How do you accurately summarize the one person who you feel has single-handedly changed the world (and your personal life) in more ways than you can explain?

Sonya Renee Taylor: author, poet, spoken word artist, speaker, humanitarian and social justice activist, educator, and founder of The Body is Not An Apology movement. 

"Taylor has won multiple National and International poetry slams, including the 2004 U.S. National Individual Poetry Slam competition, the 2005 DC/Baltimore Grand Slam competition, the 2007 Ill List III Slam competition, the 2006 Four Continents International Slam competition and has performed for audiences across the US, New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands, including in prisons, mental health treatment facilities, homeless shelters, universities, festivals and public schools across the globe."

Sonya Renee Taylor, aka my favorite human on the planet.

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While looking for incredible quotes written by Sonya, I came across this praise (but really, a love letter) I wrote years ago:

Sonya Renee Taylor’s work within the body acceptance movement has single-handedly changed my life as an activist. Sonya is one of the only voices in this movement that incorporates ALL bodies and ALL issues; bringing the focus beyond individuals and onto the fact that we can eliminate prominent toxic social injustices by incorporating inclusion, understanding and love. She is truly a force to be reckoned with and thanked for her priceless contributions towards radical change.

Years later, I stand behind this 100%.

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To be totally honest, the "current" part of this Current Crush is a lie. I've known Sonya for half a decade and she has been changing my world before we even met in person. The crush part? Well, it couldn't be truer. The love between us is deep... and there's a damn good reason.

I quote her with reverence in every lecture, panel, workshop, and presentation I give or participate in. Every single one- whether it's through a presentation in Phoenix (below) or in a keynote lecture about fatphobia in Paris. Her work has formed the core of my mission and the amount of gratitude I feel for her messaging, writing, and work leaves me speechless at times.

For the past few years, before I share her philosophy, quotes, and praise while speaking, I've prefaced her with the fact that if the world were on fire (which arguably, it kinda is) and I could only choose one person to save for the next version of civilization, it would indubitably be her.

(This was only awkward once when my mom was in the audience and I had to apologize for this prioritization... however I still believe she's the best thing to ever happen to this world and would be the greatest gift for the next.)

#1) What Sonya has taught me about healing the world and the importance of bodies - the largest driving force behind all of my work - which came from a comment she made on a Bitch Magazine article:

The Body Is Not An Apology is an international movement committed to cultivating global Radical Self Love and Body Empowerment. We believe that discrimination, social inequality, and injustice are manifestations of our inability to make peace with the body, our own and others. Through information dissemination, personal and social transformation projects and and community building, The Body is Not An Apology fosters global, radical, unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world

Or, in other words:

“I began to realize that while all issues were not specifically about the body, the impact of all issues were felt on the body and how we felt about bodies informed our social, political, economic and cultural landscape. I began to see the key to social change, equity and justice as the work of making peace with bodies.”

Let all of that just soak in.

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#2) What Sonya has taught me about healing work and it's worth:

I am often asked if The Body is Not An Apology is a non-profit organization and I, with great conviction tell people NO! TBINAA is a for-profit Benefit Corporation and here are my top 5 reasons why:

1. I believe social change needs to be at the center of our economic systems, not the margins.
2. Those doing the most impacting work should not have to scramble in competition for small pots of foundation funding.
3. As long as equity and justice work is considered “charity” it will always be what we fund last and cut first.
4. I know that if we leverage our resources we have the collective economic and social power to ensure that everybody with a body has what they need to thrive.
5. Lastly, I believe that radical self-love is an economic principle that moves us from a Detriment Buying © model (using our money to pay for things that further our feeling deficient, unworthy, numbed out and disconnected from our bodies and our world) to Best Interest Buying ©, a model that asks us to allow our economic investments, whether they be a latte or a stock portfolio, to be a reflection of our commitment to radical self-love for our own lives and for the lives of others.

What if every time we bought something we asked ourselves, “Is this purchase a reflection of my radical self-love values? Does this purchase remind me that I am a brilliant, powerful contributor to equity, justice and compassion for myself and for the world?” When we say YES to that question, we shift the very nature of our economic system from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Our services at TBINAA exist as a reflection of these principals. With Radical Self Love, we all profit!

This was sent through the TBINAA newsletter no less (subscribe if you haven't yet!) and #3 has changed the way I will see money distribution forever.

#3) What Sonya has taught me about the journey towards liberation and self-love:

You don’t have to get to radical self-love. You came here that way. You have never seen a self-loathing toddler who says, “I really hate the way my skin looks.” Those are messages. We know these messages are external because these are things we adopt as we get older and people start to tell us stuff about our bodies. We didn’t come here believing those things. We came here unobstructed from understanding our divinity and awesomeness in these bodies. Over time, more and more obstructions are keeping us from accessing who it is we inherently know ourselves to be. Radical self-love is unobstructed access to the awesome you that you’ve always been. It’s unobstructed access to the amazing and enough human being that you have always been.
- From Bitch Magazine's "No Ordinary Love" interview

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This last image is one of my all-time favorites; an awkward "in-between moment" where we embraced with such enthusiasm that our true selves were captured perfectly and she used this image as one of her "Bad" Picture Monday images which included this caption:

Talk about the spirit of "Bad" Picture Monday being summed up in an image! I was having a radically beautiful tingly moment with the EPIC Jes M. Baker! Which means despite how I look in this photo, there is NOTHING HERE BUT RADICAL BEAUTY and LOVE!

#4) What Sonya has taught me about the importance of "Bad Pictures":

 As you read this, 300,000 people on-line are untagging, deleting, burying deep in the recesses of the junk folder, pictures they consider “bad”. Social Networking has created a digital army of perfect smiles and brilliantly coiffed heads who all believe the only pictures that should be seen are the ones where we look “good”.  “Bad” Picture Monday reminds us that there is no “bad” way to inhabit a body

Her reasoning behind this concept is simple: "Shame is ugly. YOU ARE GORGEOUS."

If you're not constantly checking out change that!
(For more on why "unflattering pictures are important, check this out!)

#5) The most important thing you need to know right now?

Sonya's book called The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self Love JUST LAUNCHED and it's been described as "church" buy so many people I've lost count. 

I will add myself to that list.

Buy it. Read it. Let it soak in. Let it change the way you see, interact with and heal the world. If there was one person to guide you on this journey, Sonya is it.

Sonya, you have taught me that you absolutely can lead with love and I'll never be able to thank you enough for this.

PS: Make sure you follow her through the links below
(and subscribe to her newsletter!):

P.P.S. You can bring Sonya to your event here.
P.P.P.S. Her tour dates and cities can be found here. If you can go, GO!
P.P.P.P.S. Check out the other Current Crush posts here!

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