Every one of us is living our own distinctive story—a body story, a heart story, a human story. Here at The Body Positive, we are fortunate to spend time with a widely diverse group of people; our work is informed by every precious soul who has honored us by sharing their unique experience. We have made a commitment to telling our own stories, and offering space for others to do the same without fear of judgment, comparison, or criticism. It is in this type of environment that each one of us can find what we need to become embodied: to tell our own truth and step fully into—and love—our unique selves.
We hope you enjoy the videos and written stories provided below.
the age of fourteen, I really thought I was open-minded about beauty, but the
appreciation was totally cerebral. I never actually felt the beauty in
different sorts of bodies, never experienced it with my senses.
Just before graduating high school, I began interning with The Body Positive. I was going through what seemed like a million changes at that time, and, needing an outlet for my confusion, I got into visual art. I drew pastel landscapes of the Mono Lake Basin desert, created twisting patterns in the Stinson Beach sand, and made a variety of abstract watercolor paintings in my bed at night. The more weeks I spent with the self-loving, diversely-bodied individuals of The Body Positive, the more I grew to see them as works of natural art, and I examined them with the same close attention I gave to patterned sticks and the tender ridges on the inside walls of a bell pepper.
As a kid, I liked to soften my gaze completely until my eyes lost focus and things became abstract, Rothko-esque blobs, no longer defined by their everyday purposes. At seventeen, I discovered that by letting my mind relax in the same way, I could stop measuring beauty by how closely somebody fit the “ideal” and start going by pure visual intrigue. There were so many entrancing things I had completely dismissed! Aside from their fascinating appearances, I found culturally-shamed body parts especially beautiful because of what they represented. Wrinkles, for instance, are unique records of every expression over one’s life delicately crinkling and creasing into deep, firm lines. My mother expresses embarrassment about the loose flesh of her belly, but it is a product of all the stretching that allowed her to give birth to me, the squishy softness a symbol of the strength and flexibility that parenthood requires. My best friend’s scars are another wonder, because they show the body’s amazing ability to heal, if only partially at times. My great uncle’s age spots show a long existence of growing and learning, having access to memories of a time that I know I can never touch.
And noticing these parts on others makes me understand the true beauty in what I used to call my flaws. I love my funny ears that stick out, the intensity of my facial expressions, my straight hips and subtle curves, the fast-growing hair under my arms, and my short legs. Like everyone, I am a natural wonder deserving of awe. And it’s so much more fun to live with this knowledge, because I can actually experience the loveliness of those around me rather than acknowledging it vaguely with my head turned away. I see truly exciting things, and others feel delighted when I tell them what I see. We are breathtakingly beautiful when we let ourselves be.”
— Maranda Barry, from Embody, p.197
“In my 40+ pain-filled years of trying to survive life in an ‘imperfect’ body, I've never run across a message that gave me so much hope. There is no possibility of failure here. There are no rules to follow or tests to pass before I am allowed to love my body—flaws and all.”
— Kelle, workshop participant
“The Body Positive teaches people to move past shame, self-judgment, and isolation, and into the knowledge that every body is the 'perfect body.'”
— Workshop participant
“It has been a wonderful experience to see the influence The Body Positive has on so many lives. This work is so important for high schoolers because it gives us the power to love ourselves in a culture that says we should not, and a platform to think critically about health and beauty in a way that is applicable to all aspects of our lives.”
— Sara Cerami, Body Positive student leader
“I didn’t think it was possible to love myself until I joined The Body Positive.”
— Workshop participant
“In high school, pressure to fit in intertwines with stigmatization, creating an experience of body shame and guilt for far too many students. Unfortunately, many do not escape the anxiety and feelings of inadequacy created by our culture’s narrow perception of beauty. High school serves to amplify this cultural toxicity. Judgment and constant comparison permeate my high school’s atmosphere, making it difficult to see and declare one’s authentic beauty. I experienced this type of judgment and internalized it, which led to body hatred and self-deprecation.
However, I thankfully found The Body Positive and learned that it was
possible to be free to love myself holistically; in a way where I no longer
needed to try to fit a malleable, ever-changing beauty standard. My confidence
grew and I started being authentically myself without shame. Learning about
intuitive self-care made me recognize how important it is to treat myself
kindly and with care in order to be able to accomplish all that is possible in
my life. I am a strong feminist, and I realized that if I could not respect my
own body and mind, I could never help other women find empowerment. This
awareness motivated me to create a foundation of self-love, and to reach out to
those who have not yet developed theirs.”
— Sara Cerami, Body Positive leader
In 1997, a group of teen girls gathered in the living room of a borrowed home and shared the difficulties they were experiencing living in their bodies. We had assembled this focus group for a filmed discussion to create a problem statement to share with potential funders in hopes of gaining support for our fledgling nonprofit. Little did we know at the time that these girls, strangers until that day, were not about to let us just walk away with their stories.
More stories about how reimagining beauty can change your life.View the Project