The world needs body love and self-love advocates, lots of them. It’s not easy work and I want to help my fellow body love activist navigate this global revolution that can often be exhausting and hurtful as it is primarily spread around the planet via the internet and not everyone online is kind.
Let’s face it: our culture, and most cultures on our beautiful planet, have been unconsciously convinced that only a small handful of humans are worthy to be celebrated, to feel empowered, to feel beautiful and try on the word ‘perfect’ to see how it feels. So many write me and express, how dare women who don’t fit into one-shape-one-skin-tone-one-skin texture-one-age-and-gender-mold love themselves! How dare women love their un-photoshoped bodies and how dare we celebrate us ALL, yes us ALL: those of us with bony hips and those of use with dimpled and cellulite thighs and those of us differently abled and those of us born small or tall or large or black or golden.
The problem as I see it is that by praising only ONE mold of a human as we have been convinced we must do, division is created, jealousy becomes a natural side effect, distrust multiplies and sisterhood vanishes.
When I started A Beautiful Body Project and my work began circulating the planet, I would sit late into the night blurry eyed and with thorns stabbing my heart and lungs replying to hundreds and then thousands of the people who disliked my work and who left unkind comments on the articles published about my work. I wanted them to understand where I was coming from, how the women who I worked with would be very hurt by their comments, that all bodies are divine and worthy of praise and self-love!
And then I learned: it was a waste of my precious time.
I gathered with other body love activists in my town, specifically my beloved Jes of The Militant Baker, talking at length about how to do our body love feminist work and not feel defeated and broken from internet unkindness.
This is what I have learned and practice daily:
1). Don’t read the comments on published articles of your work.
The energy wasted replying to trolls and unkindness only takes away energy needed to serve YOU and hundreds of thousands of women for who we are facilitating empowerment! We MUST use our energy wisely in our busy life and we MUST choose to give our attention to those who support, understand or who have legitimate and respectful disagreements which can help us grow in our compassion.
I do read most of the comments on my FB and Instagram account because (with the help of my assistant Kristen Watts) we have banned most of the unkindness and are left with positivity and mindful critiques from our followers. It’s amazing.
2.) Embrace being a feminist. It is a word that has been historically labeled as bad. It’s not.
When I started A Beautiful Body Project people began praising me for my “feminist work.” I would quickly dismiss the words and reply that I was not a feminist, just a woman wanting to change the way our culture perceived what is beautiful and to empower women to feel freedom from shame around their precious, perfect and divine bodies.
And then I realized: that’s feminist work! Many of us associate being a feminist as an angry, hardened passion. It’s not. Doing feminist work is incredibly positive and is a global NEED. Feminism raises a hand ever single second of every earth rotation: women seeking to feel seen and understood and worthy. It is simply standing up as a compassionate and determined tribe to all of those who have been telling us that we are not enough and that we must change to be perfect and whole and it’s simply practicing BELIEVING (fake it until you make it) that we are enough, and that our sisters are enough and that we have a right to exist exactly the way we are, right now.
3.) Practice self care.
Do things that bring you happiness; I dance every Friday night to live drums and with a wild group of gorgeous women and I call it my medicine. I take long walks in nature with my son and turn off my phone for days. Taking breaks form being a world changer so that we can return refreshed and nourished is a MUST.
4.) Surround yourself with people who understand your work.
Being a part of a tribe is so deeply important. For me it’s my weekly dance class, it’s spending quality time with my son and his dad who is my best friend. It’s having talks about art with my love. Being around those who understand how hard it is to put ourselves out there is incredibly healing. My friendships changed since I started this work; I had to find freedom from many ‘devil advocates’ and instead find those that saw the worth of my work and took me in their arms when I was weary and tired of standing up to the bullies. Sometimes those closest to us will not understand what we do, and with time some of them begin to understand, and it is ultimately up to us who we choose to spend our time with: choose those who hold you and love you and will hold quiet space you when you cry and listen to you when you sing!
5.) Never give up.
The world needs all of us practicing kindness and believing in the deep need for global feminism. It’s often hard, and yet with focusing our attention on those who are mindful with their comments and those who wish to have respectful dialogue, with embracing being a woman’s advocate, with practicing wholehearted self-care and surrounding ourselves with those who ‘get it’ will lead to our work being more successful, more kind, more expansive and ultimately more suitable so that we ALL can be the change we wish to see in the world.
-Jade Beall is co-founder of A Beautiful Body Project. To book a private photo-shoot with Jade, email jade[at]abeautifulbodyproject.com
The project is funded by people like you who think this work matters. Please consider donating.