. That there is something inherently wrong with his sexual preference.

But just as I state in the original Lustworthy article: all bodies can be paired with all bodies; not an opinion but rather a fact. Fat with fat. Thin with thin. Fat with thin. Thin with fat. And everything in between.

This may seem obvious, but it's something that our culture struggles with on a fundamental level.

I remember so vividly scrolling through body positive Tumblr sites in the beginning of my self-love journey and being shocked, stunned, and yet enthralled when I came across images of fat women and their thin boyfriends. Most of these images were intimate with obvious attraction coming from the men. My brain broke just a little bit as I tried to wrap my mind around the fact that this existed in the world. I didn't know this was an option.

Once I saw these, I started to see this pairing everywhere. From the epic xoJane erotic love letter from the size-friendly boyfriend to the heart wrenching poem "10 Honest Thoughts on Being Loved by a Skinny Boy", I became more and more aware that it's not an uncommon pairing because, and I'll repeat myself: all bodies can be paired with all bodies.

Though that night was tainted by hate, it's important to note that in general we get an overwhelming amount of positive feedback as a couple. Friends and strangers alike are drawn to us in a way I can't explain. There is something magnetic about our pairing, so much so that unfamiliar women in Greek restaurants sing our praises and give us flowers because we are such a beautiful sight.

So while we normally receive the opposite reaction, I really had a difficult time with this street harassment experience; my gut reaction was insta-shame. I found myself so self-concious and irrationally afraid that... my boy would all of a sudden realize that I was FAT now that it was pointed out and become ashamed of his choices. But real talk: he's already aware of this fact. Duh, right? And he loves it. Not because I'm a novelty. Not because I'm a fetish. But because he simply finds me attractive as I am; it's that simple.

So make no mistake: I have a fat body that is often worshiped, but I am not necessarily worshiped for my body fat. To find my body attractive is not unusual, strange, bothersome. And it is most certainly not a sign of mental instability. I am so much more than an object for specific obsession. I more than a category for things that some may find uncomfortable.

Finding me gorgeous doesn't automatically mean you have a fat fetish or issue with your sexuality. It can mean that I'm simply sexy and you recognize that. 

I know I'm going to blow your mind with this truth but... this isn't weird at all. In fact it happens all the time. So me being shocked by those Tumblr images? Well, that was a cryin' shame.

World, let the "odd" pairings be. Just because you may not prefer larger women doesn't mean there is something wrong with those who do, and these men deserve the opportunity to express this and act on it with out the public shame they often recieve. The reality is- a man's opinion and worth is not to be questioned or determined by the size of his partners waist. So get the fuck over it.

Now if you'll excuse me, my cellulite and I have shit to do.
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