Friday, August 07, 2015

When Stripping Feels Like Your Only Option

“Kim” wrote an opinion piece for The Guardian, I work at the US Senate. I shouldn't have to dance at strip clubs to feed my son.

This is a powerful story that highlights how and why some women who wouldn’t normally strip find themselves in situations where stripping becomes the best option they see available.

Kim details her very rough childhood and her amazing struggle to stand on her own two feet as a young woman. Being a single mother, she cannot afford to pay her bills every month unless she strips.
I’m a single mother and I struggle to support my son on the $10.33 an hour I make at one of the most exclusive clubs in America – the US Senate. I’m a cashier employed by the British-owned contractor that runs the cafeterias in the Senate office buildings. But even though I serve some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world, I can’t afford to buy my son school supplies or clothes…
When I realized that I couldn’t survive on what I was making at the Senate, I made a difficult decision. Faced with eviction notices and unpaid bills, I decided to dance at a strip club a few nights a week to earn extra money. It was the only job I could find that let me work a flexible schedule and earn a living wage.
I was not in such a desperate situation when I began stripping at 18, but in my naïve mind at the time, I felt a sense of there being no other avenues for me to turn to.

Obviously, that wasn’t true for me, but I believed it and so it became my reality for awhile..

Kim sounds as though stripping really is one of her only viable options to make the money she needs, working the hours she needs.
I don’t want to be a stripper: it can be demeaning to dance for men who show no respect for women. I only do it out of necessity, because I have to support my son…when [the senators] sit down with the primary voters and listen to their problems, I hope they’ll be thinking about my story too – and the tough decisions the workers who serve them every day have to make for the people they love.
I wish I had an answer for Kim and other women like her who feel stripping is their only saving grace.

Right now, all I have to offer are words of encouragement and support that it does get better and will get better.

You are doing what you need to for yourself and your family. Hold your head high and know that you are valuable and valued.

Thank you for sharing your story, Kim.

Photography Projects Embrace Diverse Bodies and Truths

Bodies have always been seen as artful and beautiful. They have also been seen as canvasses for the stories we have to tell. And now, with such amazing technology available to many, we are seeing and hearing stories that we didn’t hear before.

For example, I am loving the abundance of photographers taking photographs of mothers pre and post baby.

There will never be too many.

Let these photos of moms celebrating their bodies become as commonplace as models in bikinis on magazine covers in supermarkets.

The latest project I learned about is Divine Mothering by photographer Liliana Taboas Cruz.

Cruz’s photos of mothers on her blog also include interviews with her models, which allow the viewer to put a personality and story to the images.

Two other photographers, Paula Akpan and Harriet Evans, use models of differing body types, genders and race to express the different ideas and stereotypes that people are tired of hearing in the "I'm Tired" project.

The mission of this project is “to highlight the significance and lasting impact of everyday micro-aggressions and stereotypes.”

Art is all around us now. Images and stories flood our virtual lives.

Artists are taking advantage of the possibilities to address social issues and reach audiences all over the world.

Each project spawns the artist in others. Each celebration of diversity allows the next generation to feel more vocal and capable of telling their own truths and stories.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

We are moms and these are our bodies

Mum Photographs Women's Bodies Pre- And Post-Birth To Paint An 'Honest Picture Of Motherhood' on The Huffington Post UK by Amy Packham introduces readers to photographer Natalie McCain.

She captures mothers in all their body glory in The Honest Body Project. These women radiate out true beauty and power.

"I want to help other mums come to this realisation and change their inner voice to self love. When you change your inner voice, your entire world changes."

How wonderful to be able to help other women celebrate and appreciate their bodies just as they are.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Fat is just a word

I guess I have more work to do.

My six-year-old son just walked up behind me writing this post and when he saw these photos he said, “Oh my gosh! That woman is so fat, her fat is coming out of her shirt.”

“That’s not nice to say, that someone is so fat,” I said.

And he looked at me quizzically.

I’m sitting here wondering what is correct.

I don’t want my children to just be politically correct and feel like they can’t speak of what they see and use words that they know.

Fat isn’t inherently a bad word.

And that seems to be partly what Brazilian photographer Miarana Godoy is saying with her photos of large-sized women in lingerie.

Women reclaim the word 'fat' in Empowering Me body positive photo series details Godoy’s project: “The photographer went on to explain that she wanted to highlight that being fat doesn't mean a person is unhealthy, and pointed out that thinner people also experience health problems.”

You can't tell if someone is healthy by looking at them. Regardless of whether they are fat or thin. You cannot tell just by looking at them.

Photos can tell any story. The real story lies behind the images. In our lives. And whether we are healthy or not should not become some new standard to self-acceptance either.

We don't want to lose one way to judge ourselves simply to be replaced by another.

We need to love ourselves no matter what. Fat. Skinny. Healthy. Unhealthy.

And while I know my son would never say something to someone’s face about being “fat,” I want to make sure he knows that a person’s size has nothing to do with his or her worth.

Team Flappy Arm

Thank you, Jezebel, for Women Are Still Wondering If It’s OK to Show Arm Flab in the Summer by Tracy Moore.

A photo posted by Sheila Hageman (@sheilamhageman) on

I wish I could say I read her essay and shook my head and said to myself, Oh no! Don’t women know they don’t need to worry about these thing anymore!

But instead I read with that distinctive sensation of knowing I could have written those same words.

In fact, when I read:
And this, I think, it was bugs me more about advice to women to control their bodies and image for others pleasure or approval. The way women are burdened not only with looking good, with eradicating all signs of wear and tear, but also the burden of not making the world unpleasant for others by looking bad. Who suffers when a jiggly arm waves goodbye? Who suffers at the sight of a varicose vein or an untoned thigh? Who really suffers?
I actually raised my arm and waved to see if I could feel that flabby swing.

I quickly lowered my arm as I imagined a stupid social media beauty challenge beginning—a video of yourself waving that proves your arm doesn’t flap: #ArmNoFlappy. I would be #TeamFlappyArm.

And I also know that feeling, though I hate to admit it, of wanting to protect others from me. I know that feeling of not wanting to gross out others by my “unfeminine” qualities.

Like—I better cover up my butt and belly with a towel as soon as I step out of the pool, so as to not make anyone feel uncomfortable with my less than model-perfect abs and ass.

How sad for me that I cannot completely break free of the need to either look a certain way or at least hide myself if I don’t measure up to the standard.

It’s so ingrained. No need for anyone else to body shame me.

I body shame myself.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Knocking Out Body-Shaming

Ronda Rousey, the undefeated UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, makes a stand against body-shamers. People Magazine reports UFC Champ Ronda Rousey Is Putting the Body-Shamers to Shame –Again.

Some online commentators feel the need to point out that they find Rousey too masculine-looking. We’ve got echoes of the body shaming Serena Williams went through this month. Williams hit back with a bikini shot where she looked anything but masculine.

Rousey explains her attitude her body in an interview:
I grew up thinking that because my body type was common [i.e., athletic], it was a bad thing…Now that I'm older, I've really begun to realize that my body has developed for a purpose and not just to be looked at.
Perhaps if we instill this sense of what our bodies can do rather than what they can look like into young girls, we’ll have a new breed of young women rising up.

Celebrating Diversity! (But are we still seeing the same traditional beauty underneath it all?)

Elizaveta Bulokhova shows us again that no matter what our disabilities or scars are, we can still celebrate ourselves in Model poses in front of the camera for the first time since losing 95% of her jaw to cancer - along with the baby son she was told to terminate before undergoing chemo.

After learning that she had osteosarcoma in her jawbone when she was 24 and pregnant, the model went through with the pregnancy that she was advised against. She had 95% of her jaw removed, gave birth to a healthy baby and has now posed for the first time since the surgery in a collection of stunning imagery, which does not try to hide her scars, but instead—embraces them.

We keep seeing more and more of these body positive messages—love ourselves as we are. And this is truly empowering.

I would add one hesitation at pure feelings of joy: in almost all of these celebrations of diversity, whether it be disability or size or gender-identification, the one steadfast similarity amongst many of these celebratory photo shoots is that the women photographed somehow still fall into a traditional definition of beauty in some way.

Oftentimes the women are models or former models and have either a classically beautiful face or all their curves in just the right places and amount.

Where are the photo shoots of non-traditionally beautiful women in the modern media? Women who maybe didn’t start out drop-dead gorgeous, but still have a right to celebrate…

Monday, August 03, 2015

Who are you calling fat?

Do you feel angry when a thin woman whines, “I’m so fat!”?

Probably, if you think she’s just looking for some praise about how great she really looks.

If you thought that woman might have an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder, you’d probably feel compelled to reassure her that she looked good.

Now, how about if someone called you fat?

How would that make you feel? What would be your reaction?

I love Handler’s response: "You know, I had a boyfriend who told me my boobs were too big and that I was fat. And then, I looked in the mirror."

She’s become well-known for her love of posting topless shots on Instagram and other social media.

What was most interesting at Daily Mail were the responses to the Handler article. A long series of misogynistic, body-shaming crap…
Not a bad bod but whenever she opens her mouth she ruins it.
Fishing for compliments on social media again I see.
and your ex was right, you still look chubby
Not interested in her at all!
I think she is generally un appealing due to her personality and face. Her body is very average.
She appears to be a healthy weight to me. But this is really about her needing public affirmation so she can feel good about herself.
It is astonishing how the Internet makes people feel so bold as to say the most ignorant comments. I would love to see those same commentators say any of those things to Handler’s face.

I’m sure she’d have a witty response at the ready.

How have you reacted when someone called you fat? Please share!

@MailOnline @chelseahandler #BodyPositive #Fat