Mistakes…it hurts to make them, yes it does! Wouldn’t it be lovely to always get things right? Well, actually, no. I have learned so many incredible lessons from making mistakes, which I prefer to call “learning experiences.” Lessons that have changed the trajectory of my life in incredible ways.
I’m sharing my latest painful learning experience with you for a couple of reasons. The first is so if you happen to see me in a YouTube video made by a YouTube influencer who wanted to define “body positivity” for her followers, you’ll understand that it didn’t go as I had planned, and that my words were used in a way that wasn’t my intention.
The second reason is so I can emphasize how important it is to make “mistakes” in order to learn and grow, and how having a practice of self-love, even if it's imperfect, allows us to take risks in life.
I am truly grateful for this mistake I made. As my wise and powerful 91-year-old mama has always said to me when I run to her crying after making a mistake, “Wonderful, Connie. That’s the best way to learn. We don’t learn anything useful when we do everything right!” Lessons learned here.
Here’s are the points I want to address after watching the video in which I was misrepresented to make someone else’s point—not my own:
1. Wow! That was an unfortunate decision! Due to many overwhelming factors, I said yes to talking to someone in a video interview about “body positivity” without asking enough questions about how the footage would be used. I knew the audience was not The Body Positive’s typical followers, but it is my goal to not have The Body Positive be an organization that only shouts into an echo chamber. Our goal is to bring people to us, not to push them away. I recognize the anger in those marginalized by this video and, when deciding to do the interview, I also recognized that there are marginalized people who follow this influencer's social media account. The idea was to educate EVERYONE, not just those who agree with us. We believe this is how we can participate in making positive change in the world. That said, I am highly disappointed by how my words were skewed.
2. In the LONG interview I gave, many inspiring things were said. Bits were used out of context that made it sound like I’m condoning the influencer's program to teach weight loss—and her own desire to lose weight and talk about it with her followers. The Body Positive promotes intuitive self-care and a weight-inclusive health model. What didn’t get included in the final video was that I wanted viewers to question their motivation to lose weight and where it comes from. I also challenged them to think about how they want to spend their precious time on this planet. I encouraged them to learn how to listen to their bodies in order to live intuitively. I’m sad I didn’t get to be heard in the way I intended.
3. Elizabeth and I didn’t set out to create a movement, we just named our organization The Body Positive in 1995. We did—and continue to do—our work to prevent eating disorders, promote size diversity and the right for all people to receive dignified health care, and share the idea that it’s possible to be free to fully live one’s precious life in their body, with their unique story and life history, however they choose to do that. We’ve never told people how they should live or what they should or shouldn’t do with their bodies. In this way, how one is or is not “body positive” is for every person to decide for themselves.
4. I do understand that words are powerful, and that they can be used and manipulated to serve the purpose of power over others and to further capitalism. I am deeply saddened that the corporate world has taken on “body positivity” as a catchphrase to make money. I can’t do anything about that. I hope others can. I thought this video interview would give me the opportunity to say all of the things I wanted to say about the beautiful words “body positivity”—wrong!
5. I am NOT the “mother” of the body positive movement! I never said I was, and I’ve never thought it. Enough said!
How do you talk to yourself when you make a "mistake"? Are you harsh with yourself? Do you collapse into shame? Do your "mistakes" cause you to not take risks in the future? If you answered yes to these questions, I invite you to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can support you in growing in your practice of self-love. The freedom to live boldly is at stake!
P.S. I must end this story by telling you that I wrote to the person who interviewed me to express my unhappiness with how I was used. My tone was kind, but direct. She wrote back after many days to say she had read my email over and over and found her heart sinking further each time, but that she understood my reaction and had no intention of causing harm to my reputation. Her response was heartfelt, as I believe she didn’t know she had hurt me. I have found forgiveness (mostly because so much good learning came from this experience) and have let go of the anger I was carrying towards this person. Forgiveness makes my body hurt less. Letting go is a gift.