Young women talk body image and what that means in today's intersectional world
Let's talk about Bodies!
- Thought Leadership
In November 2020 we held a Y After 5 event to celebrate the launch of our Insights Report on Body Image. To keep it real to the experiences of young womxn today, Angela Barnett held a panel discussion called "Let's Talk about Bodies". Seven amazing young womxn took part and it was raw honest conversation about body image across ability, size, colour, shape, pain and other challenges. This is what they had to say...
Pasifika Advocate, Isabella Ieremia told us about how she really wanted to be on her high school's successful rowing team. But just thinking about how the skin-tight uniform would look on her and other people seeing her in it stopped her from trying out. She regrets letting that fear stopping her from doing something she knew she would enjoy and would be good at. She says "...for all my gals out there I definitely think that's not something that should hold you back. We are able-bodied and totally strong enough and should be confident enough to wear what we want."
Check out more from Janelle here and find out who she gives the biggest body acceptance props to.
Visual Storyteller and Invisible Chronic Illness Advocate, Becki Moss told us the one thing about body image and the way that we talk about bodies in society that she would change would be to take the whole topic off the table. She stressed that Body Image should not be important to the way that we see, talk, and treat people - especially with women's bodies. She says, "We spend so much time focusing on them and expecting body positivity or body negativity but we're still just talking about someone's body. It's just a vehicle to get us through life...they are something that you don't really have a choice over what you get.
Check out more of what Becki had to say here and find out how she has reclaimed the way that others perceive her body.
Pictured above L to R: Essienne, Janelle, & Becki
Essienne Kelsey, Trans Advocate and Rainbow Youth Intern, told us how social media has been positive more than negative for her body acceptance. She keeps her online circle small and private. She reckons the online hate comes from having a large, public circle where you're more likely to encounter nasty trolls. She says "They don't know you. They've only seen a selfie. And again, I'm saying, same thing with the whole people going, "Oh, trans people" thing, like, just ignore that.
You can watch more of Essienne here and find out the one thing that helped her gain body acceptance.
Pacific Voice and Community Leader, Janelle Augsburg, explained how a comment made about her weight by family members when she was just 12-years-old had a huge impact. It was the first time that made her notice how she looks and that people are looking at her. She realised that there is a standard for beauty and for the body and setting her up on a journey of self-objectification because she didn't meet that standard. She says, "If I were to give advice to an 11 or 12-year-old girl in terms of how to deal with all of those negative comments and outside comments was to just know that your body isn't your strongest form of currency. It's very cliche but what's on the inside really does count."
More from Bella here and find out the one thing that she'd like to see changed across all of the different issues that relate to body image.
Pictured above L to R: Genevieve, Bella, & SophiA
Spinal Cord Injury Survivor Sophia Malthus is used to getting unsolicited comments about her body from total strangers. She recalls a recent interaction where a woman caring for her made a comment that managed to discriminate on the basis of her disability AND her body. Sophie said, "I feel discriminated against when people who aren't part of the disabled community assume that my life is trapped. I actually think that my life now as a disabled person is more fulfilling and I think that's because of the challenges that I face and how I overcome them and my sense of pride."
Watch more of Sophie's story here and find out what she would change around how we view and treat bodies.
Voices of Hope Founder and ED survivor, Genevieve Mora told us about a time she was told she was "too tall". It was said in a nasty tone and made her feel really self-conscious. She says, "Something I was told recently which I really liked was to not comment on people's appearance unless they can change it in two seconds. So, if you have spinach in your teeth or toilet paper stuck to your shoe - yes you can comment on someone's appearance then - but otherwise it's best just to leave it.
Watch Genevieve here and find out how she thinks we need to educate kids at an early age to fight body negativity.
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